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I'm new here (basically came in from Google). I built a computer a few years ago. It runs most games fine. I've been wanting better performance though and the ability to play newer games with less hangups. My video cards are lower-end models and I was thinking of starting with those, but my friend said to try to see if the bottleneck is somewhere else before doing that.

OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 7 (Windows 2.6.1.7600)
CPU TYPE: AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 4400
CPU SPEED: 2.33 GHz
SYSTEM MEMORY: 3 GB
VIDEO CARD MODEL: ATI Radeon HD 4550 (I have 2 of these, one for each monitor... not Crossfired)
VIDEO CARD MEMORY: 2.24 GB (1GB each)
VIDEO CARD DRIVER: aticfx32.dll
PRIMARY DISPLAY RESOLUTION: 1680x1050
SECONDARY DISPLAY RESOLUTION: 1680x1050
HARD DISK SIZE: 465.76 GB
HARD DISK FREE SPACE: 58.64 GB (13%) (this fluctuates)
DOWNLOAD SPEED: 701.84 kB/s (5.7 mbps)

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closed as too localized by Mokubai, slhck, Paul, soandos, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Jun 15 '12 at 22:39

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You don't provide information on what your actual problem is and are extremely unspecific about what you want to archive. The question is vague and cannot be answered reasonably in its current form, is too localized, you seem to have done no research and it smells like a shopping recommendation request. –  Baarn Jun 14 '12 at 17:57
    
I appreciate the answers so far... I know about software related tips for reducing system resources, fragmentation, preventing applications from starting... It was more of a hardware question. processor vs. video cards vs. Ram vs. hard drive The specific problem is just general sluggishness. I can go buy a brand new computer with parts suggestions from newegg or upgrade a few key components. One thing I did realize was @ickleislands, using Win7 64bit will use the full 4GB of memory in the system. So that may help. –  Chris Jun 14 '12 at 19:12
    
If this is not the right place for this, I'm sorry. Just the first website I came too. Thought superuser.com would have hardware suggests. I apologize for wasting anyone's time. Just what area to focus on for the upgrade. Looked at the guidelines, and don't seem to be out of line. –  Chris Jun 14 '12 at 19:15
    
Elaborate your problem, what games do you play at the moment and which do you want to play? (not specific games, rough genre). The problem is, possible answers can vary between "Your System is more than enough to fully render Zork" and "Trash that pile of crap, nothing runs on it" –  Baarn Jun 14 '12 at 21:11

2 Answers 2

The requirements for every game are different and the bottleneck might be somewhere else for every application, so there's no definite answer to your question.

That being said, I'm almost certain the graphics card won't be enough for recent games and probably is the bottleneck for most of them.

As an example, take a look at the StarCraft II System Requirements:

PC Recommended Specifications:

Windows Vista®/Windows® 7
Dual Core 2.4Ghz Processor
2 GB RAM
512 MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800 GTX or ATI Radeon® HD 3870 or better

OS? Check. CPU? Check. (almost) RAM? Check.

Graphics card? Not even close! According to PassMark Software - Video Card Benchmark Charts - Video Card Model List (always take that information with a grain of salt), the 3870 has a G3D rating of 718, while the 4550 has a rating of 318.

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Thanks :) It seemed to be simpler when I started with computers 12 years ago. –  Chris Jun 14 '12 at 19:25

Run whatever it is that is slow, and open up windows resource manager. Look for things at 100% (for CPU usage, that is 100% on one core, not necessarily all of them) or near there.

As an aside, when you get to that amount of low free space, you should analyse your drive for fragmentation.

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