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Is my CPU and memory a bottleneck for a graphics upgrade?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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November 24, 2008 10:37:23 AM

This is my first post of Tom's Hardware, so hello to all.

My current system:

CPU: AMD 64 x2 4200+ @ 2.21 Ghz 4.9 rating
Memory: 2x 1GB DDR @ 400 Mhz 4.9 rating
Graphics: ATI 256MB x1950 pro 5.9 rating
OS: Vista 32 SP1
Sound: Onboard AC'97
Power: OCZ 500W
Monitor: 52" Sharp LCD HDTV
3Dmark 06 demo: SM2/3 ~1800 CPU ~1200 and overall ~3300 (going of memory).

I'm currently thinking about purchasing a ATI 4850. My only concern is that my CPU and memory will bottleneck the video card and I won't be able to harness the $ value of the 4850. I currently play games like Company of Heroes, Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress 2, Stalker and Oblivion which all run fine @ 720p with most options set to high with 4x AA. The system can run these games at 1080p but when the action gets intense the frame rate becomes choppy. I really don't see myself playing a new games (nothing on the PC horizon for me), but I'll probably play Crysis and Far Cry 2. It seems that a entirely new box is going to be about $700 should I chooses to go that path. So, if I upgrade the video card in my system am I getting value?
November 24, 2008 11:05:36 AM

And Welcome to you too MykC..Well I just got rid of a similar AMD system when I upgraded to an 8800gt as I had just read an article here on Tom's that suggested that I would need at least a 2.6 ghz cpu to take advantage of the 8800's capabilities,with any luck you might at least be able to keep your present psu,as some of OCZ's psu's are underated,according to Hardware secrets the StealthXStream 600 could have been sold as a 700watt as it will do just that 24/7/365,OTOH,,if you are a careful reseacher you can find less expensive mobo's that preform well [overclock nicely too] and run like all get out,and I'm still running an AMD system and running all the latest games quite satisfactorily..:) 
a b U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
a b } Memory
November 24, 2008 11:06:04 AM

Yes, buy the 4850. Check my specs. I used to have a 1950pro, darn good card but it's time is gone. I have the 4600 x2, overclocked a little, and the 8800GTS 512 meg card I bought last year more than doubled my frame rates in 3Dmark 06, and a HUGE gain in real world gameplay as well. If my memory serves me, I was getting about 4000 with 1950pro, but the with the 8800GTS I hit around 8500 at stock, and if I clock my processor to to 2.8, and overclock the GPU by about 100mhz, I can get just a touch over 10,000.

I am telling you this because the 4850 should perform about on par with my 8800GTS. Even a little better at stock speeds.

Your memory is fine. You could overclock the processor as well. It should pretty easlily go 2.4 or 2.6ghz.

Will your current system be able to push the 4850 to it's potential?
No way. But it will be a huge improvement over what you have now, and you can always carry the 4850 over to a new system.
Related resources
a b U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
a b } Memory
November 24, 2008 11:14:28 AM

Yup, go for it.
You may have some CPU bottlenecking at high resolutions but, overall, you gaming performance will get a massive boost. It is defiantly your most value orientated upgrade.
a c 130 U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
a b } Memory
November 24, 2008 2:03:03 PM

I totally agree with the last few posts, Go get a 4850. Yes there will be untapped potential but the differance you see will make you happy enough for it not to matter. As the others say the CPU will go up a bit if needed.
You dont haev a bad system in fact it was that you dont have SP2 installed that stood out to me,not anything hardware wise at all.

Micromac
a c 130 U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
a b } Memory
November 24, 2008 2:11:02 PM

No my bad, think im going to bed soon, how i saw XP and not vista god alone knows :pt1cable:  :lol: 
November 24, 2008 2:15:20 PM

+1 for the 4850, you'll see huge improvements. If you're really concerned about bottlenecking, consider giving your processor a slight overclock (depending on your motherboard).
November 24, 2008 2:37:50 PM

4850 ftw the 8800gts will get spanked by the 4850 and should not even be mentioned.
November 24, 2008 2:54:55 PM

I have a similar situation, im wondering if my CPU/Memory is bottlenecking my 4870 and if so would i see significant gain out of a q9400 or q9550 upgrade (and OC of that upgrade to 3.2-3.6)?

my setup:
gigabyte p35-ds3r
e2180 @3.15
8gb ddr2 @945mhz 5-5-5-15
4870 stock clocks
500gb Samsung F1

Thanks for any help or insight u can give.
November 24, 2008 3:09:18 PM

your e2180 @ 3.15 and 4870 at stock should be just fine. I don't think you'll see *huge* improvements going to the q9xxx unless you're using some heavily multithreaded apps.
November 24, 2008 3:14:38 PM

i forgot to mention im looking for improvement in games mostly, im into shooters like crysis, call of duty etc.as well as racing games like NFS and grid

also my cooling setup is a noctua NH-U12P in Push/Pull and i have a antec 900 case
and im in vista x64
November 24, 2008 3:18:43 PM

You'll only benefit from the extra cores of the quads in games/apps that implicitly support them (few and far between at the moment). So the only real boost will be from the larger cache size and slightly higher clockspeed. That being said, it IS an improvement, but not a huge one. Is it worth the money? I can't make that decision for you.
November 24, 2008 3:33:18 PM

MykC said:
This is my first post of Tom's Hardware, so hello to all.

My current system:

CPU: AMD 64 x2 4200+ @ 2.21 Ghz 4.9 rating
Memory: 2x 1GB DDR @ 400 Mhz 4.9 rating
Graphics: ATI 256MB x1950 pro 5.9 rating
OS: Vista 32 SP1
Sound: Onboard AC'97
Power: OCZ 500W
Monitor: 52" Sharp LCD HDTV
3Dmark 06 demo: SM2/3 ~1800 CPU ~1200 and overall ~3300 (going of memory).

I'm currently thinking about purchasing a ATI 4850. My only concern is that my CPU and memory will bottleneck the video card and I won't be able to harness the $ value of the 4850. I currently play games like Company of Heroes, Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress 2, Stalker and Oblivion which all run fine @ 720p with most options set to high with 4x AA. The system can run these games at 1080p but when the action gets intense the frame rate becomes choppy. I really don't see myself playing a new games (nothing on the PC horizon for me), but I'll probably play Crysis and Far Cry 2. It seems that a entirely new box is going to be about $700 should I chooses to go that path. So, if I upgrade the video card in my system am I getting value?



Run a crysis benchmark at 800x600 and 1920x1080. If you see no change you are cpu bottlenecked.
November 24, 2008 4:29:29 PM

no, it won't hinder performance of your 4850.
playing crysis is another story, learn to overclock your processor to get smooth frame rates in crysis.
November 24, 2008 4:47:34 PM

Yea, crysis will be more sensitive to clockspeed, everything else should be fine.
a b U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
November 24, 2008 4:49:31 PM

You may want to consider an HD 4830 if you don't plan on a new PC in the next year or so. The performance difference would be negligible compared to an HD 4850 on your system and you might as well save $40, power consumed and heat produced. This is a great deal before the rebate and a screamin' deal after. The card sits between a 9800 GT and 9800 GTX in performance.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
November 24, 2008 5:53:51 PM

Hey, thanks for all the input. I've decided to purchase the ATI 4850. Worst case scenario is that I run it though the hoops and if I'm not happy with the results I'll return it, but I'd have to pretty disappointed to do that much work. Anyways, I also took the afternoon to look into this overclocking thing on my CPU and took from 2.21 to 2.64 (40 Mhz FSB bump). My system has a pretty decent after market heat sink and fan.
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