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Core CPU vs 3D Graphics (v2)...

Posted on 2001-09-10
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Lets try this again.   I'd thought I'd throw out a discussion item for all involved (this could be a good one)...

What would be the "rule of thumb" when it comes to core cpu speed and a graphic card... e.g. will a
Geforce 2 MX increase the speed of a 3D graphics game in a P200?  P400?  P800? as opposed to an older
card such as a TNT or 3DFX Banshee/voodoo2?  At what point will the CPU be maxed out?   At what point
will the 3D card be maxed out?
I know that this is a complicated subject and depends on many factors including the type of game being
run.

The graphic cards out there seem to run in groups,

-  Banshee, Voodoo2, TNT, Rage....

-  Voodoo3, TNT2, Vanta, Rage II, Geforce256...

-  Voodoo4/5, TNT2 ultra Geforce2 MX

-  GeForce2 GTS, Radeon, GeForce3...

What's the CPU range for each of these?  

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Question by:HJohnson
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by:gmichels
ID: 6472232
*listening*
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by:HJohnson
ID: 6472697
I just traded a fellow for a Voodoo3 3000 AGP board for a couple of computer games.   Here's what the outcome(s) were:

The follow I traded from had bought a Geforce2 MX 400 32mb AGP card and noticed NO improvement in gaming speed.  He had an AMD 350. (he was pi**ed)   His CPU was obviously maxed out.

I had a voodoo2 Banshee 16 mb card in a Celeron 400 (oc to 500). In Winmark 2000, with the new board, I went from a rating of about 870 to 1140.  This was about a 25% gain in speed.  The games I'm playing also sped up noticibly.  I would also expect that with a faster CPU, the card would benefit even more.

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by:gmichels
ID: 6474499
I've got a few sluggish boxes I'd like to perk up a bit with decent video cards IF it'll make a difference. They are all using the onboard video chipsets (ATI Rage IIc - 4MB) so I assume they could get much better....but then I could be wrong, too. Also, if they don't have AGP slots, how will the PCI cards fare?

Would increasing RAM make a difference in your friend's situation? My hardware experience comes from the pre-AGP days. It's been a while. *S*
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Somebody_else earned 50 total points
ID: 6475006
-  What's the CPU range for each of these?  

Banshee, Voodoo2, TNT, Rage.... around a pentium 450-600

-  Voodoo3, TNT2, Vanta, Rage II, same as ^^^^^

-  Geforce256...Voodoo4/5, TNT2 ultra Geforce2 MX, maxes out around 800-900

-  GeForce2 GTS, Radeon, GeForce3... the more CPU the better although at higher resolutions it wont matter because the vid card is the limiting factor,

actually for all of these configs   the vid card is the limiting factor for any cpu, say, over 600MHZ. so if you run anything faster than a 600.. then the only way to improve frame rates/performance is to buy a better vid card.... as for memory.. as long as you have 128 MB adding more will only help smooth game loading and overall performance... you prolly wont see too much of an improvement in framerates... but if you are below 128 then adding ram is a good way to give it a little kick.


when gaming   performance for today's machines is ordered like:
vidcard, cpu/chipset, memory    in order of biggest performance gains.

helpful?

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by:gmichels
ID: 6475044
What about lower CPU speeds? My son is using a 366Mhz with 192mb RAM using the ATI Rage Pro IIc chipset. It drags a bit in more intense graphics games (like Diablo II). From what you tell me, it sounds like we won't get much better performance unless we upgrade the CPU for him? I've been thinking of getting him a better vid card but I don't want to spend that much cash if upgrading the motherboard and CPU makes more sense.

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by:Somebody_else
ID: 6475277
well if you put say a geforce2 in there it would help and you would be getting better graphics.... but the major bottle neck would be the processor (and FSB speed since it is at 66mhz) even a geforce1 would help   but again the bottleneck would be the processor.....seeing as how the graphics chip and processor are both low end, you are in kind of a lose-lose situation, if you upgrade your processor,   the current video will still be obsolete enough to drag down performance.....and vice versa if you replace the processor.... i would (as a recommendation) buy a new graphics card, preferrably a GeForce2 GTS or PRO card, this is about 130 bucks and will last a while (2 or so years at least, i would say) and you should see more improvement than if you upgraded the processor.....then in the future when you did upgrade the processor,   the graphics card will not be holding you back...but should scale along fine with whatever you are buying...
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by:gmichels
ID: 6475295
that's true....planning for the future. I use a 600Mhz box now and could give that to the boy when I upgrade myself then put that card in that box for him. That should keep him happy for a while.

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by:FaffMan
ID: 6476285
My $0.02

I have an 866Mhz PIII with a 32Mb Ati Rage128 which puts a decent showing on Quake3/UT etc.

My friend has a 233Mhz PII with a 64Mb Ati Radeon which actually gives marginally better performance under Quake3.

All other factors (mem, HDD etc) are equal.

In short, a decent graphics card can make a dramatic improvement to an older PC on certain games. Don't forget, though that most everything about a PC can be improved by upgrading the memory. 256MB is the new minimum.

DanF
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by:gmichels
ID: 6476574
I heard Win98 doesn't improve much over 96MB. t doesn't know how to handle the extra memory as well. True? I know Win2K does much better. Any thoughts? How does ME do on memory utilization?



 
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by:HJohnson
ID: 6477024
I have 3 computers (P400, C400 and Duron 800), all have been upgraded to 256 MB memory (cheap!) from 128 and are running on win98se.  As far as I could tell, there was no increase in performance in any games, however, unless it was my imagination, there was less hard drive activity.
Running tests with Winmark 2000 showed that there was no improvement in the score after adding more memory.  I would guess that WinME and Win2000 would benefit from additional memory simply because they're such pigs.

At thing point, I will not upgrade my OS any higher, as things are running smooooooth...

I had a P200 (gone now), which I upgraded from 32 MB to 64 and then to 128 (free memory!!).  I noticed (in a game like Rogue Spear) that the frame rate did not change, but there was significant "pausing" happenning with 32 MB, but it disappeared with 64.  No improvement was noticed from 64 to 128.


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by:gmichels
ID: 6477061
My Win2k (sp2) is running great. I noticed that my Win98SE tended to degrade over time. I upgraded the boy's 333Mhz (running Win98SE) from 128MB to 196MB and noticed no improvement. I don't think going to 256MB will help any. If anything, a video card will do it. Or, I can try "upgrading" to Win2K and see if that helps any.

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by:Somebody_else
ID: 6477867
"I have an 866Mhz PIII with a 32Mb Ati Rage128 which puts a decent showing on Quake3/UT etc."  

what kind of frame rates you pulling down on that bad boy?

"My friend has a 233Mhz PII with a 64Mb Ati Radeon which actually gives marginally better performance
under Quake3."

same question  :-)      what kinda frame rates are you getting in these configs and what resolution color settings you running?


the difference you guys have been seeing with adding more ram is definitely having to do with your use of "virtual" RAM   this is where the OS uses your hard drive as memory... and thus you'll see your games "glitch" a little when it tries to access the virtual memory... with more memory, the OS doesn't have to use the HD very often thus less glitches and overall smoothness....


for most users 128 will be fine  but for me i like to have at least 256... this all depends on how many programs you use at the same time...the more you have open at the same time the more ram that is used and the more likely the OS will need to use virtual memory.


hope this info helps  :-)
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by:HJohnson
ID: 6478059
How do you turn on frame rate display in UT?
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by:HJohnson
ID: 6478066
As a further note, I remember someone telling me that UT max's out at about 40 fps no matter what you are running.

I have Q3 as well, how do you turn on the fps there? I don't think that Q3 has this limit.
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by:Somebody_else
ID: 6480216
hmmm, im not sure with UT i'll have to check.... i'm pretty sure it is not limited tho, as 40 fps would be kind of choppy and i have seen some exquisite setups that run that game as smooth as silk.

as for Q3 the command is:
cg_drawFPS "1"      
just type this in at console when you are in a game... to access the console, press the ~ key.


if anyone knows how to display FPS for unreal   tourney please speak up!!  :-)
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by:d_hall
ID: 6485359
>> How do you turn on frame rate display in UT?

In the menu, over on the right, there's an item called something like "TimeDemo Statistics".


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by:HJohnson
ID: 6488431
In UT, single player, I got an average of 80 - 85 fps (Duron 800 with a Radeon).  However, as soon as I started a multi-user game, the average dropped to 35 - 45 fps (1/2 the rate!)  Obviously, there is a lot of CPU activity going on to manage/play a mu game.  With my 800, I don't notice any difference in playability between a su/mu game, but with my 400/voodoo3, the game play occasionally stutters/pauses.
I would venture to guess that in a mu environment (LAN), the cpu here is the limiting component and adding a faster board wouldn't help much.

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by:HJohnson
ID: 6488474
In UT, single player, I got an average of 80 - 85 fps (Duron 800 with a Radeon).  However, as soon as I started a multi-user game, the average dropped to 35 - 45 fps (1/2 the rate!)  Obviously, there is a lot of CPU activity going on to manage/play a mu game.  With my 800, I don't notice any difference in playability between a su/mu game, but with my 400/voodoo3, the game play occasionally stutters/pauses.
I would venture to guess that in a mu environment (LAN), the cpu here is the limiting component and adding a faster board wouldn't help much.

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by:gmichels
ID: 6488786
Right now, the boy has an ATI Rage IIc chipset on his box. It's pretty crappy with a new game he just got eventhough his box exceeds the specs of the game. I was thinking of upgrading his video but I can't really afford that nice $130 board right now. Any cheap suggestions that might make a marked improvement? Also, he needs a PCI board for his box - no AGP slot.
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by:HJohnson
ID: 6488901
What's the game?  Does it support Glide (3DFX) or OpenGL?   These are better than direct 3d.  I've noticed over the years that you need about 2x the cpu requirements for a game to make it run properly in a decent resolution.
e.g. a requirement for a 233 runs OK on a 400.

Before I OC my C400, I was running Unreal Tournament/Quake III with smooootthh frame rates. (single person)

I've overclocked my 400 to a 500 with no problems, with just a standard heatsink/fan combo.  Just bear in mind this makes the CPU run hotter - if you want to try this, make sure to do a lot of reading on it.  I've also OC my Duron 800 to 900 with no problems.  However, I can't get my other 400 (IBM desktop) to overclock properly at all.

I tried my new ATI Radeon 32 MB card (from my 800) in my 400, (which has a voodoo 3) and there was NO difference in any games.  I clocked the difference between the cards in my 800/900 and there was a big difference.

If you want to upgrade the boy's computer (366), I wouldn't bother going any better than a voodoo 3 or TNT2 type board (unless you are going to upgrade the CPU/board)- these are going cheap these days and I haven't encountered any compatibility problems.   Glide/Open GL definitely runs better than standard direct 3d.

my 2cents



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by:HJohnson
ID: 6488903
What's the game?  Does it support Glide (3DFX) or OpenGL?   These are better than direct 3d.  I've noticed over the years that you need about 2x the cpu requirements for a game to make it run properly in a decent resolution.
e.g. a requirement for a 233 runs OK on a 400.

Before I OC my C400, I was running Unreal Tournament/Quake III with smooootthh frame rates. (single person)

I've overclocked my 400 to a 500 with no problems, with just a standard heatsink/fan combo.  Just bear in mind this makes the CPU run hotter - if you want to try this, make sure to do a lot of reading on it.  I've also OC my Duron 800 to 900 with no problems.  However, I can't get my other 400 (IBM desktop) to overclock properly at all.

I tried my new ATI Radeon 32 MB card (from my 800) in my 400, (which has a voodoo 3) and there was NO difference in any games.  I clocked the difference between the cards in my 800/900 and there was a big difference.

If you want to upgrade the boy's computer (366), I wouldn't bother going any better than a voodoo 3 or TNT2 type board (unless you are going to upgrade the CPU/board)- these are going cheap these days and I haven't encountered any compatibility problems.   Glide/Open GL definitely runs better than standard direct 3d.

As you've guessed, I've been a 3DFX fan for years... I was sorry to see them go under.

my 2cents



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by:HJohnson
ID: 6488905
Sorry about the multiple postings - not sure what I'm doing...
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by:gmichels
ID: 6488908
I was thinking a 32mb board with a TNT2 M64 chipset.  Sound okay enough? I figure if I upgrade his machine, I'll be going all out for MYSELF and give him MY box (600Mhz) to play on. I ain't dumb. ;-)
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by:gmichels
ID: 6488914
He's got a 366Mhz box and the requirement was 233. No Open GL or Glide requirements. Just Direct X, I think. As I said before, I'll upgrade MY box and give him mine inthe future. I presume the card will serve him well on my 600 if it's better than the Intel chipset on my board.
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by:gmichels
ID: 6488918
I think the game was something like Robot Arena - where you create robots like in BatteBots and can fight other bots. It worked okay on my box but his was dog slow even at the lowest video settings for the game.

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by:d_hall
ID: 6489154
If you are thinking about a TNT2 m64, check the prices on the GeForce MX (not the MX200, the "vanilla" or the 400).  Usually about the same price  (sometimes cheaper!), but a better card.
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by:HJohnson
ID: 6489224
I agree, unless you have a really fast system, (like P4 variety) you won't be using anything above 32 MB because the resolutions that will run on your machine don't require the extra memory. Even then, not much difference in graphics quality when you get over 1024x768.   GeForce MX is a better card.  This card will definitely help.

Time to put this puppy to bed.  I'll be closing this is a couple of days.  Thanks for all your input.

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by:gmichels
ID: 6490524
Cool. Thanks. I'll check it out. I have been out of hardware since the Pentium chips first came out. *L*  I am pretty rusty in that area, now that I do networking.

HJ and d_hall - look for some points in this section. I want to "pay" for your help.  :-)



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by:Somebody_else
ID: 6494436
actually the geforce mx is a purely AGP graphics cards... whereas the tnt2 can be found in a PCI flavor... i would suggest trying to find a TNT2 PCI card (not the M64 type, this is a lower quality TNT2 card)i think that creative used to make one...FYI
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by:gmichels
ID: 6494524
I have seen a few PCI geforce mx400 cards and they use software to "adapt" to the AGP. The price, though, is around $100. Any second-best suggestions?

What's a good TNT2 chipset?
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by:gmichels
ID: 6494525
and what about Voodoo? What "versions" are good?
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by:HJohnson
ID: 6494590
Voodoo 3 pci or agp are great.  I have both in my two 400's.  Don't worry about the 16mb of memory as opposed to 32.  Unless you are looking at still pictures, the quality is just fine in games and you can still get high resolutions.

There are new drivers being written by other people - go see www.voodoofiles.com - I'm using the Omega driver and love it!

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by:Somebody_else
ID: 6498070
for the TNT2  there was the TNT2, TNT2 Ultra   and the TNT2 M64,   the TNT2 was the standard chipset, ultra was high end, and M64 is the stripped down version of the standard.
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by:gmichels
ID: 6498160
oh HEY...what's the deal with TNT2 Vanta? I am guessing it's a stripped down version, too?
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by:HJohnson
ID: 6498878
My buddy bought a new Athlon 950 with an 8mb Vanta video chip on-board.  Its a TNT2 chip alright, but is a "stripped down" version for cost cutting and also shares the main system RAM when needed which is much slower than the usual on-board video memory.   Here's a benchmark that we tried with 3DMark2000 (all with 128 or 256 ram):
(anything above 128 is wasted here)

HIS SYSTEM (HP)
Athlon 950, 8mb Vanta,             Score: ~1400

MY SYSTEMS (before RAM upgrade - all U-built)
Celeron 400(oc500), Voodoo 3 PCI   Score: ~1300
PII 400, Voodoo 3 AGP              Score: ~1400
Duron 800, Radeon 32 mb AGP        Score: ~4700

Look at the score compared with my 400's systems.  Of course the Radeon blows it out of the water.
He could really benefit with a video upgrade.



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by:gmichels
ID: 6505683
I ordered a 16mb Voodoo3 card (PCI) over the weekend based on everyone's help and suggestions. I'll let y'all know how it turns out! I think the boy will be much happier. I couldn't find the PCI GeForce MX400 for much under $100 so that was out (according to the fiancee-wife-money manager). The TNT2s were a bit cheaper but the Vanta was about all I could find that was close to my price range but I didn't think they were that great (and you confirmed it). I picked up the Voodoo 3 for about $40. I have a 333Mhz box that I may upgrade as well, if this works out great.

*Off to voodoofiles.com to get some drivers*

Thanks again all!
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by:Somebody_else
ID: 6506700
yeah that card should be fine for an upgrade on a budget :-)    
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