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Will my CPU dictate the best graphics card I can use?

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January 27, 2011 9:21:36 PM

Hi guys, been told that I need to be careful not to spend too much on a graphics card when considering my CPU. I have a AMD Athlon 64 X2 500, and 2GB of ram. (Dell Dimension E521 running Windows 7) Now that my little one is old enough, I want her to enjoy PC Gaming as well as do her work (No...I already have a PS3) But what card should I get considering I know the computer processor speed may become the bottle neck. I may consider adding more Ram, if that means a better choice of graphics card. At the moment, I was thinking an AMD 5770 1GB or is that overkill? I suppose I do want the card to have HDMI as I plan for it to be connected to a big screen, and the ability to display 3D movies would be nice, though not critical. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
January 27, 2011 9:29:46 PM

5670 would be enough for your setup... Get a pci-e 2.0 card to eliminate any potential 2.1 -> 1.0 problems...
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January 27, 2011 9:47:05 PM

My guts says a 5750 is probably about as high as you want to go, though you're only talking a $20 difference. I was just looking at my spreadsheet of 3dMark scores with computers I've built over the years and trying to find some comparisons. I built a couple of 5000+ machines with a HD 4830 (slightly slower than a 5750 and about equal to a 5670) that max'd out around 8800 in 3dMark06. However, that same card, when paired with a 6000+, shot up to about 10,500, and when paired with a Phenom II X4 955, was up around 11,300.

Using those numbers, I think it's fair to say a 5000+ will not be able to push even a 5750 and would have difficulty with a 5670 (which I've also seen around 11,300 with a quad-core Phenom II). Now, that said, it depends on your budget and whether you intend to migrate this card to another machine some day. If you want to save money, your best bet would be an HD5670 as they have HDMI out and your 5000+ probably won't even stress that. If you want to move it some day to a much faster machine, a 5770 will shine as it's a great card for the price. And, of course, a happy medium is the 5750.

As for 3d movies, first you need a 3d TV. If you have one, there's not currently any support for 3d using ATI cards - you have to go with NVIDIA for that. Your best bet for a card that has HDMI 1.4a (which you need for 3d bluray playback and your TV/stereo needs to support) is the GTS450. It's the cheapest option that's not completely overkill and you can find great deals on them. I got one, after rebate, for $90 about a month ago for a customer. Nice little card, though it's no faster than a GTS250/9800GT/8800GT so it's perfect for your PC.

Hope that helps.
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January 28, 2011 3:55:43 AM

I have an Athlon II x2 5000+. Even after a little overclocking, it didn't do any better with a GTS 250 (~5750) than a 9600GSO (~4650). You may as well get a 5570 (DDR3 version, not DDR2) for that computer and not need an extra power connector or a good PSU.

A GTS 450 is about 1.5x more than that computer can use. You'll need special programs to watch 3D Blu-rays. PowerDVD 10 is one option.
January 28, 2011 3:57:20 PM

Wow guys, amazing detailed answers, that will save money, and provide my little one with a computer that she can now game with too. All of you ROCK!
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January 28, 2011 8:30:32 PM

dalauder said:
I have an Athlon II x2 5000+. Even after a little overclocking, it didn't do any better with a GTS 250 (~5750) than a 9600GSO (~4650). You may as well get a 5570 (DDR3 version, not DDR2) for that computer and not need an extra power connector or a good PSU.

A GTS 450 is about 1.5x more than that computer can use. You'll need special programs to watch 3D Blu-rays. PowerDVD 10 is one option.

Agreed. The only reason I mentioned the GTS450 is that he specifically mentioned wanting to play 3D BRs. ATI's cards don't have any options and, as you mentioned, PowerDVD 10 is the only one that can use NVIDIA cards. They also need HDMI 1.4a, which only the GTS450 and above have. Thus the reason I mentioned it. Although it's more than he can use, they're cheap as heck right now. And, really, I don't know that it's THAT much more because it's no faster than a GTS250, which is a rebadged 9800GT+, which is a rebadged 8800GT/GTS, which back in the day of the 5000+ was what everyone was buying. It's Fermi and gets you HDMI 1.4a, but it isn't so completely fast that it would be wasted.

A 5670 doesn't require a power ocnnector either and I do believe it would be more in line with the proc than a 5570. None of the 5xxx cards, though, have HDMI 1.4a or support 3D BR so I can't, in good faith, recommend them. I'm an ATI guy, through and through, but...for what he needs...

Just my 2¢.
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January 28, 2011 8:53:31 PM

dkapke said:
They also need HDMI 1.4a, which only the GTS450 and above have.

You are forgetting about the GT 430, which is understandable as it is a forgettable card outside of its 3D Bluray capabilities. Probably the best choice in this case however.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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January 31, 2011 3:05:49 PM

jyjjy said:
You are forgetting about the GT 430, which is understandable as it is a forgettable card outside of its 3D Bluray capabilities. Probably the best choice in this case however.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Wow...I've never even heard of these cards. I'm not aware of a single major site that even reviewed them. Heck, Tom's doesn't even show them on their graphics card heirarchy chart. Dang it...just when I thought I knew everything. LOL. It would be a great card for an HTPC but my only concern is how does it stack up for gaming. I found some testing on it on ExtremeTech and it looks like it's slilghtly faster than than a 5550 but can't touch a 5570, let alone a 5670 or a GTS450 (which is quite a bit faster than a 5670). So, if he really wants to game at all, and wants 3d BluRay, I'm not sure I'd touch the GT430 as it looks pretty wimpy. Thus, I'd still stick with a GTS450 for his needs. Heck, you can get them for $80 after rebate and this is for a 1Gb card. Wow.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It's probably a little overpowered, but for the cost you can't beat it.
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February 1, 2011 7:28:04 PM

All the major sites I know of reviewed it but you are right about it not being too impressive for gaming. Won't be bottlenecked by the cpu at least.
I guess the question of GT 430 vs GTS 450 for the OP comes down to the power supply in the system.
February 1, 2011 9:06:03 PM

I doubt you will be able to go past a HD 5750 or even a HD 5670 due to the bottleneck
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February 2, 2011 12:45:43 AM

jyjjy said:
All the major sites I know of reviewed it but you are right about it not being too impressive for gaming. Won't be bottlenecked by the cpu at least.
I guess the question of GT 430 vs GTS 450 for the OP comes down to the power supply in the system.


Yeah...the nice thing about the 5670 and below is that they don't require external power and can run with pretty much any ol' PSU. The 5750 and 5770 aren't demanding at all, either, but they do require a 6pin power plug and you do need at least 350W for them. The GTS450, on the other hand, will require 400W minimum and it better have decent amperage or you'll have nothing but issues. Also comes down to what games he wants to play on the big screen. A 5670 will barely play at 1080P (a GT430 not a chance in heck in most games). The 5750/5770 and GTS450 would be good enough for big screen gaming.
February 11, 2011 6:34:19 PM

Damn, just seen my power supply rating and its 305 watts. So gets complicated again. One of the great thing about the Dell is its so quiet, that I really wouldn't want to mess with the power supply. (unless common sense prevails and its inevitable, to get a sensible performance out of the machine.) I reckon if i stick with the power supply, I'm just wasting money really, because the upgrade to the graphics card for the job needed will only be marginal, due to the limitations enforced by the the PSU. Just checked a couple of websites and talking £45-50 for a decent power supply. Any recommendations, as this was a cost that I had not envisaged, so a cheap. quiet but fit for purpose reccommendation would be appreciated. By the sounds of it, it looks like the GTS450 is going to be my purchase. But just out of curiosity, if I binned the idea of wanting 3D playback, just decent DX 11 gaming on the big screen, would that still be my best choice.

http://www.dell.com/us/en/dfh/desktops/dimen_e521/pd.as...
[Link to the specification for my Dell E521]
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February 11, 2011 7:52:48 PM

The HD5750 is basically on par with the GTS 450. It is very power efficient and will work fine on a 305w from Dell so it is probably the best choice for you. I believe I've even seen people running an HD5770 on one of those PSUs but that may be pushing it a bit.
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February 12, 2011 6:06:29 PM

sandavsin said:
Damn, just seen my power supply rating and its 305 watts. So gets complicated again. One of the great thing about the Dell is its so quiet, that I really wouldn't want to mess with the power supply. (unless common sense prevails and its inevitable, to get a sensible performance out of the machine.) I reckon if i stick with the power supply, I'm just wasting money really, because the upgrade to the graphics card for the job needed will only be marginal, due to the limitations enforced by the the PSU. Just checked a couple of websites and talking £45-50 for a decent power supply. Any recommendations, as this was a cost that I had not envisaged, so a cheap. quiet but fit for purpose reccommendation would be appreciated. By the sounds of it, it looks like the GTS450 is going to be my purchase. But just out of curiosity, if I binned the idea of wanting 3D playback, just decent DX 11 gaming on the big screen, would that still be my best choice.

http://www.dell.com/us/en/dfh/desktops/dimen_e521/pd.as...
[Link to the specification for my Dell E521]

Even if you get rid of the idea of 3d BR playback, you're still stuck in a quandary due to the fact that neither the 5670 nor the 5750 are really all that great for 1080P gaming. A 5750 is right about the bottom of where 1080P gaming works. Then again, it largely depends on the games you play and what quality (AA/AF) and detail settings you need. WoW plays at 1080P fine with a piece of crap HD4350, while Crysis/Metro2033 are barely playable at even their lowest settings at 1080P on a 5670. That said, they ARE playable, but the minimum frame rates are slightly below 30fps. So, I'd guess as long as you aren't playing either of those two games, most others would play just fine so long as you're okay with lowered detail settings. With that in mind, I'd stick with a 5670 given that it doesn't require additional power - it's the most powerful graphics card you can get that doesn't need any additional power. As JYJJY said, you could probably run a 5750 off that power supply regardless of the wattage but you WOULD need the PCIe 6-pin power. If the PSU doesn't have that, then you'd need to get a molex-to-PCIe adapter which will probably come with the card. However, you'd still be risking the PSU not being strong enough. Generally speaking, Dell puts only what's necessary to adequately power their lower-end computers which is how they keep their prices so low. I'm 90% confident it could power a 5750, but I'm not sure I'd tell someone else to try it unless they had lots of time and patience to return things that didn't work.

I can tell you that you probably would NOT be able to get a GTS450 up with that as those require quite a bit more amperage that I'm guessing that little 305W doesn't have (at least 24A if I recall). So, short of buying a new PSU, you're kind of stuck with the 5670. If you do want to buy a new PSU and go with the GTS450, you really don't need anything more than a 400-500W PSU with at least 24A on the 12V rail. Something like this (and I'm sure there will be many people who have opinions on PSUs...I'm certainly no expert as I've never really been picky with them because, believe it or not, I've never had one fail).
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hope that helps.
February 24, 2011 10:49:16 PM

Really guys, so much advice and guidance.... detailed and to the point. Thanks alot. At the moment, I'm think I'm gonna go with the advice to upgrade the PSU, and go with the GTS450 (About £90.00), as suggested by DKAPKE. Should this this in about a weeks time, and see what happens. But if anyone has any last minute suggestions, how I can max out the graphic power on this humble Dell E521, then it is welcome. I suppose the only real other contender, (with a PSU upgrade) is the HD5770
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February 26, 2011 7:28:03 AM

There's little point in buying a new psu + the GTS 450 IMO. It isn't particularly better than the HD5750 and the HD5750 WILL work just fine on your current PSU. If you are going to bother upgrading the PSU I would be targeting the GTX 460 768mb which is a much better card than either and well worth the price difference over the GTS450;
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/768mb-point-of-view-gtx-...
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