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Bottleneck and new card

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
July 4, 2010 8:12:49 PM

Ok, I understand the term bottleneck...knowing that the limitation of one or more pieces of hardware means you can not achieve maximum performance from another piece of hardware.

My question is, in the case of Video Cards, is this physically "bad" for them????

I am under very limited funds and have to piece together a new machine from parts of a dead Dell XPS 600.

I am re-using the drives, CPU and RAM. I have already purchased a new case, board (Asus P5N-D) and a 750W power supply.

The CPU is the "stellar for 2005":
Pentium D 840 Extreme Edition Dual Core w/HyperThreading Technology - 3.20GHz

RAM is:

I know these are my bottlenecks, I get it, out of date, slow by today's standards, yada yada, but it is what I have to work with right now.

My dilemma, is that I want to go ahead and replace my dual 256MB GeForce 7800 GTX in SLI with something better as I know they are now ancient and, I am looking for a single card solution to save on space/heat.

I have about $100 - $120 to spend, and I am not afraid of rebates.

I'd like to stick with Nvidia, as my board is SLI compliant, and I don't want to rule that option out in the future.

I will be running Windows 7 64 bit.

I know a lot of modern cards are way too powerful for my CPU, but does that really matter? I plan on a CPU upgrade in another 6 months or so (Q9550/Q9650), and just want to know if running a decent powered card (9800 GTX+?) is actually harmed by my current underpowered Pentium D CPU, or is it just a case of throwing money at something and not getting full performance return????

Am I making any sense? :pt1cable: 

Will I be getting the max video performance that my CPU can handle, or is there some real degradation when the Video Card is too powerful for the rest of the machine?

Anyway....suggestions for a SLI capable single card that is $100-$120 and if the bottleneck is not actually causing damage, then I don't really need a "what's best for your CPU" option, just what is actually the best card right now, for anyone, in that range.

Thanks a ton.

More about : bottleneck card

a c 130 U Graphics card
July 4, 2010 9:09:28 PM

That's a bit of a difficult question. Firstly you wont physically damage the card .
Ok deep breath and here goes.
Your understanding of the term Bottleneck is what is basically the generic usage of the term and is in that context correct. The problem with the "throwing money at it and not getting the full benefit" approach is that at some point you will end up with an actual Bottleneck and not the restriction that is what the term bottleneck is used generically to describe.
With a restriction you don't quite get all you could out of X piece of hardware, while with an actual bottleneck you get significantly less performance than you would with a more balanced system. Basically if you put too powerful a GPU in with a weak CPU you will actually end up with less FPS than you would with a weaker GPU. Think of it as overwhelming the CPU with requests for info.
There is more to it than just the CPU and GPU, resolution plays a part when you get these types of issues with a higher resolution being desirable as this gives the GPU more to do and even though its just a fraction it slows its maximum FPS output down and helps the CPU keep up better with feeding the GPU.
I dont actually know where your chosen card fits in with this, my gut feeling is that it will just be a restriction if a quite heavy one, but thought i should point the possability out.

Mactronix :) 
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July 4, 2010 9:30:54 PM

Good about the physical damage, the only reason I asked that was I did not know if the card would run hot trying to compensate for the CPU, but I guess they probably don't work that way.

I run at 1680 X 1050, and I am by no means a heavy gamer, but I do like to have the capability to through something in every once in awhile and not have it stutter along.

A restriction, I can live with - less performance, I wouldn't want to really deal with that. I suppose it would not hurt to try it, can always throw my old 7800s back in if performance is horrible with the new card, and put it in a drawer until I upgrade the rest of my machine.

It's not like I am trying to run with a PIII or something, a few years ago my CPU was the bee's knees!
a c 130 U Graphics card
July 4, 2010 9:36:15 PM

Yea as i said i think it should be ok but the possability is there and i felt it needed pointing out.
Good luck with the build, hope all goes well.

Mactronix :) 
July 4, 2010 10:17:50 PM

Thanks for all of the advice, I think I am going to get the GTS 250 512MB and see what happens.

I have not done my own build in many years....bit nervous to even get started, I have everything in hand but the vid card, but I will take it slow and steady.
July 5, 2010 5:54:55 AM

I you're going to buy a new card it's worth buying a 1GB one...512Mb will probably not cut it in the next few years. It will be an advantage even today at higher resolutions (>1920 by 1080) in some games.
July 5, 2010 6:48:29 PM

Ok, I'm going with the GTS 250 1GB.

So with prices all being within a few bucks of each other, should I go with


Anyone point me to a good deal on a new GTS 250 1GB?