Should I upgrade CPU or GPU?

I have been annoyed recently that my PC has had to dumb down the graphics of some recent games and want to upgrade. It runs Crysis great but some other recent games run pretty bad. I think either my CPU or my GPU's are the weakest link, but which one?

Here's my system:
Videocard: PNY 8800gt 512mB in SLI
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6750
Mainboard: Asus P5N-E SLI
Memory: DDR 800 1GBx2
Soundcard: Realtek HD Audio
PSU: ZUMAX 650 Watt


Looking at my current system, should I upgrade my Core 2 Duo to a Core 2 Quad, or should I upgrade the two 8800gt's and get a Geforce gtx 280? I can't afford to do both.

Here are some symptoms:

3dmark06 score: 10516
I always run 1440x900 resolution below:

Grand Theft Auto 4- averages 25 frames per second (I've heard sli isn't supported)

Cryostasis - Won't go above 25 frames per second in certain rooms with all visuals turned way down. This leads me to believe that it's a CPU limitation. I've heard it only uses 1 cpu core.

Saint's Row 2 - Averaged 15 fps with settings on high. Turned settings down to ugly and still only averaging 25 fps.

Necrovision - decent fps but had to turn lots of visuals down.

I appreciate it!!

Videocard: PNY 8800gt 512mB in SLI
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6750
Mainboard: Asus P5N-E SLI
Memory: DDR 800 1GBx2
Soundcard: Realtek HD Audio
PSU: ZUMAX 650 Watt
32 answers Last reply
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  1. If you can, oc your cpu first, see what that brings. If you cant, or it doesnt bring anything, it could just be your sli profiles are ineeficient, which sucks. The GT in sli should handle most games out today, at maxxed in game settings, tho, keeping the AA low
  2. JAYDEEJOHN said:
    If you can, oc your cpu first, see what that brings. If you cant, or it doesnt bring anything, it could just be your sli profiles are ineeficient, which sucks. The GT in sli should handle most games out today, at maxxed in game settings, tho, keeping the AA low


    Couldnt agree more, get a decent heatsink and push your CPU as far as you can. 2x 8800GT's in SLI is still very much a force to be reckoned with as they were top of the line then, and the G92 architecture is still very much alive in Nvidia's "New" cards. Which while bothering me, is still a testament to how well engineered it was.
  3. You didn't specify case, but with a decent HSF, you should be able to reach 3.4 - 3.6 GHz. That may help a lot.
  4. A new graphics card or a better HSF.

    Scythe Mugen 2 is pretty leet.
  5. amdfangirl said:
    A new graphics card

    :heink: With SLi'd 8800GT's knocking on the door of GTX280 performance levels, I don't think so.
  6. seeing that you have sli card i advice you ti buy a 2nd 8800gt ( they can be found for less than $100).
    Dont buy something new especially since all 3 companies late this year are gonna launch new cpus and new gpus ( with the new gpus said that they will provide a big step forward in performance)
    So buy a 2nd 8800gt which is a cheap and great solution and wait until next year to see the new offers from the likes of nvidia,amd and intel
  7. bradfoster said:
    Videocard: PNY 8800gt 512mB in SLI

    ^ :heink: Did you READ the OP?
  8. sorry my bad. In this case i say dont upgrade yet especially since you are gaming at 1440x900 2x8800gt and your 6750 are more than enough. If you can overclock your cpu a bit that would be nice.
    Also i think your getting a bit low performance for sli 8800gt
    I have a q6600 and a single 8800gt and i get almost 12000 at 3d mark 2006 so i think you should at least be able to get 13-14000
    as for saints row 2 and cryostasis they are badly optimized and thats one of the reason you get low performance but still you should get higher performance than that.
    Update drivers maybe ?
  9. @ mousemonkey: Of course not.

    @OP: Well, GTA4 runs like poo on everything, so dont get too worked up about that one.

    I agree that a little overclocking is probably your best bet right now. See if you can get it up to 3.0-3.2Ghz and hold out for the release of the new Nehlams later this year. That release should push Core2Quad prices down, which will be the time to upgrade.
  10. adamosmaki said:
    sorry my bad.

    No worries.
    adamosmaki said:
    saints row 2 and cryostasis they are badly optimized and thats one of the reason you get low performance but still you should get higher performance than that.
    Update drivers maybe ?
    I'm getting around the 60 fps mark with Cryostasis but Saints row 2 I did give up on as I thought it was sh*t.
  11. CPU looks a bit underpowered for SLI. 2x 8800GT's is still a good setup for most games. Might be time to move up to a faster quad...
  12. Mousemonkey said:
    No worries.
    I'm getting around the 60 fps mark with Cryostasis but Saints row 2 I did give up on as I thought it was sh*t.

    about cryostasis i'm getting about 30fps with a single 8800gt but i still think is unoptimized ( maybe is my computer ) since is a corridor shooter and bar the optimization issues is one of the best fps games played the last couple years and a great horror game with great graphics ( especially shadows and lightning)
    About saints row 2 you are absolutely right my friend indeed it's a piece of s***
  13. gamerk316 said:
    CPU looks a bit underpowered for SLI. 2x 8800GT's is still a good setup for most games. Might be time to move up to a faster quad...

    Nah, just cranking that dualie up to 3ghz should do a whole lotta good.
  14. Thanks for all the comments. Last night I overclocked to 3.2ghz and noticed some game improvements, but idle temp according to Core Temp was 54c, while temp under load from GTA 4 was 74c. I'm new to overclocking. Is 74 gonna melt my cpu? What do you guys run at? I turned it back down in the meantime.

    Somebody needs to start a game review site that gives ratings to PORTS.

    Gears of War: A+
    Grand Theft Auto 4: F-
  15. Thats warm/hot. Back it down a lil. Or, get a better hsf, whichll cool your cpu better, even at higher clocks
  16. Hmmm, looking at the graphics card table, for a pair of 8800GTs to be near a GTX280 seems a little optimistic.
    Going to a quad probably won't do much unless the game is optimized for multiple cores. An e8500 would be a faster choice.

    In your place, I think I'd consider a single GTX260 first, plus a CPU overclock. See what that does for you. You might then add a second GTX260 for SLI, or consider changing the CPU to an e8500.
    I'm not familiar with ZUMAX PSUs, but if it's made by e-Power, it probably isn't all that great. If it's been running a pair of 8800GTs though, a single GTX260 shouldn't be a problem (looks like 192 vs. 199 watts).
  17. Another thought; you may find that going from 2GB to 4GB of RAM will help. That's a pretty cheap upgrade, probably $50-$55 for a 2x2GB kit. I'm not sure, but you might have vDroop problems if you try to go 4x1GB (perhaps another P5N-E owner can let you know?)
  18. I dunno, SLI'd 8800GT's should do better.
    My buddy has an socket 939 AMD 4600X2, and 2 1950 pro's in Crossfire that do about 8800 in 3D mark 06.
    My single 8800GTS 512 and PII 920 clocked to 3.2ghz will hit 14,900. If I crank up the GPU core, I can push it to around 15,800.
    Maybe you have some CPU throttling going on because of a bad or poorly mounted heatsink. At least remount your current heatsink with new thermal paste, or buy a better one, and turn off speed step in the BIOS. See what that does first.
    Your rig should simply do better for what it is, there is an issue somewhere.
  19. I would also suggest you OC your CPU and instead of upgrading the cpu or gpu try getting some more memory. Add in THESE. With the addition of that ram, you should see a pretty good boost
  20. Main thing is, see what your minimum fps are. If theyre greatly effected by your oc, then itd be best to oc
  21. Onus said:
    Hmmm, looking at the graphics card table, for a pair of 8800GTs to be near a GTX280 seems a little optimistic.


    :lol: An Ati user living by his own motto, nice.
  22. trying to provide feedback that hasn't really been touched on aside from Thefox... and, i may be completely wrong in this but...

    OP shows only 2gig of ram... i have no clue if more ram would help a 3dmark score, but in games... going from 2 to 4 would possibly help a bit... and it would be easy on the $$
  23. Kithzaru said:
    trying to provide feedback that hasn't really been touched on aside from Thefox... and, i may be completely wrong in this but...

    OP shows only 2gig of ram... i have no clue if more ram would help a 3dmark score, but in games... going from 2 to 4 would possibly help a bit... and it would be easy on the $$

    Can't say that I've ever noticed the difference, unless all the slots have been used in which case it seems to get slower.
  24. I honestly didn't get Mousemonkey's remark. Yes, it is true that I currently use ATI cards, but I've also used nVidia and liked them just fine.
    I was recalling a comment by Cleeve on estimates of SLI performance, and where he'd put them on the table. Iirc, he suggested a one-tier bump. Now, that was months ago, and driver improvements have likely increased it. Still, you're estimating a three-tier improvement, which I thought sounded very optimistic. I wasn't calling bs on it, because I don't know, and it would be nice if true. Absent definitive data though, it isn't what I would plan if I were building today.
  25. Well, at least Mousemonkey pays attention to the OP :p

    I like both ATi and Nvidia.

    Whichever is cheaper.
  26. Onus said:
    Hmmm, looking at the graphics card table, for a pair of 8800GTs to be near a GTX280 seems a little optimistic.
    Going to a quad probably won't do much unless the game is optimized for multiple cores. An e8500 would be a faster choice.

    In your place, I think I'd consider a single GTX260 first, plus a CPU overclock. See what that does for you. You might then add a second GTX260 for SLI, or consider changing the CPU to an e8500.
    I'm not familiar with ZUMAX PSUs, but if it's made by e-Power, it probably isn't all that great. If it's been running a pair of 8800GTs though, a single GTX260 shouldn't be a problem (looks like 192 vs. 199 watts).


    Thanks for the info. What is the "graphics card table" that you're talking about? Is that a website?
  27. last page of the THG graphics review of each month.
  28. jtt283, you cant be serious...

    Your 'guessing' based on what generation his cards are? Look at some benchmarks my friend, SLi 8800GT usualy match or exceed the GTX280 (In SLi optimised games of course).
  29. I only repeated what I read here, written by Cleeve, with whom I do not care to argue on matters of GPU performance. Of course, times change; if the information predates decent SLI drivers, then so be it. However well a pair of 8800GTs in SLI perform, I would still never imagine that a pair of GTX260s would not be better.
  30. If your gunna do any upgrading, upgrade your CPU, your GPU's are really good already, the gtx 280 is pretty much the same as your 2 8800's and if you SLI gtx 280's your cpu would be a bottle neck. so get a nice quad.
  31. UPDATE: I successfully overclocked to 3.5ghz from 2.66ghz. The new 3dmark06 score is about 15000. Cryostasis is actually playable now which is nice. Saint's Row 2 and Grand Theft Auto 4 still suck, so I'm not going to worry about those horribly botched ports.
  32. congrats, hope it holds
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