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Video Card Upgrade/Bottleknecking Issues

Ketchup92

Junior Member
Jul 7, 2012
2
0
0
Hi,

I'm considering an upgrade for my Dell XPS 630i as its starting to struggle to run the games I'd like to play (Shogun 2, Skyrim, The Witcher 2 etc.) above medium-ish settings. But basically I'm unsure what to upgrade, and was wondering whether there is a way to find out which part is bottlenecking performance, if indeed there is one particular part. Or whether someone could just advise me as to this point? My (limited on this issue) instincts point me to a video card upgrade. My budget is fairly limited and would probably only be interested in upgrading one part of the computer at this point. I've done a bit of researching and was thinking the Nvidia GTX 560 might not be a bad bet? Its just about within my budget...

Anyway, here are my specs atm:

CPU: Q9450 2.66GHz (4 cores)
Memory: 4GB
GPU: 9800 GT 1GB
Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050

EDIT: Here are the manufacturer specifications. http://support.dell.com/support/ed [...] /specs.htm

I see there's a 750W power supply which I think is enough to manage a GTX 560. Is there anything untoward shown by those specs? The card will fit in the case physically, I checked. Am just wondering about power connectors as for example this card (http://www.dabs.com/products/evga-geforce-gtx-560-850mhz-1gb-pci-express-hdmi-sc-7K80.html?q=gtx 560&src=16) mentions it requires "Two available 6-pin PCI-E power dongles". Will I have these? Can I check?

This is all obviously contingent on the idea that it is definitely my graphics card which should be upgraded....
 
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Oct 16, 1999
10,490
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You can find out for sure if it's your CPU or GPU holding you back more. Run the task manager in the background with the CPU usage graph along with something that has a GPU usage graph like GPU-Z (or AMD System Monitor that has both). Game for a bit and alt-tab back out, if any of your CPU cores were pegged at around 100% there's your bottleneck, if the GPU was pegged at 100% it's that.
 

toyota

Lifer
Apr 15, 2001
12,957
1
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You can find out for sure if it's your CPU or GPU holding you back more. Run the task manager in the background with the CPU usage graph along with something that has a GPU usage graph like GPU-Z (or AMD System Monitor that has both). Game for a bit and alt-tab back out, if any of your CPU cores were pegged at around 100% there's your bottleneck, if the GPU was pegged at 100% it's that.
what? so if his cpu does not get pegged at 100 that means there is no cpu bottleneck? lol, that is just silly.

op the quickest way to see if your cpu is limiting you is to just simply lower your resolution. if framerates remain about the same then yes your cpu is a limitation in that game.
 
Oct 16, 1999
10,490
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what? so if his cpu does not get pegged at 100 that means there is no cpu bottleneck? lol, that is just silly.

op the quickest way to see if your cpu is limiting you is to just simply lower your resolution. if framerates remain about the same then yes your cpu is a limitation in that game.
If none of your CPU cores are at 100% load something else is holding it back. If something else is holding it back that's the bottleneck. If the video card is under 100% load it's that. It's really that straight forward and simple.

OK thanks, it seems its the graphics card.

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=GX-165-MS&groupid=701&catid=1914&subcat=1810

Does that look like a decent option for a 560Ti? Or is it overkill, proportionate to my processor and screen resolution?
Personally I think it'd be overkill and would look at something in the range of a Radeon 6850 or 7770. It would be considerably less expensive, might not require new power supply, and I think buying an expensive 1GB card regardless of your CPU at this time is a bad investment.
 

toyota

Lifer
Apr 15, 2001
12,957
1
0
If none of your CPU cores are at 100% load something else is holding it back. If something else is holding it back that's the bottleneck. If the video card is under 100% load it's that. It's really that straight forward and simple.
sorry but a cpu core does not have to be at 100% to be a limitation. AGAIN the SIMPLEST way to check for cpu bottleneck is to just lower the resolution.
 

toyota

Lifer
Apr 15, 2001
12,957
1
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You really need to think about what you're arguing.
you just have no idea what you are talking about. I can give a couple clear examples that proves it. in GTA 4 there are parts of that game that will dip into the 40s and even 30s on max settings. if I lower my res at those parts my framerate stays the same clearly showing a cpu bottleneck. in those spots, not any of my cores are at 100% though. same thing in Fallout NV where I would dip into 50s and 40s in some spots that were cpu bound but again not any of my cores were at 100%. in both of those cases overclocking the cpu brought the framerates up. there are plenty more examples I saw on my E8500 too but those examples alone show what are claiming is not an accurate test.
 
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Majcric

Golden Member
May 3, 2011
1,345
21
81
I have to agree with Toyota. Grand theft auto 4 is a CPU hog. I didn't see any performance gains whatsoever switching from a GTX 560ti to a GTX 680.
 
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Oct 16, 1999
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If your CPU isn't at 100% it has room to do more. If something isn't using all the cycles your current CPU can muster throwing more cycles isn't going to help. This is just plain physics. Something else is holding it back. Video card. Memory bandwidth. PCIE bus. Poor coding. Borderlands has something weird going on with its dynamic shadows. It will dip into the 30's in places while maxing neither the CPU or GPU. Turn off dynamic shadows and CPU and GPU usage stay the same but fps hit the 60fps vsynch cap. And my testing in Fallout 3 has shown when my FPS dip it's usually with one or two cores hitting over 90%.

You also have to keep in mind the usage graph is updated every 1 second and the CPU could be hitting the ceiling multiple times in that second but backing off. So it doesn't have to show 100% exactly to be maxing but hitting around there, like I originally said.

Edit: This really isn't the place to have the debate. If you want to continue you're welcome to with someone else. I can't keep finding new ways to keep restating the same thing.

Edit 2: There is more info on using this method and a way to get in-game CPU & GPU utilization numbers in-game here:
http://www.overclock.net/t/1229915/how-to-cpu-and-gpu-usage-along-with-fps-in-game
 
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The_Golden_Man

Senior member
Apr 7, 2012
816
0
0
For that Q9450 I see no reason getting anything much better then a GTX 560ti. It will be a nice upgrade, and it will play most games on high settings in 1080dpi.
 

toyota

Lifer
Apr 15, 2001
12,957
1
0
If your CPU isn't at 100% it has room to do more. If something isn't using all the cycles your current CPU can muster throwing more cycles isn't going to help. This is just plain physics. Something else is holding it back. Video card. Memory bandwidth. PCIE bus. Poor coding. Borderlands has something weird going on with its dynamic shadows. It will dip into the 30's in places while maxing neither the CPU or GPU. Turn off dynamic shadows and CPU and GPU usage stay the same but fps hit the 60fps vsynch cap. And my testing in Fallout 3 has shown when my FPS dip it's usually with one or two cores hitting over 90%.

You also have to keep in mind the usage graph is updated every 1 second and the CPU could be hitting the ceiling multiple times in that second but backing off. So it doesn't have to show 100% exactly to be maxing but hitting around there, like I originally said.

Edit: This really isn't the place to have the debate. If you want to continue you're welcome to with someone else. I can't keep finding new ways to keep restating the same thing.

Edit 2: There is more info on using this method and a way to get in-game CPU & GPU utilization numbers in-game here:
http://www.overclock.net/t/1229915/how-to-cpu-and-gpu-usage-along-with-fps-in-game
that is a nice theory but its still not very accurate. a cpu can be the limitation long before its actually 100% utilized and that is a fact. I already proved that to you by giving you two clear examples of where my cpu was limiting a game but not even close to using 100% on any core. again lowering the resolution did nothing but ocing the cpu made the framerates go up in those spots yet no cpu core was ever close to 100% to begin with though. I have been testing cpu bottlenecks for many years so I know a cpu or even just one core does not have to be at 100% to be a limitation.
 
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Oct 16, 1999
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that is a nice theory but you are still wrong. a cpu can be the limitation long before its actually 100% utilized and that is a fact. I already proved that to you by giving you two clear examples of where my cpu was limiting a game but not even close to using 100% on any core. again lowering the resolution did nothing but ocing the cpu made the framerates go up in those spots yet no cpu core was ever close to 100% to begin with though. I have been testing cpu bottlenecks for many years so I know a cpu or even just one core does not have to be at 100% to be a limitation.
Even if that is the case it still doesn't negate the fact that if either a CPU core or GPU are at 100% that is for sure a bottleneck just as I said in my original post.
 

toyota

Lifer
Apr 15, 2001
12,957
1
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Even if that is the case it still doesn't negate the fact that if either a CPU core or GPU are at 100% that is for sure a bottleneck just as I said in my original post.
yes I agree that if the cpu is at 100% then of course its the limitation. the POINT is that if its not at 100% then you cant just conclude that the cpu is not a bottleneck. in other words its an almost useless test to check for a cpu limitation. lowering the res like I mentioned earlier will clearly show if the cpu is a limiting factor or not though.
 

Termie

Diamond Member
Aug 17, 2005
7,949
48
91
www.techbuyersguru.com
Back to the OP's question, yes, the 9450 should be sufficient to run a 560. But rather than mess around with needing a new PSU, just go for one of the GPUs that use about the same power as a 9800gt, such as the 7770 (it is almost identical in load power). It's not quite as fast as the 560, but it's close, and is basically guaranteed to work in your system without other modifications. While the 560 is about 2.2x as fast as the 9800gt, the 7770 is probably just under twice as fast.
 
Feb 19, 2009
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Don't underestimate C2Qs, I had a Q9400 that was enough to drive BF3 MP at 60 fps+, it was OC to 3.6ghz though.

The cheapest upgrade for you is just a cheap air cooler, ie. Coolermaster Hyper 212s (~$30), OC that CPU by 50%. That's plenty for gaming to put the limitation on the GPU instead, especially if you run with max graphics.
 

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