PC Gaming question from a Mac user

Discussion in 'Games' started by shake, Jan 31, 2005.

  1. shake macrumors regular

    Aug 14, 2002
    Toronto, CANADA
    hello all,

    dont know if this is the right place for this...

    i use my pc only for gaming... in particular Dungeon Siege and Doom3.
    i have a 20" cinema display that i use for both my mac and pc via dvi kvm switch.

    dungeon Siege gets around 30-40fps, and doom as well. its a shuttle SS56Gv2 with Pentium4 2.4ghz and a radeon9600xt AGPx8. if i wanted to improve gaming performance, would i benefit from a faster (3ghz) cpu? or faster video card(x800pro)? or both ?

    any insight is appreciated.
  2. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    You'll benefit much (MUCH) more from a upgraded video card than you would with a CPU upgrade, especially with Doom 3. I recommend you check out the GeForce 6600 GT. It offers the most bang for the buck performance of that generation, and is a quite substantial upgrade from the 9600 XT.
  3. Policar macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2004
    The 6600GT is a great choice. Much cheaper than the x800 pro and not way too far behind.

    The x800 xl (to be released soon) will retail for 300 and should be more powerful than the pro most of the time. I bought one for 230 during a special pre-order thing, but--who knows--with ati's record my order may be cancelled.

    I'd definitely go for the video card first, but both could use an upgrade with some of today's better games. Doom 3 is much faster on nVidia cards anyhow so that 6600 GT seems like a good choice for you.
  4. shake thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 14, 2002
    Toronto, CANADA
    thanks for your input guys. the x800xl looks very tantalizing indeed. 16 pipes ! just hope ati comes out with an agp version...
  5. LeeTom macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2004
    ...or try the GeForce 6800GT... I got it, and it's great!

    Lee Tom
  6. benpatient macrumors 68000

    Nov 4, 2003
    6800GT+Shuttle SFF=not fun.

    Go with the 6600 GT AGP if you want to upgrade. You'll see a good improvement, especially in doom 3, and you won't fry your case PSU doing it.

    It's only 8 pipes, but it is about as fast as a 9800 XT, for less money. It's the best bang-for buck card right now. It is to early 2005 what the 9600 Pro/XT were to late 2003-early 2004. DDR3, PS 3.0, 4 billion texel fill rate...~200 dollars. Best value, for sure.

    If you look carefully, you can find one with a good bundle of full games...

    the XFX one comes with nascar and X2 and something else I can't remember...also the XFX card has 2 DVI ports instead of 1 DVI/1 VGA...It's the only card I know of that is set up to run 2 all-digital connections short of 400-1000 dollars.

    Hopefully someday I'll be able to take advantage of that...I wouldn't mind running 2x1920x1080 :D
  7. ZildjianKX macrumors 68000


    May 18, 2003
    As a poster said, you want to double check in some shuttle forums which cards will "work" or fit in your shuttle. Definately upgrade the graphics card... the 9600XT is pretty low end, and you'll see the world of difference with an upgrade.
  8. kuyu macrumors 6502a


    Sep 16, 2003
    My gaming PC is an AMD64 3200, gig RAM, X800 Pro. The X800 is everything I hoped for and more. Doom III looks ridiculous. I know the nvidia card is slightly better for doom, but the ATI card doesn't suck.

    Now, if you want to play HL2, that's where the processor really streches it's legs. It takes everything my machine has to run that game (at highest settings).
  9. Toreador93 macrumors regular

    Sep 14, 2003
    I have a Shuttle SN95G5 AMD 3000+ (90nm), 512Ram, 6800 GT. I was going to get the X800 Pro, but 1) They were out of stock everywhere, and 2) for the same price I could get the slightly faster (albeit louder) 6800 GT. The only thing I don't like is that the 6800 GT is noticably loud. However, it devours everything. I've heard a lot of complaints about the 9800 XT, so I'd probably compare the noise to it. The 6800 GT still does not get very hot in my case. It runs at about 52C, while the ambient temp is around 36C.

    Anyway, I agree. Get a new video card.
  10. benpatient macrumors 68000

    Nov 4, 2003
    again, the SS56Gv2 only has a 200 watt processor.

    a 6800 ultra uses 110 watts by itself. The 6800 GT is a step behind, but can peak over 100 watts.

    that leaves essentially a 100 watt PSU for the rest of the system...which isn't a smart idea.

    The 6800 (regular) is probably safe, and so is the x800 (regular), but when you start messing with more than 80 watts of pull from the GPU, you might start seeing random restarts while playing shader-intensive games or playing at higher resolutions. Also, those cards are floating around 400-600 dollars, and aren't on the "smart" side of the value curve.

    Especially not the AGP versions.
  11. sigma8 macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2005
    Do you have any first-hand experience that supports this? I have a shuttle SN41G2 with a BFG Geforce 6800 GT OC (so it's even overclocked past factory settings), and it works great for me.

    The only problem that may be attributable to the videocard is sometimes during bootup, the system does not post. That may be due to some power-up wattage-demand spike, I am not sure, I haven't isolated the problem to the video card. A quick tap of the reset button (or even powering down and back up) will get past it. Since I don't use my machine as a server that needs to be able to boot on its own, I haven't looked into it, as once I boot into Windows, my machine has been exceedingly stable. Probably the most stable PC I've ever owned.

    And I logged some _serious_ WoW time over the last month as well. Doom3 and Half Life 2 run just as well, though. No problems with extended sessions. I happily recommend the card. I love being able to run everything at 1600x1200 with full eyecandy on and still get nice framerates.
  12. benpatient macrumors 68000

    Nov 4, 2003
    My experience is that if you are running too many "extra" things, or if you have a particularly inefficient HDD or optical drive, then you will be pushing it with 200 watts.

    Shuttle actually recommends that you use one of their newer cases with a 240 watt PSU if you're going 6800 or X800, although I know they work.

    Your POST problem is almost certainly an indication of a voltage problem, all things considered. It may seem harmless, because it works eventually, but you're running a risk of frying (permanently) any of the following components by pushing the PSU too hard:


    There's also a chance you could do non-physical damage to your hard drive that could force you into a reformatting situation.

    Funny things start to happen when your PSU is strained...

    If you weren't using a Shuttle PSU/case, you'd probably already have fried something. They use good components, though, luckily for you.

    The original poster might be able to get away with a 6800 GT or X800 Pro, but at that point, he'll be extremely CPU-limited.

    A 6600 GT or X700 Pro would suit his machine better...if you could get an X700 AGP, that is...

    My other concern is that we don't know what specific CPU he has. Of the various P4 iterations, some of them are VERY heavy PSU pulling-components...if he were running an AMD system I would be a little less hesitant to recommend a top-end graphics card...

    An Athlon 64 3800+ draws less power than some 2.4 Ghz P4s...it depends on which chipset he's got.
  13. neonart macrumors 65816


    Sep 4, 2002
    Near a Mac since 1993.
    While on the PC gaming subject...

    Since you guys know a heck of alot more on this, and we're on the subject... Since my wife was dying to get The Sims 2 we got a cheap-as-free PC so she could play. Here are the specs:

    P3 1.2Ghz, 512MB RAM, nVidia GeForce3 Ti 64MB.

    It runs the game OK, but she'd like a little improvement. I was thinking of upgrading to a FX5200 128MB card since the prices are so low.

    Would this be a noticeable upgrade? If not, what else would you recommend? FX5500? R9200? R9600? (Don't want to go crazy here)

    I'd like to leave the MB and Proc, but if I have to replace them I will. Again, it runs the game decently, just a tad choppy at times.
  14. Xeem macrumors 6502a


    Feb 2, 2005
    I'm not so sure... I think a 2.4 Ghz P4 will hold back any new top end video card enough to prevent him from playing Doom 3 very well. I agree that NVIDIA is clearly the better choice for Doom 3, but then again ATI is clearly better for HL2. My computer runs Half Life 2 with max settings (minus some water effects) with 2x aniso filtering ebabled just fine, but I can't even play Doom 3 on medium settings very well.
  15. Mav451 macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2003
    I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

    Doom3 is GPU-limited. That means as long as you cross that minimal threshold, the video card is far more important. I'd say the 2.4C or 2500+ are just around the threshold area. If you've seen the [H] hardware guide, you will see that even a 2500+ paired with a 6800GT or higher can easily do 1600x1200.

    In other games like HL2 or UT2k4 (which are more CPU-intensive), you would NOT be able to get away with a 2500+, but in Doom3 you can get away with it.
  16. Mav451 macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2003
    You are inherently CPU-limited, but your GPU is alright. This game is indeed playable on the GF3 series (Ti 200 or 550); I've seen it run silky smooth on a 2500+.

    I would suggest an upgrade to the AthlonXP platform, or A64 if you are more future-minded. Running the present lineup of games, when you are still running technology before the year 2000 is very trying. Moving to the AXP platform puts you ahead to 2002-2003 lineup, which is more than capable of playing it then.
  17. benpatient macrumors 68000

    Nov 4, 2003
    what you're looking at is a situation where upgrading the graphics card will not be worth the money, honestly.

    Sims 2 is always CPU-intensive, and if you turn on the graphical features and bump up the resolution, it can use almost every bit of the latest graphics cards, too.

    But honestly, the FX5200 will sorta hurt you. I mean it this way:

    The GF3 series does not support a number of the graphical abilities of Sims 2 at all, and as a result, you don't see them on screen. The FX5200 DOES support most of the features, but it can barely, barely do them. So you get a pretty picture but not much more performance than you're already getting. Any time you consider doing an upgrade, make sure that you aren't paying good money to go from poor performance to mediocre performance. It won't be worth it. You at least want to get to "good" if not "great" performance when you spend money on an upgrade.

    In your case, going to an Athlon 9600 (avoid the 5500 series unless it is given to you for free!) will be complete overkill for your processor. You will be able to turn on some special features, but the AGP of the system will limit the card's abilities, not to mention the fact that the game itself will be waiting on your processor for data.

    If you do an upgrade, which doesn't sound like something you need to do in your case, then you would probably want to do more of a COMPLETE upgrade...basically an entirely new system.

    Honestly, you should be very, very happy that a top-of-the-line game released in late 2004 will run at all on the machine you have. That is a testament to the good work of the people at Maxis. I'm impressed.

    I had a "fair" gaming experience with my 2500+ and 9600 Pro, and switching to a 6600 GT made it go from "fair" to "great."

    I can say that the 2500+ processor is "enough" for this game to really work well. The only time I see anything less than ultra-smooth gaming is when i start or stop a video recording, or when a sim jumps to a new age category...also, if i have a lot of sims trying to go to work at the same time, it snags for 1/2 a second or so when the car pulls away.

    But that's running all details maxed, 1600x1200 with "smoothing" (FSAA) turned all the way up and Folding @ Home running in the background.

    You would have to upgrade your processor and your graphics card...which means that, coming from a P3, you'd need a new motherboard and new RAM and probably a new power supply....basically, a whole new computer.

    I think you should be thankful that it runs at all, and enjoy it until you think you might want to go with a new machine...but obviously don't buy a new one just to play the sims...
  18. Xeem macrumors 6502a


    Feb 2, 2005
    While they are more CPU intensive than Doom 3, they're also much easier to run, and I've seen them both played very well on computers with a XP 2500+. I played UT2k4 on a 1700+/512 PC2100/GF3 Ti200 and it ran smoothly with details set to low (load times were awful, but that was a hard drive issue). In fact, the same computer ran utk4 considerably better than ut2k3.

    A 1.2ghz P3 just doesn't quite cut it any more. Athlon 64's are the best value for games right now. As for a cheap GPU upgrade, I've been really tempted by cheap ($75!!) Radeon 9500 Pros on eBay lately. I know buying used components can be a little dangerous, but the it is the best bang for the buck out there, and it would be more than enough for even Half Life 2, not to mention the Sims 2. Then again, if you're going to upgrade you're processor, you might want to go all out on a video card...
  19. benpatient macrumors 68000

    Nov 4, 2003
    the 2500+ can take everything HL2 will throw at it.

    Anything less might be a little risky, but a 1.833 ghz Barton core will not have any trouble with HL2...trust me. Mine doesn't.

    My Radeon 9600 Pro ran it well, also, but I had to keep the resolution at 1024 or lower if I wanted the details turned up...and I did...my 6600 GT doesn't have much in the way of constraints. Sims 2 doesn't have any more settings I can raise, and it's perfect. HL2 can run either 1280 with 4x FSAA or 1600 with 2x FSAA...either one gives me a perfect gaming experience, so it doesn't matter, really.

    The 2500+ isn't a processor for tomorrow, but it IS the best all-around processor from yesterday. When i was playing the overclocking game, I got my 1.833 (2500+) core up to 2.3 ghz without anything other than the stock cooling solution. That's what? a 3300+ equivalent? 3200+?? something like that.

    For 90 dollars. more than 1.5 years ago.

    Pretty good bang/buck ratio.
  20. Mav451 macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2003
    Yeah, now i'm kinda miffed about my decision to purchase an XP-M ($95). As nice as it is to hit 2.58Ghz, it has severely diminishing returns just b/c the architecture is simply too FSB restricted. I remember something an Intel engineer said, regarding bus speed and overall clock speed. Once the ratio between the clock speed and FSB exceeds 6 or 7x, there starts to be diminishing returns.

    Now, that's not much of an issue with the A64's (which scale beautifully with their IMC and HT @ 1GHz). On the other hand, the XP's are starved at either 333Mhz or 400Mhz. Even my OC, to 430Mhz is hardly an increase when you look at the big picture.

    If i got an OC to 250FSB (x2 = 500Mhz), on the other hand, that wouldn't be so bad. Unfortunately that requires a DFI board + TCCD/BH5/etc. More expense that is simply spent better on A64.

    Btw, my standards are 75FPS, in 10+ vs 10+ CS:Source firefights (not standing in a corner looking at wall getting 220FPS ok? lol) >> at the bare minimum. With the 6800, I finally hit around 60, but its not good enough.

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