Improve performance for games on older system

Intel D915pbl desktop board
May 19, 2010 at 21:19:08
Specs: Windows Vista, P4 3.2/2GB/533
Hi Everybody, I have the problem to have some games up and running in expected quality, I am quite sure that the problem is the CPU.

Can you please check following configuration and answer questions below?

My System:
Motherboard D915PBL Intel
PCIe x16
Chipset Intel 915

CPU : Pentium 4 540 @ 3.37 GHz (OC 3.2 GHz),LGA775
L2 1MB/FSB 800MHz/90nm/HT

RAM : (512 MB + 512 MB)Dual Channel + 1GB at 548 MHz (533 OC)

Graphics NVIDIA 8800 GT 512 MB + 768 MB shared

Everything in Vista set on performance including resolution, no residental shields from antivirus software are enabled, system is clean installation, virus free.

My questions:
1) Can I overclock the system somehow? Since it's Intel based I don't think there could be many opps to really overclock except burn-in in bios (which gives up to 5% only)

2) If I will get Pentium 4 Extreme (840) with 2 MB L2 cache at 3.2 GHz again, can I expect improvement high/medium/low/none?

3) With current system, does my 8800 GT runs at maximum performance or is it limited by low-end processor?

4) Does it make sense to get additional RAM? In idle status I have 1.5 GB free, and if I want to run Unreal Tournament 3 I have still some 700 - 900 MB free without any hard-drive swapping

5) For those who are gamers: Is it possible that DOOM 3 is not smooth at all on medium settings? And what about Unreal Tournament 3? I get like 10 - 25 FPS and it doesn't seem to be too much different when I enable most of the options for better details.

Guys, thanks for the answers in advance, I know that computer is nothing shiny but I would like to make it running as I am investing lot of money to my primary machine, this one is for LAN actions at home and I would like to squeeze maximum from that.

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May 19, 2010 at 23:26:41
1) 3.37GHz is probably the best you can do on that Intel board.

2) The PEE 840 is a dual-core CPU. The i915 chipset will only take single-core P4s.

3) Yes, the 8800GT is definitely being held back by the processor.

4) Sounds like you have more than enough RAM.

5) The P4 was never a good gaming chip, but it shouldn't be that slow, especially with Doom III. My guess is that the CPU is getting too hot and throttling. The Intel heatsink that came with those P4 5xx chips were barely large enough to keep the CPU cool, even at non-overclocked speeds. Try running the CPU at 3.2GHz...does it perform any better? Also check the CPU temperature.

Super PIII | Unlocked ES Tualatin @ 1.8GHz (150x12, 1.65v), 512K L2
2GB PC2700 | 500GB | Radeon x1950Pro | Apollo Pro 266T | Win7 Pro

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May 20, 2010 at 01:17:49
Hi jackbomb, thanks a lot for your quick advice! I have checked the temperature and it's seems that it is really overheating I also noticed that side fan which is pulling air into open space between processor fan and back part of the GPU (the fan is on opposite side) is out of order what had to happen recently. I believe that cpu fan is pulling even more hot air into the card making it overheated also. I started first with underclocking everthing by 2%, with 3.1 GHz anyway I don't feel any change as CPU has still like 71°C and GPU like 63°C which I really don't like to see. Remote temperature and internal temp are also have problems, balancing on the edge o 50°C sometimes returning to 48, 49 which is supposed to be ok according to speedfan. Do you have any suggestion what cooling system I should buy to get to order? Thanks!

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May 20, 2010 at 02:59:36
Hi jackbomb, I have made deep cleaning and found out that there was like 0,3 cm of dust on the passive cooling which prevented to vent out heat properly and making lot of noise. I have started with inspection of this computer recently, lessons learned, first I will always look on cooling and dust etc. Right now CPU on 80% usage is at 63 and unreal tournament runs on very high details at 35 - 40 frames. Definitely there is no need to purchase Pentium IV Extreme as it is hard to come by and additional money I would rather put to replacement for that fan which is not working. Also I made a "tweak" removing the side plates from the computer case to stabilize inner temperature on 46 degrees. I am quite sure that upgrade of secondary fan will give me all I need. Thanks for your notice about overheating, I feel bit like dumb now that I shouldn't think the same way as you did.

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