iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail

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Graphics Card + Processor

Choosing the right solution within $300.

June 11, 2008



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A month ago we published test results of two main (from the point of view of their effect on performance) PC components: a graphics card and a CPU. Our objective was to illustrate contributions of a processor and a graphics card into the overall performance. In particular, what would happen, if a user underestimates the role of a graphics card, as often happens in ready configurations.

Our readers displayed keen interest in this topic. As the first part did not include all components of interest, we carried on our tests for the next part of this article. As a result, we've added four processors, two graphics cards, so the number of tested combinations reached 56. Later on we are going to promptly add new products (probably removing outdated models) and expand our set of benchmarks. Besides, we'll perform similar tests with graphics card on AMD GPUs. So, we go on analyzing the problem of spending a limited budget to obtain maximum performance in typical home tasks, the most resource-intensive being usually games.

Configuration and Software

Graphics cards:

  • GeForce 8400 GS 256 MB - $48
  • GeForce 8500 GT 512 MB - $73
  • GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB - $96
  • GeForce 8600 GTS 256 MB - $122
  • GeForce 9600 GT 512 MB - $185
  • GeForce 8800 GT 256 MB - $190

CPUs:

  • Athlon 64 X2 4000+ (2.1 GHz, 2 x 512 KB L2 Cache, HT2000) - $59
  • Athlon 64 X2 6000+ (3.0 GHz, 2 x 1 MB L2 Cache, HT2000) - $159
  • Pentium E2160 (1.8 GHz, 1 MB L2 Cache, FSB800) - $69
  • Core 2 Duo E4500 (2.2 GHz, 2 MB L2 Cache, FSB800) - $127
  • Core 2 Duo E6300 (1.86 GHz, 4 MB L2 Cache, FSB1066) - $164
  • Core 2 Duo E6750 (2.66 GHz, 4 MB L2 Cache, FSB1333) - $201
  • Core 2 Duo E8200 (2.66 GHz, 6 MB L2 Cache, FSB1333) - $204
  • Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2.4 GHz, 2 x 4 MB L2 Cache, FSB1066 - $237

To finalize the budget, we've also taken into account costs of components that do not affect test results directly:

  • Motherboard: ASUS P5K-V on Intel G33 chipset for Pentium/Core 2 processors - $131
  • Motherboard: ASUS M2N-VM DVI on NVIDIA GeForce 7050 chipset for Athlon processors - $65
  • Memory: 2 x 1 GB DDR2-800 SDRAM Hynix CL5 - $60
  • HDD: 250 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 SATA, 7200 rpm - $70
  • DVD-RW drive - $30
  • PC case with a 450-W PSU - $60
  • Card reader - $10

Software:

  • Windows Vista Ultimate (32 bit), NVIDIA Forceware 169.21 and 174.74, Intel 8.3.1.1009
  • PCMark Vantage (default settings)
  • 3DMark 06 (1280x1024, 4xAA, 8xAF)
  • Cinebench R10 (default settings)
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 1.003 (GSC Game World/THQ) - DirectX 9.0, No AA, 16x AF, demo. You should unpack the files into the game folder with savegames (Documents and settings). When the game starts up, load ixbt3, open the console and start the demo: demo_play ixbt3. Test settings - maximum (dynamic lights are enabled).
  • Company Of Heroes (Relic Entertainment/THQ) - DirectX 9.0, shaders 2.0, 4x AA, 16x AF, startup batch file. When you start the game, you should go to options, choose the graphics section, and press the test button. Tests were run with maximum quality.
  • Call Of Juarez (Techland/Ubisoft) - DirectX 10, shaders 3.0 (HDR), No AA, No AF, you can download the benchmark here
  • F.E.A.R. Multiplayer (Monolith/Sierra) - DirectX 9.0, 4x AA, 16x AF, multitexturing, maximum test settings, Soft shadows

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