I'm getting a new computer sometime here, and I'll be getting an ATI Radeon 9700 Pro, 512 MB RAM, Win2000Pro, and using it for some gaming. I'm not a heavy gamer. I'll be playing Need for Speed Porsche Unleashed, The Sims, MS Flight Sim 2004 (when it comes out), Data Becker Complete Home Designer 5.0, and Splinter Cell. I'll also be running programs like KaZaa, Limewire, WinMX, and various others.
However, I'm unsure of what processor to buy. Based on the preceding specs, I can afford up to a P4 2.66 gHz or an Athlon XP 2700+. But I'd really like to save some money. How much performance will I lose if I get say, a P4 2.53 gHz or 2.4 gHz? How about an AMD 2400+ or 2200+? What kind of performance would I be losing?
Get a 2400xp, the epox 8rda board and a good hsf cooler, with ddr333 memory you will be able to choose what multiplier to use and run the fsb upto 166mhz (333ddr). I dont know if you like overclocking or ever tried it but its so simple with this motherboard, the 2400 will hit 2.25ghz easily on maybe 140mhz fsb and 16 multipier performing about the same as a 2700.Or up the voltage to maybe 1.75 volts and run the memory at 146 fsb on 16 multi (2.33ghz) or 155 on 15 (probably best to tweak and test yourself) and achieve a 3000 and over rating while saving a couple hundred $$$$$
With comperable AMD and Intel CPUs and decent combination of memory, video and drives...Not enough that you'd notice it unless you put the two machines side by side. And even then it would most likely show up only under test conditions with one machine winning some comparisons and the other winning others.
This is a highly competative market where big decisions are made by splitting hairs all the time... But what you can trust and what you can afford... then just relax and enjoy it. There really is no bonus in sweating the small stuff.
however, i should add that cpu utilization depends on the game. comanche 4 is almost nothing but CPU dependent, same with Jedi Knight II, while Aquanox is highly optimized for graphics cards. most games fall somewhere in the middle, like 50/50. this makes me mad though, because i'd rather just upgrade my video card instaed of my whole system every year or so! >
With dx9 though, the main piece of hardware will be the gfx card, i mean look at 3dm03, a few ppl with 1gig durons got 4000+ at stock speeds (rad 9700pro at 324.310) compared to a 2700xp scoring between 4600 and 4800. If the games perform like this then it will mean we will only need to upgrade our gfx cards .....
Yeah, it depends on the game. If it's a big game with lots of AI (sprites) or environmental effects, then your processor would shoulder the burden (think of games like Command and Conquer or Battlefield 1942 where there is lots of AI).
If it's just a FPS, it's mostly graphics card, since most of the environmentals are handled by the video card (such as shading and mapping and the like).
I'd say, considering the small difference between a 2.4 and a 2.6, get the 2.4 and spend the extra on a nice heatsink and overclock. You'll be able to keep the heatsink and use it on future processors, while you won't be able to use the cpu once it's obsolete.