Atom PC...but with top end graphics card?

Hi,

I currently have a dual core Atom 330 with Hyperthreading @ 1.6Ghz per core (but OS sees 4 logical processors). It has 1Mb of cache, which is quite low. I have installed 4Gb of 4-4-4-12 gaming RAM. The board also has the inbuilt Nvidia ION graphics chipset.

Now...my question is...what is the best GPU i can install. If I was to splash out £200 on a top end Nvidia 1Gb board, would this allow me to play CoD4 etc (modern games) on high settings...or is the CPU speed going to be a major factor.

What is the best card I can get for this setup (and use to its fullest potential)...without me spending extra money on a GPU thats going to be held back by the processor.

Regards

Luke
26 answers Last reply
More about atom graphics card
  1. It sees 4 logical processors because of hyperthreading.

    I can't say specific to COD4 but I did run some tests with COD6 using my Athlon IIx4 at "high" settings without AA and with specular map enabled at 1920x1080.

    I found that with my radeon 3870, I began experiencing lower framerates when I used two cores at 1GHz or lower, my framerate was reduced from higher speeds and more cores. So the bottleneck with the Athlon IIx2 is at about 1GHz at those settings. Of course, the CPU is utilized more at lower resolutions. I'm not sure what architecture the Atom is based on but I think you could pretty much get the most potential out of the radeon 4670 or 5670. The 5670 is the most powerful card I would bother with alongside that CPU.

    Some other games utilize the CPU more, so you might be limited in other games. It depends a lot on the games coding. GTAIV and FSX are notorious for needing a lot of CPU power.

    Also note that you will need to make sure that your power supply can provide enough power for whatever card you get. The 46xx and 56xx cards from ATI use less power than most cards.

    If you have the money though, it would be worth it for a new motherboard, CPU and video card.
  2. Ok....so if I bought a 5770...would this be hampered by the CPU. Or a 5850? At what point would the extra GPU power start to become redundant? (e.g. COD6, Crysis, Bioshock 2)
  3. Sorry, but the Atom simply is too weak. For gaming, a GPU is the workhorse, but the CPU has to be powerful enough to give the GPU 'room to breathe'. That means an Athlon II X3 would be the minimum to run a top end graphics card to full effect.
  4. Like the first reply said, a 4670 is definitely the top I would put with an Atom. 5770, 5850 or 5670, all of these will go to waste.
  5. The atom is by far the weakest processor released in years, it's an extremely low power platform and sacrificed a lot of performance for that. Even a 1.6Ghz Celeron E1200 is more than twice as fast. Or even a single core 2.0Ghz Sempron that is 5 years old.
  6. Atom + high-end gaming = FAIL.
  7. 5770 with an Atom is like like a lawn mower engine in a Ferrari!
  8. sturm said:
    5770 with an Atom is like like a lawn mower engine in a Ferrari!

    More like a ferrari engine on a lawnmower trying to take 4 people for a ride.
  9. I tested an Atom vs a a PIII Tualatin 1.4 ghz and it had about the same processing power as that per core even with it being a dual core it just wont cut it for gaming. The only thing that set it really apart from the PIII I tested it against was its newer set of instructions so it ran certain multimedia apps a little better. The Atom is meant to be just a low powered platform for internet and thats about it. If you want to do gaming you should atleast get an Athlon II or better. The Atom will most likely bottleneck just about any card you put with it.
  10. Hmmm...but why is it so weak? Because it only has 512Kb cache per core (1Mb total)? That is the only thing I can see that would make it so weak? They even do a 1.066Ghz i5 processor...but it does have 3Mb cache
  11. ALSO, im thinking of building a cheap but powerful second system to runs games on. Games will only take advantage of one core (right?) so thinking a dual core would be good, to take the slack of windows. Either get a top end P4 or an extreme Pentium D? How would these compare to a modern Dual Core / Core 2 Duo / i3? Not bothered anout 45nm etc etc...just want RAW power, something I can strap a top end card into and blast games at top spec.
  12. lmartinefc said:
    ALSO, im thinking of building a cheap but powerful second system to runs games on. Games will only take advantage of one core (right?) so thinking a dual core would be good, to take the slack of windows. Either get a top end P4 or an extreme Pentium D? How would these compare to a modern Dual Core / Core 2 Duo / i3? Not bothered anout 45nm etc etc...just want RAW power, something I can strap a top end card into and blast games at top spec.


    Games have been showing benefit all the way to 6 cores (rare). Most games are still single or dual core, yes. However more and more games are becoming quad core optimized so its becoming the norm.

    Pentium D and 4 are out-dated and very horrible by todays standards.

    If you want to run a high end card get nothing less than i3/Phenom II x2. For quads you'll want i5-750 or Phenom II x4.

    The quads are/will be worth the premium so get them if you can afford it.
  13. Raidur said:
    Games have been showing benefit all the way to 6 cores (rare). Most games are still single or dual core, yes. However more and more games are becoming quad core optimized so its becoming the norm.

    Pentium D and 4 are out-dated and very horrible by todays standards.

    If you want to run a high end card get nothing less than i3/Phenom II x2. For quads you'll want i5-750 or Phenom II x4.

    The quads are/will be worth the premium so get them if you can afford it.


    Even when games scale properly (today they don't go beyond 3, where did you get 6?) the benefits are limited. A quad core is absolutely worth it. A triple core will serve nicely as well. Even modern dual cores like the i3 can keep up with the most modern quad cores for now and will be able to keep going in the future as well.

    I'd get an AMD. Unlock them and your dual core just became a quad core. Or buy the new quad cores soon to be coming out which can be unlocked to a hexa core (although that's pointless for now)
  14. lmartinefc said:
    Hmmm...but why is it so weak? Because it only has 512Kb cache per core (1Mb total)?


    It's low-clocked, low power and very cut down.

    An obvious example is that it doesn't do out of order execution. On a more powerful CPU, if instruction 2 is waiting for the results of instruction 1, then the CPU can execute instruction 3 and 4 while it's waiting, so long as those instructions don't rely on instruction 2. On the Atom the CPU has to wait for the result of instruction 2 before it executes instruction 3, even though instruction 3 doesn't need it; this is why hyperthreading is pretty much required to get good performance out of Atoms as the second thread can run while the first is stalled.

    Which is not to knock them because they're great CPUs in their niche; I have three Atom systems now. But they're really not designed for anything beyond basic gaming.
  15. lmartinefc said:
    Hmmm...but why is it so weak? Because it only has 512Kb cache per core (1Mb total)? That is the only thing I can see that would make it so weak? They even do a 1.066Ghz i5 processor...but it does have 3Mb cache


    Clock speed doesn't matter, the Atom is very slow clock for clock, it's due to the architecture. It's very weak because it consumes only a few watts, while most cpu's consume 65-125W. Than your comment of games only using one core, that was true a few years ago, not today. Now we have almost every game using 2 cores, and a number of newer titles showing good gain with 3+ cores. A P4 is anything but raw power, it's architecture was designed for high clock speed, not performance per clock. Even the low end of the core2 series, out performs the top of the Pentium D series despite much lower clock speeds.
  16. The best gaming CPU under $100 is the Athlon IIx3. 3 cores, high clockspeeds, only missing L3 cache. High clockspeeds helps to compensate.
  17. Cheers guys, great info. What did you mean 'unlock' the AMD? It has 4 cores but doesnt use them all? How would I 'unlock' it. Does this include the multiplier..ths isnt limited on an AMD?

    So atom should be ok for Command and Conquer etc...nothing intensive though!

    Thinking of either getting a Q6600 or a Phenom. How would an Athlon II or Phenom II compare. Any advice (best to worse etc)
  18. lmartinefc said:
    Cheers guys, great info. What did you mean 'unlock' the AMD? It has 4 cores but doesnt use them all? How would I 'unlock' it. Does this include the multiplier..ths isnt limited on an AMD?

    AMD makes their phenom IIx2 by disabling two cores from a phenom II x4 that has two bad cores. Of course, since it is a new market they have opened up the demand may become more. Therefore when the demand for Phenom IIx2 increases, they disable two cores on a perfectly good phenom IIx4.

    Several other processors are made like this:
    phenom IIx3 - disable one core of a phenom II x4
    Athlon IIx3 - disable one core of an Athlon IIx4
    Athlon IIx4 (only the early models. since then they are no longer made from deneb). disable L3 cache of a phenom IIx4.
    Sempron 140 - disable one core of an Athlon IIx2

    Intel does not do this.
    No this does not include the multiplier. only Black edition processors are multiplier unlocked (or in the case of intel, extreme edition). However, AMD processors are all multiplier unlocked in the downward direction even if they are not black edition.
  19. lmartinefc said:
    Thinking of either getting a Q6600 or a Phenom. How would an Athlon II or Phenom II compare. Any advice (best to worse etc)

    Newegg doesn't even sell the Q6600 anymore. No one wants an old kentsfield quad. But really, intel is overpriced under $200 with the exception of the core i3.

    The Athlon II is nothing more then a phenom II without L3 cache. L3 cache can add up to 10% performance increase in some games. But,
    Athlon IIx3 2.9GHz $75
    Phenom IIx3 2.8GHz $110

    The cost doesn't justify the performance in this case. I wouldn't buy phenom II unless I was purchasing over $140 or... The phenom IIx2 550 non-black edition has come out at a more reasonable price:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103847

    Personally I wouldn't buy a dual core for anything more than office work these days though. This said considering you can get a 3-core for $70 or a dual core for $60. I'm not saying a dual core wouldn't be good for gaming. I'm saying you can get 3 cores for such a small amount more.

    all prices based on newegg.com.
  20. So....how would a Phenom II x4 3.4Ghz (£150) compare to an i5 or i7. I know AMD has a very different architecture to Intel, but a shorter instruction set. The impression I got is that they can run a process very fast (which is why gamers use them) but they aren't as good as intel when it comes to multi-tasking.

    Currently i'm thinking :

    Phenom II x4
    Phenom II x6 (bit pricey but might take the plunge)
    Q9650 (again pricey but great reports)
    i7 (for a comparable price, not sure on model)

    Also, if i'm upgrading the processor i'll be bolting it to SSD's. How much improvement will I see if i put 2 or more SSD's into RAID configuration. They are very fast already (200mb/150mb read/write).
  21. The Phenom II x4 955BE is a very good gaming CPU and will provide plenty of performance for a few more years in gaming. If you plan on doing alot of video encodeing with your rig get the x6 the 1055T is a pretty dam good chip for the money and can overclock fairly good too. The Q9650 is out way to expensive although it is a great performer and will perform just slightly slower then an I5 750 its way overpriced and is on a EOL (end of life) socket so stay away from that unless you can find it at a steal and already have a socket 775 board that supports it. For gaming I7's are great but you better be ready to open that wallet up to build it.

    1 SSD alone is plenty really putting them in RAID will give some performance boost in transfer speeds but unless you plan on moving large files all day I wouldn't bother putting SSD's in a RAID config.
  22. Why is the 6 core intel sooo much more expensive than the 6 core AMD? If i'm going to go AMD, i will probably get the hex core...
  23. lmartinefc said:
    Why is the 6 core intel sooo much more expensive than the 6 core AMD?


    Because six AMD cores are about as fast as four Intel cores with hyperthreading?
  24. lmartinefc said:
    Why is the 6 core intel sooo much more expensive than the 6 core AMD? If i'm going to go AMD, i will probably get the hex core...


    Because its the world's fastest desktop CPU.

    Anonymous said:
    Even when games scale properly (today they don't go beyond 3, where did you get 6?) the benefits are limited. A quad core is absolutely worth it. A triple core will serve nicely as well. Even modern dual cores like the i3 can keep up with the most modern quad cores for now and will be able to keep going in the future as well.

    I'd get an AMD. Unlock them and your dual core just became a quad core. Or buy the new quad cores soon to be coming out which can be unlocked to a hexa core (although that's pointless for now)


    I was talking more about BFBC2. The difference may be borderline (in)significant but its still there.

    Not saying its enough to warrant a x6, just saying some games are seeing benefit.
  25. Yes it is the most powerful...but by how much. They are both hex core...but the AMD (3.2Ghz x6 9mb cache) is £235 versus Intel 975 Extreme £855 (3.33Ghz x6 8mb cache). Where is teh extra £620 going?

    Even the 965XE is £430 (seems to be a pricing **** up as ebuyer are showing the 960 at £460...so cost more with lower clock speed!?)
  26. I'm having a AMD Athlon 64 5400+ x2 (2.2Ghz dual core), and a 4670, and can play all new games on mid/high settings.
    Just buy a ATI 4650 for your atom, and i dont think that your CPU will be a bottleneck.
    Just buy a low/mid-range card, as a high-end game card will be bottlenecked without a doubt!
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