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Looking for advice: Graphics Card vs CPU

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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November 21, 2004 5:07:35 PM

I am planning to buy

[Sparkle GeFORCE 6800GT 8X AGP, 256MB DDR, 256Bit, 2ns, Core Clock 350MHZ, Memory Clock 1G MHz DDR3],

but I fear that my low-end CPU [AMD Athlon XP 1800+, 1544 MHz, Palomino, L1-64KB, L2-256KB] will hinder card performance.

Is my CPU a bottleneck? Do I need to upgrade it to fully maximize GeForce performance or is it enough?

Also, my Soltek SL-75DRV5 motherboard supports only 4x AGP. Is it a waste of money to buy 8x card then?

I use my PC mostly for gaming.

Thanks very much in advance for any useful answer, as I find it difficult to locate any good VGA vs CPU articles.
November 21, 2004 5:11:45 PM

I think that you would definately get a good gaming experience, because the CPU you have is plenty for gaming, and the card should work full bore.
But, yes, if you also upgraded your CPU, your benchmarks would immprove, whether or not it would be noticable in games, I think not much.

<font color=red><pre>\\//__________________________________
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November 21, 2004 5:26:18 PM

Quote:
whether or not it would be noticable in games, I think not much

It completely depends on how CPU-limited the games are. Anandtech did an article about this a while back, including Doom 3, and it showed that some games are <i>critically</i> dependent on it. Going from an 1800+ to something like a 3500+ could earn you nearly twice the FPS in certain games (you're also getting a huge bonus from increased mem. bandwidth).

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a b U Graphics card
November 21, 2004 5:27:34 PM

It all depends on the game. In some games you will see a huge boost, in others performance will be cpu limited. <b>What card do you have now?</b> (As I was just saying in another thread)If it is a decent card, upgrading CPU/mobo might be better off. If not, One thing you should see is the ability to crank the resolution and details higher than before, while remaining playable. That can improve the overall gaming experience alot.

Take HL2 for instance. Some parts of it are very CPU limited, others like the water or glass shields , stress the graphics card. Look at <A HREF="http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/half_life_2_cpu_sho..." target="_new">this review</A> and you can see how the 6800U is held back by the XP2100+ in HL2, yet cranking the resolution settings doesn't lower the fps much either.

You may want to look into overclocking that cpu, or even upgrading the cpu to a higher one if supported. What chipset is that mobo?

Anyway, I think the 6800GT will definately be held back compared to being on a high end system, yet depending what card you own now, may also definately up your gaming experiece big time.

Oh, don't worry about AGP8x/4X. Your cpu/mobo/ram will limit that card way more that switching from 4X to 8X would probably yield almost no gain at all.

ABIT IS7, P4 2.6C, 1GB Corsair XMS 4000 Pro Series, Radeon 9800 Pro, Santa Cruz, TruePower 430watt
a b U Graphics card
November 21, 2004 5:28:47 PM

Ya beat me by 1 minute. I am too long-winded. :tongue:


ABIT IS7, P4 2.6C, 1GB Corsair XMS 4000 Pro Series, Radeon 9800 Pro, Santa Cruz, TruePower 430watt
November 21, 2004 5:48:16 PM

Thanks a lot for friendly and informative answers!

I currently own [LeadTek Winfast Nvidia Geforce4 Ti 4200, 64MB, 128 bit]. It's not really bad - I'm surprised how relatively good HL2 looks with satisfactory FPS.

I'm sure I'd be able to play most games for another year with low video settings, but I just need those DX9 bells and whistles for maximum satisfaction!

Of course I will upgrade my CPU sooner or later, but my current dillema is whether I can fully enjoy latest games with VGA upgrade only. Also, with so many new technologies hitting mainstream soon (PCI Express, BTX etc.) I hesitate to make a full upgrade right now.

Oh, and my mobo - VIA Apollo KT333 / VT8233A, 64-bit Socket A.

Thanks again for any thoughts. I really appreciate those quick responses.
November 21, 2004 6:14:49 PM

You got some very good replies, indeed.
My point was your 1800+ paired with that planned graphic upgrade will play all of todays games.


<font color=red><pre>\\//__________________________________
And the sign says "You got to have a membership card to get inside" Huh
So I got me a pen and paper And I made up my own little sign</pre><p></font color=red>
a b U Graphics card
November 21, 2004 7:14:06 PM

LOL! Zoinks, foiled again! :evil: 

Funny thing is I think it's not so much my R9600P that is holding me back in HL2 as the XP2000+. 30 fps in wide open spaces seems to be my max regardless of resolution, even without any action. Inside gameplay goes to 100+fps easily even at 1024x768. So it could restrict gameplay somewhat, but it's still 'playable' just not likely as good as it could be.


- You need a licence to buy a gun, but they'll sell anyone a stamp <i>(or internet account)</i> ! - <font color=green>RED </font color=green> <font color=red> GREEN</font color=red> GA to SK :evil: 
a b U Graphics card
November 21, 2004 8:08:22 PM

yup, always one step behind. :frown:

I can imagine what you are saying as looking at firingsquads review, it is amazing that the on the XP2100+ test system, the 6800U only manages 2-3fps higher at 800x600 than at 1600x1200 4X/8X. That is amazing. yet the scary thing is this question: Is 40fps on a stress test = to a nice gaming experience or not? or do details have to be turned down? I'd have to imagine that it would be a little choppy during the low dips.


ABIT IS7, P4 2.6C, 1GB Corsair XMS 4000 Pro Series, Radeon 9800 Pro, Santa Cruz, TruePower 430watt
a b U Graphics card
November 21, 2004 8:26:14 PM

The lowest dip sofar were those exploding precious antique cans (~10fps) it was very noticeable, but the rest was smooth even the 30fps stuff because it was a solid 30fps, not 30-50-30-90-30 causing jerking.

30fps AVERAGE would suck but 30FPS constant was OK because it didn't have those drastic dips, but no peaks either it seemed, very CPU limited in those sections, whereas the exploing cans was a ton of stress on both the graphics (moving exploding objects) and the CPU (bouncing cans).


- You need a licence to buy a gun, but they'll sell anyone a stamp <i>(or internet account)</i> ! - <font color=green>RED </font color=green> <font color=red> GREEN</font color=red> GA to SK :evil: 
November 21, 2004 8:49:11 PM

I'm interested in this too... Mind if I ask another related question?

If you do have a lower end CPU, like maybe the Athlon XP 3000, which (let's say) benchmarks in the 60's in a Doom3 demo whereas one of the Athlon64's might benchmark in the 90's or more. That means you can crank your resolution up higher without dropping framerate below the 60's, right? (at least until you get too much resolution for the video card to handle?) Or do higher resolutions require more CPU power at all?

(what I think I know would tell me no, the CPU usage doesn't go up with higher resolutions, but I don't feel positive about this)


And, I don't see that xbitlabs article quite yet... I've found some Doom3 CPU requirement benchmarks but not a comparison across multiple games yet. Mind posting a link to it?
a b U Graphics card
November 21, 2004 10:05:43 PM

If you simply must see the game with all it's beatiful DX9 water and effects, then upgrade the graphics card.

Looking back to <A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2281&p=10" target="_new">Anand's maintstream review</A>, they say for performance reasons upgrade the cpu, for visual effects, the graphics card. With a cutting edge cpu like they used, you could probably play at 1280x1024 on that GF4Ti. But of course you will only be seeing <A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2281&p=2" target="_new">DX 8.0 effects</A>, not DX9. Note especially the water in his second picture. To me that would change the game's looks quite a bit.

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