How to determine which component will cause a bottleneck?

I have a system with a Pentium 4 at 2.4 Ghz, and I'm assuming that the P4 would be the component to cause a bottleneck.  I've maxed out the RAM at 2 GiB (it's DDR 533 Mhz I believe). Anyways, I'm trying to get it to do some (moderate) 3D gaming.  So I'm wondering, if I were to buy an AGP ATI graphics card, would a card with only 120 stream processors result in a bottleneck with the GPU instead of the CPU?  Or is the difference between 120 and 320 stream processors negligible (assuming clock speeds and VRAM are equal)?  I'm not expecting to run Crysis on this rig, but I'd like it to be able to handle most modern games on low settings at least.  Any input is appreciated.

sort by: active | newest | oldest
lemonie7 years ago
What GPU does it have at the moment?

RelaxedSoup (author)  lemonie7 years ago
Onboard video, no 3D acceleration whatsoever.
Fitting a card is definitely going to improve things then. Games will tend to use a GPU where they can.

orksecurity7 years ago
Depends on the specific application, I think -- how much of the computation is offloaded to the graphic card vs. occurring in the general-purpose CPU, how intensive the graphics are vs. how complicated the game logic is, what resolution you're trying to run at, how jerky you're willing to have the motion become...

I think I'd check the suggested-minimum-requirements on the game packaging and see what the publisher recommends.

But I've so far avoided games that need ungodly amounts of graphics support, so my idea of what's acceptable minimum may not match yours.
RelaxedSoup (author)  orksecurity7 years ago
Pretty much all of the games that I'm intending to play require a 2.4 Ghz single core or higher... which makes me a little nervous.  In the past, I've been able to ignore the minimum requirements and get away with it, but I'm a little hesitant about doing that now that I'm actually spending money on components.  I'd be ok with modern titles running at around 20 FPS with all of the settings turned down... whether or not that actually happens in the true question here.  Newegg does have a good return policy :).