Without switching out my MOBO, I’m looking to get the most out of the upgrade potential for my current Socket 939 system. By the middle of next year, I will build a new system around an AMD AM2 board or Intel Core Duo CPU, but I don’t want to jump into that until then. In the meantime, again, I’m looking to figure out the best upgrade options for my current system.
My main priority is to get the most gaming potential from my current system as possible: I play BF2, COD/COD2, Oblivion, Red Orchestra, Day of Defeat… mostly FPS games. For my job I also multi-task quite a bit with internet browsers and the Office suite (I don’t really do any DVD/CD burning or anything like that).
With the fall of the AMD 64 X2 prices, my immediate reaction was to grab a 3800+ X2 (or higher) and another gig of ram. However, I’m unsure about the performance gain I’ll get from the new CPU and I’ve heard that if I fill up all four of my memory slots that my system will only run my RAM at 333 rather than 400 (is this true).
So, I’m wondering if I can get a significant performance gain by
1. only upgrading my CPU with an AMD X2
2. or simply buying a pair of Nvidia 7600 GTs to run in SLI and just forget about upgrading the CPU and Ram.
These are the two options that, to me, are more budget friendly (trying to stay at around $400 for upgrades).
Would either of these options be worth it in terms of performance gain, or do I just need to bite the bullet and shell out the dough for both a new AMD X2 and a 2 gig DDR400 dual channel RAM kit (that kills me, though, cause then my current ram just goes to waste).
I read your post twice and I'm still a little confused about what you said you might do ... so I apologize if I'm putting words in your mouth.
Just to be concise: AM2 and Socket 939 are not switchable. I think you know that already.
But, to be clear. If you make the jump to an AM2 CPU, that means also a new motherboard and new DDR2 ram are required.
I looked at that some months ago before the price drops, and I chose instead to stick with 939 for now. You don't gain enough moving from the 939 platform to AM2 to justify the cost, IMHO.
In your case, I think you'd get more bang for the buck in games by 1) buying the most powerful video card you can afford; and 2) pop in a socket 939 dual core chip.
I switched my older 3000+ Winchester for a Socket 939 3800+ X2 dual core and I've been nothing but happy since. I paid $329 for mine in February. With the big price drop your price today would be about half that.
That gave me noticeable improvements in responsiveness and overall usability. But the biggest jump in games came when I switched out my budget 6800 and installed a 7600GT video card.
So if you're otherwise happy with your system and just want more "oomph," first replace that 6600GT. See what that does, then if you fill you need more, you can go for a 3800+ X2 or better.
Thanks a lot. Your post has been very helpful and to the point. Sorry about the confusion concerning the AM2 upgrade. What I meant was that I'm looking to build a completely new system around the new socket types (either AM2 or around a board that runs Intel's Core Duo chip). I realize this would entail buying many other new parts, to include new RAM.
Where you really helped me was in clarifying that a simply jump in video card capability would improve performace (perhaps even more so if I run two 7600GTs in SLI, a move I consider affordable at the moment). Again, thanks so much for being patient with my post and reponding.
I've been very happy with my recently purchased (after price drop) Athlon X2 3800+ in Socket 939. It is a great chip ... overclocks easily to 2.4GHz ... and when overclocked it is competitive with stock speed E6300 (I know that is comparing apples to oranges, but the X2 3800+ still has plenty of life left).
I'd definitely recommend upgrading your CPU .now .. especially since Socket 939 chips may become hard to get in 6 months.
Since you mentioned a $400 budget ... that would leave $250 for a video card. You should be able to get a 7900GT or X1900GT for less than that. Newegg has an X1900GT for $199 after rebate ... that's almost a no-brainer.
A system with those two upgrades should carry you through the end of next year easily ... when the wonders of four core CPUs and DX10 video cards will make us all open our wallets and spend $$$.
Let's say I want to spend my $400 on an X2 4800+ and another gig of Corsair Ram (while I wait on new cards to come out). Do you think such a allocation of funds would be more worthwhile than combining new vid card(s) with a new CPU?
No, an additional GB of RAM would be hardly bring any noticeable improvement in overall performance while a 7900GT will be leaps and bounds ahead of your two 6600 as far as gaming is concerned, just look at some benchmarks and see for yourself.
Don't forget that it'll take years for games to really take advantage of DX10, the initial titles will only feature a few sprinkles of eyecandy, history repeat itself, the transition from DX8.1 to DX9.0c took a while.
OK, what makes more sense as the priority upgrade, a faster CPU or more powerful video card? Quick answer: get a new video card.
There's been lots of articles on this forum and many other showing that in most games (MOST, I said) the video card is the more important component as far as showing immediate real gains.
Which of course is not to say that you can pair the slowest, weakest CPU with the fastest video card available and get acceptable results. No, that won't work.
But test after test shows that, using AMD as an example, the difference between a socket 939 X2 3800+ and an X2 4600+, all other components equal and using the same fast video card -- well, there's not a big difference in most games.
In other words, most games are more GPU constrained than CPU.
That is changing with some games. The Oblivion tests that were on the Tom's front page a couple of weeks ago demonstrated that fact. Oblivion and some other games really do make use of the faster CPU.
But if you're trying to decide how to best spend $200 or $300 -- for now, best answer, get the best video card you can buy.