Introduction

When we released our initial comparison of HyperMemory and TurboCache last week, we received quite a bit of feedback requesting tests with budget systems. We do stand by our testing methodology - we use the highest end equipment to build a system around the component that we are testing. This removes all bottlenecks from the rest of the system and demonstrates the capabilities of a particular piece of hardware. But that doesn't mean that we aren't willing to look at the performance picture from a different angle as well.

Evaluating performance in a low end system is not useful for comparisons because we lose the ability to grasp where all the bottlenecks and performance issues come into play. Ideally, we would test all hardware with all other combinations of hardware in order to describe completely what's going on in every case. Unfortunately, this is an impossible task (though that doesn't mean we haven't considered it). In this case, it does make sense to decrease the performance of one component in the system in order to evaluate the impact on graphics performance.

Both HyperMemory and TurboCache claim an increased dependence on system RAM. The architecture of TurboCache seems to make it even more of a candidate for system RAM dependence as the pixel and ROP pipes can operate directly in system memory.

While it may be true that budget systems are beginning to ship with 512 MB or even 1GB of RAM, getting a hold of PC3200 that runs at 2:2:2:6 is a little over budget for most cheap systems. This extended investigation into the impact of system memory performance on budget graphics hardware will probe the effects of running slower memory timings as well as PC2700 memory. Right now, 3:3:3 DDR400 can be found for very low prices, but we'll test with the slower RAM to cover our bases.

So, read on to discover the facts about budget graphics cards and system memory performance. The results just might surprise you.

DDR400 3:4:4:12 Graphics Performance
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  • Calin - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    I pretty much prefer an integrated graphics to one of those cards - but there are some problems:
    1. you can easily change the graphic card, much easier than changing the mainboard
    2. I want a integrated graphics mainboard. There are almost no mainboards I can buy (or they are not available here)
    3. To compare to the performance of a card with local memory plus system memory, the integrated card must have a local memory also (frame buffer or whatever)
    Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    Damn it Calin, you already fixed the timings, so my copy/pasted statement is inconsistent with what's in the graph and what I was saying. I was referring to: Percent FPS **increase** from 2:2:2:8 to 3:4:4:12 line in the first graph on page 2 and the same thing is repeated in other graphs as well. You can either change the order of timings or "increase" to "decrease". Your pick, but I prefer decrease, because it's more logical that way. Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    Yea I mean really: Percent FPS increase from 3:4:4:12 to 2:2:2:8. And then the least increase get puts a card at the top? WTF?!?! You gotta be kidding right. I believe it should be decrease.

    Anyway, who cares, if you get a card like this, you are not gonna be playing games much, and even then I'd like my RAM to stay intact. If I want to share my system RAM with a GPU, I'll get one integrated in a chipset, thank you very much.

    Just one more marketing BS scheme.
    Reply
  • Houdani - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    [quote]
    "Upon examination, the graphs reveal counterintuitive data."
    [/quote]

    Heh, it's particularly counterintuitive since the page 2 graph titles are backwards! See #5, above.
    Reply
  • Tarumam - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    I think th ewhole concept of both turbocache and hypermemory is wrong. I mean if you have a system with a very cheap dedicated video card on it, that´s because two main reasons:

    1- You don´t care much about 3d performance;
    2- You don´t want the video subsystem wheighing on the ram memory.

    Those reasons all but completely disaprove the use of a weak dedicated GPU that will use the main system memory.

    Anyways, thanks for the article as it demonstrates that there are no such things as miracles. The bottom line is: If you´re going to build me a computer with the video subsystem in a dedicated video card, then (whatever the budget you have for it) keep it off my RAM.
    Reply
  • BornStar18 - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    I agree with #5. That's my only grievance so far. Reply
  • Calin - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    On the second page, the graphics should read "Percent FPS increase from 3:4:4:12 to 2:2:2:8" - assuming the performance is better with fast memory.
    What processors did you use in the test? At that time, for Pentium4 only dual channel solutions are easy to grab, however, Athlon64 single channel (Socket 754) is pretty common and a much more sensible choice for a budget computer.
    Reply
  • mostlyprudent - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    Sorry if I missed this in this or the previous article, but how does the performance of the ATi 32MB Hypermemory card compare to the standard X300 with 128MB of onboard memory? Reply
  • Iftekharalam - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    Look at the Farcry 1.3 Performance benchmark. The system memory causes the frame rate to fluctuate up to 20%!

    Reply
  • Iftekharalam - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    My first post in anandtech becomes the 2nd post! Reply

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