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CPU Scaling Question: 3870 Vs. 8800GT - Purchase Decision

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 8, 2007 9:58:32 AM

Dear All,

I am planning to upgrade my GPU only at this time. My current rig is over two years old and though it was a top-dog in 2005, it is now starting to show its age with the newer titles on the market, and the fact that I have plugged it to my New 46" Samsung M Series LCD (Full HD - 1920x1080 resolution).

Briefly, my Computer specs are:

AMD 3700+ (San Diego) @2420 MHZ (slight overclock from 2211MHz)
MSI K8N NEO4 Platinum (1x16x PCiEx)
2x1GB Kingston DDR400 Ram (Dual Channel)
*Asus En7800GTX TOP (486/1350 Factory OC) - This is the part I wish to replace.
EDIT: Windows XP SP2 (I have absolutely no plans to go the Vista Way in the near future - so its all for DX9 gaming)

Now I have already checked an excellent CPU scaling article at Legion Hardware http://www.legionhardware.com/document.php?id=672&p=0

However, (as its a slightly old article) they used nVidia 8600/8800 (Gen1) GPUs for their Article and not the ATI 2900XT. So although I can draw some conclusions with regard to the 8800GT based on the older 8800 series, I have no idea how well the ATI 3870 would scale on my current processor/system.

Please keep the following in mind while advising which of the two GPU's will be better for my system:

1. I plan to always play at 1920x1080 resolution, which is mostly GPU dependant.
2. I play a wide variety of games, including Neverwinter Nights 2, Call of Duty 4, Company of Heroes, Gears of War, Medieval 2: Total War, Hellgate London, etc., so my GPU purchase cannot be based on any single title.
3. In my country (Pakistan), I have HIS 3870 available for Rs. 17,000/- ($277/-) whereas the XFX-8800GT Extreme (OC-640/1900 but old 8800GT reference fan, not the newer slightly larger reference fan) is for Rs. 20,000/- ($325/-) and the cheapest 8800GT is from Inno3D (reference clocks and old reference fan) for Rs. 18,500/- ($300/-). They all have a short (local) warranty of 10 months only, so no difference there for us, even though XFX offers double warranty on it cards worldwide.
4. I live in a place with extreme hot climate in summers but rather chilly winters - Summers max temps go up to 50 degrees celcius (outside not under A/C of course, but still) while winters go down to zero degrees celcius (which is not issue for the graphic card). In any case, I prefer dual slot coolers on my GPUs, like on my Asus 7800GTX TOP (was the fastest 7800GTX of its times, with excellent dual slot cooler).

Please advise which of the two, ATI 3870 or the 8800GT would be better suited to my system, given the above information.

Thank you all for reading this longish post and helping me make my mind. Do check the Legion Hardware review if you haven't as it is a good start I think.

Regards.
December 8, 2007 10:56:39 AM

Your GFX is still very powerful, so its not totally necessary to upgrade it yet. In your case, Id only upgrade the GPU along with a major overhaul (CPU, mobo, RAM).

But if you really want to, the 8800 GT is superior
a b U Graphics card
December 8, 2007 5:36:45 PM

Problem is the 7800GTX is aweful at COD4. Look at the 7900GT:
http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/call_of_duty_4_demo...

Either card would be a massive upgrade for that game even with his system. If his prices are like the USA, he could get an X2 4200 pretty cheap. But COD4 max playable eye candy at 19x10, the 8800GT performs about the same with an X2 4000+ as a C2extreme 6800. http://firingsquad.com/hardware/$500_gaming_pc_upgrade/page5.asp

Either card will do well. performance lead goes to the 8800GT. price and dual slot cooler goes to the HD3870. Given your CPU, I'd probably opt for the cheaper one.
Related resources
a b U Graphics card
December 8, 2007 6:23:25 PM

You should probably go with a 8800GT/GTX
a b U Graphics card
December 8, 2007 7:52:21 PM

My vote is for the 3870.
December 8, 2007 8:05:26 PM

Go for the HD 3870. And the fact that it's cheaper than the 8800 GT makes it even more attractive. About the same performance as the 8800 GT along with better picture quality, and cheaper in this case.
December 10, 2007 7:33:32 AM

Thanks for the replies guys. Really Appreciate the views put forth by all.

@pauldh, thanks for the reply, unfortunately there are no more Socket 939 X2 CPUs available where I live, even if they were, its not very wise to invest more money in a dead socket for such marginal gain. Most games still don't require dual cores as much, specially at very high resolutions, which are mostly GPU limited. Unless I were to go the C2D route with a major upgrade, i doubt it'll be worth investing more money in a similarly or slower clocked dual core 939 socket CPU.

@ all

One question which is still somewhat unanswered in my mind is the scaling or the dependency of the 8800Gt and 3870 on the CPU to work to work efficiently. Now I know that my CPU (2420MHz Athlon64) cannot utilize or maximize the capability of either of the two above-mentioned cards, but still, which of the two would be more CPU limited?? Anyone knows (from experience or otherwise) how well the 8800 Generation compared to the 2900/3800 Generation scale on older CPUs??

Thanks guys.
December 10, 2007 8:33:38 AM

sik1977 said:
Thanks for the replies guys. Really Appreciate the views put forth by all.

@pauldh, thanks for the reply, unfortunately there are no more Socket 939 X2 CPUs available where I live, even if they were, its not very wise to invest more money in a dead socket for such marginal gain. Most games still don't require dual cores as much, specially at very high resolutions, which are mostly GPU limited. Unless I were to go the C2D route with a major upgrade, i doubt it'll be worth investing more money in a similarly or slower clocked dual core 939 socket CPU.


I know how you feel. I felt the same way, but then I went from the 3700+ @ 2.65ghz to an AMD 3800+ X2 @ 2.0ghz, which I OC'd to 2.4ghz, and this was way back when even less games benefited from dual core. Alas...I found my games running MUCH more consistent (as in my minimum frames went up alot and i didn't drop below 60 near as much. This was even @ 2.0ghz and it only got better @ 2.4ghz. So even though the game itself may not support dual core or require dual core as you put it...they still benefit from it greatly and the same goes with quads. There have been many discussions over this. The benchmarks you see don't justify how the games actually feel different when you are playing them. Honestly the difference is night and day. I just thought I would point that out...as you said already it is difficult for you to get one anyways, but I thought I would let you know just for future reference when you are ready to change systems.

Best,

3Ball
December 10, 2007 8:34:48 AM

Oh and I would go with the 3870. Slightly better pic quality, slightly less $, marginal performance difference, more features overall and is a quiet dual slot cooler that vents the hot air out of the case. (Although I will probably be getting a EVGA 8800GTS 640mb SSC Edition. It is on average 2 - 3% better than the 8800GT, but about $80 more expensive, so most people dont consider it, but since the availability of the 3870's are low, the prices are somewhat higher than they are suppose to be, and the 8800GT only has a single slot cooler I will probably get this...since it is an x-mas gift and its not my money! lol) Still out of the 2, I would take the 3870 over the 8800GT and really over the 8800GTS SSC edition if I was spending my own money.

Best,

3Ball
December 10, 2007 9:54:05 AM

@ 3Ball

Thank you for replying and for your insight on multi-cores. I surely intend to get a multi-core CPU when I build a new PC in a few months time. I want to at least wait for the 45nm C2D/Qs before making that decision and they won't be available before late Q1 (at least in quantity and MSRP). I am just as divided on whether to go for a quad core or a dual core for my next build, however, that is something which can wait for a few more months. I do collect dozens of benchmarks from everywhere to keep myself informed, however, it still seems to be a tough decision between slower clocked quad and a higher clocked duo.

I think I'll go for the 3870, as you suggest and as many others have. One somewhat convincing reason is that I intend to solely use it with my 46 inch LCD screen over DVI/HDMI-HDMI and may be able to take advantage of its audio hardware. I am not sure, nor have found much on how good is the audio support on the 3870 for games (not just for HD movies). I wonder if it gives true digital 5.1 Ch audio for games. Unfortunately, my Amp only has Coaxial and Optical inputs, so not sure if it would be such much use.

Thanks again for your replies.

P.s' I read the reviews on the 8800GTS SSC, its a nice card, but if you are lucky, for the same price you may find a 8800GTS 512MB tomorrow. Dec 11th is the release day for 8800GTS 512 in US (I don't know where you are from or if its the same for Europe), and there are bound to be some cards available initially for a few days with the large online retailers. So try your luck there if you havent already bought the SSC.
December 10, 2007 8:11:01 PM

sik1977 said:
@ 3Ball

P.s' I read the reviews on the 8800GTS SSC, its a nice card, but if you are lucky, for the same price you may find a 8800GTS 512MB tomorrow. Dec 11th is the release day for 8800GTS 512 in US (I don't know where you are from or if its the same for Europe), and there are bound to be some cards available initially for a few days with the large online retailers. So try your luck there if you havent already bought the SSC.


Thanks for that... I will certainly look into that and hopefully it will be available. My father is the one purchasing it as I am a poor college student at the moment (I sent him links to 5 different 3870's and 1 8800GTS SSC just as a backup card if he couldn't get the 3870). lol, but if nothing else. When I receive the card for x-mas I will just send it back and get the 8800GTS G92 if at all possible.

Best,

3Ball
!