Gaming hardware

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Let's say you have a machine that just barely meets the criteria for
processor speed , memory, and video card requirements for a certain
game.  It doesn't matter what the game is, let's just assume it's
simply a game that requires a lot of horsepower.  Now if you could
upgrade only one thing on your computer to make the game run better and
smoother what would it be, the processor, the memory, or the video card?

Re: Gaming hardware

Sorry, but it does NOT work that way.  Basically, you are best off in
playing games at reasonable game settings when all of your computer's
components are of equal speed and quality.  If you upgrade "just one"
component in an otherwise slow system, the rest of the system will serve as
a bottleneck to the upgrade.


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Re: Gaming hardware

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Like kony said, it does depend on the game. But in the majority of
cases, upgrading the video card will show the biggest improvement.

Some time back, I installed a Radeon 9200SE on a friend's 1.1GHz
P3 running on an 815 mobo with 256MB PC100 RAM. Although
a 9200SE is low-end today, the boost in gaming performance was
still dramatic. In fact, his machine is now much better than some of
his friends' 2+GHz P4s with their onboard videos. He can now play
Doom 3, AoE, AoM, NFSU2, COD, etc. with reasonable frame
rates at low to medium settings.

He'd tried adding another 256MB earlier, didn't see a lot of
improvement, and followed my suggestion to sell his extra memory
and buy the Radeon card. He's ecstatic.

Re: Gaming hardware


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One can't necessarily contrast a system already having a
video card with one running PC133 integrated video, the
former being much faster out of the box. Even so, it
highlights a common situation that often of the parts in any
particular era system, the video card was the place the
builder or buyer cut costs/corners and so it was originally
mismatched to the other parts.

Re: Gaming hardware

"Chris" wrote:
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Well, that depends entirely upon the game engine itself.  Some games
(particularly those based on the Quake3 engine) utilize CPU and RAM
bandwidth far more than they will push a GPU.


Re: Gaming hardware

On 22 Apr 2005 23:15:39 -0700, wrote:

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Actually it does matter which game.
Sadly, marketing departments write the specs, and sometimes
they just say something like "Pentium 3" when what they
really mean is "USB" or "128 MB video memory" when what they
really mean is "it won't look at all as good as the
screenshots on the box if you don't have 2X that much.

But in other cases, the gaming engine is just reused from
past games, but new intelligence to enemies, or larger maps,
or ???  In such cases the amount of system memory or CPU
matter more.

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Yes, it would be the processor, the memory, or the video

You really do have to consider the game, and the user's
needs.  For example, are they willing to pay for a "new"
game but then they'd have to turn down the eyecandy so it
looks no fancier than older games.  What resolution do they
need?  The specs on the box do NOT account for all of these

Even so, in general game developers are too optimistic about
what will run a game, their interest is in selling it to as
many people as possible.  They will suggest system specs
nowhere near good enough to run some games.  I'd say that if
a system "barely meets the criteria for processor speed ,
memory, and video card requirements", it's going to be
horrible to play even after one upgrade to the system.  Even
after two upgrades it'll usually be bad.

We all knew it and you did too, there is no magic fix for a
system that's too slow.  If you want a generic answer, here
it is:

Don't buy the game, put the $ towards the hardware first
because you can benefit from the hardware till you save up
more $ for the game.  If you can accept turning down all
details in the game and running it at very low resolution
(like 640x480, "maybe' 800x600") then consider which of your
other components is most mismatched.  For example, if you
have 512MB of memory but only a 1GHz CPU, upgrade the CPU.
If you have a 2.4GHz CPU but only 256MB of memory, upgrade
the memory.  

On the other hand, if you prefer a very pretty slideshow,
upgrade the video card.  There is no one answer here, and
that's why people upgrade all 3 if not buying a newer

Re: Gaming hardware

kony wrote:
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The reason I didn't mention any particular game was because I wanted to
get an answer that would apply to the majority if not most modern pc
games.  I have an old Pentium 3 machine that I was thinking about
upgrading and using it as a second gaming machine.  I already have a
computer that I use for gaming so that's why I don't want to spend a
lot of money upgrading the Pentium 3.  I was just seeing if I could get
a little more life out of the older Pentium 3.

Re: Gaming hardware

On 23 Apr 2005 22:00:07 -0700, wrote:

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Well that's a little more useful, maybe... since Pentium 3
ranges from around 500MHz to 1.4GHz it's still a broard

A few years back I did several tests of Celeron & P3 boxes
that were running a TNT2 video card (the original "high-end"
version of TNT2, not the neutered/budgetized version nVidia
released for years afterwards.  With a Celeron 800 (which is
the rough equivalent of a P3 700 for gaming purposes), there
was a linear gaming performance increase by overclocking
that Celeron to 1.1GHz.  It increased the FSB & memory
though, but even so, the performance increase was far more
than could be accounted for by those other factors.

Later I swapped in a GF2 video card.  It was about 2X faster
than the TNT2 at newer games but not much faster at all (I
was surprised) at older games.   Then I swapped in a GF3,
and in modern benchmarks of that era it was twice as fast as
the GF2 (roughly) BUT it was still too slow to play any
decent DX8 games.... but it did better at DX7 games too, so
while it didn't provide good value it did make older games
run better.  The CPU was the bottleneck.

If I had upgraded the CPU, the TNT2 would've done a little
better.  The GF2 would've been about as fast as the GF3 was
with the older/slower CPU.  The GF3 finally ran DX8 games
ok.  This was an upgrade to a 1.1GHz Tualatin, o'c to
1.5GHz.  At that time, the CPU was still modern and the
video card was worth about $200 or more.

I've rambled on long enough, take what you will out of the
above.  I do suggest that IF you buy a video card that you
get one that at least is "DX8" era, which is most of the
newest generation budget cards and many older ones (but not
something rehashed from a few years back, not something like
a Geforce 4 MX series.  A Geforce 3 or 4 Ti series would be
a good value in an older card, and I mention them because
they might be less expensive if you can find a used one.
Then again there are sometimes rebates on modern budget
cards so it's close in price either way... your system will
not be able to get all the performance out of a DX8 or newer
card, but that's essentially the breaking point, DX8
hardware T&L support.

It's a mystery why you didn't just go ahead and list the
system specs... why does everyone try to make things harder?
If you had simply listed concisely what you had to begin
with and the budget then someone could've just given you an
answer, but instead I've written pages and still it's vague.
Please be forward with details next time, it's for
everyone's benefit.

Re: Gaming hardware

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A high end video card with loads of memory on it, this would take some of
the strain from the CPU and the memory as well as giving a more detailed out
put at higher resolutions.

Technical director CKCCOMPUSCRIPT
Apple Computers, Intel, Roland audio, ATI, Microsoft, Sun Solaris, Cisco and
Silicone Graphics.
Wholesale distributor and specialist audio visual computers and servers

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