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Can Legacy Dual-Core CPUs Drive Modern Graphics Cards? 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the only-after-they-pass-driver's-ed dept.
MojoKid writes "A few weeks back, we discussed whether a new GPU like the GeForce GTX 660 could breathe new life into an older quad-core gaming system built in mid 2008. The answer concluded was definitely yes — but many readers asked to reconsider the question, this time using a lower-end dual-core Core 2 Duo. The Core 2 Duo CPU chip used was a first-generation C2D part based on Intel's 65nm Conroe core. It's clocked at 3GHz with 4MB of L2 cache and has a 1333MHz FSB. The CPU was paired with 3GB of DDR2-1066 memory. The long and short of it is, you can upgrade the graphics card on a six year-old dual core machine and expect to see a noticeable improvement in game performance — significant gains in fact, up to 50 percent or more."
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Can Legacy Dual-Core CPUs Drive Modern Graphics Cards?

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  • by colin_faber (1083673) on Friday February 08, 2013 @07:30PM (#42838863)
    Yes of course they can drive these cards, will they do it at the same performance as a modern dual or quad core CPU, no.
    • by Hsien-Ko (1090623) on Friday February 08, 2013 @08:25PM (#42839317)
      I await the obviously conclusive "Can a Pentium M / Sempron be revived by a dual GTX680" article...
      • by jedidiah (1196)

        You can revive an old Pentium or Sempron with much less than a dual GTX680.

        Intel GPUs? Really?

      • You can definitely revive an old Pentium M / Sempron with a modest 50 dollar or so low end card. It enhances a good chunk of the browsing experience, not just video acceleration.

        Not exactly what you were asking, but I have a Pentium M based board that makes a great mediaPC now that I dropped a Radeon HD 6450 in it. Used to be nearly unusable. Now 1080p video, YouTube, web browsing, all great (just don't deviate too much out of those core tasks). For whatever reason seems a lot faster on Firefox over Chr

      • by siddesu (698447)
        How about my 386SX laptop?
        • by rts008 (812749) on Saturday February 09, 2013 @07:31AM (#42842365) Journal

          For that brute, I would go with two of these GTX680's in SLI mode!

          Note: Lap protector recommended and asbestos undershorts, also don't replace the OEM laptop battery packs with Boeing 787 battery packs.

          • by siddesu (698447)
            Thankfully, the laptop only needs a single Yuasa battery, an acid one. And it runs for almost a full hour off it.
        • by Hsien-Ko (1090623)
          Unfortunately, docking stations aren't suited for video upgrades due to the slow bus, plus the options are quite limited and out of its era. A PowerVR PCX2 can work in a docking station with PCI providing the laptop with 3d acceleration, but it's going to be slow as hell.
          • by DarkOx (621550)

            It was not always that way. I used to have a NEC Ultralight Versa that had a PC sized docking station into which you could install FULL LENGTH ISA cards. Oh I miss her.

    • Re:Yes of course (Score:5, Informative)

      by sortius_nod (1080919) on Friday February 08, 2013 @08:52PM (#42839571) Homepage

      Exactly my thoughts. 50% increase in performance? Not really impressive when you look at the graphics card charts out there. GTX 260 has far from 1/2 the performance of a GTX 660.

      According to PassMark:

      GTX 660: 4038
      GTX 260: 1123

      So with only a 50% increase in performance, I'd say it's a waste of money. The bottom line is that modern processors, chipsets, & RAM will make a massive difference in performance for modern high end graphics cards. If you're going to upgrade your graphics card, you need to reduce the bottlenecks in the system.

      • by Nikker (749551)
        If you want to play games today then why not?

        Bear with me for a second. A GTX 660 runs about $300. A few new components (mobo, RAM, CPU) centred around the 660 would be around $300(AMD) or $500(Intel), assuming your case and power supply can handle the upgrade. So you get the GTX 660 today and get decent frame rates just by pluging it in, over the course of the next months/years you save up the cash for the core components you need and you have the luxury or waiting on sales or good deals on Ebay/Kij
        • Re:Yes of course (Score:5, Insightful)

          by sortius_nod (1080919) on Friday February 08, 2013 @11:14PM (#42840575) Homepage

          It doesn't work like this though. Even if you take the 50% performance increase on face value (not taking into account higher AA/ASF/Shaders) that would mean a game running at 15fps would increase to 23fps. Not exactly much of an increase. Even if you were getting 30fps on the GTX 260, that's an increase of 15fps (which is what the tests essentially saw), hardly worth $300.

          Meanwhile, if you spent the money on CPU/MBD/RAM & a mid range graphics card (say a GTX 480 at around $150), you'd see actual performance increases of around 3.5x that of sticking a GTX 660 on a crap motherboard with a crap processor.

          Sure, if you had every intention of upgrading the rest of the components, the graphics card is going to be the easiest to swap out, but you're still going to need to upgrade the CPU/MBD/RAM.

          The article hides the fact that the increase of a GTX 260 vs GTX 660 card in a modern system would be a ~400% increase in performance. Not sure what they're trying to prove, but to me it proves they know nothing about hardware, gaming or value for money.

          • by Nikker (749551)
            That is true but your figures assume your 15fps is actually what this person is encountering.
          • As the author:

            You can't buy a faster system for $300. Intel's cheapest quad core is $179. Toss in $100 for the motherboard, $50 for RAM, $150 for the GPU ( assuming you opt for a suboptimal price point) and you're up to $480. A little shipping, and that's $500.

            The point of this article isn't "does $500 buy a better upgrade than $270 (GPU + Q6600?

            The point of the article is: Can I upgrade my old desktop and see a decent performance boost?"

            Answer: Yes.

            Is spending $500 better? Yes. Not everyone has $500.

            • by DarkOx (621550)

              I think the grandparent's point though is that its not really a decent performance boost in terms of economy. For a system targeted at games, assuming you are keeping the existing case, power supply, and peripherals; the video is probably 25% of the total price tag, possibly 40-50% if you are keeping the storage.

              Even a substantial improvement 50% or so is minor in terms of real world performance 23fps in a game is not really any more playable than 15; nor is being able to go from say 848x480 to 1366x768 o

            • by beelsebob (529313)

              You can't buy a faster system for $300. Intel's cheapest quad core is $179.

              $149 http://microcenter.com/product/400664/Core_i5_3470_32GHz_LGA_1155_Boxed_Processor [microcenter.com]
              And that's a quad core that's faster than AMD's 8 core FX 8320.

              Toss in $100 for the motherboard

              Why would you spend $100 on motherboard? You can get perfectly good H77 or B75 boards for $60-80.

              $150 for the GPU

              Uhh, your assertion was for CPU, motherboard, and RAM, why does the intel system suddenly get a GPU added to it?

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Actually if you keep an eye out for the Tiger sales (I'd suggest signing up for the emails) you can cut a good $100 or more off that AMD if you don't mind MIRs.

          For examples if you can re-use some of the guts like HDD and DVD burner you can get an Athlon X3 for $133 [tigerdirect.com] or a Phenom II X6 for $206 [tigerdirect.com] And that gives you the CPU with HSF, RAM, and a nice case to put it in. Either of these chips will be great for gaming, I know because my youngest games on an Athlon X3 that is only 100MHz faster than the 450 and my

        • by beelsebob (529313)

          Huh? I don't dispute your main point, but where did you pull those $300/$500 figures from?

          For an AMD system, at $300, I could get myself something along the lines of an FX 8320, 8-16GB of RAM and a fairly bargain basement (about $60) motherboard.
          To compete with that with an intel system I'd need an i5 3470, 8-16GB of RAM, and a fairly bargain basement motherboard, which would run me about $260 (mostly because the CPU is $40 cheaper).

          As an aside, while the two CPUs are roughly as fast as each other for most

      • If you're going to upgrade your graphics card, you need to reduce the bottlenecks in the system.

        I think that it is a case of finding the right card to upgrade to. The GTX 660 is going to be wasted, and frankly it is way too expensive to consider. But I would like to see the comparison done with the GTX 650 Ti, or even the plain GTX 650. It would be the more interesting article to find the sweet spot of graphics cards for such an old system - the point at which the performance increase not match the price increase.

      • by sa1lnr (669048)

        I wouldn't rely on passmark. I have a GTX 285 and a 460. Passmark says the the 460 is way faster than the 285.

        My actual gaming experience with those cards says the 285 hoses the 460.

        Look at this page: http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/high_end_gpus.html [videocardbenchmark.net]

        It shows a GTX 260 with a higher rating than a GTX 295.

    • Re:Yes of course (Score:4, Informative)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday February 09, 2013 @01:19AM (#42841221) Journal

      I would say it all comes down to what games you are playing. if you are playing games like TF2 and Batman:AC? Well no problem then, slapping a new GPU will give it a good kick in the pants. if you are trying to play some huge RTS with a ton of units? Then the CPU is gonna be the bottleneck.

      That said its often cheap to upgrade your CPU, especially if you have an AMD as they have so many backwards compatible chips and hung onto the AM socket for so long. A good place to look at getting a new CPU would be StarMicro [starmicroinc.net] which I've used a LOT in the shop with never any issues, they go from the socket 478 on the Intel side to socket 754 on the AMD side with just a ton of chips to choose from. If you want a gaming machine they have plenty of high clocked Athlon and Phenoms at good prices and if you want a chip to make a killer HTPC out of this low power Phenom X4 [starmicroinc.net] makes a pretty kicking HTPC chip and its only $68 bucks.

      So its really not that hard to keep a system that is a few years old gaming well, my youngest is gaming great on a 3.3GHz Athlon X3 and that chip was only $65 on sale, and my oldest got a Phenom II X6 for only $100 as part of a kit. While these aren't gonna beat any i7 like my 1035T they are still great for gaming and have no trouble playing all the new games we have run on them.

    • That article should have been from the thank-you-captain-obvious department.
  • Not really (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Friday February 08, 2013 @07:33PM (#42838915) Journal

    At least not reliably.

    The issue is PCI express 1.0 and 1.1 performance on 2.0 cards and later. Geforces have been known to crash using an earlier slot technology or on lower end systems. Maybe that has changed since the 9600GTX, but I switched to ATI for this reason. Even many Radeons are only tested with later hardware and instability and other bottlenecks happen as many games as Windows swaps video ram to the system ram even when there is plenty of ram available.

    • Just upgraded from an AMD 4670 to a GeForce GTX 650TI on my 775 MB E5200 with 4GB of DD2 memory. It's making a significant difference in the performance of many games and works just fine with my PCI-E 1.1 slot.

      Could I see a bigger boost if I upgraded the MB/CPU/Memory? Sure, but I would rather wait until Haswell desktop CPUs hit the market to see just what they bring to the table since what I have now is working for me.

      • by shakezula (842399)
        I agree with this; my HTPC is an E6400 with 4Gb of RAM and it saw a HUGE performance boost when I replaced its 5450 with a 6670. Skyrim went from 30s FPS at 1024x768 to 50+ fps at 720p. I realize the jump from XGA to 720p isn't much but the 6670's higher framerates and being able to use anti-aliasing make games much more enjoyable and visual quality is vastly improved.
    • by Jupix (916634)

      I don't think the problems are gone from the NVIDIA side. The CPU might drive the GPU well but the motherboard might not. Let me explain.

      For the past month I've been reviving an old system originally built for office duties and photo/video editing. That included a move from a PATA HDD to an SSD, and a new GPU. The old GPU was a GTX 280 that had to be underclocked manually at every boot for it to work.

      The system is now
      ASUS P5K Deluxe Wi-Fi motherboard with Intel P35 chipset
      Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 CPU
      ASUS GTX

    • Those are specific electrical problems. You need a combination of an early mobo and specific gas-guzzling cards to have the electrical PCIe spec violated, I think that doesn't happen anymore and hasn't for a few years. In doubt, get something low power but still fast, Radeon 7750 or GTX 650.

  • why 3gb ram and not 4gb or 8gb++? at least have dual channel ram with 2 2gb sticks.

    • by spazdor (902907)

      Perhaps because they're still running plain old 32-bit XP.

    • by medv4380 (1604309)
      Maybe the old duel core doesn't have PAE support and is stuck at a 3 gig limit.
      • Most corporations only have 512 - 1024 megs of ram. The ones who finished moving to Windows 7 have more sane amounts but many still have 512 and only have 5 tabs or less in Firefox or IE when browsing and that is perfectly fine for general use.

        Not everyone is a slashdot geek with 8 gigs of ram, SSD, and decent video cards with their modded desktops.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          I'm sorry but even on my old Sempron XP NetTop I use at the shop I have 2GB of RAM, its really not hard to max a system out and its just foolish to cripple a system like that when so many RAM sticks have been made and thus can be found dirt cheap. For a system that old its probably DDR or DDR 2, with DDR 1GB sticks are cheap, with DDR 2 you can still find 2GB sticks cheap, so there is really mo excuse to hobble a system like that.

          I can tell you when i went from the 512MB that the system came into the sho

      • by arbiter1 (1204146)
        Sadly PAE in my experience is iffy period, i got a q6600 machine has 2x2gb sticks in it and don't have even 3gb useable. it runs xp 32bit for a reason. PAE has never helped give full 4gb ram on any 32bit OS i have ever used.
        • When my q6600 was running XP it addressed 3.5GB of memory. As soon as I installed win7 it addressed all 6GB I had in the box.

          PAE under FreeBSD and Linux works fine, it's just the amount of userland vs kernelland addressable memory that's the issue. On a PAE kernel you're still stuck with 3.5GB of kernel land addressable memory.

        • by Jaysyn (203771)

          Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe your video RAM should also be taken into consideration regarding the memory addressing limitation.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Question...why are you using a 32bit OS when you have a 64bit CPU? Win 7 X64 is a nice OS, if you want to stay with XP then use XP X64 which is really 2K3 Workstation and is quite nice. I ran XP X64 for nearly 5 years until switching to Win 7, its a solid OS and runs great. Personally I prefer Win 7 X64 because it has better memory management with regards to caching but XP X64 is a great OS.

          If you have frankly 3GB or better using a 64bit OS just makes sense.

      • by washu_k (1628007)
        All Core 2 CPUs have PAE, even the Celeron versions

        Some lower end chipsets from the Core 2 era don't support more than 4GB of physical address space, even with 64 bit OSes.
        • by shakezula (842399)
          This is why my wife's MacBook had to go at one point. 32bit EFI hamstring'd the 2.1GHz Core2Duo and not allowing install of 64bit OSX. Its a trivial gripe though as the laptop was still totally usable, alas, it was un-upgradeable. My friend just learned the hardway about this with an iMac. He'd thought he'd found an amazing deal but then got it home and find out it won't let him use Lion/Mt. Lion or upgrade the RAM past 3Gb.
    • by Khyber (864651)

      Because a GTX 660 likely comes with a starting MINIMUM of 1GB RAM? So on older systems, still running oh 32-bit operating systems, you can actually use ALL available RAM instead of being bottlenecked to just 4GB due to shit PAE?

      • Video ram isn't fully mapped to system addressing space. There's only a 256MB window, as far as I know, per GPU. So, on a system with one 256 or 512MB graphics card you might have 3.5GB usable memory, on a system with two 256MB graphics cards in SLI you might have 3.25GB usable memory, and on a system with a 2GB graphics card.. back to 3.5GB.

    • by Dputiger (561114)

      As the author:

      Because the point was to test a system that was assembled using upper-midrange configuration in 2008. Back then, a majority of customers were still using 32-bit Windows and while 2GB DDR2 DIMMS were available, 1GB were the sweet spot.

      My first configuration was a Q6600 with a GTX 260 and 3GB of RAM. I swapped in the E6850 to settle the dual-core question.

      Also because that's all the DDR2 I still had on hand after so long.

      But 3GB is reasonable. It's enough RAM that someone who upgraded to 64-bit

      • Just got my wife a "new" from ebay... Q6600 with 3G - 2x 1 GB and 2x 1/2 GB. So dul channel will work on a 32bit OS.

        Once I get her to 64bit then I will load 4x 2 GB, so her machine will be same as mine.

    • by tlambert (566799) on Friday February 08, 2013 @09:54PM (#42840047)

      why 3gb ram and not 4gb or 8gb++? at least have dual channel ram with 2 2gb sticks.

      Because the defective Merom chipset in use in the Core2Duo systems did not support greater than a 4G memory mapping space, and 1G of that was taken up as I/O space, so it was unable to remap the extra 1G of physical RAM and.or move the I/O hoe, even though it had the physical address lines to do so.

      The chipset was manufactured between Nov 2006 and Oct 2007, but was used far longer than that by many manufacturers, since Apple was soaking up almost the entire supply of the corrected chipset, which was manufactured between Nov 2007 and Oct 2009.

      Intel screwed up, and then taped out anyway in order to meet market deadlines.

      It typically wasn't a big deal for most people, since the 2G SIMMs were very unstable at that point, and even desktop systems rarely had more than 3 SIMM slots. This changed in 2009 when Hynix finally fixed their 2G SIMMs, but the company nearly bit the dust anyway, as by then it had defaulted on several loans and one debt-equity swap.

      Most people only discovered the screwup in the Merom chipset that happened to be in their machine when they started trying to use 2 2G SIMMs in their Core2Duo machines with the old Merom, and were only seeing 3G of RAM show up to the OS.

      • by yuhong (1378501)

        The chipset was called Lakeport (otherwise known as Intel 945), not Merom. And it was the current mobile chipset between Jan 2006 and Jan 2007. It was actually introduced to mobile with the 32-bit only Yonah (Core 1) processors. On the desktop, the original Intel 965 chipset was introduced with the original Core 2 launch in 2006, but it is true that it can also be used with the old 945 chipset that was introduced with the old Pentium D in 2005.

  • by rcastro0 (241450) on Friday February 08, 2013 @07:42PM (#42838999) Homepage

    To save you a few clicks, here's the key conclusion (and much better said than the summary from /.) :

      Intel Core 2 Q6600 chips aren't available new these days, but Ebay has a ton of them, regularly priced between $50-$70. (...) Is a new CPU worth the price? I'd say yes --especially if you've currently got a dual-core CPU in the 2.2 - 2.6GHz range. The combined cost of a used Q6600 and a GeForce GTX 660 should still come in below $300 while delivering far better performance than any bottom-end desktop you might assemble for that price tag.

    • by Joe U (443617)

      Intel now and then makes some real 'stand out' chips, the Q6600 is one of them. It runs pretty great for it's line and can be overclocked.

      • It was good but hot and power hungry. I was using a Q6600 as a DVR/Video Compressor after i upgraded to Sandy Bridge. Recording and compressing the 2012 Olympics killed it after about 6 days of solid CPU use. Im sure it was the mobo that died, but i wasnt going to resurrect it in the Ivy Bridge era.
    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Wow really now? I guess that's a good deal, and they didn't really do any shopping around. But I recently built a FX-6100($119), with a MSI970a-G46($85), 8GB of ram(gskill f314900CL9D-8GBSR)($29), and picked up a 560Ti on sale with instant rebates for $99. What's that work out to being? $332 plus tax or $381 w/tax where I live. I mean come on it's not a blazing fast machine or anything, but it's sure not bottom end desktop. And it'll handle pretty much everything on the market in terms of gaming, well i

      • by Curate (783077)
        How's Duke Nukem Forever on that rig?
        • by Mashiki (184564)

          How's Duke Nukem Forever on that rig?

          Well that would require me owning it, and even though it's been on sale a dozen times on steam as cheaply as $5 I still don't own it, maybe if it gets down to $2.99. Hah

          Though my shogun2 DX11 high bench gives me an average FPS: 41.6875 [pastebin.com] on the new 313.96 drivers. And here's the old 3dmark score [3dmark.com] from back a bit ago before I started tinkering with it. Still haven't gotten around to running a new bench for it. Back when I first did the build it was in the top 3 fastest in the FX6100/560ti category at stoc

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        I don't think Crysis is a joke, I think its sad that so many use it as a benchmark when its frankly a shitty engine. Sure it'll make purty screencaps but there is A REASON why nearly every game out there uses Unreal while the CryEngine is only used by the parent company.

        I mean when you have to have a fan made patch for Crysis 1 to keep the infamous last level from spitting out graphics salad on even decent cards that will crank out levels a LOT more graphically dense than the last level of Crysis, its the

    • by Klinky (636952) on Friday February 08, 2013 @09:50PM (#42840001)

      The caveat to sticking with the Socket 775 platform is DDR2 memory, which is usually going for twice as much as comparable DDR3. What with 2GB being the maximum practical size for a DDR2 DIMM, many boards are limited to a 4 - 8GB maximum.

      Some might entertain the notion of going with an AMD AM3+ board. Going from a low end dual-core Intel solution, to a AMD quad-core solution with 8GB of RAM for around $150 - $175 is a nice performance boost. You could put that money towards a Q6600 and some more RAM, but then you have effectively maxed out your system, and the next time you upgrade you will have to rip everything out anyways. If you wanted to jump to Intel's new lineup, then you will be spending $150 - $175 on the CPU alone to see a performance increase.

      • by armanox (826486)

        There are LGA775 boards with DDR3. I have one currently taken apart at work (has a Core 2 E8400 in it).

        • by Klinky (636952)

          This is great if you already have one, but DDR2 was most popular during the Core2 era. If you don't already have a LGA775 DDR3 motherboard, procuring a quality used one will cost you practically as much as a new board.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      I don't know...would it be better to get a Q6600 for $70, and still have slower RAM and probably a lower amount, lower speed PCIe, probably SATA 1 if you are lucky, when you can just get a new triple, board, RAM and case for $130 after MIR [tigerdirect.com] and you'll have DDR 3, SATA 3, and a board that will go up to a Phenom II X6 later on if you need more speed later?

      That said if you have a board already and don't want to risk ebay you can get a quad Q8200 from StarMicro [starmicroinc.net] for just $55. I've bought from StarMicro for year

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I recently upgraded my CPU from a E4400 to a FX-6100 and added an SSD. I would say the SSD was probably the only reasonable upgrade, in terms of gaming. The FPS certainly better, but it was already above 50-60 FPS in Team Fortress 2. What's the point in making a difference if your eyes aren't going to register it?

    The SSD was an excellent upgrade. I used to launch TF2 and go heat up some dinner while waiting for it to load. Now it launches and loads levels in under 30 seconds. That's much, MUCH better

    • My upgrade experience on an old dell last year was less than peachy. I took my Dell XPS with the core2 duo, running XP, dropped in a moderate video card (EHA5450 silent) and 2 gig of ram bringing it up to 3 gig of ram. The performance improvement was dramatic, but not nearly as much as I hoped for. I also soon learned that upgrading to 4 GB of ram would be useless because XP can't address more than 3GB!

      The on board NIC failed about 2 months later. I dropped in a pulled intel etherexpress 10/100, a few w

  • No surprise (Score:4, Informative)

    by FranTaylor (164577) on Friday February 08, 2013 @08:08PM (#42839183)

    It's no surprise that you can hook a fast GPU to a slow CPU and get good results, look at Raspberry Pi, who could imagine doing HDMI video with a single core 700 MHz processor?

    • by Kjella (173770)

      HDMI video? Computers have been able to put out HD resolution since the 90s, maybe you're thinking about H264 video or some other video codec? They only work because the Pi has hardware decoding capability, you don't need a fancy CPU if it isn't going to be doing the work...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seriously? "up to 50% or more"? Can the submitter get any more vague [xkcd.com]?

  • That's because most commercial PC games are coded for an XBox 360 level of CPU, most of what the better GPU does is push the same image to more pixels. If a game could use more CPU for anything aside from eye candy, it could end up affecting the gameplay itself in unpredictable ways; like when I tried playing Wing Commander on a modern CPU... Undock and WOOOOOOOSH SMASH! into an asteroid instantly; or 'El Fish', which on a 386 took 10-15 minutes to generate a fish... tried it on a modern CPU, when it starts

  • We have an older Socket AM2 board and a 64x2 4200+ CPU. I paired it with an ATI RADEON HD 4670 1GB video card and 2x2GB RAM and it still does almost everything I throw at it. However, I've noticed my newer games are struggling in spots. This mainboard will handle the 6000+ CPU that has double the L2 cache and faster clock. My question is, "Is it worth the $60+ to upgrade or should I just be looking for a newer machine?". Please note, I don't have a lot of cash to throw around and that eventually I want to g
    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      for about the same amount of money you can get a AM3 chip. It will work in a AM2 / 2+ system (but check with your montherboard maker first!)

      80 bucks gets you a 3.2Ghz Phenom II quad core
      http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=HDZ955FBK4DGM-BP&cat=CPU [geeks.com]

      currently I am using a Phenom II tri core at 2.8Ghz with a GTS250 on a motherboard that is AM2+, but is "AM3 ready" whatever that means and it did make a noticable improvement, but not "OMFG punch your momma" improvement over the 2.5Ghz X2 I was using... jus

    • It really comes down to what is holding back your games. Depending on the game it could be the CPU or it could be the GPU, or even both. I know that I'm seeing a nice boost moving from a 4670 to GT650 TI even though I'm still on a E5200 (OC'ed) CPU. But the games I'm playing tend to use the GPU more than the CPU. If I were playing a game like Civilization V I would have been better off upgrading the CPU and sticking with the 4670. So take a look at the games you play and how they stress the CPU. If they ar
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        It's almost always the video card (usually GPU, though for high-end GPU/game combinations, it can be the interface). Back in around 1998, a friend built a $3000 gaming machine with good everything. About a year later, I built one for about $700 that was faster. I got the oldest, most out of date setup I could that ran the best cards of the day, and $450 of the $600 was video card. My load times sucked, but once the game was loaded, my FPS was better. That's for the games that were graphics-limited (mos
        • But if your CPU is underwater, and I think a 2.2GHz K8 definitely is, you're only going to look at pretty high res pictures with a slow framerate.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)
      I have to agree with Osgeld, if your board will take an AM3 get one now and then you can upgrade the board later. That said I know a lot of AM2 boards can't take an AM3, so check out StarMicro and see how much it'll cost to get a chip that is close to max. Also you can look at my previous post for a link to an AM3 Athlon triple kit for $135 after MIR that'll give you the chip, HSF, RAM, and a nice case for it to go in but I don't know what kind of budget you are talking.
      • I should add that a non-AM2+, AM2 motherboard also lacks the split voltage for the memory controller. This means an AM3 CPU will use slightly more power than usual and using one of the more hungry models like a Phenom II X4 955 or 965 is out. An Athlon II X3 450 should work fine, except maybe if your mobo is a bottom of the barrel micro ATX one.

        I run an X2 245 on a Gigabyte nforce 520LE AM2 mobo, the mobo limits me actually (ddr2, two failed memory slots, overclocking doesn't work anymore) so I plan to upgr

    • I'll have an unconventional advice.. The new ivy bridge Celeron is only a dual core, but a very fast one (probably similar to a core 2 duo E8600), uses very little power and sold at about 40 euros. Because Intel CPUs use little power (even high end ones) a piece of crap mobo works fine. So, a piece of crap mobo, a Celeron G1610 and one stick of 4GB ddr3 males for a nice system I think, and can take a further upgrade to any core i5 model. Have a recent mobo if possible, because older ones, while fully compat

  • Even since PII and PIII, we'd been speccing an above-average graphics card on our dev machines in a software shop to get better performance per buck - and not just on games.
  • Seems quite silly to have such an old CPU (dual core 3GHz) with a (back then) top of the line GPU but it's working great! Note that I'm also using 6GB of ram at 800Mhz dual channel (1+1 + 2+2 GB).
    I am able to play LOTS (if not all?) games with high / very high graphic detail since then. There are a few options that are tightly coupled with the CPU sometimes and I avoid these, but the rest works great at 1920*1200 (24" screen), even with new games.

    My next upgrade will probably be a CPU upgrade, probably with

  • Imagine trying to pair a graphics card from 2000 with a cpu from 1995. Not only would the 1995 CPU be wed to a motherboard with no AGP slot, but the real world benchmark of a 133 MHz Pentium Vs a 1 GHz Pentium III was HUGE. The clock speed alone was nearly 8x greater, not to mention the greatly improved instruction sets...and FSB improvements. I honestly thought that by now, there would have been some sort of "killer app" that would have really put the pressure back on the desktop, to where the average p

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      I kind of did that, dropped a Radeon 7000 circa 2001 in a 1997 powermac 9600 300Mhz, plays Qauke III Arena really nice, other than that, yea the rest of the system really holds it back.

      though on a 1997 system with a 1997 video card the video card was obviously holding the system back, just simple 2d quickdraw the cpu would go to idle while wating for it, so theres a balance

      will your old machine benifit from a new video card, hell yes, will your new video card make your old machine perform like a new machine

  • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Friday February 08, 2013 @09:29PM (#42839817)

    Speaking from experience, I can attest to the conclusions of the article.

    The machine I am using as I write this is similar to the machine descibed, though I am running 3.25GB of DDR3 (the most this motherboard can utilize for some odd reason). This computer was one of the 1st-generation "Built for Vista" machines--it's a Gateway my daughter bought intending on putting XP on it. Turns out much of the hardware had no drivers for XP, and...well, to be honest, it sucked so bad she bought ANOTHER computer (Best Buy wouldn't give her a refund).

    I ended up with it eventually. I up-graded the RAM as best I could (had sticks laying around), installed Windows 7, and dropped a HD7550 in it--While it isn't a screamer, I actually use it as my gaming machine. The biggest visually noticeable performance gains were, by far, from installing Windows 7. The drivers that Windows found worked great. The video card was the next increase in performance, and it was astounding.

    But here is the important thing I discovered with this arrangement--the gains are entirely dependent on the software being used. Some games use massive amounts of CPU when they could be handing off some of that load to the video card, and those games don't run so well. Other games are better in this regard and take advantage of the video card and those games I can usually run at maximum settings.

    I play an emulator of Star Wars Galaxies and most times I have two instances of the game running concurrently as well as a browser on a secondary monitor. I usually have Ventrilo running at the same time. Sure, only one instance of the game is actually being rendered, but the CPU load is doubled...and this machine handles it wonderfully, with game settings maxed out. I've also run Skyrim easily on this machine, mods galore.

    I am quite pleased with the arrangement

    • "... though I am running 3.25GB of DDR3 (the most this motherboard can utilize for some odd reason)..."

      I was incorrect--4 sticks of Crucial 1GB DDR2.

      • The kookiest part, you'd see the largest performance gains still by wiping off W7 and replacing it with Windows XP. In almost all games I tested, running Windows XP with a 7950GT was exactly equivalent to running a 9800GT on W7. Incredible how less efficient the W7 OS is. You need roughly twice the power to achieve the same performance.
        • by ardor (673957)

          This sounds like a problem at the driver level. Perhaps by turning off Aero, performance improves?

  • ... can I get that GTX 660 for an AGP slot?

  • Why wouldn't you be able to? The issue with running a graphics card is actually a combination of the chipset on the motherboard and available power delivery. The CPU actually has very little to do with interfacting to the graphics card, the point of DMA ( Direct Memory Access ) and other transport systems is to seperate the CPU from the rest of the hardware. The motherboard acts like a crossing guard steering all the "traffic", the PSU delievers all the "food" and the CPU's only job is to think about wha
  • 0 to infinity? :D That's makes it hard on us summary-readers! Now we must go read the article.

  • It's commercial break time on slashdot!
  • While upgrading your older dualcore box may get you playable frame rates on many games you will still suffer from slow load times. This is not likely to be an issue on single player games but for many online multiplayer games you really don't want to be the guy in your group with the slowest load time.
  • Where is my 32 core 10Ghz Beast?

    I keep hearing that Ghz is not everything and more cores is the way to go.... Except that desktop CPUs pretty much have the same no' of cores as they did 5 years ago.

    The fun's over :-(

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