Thinking about buying a new video card.
I just got an e2180 and have it @ 2.7ghz and my performance in ut3 just about doubled. Cod4 got a little better, but bioshock didn't improve at all. So it got me thinking that maybe the x1950 pro I have was bottlenecked by bioshock.
with the drop in price of the 3870's and the debut of the 9600 gt I'm seeing some prices that I like. I'm open to any suggestion, even the 8800 512 gts looks good. But what I want to know is what card would be the best bang for the buck, but still be a great improvement over the x1950 pro I have now? Or would it be better to wait for a price cut or for a new card coming out?
bioshock fps (40-50) (max qual @ 1280x1024)
cod4 fps (20-40 max qual @ 1280x1024 4x aa)
ut3 fps (40-60 high settings @1280x1024)
You cant get bottlenecked by a game. The card may be having a hard time with it but its inability to run it as fast as you like is a limitation of the hardware not a bottleneck. As you say your performance in ut3 basically doubled with the new CPU which indicates that your card was being held back by the old one. Now you are getting heldback by the GPU in Bioshock it would seem. You could try overclocking the CPU and if you get additional performance then its not the card.
An easy way to determine this is to drop your res down to as low as possable with all AA etc turned off. This will make things easier for the GPU and you should get higher frames. You can check your FPS score with Fraps (just google if you dont have it. its a free small utility). when you have done that turn the res up to max and enable some AA etc to make the card work harder, again check with Fraps. If you dont get an increase in FPS with every thing turned down this indicates that the CPU is the issue.
As far as a new card goes i would wait for the new releases just to save that feeling when they release something better for the same price bracket.
It is going to be hard to get anything that will give you "great improvement" over an x1950. Don't get me wrong, there are quite a few cards that are better, but they aren't going to blow yours out of the water. I think price vs. performance, you would probably be best to wait for the next series of cards to be released. If you can't wait, though, an 8800 GT 512 is probably your best bet.
BTW, is your x1950 pro a 256 mb or 512 mb version?
well, what mactronix is syating is true... i, though, have a 3870 and i LOVE it... maxes out CoD4 and Bioshock (DX10) at 16X10; i do drop below 30 fps from time to time but it's not creating any lag so i am happy... the fact that i can actually run crysis on high (again, DX10) and not have lag most of the time makes me love the card even more... but then i think atm all the cards are great... i'd splash out on a 8800GT now, though apparently the 3870 will be better for shader-heavy games later down the line...