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What is the best graphics card for an Intel Pentium D @ 2.8 Ghz?

Last response: in Overclocking
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June 9, 2010 9:41:54 AM

Being WELL AWARE that today's graphics card will be completely dragged down by my computer's CPU, I know that I should be upgrading the processor first (if not overhauling my entire computer) to maximize the raw power of the current ATI/NVIDIA cards. It actually makes me sad reading all these threads about users having the Radeon 5870's of the world, lol.

While I do plan on doing that in the near future, for the time being, I just want to change out my outdated NVIDIA GeForce 512MB 7900 GTX graphics card to run today's current computer games a little bit smoother to say the least. When I play COD: Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer, I play it under the "optimal settings" option (a resolution of 800X600, which is quite sad) since any higher will be choppy and slow.

So basically, what would be the best graphics card out there to accommodate my ancient CPU?


Here are some of my computer's specs:

Model: Dell XPS 600
Processor: Intel Pentium D, 2.80 Ghz
OS: Windows 7 Home Edition 32-bit (upgradable to 64-bit)
RAM: 2 GB DDR2 667 MHz (upgradable up to 8 GB)
PSU: 650-W DC power supply (fixed-voltage power supply — 110 V at 50/60 Hz)
Hard Drive: 160 GB
PCI x16 slot holding my current graphics card


Many thanks in advance for any suggestions.
a b U Graphics card
a b K Overclocking
June 9, 2010 9:59:36 AM

Get one that when you get the processor upgrade you can get as second at the same time for Sli or crossfire
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a b U Graphics card
June 9, 2010 10:12:48 AM

Depends on your budget. I'd guess a 5750 which is 100-120 bucks or so would be a decent match up. Chances are the card will be held back by your processor, but it shouldn't be by too much.

I'd also recommend another 2gb of ram, 2gb alone is cutting things close for gaming under win7. It's hard to tell now, but without the ram upgrade the new card might not seem like a huge improvement because you're still getting stutters from the lack of available memory. That's my guess.
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a b U Graphics card
June 9, 2010 10:07:28 PM

I did a test with my dad's old 7800GTX that was in his XPS600 and a 3.4ghz Single Core Pentium 4. It scored about 4k in 3DMark06. Plugged it in my computer with my q6600 @ 3.2ghz and it scored pretty much the same. Which leads me to believe that there's room for GPU improvement. And since the OPs is a DC there should be more room.
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June 10, 2010 2:54:12 PM

ATI 5770 at least, u can use it in when u get a new desktop also.
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June 10, 2010 2:55:29 PM

get some software that graphs cpu and gpu usage and run it while gaming with a few of your favourite titles with vsync off. on multi threaded games, the amount of unused cpu cycles should be roughly half the amount % improvement in gpu you should get. ex 25% unused cpu = get a gpu that at least 50% faster than your current. another ex: 30fps with 50% cpu means in theory your cpu can do 60fps but is limited by gpu, so you'd need a gpu that's twice as fast or 100% faster to max the cpu. if your cpu is already at or close to 100%, don't bother with a new gpu.
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June 10, 2010 3:15:45 PM

Adding to OhCoaster; keep in mind that some games' performance depend more on the relation between GPU/CPU. This is my experience: I used to play Dragon Age flawlessly (1280x760 though) with a 8800gts 640MB and a core2duo 2.4GHz.
Later that vcard died and I got my hands on a different rig with an AMD phenom x64 quadcore 2.3 GHz and I thought it would enough to pump my new ATI 5850... but it wasn't (in certain games, I repeat). Dragon Age was mostly unplayable in any res and setting with lots framerate drops and choppy as hell; Crysis was just the same than my former rig; Mass Effect 2 was better.
I had read about GPU/CPU bottlenecks on certain games on forums and I was kind of skeptic... but then decided to save my bucks for a Phenom II 965 quadcore 3.4 GHz and everything is smooth and perfect now.
My point is, I tried upgrading only the vcard to upgrade CPU later... but both are kinda tied on, and If you want a vcard that would last for at least a couple of years, I would consider series ati 5000 or 4000... or nvidia 200... or 400 if you live in alaska xD
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a b U Graphics card
a b K Overclocking
June 10, 2010 4:00:28 PM

Depends on your resolution. I have an old XPS 400 that has a Pent. D 2.8Ghz/GTS 250 and there is a major bottleneck (in games) @ 1680x 1050 resolution. The problem is that the Pent. D is a weak CPU at this point in time.

I do not recommend upgrading your CPU on that board because the price to performance margin will be a disaster. Save up for a new board/CPU or if that is not an option I would try raising that Pentium D to at least 3.2Ghz (ClockGen).
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a b U Graphics card
June 10, 2010 10:20:31 PM

Default settings, 3DMark06 is always benched at default settings, aka 1280x1024. The 7800GTX is clearly the bottleneck in my tests. Graphics score didn't increase after giving it 4x the cpu power. The overall score bumped up a little because of the increased cpu score. Both scores were still in the low 4k area.

I don't see how my test was not accurate. The constants were the GPU, Benchmark and settings, the variable was the rest of the machine. The results are quite definitive.
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a b U Graphics card
a b K Overclocking
June 11, 2010 2:30:42 AM

Personally, I wouldn't sink too much money on a GPU with the pentium D. The best advise is get something in the range of $100 now and save for an upgrade in the near future. If gaming is an interest, you will want to upgrade before too long. Just get a stopgap for now.
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a b U Graphics card
June 11, 2010 8:35:09 AM

Like the 5750 i mentioned earlier? It's a clear improvement over his current card for about 100 bucks.
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June 11, 2010 10:43:05 AM

get nvidia 9600 GT 512 MB DDR3 its good for your current cpu
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June 29, 2010 6:38:24 AM

shening said:
ATI 5770 at least, u can use it in when u get a new desktop also.

I'd be worried that a 5770 would be too big for a dell xps 600 case
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a b U Graphics card
June 29, 2010 9:00:17 AM

I have had a 7800gtx in that case with tons of room. It'll fit.
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