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Best "futureproof" upgrade path?

Last response: in Systems
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January 7, 2007 10:44:19 PM

Its been awhile, but I need to upgrade my system again. Here is what I currently have:

AMD 2600XP
1GB Ram
ATI Raedon 9600 128
WD 320GB (KS seires)
Antec Sonata Case

I want to upgrade my system, but not "go all the way". I don't do much gaming...I tend to get into the "popular" games late in their lives....I am not so much concerned about FPS, etc.

I want a system that gives me a great performance boost from what I currently have, but buy the right components (especially Mobo) that would allow many future upgrades. For example, i'd like to be able to upgrade to a Quad-Core, or dual graphics cards someday....but not right now. The only thing I have really settled on is what CPU (Core 2 Duo E6300).

What Mobo would be a good choice to long upgrades? Is there an SLI based Mobo that also would accept a quad-core? (For some reason, I like SLI vs. Crossfire.....is that stupid?)

After the Mobo is chosen...what video card to get? I'd like something middle of the road, nothing exotic...but one I can double up down line when prices drop (so a good SLI or xfire card). Also what RAM (something easy to OC, but nothing fancy) and PSU (something else i'd like to get just once that will support many future upgrades).

Just want to thank the TH users in advance....i am a frequent visitor and sometimes poster...and all of you and your input are well appreciated. I look forward to your suggestions!
January 8, 2007 10:13:47 AM

I would probably say a 680i mobo if you want to have the potential for SLI. the difference between SLI and CF is highly technical and I'm not the best one to explain it at all. What I can say is they both work and do what they are supposed to and its probably splitting hairs over which one is "faster."

What we really need is a budget before we can go into specific hardware recommendations.

A few tips:

1) Stay away from DDR2 667 RAM on a C2D. It runs against the NB asynchronously and causes increased latency and doesn't increase RAM speed enough to off set that increased latency. Either go DDR2 533 or DDR2 800, just not 667.

2) You have a problem with video card choice. based on the timing of your upgrade, you'd probably want to get a DX10 card but depending on your budget it may or may not fit with in it. The problem is there is no mainstream card. There is a $550 card and a $400 card and prices have stayed high because ATi hasn't released their competing DX10 card yet. If you can way 2 months, I would just to see where things lye after the dust settles.

3) You are going to want 2GB of RAM if you want to game really at all in the future and/or upgrade to Vista (personal choice on Vista, and this is not the place for a long ass debate :wink: )

4)The E6300 is a really solid choice. Not much I would change about it. It will give you a solid performance increase and is more than enough for light gaming and various other daily tasks.
January 8, 2007 10:20:33 AM

If you want to go C2D you'll have to go all the way.

You mention SLI, but unless you really are a hardcore gamer and you use a monitor that supports ultra-high resolution, you'll get no benefit from it. Get a more capable single card instead.

Read this
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January 8, 2007 11:36:25 AM

We definitely need to know your budget. The only way to save anything from your present rig is to go 939 socket, which is a dead socket that still performs very well and is dirt cheap now but has no upgrade path. With 939 you could probably reuse your RAM, however, which would save some money. Get an A8N32 SLI Premium ($160) and plug a 7600 series card in there ($140) along with a 4600X2 CPU ($233) and you'd have a significant imprvement for around $550.

Would I recommend the above? No, not really. You need a total upgrade and Core2 Duo is the best path right now. You'll need to pretty much dump everything you have right now and move up. AMD is months away from any possible competition with Core 2 so I'd plan on a whole new rig. You can build a nice Core 2 rig for around $800. A 650i chipset would probably be a better choice for you than the 680i.
January 8, 2007 5:17:41 PM

There is no such thing as a futureproof upgrade path.

Restating what other users have said:
How "futureproof" do you want to go?
Do you ever see yorself having a 24" or larger monitor that may demand SLI/Xfire for performance?
What type of storage do you need?
How much are you willing to pay for it?
January 8, 2007 5:49:42 PM

Lets put it this way. I'd like to be able to upgrade to SLI and QuadCore in the future without having to buy a new Mobo, but I can stick with a single GPU and the E6300 for now. I am also ok with value ram at the moment. I don't need a DX10 card anytime soon. I'd like to even buy some of the parts on Ebay (GPU, PSU, RAM). I guess it comes down to what Mobo to get? Is there much benefit to a 680i vs. 650i vs. 975/965?
January 8, 2007 6:09:12 PM

650i mobo for $150
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
Core 2 Duo 6300 $193
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
DDR2 800 4/4/4/12 $277
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
7900GT $200
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
FSP 600w PSU $125
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

$1,000 shipped

Nice gaming rig that you can go SLI on in the future. Get an aftermarket cooler and overclock that CPU up to 3.2GHz.
January 8, 2007 6:28:34 PM

That's a pretty darn good list (and option) there for the price Merc. He can't obviously recycle his mobo, CPU, or RAM.....or PSU either really. So the definition of a "upgrade all the way" is really relative. Upgrading in this instance sets off a chain reaction of things that need to be upgraded as well.

I'd say that's a great upgrade, not "all the way", and keeps the options open for the future.
January 8, 2007 7:07:41 PM

Doesn't seem to be a lot of info out there, from my brief look, on Xeon Conroes O/Cing better than Core 2's. I know with AMD the Opterons generally overclock much better than the regular CPUs and if Core 2 and Xeon are the same then that would be a great choice.

The Xeons seem to be only a little more expensive then the Core 2s in all cases. I'd love to see some overclock results as I am planning on moving to Core 2 sometime this year and will gladly pay another $50 for a couple of 100MHz more at top end.
January 8, 2007 7:33:58 PM

Better silicon at the very least, maybe better core on the Xeon.......

I remember reading about this.......can't remember where......maybe it was at Anandtech......maybe at XtremeSystems..........I've seen some benchies but @#$%@ I can't remember where.......... :x

I think they perform the same except you get a better chance at OC'ing due to the server grade silicon/core in the Xeons. Same thing with the 6600 equivalent.

What will be really interesting is to see if the Xeon's drop in price alongside the 6300 and 6600 when they drop, or if they lag behind for some reason. I dunno, but getting a Xeon for the price of a Conroe, with better possible OC'ing.........just gets me all tingly ;) 
January 8, 2007 7:55:28 PM

Some great suggestions here. I appreciate all of your ideas. Thanks!
!