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Some thoughts about gaming on older hardware. You don't need an upgrade (maybe)

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Vishera

Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2013
Just fyi this thread is more for newcomers to the forums, the computer community, and PC gaming. Veterans, feel free to read but you might find yourselves going "Well duh, of course that's how it works".

I was goofing around online the past hour or two and reading about the latest GPU's, Vega info, et cetera and I stumbled upon a comparison of the 3GB and 6GB variants of the 1060. I was curious, watched the video. The man in the video brought up an interesting point:

A majority of people playing games today, at this very moment, have Maxwell or Kepler GPU's or older. And these same people running these cards are either on Ivy Bridge/Sandy Bridge or for AMD, Bulldozer/Piledriver, MAYBE Haswell at the latest. This means their computers are anywhere from 3 to 6 years old, and their graphics cards are 2 or more. If I grabbed a 680 or a 780 today and booted up Witcher 3 at 1080p, it'd still run at medium to high detail. Why? Because if it didn't it wouldn't sell. Lemme explain.

Battlefield 1 is coming out this month. The company selling it is going to want roughly 50 million copies sold to make up for the cost of producing it. But according to the Steam hardware survey, most people fit into the demographic described above. Well, that's a bit of a problem. If the game ends up having been designed for Maxwell and Pascal and people are on 700 and 600 series GPUs they can't play this game! And thus, that 50 million copies goal becomes very hard to reach. The solution?

They design the games to run on hardware up to 5 years old.

Take AwesomeSauce Kyle's video on Sandy Bridge for example (he now goes by BitWit). In his video he demonstrated that Sandy Bridge is still a more than adequate CPU platform and that building a system with an i5-2xxx or i7-2xxx and an LGA1155 board is a great idea on a budget. The reason it still works so well does indeed have to do with the fact that Intel designs their chips to last, and computer hardware slowed down around the time Sandy came out, but it also has to do with the fact that game designers make their games so-called "backwards compatible" with older hardware so that the people who can't afford a whole new system every 2 or 3 years still have the ability to play newer games.

Now don't get me wrong, you're not going to be maxing out games at ultra detail with 1440p resoultion. But if you stick with 1080p, or simply upgrade your GPU to a 980, 980ti, 1060 6GB, 1070, or 1080, then 1440p isn't that hard to achieve. And instead of spending tons of money on a new computer, you either A) Didn't need to upgrade at all or B) Only upgraded the GPU for half to one-third of the cost of a whole new gaming system.

The whole point of this thread is to let newcomers know that if they have a 5 year old system, chances are you only need a GPU upgrade, not a whole new system (unless you have an i3, Pentium, or Celeron CPU, in which case you also need a CPU upgrade) and also to bury the myth that if you don't upgrade EVERY TWO OR THREE YEARS you won't be able to keep up with games and will quickly be left behind. When you build your new PC, don't overspend because you're trying to "beat the three year limit" or whatever people call it these days. Don't buy a Titan because you think it'll last you longer and save money in the long run. And before you re-build, make sure you REALLY need to, before you unnecessarily waste money. Hope this helps at least a few people. Stay awesome guys :D
 

Jeff G

Member
Joined
May 22, 2016
In his video he demonstrated that Sandy Bridge is still a more than adequate CPU platform and that building a system with an i5-2xxx or i7-2xxx and an LGA1155 board is a great idea on a budget. The reason it still works so well does indeed have to do with the fact that Intel designs their chips to last, and computer hardware slowed down around the time Sandy came out, but it also has to do with the fact that game designers make their games so-called "backwards compatible" with older hardware so that the people who can't afford a whole new system every 2 or 3 years still have the ability to play newer games.

So a question would be, if you took a SB i7 compared to a Skylake i5 (say 2600k vs 6600k) which one would be the winner? Does the older i7 still hang with the newer i5, is it better or worse? With the price of the 6600k, I would wonder if the older i7 is a better buy for someone building a new system?
If you have a 2600k system already, it makes sense to look at keeping it and putting your money towards better upgrades but on a new build would it still be feasible?
 

ATMINSIDE

Sim Racing Aficionado Co-Owner
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
It all depends on what game, what resolution, and what settings you're trying to play at.
 

Jeff G

Member
Joined
May 22, 2016
It all depends on what game, what resolution, and what settings you're trying to play at.

Since Witcher 3 and Battlefield 1 were used in the original post, let's say we used those two games for the comparison.
Running both at 1080p with both at the same detail level (medium to high, as was the original example).
Does either have an advantage over the other, when compared apples-to-apples with the same game/resolution/detail level?
Also as most computers aren't built for 100% gaming, does the newer i5 have any advantage/disadvantage to the older i7 in other applications like video editing, media streaming, etc?
Since I'm currently piecing together a budget build, I'm genuinely curious to know if I should shop around for a i7 Sandy setup vs a i5 Skylake setup.
 

ATMINSIDE

Sim Racing Aficionado Co-Owner
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Since Witcher 3 and Battlefield 1 were used in the original post, let's say we used those two games for the comparison.
Running both at 1080p with both at the same detail level (medium to high, as was the original example).
Does either have an advantage over the other, when compared apples-to-apples with the same game/resolution/detail level?
Also as most computers aren't built for 100% gaming, does the newer i5 have any advantage/disadvantage to the older i7 in other applications like video editing, media streaming, etc?
Since I'm currently piecing together a budget build, I'm genuinely curious to know if I should shop around for a i7 Sandy setup vs a i5 Skylake setup.

It all depends on how the game utilizes multiple cores. If it can take advantage of more than four threads then HyperThreading will help.
That said, there are reviews out there comparing game performance for CPU's and GPU's if you just look. Anything for Battlefield 1, until release, is all speculation or pre-release.
http://www.techspot.com/review/1006-the-witcher-3-benchmarks/page5.html

Depending what software is used for things like video editing, etc there are advantages for both.
Some don't utilize newer instruction sets, some do. Some don't use more than four cores, some do. Some utilize GPU computation, some don't.
There's no "one-size-fits-all" answer to "which CPU is better".
 
OP
Vishera

Vishera

Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2013
Since Witcher 3 and Battlefield 1 were used in the original post, let's say we used those two games for the comparison.
Running both at 1080p with both at the same detail level (medium to high, as was the original example).
Does either have an advantage over the other, when compared apples-to-apples with the same game/resolution/detail level?
Also as most computers aren't built for 100% gaming, does the newer i5 have any advantage/disadvantage to the older i7 in other applications like video editing, media streaming, etc?
Since I'm currently piecing together a budget build, I'm genuinely curious to know if I should shop around for a i7 Sandy setup vs a i5 Skylake setup.

This depends on whether or not you can find one for a good price. Right now on eBay there are tons of pre-built Dell and HP Sandy computers for $100-$150. That includes mobo, RAM, and an i5-2400. Swap out the PSU, put the parts in an aftermarket case, and put a GPU in there and BAM! You have a new PC, and even better, you can upgrade to Ivy at some point. Just gotta find a good price.
 

DeadSmiley

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2001
I have had these very same thoughts. This is why I opted for a scrapyard build:

i7-3770k
16GB RAM (2x8)
Sabertooth Z77 mobo
500GB SSD
1TB HDD
Blu-Ray
GTX 690 (bought here on the classifieds)
750w+ PSU

I have everything but the case and PSU. The bulk of it I got in a combo deal off ebay. It has a 550w PSU but that is too small for this system.

That being said, I found this youtube video VERY interesting. All things being equal, the Skylake CPU provides the smoothest game play with the smallest frame time.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDo-j00vUtw
 

Tír na nÓg

Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2015
Most games are GPU bounds.

Intel SB's (6 years old) are up to 30% faster per clock than piledriver (4 years old).

A 4.6 GHz 2500K is on par with a stock 6600K , ruling out new platform techs of course (PCIe3, M2, DDR4...).

A GTX1060 or a RX480 perform the same as a 780ti or a GTX 980 or a 290/290x, cards very capable of 1080p/1440p gaming.

And it depends on the game played...

Even my 5 years old OC'ed 7970 can still most games on very high to ultra [email protected] in the 50+ FPS (Assetto Corsa, Project CArs, CODBO3, BF4, BF HL, Final Fantasy V ;) ... ) as soon as I reduce AA to FXAA or 2x MSSA.

Being a casual gamer, I could wait a year before upgrading. And the GPU are the components that evolve the fastest.

So, to sum it up, I agree with you Vishera: if you are on a budget, grab a 5 years old Intel CPU/MoBo/RAM combo, a $80 250GB SSD, a $50 case and a $50 500W quality PSU, altogether with a new RX 480 or GTX 1060, and you'll have a perfectly decent gaming rig for 1080p/1440p for around $500 (keep in mind the original cost of the CPU/MoBo/RAM only was in the $500+ range 4 years ago...).
 

EarthDog

Gulper Nozzle Co-Owner
Joined
Dec 15, 2008
Location
Buckeyes!
Sure, you can game with a 3 gen+ older card and turn down the settings to make it work. In this scenario though, you are looking at it like a console... so why would I bother with a PC when it looks no better than my XB360/1/PS3/4??? You also can game on a generations old CPU, however, you are putting a glass ceiling on your performance in many titles. For some, this is a necessity because they do not/cannot afford the latest and greatest (or even a gen behind). But make no mistake about it, you are putting a glass ceiling on things in SOME titles (more as time goes on) with using an older CPU.

So, yes, sure, you stated the obvious here and that one can play games with older equipment. But it simply comes down to, as ATM already said), the title, settings, and resolution you are playing at. There isn't really an accurate enough blanket statement to cover it as there are too many exceptions out there. In the end, while you are technically correct, more needs to be/should have been said about the ever present bottlenecks with using SB on down in many titles. Please have a look at techspot reviews, for example: http://www.techspot.com/review/1180-overwatch-benchmarks/page5.html

Now, that is a DRAMATIC look and certainly not indicative of many titles at all (particularly because it shows a HUGE increase with the number of threads on Intel), but it proves a point of the glass ceiling. Look at he 4690K and 2500K. It may be little or none in some titles, can be a lot in others. Pairing up anything older than SB with a 1070 or greater can potentially put handcuffs on the card and performance.
 

Tír na nÓg

Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2015
Sure, you can game with a 3 gen+ older card and turn down the settings to make it work. In this scenario though, you are looking at it like a console... so why would I bother with a PC when it looks no better than my XB360/1/PS3/4???

More or less, for all the mentionned games: Anti aliasing 2x instead of 4x, shadows and reflections to very high instead of ultra, everything else on max and I hit 70+ fps [email protected]

I think that with these settings, it is still much better than a console, and with 60FPS ... I am on the market for a new GPU though! ;)
 

EarthDog

Gulper Nozzle Co-Owner
Joined
Dec 15, 2008
Location
Buckeyes!
You have DUAL old gen GPUs (which in itself brings more complexity and potential issues for the user)... clearly a different story here than what the OP was saying (I don't think he mentioned dual cards??).
 

Tír na nÓg

Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2015
You have DUAL old gen GPUs (which in itself brings more complexity and potential issues for the user)... clearly a different story here than what the OP was saying (I don't think he mentioned dual cards??).

No, no, Dual-X is the model ;)

JUst the card running with a 30% overclock: it matches a 290(x)@stock.
 

DeadSmiley

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2001
Sure, you can game with a 3 gen+ older card and turn down the settings to make it work. In this scenario though, you are looking at it like a console... so why would I bother with a PC when it looks no better than my XB360/1/PS3/4??? You also can game on a generations old CPU, however, you are putting a glass ceiling on your performance in many titles. For some, this is a necessity because they do not/cannot afford the latest and greatest (or even a gen behind). But make no mistake about it, you are putting a glass ceiling on things in SOME titles (more as time goes on) with using an older CPU.

So, yes, sure, you stated the obvious here and that one can play games with older equipment. But it simply comes down to, as ATM already said), the title, settings, and resolution you are playing at. There isn't really an accurate enough blanket statement to cover it as there are too many exceptions out there. In the end, while you are technically correct, more needs to be/should have been said about the ever present bottlenecks with using SB on down in many titles. Please have a look at techspot reviews, for example: http://www.techspot.com/review/1180-overwatch-benchmarks/page5.html

Now, that is a DRAMATIC look and certainly not indicative of many titles at all (particularly because it shows a HUGE increase with the number of threads on Intel), but it proves a point of the glass ceiling. Look at he 4690K and 2500K. It may be little or none in some titles, can be a lot in others. Pairing up anything older than SB with a 1070 or greater can potentially put handcuffs on the card and performance.

I looked at that link. They only figure minimum fps and don't look at frame time. Any dip in frame time will be seen as the display not being smooth. See my linked Youtube video above and watch that graph on the right. To get the smoothest game play nothing beats a 6700k. I just didn't want to spend the money and can accept the deficiencies of what I have bought. :D
 

EarthDog

Gulper Nozzle Co-Owner
Joined
Dec 15, 2008
Location
Buckeyes!
You haven't bought anything in years bud looking at that sig! :p

I have seen that video, and it does an ok job at explaining things with the lower frame times. However, doesn't cover some important ways to 'read' that data. You'LL notice that for all processors, their frametimes are 20ms or below for the vast majority of the time. Also, one would be hard pressed to find apparent smoothness between the processors with such minimal FT differences between them.
 

DeadSmiley

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2001
You haven't bought anything in years bud looking at that sig! :p

This is TRUE! (said in my best Rocket voice)

The sig was old. I have been into laptops the last few years. Updated it just for you!

I have seen that video, and it does an ok job at explaining things with the lower frame times. However, doesn't cover some important ways to 'read' that data. You'LL notice that for all processors, their frametimes are 20ms or below for the vast majority of the time. Also, one would be hard pressed to find apparent smoothness between the processors with such minimal FT differences between them.

That is ALSO true! (again, said in my best Rocket voice)

I am gaming on an Alienware M15x with a 940XM running at 3.6GHz along with a Quadro M4000M (think 970M) and it works pretty well for MechWarrior Online on Medium settings. I am pretty sure my scrapyard build will serve me very well for the money I have spent. Which is going to be around the $650 mark when I am done. :D
(until I add water for the CPU and possibly the GPU, already have the waterblock for the GPU)
 
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bob4933

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2014
The past few years, the focus on engines (and even hardware) has been purely on power efficiency, not over all power. This allows older, more inefficient hardware to remain more relevant than it has in the past.

Running the absolute best, most premium hardware no longer requires 1000+w power supplies. 6700k and 2x 1080's is what, ~450w? Add in 50% for overclocking and peripherals, we're lookin at 625w for an sli monster of a gaming pc. Thats ABSURD (in a good way).

"Upgrades" nowadays are mostly a first world problem. Someone rocking a 3770k and a radeon 7970 is still in a good place for 1080p gaming. One of the most graphically demanding games to this date is a game from 2013! (Crysis 3). So even though the raw power requirements are now vastly different, the paradigm that "new is best" hasn't changed.




Obviously most of us know all this, and following op's example, is merely rhetoric for those that arent necessarily "in the know".
 

DeadSmiley

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2001
My son built his first computer last year. He started out with 6700k, 32GB RAM, GTX 970 and a 500GB SSD. He took out 16GB and used it in a friend's PC. He sold the 970 and got a GTX 760 for $100. Still plays games very well! Only problem is now his SDD is out of space. He will be getting a 1 or 2 TB SSD next. I figure if he is happy gaming on a GTX 760 then the GTX 690 should be just fine!