How to tell what my bottleneck is?

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I have the following system:

Athlon XP 2000
512 MB RAM 333 MHz
Nvidia 6600GT

The gfx card is new. I want to know what my bottleneck is so I know
what to upgrade next. Is there some way to find out your bottleneck?
While a game is running, how can i tell if the slowdown is caused by
the gfx card or the cpu or by too little RAM?

Re: How to tell what my bottleneck is?


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You can get the same benchmark program that Toms hardware uses or some
other site and compare your 6600GT vs other 6600GTs if its fairly
close then thats about as well you are going to get with that card.

I guess youll find out when you upgrade to a better card. Say a 6800GT
or even a 7600 or 7800 -- if those dont perform in the same ball park
then you knows its processor and memory.

Im interesting in this setup as well. A neighbor kids I put together a
2000 XP system and they have are using built in graphics. They are
dying to get a graphics card though they are on a severe budget. So Im
thinking what would give them the best cost/performance boost and how
much is the 2000 XP and 512 megs going to hold them back.

What exactly can you run now with the 6600gt decently?

Re: How to tell what my bottleneck is?

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Well, I'm not that much of a gamer. I'm a fan of the Quake series so
I bought Quake 4, and that's the only game I'm playing right now.

I'm not that excited with the performance of the game on my system.
800x600, 4x AA Low Quality. It has a smooth framerate most of the
time but on cases with plenty of enemies it slows down. That leads me
to believe that it's a memory/cpu problem. Note that the minimu
requirements on the box are Athlon XP 2000 and 512 MB RAM so this is
pretty much expected.

Also note that my 6600GT (Gigabyte) can be overclocked some, from
500/100 to 560/1200 which gives it a nice boost, so keep that in mind
when looking at benchmarks.

Re: How to tell what my bottleneck is?


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Oh man you can tell I posted that early in the morning dropped words
and using interesting instead interested.

Anyway --- Ive been posting about my second system Im using which
consists of a 3200 AMD 64 754 socket with 512 megs and an older 9600
Pro flashed to a XT level.

In this system which Im using right now the processor/system is more
modern and higher end though in modern terms its lower/mid but
relative to the card which is marginal and older its an interesting

Interesting cause main system was a 3000 AMD 64 939 paired with a
800XL ATI 256 megs which was fine for most games. My current main
system a dual core 3800 X2 with a 7800GT isnt a whole lot better
subjectively vs the 939/800XL.

The main problem is ALL of them can run at higher 1024x768 or so res
and Ive found at this res (higher than 800x600) the jaggies are
lessened to a huge degree. They are distracting at 800x600.

I also notice that using AA at all totally bogs the system down even
with my 3800/7800GT. I just dont use it.

My impression was that going to 1024x768 was best solution for getting
OK pic quality without bogging the system down too a crawl.  
Even the 3200/9600XT system can in general handle that res but with
that setup it bogs down when the action as Ive posted before ----
starts getting heavy. You have more than simple effects/action going
on and it hangs for 10-20 seconds or even longer as its loading
datafrom the HD. I still havent tested 1 gig -- at the moment I have 2
512 meg sticks laying around since my main system is apart being RMAd
so I should do that test. Does 1 gig make the difference here?  

My impression at the moment is if you have less than an AMD 64 I would
get a stronger card at least a 6600gt which is a decent not that
expensive card nowadays. Trying to pair a slower CPU with an older
weaker card -- 9250/9550 etc I think is just too wimpy. You want at
least 1024x768 even without AA so that you can run without incredibly
annoying lags freezes and no huge jaggies.

Even then this system is probably going to be marginal so that by next
Xmas youll have to upgrade again if new games with higher min
requirements come out.

The other way is to get at least a 3200 AMD 64 and you may use a
weaker card temporarily but I think the card plays the much larger
role. They both play a part obviously but the 3200 AMD 64 even with a
9600XT card is very marginal though might be OK if I can just get rid
of these annoying 10-20 second or longer freezes whenever action gets
heavy. If the 1 gig of ram doesnt help this or any other solution I
would have to say a 6600gt or better is the min recommended card if
you want to play modern games though people claim to play with
9250/X300s etc.

Now to figure out how to get a 6600gt for 30-50 bucks...........

Some have with dubious price matching but Id never go that route.

I was that close to upgrading again to a 7900GT.

Re: How to tell what my bottleneck is?

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Both the CPU and RAM are too low - that card would match nicely with a 3ghz
CPU and 1gb RAM but for Quake 4 the priority would be RAM.

Re: How to tell what my bottleneck is?

On Mon, 3 Apr 2006 12:25:43 +0000 (UTC), Seeker

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Your CPU speed, amount of memory, and memory bus speeds are
the bottlenecks to the video card.  If you use onboard
(integrated) audio in 3D mode (more than 2 channel output in
games settings even if you only had 2 speakers), then the
audio will also use a significant amount of CPU time and
should be set to least demanding settings on your system.

At the moment, the most significant bottleneck to many games
will be the memory, increase it to 1GB.  Other games may run
ok within 512MB but more demanding ones do tend to use a
little more than 512MB.

Why run at 800x600 and 4X AA?

If your monitor will do higher, you should get better
results running at 1024x768 or higher and only 2XQ
(Quincunx, nVidia proprietary AA, set in Display Properties
instead of in the game which overrides game settings).

If setting higher resolution slows down the game
significantly, I'd suspect you have a video related problem
because that video card should be able to run higher than
800x600 pretty easily.

Re: How to tell what my bottleneck is?

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I tested it with 1 gig finally and yup it makes all the difference in
the world. A 9600XT or maybe even slightly lower level with a 3200 or
close CPU can probably play DOOM OK as long as you have 1 gig.

All the long freezes went away except for a very occaisonal slight 1-2
second pauses which happen even with my faster systems. You might be
able to tweak those away.

I know now using this 9600XT level card with a 1600 XP cpu , that
combo is too slow. Couldnt really get it above 800x600 and it was
barely cutting it then. With a 3200 AMD 64 and 9600XT --- it runs
relatively OK thought I havent checked the framerates which may be low
but it feels relatively smooth though may be a slightly laggy at
1024x768. The memory makes a huge difference though.

Going from 512 to 1 gig completely eliminates the huge and numerous
10-20 second freezes that make it impossible to play . I supposed its
possible theres some Doom upgrade and other tweaks that may lessen
these but that 1 gig jump really fixed 99% of the problems.

Re: How to tell what my bottleneck is?

In your system's case, all of the components you listed are mid-range
(slower) components at best compared to what's available today.  But your
components are matched and of roughly equal speeds, so there is no ONE
bottleneck present.  To play the latest games on high graphics settings and
high frame rates, you need to consider upgrading to a new computer, so that
ALL of the components are of equal high speed performance.


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