I'm actually with a Pentium 4 (3 ghz), with 2gb of RAM (1gb added today) and a Asus P5GD1 Motherboard with a Nvidia 6600GT PCI-Ex 128mb video card.
I'm looking to change the video card to be able to gain some more power of this 4 year old PC, since I'm a student I can't really buy a brand new computer at the moment.
So I asked a bit around in shops and a vendor recommended me to buy a 8600 GT PCI-Ex video card, because buying a newer card would be useless since my CPU and my Motherboard would downgrade my new card's performances. Now I would like to know if that's true ^^, and if yes should I take in it 256mb or 512mb ?
I'm sorry to bother you with these questions but salesmen are just doing their jobs: trying to sell me stuff, but I can't buy with my eyes shut right now ^^ !
Also a few friends and a vendor told me that I could buy a Nvidia 9600GTPCI-Ex, because she would'nt be very much downgraded by my CPU and Motherboard. So what should I do lol ^^ ? It seems the 9600GT would be a better choice since it's more powerfull than a 8600GT and the price isn't very different (approx. 20-30 euros).
Should I get the Nvidia 8600GT PCI-Ex or the 9600GT PCI-Ex? In 256mb or 512mb ?
Again sorry for bothering you with these questions, but i'm not very good at all this and I always think it's better to take advice from the consumers instead of the salesmen lol !
Your CPU will bottleneck the card a fair bit, but that will also mean you can turn up the graphics with minimal impact on performance (within reason, 1920x1200 isn't within reason) because you were already capped at the lower graphics level. Higher graphics shifts the bottleneck from the CPU to the video card. The 8600GT won't let you do that, because it just plain sucks. It should be 70 euros less than the 9600GT. This is what the 9600GT will do to an 8600GT:
So if I get a 9600GT 512 mb I will gain more power than if I get a 8600GT 512mb? I will then be able to play with greater settings and even use a 22" flat screen instead of my old 4/3 screen and still play at high settings ? Or will my proc downgrade too much my power / graphic card ?
To make it simple, I put together a theoretical graph that should explain to you what is going to happen. It is in no way accurate for any application, but the general curve should be pretty much right for an older game since I assume you wouldn't be playing Crysis on that rig. Keep in mind both cards are assumed to be 512MB. Click the thumbnail for a decent view.
As you can see, a higher powered CPU will boost your framerate alot to start with, but as resolution increases, the video card becomes the more limiting factor, and by the time you reach 1920x1200 the CPU has little impact. With the P4, the 9600GT performs about the same as the 8600GT at a lower resolution because both cards are able to render the scene faster than the CPU can supply them with data. As the resolution increases, the 9600GT begins to slide until it about equals the 9600GT with the E8400. The 8600GT, being a bottleneck now like the 9600GT also slides, but because it is so much slower, it drops off much faster and ends up dead at the end.
@Randomizer: Thanks for your help ! And for the graphic that thing is a nice example, did you make that yourself? Ok so i'll take the 9600GT at 512mb. I hope I'll gain more graphical power to be able to play games like starcraft2 and perfhaps Farcry 2 ^^ !
@Best reviewss: Well I'm not english so downgrade is the only word I could think of ^^. Also why can't you explain me why 9600GT is better than a 8600GT? Can you send me that in PM ?
Also I don't know what's my core, i think it's prescott but i'm not sure ! How can I find out infos about it ?
@bigkahuna: Core 2 CPUs are not compatible with that motherboard unfortunately. Yes I made the graph in Open Office Calc (ie. open source form of Excel ). Most likely you'll need a new CPU for Far Cry 2 and Starcraft 2 because they will be highly optimised for dual cores, and you only have a single core. Investing in a cheap motherboard and Core 2 Duo combination would net you a big performance increase on the low-mid end of the resolution scale, and depending on the game, maybe the high resolution end too. I hope you are "good" at maths if you want to understand Best_reviewss' number theories.
read my system specs below, i guess we own the same p4 socket 775
i have to say, if you had seen the article about the 3850 agp on a single core, you'll see that the 2600XT (8600GTnv) would almost performe the same.
if i where you, (i also stepped up from a 6600GT xfx 256mb)
buy a 8600 or 7600GT for now, and keep your money for a next rigg!
that's what i'm doing now! i also want to play far cry2, but i'm afraid if i can't do it! crysis also sucks on this system. even colin mcrae dirt is in multicar map a slideshow!
youre choice! i won't spend the money again! i think the 8600 is the maximum upgrade you can do, because that 8600GT even outperformce the older 6800GT /ultra. if you know the days you bought your pc (4 years ago) that one was the high end! so compare your grafics cards with the high end of the past.
get the 8600GT if you want. it doubles the performance of your 6600 maybe more. you finally can play at res 1280. but don't expect much from it! and i only have 256 mb, you should get 512mbversion. it is the safest!
good luck with your choice! do something, but don't make the same mistake as what i did!
i can give you some benchmarks from games! if it is about cod4 you get in 1024 res good framerates 40-91 but at 1280 it lowerts to 25-70
But if he gets an 8600GT he'll need to get a second card when he does a full system upgrade. Better to get the 9600GT now and then he'll have a decent card to go in his new system. I would definitely consider a cheap Core 2 Duo system if you intend to play any new release games though, the difference between your P4 and the low-end (ie. $60) C2D CPUs is huge performance wise, as long as the game is multithreaded (meaning it can use more than one core efficiently).
every card he is buying today, is not good for a new system. especially if you plan to use it in a later system. and if he wants to, he just need to spend more money than he wants. a cheap 9600gt won't settisfy him in a new rigg. than it is old...
i'm waiting also, i don't spend money in a card i can't use now, and don't like it later in an other system. it's stupid. when you want something to work like it should be, you buy everything new.
that's what i'm plannnig to do.
* i have to see what i say, because the next gen nv isn't so good at all! you 're better of with a 8800ultra. the most bang for the buck i guess. how much costs it now a days? or is it still high in price? higher than 9800gtx?
it's his decision (i don't type english very well, sorry about that!
I understand you reasoning, but I doubt his new rig will be a high powered gaming beast because he is a student. An E2160 + EP35-DS3L would be a good set of components for a 9600GT, but not for something like an 8800 Ultra unless you have a big monitor that can do high res. His best option IMO woud be to buy nothing now and wait until he can buy an entire rig (or at least major components) all in one go.
As for the 8800 Ultra being most bang for your buck, I'd have to say the 8800GTX or 9800GTX would be better than that. The 8800 Ultra is not alot faster than an 8800GTX but it still carries a price premium that makes it less attractive. The 9800GTX isn't going to handle super high res and AA too well though, its 256-bit memory bus slows it down. On the other hand, the 8800 Ultra often doesn't provide playable framerates at 2560x1600 4xAA either, but it certainly does better than any other card.
The ultra is still expensive for the same reason the aging C2D X6800 is still expensive, it is the top end product for a particular family, and so it will always be expensive. I'm also a student, but I don't believe in paying money for something I don't need. I could have bought an 8800GTS 512MB, but instead I got the 9600GT which is around 25% slower simply because I didn't need the extra graphics horsepower and couldn't justify the extra money. Most of my hardware (except video card) is second hand, I got my E6600 for $150, which at the time would have got me an E4300 new. I would have been quite happy with an E4300, or even an E2160, but I got a better (in some ways worse actually) chip for almost the same price. Second hand stuff means I can get alot more bang for my buck.