The downside of this policy is that it leaves a gap in product coverage. Gamers with older systems often miss out on whether or not a new graphics card will be a meaningful upgrade for aging systems. That's particularly important as the speed of the desktop replacement cycle has slowed.
Here, we're going to compare the performance impact of upgrading the graphics card on an older system that doesn't have access to any of the substantial performance gains Intel introduced with Nehalem in late 2008. No integrated memory controller, 1600MHz DDR3, Hyper-Threading, or QPI.
Our upgrade card of choice is an EVGA GeForce GTX 660 SuperClocked card with 2GB of RAM, a 192-bit memory bus, and a core clock of 1046MHz / 1111MHz boost.
EVGA's GeForce GTX 660 SuperClocked - Our test vehicle
This card currently retails for $229 at NewEgg ($219 with rebate), which is in the so-called "sweet spot" of the GPU market. We figured the EVGA GeForce GTX 660 SuperClocked was exactly the type of mid-level graphics card someone trying to breathe new life into an aging desktop PC would consider.
So how much of an improvement could a buyer expect? Let's find out...