Upgrade only the graphics card?


I currently have an EVGA NVidia 8800 GTX on an Asus p5b motherboard, plus an E6700 core2duo and 4GB RAM. I wanna upgrade it, so I can run the newest games with maximum video settings. Is it worth upgrading only the graphics card to the best currently available and leave the rest as it is? Will I be able to run the newest games with maximum settings (or at least with way better settings than I currently run them with)?

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  1. I can tell you EXACTLY how to figure this out.

    1. Open the Task Manager (CTRL-ALT-DEL)
    2. Disable hyperthreading on the CPU (BIOS) if it's an option
    3. Start up a modern game with the Task Manager running already and run the game for at least five minutes
    4. Shut down the game and observe the CPU's average usage.
    5. Repeat for at least two more games and take the average

    Analyse results:
    1. If the CPU average usage was 50% then you can add a graphics card which performs, at best, TWICE as good in the graphics card benchmarks
    2. If the CPU average is 80% you have very little room for upgrading your graphics card before the CPU becomes the bottleneck

    If you have hyperthreading turn it back on after these tests. (enabling hyperthreading produces incorrect CPU use averages for two reasons: a) the hyperthread is treated equal to a CPU core which it isn't and, b) many games can't even use them but the CPU average still uses it's existence in the average

    For example, if your computer had TWO CORES + TWO THREADS and you ran a game which could NOT use hyperthreading, AND both cores were used at 100% the average CPU usage would be reported as 50% even though that game in reality has maxed out the CPU processing it can actually use. In this case you would think you could get a better graphics card but in reality it would make no difference.

    Find how much CPU processing power you have left over to determine how much you can upgrade your graphics card before bottlenecking your system by maxing out the CPU. It's approximate, but my method is fairly good.
  2. Hi Khalinsar,

    Is your processor overclocked? If you have a solid OC going, you should be fine up to a certain point. You will get better performance out of a more modern processor, but unless you start talking about more than a few hundred dollars worth of Graphics Cards, it won't be dramatic.

    Also, what resolution do you play at? This is important- lower resolutions require a whole lot less muscle to run games at max settings with playable framerates.
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