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budget-minded gamer upgrading from GMA 950

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
November 28, 2008 1:09:37 PM

Hello, all.
I'm a starving student, and I've been "gaming", or at least attempting to, on my laptop with GMA 945 graphics. Painful, to say the least. My laptop specs are the following:
C2D 2.16
4 gig ram
GMA 945

I recently purchased enough parts to build a new system, with these specs very cheaply:
Pentium D 830 (3.0ghz)
3 gig ram
Asus NV 8800 GS 384 mb

Now, I know that Pentium D's are absolute crap, or so I hear, and I know an 8800 gs is not a 9800 or whatnot.
Now, will I see a major performance increase? I hope so...
On my laptop I can run HL2 with DX8 on about medium settings with 10-30ish fps, can't run Far Cry, Ep1, Ep2, Portal, or anything like that.
Will I be able to run games like Far Cry, Far Cry 2, COD 4, Crysis, HL2 Ep 2, etc. on decent settings/resolutions?
My monitor is 1440x900.

Also, should I go for Windows XP or Vista? I'm guessing XP for the performance boost.

Thanks for your time,
a b U Graphics card
November 28, 2008 2:08:34 PM

Not the greatest but a major "Gaming" upgrade over what you have.
I would go for XP. But only if you dont care about the DX9 or DX10 difference.(performance boost )
a b U Graphics card
November 28, 2008 2:39:15 PM

With those parts you should be fine for those games. My son runs Crysis @ 1280 x 1024 med settings with no lag on a pentium 631, 2 GB of DDR2-667 ram and a 8600gt 256 oc'd.
So you should be fine.
Related resources
November 28, 2008 2:55:05 PM

GMA 950 can play Farcry, and Battlefront II (with a few tweaks to turn off HSL) :) 
Battlefront II actually looked very nice!

and It plows through quakeIII based games!
November 28, 2008 3:21:53 PM

You actually took a step backwards on the processor... your laptop's C2D would rate a little higher than the Pentium D you chose. However your choice of GPU would definitely help towards a decent gaming experience. No, you're not playing Crysis with all the bells and whistles, but you'll do a heck of a lot better than you were on your laptop.
a b U Graphics card
November 28, 2008 3:28:15 PM

@OP: When possible upgrade to a E2180/E5200 if your motherboard supports it. E2180 can hit 3.2Ghz and E5200 can hit 3.6-4Ghz with good cooling.
November 28, 2008 3:30:47 PM

I will be upgrading to a C2D when possible, probably in a few months or so but I just wanted to get started on a decent machine.

What kind of frame rates should I expect with medium-high settings on most games?
November 28, 2008 7:06:00 PM

skittle said:
GMA 950 can play Farcry, and Battlefront II (with a few tweaks to turn off HSL) :) 
Battlefront II actually looked very nice!

and It plows through quakeIII based games!

i tried far cry, dear lord it looked worse than quake 1. awful. and i know how to set these things up... believe me, I tried for so long to live with this card. i cannot. tried battlefront 2, with lots of tweaking i was around 20~ fps.
the only thing this card can kind of run well is half life 2, but no source based games.
it's just not good enough for me, really.
November 28, 2008 7:25:54 PM

Your graphics card at that res will do very nicely. I'm running at 1440x900 also, with an HD 4670 which is within 5% of the 8800GS. Only difference is I'm running a 2.6Ghz Athlon X2.

I ran Stalker (Chernobyl) at high settings, Left4Dead at all high (Source-based), Prey maxed, Far Cry maxed. All at 35+ FPS.

So you should be fine, upgrade your cpu when you can. Building a cheap gaming machine for a 19" monitor has never been so cheap! At least not in my past experience.
November 29, 2008 6:56:02 AM

True that! Thanks for the reply. I played some HL2DM tonight at a LAN party and it was quite embarassing, with my framerate dropping to 7 in open areas, only DX7 will all settings on zero...

How terrible is the Pentium D, really?
I'll probably get a 2.6 C2D at some point I think. Future though... when I have a job.
December 7, 2008 12:59:15 AM

off topic: how do i tweak the HSL? is it necessary to do that to get battlefront 2 to run?
on topic: the Pentium D is about 3 1/2 years old, so dont expect too much in performance.
December 7, 2008 1:41:15 AM

yeah, don't get confused the Pentium Dual Cores are still a Core 2 architecture with core 2 performance but less cache and a slower (STOCK) fsb...

pentium D's on the other hand are usually higher clocked and slower than the Pentium Dual Core's because they are based on the Pentium 4 Netburst architecture. even though the clocks are slower, the Pentium Dual Core is a beast :D  if possible, i would get an e5200 (see, core 2 naming system!) or e2180. veryyyy overclockable :)