What should I get next - Unreal II is showing my computer's age.

Computers age very fast, and mine, which I thought was high-end, is showing it’s age. It is an AMD athlon 1000MHz with 256 MB RAM, and a geforce 3 (sound - SoundBlaster Live. 20GB HD).

In Unreal II if you walkin into a new room or look at a wall you haven’t looked at yet there is a considerable delay. But once something has been seen it is as smooth as a… er… smooth thing. I assume this is due to the loading of texture info into graphics memory. But it could be the loading of texture info into RAM, or the movement of (sigh) Texture info from one memory to the other (RAM <-> Graphics memory). The answer (to the question i the OP) is already apparent to me (get more ram) but that might not nesecarily be the answer that solves the problem. It might be that all the ram in the world won’t solve the delays, and that I need something else.
So what do I need? 512MB? (or even 1024MB?!) a better processor? A better graphics card? different motherboard? different settings? a hole in my pocket?

Oh, and Doom III, which I absolutely Will be getting (even if I have to kill), is going to demand something special. Would my system, with a stupendous amount of RAM, be sufficient?

First of all, go to www.pricewatch.com for a great source of computer parts.

Most of the reports I have read give the Geforce3 as the minimum playable card with Doom3 (640x480, low detail, 30fps average). A new video card would be a big help. A 128MB Radeon 9500 runs about ~$160 and would be a big improvement. Or the Radeon 9700 Pro is the fastest card right, and that runs just under $300. The GeforceFX will be out soon, but most reports about it have been disappointing, costing more than the Radeon 9700 Pro and with barely faster performance. The Radeon 9800 should be available in late March.

As for RAM, what type do you have, SDRAM or DDR? Since most motherboards can only use one type, if have the slower sdram you are stuck for future upgrades. Either way, RAM is cheap right now, you can get 512MB for less than ~$60.

As for your proccesor and motherboard, you can get Athlon 2100XP with a decent motherboard + heatsink and fans for around $130. Add in $60 for 512 MB RAM and you will have a much faster machine.

Are the Radeon cards Hardware Transform and Lighting (HW T&L)? (probably a silly question) I didn’t think they were better than the Nvidia cards, I thought Nvidia were the grand-masters of high-speed graphics cards (I am not saying you are wrong, just what I assumed)

I am not sure what my ram is. I bought my CPU Mobo and Ram all together a couple of months ago (brand new).

I’d imagine things are not quite as cheap here in the UK, but 60$ (40 pounds) sounds very cheap.
If I had say 512 MB of ram, what should I set the AGP apeture size to? 256? 400?

Have a look at this article from Tom’s Hardware it lists and benchmarks all of the major video cards released in the last few years. Very neat. You see how your current video card ranks compared to the latest models.

By the looks of it, the difference is nearly 100 frames per second, ouch :slight_smile:


You’ll find that the latest crop of ATI cards are out performing Nvidia’s products.

I’d love to find where you’re shopping. A 2100+ is going to cost at least around $90, which leaves $40 for the motherboard. There are probably motherboards that cost that amount, but I wouldn’t recommend them. And then you have to figure in the heatsink and fan…

Personally, I wouldn’t skimp on the motherboard. I’m probably going to buy a $120 soyo kt400 dragon ultra soon, and I feel suspicious about spending so little on a motherboard :slight_smile:

Btw, as far as upgrading your core (mb/cpu/ram) goes, newegg.com has a soyo dragon ultra kt400 board for $120, a 2100+ for $93, and cosair 2.5cl pc2700 ram, 512 megs, for $80, shipped. It’s about the best you can do for around $300 that I can see - at least that meets all my requirements.

At this time, ATI is the undisputed leader of 3D graphics on the PC. nVidia’s closest competition is the Geforce FX, which can’t beat the Radeon 9700 Pro, costs more ($100 more!), and has inferior image quality. For DoomIII, a videocard with at least Pixel Shader 1.4 (Radeon 8500 and higher, Geforce FX) will be the realistic minimum for playability. A DirectX9-compliant videocard (Radeon 9500 and higher, Geforce FX) will be even betterm but don’t expect any present-day or near future cards to offer fast performance in Doom3. We’re just not there yet.

A new CPU will offer benefits for you as well. An Abit NF7-S motherboard, fast Athlon XP, and 512MB of DDR333 would go a long way to enhancing stability, as well as offer high quality onboard audio.

You’re at the unfortunate point where a new video would be severely hampered by your CPU, but a CPU+mobo+RAM upgrade wouldn’t do a tremendous amount with your current card.

I’ll also note that if you’re into overclocking, the XP 2100+ (1733Mhz) for $93 from newegg.com that SenorBeef mentioned will overclock to between 2.2-2.6Ghz with high end air cooling, likely around 2.4-2.5Ghz if you jack up the voltage.

A little background about how ATI got on top: nVidia basically delayed the Geforce FX for six months, and when it did come out, it was loud, expensive, and didn’t perform that well. This led to them canceling the high end Geforce FX (The ti5800 Ultra) leaving only their midrange card (the ti5800) to compete with ATI’s Radeon 9700 Pro, which turned out to be a better card than nVidia anticipated. In about three weeks ATI’s new cards, the Radeon 9200, 9600, and 9800, will become available, and nVidia won’t have an updated card for awhile yet.


Really? Isn’t the 2100+ the highest palomino core they came out with? Usually you can’t go much higher than the core’s top retail speed is.

I do have a nice air cooling setup, though. I was at a LAN party over the past weekend, and put my power wires back together incorrectly and actually had no system intake or cpu fan (!) running for 2 days straight of hardcore gaming, with no instability or crash or anything… I only noticed it when the bios said I was running at 140f and I didn’t know why.

Are you sure the FX is out yet? I thought it wasn’t going to hit the shelves for a while.

First you need to find out if your motheroard can handle a faster proccesor, so can and some can’t.
I went and looked at my computer parts supplier web page and they show that AMD made the Althon 1GHZ in 3 different types, “slot A” 100 Mhz. Front Side Buss,“socket A” 100 Mhz. F.S.B. and “socket A” 133 Mhz. F.S.B.
Is your proccesor a “slot A” Althon or a “socket A (socket 462}” Althon?
Is your RAM PC 100,PC 133,PC 1600(DDR) or PC 2700(DDR)?
If the answer to the questions above is “slot A” for the proccesor and or PC 100/PC 1600(DDR) for the memory then you will need a new motherboard as all the newer AMD Althon and AlthonXP proccesors run on a 133 or 166 Mhz. F.S.B.
If its “socket A” and PC133 or PC2700(DDR) then you can most likely put a faster CPU on it(possible need to flash the BIOS to a newer version to support it).
That and a new Video card and you will be in business.

The AlthonXP 2100+ can be a Palomino core or a Thoroughbred A
If its a Thoroughbred A core the highest rated retail speed is XP 2400+ (2.0 Ghz).

The place I was looking at for prices was pricewatch; the motherboard combo I gave would be a fairly low-level motherboard, but still much faster than what ** Lobsang ** has right now. Pricewatch has people advirtising Athlon 2100XPs for ~$80. I also see KT333 chipset motherboards for as cheap as $60, but I don’t know the quality on those. You would probably want to spend at least a $100 dollars for a decent motherboard. Another point of mention, I see ** Lobsang ** is in the UK, and from what I have heard computer parts tend to be more expensive on your side of the pond, and I don’t know how many of the sellers at pricewatch ship overseas.

The XP 2100+ sold for $93 at newegg is, as noted in the description, a Thoroughbred-BA (BA to distinguish them from the Tbred-BJ, which as its name implies, sucks) processor. These are the best overclockers (apart from Barton), the same CPUs as the XP 2400/2600.

About the Geforce FX, there are two versions. The Ti5800 Ultra was to be nVidia’s premiere card, it has been cancelled and only enough to fill preorders have been shipped. The Ti5800 (note the lack of the Ultra) is slower, still expensive, and is shipping now. I’m somewhat glad, seeing as “nVidia Geforce FX Titanium 5800 Ultra” is a mouthfull.

Quick related question:

that 2100+ sold there says it’s a “thoroughbred revision B”, which I assume means “thoroughbred B” - which is a 333 mhz fsb cpu. But the fsb listed here is 266 mhz. What’s up with that? Is “thoroughbred revision B” just a revision of the A core, or something?

Also, where did you get the BA or BJ distinction? I don’t see that anywhere.