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Thread: Questions about a graphics card

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    Questions about a graphics card

    The computer I’m dealing with is an old HP Pavilion a1340n "Media Center" with the stock integrated chip set (API Radeon Xpress 200 series).

    *CPU - [Pentium 4r] single core / 3.20ghz.
    *MOBO - [HP Asterope 1.0] with one PCIe x16 bus slot.
    *PSU - [400w] with spare PCI-E 6-pin connectors.

    I know this system was never intended for hardcore gaming, but I want to add a discreet graphics card anyway. I’m not interested in building a monster machine from scratch to PWN the gaming universe. This is just an old desktop for the kids to play some "older low spec" games on.

    After some "light reading" on possible graphics cards, I came across a couple of conflicting opinions. I read that if I plug in the graphics card I want, (maybe something from the HD Radeon 5000 series) that it will create a bottleneck at the CPU. This made sense to me, but I also read that while this used to be the case years ago, "newer" video cards now have their own built in processors ect.. and as a result, CPUs are less restrictive these days.

    Is this true?


    Also,
    I haven’t decided on a specific card yet, so any recommendations would be welcome.

    THX in advance for any help.

  2. #2
    Banhammer in peace PeterB kalniel's Avatar
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    Re: Questions about a graphics card

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackShallot View Post
    Is this true?
    No.

    Some processing can be off-loaded to the graphics card, for example speeding up certain physics calculations or accelerating video decoding, but it's not enough to reduce a CPU bottleneck, rather it tends to be used for additional effects if anything.

    The CPU bottleneck just means that you won't see a benefit from getting a very expensive card - you could get a mid-range card and see the same performance, but it depends on the game and the resolution you're playing at.

    If it's older low-spec games then something like an ATI HD 5770 is probably more than you need.

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    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: Questions about a graphics card

    tbh, I wouldn't bother with anything faster than a 5670.

    There's not many reviews out there looking at bottlenecking of older CPUs, but the last one I read found that a 2GHz Dual Core Athlon 64 bottlenecked a HD4650 AGP. The CPU needed clocking up to ~ 2.5GHz to remove the bottleneck, and a 2.5GHz Athlon 64 X2 is a better gaming CPU than your single core P4. So if you go for anything much faster in the graphics department you're not going to get the benefit from it.

    What that means is; you should be able to get a decent graphics improvement from a £60 graphics card without having to worry about whether you should have spent more - that's pretty much a win-win in my book!

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    Re: Questions about a graphics card

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    If it's older low-spec games then something like an ATI HD 5770 is probably more than you need.

    I have been looking at the 5770 and like it.
    My only question would be whether or not my 400w PSU will run it.

    I found this:

    "A 450 Watt or greater power supply, with one 75W 6-pin PCI Express®
    power connector is recommended to run the HD 5770".

    I have a 75w 6-pin connector, but only a 400w PSU.
    would the 400w PSU be enough to run it?

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    Re: Questions about a graphics card

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryjim View Post
    tbh, I wouldn't bother with anything faster than a 5670.
    Thanks for this recommendation.
    The 5670 suggests a 400w power supply

    Would I notice any improvement with a 5770 over the 5670?
    Or would any difference in performance be negligible due to the P4?
    I'd rather run the 5770 with my current setup, if its even possible at 400w.

    Here is a decent comparison of the two GPUs.

    HD5670

    Chipset: Radeon HD5670
    Core Clock: 775 MHz
    Video Memory: 1GB DDR3
    Memory Clock: 1600 MHz
    Memory Interface: 128-bit
    Bus: PCI-Express 2.0 x16
    RAMDAC: 400 MHz
    Stream Processors: 400
    Max. Resolution: 2560x1600
    Connectors: VGA, DVI, HDMI
    Thermal: Fansink
    Support Microsoft Windows 7
    Support ATI CrossFireX Technology
    Support ATI Avivo HD Technology
    Support ATI Eyefinity Technology
    Support ATI Stream Technology
    Support ATI PowerPlay Technology
    Support ATI Dolby TrueHD and DTSHD Master Audio Technology
    Support Microsoft DirectX 11, Shader Model 4.1 and OpenGL 3.1/3.2


    HD5770

    Chipset: Radeon HD 5770
    Core Clock: 860 MHz
    Video Memory: 1GB DDR5
    Memory Clock: 4.8 GHz
    Memory Interface: 128-bit
    Bus: PCI-Express 2.1 x16
    RAMDAC: 400 MHz
    Stream Processors units: 800
    Max. Resolution: 2560 x 1600
    Connectors: Dual DVI-I, HDMI, DisplayPort
    Thermal: Dual Slot Cooler with Auto Fan Control
    Support HDCP - High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection
    ATI Eyefinity Technology, support upto 3 displays
    Support ATI CrossFireX Technology
    Support Microsoft Windows 7
    Support Microsoft DirectX 11, Shader Model 5.0 and OpenGL 3.2

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