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John D.
17th Feb 2003, 01:41
I'm going to get a new system soon
to replace my PIII 550 piece of crap!
The guys at TTLG warned me about
getting a celeron processor, so
considering my limited budget
I've narrowed down my selection
between a 1.8 AMD athalon system
and a 2.0 Pentium 4. With all other
features equal, in terms of Thief gameplay
and for playing more resource
demanding games like Aliens vs
Preadator, (and T3 hopefully in the
near future) is there really much
difference in performance?

Oops, I just thought of another
question. One of the systems
is a Compaq and has a 64
meg graphics card called
intergrated graphics. I'm sure
this is mediocre compared to
the Nvidia Geforce 4
stuff I see floating around, but
is it good for thief?

Munin the Raven
17th Feb 2003, 03:00
In terms of processors, as long as it's the most recent generation of AMD or Pentium chip (not a Celeron), the differences between the two aren't going to matter much unless you plan on overclocking your PC (and with chips being as powerful as they are today, that's hardly necessary).

The video card and amount of RAM are far more important when it comes to gaming. "Integrated graphics" or "onboard video" are what you want to avoid if you plan on gaming. These terms refer to video chipsets built into motherboards and not proper video "cards". You'll want an actual video card with at least 64MB RAM and 4XAGP capability, like a GeForce 4 model. I would stay away from Compaq, too; their machines are not known for their gaming abilities.

John D.
17th Feb 2003, 03:58
Thanks for the info! The 1.8 Amd has some kind
of S3 card (not great but I've found them to be
thief friendly, at least it's replacable)
The 2gig P4 is the one with the integrated card so I'll
avoid it. I disagree about Compaq though, I've always
found them to work well with any of my games (it's over 5yrs old)
the only problem is that it wont show stars, but I think
that's due to the fact I have a Nvida Geforce 2 card on it.
Do the Geforce 4's have this problem?

Peter_Smith
17th Feb 2003, 07:57
Try to stay away from the GeForce MX series. They are dumbed down poor imitations of the real thing. The GeForce 4 MX is really a GeForce 2, as I understand it. GeForce 4 Ti 4200 is the way to go.

The problem with cheap Compaqs and most cheap off-the-shelf computers is that they give you a fast processor (so they get the wow factor) but a lousy video card and probably a bad sound card, too. The best bet is to get a custom job or customize the standard offering. You are far better off to sacrifice a little in CPU speed and get a good graphics card and sound card than the other way around.

I am not sure about stars. As I recall, both my GeForce 2's, a DDR and a Pro, show stars, but I don't have such a mission up now, so I can't check it easily. Refer me to a particular mission, and I will check it.

John D.
17th Feb 2003, 10:20
Can you see stars in Sabatoge in Soulforge?
I can see the moon, but no stars.

Peter_Smith
17th Feb 2003, 17:55
No, I cannot see starts in Soulforge. At the exit, I presume. Does anybody else see stars there, and, if so, what video card to you have? If you do see the stars, that is interesting. What else might we be missing? I see fog OK.

Mr. Perfect
19th Feb 2003, 21:43
See what kind of ram it's using. I doubt that anyone's trying to hock SDRAM machines these days, but you want DDR or RDRAM. Doesn't matter which.

Another thing, make sure the HD runs at 7,200 RPM not 5,400 RPM. The faster harddrive will help significantly with program load times. I don't know what they're doing nowadays, but as of this last summer HP and Compaq used 5,400 RPM drives with 7,200 RPM drives as a "upgrade option".

Itegrated video cards are evil! Not only do they use the main ram(a 64mb integrated card uses 64 megs fo your main ram, so if you had 256 it would be 64 for the video, and 192 for the proccesor), but it's also hard to disable them when you buy a new card.

Look for a flat screen monitor(not neccicarily flat panel). The'yre regular CRT monitors but with flat glass. Much nicer. Makes the old ones look like fish eye lenses. :)

And as a parting note, get a subwoofer. Even a little 30 watt sub makes all the difference. :cool:

[edit]I hesitate to mention this, since some people take this the wrong way, but be aware that AMD uses speed ratings for their proccesors. If you look at the 1800+ you will see that it runs at 1.53GHz. However, the Athlon XP is a much more efficent proccesor then the Pentium 4, and that 1.53GHz Athlon does about the same amount of work as a 1.8GHz Pentium 4(hence the name of 1800+). So the 1800+ is quite comparable to the 2.0GHz P4. Personally, I use a Athlon. :)

Munin the Raven
19th Feb 2003, 21:53
Those are very good additional points Mr. Perfect.

A flat screen CRT monitor doesn't cost much more than a normal one (and still nowhere near the cost of an LCD monitor) and it does make a big difference. Had I known that when I bought my current game system I would have definitely made sure it had one.

As for the stars, I honestly haven't tried out Soulforge with my GeForce4.

Caradavin1
20th Feb 2003, 07:30
What's the downside to having a celeron??

Just wonderin'

bravus
20th Feb 2003, 17:28
The Celeron (and Duron - I think, but am not sure enough to make a big statement) processors are mainly cheaper than the Pentium and Athlon<sup>1</sup> because they have less cache memory on the processor itself. Cache makes a machine faster because the processor can read and write to that memory much faster than it can to RAM. For business machines, the Celeron and Duron make sense, because that real top speed stuff is much more useful for high-end games. So for gamers, the P4/Athlon end of the spectrum is the place to be (and in general, more L1 and L2 cache is better).

In terms of the speed ratings of AMD processors, if you meant an Athlon 1800+, then it will probably be about the speed of a Pentium4 1.8 GHz, so slightly but not dramatically slower than the P4 2.0 GHz. If you meant an AMD that's actually clocked at 1.8 GHz, then it probably has a speed rating around 2100+ (?), and would be faster<sup>2</sup> than the P4.

Either would be fine for right now, but is already well behind the cutting edge, so probably the most important component in your new system is a motherboard that uses fast RAM (DDR or RD, as Mr Perfect said<sup>3</sup>), and has a fast Front Side Bus (FSB) so as to be upgradeable with a new processor later on.

Hope this stuff is helpful - as a number of people have said, avoid integrated video like the plague for gaming, and avoid GeForce MX cards. Either a GeForce 4 Ti or a high-end ATI video card would be great.

Bravus


<hr>
<ol><li>please note, it is neither spelled nor pronounced 'Athalon' - two syllables please!
<li>the speed rating thing is somewhat controversial, and the closeness/comparability with the relevant Pentium varies somewhat across the range, but the variability on particular tasks is quite wide anyway. There are great processor comparisons available on the web at sites like Tom's Hardware and Anandtech - it's worth reading up a bit
<li>But I find, at least here in Canada, that *lots* of people at the low end of price are still flogging off fast processors with slow 133 MHz SDRAM</ol>

Mr. Perfect
20th Feb 2003, 18:34
Thanks. Just listing things I'd look for in a system of my own. :)

A 1.8GHz Athlon would be a 2200+. That'd be pretty sweet. :cool:

Caradavin1
20th Feb 2003, 22:05
*thud*

Mr. Perfect
21st Feb 2003, 00:50
I think the footnotes did him in.

TRoosevelt_26
26th Feb 2003, 20:39
Originally posted by Peter Smith
No, I cannot see starts in Soulforge. At the exit, I presume. Does anybody else see stars there, and, if so, what video card to you have? If you do see the stars, that is interesting. What else might we be missing? I see fog OK.

I'm using a 16 MB ATI Rage Pro and I see stars fine. :confused:

John D.
3rd Mar 2003, 10:40
Hi guys! Just wanted to check back and let you know
I have my new system now, thanks for all of the great
info!

It has:

2200 Amd Athlon XP processor
512 megs of DDR ram
100 Gig hard drive (sure beats the 9 gig one I had!:D )
7200 rpm hard drive (thanks for the warning
about that Mr. Perfect, the Compaq I was looking
at was 5,400!:eek: )
original card was 32 meg savage crap,
but I replaced it with an Nvidia 64 meg card,
now it works great!:)

I just played through RTCW with this thing, and
there were absolutley no slowdowns!
T2 works great!:cool:

bravus
3rd Mar 2003, 14:40
Excellent, John - glad we were of some help, and thanks for dropping back to let us know the outcome: it's always nice to hear. Now I just need to earn enough to buy a system like that for myself. ;)

Bravus