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Graphics Games Hardware

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

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 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.

  • 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?

  • 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 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.

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

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> 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.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"