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GPU vs. CPU Upgrade: Extensive Tests

Graphics Cards have More Potential

The first comparison shows all the test results obtained during cross-testing. Each graphics card completes the full suite of benchmark tests with six CPUs, and each of the CPUs completes the full suite of benchmarks tests with six different graphics cards. The percentage value calculated is made up of all of the achieved frame rates (graphics card x 6 CPU tests); there is no weighting between the individual games. The results were then added together and converted to percentages.

With each generation of graphics chips, Nvidia has been able to double overall performance. The Geforce 9800 GTX is an exception: its performance is closer to that of the Geforce 8 series with the G92 graphics chip. The test contains the overclocked models, which have a little more 3D performance. Another exception is the Geforce 9600, which really deserves the title 9700. It cannot be compared to its slower predecessors, the 6600, 7600 or 8600—its 3D speed is more like that of the Geforce 8800 GTS 320 or 640.

Overall Results for Graphics CardsfpsPercent
Geforce 9800 GTX (512 MB)15263.6561.2
Geforce 8800 GTS OC (512 MB)15257.4561.0
Geforce 8800 GT OC (512 MB)14609.2537.1
Geforce 9600 GT OC (1024 MB)13148.6483.4
Geforce 7950 GT (512 MB)6500.9239.0
Geforce 6800 GT (256 MB)2719.8100.0

The speed benefits achieved by changing the CPU are clearly lower, but a basic minimum level is necessary. Otherwise the new graphics card loses 3D performance; 2.6 to 3.0 GHz is sufficient as the basic level. Our test included the current Intel models costing $77, $200 and $262 (50, 130 and 170 Euros), while the X6800 Extreme Edition priced at $1236 (800 Euros) is an exception. The test results for this item show that the CPU displays very little in the way of benefits compared to the standard rate E6750 costing $204 (132 Euros). The influence of the clocking rate can be seen by increasing the frequencies from 1800 to 2410 MHz. When this is done, even the E2160 with its small cache can catch up considerably.

Overall results for CPUsfpsPercent
Q6600@3.212284.2135.9
X6800EE@2.9412097.5133.9
E6750@2.6711985.9132.6
Q6600@2.411583.3128.2
E2160@2.4110512.4116.3
E2160@1.89036.2100.0

We chose not to include single cores, as the Asus mainboard with X38 chip set refuses to work with them. At current CPU pricing levels, it makes no sense to use anything smaller than an E2160—doing so in combination with the currently available graphics cards would be wasting too much in the way of 3D speed.

  • DjEaZy
    will there be a AMD/ATI roundup???
    Reply
  • randomizer
    That would simply consume more time without really proving much. I think sticking with a single manufacturer is fine, because you see the generation differences of cards and the performance gains compared to geting a new processor. You will see the same thing with ATI cards. Pop in an X800 and watch it crumble in the wake of a HD3870. There is no need to inlude ATI cards for the sake of this article.
    Reply
  • randomizer
    This has been a long needed article IMO. Now we can post links instead of coming up with simple explanations :D
    Reply
  • yadge
    I didn't realize the new gpus were actually that powerful. According to Toms charts, there is no gpu that can give me double the performance over my x1950 pro. But here, the 9600gt was getting 3 times the frames as the 7950gt(which is better than mine) on Call of Duty 4.

    Maybe there's something wrong with the charts. I don't know. But this makes me even more excited for when I upgrade in the near future.
    Reply
  • This article is biased from the beginning by using a reference graphics card from 2004 (6800GT) to a reference CPU from 2007 (E2140).

    Go back and use a Pentium 4 Prescott (2004) and then the basis of these percentage values on page 3 will actually mean something.
    Reply
  • randomizer
    yadgeI didn't realize the new gpus were actually that powerful. According to Toms charts, there is no gpu that can give me double the performance over my x1950 pro. But here, the 9600gt was getting 3 times the frames as the 7950gt(which is better than mine) on Call of Duty 4. Maybe there's something wrong with the charts. I don't know. But this makes me even more excited for when I upgrade in the near future.I upgraded my X1950 pro to a 9600GT. It was a fantastic upgrade.
    Reply
  • wh3resmycar
    scyThis article is biased from the beginning by using a reference graphics card from 2004 (6800GT) to a reference CPU from 2007 (E2140).
    maybe it is. but its relevant especially with those people who are stuck with those prescotts/6800gt. this article reveals an upgrade path nonetheless
    Reply
  • randomizer
    If they had used P4s there would be o many variables in this article that there would be no direction and that would make it pointless.
    Reply
  • JAYDEEJOHN
    Great article!!! It clears up many things. It finally shows proof that the best upgrade a gamer can make is a newer card. About the P4's, just take the clock rate and cut it in half, then compare (ok add 10%) heheh
    Reply
  • justjc
    I know randomizer thinks we would get the same results, but would it be possible to see just a small article showing if the same result is true for AMD processors and ATi graphics.
    Firstly we know that ATi and nVidia graphics doesn't calculate graphics in the same way, who knows perhaps an ATi card requiers more or less processorpower to work at full load, and if you look at Can you run it? for Crysis(only one I recall using) you will see the minimum needed AMD processor is slover than the minimum needed Core2, even in processor speed.
    So any chance of a small, or full scale, article throwing some ATi and AMD power into the mix?
    Reply