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Should I be upgrading my CPU or GPU?

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September 23, 2013 10:09:32 AM

When I built this computer, I was very foolish and bought parts without doing sufficient research and now that newer games are coming out I fear that I'm going to have to suffer for that.

However I'm going to be getting a check this Friday and I was thinking of upgrading some parts. Right now my rig looks like this:

CPU: AMD Phenom II x4 965 @ 3.4Ghz
RAM: Corsair Vengence 8GB (2x4GB) @ 1600
GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 660

My monitor is 1600x900 and I really don't plan to upgrade that anytime soon because I'm satisfied playing at this resolution. My options were:


    Upgrading the CPU to an AMD FX-8320

      Upgrading the GPU to an HD 7870


    I'd like to be able to run BF4 and other demanding games, but I know my current rig would probably have a heart attack. Please help me.

    -thanks

More about : upgrading cpu gpu

a c 1362 U Graphics card
a c 850 à CPUs
September 23, 2013 10:14:25 AM

If your board supports the FX then that is what I would do. The 660 handles your resolution fine.
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September 23, 2013 10:16:56 AM

rolli59 said:
If your board supports the FX then that is what I would do. The 660 handles your resolution fine.


I was told by a couple of friends that the Phenom would bottleneck the 660. I wasn't really sure, but then again I was told the 660 wasn't going to last very long so you can see how I'd get tied up in the two xD. The FX won't bottleneck the 660 right?
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a b U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
September 23, 2013 10:17:13 AM

Why not get a good cooler and overclock the CPU? It's cheaper and it's worth it.
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a c 1362 U Graphics card
a c 850 à CPUs
September 23, 2013 10:19:00 AM

OC the 965BE to around 3.8GHz or swap to the FX8350 both will handle the GTX660.
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a b U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
September 23, 2013 10:20:38 AM

The best way to go is with the GPU, first coz u can always OC your cpu to avoid bottleneck, 2nd coz upgrading the cpu wount really get you any real performance in games :) 

Good luck
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a c 259 U Graphics card
a c 309 à CPUs
September 23, 2013 10:24:38 AM

If you are doing ok now, I would wait until you have had a problem with a new game.

But, to help clarify your options, run these two tests:

a) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics configuration.
If your FPS stays the same, you are likely more cpu limited.

b) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 50%.
This will simulate what a lack of cpu power will do.


Go to control panel/power options/change plan settings/change advanced power settings/processor power management/maximum processor state/
set to 50% and see how you do.
You could also experiment with removing one core in the bios. This will tell you how sensitive your games are to the benefits of many cores.
If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.
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a b U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
September 23, 2013 10:27:34 AM

Going from a 965BE to an FX series CPU is going from am AM3 CPU to an AM3+ CPU. Make sure your motherboard is an AM3+ socket with a 970 or 990 series chipset before upgrading the CPU.

The FX series also support DDR3 1866 RAM. This isn't necessary if you have good DDR3 1600 RAM. But you may want to remember this for any future RAM upgrades.

The 660 is still a pretty potent card. But in some games, especially modern releases that will use all 4 of your CPU cores, I can see the GPU being the choke point.

Before deciding what to upgrade, look at the games you play. Leave your system monitor and MSI Afterburner running in the background while you play. Do a test for a few minutes at a time on various detail settings using your favorite games. After each test look and see whether your CPU is hitting 100% or the GPU is hitting 100%...or both. This will help you identify if a bottleneck exists and where. (* Geofelt's tests in the above post are also a good technique and similar to what I'm suggesting)

Also, the previous recommendations to OC the 965BE are good ideas. I have an x6 1090T @ 4.0GHz cooled by a CM Hyper 212 EVO and it's a great combo. That cooler will let you get the most out of your 965BE without getting too hot or costing an arm and a leg.
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September 23, 2013 10:36:54 AM

geofelt said:
If you are doing ok now, I would wait until you have had a problem with a new game.

But, to help clarify your options, run these two tests:

a) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics configuration.
If your FPS stays the same, you are likely more cpu limited.

b) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 50%.
This will simulate what a lack of cpu power will do.


Go to control panel/power options/change plan settings/change advanced power settings/processor power management/maximum processor state/
set to 50% and see how you do.
You could also experiment with removing one core in the bios. This will tell you how sensitive your games are to the benefits of many cores.
If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.


I was already having issues with Battlefield 3. My FPs would randomly drop after playing anywhere from 1-3 hours. Then once I check HWM the temps are almost in the 60s.

maddogfargo said:
Going from a 965BE to an FX series CPU is going from am AM3 CPU to an AM3+ CPU. Make sure your motherboard is an AM3+ socket with a 970 or 990 series chipset before upgrading the CPU.

The FX series also support DDR3 1866 RAM. This isn't necessary if you have good DDR3 1600 RAM. But you may want to remember this for any future RAM upgrades.

The 660 is still a pretty potent card. But in some games, especially modern releases that will use all 4 of your CPU cores, I can see the GPU being the choke point.

Before deciding what to upgrade, look at the games you play. Leave your system monitor and MSI Afterburner running in the background while you play. Do a test for a few minutes at a time on various detail settings using your favorite games. After each test look and see whether your CPU is hitting 100% or the GPU is hitting 100%...or both. This will help you identify if a bottleneck exists and where.

Also, the previous recommendations to OC the 965BE are good ideas. I have an x6 1090T @ 4.0GHz cooled by a CM Hyper 212 EVO and it's a great combo. That cooler will let you get the most out of your 965BE without getting too hot or costing an arm and a leg.


As of right now I usually play BF3 and Crysis 2 a lot. Tera as well, and issues come into play randomly while I'm playing. I'll notice my FPS reduce and when I check HWM my temps are almost in the 60's for my CPU. I figured I just needed to upgrade it especially because I'd rather not have to do so later on down the road when games really start becoming demanding. What is your opinion?


And sorry for not listng before. My motherboard is a Gigabyte GA970A-D3
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