How good is too good?

By samsample · 23 replies
May 3, 2011
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  1. Hi, I'm looking to buy a graphics card for a fairly old computer of mine. The specs are:
    ASUS P5LD2-VM motherboard with one PCIe slot
    2GB DDR2 RAM
    Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHZ
    APEX AL-B500E 500W PSU (20A +12V Rail)
    Onboard graphics (currently)
    Windows XP
    Ideally, I'd be able to squeeze a couple more years out of this system by adding a new graphics card. I'd like to be able to play games like Portal 2, and just possibly GTA IV. I'm looking at cards ranging from a 4670 to a 5770. The money, at least in this range, is not an issue. However, I'm wondering if, because of the limits of my system, there will be a point at which the other parts of my computer bottleneck the card to a point where it isn't worth having a better card. What do you guys think, is it worth getting a 5770, or would I be throwing my money away because of bottlenecks?
  2. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

    Is that a single core you have there?

    If money isnt a big deal, I'd at least go for a dual core. I'm not going to throw any technical garble at you, cause frankly I dont know exactly. Some games still rely on the CPU performance, so going up to dual, or quad would be ideal. You should be able to upgrade this, but I havent done the research on your hardware.
  3. samsample

    samsample TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Yeah, forgot to mention, it's a single core processor. Rev. 2.0 of my motherboard supports dual-core processors. However, I have Rev. 1.03, which does not. Upgrading the CPU isn't really an option unless I replace the motherboard, at which point it becomes senseless not to buy a whole new rig new new RAM and all that good stuff. I'm just looking for a graphics card at the moment.
  4. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

    *Only PCB R2.0(or higher) support Intel® Core™2 processor

    This does not mean dual core. Intel Core 2 is a line of CPUs Intel made.

    Edit 1: Not minding price.. this will probably work in your motherboard.. let me do some more research.

    EDIT 2: I may just be eating my words here in a minute.... hmm..

    EDIT 3: Yea... you are correct. Bummer...
  5. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Please use edit to add additional content if your the last poster Trillionsin. I have condensed your last 4 consecutive posts into one and deleted the remaining 3.
  6. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

    Lol, I was in the process of editing my last post when you did that.. now I've lost all those updates and do not have time to type it all out again. Well, at least, here is what was in my clipboard.

    Sorry Leeky, will do better next time.
  7. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    With 4 consecutive posts in a row it was overkill and you left me with no choice really.
  8. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

    I usually edit my posts... I actually didnt know 4 posts would be overkill for anything... didnt know it mattered. Like I said, sorry.. I didnt know it was a big deal. :)

    Just trying to convey information the quickest I could! Lets make 4 more posts discussing it. ;)
  9. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Please read here:

    In brief....
    I appreciate you're trying to be helpful. So am I, by enforcing the rules all of us agree to when using this forum. On this occasion it has caught you out, but in fairness I'm just enforcing the rules you agree to when you post on this forum - its not a personal mission to cause grief.
  10. samsample

    samsample TS Rookie Topic Starter

    ...Thanks for the input. So how about it? Is it worth spending $130, or will the CPU and limitations of PCIe 1.0 make the extra power useless?
  11. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    I personally think you should see a fair bit of the performance of a HD5770. Even 75% of it will be a frankly massive improvement either way when compared with integrated graphics, so seriously worth considering.

    Besides which, it will work with any future builds, so in some respects your never going to be wasting money.
  12. samsample

    samsample TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well, I sprung for a 5770. Hope my CPU isn't too severe a bottleneck. Also, it's just my luck that the day I buy a graphics card is the day the new equivalent series gets released. It's okay though, as the 6770 is just a re-brand of the 5770 to make it appear newer.
  13. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,028   +2,558

    We've talked about "bottleneck" issues a few times, and the best explanation with respect to single core CPUs came from DivideByZero. Games, (or any other software), written for multicore CPUs will cause a processor bottleneck by virtue of the fact the a single core can't parallel process multiple threads, so they have to wait in cache.

    Some of the "bottleneck issues blamed on "too good" a video card, may in fact, be caused by this phenomenon. The video card simply ends up waiting for information from the CPU.

    Furthermore; the only "Core 2 Duo" CPUs this board accepts, are the very first issues such as the (original) "E6300". It will NOT support, the "Pentium Dual Core E6300" or any other 45nm process CPU.

    I don't think that PCI-E 1.0 will be an issue at all, there's too many other things that will affect performance more, but that's just a semi-educated guess.
  14. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

  15. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,028   +2,558

    Well, it probably would. But, It is much less advanced than the original C2D E6600 (>>"Conroe"<< core) which I mentioned in my post above.

    With that said, I suppose you could also find a Conroe C2D somewhere as well, which would be the far better holy grail hunt. At least far easier on the electric bill. Note the 130 watt TDP of the 960:

    In any event, here's one glowing "thumbs up" on the Pent D 960, from an anonymous Newegg shopper:
    It might behoove you to look up "Intel socket 423", so as you can fix the comparison in your mind..
  16. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

    Needs more computational power.
  17. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,028   +2,558

    With all that said, a Pent D 960, will outperform the P-4 that's in the computer now. But, doubtless the PSU would have to be upgraded to accommodate it, and the upgraded video card.

    Also, it might be a bit tricky to find a used 960 of known quality. If you know somebody that's got one laying around and is willing to part with it for a few bucks, give it a try. Other than that, I don't think I'd be crawling the web, searching for it on Ebay. Because of its price, I'm sure there are far less in circulation than lower models in the 8xx and 9xx Pent D product lines.

    But, I refuse to deal with Ebay anyway, so I'm the wrong person to ask about that approach.
  18. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

    Yup... pretty much not worth it, huh?
    Intel Pentium D 960 Presler 3.6GHz 2 x 2MB L2 Cache LGA 775 Dual-Core Processor
  19. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,028   +2,558

    Well, beauty is in the heart of the beholder. I wouldn't pay 80 bucks for a used Pent D, when I can walk into Microcenter and buy a brand new Core i3-540 for $100.00. That's just me.

    If I were the OP, I'd buy a better video card, and see what happens first. With the integrated graphics in the machine now, it won't take too much to see a huge improvement.

    That said, you still want to buy a good enough card to make it worthwhile putting in in the next computer you build, whether or not it"bottlenecks" in the current machine. In situations like this, sometimes the upgrader doesn't get all the miracle improvement he's been expecting from the card alone.

    The PSU in the computer is an off brand unit, of unknown quality. It would be better to replace that also, but in reality I don't know anything about "Apex" PSUs, so I won't comment pro or con.
  20. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

    I believe this is the best suggestion for OP. AYE AYE, Captain! Aye Aye!
  21. samsample

    samsample TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for your input, everybody. I've purchased an MSI R5770. It looks sexy, and doubtless will improve my current situation. I think that I may upgrade the whole rig when the ivy bridge line of Intels rolls along, as well as a motherboard with a standardized USB 3.0 controller.
    As for my PSU, it is indeed a non 1st tier brand, but received 5 eggs on newegg, which is good enough for me.
  22. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,028   +2,558

    Your PSU is rated "500 watts maximum". This is indeed a sort of a less than forthcoming way of applying ratings.

    Please read the specs on the page you linked, and note the +12 volt current rating (Amperes). Take note that only 20 amps are available on the 12 Volt rail. 20 amps is more in keeping with a PSU in the 350 watt range, not a true 500 watt supply.

    Here is an "equivalent" Antec PSU (EA-500) EA-500 Note that there are 2 12 volt rails, each with a capacity of 22 amps! While the supply wouldn't deliver 44 Amps constantly, (due to loads on the other rails), it is considerably more potent the your current supply. You could have this Antec for 50 bucks w/ free shipping until May 9.

    If you do indeed have the money for it, this would be a good investment.

    Integrated graphics draw very little power, and while the newer video cards aren't as power hungry as in olden days, they do like a decent power reservoir.

    Your current PSU does offer circuit protection, but if it is getting on in years, the capacitors "age out", and power output suffers. If you can afford to, buy the Antec EA-500 I linked, you probably should. A true 500 watt PSU will run most single video card systems, so you could also take this unit with you to a new machine.
  23. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,188   +470

    Yeah, you could do a lot better than 20 amps on the the 12V rail. Your power supply is not a good place to skimp.
  24. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

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