8800GT + Mass Effect 1=Low Rez

I've got an aging but still decent system with an 8800GT installed. However, the only way to get acceptable framerates out of ME1 is to lower the resolution to 1280x800, which is suboptimal on my 1600x1024 monitor. That gives me fps in the 25-30 range, which isn't great but is at least playable. The frustrating thing is that this same rig gives me 40-50 fps @ 1600x1024 in Dragon Age, which also looks better than ME1. I'm also looking to get my system ready for ME2. The most obvious bottleneck I can see is that my 8800GT only has 256MB of RAM. Could that explain the relatively low fps I'm getting from my card?

Rig details:
Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L
Intel Q6600 @ 2.4GHz (stock)
4GB DDR-667 RAM (bought some shoddy RAM, so I had to downclock it)
Western Digital SATA-II 640GB 7200 rpm Hard Drive
XFX "Alpha Dog" GeForce 8800GT 256MB
Windows XP x64

Game settings:
Resolution: 1280x800
Texture detail: High
Particle Effects: Medium
Filtering Mode: Linear
Dynamic shadows off
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More about 8800gt mass effect
  1. Install the latest drivers: http://www.nvidia.com/object/winxp64_195.62_whql.html
    Install the latest DirectX Update pack: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=2DA43D38-DB71-4C1B-BC6A-9B6652CD92A3&displaylang=en

    I'm 90% sure the card only having 256mb of memory is the problem but it won't hurt to install these.
  2. The drivers are at the right rev., but dxdiag says my DX9 files are pretty stale. I'll try upgrading those sometime tonight. You're probably right about the memory, but that leaves me with a dilemma. I have about $150 left over from Xmas, so I'm debating an upgrade. My monitor is ancient and has a big old pressure point on it, but it looks like I'm going to need the graphics card more. Most of the reviews I've read seem to indicate that there aren't very many cost effective upgrades for an 8800GT. Of course, bumping it up to 1GB might have a very positive effect.
  3. The 256mb 8800gt is actually quite a lot slower than the 512mb version.

    If you can you stretch to a 5770 you'll notice a huge difference.
  4. jennyh said:
    The 256mb 8800gt is actually quite a lot slower than the 512mb version.

    If you can you stretch to a 5770 you'll notice a huge difference.

    Yep a 5750 or 5770 will be a HUGE upgrade from a Geforce 8800 GT. Especially from one with only 256mb of memory.
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  6. jennyh said:
    The 256mb 8800gt is actually quite a lot slower than the 512mb version.

    If you can you stretch to a 5770 you'll notice a huge difference.

    Yea, NVIDIA's cards simply can't handle low VRAM capacity. I believe the HD3000/4000 cards did alot better with 256MB. Nevertheless, 256MB is low for any modern card.
  7. Unfortunately, it appears that some software I use is not compatible with the 5xxx series. Since the software has been discontinued, it is unlikely it will ever be. However, it is possible for me to use the 48xx series. Which of those cards would you recommend? It looks like the 4850 and 4870 are in my price range. Would either of those, or even the 4830, be a significant upgrade from the 8800gt?
  8. The 4830 is a tiny bit faster than the 8800gt (512mb). Although that would be an upgrade on your 256mb version, it's not worth it.

    The 4850 is good but the 4870 is a really powerful card still. Go for that if you can afford it.
  9. OK, I've done some research based on this chart:


    Based on that resolution, a GTX260 would get me a 50% improvement in FPS (above a 512MB 8800gt) for $164. The best 4870 I can find is $159, so I'll pay the extra $5 for slightly higher performance. A 4890 would be $189, and only nets me a 10% FPS increase for $30.

    Since I have a $25 gift certificate to Best Buy, I can use it on this card:


    And get the price down to $164, which beats Newegg, plus I get Instant Gratification(TM). Unfortunately, the 4870 is not currently available at Best Buy.

    Anyone have any thoughts on that card, or the GTX 260 in general?
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