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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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  • 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.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @07:41PM (#42838993)

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2013 @07:44PM (#42839015)

    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 than before.

    On the other hand, I work a lot with Xen on my Linux partition. Upgrading from a CPU that didn't have any virtualization extensions to one that did made my life so much easier. Being able to launch any kind of OS with very good performance (for a VM) is such a nice upgrade from a VM that could only launch Linux guests.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Re:APU FTW? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <> on Saturday February 09, 2013 @09:40AM (#42842741) Homepage Journal

    I just introduced an Intel fan to the wonders of AMD. He just knew that he'd always been told "Use Intel". I told him about my home machine. An air cooled AMD FX-8320 @4.01Ghz w/ 16GB RAM an a AMD 7770 w/ 1GB GDDR5. Every game I play, I crank all the settings all the way up, and the frame rate and quality is great.

    I gave him some spare parts for his kids. Phenom II x6 1110T, motherboard, and a stack of RAM that he got 8GB to work together with, and a couple ATI 55xx video cards. He got the standard used parts disclaimer, "It all worked when I took it out, no guarantees that they do now." Not bad for a total of $0.

    We spent some time comparing the Intel and AMD current pricing, and he didn't see any reason to use Intel any more.

    Someone will reply, saying some benchmark says a comparable Intel is faster. Someone else will show a different benchmark says AMD is faster. For the price, I don't care, they just work, work well, and with the savings I don't mind upgrading again in 6 months. With the numbers we found that day, he can upgrade about 4 times and still come out under the Intel pricing.

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