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[gaming] How much does CPU actually affect performance?

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October 13, 2012 3:09:46 AM

Hello,
So I've been struggling with my old PC for years now, and after finally finding out what was causing the massive bottleneck (Single Channel Ram) and reaching the optimal point for my actual hardware, I thought that the next logical step was to get a better CPU since my GPU is still better than most current low-end graphics cards from nvidia.

So the other day I went to my friend's house, and aside from the massive HDTV she had connected, I noticed that her games like PSO2 or AC:B or basically anything, ran around 120 fps or more. When on my PC they barely scratch 50 fps, ranging from 20 to 40 during heavy loads.

So I instantly asked "what is your setup?", the answer was a puny AMD Dual Core at 3Ghz, 2GB DDR2 ram, but an Ati 6870.

So in the end, how much does the CPU really affect gaming? Is even a quad core really necessary for this generation of games?
Would I get improvements if I got a quad?

my current rig
9800gt
AMDX2+5200@2.7Ghz
2GB DDR2


What will be the new standard for the coming generation?

Any answers would be very much appreciated.
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October 13, 2012 4:06:57 AM

Those games aren't that intensive, so 120FPS isn't surprising. Try BF3 and frames will drop a lot. Your CPU isn't the only factor. The 9800GT is a bit of a weak card, and 2GB limits the RAM a game can use. You could get a quad, but would your mobo support it? If you're going to get a quad, best to upgrade some other components as well.
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October 13, 2012 4:19:00 AM

obsama1 said:
Those games aren't that intensive, so 120FPS isn't surprising. Try BF3 and frames will drop a lot. Your CPU isn't the only factor. The 9800GT is a bit of a weak card, and 2GB limits the RAM a game can use. You could get a quad, but would your mobo support it? If you're going to get a quad, best to upgrade some other components as well.

Yes in fact that was what I was thinking regarding the upgrade.
Just going for quad might be easy since supposedly the AM2+ slot supports some AM3 CPUs, but with the new generation of games coming it might end up being useless.
Getting the other step forward, a core i5 for example, would require a new mobo, new PSU, and new ram, which comes down to around 700 U$D for me (because of my location), and it's kind of a big deal. Specially if the new generation is coming and maybe the i5 will turn useless in less than 2 years?
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October 13, 2012 4:40:16 AM

the gpu is always more important than cpu.. even if you just replace your 9800gt with a radeon hd7850 you will notice a good amount of performance increase .. but then it wont be a balanced system. so i suggest you look for some cheap phenom quad core that would work on your current mobo . and get 7850 . you will notice huge performance increase. also add another 2 gig of ram
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October 13, 2012 4:49:51 AM

wiregrind said:
Specially if the new generation is coming and maybe the i5 will turn useless in less than 2 years?

I'm gaming on a 5 years old C2D-E8400 and that is still good enough for me.

It doesn't take all that much processing power to get playable (30+) frame rates in most games. For people who do not mind living with that, i5 should be good for 5+ years.

CPU processing power used to double like clockwork every ~18 months but now, it doubles every 3-4 years so I am not expecting software to expand all that much in that direction. Games requiring more heavy-duty number-chrunching are going to have to start using GPGPU and turn the CPU into little more than a glorified IO controller.
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October 13, 2012 6:02:08 AM

InvalidError said:
I'm gaming on a 5 years old C2D-E8400 and that is still good enough for me.

It doesn't take all that much processing power to get playable (30+) frame rates in most games. For people who do not mind living with that, i5 should be good for 5+ years.

CPU processing power used to double like clockwork every ~18 months but now, it doubles every 3-4 years so I am not expecting software to expand all that much in that direction. Games requiring more heavy-duty number-chrunching are going to have to start using GPGPU and turn the CPU into little more than a glorified IO controller.


I would personally like to see some titles simply get more efficient with its coding instead of using GPGPU. I have been using an athlon 2 x3 for about a year and a half now, still see no reason to upgrade even though its the oldest part in my machine.
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October 13, 2012 6:21:58 AM

2665280,5,139660 said:
I'm gaming on a 5 years old C2D-E8400 and that is still good enough for me.

so is an intel pentium sandy bridge G630 @ 2.7ghz better than a C2D E8400 ?


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October 13, 2012 6:28:38 AM

mouse24 said:
I would personally like to see some titles simply get more efficient with its coding instead of using GPGPU.

Considering how much of a balancing act hybrid computing is, using GPGPU would actually require some careful planning and force programmers to be efficient about it if they want to derive actual benefits from the exercise. GPGPU is much more efficient than the CPU at doing stuff like physics and evaluating neural networks for AI.

If games moved most of their heavy computing to GPGPU, you'd get to keep that X3 for as long as its PCIe slot remains compatible with new GPUs.
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October 13, 2012 6:41:24 AM

wiregrind said:
Hello,
So I've been struggling with my old PC for years now, and after finally finding out what was causing the massive bottleneck (Single Channel Ram) and reaching the optimal point for my actual hardware, I thought that the next logical step was to get a better CPU since my GPU is still better than most current low-end graphics cards from nvidia.

So the other day I went to my friend's house, and aside from the massive HDTV she had connected, I noticed that her games like PSO2 or AC:B or basically anything, ran around 120 fps or more. When on my PC they barely scratch 50 fps, ranging from 20 to 40 during heavy loads.

So I instantly asked "what is your setup?", the answer was a puny AMD Dual Core at 3Ghz, 2GB DDR2 ram, but an Ati 6870.

So in the end, how much does the CPU really affect gaming? Is even a quad core really necessary for this generation of games?
Would I get improvements if I got a quad?

my current rig
9800gt
AMDX2+5200@2.7Ghz
2GB DDR2


What will be the new standard for the coming generation?

Any answers would be very much appreciated.


For a Good performance low end rig, I'd go for 6GB DDR3 and a low end quad core CPU... the AMD A8 APU with a HD 6670 in Hybrid crossfire, or wait for the new A10 APUs coming out soon and run a hybrid crossfire. Most games take close to all 4 Gigs of ram! And the Hybrid crossfire is really good suprisingly. But if you want a seperate graphics, go with a FX 4100 and a HD 7770.
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October 13, 2012 6:41:59 AM

mohit9206 said:
so is an intel pentium sandy bridge G630 @ 2.7ghz better than a C2D E8400 ?

C2D-E8400 vs Pentium G840
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/56?vs=405

The E8400 is not very far behind the G840 and even ties with it in CPU-centric benchmarks which includes most games. For stuff that uses more RAM bandwidth or is more sensitive to RAM latency, the Pentium pulls ahead by fair (20-25%) margins.

Personally, I do not bother upgrading to something that is less than 100% faster than my current PC so the G630 being only 5% faster in games and 25% faster in other stuff would not be worth the trouble IMO.
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October 13, 2012 8:22:50 AM

InvalidError said:
C2D-E8400 vs Pentium G840
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/56?vs=405

The E8400 is not very far behind the G840 and even ties with it in CPU-centric benchmarks which includes most games. For stuff that uses more RAM bandwidth or is more sensitive to RAM latency, the Pentium pulls ahead by fair (20-25%) margins.

Personally, I do not bother upgrading to something that is less than 100% faster than my current PC so the G630 being only 5% faster in games and 25% faster in other stuff would not be worth the trouble IMO.

but i upgraded to a g630 from my good ol athlon 64x2 4600+ :hello: 
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October 13, 2012 8:47:03 AM

LOL! That must of been a huge improvement! Eh mohit9206?
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October 13, 2012 8:51:19 AM

wiregrind said:
Yes in fact that was what I was thinking regarding the upgrade.
Just going for quad might be easy since supposedly the AM2+ slot supports some AM3 CPUs, but with the new generation of games coming it might end up being useless.
Getting the other step forward, a core i5 for example, would require a new mobo, new PSU, and new ram, which comes down to around 700 U$D for me (because of my location), and it's kind of a big deal. Specially if the new generation is coming and maybe the i5 will turn useless in less than 2 years?


Even to this day a Q6600 when clocked to 3GHz is still a very good CPU. Not as good as a i5 but still a good CPU.

Software (especially games) takes a long time to catch up to a CPUs full performance potential.

A i5 of this or the last gen will probably still be viable gaming CPUs in the next 3-5 years due to that since most games are console-centric and until the next consoles come out, most wont take advantage of more than 2 cores. Even then, the next gen consoles are already out dated in terms of GPU and CPU performance of current PCs, based on the specs we have been given thus far.
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October 13, 2012 8:57:58 AM

how would an sandy bridge i3 hold up for the next 3-5 yrs ??
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October 13, 2012 9:14:38 AM

Not well at all TBH.Either spend some money and go for a i5 or just buy a cheap Phenom II X4 which will probably age better than the Core i3.
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October 13, 2012 9:23:31 AM

Kamen_BG said:
Not well at all TBH.Either spend some money and go for a i5 or just buy a cheap Phenom II X4 which will probably age better than the Core i3.

i have already spent my money towards an entry level gaming pc.. see my sig rig :bounce: 
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October 13, 2012 9:37:56 AM

Hello Friends,

CPU and the page file have no relation between them. CPU has nothing to do with page file. CPU is consumed when programmers are executed, while the page file is an area on the hard disk that windows can use if they were in RAM. Windows uses that space as RAM, stores and deletes temporary files that need to be created during execution of programmers that are executed by CPU.
If your hard disk is in good working condition, the page file area will be accessed more fast and it will help system run faster, especially in case you have less RAM.

Thanks And Regards.
Duncan Jones :) 
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October 13, 2012 10:05:22 AM

BigMack70 said:
The core i3 is definitely the better purchase if you're thinking about how something will "age" because it has a drop-in upgrade path to an i5 or i7 where as phenom has no upgrade path...

Nice budget gaming rig OP :) 

you mean my budget gaming rig ? but am not OP :hello: 
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October 13, 2012 11:06:45 AM

BigMack70 said:
haha oops that's what happens when you post before you've had your morning coffee... :pfff: 

you have an awesome rig too.. 2x 7970 in crossfire ? wow.. i7-2600k@4.8ghz .. coool .. whats your 3d mark 11 and cinebench results ? what res you play at and what fps you get ?
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October 13, 2012 11:20:21 AM

BigMack70 said:
Still playing on a 5 year old 27" 1920x1200 monitor because I can't find a monitor upgrade that I like...

Anyways, I don't remember my cinebench results off-hand but my best 3dmark11 scores are ~X7000 and ~P16000
http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/3761057
http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/3328268

It's a nice rig but I'm excited to go back to single GPU in a generation or two.

hmmm yup you are pretty much wasting your rig's potential at 1080p. why did you get a second 7970 then ?
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