Hot Hardware recently had an article about upgrading an old computer with a new GPU:
New video card launches from AMD and NVIDIA are almost always reviewed on hardware less than 12 months old. That’s not an arbitrary decision — it helps reviewers make certain that GPU performance isn’t held back by older CPUs and can be particularly important when evaluating the impact of new interfaces or bus designs.
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.
I recently went through something similar when my EVGA GeForce 9800GTX KO died and I had to replace it. The GeForce GTX 660 Ti had just been released, and all reviews pointed to it being a great deal so I bought an EVGA SuperClocked GTX 660 Ti (which was the same price as the non-overclocked version at the time).
Here is my system apart from the video card:
- EVGA nForce 780i SLI motherboard
- Intel Core 2 Quad, 2.5 GHz
- Corsair Dominator 4GB DDR2 1066 MHz
- Hitachi Deskstar 1TB 7200 RPM
After I swapped the cards out, I was able to turn the settings up in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. But, I ran into a problem: the bottleneck shifted to the CPU. I had to back the settings down a little because all 4 cores of my CPU were maxing out at 100%. I hate to think what would happen if I ran a game like Crysis or Battlefield 3.
The results from the Hot Hardware article were a little more optimistic, but they do show great results. It seems that their old system was still a much more modern setup than mine, which I built back in 2008.