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Determining a Bottleneck

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  • Graphics Cards
  • Bottleneck
  • Components
  • Graphics
Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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July 21, 2010 3:36:31 PM

I have recently decided to slowly buy component for a new computer that I am going to build and I want to know why my system cannot handle games like Bad Company 2 on highest settings. The reason is that the first new component i want to buy would be a graphics card, and if my cpu is causing the bottleneck, there would be no point. So here are my specs:

BFG Nvidia GeForce 9800GT 1GB

Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300 @ 2.50 GHz

8.00 GB RAM

Win 7 OS

More about : determining bottleneck

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a b U Graphics card
July 21, 2010 3:50:06 PM

Your quad core can support stronger graphics, but at stock speed will be something of a limitation. Your CPU is not junk at all, but there is potential there for more if you wish to go that route. If you are not interested in Overclocking at all, then the potential is being limited.

You can't play BC2 at max settings because it is a GPU heavy title, and you GPU is a few generations old.

If you OC'd the quadcore to 3.2ghz or higher, your CPU limitation would be drastically reduced, and there would be less concern over wasting money on an overpowered GPU. At stock speeds, I probably wouldn't suggest much more than an Nvidia 460 or ATI 5830. With a modest OC, you could probably see the benefits of most any single GPU card.
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July 21, 2010 3:58:10 PM

I have actually been looking at the GTX 460 for a couple days now and that was the one i was going to get. I wouls Overclock, but I do not know how. I have heard it is very complicated. I know this is hard to tell, but in my CPU gets OC'd would you think that it would have enough power to handle games to come? Do you think I should just get a heatsink for this cpu and OC it instead of saving up for a new mobo and an i7 930. Also, if I were to buy an i7, would the heatsink of my Q8300 work on it?
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a b U Graphics card
July 21, 2010 4:08:06 PM

Most quality Heatsinks have mounting hardware for all modern types of CPUs. An investment in a quality HSF can usually be transferred to new systems. If a new socket type gets released, at the very least one can usually buy just the new mounting hardware to continue using the HSF.

Overclocking isn't that complex once the basics are learned. The learning curve can be steep, though. If you don't want to invest the time to learn how to do it properly and safely, then the i7 route would probably be a good way to go. It is such a powerful CPU, that even 2 years after its release there is no competitor. I can't imagine that gaming will make it obsolete anytime in the near future.

A stock speed i7 has been proven to be bottleneck free on any single card currently available.
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July 21, 2010 4:10:28 PM

do you know anywhere where i can learn how to OC?
Also, do you have any suggestions on heatsinks?
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a b U Graphics card
July 21, 2010 4:17:11 PM

Browse the Overclocking section at Tom's here. Beware, before one can get some good help they have to show a modicum of drive towards learning themselves. Outside of that, try google to find other people who have overclocked your CPU to get an idea about what you need to do.

No two chips are the same, and as such everyone will have a different OC experience even across the same hardware. Proper stability testing as well as attention to voltage and thermal limits are essential in determining your own comfortable overclock.

An easy recommendation for a cheap, but very effective HSF is the 212+ from cooler master. The egg has jacked the price on it to over $50, but it should not be difficult to find it for around $30.
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July 21, 2010 4:19:50 PM

your CPU does not bottleneck your 9800GT at all. It can probably even handle a 9800GTX and 9800GX2 etc. Or a GTX 260.
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July 21, 2010 4:23:15 PM

Ah, but can it handle a GTX 460 or dual 9800GTs?

Which of those two is better btw?
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a b U Graphics card
July 21, 2010 4:24:04 PM

I haven't seen any direct comparisons, but my spidey sense tells me that a single 460 will outperform dual 9800gts.
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July 21, 2010 4:28:48 PM

That is what I thought. Now, my big question is; will it use all the power of the GTX 460 to its advantage? And how much would it improve my graphics, compared to the 9800GT?
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a b U Graphics card
July 21, 2010 4:39:23 PM

CPU limitations only affect Framerates. If you are CPU limited in general with the 460, you will have processing power to crank up the details/AA/Tessellation, as there will be less frames to perform the processing on.

I always keep Vsync on for this reason (like an artificial CPU limitation) so my GPU isn't spinning its wheels at 100% load in order to render extra FPS over 60. Just an example of how a CPU limitation isn't always a crippling situation.
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July 21, 2010 4:44:03 PM

So you are saying that if my CPU is limited, it will lower the framerate, but not down to like 30 fps right? So VSync is cpu dependant? In that situation, how are ur fps?
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a b U Graphics card
July 21, 2010 4:57:59 PM

Vsync can act in different ways. If I am playing a game that will run consistently above 60fps, the enabling Vsync saves the work that the GPU is doing in rendering those extra frames, and it will run at a steady 60fps.

If I am running a game that will drop below 45fps, Vsync can be a bummer, as it will often (though not always) automatically drop to a steady 30fps even though without Vsync, the title might never drop to 30fps. I can feel the difference when this happens, and it is distracting, even through the FPS remains playable.

CPU limitations are pretty static. While a GPU limitation can be resolved by lower graphics settings in an attempt to keep solid framerates, a CPU that can't run decent FPS simply won't be able to do better without overclocking or upgrading.

As for how much of a limitation the CPU can incur, that depends completely on the title being played. The heavier the dependence on the CPU, the more it will be limited by a slower CPU (GTAIV, Prototype, Dirt 2 for just a few examples).

If you were to buy a 212+, and learn to OC safely, you can find out for yourself if your CPU is overly limiting. This is a pretty low risk purchase, as you don't lose the investment should you find your current CPU incapable of meeting your expectations. If you are willing to invest in a new mobo+cpu to resolve this issue anyway, the it can't hurt to try save some cash, unless your time is too valuable to take on learning to overclock (not an unreasonable situation).
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July 21, 2010 5:06:04 PM

What might make a game cpu intensive?
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a b U Graphics card
July 21, 2010 5:07:26 PM

The game developers, hah. I don't know enough about game coding (or really much at all) to be able to answer that question succinctly.
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July 21, 2010 5:11:16 PM

fair enough. You have answered all of my questions already
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a b U Graphics card
July 21, 2010 5:11:47 PM

Sorry, I forgot to mention, in case you weren't aware, that Vsync is generally used to reduce "tearing" a graphical glitch that occurs when the video card is sending framerates to the monitor that do not sync up with the monitor's refresh rate.

The result can be a visible horizontal divide which seems to mix two different frames (like the top half of the screen is one frame ahead of the bottom half for a second.
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July 21, 2010 5:16:00 PM

Alos, my confirmation email for this account hasn't come in yet, but post notifications have. Any solutions?
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a b U Graphics card
July 21, 2010 5:20:19 PM

You can try the website feedback at the bottom of the forums list. The mods do a great job of trying to sort these sort of bugs out.
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a c 274 U Graphics card
July 21, 2010 10:06:59 PM

yomammassson said:
Alos, my confirmation email for this account hasn't come in yet, but post notifications have. Any solutions?

I think you have about three days before your account goes inactive but in the meantime check your junk mail as it may fall foul of the filter for some reason.
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July 21, 2010 10:11:08 PM

Mousemonkey said:
I think you have about three days before your account goes inactive but in the meantime check your junk mail as it may fall foul of the filter for some reason.



I resent it and fixed it.
Thanx anyway
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a c 274 U Graphics card
July 21, 2010 10:12:13 PM

No worries.
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a b U Graphics card
July 21, 2010 10:16:58 PM

I'd definitely go for the GTX 460 over an SLI 9800GT setup. The GTX 460 would probably perform better, AND supports newer technologies like DX11. A single GTX 460 performs pretty darn well for the price point right now.

As for the CPU, the 2.5Ghz stock speed will ultimately be a limit with some game titles, as JofaMang already mentioned. If you're willing to OverClock, that can be overcome fairly easily if you have a good (aftermarket) CPU Cooler. A speed of 3.2Ghz seems to be a pretty good point to shoot for. :) 

You may want to identify the specs on your Power Supply first though, just to make sure it'll cut the juice for the GTX 460 :) 
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July 21, 2010 10:18:45 PM

what is the difference between i5 and i7?
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a c 274 U Graphics card
July 21, 2010 10:20:08 PM

yomammassson said:
what is the difference between i5 and i7?

Erm, 2? :whistle:  Sorry I couldn't resist. :ange:  :lol: 
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a b U Graphics card
July 21, 2010 10:23:08 PM

yomammassson said:
what is the difference between i5 and i7?


The i5 series CPUs all fit onto P55 motherboards (or the lesser H55 boards). Most are Dual-Core, however the i5-750 is a fantastic Quad Core CPU that OC's very well for gaming purposes. The i5 series are typically less expensive (as are their motherboards). They are designed for Dual-Channel Memmory (DDR3 type).

The i7 series can be tricky. There are a couple models (i7-860 for instance) that work on P55 motherboards. Most i7's work only on the X58 chipset, and use Tri-Channel Memmory (DDR3 type).

The big difference for the most part (at least with the quad cores) is that the i7 chips have Hyperthreading ability. The i5-750 does NOT have hyperthreading. Hyperthreading allows each CPU "Core" to act like two processing units IF the program being run is compatible with Hyperthreading (almost no games support this).

Other than hyperthreading, they operate with the same basic architecture. Hyperthreading and dual vs tri-channel memory are really the only 'real world' differences.
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a c 302 U Graphics card
July 21, 2010 11:20:22 PM

To help assess your situation, run these two tests:

1) Run your games, but reduce the resolution and eye candy to a minimum. This will simulate what will happen if you upgrade to a stronger graphics card. If your FPS improves, it indicates that your cpu is capable of driving a stronger graphics card to higher levels of FPS.

2) Keeping your graphics resolution and settings the same, reduce your cpu power. Do this by removing the overclock, or by using windows power management to set a maximum cpu% of perhaps 70%. If your FPS drops significantly, it indicates that your current cpu is a limiting factor, and that a faster cpu would help.
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July 23, 2010 1:16:52 AM

Best answer selected by Yomammassson.
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