This is nice and all, but I built my rig in late 2005, early 2006, coming in at $2000...
Right before C2Duo came out I bought a P4 3.6ghz w/ HT, 2gb ddr2 667 ram, and an Asus p5n2d-sli mobo (non-deluxe). Quite good stuff for back then, haven't been able to afford an upgrade, now its poo-poo.
Started with a 7900GT video card, now running a 9800GTX (when it still cost $300) Can't upgrade CPU OR ram because mobo is too old.
Currently running Win 7 32bit Ultimate, wish I could upgrade. Living week to week, sigh. On a plus note, I upgraded my cooling fan to a Hyper 212 Evo and can now OC to 4.23 ghz :) Been through 2 PSU's, 2 DVD Drives, and some burnt out power cables (ouch!) still running!
I think this is an awesome angle and would love to see it with both sides of the GPU war. Could this be retested with something like an HD 7850?
Practically speaking, the GTX 260 / GTX 660 was a cleaner jump for me to test due to hardware on hand.
Here's what I can tell you based on relative performance between the GTX 260 and HD 4870 in 2008: I suspect the gap between the 4870 and 7950 will be slightly different than the GTX 260 - GTX 660 gap for several reasons.
The 4870 was faster than the GTX 260. The GTX 660 and HD 7950 are fairly competitive. That means that the gap between the 4870 and 7950 would probably be smaller -- except that the GTX 260 had significantly more RAM -- 896MB as opposed to 512MB. In 2008, this wasn't an advantage. By today, it could be.
The second factor means that upgrading would *improve* relative performance. So a 4870 - 7950 upgrade would give a larger advantage if the 512MB frame buffer was a limiting factor.
What an awesome approach to performance. I've always wondered how important CPU's were in today's age. It's not like we're getting external NIC's and sound cards to take the load off our single core CPU anymore. This brings a entirely new meaning to "Budget builds". I saw a core 2 duo, motherboard, and 6 GB of ram for sale on craigslist for $150 yesterday. Get yourself a $50 case and a $200 video card, and you're good to go.
Wow really liked the review. I would have liked to see with a dual core though since that's what my friend has (and he's thinking about upgrading his old rig to match my new one :P ).
The author's rig is still better than any other else, the real test for the remark is this: my five year old PC uses AMD athlon 64 X2 2.9 Ghz, 9500GT 512MB DDR2, 3GB DDR2 RAM, K9N Neo V3 mobo, 500GB samsung HDD, and windows 7 32-bit . not a good rig today compared five years ago.
I just bought an HD 7750 1GB a couple of week ago, hoping it would improve the frame rates for the latest games. I'm telling you, there's an improvement but not as much as I have expected. Probably the CPU bottlenecked the GPU's performance.
I will say that these benchmarks prove the GPU is the single best upgrade for a gamer, but I will say that an old CPU can still produce a wall. Bang for the buck it is the best, but I will say if you are willing take the time and sell some of your old components on eBay. When I upgraded my q6600 last year to a 2500k I sold my old board, ram, and CPU for about 200 reducing my upgrade cost significantly.
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