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Phenom X3 2.1GHZ

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December 15, 2010 7:20:34 PM

I was wondering. I have a rig with a AMD Phenom x3 at 2.1ghz. I was wondering. What's the fastest GPU I can add until this x3 starts to bottleneck it? Overclocking the GPU isn't an option (if that matters).
I currently have a Nvidia GTS 250 1gig DDR3 in it. 650 watt OCZ PSU. Thanks.

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a b B Homebuilt system
December 15, 2010 7:40:20 PM

I hate the CPU/GPU bottleneck debate, because it's misleading as hell. It's come to the point that people actually think the GPU just levels off and can't do anymore because of a CPU's lack, which just isn't true.

I think the CPU/GPU bottleneck BS started when GPU's started to outpace CPU's, but applications didn't. The problem is, each application is different in the way it uses the GPU and the CPU. The primary issue you're going to run into is in CPU intensive games, because your clock speed is low, and it's the original Phenom. All the CPU does is give minor instructions to the GPU as to what it needs done. In 2010, that's a very, very minor workload. Here's a quick, easy test you can do yourself to see what needs help.

Using the same application/game, run it once in, say, 640x480, and get an eye on your framerate. The CPU has to do nearly the same amount of work whether you're drawing 307,200 (640x480) pixels or 4,096,000 (2560x1600) pixels. Then, run the application in your monitors maximum supported resolution. If it's lower in the high resolution compared to the low one, you're GPU limited. If it's the same, you're CPU limited.
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December 15, 2010 7:53:03 PM

Actually. I've had that same GPU in an older Pendium Dual core machine and the same apps/games were slower on that rig with the same GPU. So, I kinda assumed it was the CPU not the GPU. But thanks for the advice.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 15, 2010 7:54:44 PM

There's your answer.
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December 15, 2010 7:58:22 PM

Then again the Pentium D rig has slower ram as well. =X
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 15, 2010 8:23:39 PM

Speed of RAM makes a negligible difference in framerates of games.
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December 16, 2010 5:28:03 PM

So it was the CPU then? They both have the same OS as well, Win7.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 16, 2010 8:22:59 PM

You didn't do my test, so I can't really break it down for you. Like mal said, although the GTS250 is no monster, it's not all bad. You're running the original Phenom at low clock speeds, it's going to be weak either way.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 16, 2010 8:24:03 PM

Here's the easy test:
Load up your favorite game. Lower its settings my a notch, and see if the FPS improves or stays the same. If it improves, you need a better GPU. If it stays the same, your CPU is the limit
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 16, 2010 8:40:07 PM

ScrewySqrl said:
Here's the easy test:
Load up your favorite game. Lower its settings my a notch, and see if the FPS improves or stays the same. If it improves, you need a better GPU. If it stays the same, your CPU is the limit



I don't think that's exactly going to work. If I run BF:BC2 at my maximum resolution with all details to high and AA x4, I average 90FPS or so. If I bump that to AA x16, I drop about 20FPS. I guess I need to run multiple 580's then, yes? /no.

If you keep the resolution the same, and just tick graphical options down, every GPU configuration is going to gain a few frames. By keeping the resolution high, you're still giving the GPU a good workout. If you drop your resolution to 640x480, the GPU isn't doing much at all, and has no trouble executing instructions just as fast as the CPU can issue them.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 16, 2010 8:49:04 PM

lowering the settings at the same resolution will only gain FPS if the CPU isn't already working as hard as it can. It represents the equivelent of getting a BETTER GPU at your original settings. If FPS improves, that means the CPU can run a stronger GPU.

If the FPs doesn't improve with slightly lower settings, that means the CPU is already working as hard as it can, and thus the CPU is the limit, not the GPU.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 16, 2010 9:25:26 PM

I guess I need to just make a few mish-mosh systems of old parts and put up some benchmarks. I've done this before just to see real world results for myself, and it's a little bit surprising. Once the numbers are there, you'll see that the CPU has less and less of a role in graphical applications.

The difference between a GTX295 paired with an E8400 and a Pentium D are, interesting at best.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 17, 2010 3:43:41 PM

actually, today's $500 PC article shows a classic example.



see how the FPS doesn't really change as you dial down the resolution from 1920x1080 to 1280x1024, always around 86fps +/-1? And the Overclock also is around 100FPS? That's the classic sign of a CPU limitation. The GTX 460 GPU is limited in improving things by the CPU. the older $400 PC, with its 5670 GPU, rises as you lower the resolution, the GPU is the limit there, not the CPU
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