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Help w/ cpu upgrade

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November 28, 2006 11:17:10 PM

I bought an alienware back in June, with an AMD. I really want to upgrade to a c2d. My comp is mostly used for gaming. I have two questions. Is it worth me upgrading? My current specs are:
Athlon 64 3200
1 gb ram
2x geforce 7600 (sli)

My options for upgrading are to send back to AW and have them do it, or I can try to do it myself, in which case I void my waranty. I have put together a comp before, using older parts, and it works well. I'm just a little worried about messing around with my main gaming system. I know I need to replace the mobo, and reinstall windows. I don't feel entirely confident that I can get everything, such as bios etc., working properly. On the other hand, I also don't want to send it down to them. Some advice would be helpful.

Also, on a side note, they told me I wouldn't need new ram. Is that true? I haven't seen any c2d mobo's that would take my ram (DDR pc3200).

Thanks

More about : cpu upgrade

November 29, 2006 2:30:12 AM

Quote:
Also, on a side note, they told me I wouldn't need new ram. Is that true? I haven't seen any c2d mobo's that would take my ram (DDR pc3200).

From Wikipedia:

...the Core 2 technology sees a greater benefit from memory running synchronously with the Front Side Bus (FSB). This means that for the Conroe CPUs with FSB of 1066 MT/s, the ideal memory speed is PC2-4200. In some configurations, using PC2-5300 can actually decrease performance. Only when going to PC2-6400 is there a significant performance increase. While expensive DDR2 memory models with tighter timings do improve performance, the difference in real world games and applications is negligible.

The Core 2 processor does not require the use of DDR2. While the Intel 975BX and P965 chipsets require this memory, some motherboards and chipsets support both the Core 2 and DDR memory. When using DDR memory, performance may be reduced because of the lower available memory bandwidth.
November 29, 2006 3:53:00 AM

for gaming you really don't need the fastest cpus. amd's cpus are fine for gaming and it would be a much cheaper option.
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November 29, 2006 4:41:08 AM

Getting a new mobo, process, & ram will be costly (plus you will have to reinstall Windows). I would just get an x2 4600+ to replace the 3200.

Jo
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November 29, 2006 6:29:28 AM

Not all "games" are created equal. Many are heavily GPU bound, others are heavily CPU bound, and some are relatively balanced in their use of hardware. The goal is to design a system with an architecture which provides the greatest advantages for the games you intend to run, in order to produce the highest frame rates, and as we all know, frame rate is life.

In order to determine what is suitable for one's particular needs, some research into each game is required. For some gamers, the focus is on SLI or Crossfire, and for others, maximum CPU horspower is the solution. Since most of us don't have unlimited budgets to just simply build a system that covers all contingencies, we must weigh our priorities as well as we can, based on the information available. This is where choosing the right hardware becomes very complicated, as we see every day in these forums.

I suggest that in the future, game developers implement a simple "CPU / GPU Binding Ratio" on the retail box, (such as 30 / 70), so that we can all make more informed decisions regarding purchasing options and upgrade paths. This would help us all to identify where we need spend our hard earned money, so we can enjoy a computer which best matches our needs.
November 29, 2006 9:30:26 PM

I know it would be costly to replace all that, but on the other hand I hesitate to put any money into an amd upgrade, since I want to head in the intel direction. One reason that I want to upgrade is that when I put the second card in for sli, I didn't notice a huge difference. I thought there maybe was a bottleneck at cpu, or maybe with 1gb of ram. I could buy more ram, but again I hesitate because I would like to switch to ddr2 with an intel soon. Also, how much would I be risking doing this myself and negating my waranty?
Thanks for advice so far.
November 29, 2006 11:19:06 PM

There is one more thing - did your system come with a Windows install CD or a product recovery CD? If you change motherboards, you will have to reinstall windows. A product recovery CD will not do this if you have changed the hardware. Dell even did one big step worse than the recovery CD by putting it on a partition of the hard drive (if you format this part, you lose the ability to reinstall windows. I'm not sure what Alienware does though; they may have given you a real Windows CD but make certain.

The 2nd card in SLI is also generally running in PCI-E x4 mode, not x16 like the primary card so it can't help as much as the 1st.

Jo
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November 29, 2006 11:58:03 PM

We need to know the details regarding which system components, (especially motherboard & BIOS, CPU cooler, etc), are in your Alienware rig, before we can suggest what upgrade options may be available to you. If your rig's hardware architecture is non-proprietary, then the outlook is good. If it turns out to be proprietary, then there isn't much you can do that will have a significant impact on overall system performance.
November 30, 2006 12:48:12 AM

Quote:
I know it would be costly to replace all that, but on the other hand I hesitate to put any money into an amd upgrade, since I want to head in the intel direction. One reason that I want to upgrade is that when I put the second card in for sli, I didn't notice a huge difference. I thought there maybe was a bottleneck at cpu, or maybe with 1gb of ram. I could buy more ram, but again I hesitate because I would like to switch to ddr2 with an intel soon. Also, how much would I be risking doing this myself and negating my waranty?
Thanks for advice so far.


heres your first problem
One reason that I want to upgrade is that when I put the second card in for sli,

when running sli some mobos require a switch to be set and you need to bridge the cards also the cards need to be identical

second
save your money you can go very far on a amd proc and for what your doing you wont totally see the improvements unless you play games in 1080p if you want to put money someware buy more ram, a better video card and get a amd x2.
November 30, 2006 1:09:55 AM

Jmecc- My comp just came with alien respawn disk, but I have a copy of xp that I used from a previous build.

Here's some details from my comp:
AMD Athlon(tm) 64 Processor 3200+
ASUS A8N-SLI Basic
AwardBIOS v6.00PG
NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT x2
I'm not sure what I have for cpu cooler, It looks like it has copper pipes or something on it.

I did get sli working properly, I looked up the instructions for that. There was a switch thing. At first I couldn't get it to work, my comp kept crashing everytime I enabled sli. But I kept switching the cards around and it worked finally. I didn't want to have to flash the video bios, and with the newest nvidia drivers, it says they don't have to be the same (bios that is). The cards are the same though ^^
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November 30, 2006 4:52:51 AM

Has Alienware configured the CPU to operate at 2.2Ghz stock clock? You may want to download and install the latest version of CPU-Z to identify exactly which A64-3200 core you have, as well as other system details.
November 30, 2006 7:28:58 PM

Does this help?

Processor 1
Name: AMD Athlon(tm) 64 Processor 3200+
Manufacturer: AuthenticAMD
Caption: x86 Family 15 Model 47 Stepping 2
Version: Model 15, Stepping 2
Current Clock Speed: 2014MHz
Address Width: 32Bits
Data Width: 32Bits
Socket Designation: Socket 939

CPU-AMDA643200939E

Also, I was looking at some other cpu's to upgrade, how are these?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.asp?Category=...
November 30, 2006 7:36:14 PM

Yeah; the x2 4600 is what i'd get although I'm not sure about the differences between the cores on that link - manchester is not listed on Tom's Hardware CPU Charts.

Jo
November 30, 2006 7:43:13 PM

The problem is, they're all over $200. I don't mind spending that, but I would rather be spending it going in the intel direction. Although if this is almost as fast as the c2d it will do for me. What about the Toledo?
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November 30, 2006 8:02:11 PM

My most recent rig was an Opteron 170 overclocked to 2.8Ghz (FX-62 equivalent). Having upgraded to the C2D you see in my sig, I can tell you from first hand experience that high end dual core AMD's overlap at with the C2D's at their low end. Check out this THG article:

http://www.tomshardware.com/2006/08/02/thg_tuning_test/

If you're expecting to overlap into C2D performance territory with a stock AMD processor, then you'll need to purchase high end, or overclock into it. It sounds like your best upgrade path is to first assemble your funds, then make the jump to a C2D rig. Hope this helps.
November 30, 2006 9:53:46 PM

Thanks for the advice. If I upgrade to the x2, do I have to change anything with the mobo/bios?
But I think you're right, I need to make the jump to c2d. If I get the e6400, is that relatively from becoming obsolete in the near future? I plan on going the geforce 8 route when dx10 games become prevalent. I would like a comp that I can easily upgrade to that.
December 1, 2006 1:55:58 AM

you shouldn't have to change anything. I upgrsded from a 3200 to 4200x2 a while ago and didn't have to do anything with the bios.
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December 1, 2006 6:12:29 AM

The 6400 is a great CPU, and even better when it's OC'd, which it does extremely well.
!