I'm planning to build a new computer, but in the meantime I'm trying to live with this very old one:
AMD Athlon 64X2 Dual
Core Processor 3800+
2.01 GHz, 3 gigs of RAM (actually 4 for my 64-bit ubuntu installation, but I'm gaming on XP 32-bit)
I recently upgraded from a Radeon 4670 HD (500 meg vram) to an NVidia GeForce 9800 GT (1 gig vram), not expecting to see much of a difference with that cpu bottlenecking things. But it was a freebie from a friend, so I thought, why not?
Surprisingly, I saw a good 30%+ jump in gaming performance.
Now my question is, how good of a graphics card could I put in this thing and still see a difference? Right now I'm a bit choppy while running Diablo 3 (in 1080), and Skyrim is just barely not playable at settings I find acceptable (1080, 2xAA). Would another graphics card upgrade help me much with a cpu this old?
Thank you very much. That's a bit cheaper, too. I basically want to push this cpu to the point where it, and not the graphics card, is the bottleneck, and go no further. And save that money on my new computer, in which I hope to put a 660 ti, 670, perhaps even a 680 if I'm feeling stupidly enthusiastic.
It's because I plan to continue to use this computer even after I build my next one. I figure any upgrades I can make to it that don't require replacing the mobo/power suppy or spending a lot of money are worth it. My other upgrade for it is going to be an ssd. Then I'll stop, Embra. I promise!
I think the computer you have now is well balanced for how old it is. I would hate to see you throw more money into it, considering you are planning to build another. Pool your resources for your new build.
That said, you're of the opinion that I've already turned my cpu into my bottleneck, and I won't see those gains? (Contrary to bigcy's opinion.)
I did make that mistake once before, when upgrading from a voodoo 3500 to a voodoo 5500 on a Pentium II 400 MHz, gaining features that I loved--especially AA--but no noticeable performance gains. Would you say I'm about to make the exact same mistake?
I don't intend to retire this computer (Diablo on a LAN is fun!) even after building my new computer, so I do want to max it out, short of changing the motherboard. But I don't want to throw money away on a meaningless upgrade.
Sigh. I wish tech sites did benchmark comparisons on OLD hardware instead of just the latest and greatest, so those of us with old systems could easily see that sweet spot where graphics card upgrades no longer hold meaning.