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System overhaul or new GPU?

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July 12, 2010 4:10:57 PM

Hey guys. I just got my Acer GD235HZ so I can start setting up 3D vision. I haven't tested it yet, but I'm pretty certain that I'll need an upgrade from my current setup to be able to run games and Blu-Ray 3D at any decent frame rates. Here's my system as is:

AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 4200+ (overclocked to 2.4ghz)
Nvidia Geforce 8800 GT (Overclocked to 675 mhz. Running fine)
2GB DDR (!) memory at 400mhz
WD Caviar black HDD
Asus A8N5X Mobo
Windows 7

So my question is, should I...
a) upgrade the CPU and memory (Which means a new mobo and all that jazz) and buy a 50 dollar 8800 GT to use SLI with
b) Get a more powerful GPU like the GTX 260 or the new GTX 460

I'm working with limited funds and cannot do both. I'm looking at spending atleast 100 dollars more on the option A, so I'm not sure anymore if thats the path I should take unless it provided a huge increase in performance. Opinions?

PS- I figured this would be the best place for my post. Its basically a brand new computer we're talking about.

More about : system overhaul gpu

July 12, 2010 4:33:24 PM

You are probably going to need to do both eventually, for now you may be able to get away with getting a new video card and a little more ram to go in your current setup.

Another option you could look at, though not sure how well it would do the 3d, is maybe grab an AMD tri core or quad, decent but cheaper motherboard, 4 gb of ddr3, and reuse the 8800gt. Then get the better card later. I don't do 3d myself, but I know I've got an Athlon 5200+ x2, 2 gb of ddr2 and a 9600gt(which is slower than your 8800gt), and I can actually run games and all decently. Intending to get more ram though. But the 4200+ you listed is aging. That would be the main bottleneck I think.
July 12, 2010 4:42:36 PM

ohiou_grad_06 said:
You are probably going to need to do both eventually, for now you may be able to get away with getting a new video card and a little more ram to go in your current setup.

Another option you could look at, though not sure how well it would do the 3d, is maybe grab an AMD tri core or quad, decent but cheaper motherboard, 4 gb of ddr3, and reuse the 8800gt. Then get the better card later. I don't do 3d myself, but I know I've got an Athlon 5200+ x2, 2 gb of ddr2 and a 9600gt(which is slower than your 8800gt), and I can actually run games and all decently. Intending to get more ram though. But the 4200+ you listed is aging. That would be the main bottleneck I think.


I think that my main bottlenecks are both the crappy non-overclockable memory (which means I can't do much to the CPU) and the CPU. My 8800GT is doing great as I said, just it looks like 3D vision is cutting frames rates in half. SLI doubles frame rates. Sounds good to me. But if getting only a better card would give me a good performance increase despite the other parts of the current system, then maybe that'd be the better and cheaper option.
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July 12, 2010 4:59:29 PM

Actually, from what I've read, sli will not double your performance. It really depends on if the game is coded properly and supports it.

But from what I've read, don't expect much more than a 50% increase. So essentially think your 8800gt plus about half an 8800gt in performance. Also, you didn't state the power supply you've got, so you may have to upgrade that for sli as well. So you could end up spending more.

I guess what I would wonder, is whether or not the 4200 is bottlenecking the 8800gt you have now. With a faster processor, you would eliminate that bottleneck if there is one.

Also, realize that you see benchmarks for the 9800gt, which honestly for what it is, is not a bad card. But most guys will tell you that a 9800gt is basically a renamed 8800gt, and that it's essentially the same card.

That said, I think you might be able to squeeze by with a new card, if all you really want to do some gaming and run 3d. However, if it were me, I think I would look at going to a new board, better chip, and more/faster memory, keep the 8800 gt for now. Once you do that, see if you are satisfied with performance. Then save up for a better card. But I think for gaming, you may actually satisfied with option A and your 8800 gt for a little while. It does depend on too what resolution you are running.

But you may consider if you do option A, piece out your rig, sell it off piece by piece on ebay and that could help you recoup some costs.
July 12, 2010 5:08:13 PM

Thyself said:
My 8800GT is doing great as I said, just it looks like 3D vision is cutting frames rates in half. SLI doubles frame rates.


3D Vision, by its nature, is going to cut frame rates in half. One half will go to the right eye, one half to the left eye. Since 50% of the frames are going to each eye, that reduces the number of frames each eye sees, reducing the frame rate.

SLI won't necessarily double the frame rate. It will improve it, but not by 100%.

Dare I ask why a brand new computer is running DDR?

At any rate, you could try artificially bottlenecking the CPU and then the GPU to see which will offer more immediate performance as an upgrade.
1) turn down the eye candy & resolution - if this increases fps, a stronger graphics card will help
2) turn graphics back up, limit the CPU to 60-70% with power options - if fps drops, a new cpu will help. If fps doesn't drop, this suggests that a new graphics card wouldn't help.

Of course, I suspect you'll see that both could use improvement. What resolution are you gaming at? I would suggest getting a new graphics card first. If you're satisfied with the performance, then you can hold off on upgrading mobo/cpu/ram for a while, at which point you could move the graphics card to the new build.

In other words, upgrading the graphics card is likely to be less expensive right now and last longer. Modern games are more limited by GPU (at reasonable resolutions - 1680x1050 and up) than by CPU.
July 12, 2010 5:17:58 PM

ohiou_grad_06 said:
Actually, from what I've read, sli will not double your performance. It really depends on if the game is coded properly and supports it.

But from what I've read, don't expect much more than a 50% increase. So essentially think your 8800gt plus about half an 8800gt in performance. Also, you didn't state the power supply you've got, so you may have to upgrade that for sli as well. So you could end up spending more.

I guess what I would wonder, is whether or not the 4200 is bottlenecking the 8800gt you have now. With a faster processor, you would eliminate that bottleneck if there is one.

Also, realize that you see benchmarks for the 9800gt, which honestly for what it is, is not a bad card. But most guys will tell you that a 9800gt is basically a renamed 8800gt, and that it's essentially the same card.

That said, I think you might be able to squeeze by with a new card, if all you really want to do some gaming and run 3d. However, if it were me, I think I would look at going to a new board, better chip, and more/faster memory, keep the 8800 gt for now. Once you do that, see if you are satisfied with performance. Then save up for a better card. But I think for gaming, you may actually satisfied with option A and your 8800 gt for a little while. It does depend on too what resolution you are running.

But you may consider if you do option A, piece out your rig, sell it off piece by piece on ebay and that could help you recoup some costs.


My power supply is fine. I upgraded it last year in anticipation for this. SLI compatible and plenty of power.

I think that at this point that sounds like the best thing to do. Upgrade the cpu and everything and if the performance still isn't too up to par, then I can SLI another 8800 for another 50 bucks.
FYI I'd like my resolution to be 1080p but I'll settle with 1680x1050.

Ah I never really thought about that before. I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do with the old components. I thought that maybe I would make it a media center or something like that but I don't know.
July 12, 2010 5:29:27 PM

coldsleep said:
3D Vision, by its nature, is going to cut frame rates in half. One half will go to the right eye, one half to the left eye. Since 50% of the frames are going to each eye, that reduces the number of frames each eye sees, reducing the frame rate.

SLI won't necessarily double the frame rate. It will improve it, but not by 100%.

Dare I ask why a brand new computer is running DDR?

At any rate, you could try artificially bottlenecking the CPU and then the GPU to see which will offer more immediate performance as an upgrade.
1) turn down the eye candy & resolution - if this increases fps, a stronger graphics card will help
2) turn graphics back up, limit the CPU to 60-70% with power options - if fps drops, a new cpu will help. If fps doesn't drop, this suggests that a new graphics card wouldn't help.

Of course, I suspect you'll see that both could use improvement. What resolution are you gaming at? I would suggest getting a new graphics card first. If you're satisfied with the performance, then you can hold off on upgrading mobo/cpu/ram for a while, at which point you could move the graphics card to the new build.

In other words, upgrading the graphics card is likely to be less expensive right now and last longer. Modern games are more limited by GPU (at reasonable resolutions - 1680x1050 and up) than by CPU.


This isn't a brand new computer. Its about 4 years old now (as are most of the components besides the HDD and GPU). I know I know... not exactly the right sub-section...

I'll try doing that bottlenecking test. *starts up Crysis* We'll see how it works.

And like I said, I'd atleast like 1680x1050 if not 1980x1080.
July 12, 2010 8:15:59 PM

Ah, I was referring to the following from your original post:

Quote:
PS- I figured this would be the best place for my post. Its basically a brand new computer we're talking about.


Perhaps I misread it. I thought you meant that your current computer was "basically a brand new computer". I guess what you meant was "upgrading like this will result in a brand new computer"?

So your new monitor is 1920x1080...in general, the recommendation is to turn down eye candy before reducing the resolution on an LCD screen. Things typically look much worse (on LCDs) at non-native resolutions than they look with reduced effects. Lots more pixellation & weird artifacts.
July 13, 2010 12:43:23 AM

coldsleep said:
Ah, I was referring to the following from your original post:

Quote:
PS- I figured this would be the best place for my post. Its basically a brand new computer we're talking about.


Perhaps I misread it. I thought you meant that your current computer was "basically a brand new computer". I guess what you meant was "upgrading like this will result in a brand new computer"?

So your new monitor is 1920x1080...in general, the recommendation is to turn down eye candy before reducing the resolution on an LCD screen. Things typically look much worse (on LCDs) at non-native resolutions than they look with reduced effects. Lots more pixellation & weird artifacts.


Yeah pretty much.

I was hoping that there was some way that i could just reduce the res but I guess you're right.

Also, I just got done benchmarking again. Here's the average FPSs in Crysis Warhead
Base config (1280x1024 on Gamer, 700mhz GPU and 2400 MHZ CPU)- 20
800x600 on Mainstream graphics- 27 (I think this is because some of the physics and stuff is disabled and not just GPU-related settings)
1280x1024 on Gamer with 550mhz GPU (underclocked?)- 20
1280x1024 on Gamer with 60% CPU power (~1200mhz)- 5

I don't know about anybody else, but that seems like the CPU is the clear bottleneck. The GPU could be overclocked, underclocked, or even underused and the FPS stays about the same. However as soon as the CPU is taken down another notch, the system stalls.
With this in mind I'll grab a new mobo, DDR3 1600 memory, and the 955 Phenom II quad-core processor. Thanks a lot you guys for all your assistance. That was a great idea, ColdSleep :) 
!