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Re: will my old PC bottleneck my new card?

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September 15, 2011 3:08:23 PM

This computer has been used only for a media machine for many years. It is not my primary machine.
THe primary reason for wanting to upgrade is to play 720p television shows. If I could play blu-ray's with an upgrade, i would like to know that too. Gaming is NOT a priority. I am not interested in forking over alot of money for this upgrade. Also not interested in overclocking.

I popped in a 720p movie yesterday that was borderline watchable, meaning if it was only a little bit more powerful, I think I would be in the clear. Ok at most times, but movement is a little choppy sometimes. CPU works at 100% in VLC.

I am thinking about buying a 2 or 3 year old AGP card, maybe an ATI 4650 HD. Is the 3870 or 3850 or 4670 leaps and bounds faster than the 4650?

and/OR

If it is required, I will buy a faster socket A/462 CPU maybe like a Barton or sempron on ebay. (2800+ or 3000+).

If I install one of these graphic cards, would I see a drastic improvement? or only marginal due to a bottleneck of older hardware? could one of these new graphics cards make it worse? do I need any new cable adapters?

Can I play blu-ray? finally?


System Specs --> Custom build

AMD Athlon XP 2100 Palamino (1.73GHZ)
ASUS A7N8X (v2) (no PCI-E)(no SATA)
1.75 GB of DDR1 (PC 3200)
NVidia GeForce 6600 (AGP 8X)
Hard drive is a PATA WD120gb (There are no SATA ports on this mobo)
Power Supply--> 460W Enermax E6465P-VE

Win XP pro

More about : bottleneck card

September 15, 2011 3:36:56 PM

either of the 3 will be plenty good for watching your movies as long as you remember to enable hardware acceleration.
but for comparing the 3 as to which is better here is exactly the benchmarks you want to see.
http://www.anandtech.com/show/2616/8
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 15, 2011 3:47:38 PM

actually, I have a not-too-different old laptop (A Turon 64 @ 1.8 GHz) which struggles playing video at 1440x900, though it does have an X200M
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 15, 2011 4:27:29 PM

Any of the video cards you listed, including the 6600 are severely bottlenecked by that cpu.
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 15, 2011 4:50:43 PM

I have a similar HTPC PC on win7 ult 32 with an ASUS agp 3450 with HDMI out. It runs blue ray no problems, but for some reason it can't run netflix with silverlight. I get really bad stutters and the CPU is pinned at 100% while the video card is chillin at like 5%.
I guess Silverlight does not use hard ware acceration or, it does not like my ati card or something like that.
Any way all the cards you listed are faster than my 3450, so in short yes your cpu is the bottle neck, but yes the system should work for watching blue ray.
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September 15, 2011 4:56:11 PM

If my 6600 even bottlenecks the cpu,
would a CPU upgrade to the 3000+ barton help? would I even need a new graphics card with that CPU upgrade? (is the Cpu upgrade a marginal or major difference)?
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 15, 2011 5:05:12 PM

I really dont think spending money on that pc will provide a good return. If you could get a card, or cpu used for 20-30 then go for it. But I dont think you will ever see enough of a performace increase to justify more than that. I bought the 3450 2 yeasr ago on sale for 45. They are now hard to find that cheap and my system struggles to do basic tasks like netflix. Funny enough it runs portal 2 at 720 on low steady 40 fps.
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 15, 2011 5:53:48 PM

my suggestion would be to set aside $250-300 and just build a barebones HTPC build.
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 15, 2011 6:50:08 PM

you can do better than that :) 

$250 can get you an Athlon II x2, AS Rock 760G Mobo, DVD burner & 500 GB HDD, Antec Basiq 350W PSU, and a Rosewill R102 case.

$300 can get you a A6 triple core.
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September 15, 2011 7:03:37 PM

we are getting a little of topic. I don't have the money to spend $250-$350 for a computer that is not my primary right now.

A better AGP video card is only $75-$100.

the point is, that this is a stop gap solution.
I would consider a new barebones kit or 2-3 year old system the inexpensive route.

Has anyone made similar upgrades in the past?


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Best solution

September 15, 2011 7:46:11 PM

Depends on what resolution your monitor is but if you want full HD (1080p) Keep in mind your PC can still play high definition but not at the recommended frames per second (all "american" movies run at 23.976 fps)

Benchmarks I found from some website

Test System 1:
AMD XP 2500+
1GB RAM
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700
Resolution: 1280x1024
720p Result: 23.976 (full framerate)
1080p Result: 11.916

Test System 2:
Pentium-4 3.2 GHz
1GB RAM
ATI Radeon 9800 Pro
Resolution: 1280x1024
720p Result: 23.976 (full framerate)
1080p Result: 17.136

Test System 3 (Notebook):
Pentium-M 2 GHz
1GB RAM
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6600
Resolution: 1280x800
720p Result: 23.976 (full framerate)
1080p Result: 16.766

Test System 4 (New PC):
Intel Core 2 Duo E8500
4GB DDR3 1333 MHz RAM
ATI Radeon HD 4850 512MB
Resolution: 1920x1080
720p Result: 23.976 (full framerate, average CPU utilization: 15%)
1080p Result: 23.976 (full framerate, average CPU utilization: 30%)

That should be a good baseline on what you need to purchase for full HD playback
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September 15, 2011 8:52:02 PM

Best answer selected by Gpapus.
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September 15, 2011 8:53:59 PM

those benchmarks are great. It's a good way to tell where you have. I am probably near benchmark 2/3. I only with there was a benchmark 4 with a weaker cpu.
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