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Default Gaming rig: balanced build vs unbalanced build

May 13th, 2007, 05:26
I always believe that building a system with balanced specs is the ultimate rule. But it's not all the cases, at least for a gaming rigs as long as you play games on high resolution or big monitor. In current pc hardware market, where 22" 1680x1050 wide screen can be easily available with entry level prices, and if you want playing games with all the eye candy turn on, then it's no problem to plug in a 8800GTXs with low end CPU or 1GB of RAM!.

Let's get down to the results! Does a low cost PC equipped with an 8800 GTX stand a chance when pitted against a strong, balanced midrange system with an 8800 GTS? Will the low-cost PC's meager 1GB of RAM and slower CPU prevent it from keeping pace with the midrange system? Let's see:

In 1600x1200 with 4xAA, our Budget Gamer's Special is trumping the mid-range system.

This is a highly specialized case - I don't think I'd ever recommend such an unbalanced system to anyone - but it makes a point that can't be ignored: for high resolution gaming, even the 8800 GTX is a viable card for a low-end dual core system.

And for general uses - gaming, DVD watching, listening to music, internet surfing, or a little word processing, i think the system still run great as long as not movie graphics editing programs.
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May 13th, 2007, 12:01
The article is very nice, but also a bit misleading… at least in my case. I was wondering all the time how it could be that the low range system was actually surpassing the mid range system at higher resolutions until I realized that the mid range system was just using a 8800 GTS, and not a 8800 GTX like the low range system. So what confused me a bit was the direct comparison of the two systems… I don't think you can really compare them.
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May 13th, 2007, 16:37
With "low-end" and "dual core" being put in the same bucket, my rig must be so far off the list that it's a sticky note stuck to the floor.
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May 13th, 2007, 18:43
One thing that has definitely become apparent from this article and other recent ones as well is that the graphics card has BY FAR become the most important system component for gaming. The old dogma that you need to keep CPU and GPU somewhat balanced is no longer true. There are barely any games out there with CPU limitations and especially at the high (native) resolutions of modern displays, it is more likely that you will run into GPU limitations rather than CPU limitations.
Even single core CPU, AGP-based systems will usually still deliver a high enough performance for modern games as long as the graphics card is a decent one (see here and here ).

If I had to build a new gaming rig now, I would go for a lower end Core 2 Duo (E6300 or E6320), get 2GB of DDR2-RAM (currently cheaper than ever before at EUR 89.00 for a CL 4-4-4-12 2GB kit!) and a 8800GTS 640MB. You don't need an E6600 or something crazy as a X6800 to match with a 8800 card as some people will still try to make you believe. The CPU is not that important anymore.
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May 13th, 2007, 20:47
GPU for gaming, CPU for everything else (watching HD movies etc). Although the next generation of GPU's will pretty much have cores that can execute close to full x86 range of instructions. I think ATI already has examples of using the GPU and CPU together for the SETI project so it certainly isn't far away.

EDIT: It is called "Fusion" and is supposed to be here in 2010. Imagine 8 cores at 32nm and no dedicated GPU, I for one am looking forward to not having to lay down any more money on GPU's.
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Last edited by bjon045; May 14th, 2007 at 13:15.
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May 21st, 2007, 08:50
There are a great many influences on the determination of Basic, Mid-level, and High Level game systems. Previously, before the huge upswing in 3D game production, matched to the horrid downswing in average new PC quality, the video card only was what differentiated a "standard" PC of a given price class from its monetary matchup from the gaming class.

Vista will be affecting things eventually, if it hasn't already. I suppose I need to take some time to rate the systems I see on the shelves at the local brick and mortar PC stores to see what is selling to the ordinary public.

But starting from two years ago, plus maybe six months, maybe not, game systems already needed more RAM than a similarly priced mainstream system not specifically aimed at gaming. A faster CPU also became a needed item, and suddenly the Basic game system was in the price category of the standard mid-level non-game box.

But even before then, the two biggest 3D video design companies had already begun widening the range of products sold, such that the mid-level spanned a larger speed zone than ever, reaching the high level for the prior generation, and well beyond, and the top product was effectively in a brand new super high spot.

Just look at what happened to the ATI product line between the rather few in the 8000 series, and the extensive 9000 series. It was more than mere evolution, it was revolutionary. nVidia took two generations to be able to answer that Radeon supremacy, and finally, in a third generation since their debacle with the ill-designed FXes, they have a couple of high level cards that at present nothing ATI can offer is going to match.

The 7600 GT and the X1650 XT are mid-level cards with excellent performance for the cost, and as the game requirements have scaled up, the "recommended level" stands above those, but they will serve a budget minded player very well. A newer "Lower Upper", or "Highest Mid" range is now popular, in the form of the X1950 Pro, and cards similar to it, carring MSRPs close to $200, and frequently available for much less.

I personally would say that the "balance" when selecting parts needs a bit of an adjustment right now. I certainly don't see the topline XTX 8800 as a normally snesible choice for any system below a mid-level, but I've long since stopped ever suggesting anything below mid-level for any gaming box, at any price.


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May 21st, 2007, 17:55
My gaming rig is a bit over a year old, and it was solid midrange rather than high-end when I built it. (AMD X2 3800+ CPU).

However, I recently upgraded my GPU to an 8800GTS, and it was like blowing pepper into its ass (for most games, that is).

Ironically, neither of the two clearly CPU-bottlenecked games I've managed throw at it are exactly new: they're Vampire: Bloodlines and KOTOR II.
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