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New system on a budget - Need CPU advice - Novice

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July 14, 2007 2:31:25 AM

Ok, long story short - I'm trying to work out if I can afford to build a C2D system but on a budget - as I was originally only going to add more DDR RAM and an X1950Pro (AGP) to my socket 478 Pentium 4 3.0GHz system to keep me going for another 12 months. The original plan would've cost me approx £200 ($400) and would have rendered my new 2GB DDR and the AGP GPU useless in 12 months though.

So, if I can, I'd rather not waste the money and go for a decent (not too crappy because I'm doing this to improve gaming largely) C2D system now. Looking at CPU prices at the moment my options are:

E4300 1.8 - £70 ($140)
E4400 2.0 - £84 ($168)
E4500 2.2 - £100 ($200)
E6320 1.86 - £94 ($188)
E6420 2.13 - £110 ($220)
E6550 2.33 - £118 ($236)
E6600 2.40 - £133 ($266)


I keep reading about how good the lower priced ones are for OCing if you're on a budget. Problem is that I know nothing about OCing and have never tried anything like that. Based on that, is it better for a complete novice like me to bite the bullet and spend more on a quicker chip, or is OCing the entry level chips likely to be relatively easy? After doing some reading I understand I should still see a marked improvement over my current system even with the entry level chips but obviously I want to try and make the most of the cash I have to spend now.

I've also heard they're expected to drop in price shortly - anyone know when and how much they're expected to drop? Or have they already because I noticed quite a variation on some price lists? I heard Q2 but we're past that already!

BTW, still going to need the X1950Pro but at least it can be PCI-e now so maybe I can get that slightly cheaper than the AGP version. I will need a decent but inexpensive m/b though - any suggestions? In case it's relevant, I'm planning on running with 2GB DDR2 RAM (unless advised otherwise!).

Thanks in advance.

July 14, 2007 6:03:10 AM

my advice is to get a lower priced c2d on july 22nd (price drop date). you won't need to OC now but in the future when you learn how to (which is easy btw) you will have a chip that is capable of it. i have the e6420, love it. 2 gb of ram is good. just make sure to get a good overclocking motherboard, i have a gigabyte ds3 and it's a piece of cake. hope this helps
July 14, 2007 1:23:48 PM

Thanks shoota.

Ok. So, to keep things simple for myself, I've basically told myself that the E4xxx series is pretty much the same as the older (now revised) E6300/E6400 - because of this L2 cache I keep reading about. So, how much difference am I really likely to see between the E4400 and the E6420 (with it's raised cache)? Does it justify the £27 ($54) difference?

Plus, is the FSB likely to make much difference? Considering that when I do eventually OC the CPU, I'm obviously not going to try and push it too far anyway - I have no interest in extreme OC, just want to be able to tweak it for 'safe' improvements.

Thanks again
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July 14, 2007 5:28:35 PM

Anyone?

E4400 or E6420? Bearing in mind I don't know anything about OCing yet but am wanting to learn (basics only - will never want to push these things too far).
July 14, 2007 8:44:24 PM

Thanks bluntside.

The reason I thought about spending the little extra on the E6420 was that I suspect it will serve me better until I've learnt enough to start the OC.

Apologies for my ignorance everyone, but how much difference should I expect to see between what I have now and the extry level C2D's? Would the 1.86GHz E6320 be SIGNIFICANTLY faster than my current Pent4 3.0GHz?
July 15, 2007 6:45:31 AM

I'll second the 6320, its a lil screamer with a decent 3rd party cooler. But for the future, look at the new P35 boards. Gigabyte has an inexpensive one thats pretty good. When you get good on the o/c you can move all the way up to a 45nm Quad. The only nick is that you have to use DDR2 memory.

f61
July 15, 2007 4:31:28 PM

OK, not an expert exactly but I have picked up enough over my time here to know the difference.

All those CPU's are "quad pumped". This means that the FSB speed is multiplied by four to give your overall FSB rating, e.g. 4x200 = 800MHz or 4x266.6 = 1066MHz. Then each CPU has a multiplier (which is locked for most CPU's) and that gives you your overall speed. The higher the overall FSB, the "faster" different parts of your PC can talk to each other. Current evidence shows that for dual core CPU's, this has a minimal impact.

Anyway, my E6600 runs at a FSB of 4x266.6 = 1066MHz with a multiplier of 9x266.6 = 2.4Ghz (that crucial speed figure)

The higher the end speed, the higher the voltage needs to go into your CPU, which generates more heat. More heat is bad. So you need more cooling the more you push this value up. For C2D's, this is relatively easy to deal with as the stock cooler allows for much higher total speeds due to its thermal efficiencies.

How do I do this? Well my multiplier is locked at 9 (but can be lowered). So I HAVE to increase the FSB if I want it go faster. This requires even more voltage, this time on the motherboard as well! This generates more heat, which is bad and harder to get rid of on the motherboard. So some people buy motherboards which are capable of sustaining much higher FSB ratings. Mine can go up to very easily, FSB of 4x333.3 = 1333MHz and 9x333.3 = 3GHz CPU speed.

But lets look at the makeup of the different chips. My E6600 as I said is 9x266.6 = 2.4Ghz, where as the E4300 is 9x200 = 1.8GHz. The multipliers are the same, it is only the FSB which is lower. But both these chips basically come from the same place! The E4300 is just as capable of running at 9x266.6 = 2.4Ghz as my E6600. That extra strain on the CPU and motherboard (voltage and heat) only strains it as much as my standard CPU - which both are fully capable of withstanding it. You only have to increase that FSB a little and you are good to go.

The E4000 range is basically a budget CPU that has similar potential to higher valued E6000 CPU's, giving a very easy overclock and fantastic value for money.

Everything stated here is my opinion and can and probably will be corrected by more intelligent forum users
July 15, 2007 4:57:40 PM

Great, thank you guys.

So now I'm looking ideally at the E6320, which frees up a little more cash for the other parts. My reading over the last couple of days suggests that the Gigabyte board that f61 is referring to is the GA-P35-DS3R - is that right? If so then I'm finally making some progress!

Thanks you all for the help and advice. Icandy, thank you for your suggestion of the E4xxx range. I know it's quite a fair bit cheaper. Am I right in thinking that the performance of the revised E6x20 chips is slightly higher now and that therefore less OCing will yield a better end result? It's just that when I do learn to OC then I will certainly not be wanting to see how far I can push it. I'll just want to 'tweak' things for reasonable improvements.

Final comments on this thinking anyone?
July 16, 2007 8:34:01 AM

What lcandy said about going from 800FSB to 1066 FSB will apply to the 6320 on the P35 Board. It will go from 1066 to 1333 as 4x266.7 to 4x333.3.
!