Improving game play. Upgrading video card - how far can I go?
I need some advice from gamers or those who have kept up with video card technology. There's one game I really like and want to improve the graphics without buying an entirely new system.
I'm using an older Dell (Dimension 8100 ... I know). I'm not a gamer really but there are a select few I like. The games I like the most are those with cars (racing, street, missions) and my current I play that most is Need for Speed Underground 2. It runs very good @ 1024 x 768 set to medium detail (+ all bells & whistles on). I can go up to max detail at the same resolution and it's playable but a lil' choppy.
I recently upgraded the video card from an older 32MB ATI Radeon card to the current ATI based VPU knock-off below. NFSU2 wouldn't even run acceptably on that old card. So the different is night and day with just a $150 video card. So I'm guessing the next step up will improve it even further. I'm looking at the ATI 9600 Pro and hoping to bump up the detail level up one and have smooth video.
Most people would say that you need a massive CPU and latest mobo to play new games. By just upgrading my video card it has made a dramatic improvment in game play. This is on a machine that most gamers would consider a dinosaur. So i'm curious how much is system CPU and how much is gaphics processor power? How far I can go upgrading my video card before the rest of the system becomes a bottle neck? Will I be hitting a wall with the 9600 and are there other suggestions within a $350 budget? Help is appreciated.
Here are the current specs.
768MB PC800 RDRAM
60GB + 40GB 7200 HDDs
VisionTek Xtasy 9600 256MB (AGP)