It is always fun to see how the latest and greatest hardware performs, but not all gamers have cutting-edge machines or the means to upgrade every time a faster graphics card hits the streets. Many gamers want to know how to best squeeze more life out of their rigs—or whether it’s even possible.
Very affordable PCI Express gaming cards are all over the place now, but are any worth putting into an aging machine? Will that upgrade alone allow you to play the latest popular games at high details? How much CPU do you need? Does a single-core CPU still have what it takes? Will any dual-core chip suffice, regardless of its clock speeds?
We try to answer every single one of these questions as we take an aging—yet hopefully capable—gaming box, put in a couple of affordable graphics cards, and test its performance in some modern games with an older single-core CPU and with two dual-core processors.
Our main focus today is on AMD Athlon 64 systems, built on a Socket 754, Socket 939 or Socket AM2 motherboard, but anyone with a system that is now a couple of years old and starting to show its age stands to benefit from our little blast from the past. Lets see if it’s time to retire that once-mighty gaming system altogether or if a graphics upgrade can extend its useful life a while longer.