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CPU vs Video Card upgrade?

Last response: in CPUs
July 1, 2011 2:34:44 AM

I keep seeing with CPU benchmarking frames per second. To me, that would deal more with the graphics card, not processor. If someone was looking to improved graphics for game play, what would they want to upgrade first if they can only upgrade one thing at a time? CPU upgrade or Video Card upgrade?
For instance if they had a Intel Q6600 processor and a NVidia GeForce 9800 GTX+ graphics card, which would be best to replace first. Do not know they science behind it.


More about : cpu video card upgrade

a b U Graphics card
July 1, 2011 2:53:46 AM

Depends if they overclock. The 9800 is about the best you can do for the Q6600 at 2.4ghz. At 3.6ghz (extreme overclock) it can handle just about anything.

Provide more details if you want a more specific answer.
July 1, 2011 3:14:03 AM

I do not overclock at all. Do not understand that neither. It really just comes down to a question that came up in our office one day. To get better graphics do you need a better CPU or a better Video Card? For instance Which would be better? A Q6600 processor with a 6950 Video Card or a i5 2600K CPU and a GeForce 9800 GTX+ graphics card and neither example is overclocked. I know it is vague, but again just a question that just came up. :hello: 
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a b U Graphics card
July 1, 2011 3:25:10 AM

Probably the 6950 though it'll be woefully underpowered.

New Sandy Bridge CPUs offer great performance for the price so you shouldn't have to compromise too much. The i3-2100 will max out any video card except maybe a 590/6990 (it would probably be enough but I'm not sure).

For a stock Q6600 the best GPU you would get that will be fully utilized would be a GTX 460 or HD 6850. Beyond that I doubt you would notice a performance increase (and maybe even decreases).
July 1, 2011 3:33:43 AM

So let me get this straight, CPUs and Video cards work hand in hand. You have to have enough CPU power to get what you need out of a video card, if the CPU power is not there, then the video card will not perform as needed? Am I on the right track?

Best solution

July 1, 2011 7:49:52 AM

yes, you are.
think of this as following:

you have excavator. Roughly speaking it is consisting of an engine, hydraulics, and arm with dozer(the huge metallic thing to grab dirt - sorry I'm not native english speaker). The main objective is to move dirt as much as possible.
so here goes the analogy:
engine = CPU
hydraulics = PCIe
dozer = GPU

so here is the logic: if you have weak engine, you can't load your hydraulics enough, thus can't move dirt enough (or not fast enough). If your dozer is to small but your engine is more powerful than needed, than you don't have good efficiency, thus your setup (engine) is overkill (you could go with cheaper engine and still have the same performance)... so for best (price/)performance you need balanced system.

for example ;)  the examples in your previous post are:
Q6600 & 6950 is not good combo because the GPU will not perform to its max, thus low FPS. So you'll need better CPU to go with 6950. Good CPU for this would be Q9650 (what is in the name, eh?) while retaining LGA775 compatibility. Or any of the newer i-what-ever-quads...

The second combination (i2500/2600 & 9800 GTX+) is also not well balanced because of way too powerful CPU for that GPU. But still, I like much better because GPU in general gets upgraded much more often than a CPU (+motherboard & RAM for that matter). So having good CPU as a base is always better because of several reasons: CPU is the base/clock/heart of your system. It performs many other tasks than just feeding your GPU with data. For example in gaming, except feeding your GPU with data, it also does the enemy A.I, sound, all those windows background processes, blah-blah... you get the picture.
a b à CPUs
a b U Graphics card
July 1, 2011 12:24:20 PM

The CPU still has to push the GPU along even in games. A Q6600 at 2400ghz will bottleneck even a 5870 in games I know first hand. That basically means at that speed the chip is holding back the graphics card a bit and performance can suffer. My Q6600 was at 3.1ghz, when I ran 3dmark11 I got around 4400 points. On a stock i7 920 I got over 4900 with the same GPU.

I know synthetic benchmarks don't mean everything, however in this case I think it clearly shows even an overclocked Q6600 can and will hold back a decent video card, not to mention the new fast stuff.
July 1, 2011 10:07:46 PM

Great stuff guys, this really painted a picture for us in the office. Thanks
July 1, 2011 10:08:40 PM

Best answer selected by jwthomas1966.
July 1, 2011 10:11:11 PM

Is there something out there that is a good guide that states which video cards should or should not be run with different CPUs?
for instance with so many different types of video cards between Nvidia and ATI, which is the best one to choose for specific CPUs?
July 4, 2011 9:21:55 AM

Thanks for awarding me with "best answer" :) 

I don't know if there is a such guide.
Personally I read (really) a lot of reviews on tech websites and draw my conclusion from that before I buy something...