Mid Range Graphics Card CPU scaling

For mid-range cards we've got three from ATI and one from NVIDIA; as we've discovered in previous Half Life 2 articles, NVIDIA's last-generation mid-range cards are only reasonable performers in DirectX 8 mode, and we are conducting a fully DX9 comparison here so that excludes all of them. From ATI we've got the Radeon 9700 Pro, Radeon 9800 Pro and Radeon X700 Pro. We've also included the NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT, which as you will remember from our previous articles, performs very similarly to the GeForce 6800 non-ultra under Half Life 2.

Our mid-range tests were conducted at 1280 x 1024, the target resolution for most mid-range cards.

If you've got any of ATI's mid-range GPUs, you're stuck with severely diminishing returns after about 1.4 - 1.6GHz on the Athlon 64 (< 2800+ range). The GeForce 6600GT is far less GPU bound at 1280 x 1024 (and even at 1024 x 768 although not depicted here), and thus scales relatively well.

High End Graphics Card CPU Scaling Final Words


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  • Phantronius - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    If your gaming on a laptop, you need help. Reply
  • RockHydra11 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Was anyone surprised by the results, or didn't know what the answer would be already? I could make a very educated guess before I even clicked on the link. Reply
  • T8000 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    This kind of CPU reviewing really makes me wonder if anyone plays with a $700 R850 XT-PE without anti-aliasing, anistrophic filtering and does so at 1280x1024.

    I mean, if that's all you want, why not save a cool $500 and buy a GF6600GT instead.

    It would be nice if someone reviewed CPU scaling at real gaming settings, because the 20% differences created here, may translate in only 5% with real settings, making it unnoticable during gameplay.
  • Whiskyboy - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I thought the artilce was a nice return to the feature for feature comparison that a shopper like myself really finds useful. I'm slighlty curious about upcoming technologies but I'm really disintereted in seeing how the brand new toy from AMD or Nvidia performs because I'm not going to suggest paying the ridiculous premiums they charge for the new junk. Seeing the effect that things like memory timings, bandwidth, cpu clock have on performance in a consistent platform make it easier for me to make recommendations to my customers for their systems. I like the Buyer's Guide articles, but in all honesty I want the charts that this article has. If you are suggesting that there should be more articles like this, I agree, but I'm not about to complain about the first article in months that actually made a useful shopper's comparison. Thanks Anand Reply
  • Marlowe - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I would like to see the cpu scaling done with Intel cpu's too! :) Reply
  • Cybercat - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    The X850XT PE being a PCIe part, how did you use it on Socket 754 CPUs? I've not seen any Socket 754 NF4 boards yet. Reply
  • Aquila76 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    #32 - Gamers buy PC's in orders of magnitude greater numbers than laptops. Maybe you can run Half-life 2 on your Intel Extreme Graphics, but that's nothing compared to gaming on an A64 with a decent video card and sound. Reply
  • jherber - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    where is the pentium m? MOST OF US BUY LAPTOPS THESE DAYS. Reply
  • REMF - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link


    an Athlon64 3200+ @ 2.0GHz gets 112fps
    an Athlon64 3000+ @ 1.8GHz gets 104fps
    .'. an A64 3100+ @ 1.9GHz would get 108fps

    ...... the same as a P4 570 running at 3.8GHz, twice the speed!

  • bupkus - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I'm glad to finally see this article. I've been waiting for weeks and beginning to think this article was just "vaporware". ;)

    As to the following quote:
    "If you are stuck with one of those older but still well-performing GPUs, don't bother upgrading your CPU unless it's something slower than a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 - you'd be much better served by waiting and upgrading to dual core later on."
    As this was just a tantalizing morsel of things to come, I'm looking forward to the coming weeks.

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