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Best graphics card for an Intel E8400

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  • Graphics Cards
  • Intel
  • Graphics
Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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October 29, 2009 2:02:03 AM

I'm about to install Windows 7 and thought I'd just do a bit of a hardware upgrade while I'm at it. My current specs are:
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
Asus P5Q Pro
2 x 2GB DDR2
HIS X1950XT IceQ3 Turbo

Obviously the graphics card is the major issue and so I appreciate any suggestions for a suitable replacement. I do play games on this machine but don't plan to upgrade the entire machine at this stage.

More about : graphics card intel e8400

October 29, 2009 2:13:31 AM

What games and what resolution....and also where are you?? UK, USA?
October 29, 2009 2:19:38 AM

Hey Smogy,
Call of Duty
1280x800
Australia
Related resources
October 29, 2009 2:22:13 AM

Sorry forgot to ask, have you got a budget?

Do you want to be able to play the games at best possible settings etc...?? or jus something that will get you by?
October 29, 2009 2:25:24 AM

Looking for higher end rather than something to just get by but I imagine that the CPU and RAM would bottleneck a high-end card though?
October 29, 2009 2:32:35 AM

I'd look at something around a GTX260/5770 type of thing.

The CPU will hold you back, especially at 1280x800.
October 29, 2009 3:01:57 AM

yeh 5770 is a good choice as its DX11 also....

Although your CPU will bottleneck your card....it wont really matter as you'll be hitting well above 60fps in most games with that card....and when games become more and more demanding on the GPU then your CPU will become less and less of a bottleneck.

A 5770 is a good choice for future proofing your rig for a year or two.
a c 273 U Graphics card
October 29, 2009 3:39:06 AM

Two years ago the E8400 was not 'bottlenecked' @ 1280 x 800, how comes it is now?
October 29, 2009 4:12:23 AM

Mousemonkey said:
Two years ago the E8400 was not 'bottlenecked' @ 1280 x 800, how comes it is now?



The CPU isn't bottle necked at 1280x800, the bottle neck is the CPU at 1280x800. There is a huge difference between the two statements, one is saying the E8400 is more than powerful enough at 1280, the other is saying the CPU is the determinate factor for performance at 1280.

Basically a $100+ GPU right now isn't going to be truely taxed at 1280x800, the CPU is going to be what is getting maxed out. Make sense?
a c 273 U Graphics card
October 29, 2009 4:24:17 AM

Not really, I've been running an E8400 for the last two years and I reckon SLi'd 8800GT's will give a 5770 a run for it's money at 19 x 10 and at lower res the details can be fully maxed and I don't think a 5770 is going to max the settings any more than the max that a pair of 88's can as the max is the max, make sense?
October 29, 2009 4:43:07 AM

Grab a 5870, hook it up with an E8400 and an i7 920 @ 3.8GHz. Run a bench at 1280x800 and show me that the E8400 even comes close to the i7 920 at maxed settings on any recent game.

This is what I mean by the bottle neck is on the CPU at that resolution with recent GFX cards. Without a CPU upgrade, it doesn't make much sense to go too much farther than a 4870 type performance.

Anyways, at this resolution, and these performance levels, we're talking about future proofing, not current gaming. An E8400 and even a 4770 could likely max out nearly every game at 12x8
a c 273 U Graphics card
October 29, 2009 5:02:57 AM

HibyPrime said:
Grab a 5870, hook it up with an E8400 and an i7 920 @ 3.8GHz. Run a bench at 1280x800 and show me that the E8400 even comes close to the i7 920 at maxed settings on any recent game.

This is what I mean by the bottle neck is on the CPU at that resolution with recent GFX cards.

So as far as you are concerned the term 'bottleneck' should be applied to anything that is not brand new top of the range and cutting edge?, even though it was originally used to describe a situation where the framerate became a slideshow and the term 'bottleneck' was used to describe the component that was causing the slowdown.
a b U Graphics card
October 29, 2009 5:29:01 AM

@Hiby
E8400 doesn't bottleneck anything (nearly). Especially when you OC it to 3.6 and above. Don't forget guys most games don't even use quad core yet. An E8400 still performs just as well in nearly all games as a Phenom II or C2Q.

Also the low resolution is not going to make him bottleneck either. It doesn't make sense for a lower resolution to bottleneck him compared to a higher one. Your FPS does not go down when you lower the resolution. The reason we see the CPU mattering more at a low resolution is because the GPU bottleneck is lifted. That is good for comparing CPUs considering the GPU is usually the bottleneck when gaming. Any game/resolution that lifts the GPU bottleneck is going to be more than playable, especially if it was playable at a higher resolution.
October 29, 2009 5:42:46 AM

He said he was looking for something higher end, to me that spells out spending over $100 on a GFX card. Anything over $100 is going to be more than powerful enough to max out nearly every game at 12x8.

Bottleneck should apply to the slowest component in the chain, it has nothing to do with what frame rates you're getting. People call hard drives bottlenecks all the time, yet they have nearly zero impact on frame rates once the game is loaded up. Hell I'd call a monitor a bottleneck if it had slow enough input lag or response time.

I know that the E8400 is a powerful CPU, I know that it is more than satisfactory. All I'm saying is two things. 1. The E8400 is not high end by todays standards, so if the OP wants a higher end GFX card, he is going to be spending more than he probably needs to. 2. At 12x8 any $100+ card is going to move the bottleneck over to the CPU regardless of what cpu is in the socket.

Raidur said:
The reason we see the CPU mattering more at a low resolution is because the GPU bottleneck is lifted. That is good for comparing CPUs considering the GPU is usually the bottleneck when gaming. Any game/resolution that lifts the GPU bottleneck is going to be more than playable, especially if it was playable at a higher resolution.



Unless the components are 100% equal in speed, the bottleneck can never be lifted, only moved. An old Pentium D 3.73GHZ will probably run most games pretty well, save for the hardest games out there. Throw a 5870 in that system, and drop the resolution down to friggen 320x240, the bottleneck is obviously on the CPU. Raise up the resolution to 2560x1600 with 6 monitors in eyefinity, the bottleneck is surely going to be thrown back to the GPU. This is an extreme case but it gets the point across.
a b U Graphics card
October 29, 2009 6:17:11 AM

HibyPrime said:
Unless the components are 100% equal in speed, the bottleneck can never be lifted, only moved. An old Pentium D 3.73GHZ will probably run most games pretty well, save for the hardest games out there. Throw a 5870 in that system, and drop the resolution down to friggen 320x240, the bottleneck is obviously on the CPU. Raise up the resolution to 2560x1600 with 6 monitors in eyefinity, the bottleneck is surely going to be thrown back to the GPU. This is an extreme case but it gets the point across.


I didn't mean lifted completely, I meant lifted from the GPU and moved to the CPU.

The bottleneck will be moved back to the 5870 but the FPS will not gain at the higher resolution.

The E8400 is strong enough to play any game at max settings on 12x8. It is not like the GPU has to do less % of the work load compared to the CPU at a low resolution, it just doesn't have to work as hard.

The Pentium D will not run games better on any higher resolution than it would on 320x240. Once the CPU is the bottlenecked then the FPS is stopped no matter how high the resolution or how strong the GPU is.
a c 273 U Graphics card
October 29, 2009 6:20:07 AM

High res with a crap CPU will cause a slowdown or slide show effect because the CPU cannot supply data to the graphic sub system fast enough, I have experienced this with SLi setups more than single card rigs but still, to arbitrarily label an E8400 as the choke point when talking about 4370's and the like is just wrong IMHO.

$100 = £61.06, http://www.scan.co.uk/Index.aspx?NT=1-0-94-634-0

Anyhow enough of this as it's gone way
a b U Graphics card
October 29, 2009 6:49:03 AM

Yeah really lol... sorry OP.

+1 5770. That should be plenty enough for your resolution for some good time.

And if you plan on getting a new monitor in the future with higher res then your E8400 should still keep up nicely with a better GPU. If you feel like your CPU is holding you back try a little OC. And if you aren't satisfied you can always just replace the CPU and/or cpu/mobo in the future, but an E8400 should run nearly any GPU setup (besides Trifire 5870 ect hehe) just as good as new high end CPUs on most games.
a b U Graphics card
October 29, 2009 2:00:27 PM

now i want to see the comparison of an E8400 and an i7 920 both with a 5870 running 1200 X 800! I'd be willing to bet that the difference is not that great there... 5 FPS max...
a b U Graphics card
October 29, 2009 7:05:34 PM

lets not forget the multitasking benchmark that was thrown in there... completely useless... Also! The resolution was not 1200 X 800, thank you, drive thru!

Hiby, there are apples and there are oranges, you sir have compared the two quite well!
October 29, 2009 7:12:21 PM

Oh my lord, you people are being quite dense.

Would you say that 1920x1200 and 1920x1080 are comparable resolutions? Well 1280x800 and 1024x768 should be fairly comparable as well then - there are only a few hundred pixel differences between them.

The example was meant to show that a quad core WILL provide benefits over a dual. This is even ignoring clock and/or architecture improvements.

This is seriously simple and commonly understood concept:

THE E8400 IS A DECENT CPU, HOWEVER IT IS NOT HIGH END AND PAIRING IT WITH A HIGH END GRAPHICS CARD WHEN USING LOW RESOLUTIONS WILL WASTE MONEY. AT HIGHER RESOLUTIONS THE GPU IS MORE OF A FACTOR AND THUS WILL REQUIRE MORE POWER.

Edit: the multitasking benchmark is there to show what the average user would experience. People generally leave things like MSN, firefox, and even virus scans running in the background while gaming.
October 29, 2009 7:18:46 PM

I'm using a 4850 on an E8400 at 1366x768.

Only the top end games, (crysis, farcry 2, Anno 1404), require reduced gfx settings and slight overclocks (card core to 700MHz from 625MHz, CPU to 3.6GHz) to make comfortably playable.

If my 4850 failed today and I had a limited budget, I'd opt for a 5770.

The "midlife" upgrade for this computer, though, is going to be a Q9550 CPU and probably a 5850. Even though that's not enough CPU for that card, I can move the 5850 to the next "full" upgrade box and still have the 4850 for this one to give to my kids or whatever.

a b U Graphics card
October 29, 2009 7:20:31 PM

Still, i would like to see a benchmark in ALL the games that Tom's uses as benchmarks @ 1200 X 800 and then average it out to see what the overall result would be...
a b U Graphics card
October 29, 2009 7:22:16 PM

jonpaul37 said:
Still, i would like to see a benchmark in ALL the games that Tom's uses as benchmarks and then average it out to see what the overall result would be...


You mean Tom's charts? ;) 
a c 273 U Graphics card
October 29, 2009 7:31:37 PM

So to get back on topic, has the OP's question been answered to their satisfaction?
a b U Graphics card
October 29, 2009 7:38:26 PM

Nekama, in short, get a 5850, it'll serve you well for now and also serve you well in the future when/if you decide to upgrade, you could get a 5770 too, but the 5850 will be a tad more future-proof in regards to a new monitor, new setup or both. If you don't plan on upgrading anything in the next 2 years, then get a 4850, that will be sufficient enough for that resolution and you'll have all the eye candy with good FPSes...
October 29, 2009 9:14:18 PM

Thanks everyone for your input. I have decided to go with a 5850 just so that I can be a tad more future proof. Assuming that I use max settings, what do you think the highest screen resolution I'd be able to play COD on before I start to see a noticable drop in fps?
October 30, 2009 3:52:58 AM

Ed Brown said:
I'm using a 4850 on an E8400 at 1366x768.

Only the top end games, (crysis, farcry 2, Anno 1404), require reduced gfx settings and slight overclocks (card core to 700MHz from 625MHz, CPU to 3.6GHz) to make comfortably playable.

If my 4850 failed today and I had a limited budget, I'd opt for a 5770.

The "midlife" upgrade for this computer, though, is going to be a Q9550 CPU and probably a 5850. Even though that's not enough CPU for that card, I can move the 5850 to the next "full" upgrade box and still have the 4850 for this one to give to my kids or whatever.



What? The Q9550 is not enough for a single 5850? I think that's nonsense.
October 30, 2009 5:01:37 AM

you guys want to know something funny AND hypocritical? I don't visit these forums as much as I used to, but a few months back, "a 4870 was way overkill at 1280x1024"

but now, a hd 5770 will suffice?

your e8400 will be fine, get yourself a nice hd 4850 for $100, or a hd 5750 if you want the dx 11 for future games. it's as simple as that, you'll run most of your games maxed out at that resolution.

i only recommend these two cards if you decide you will NOT get a new monitor
October 30, 2009 5:18:20 AM

eklipz330 said:
you guys want to know something funny AND hypocritical? I don't visit these forums as much as I used to, but a few months back, "a 4870 was way overkill at 1280x1024"

but now, a hd 5770 will suffice?

your e8400 will be fine, get yourself a nice hd 4850 for $100
, or a hd 5750 if you want the dx 11 for future games. it's as simple as that, you'll run most of your games maxed out at that resolution.

i only recommend these two cards if you decide you will NOT get a new monitor


Why not a 4870 OEM or even the 4890 for an extra 50 or even less?
!