budget-minded gamer upgrading from GMA 950

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,
-Drew
11 answers Last reply
More about budget minded gamer upgrading
  1. 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 )
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. ^+1.
    @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.
  6. 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?
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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 :)
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