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Gaming With AGP Graphics: Overclock That CPU!

Your Old System: Better, Faster, Stronger

You've got an older AGP-equipped system lying around. After checking out our last AGP article, you've accepted that the old girl won't be a valuable addition to LAN parties anymore. But before you go and donate it to your auntie for basic Internet use, hold on a minute. There might be some gaming goodness left in that system.

To recap, in part one of our little AGP Revival, we paired the latest and greatest AGP graphics cards with a fairly typical older platform. This system was equipped with an AGP motherboard, a dual-core Athlon X2 3800+ CPU, and 2GB of DDR memory. While the AGP bus didn't seem to be too much of a limiting factor, the CPU certainly turned out to be quite the bottleneck.

While this isn't a desirable situation to be in for a gamer, due to the limited CPU upgrade options today, it does lend itself to some affordable overclocking. The beauty of a CPU bottleneck (if you want to call it that) is that overclocking so effectively circumvents them. While graphics card overclocks usually produce relatively limited results, overclocking the CPU of a processor-bottlenecked system can show some big gains.

Let's clear something up first, though: this route won't work for everyone with an AGP system. In order for your older, overclocked processor to keep up with a higher-end graphics card, you're going to need an AGP motherboard that can handle a dual-core CPU at the very least, because a majority of new games need a minimum of two cores for good performance. That means your AGP motherboard must support AMD's Socket 939, AM2, or Intel's LGA 775 interface.

With these basic guidelines covered, let's look into the specifics of how we can squeeze the most performance from our old AGP system, while spending the least amount of cash.