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cheap upgrade to my current system - the Dual-Core E2160?

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October 18, 2007 3:33:10 PM

my current system is an AMD X2 3800+, so needless to say this is pretty lousy for current and horrible for future games. (this topic is for gaming, not any kind of fancy graphic applications or what not). i went to the store to buy a monitor and me and the salesman started talking and eventually he suggested that i purchase a Core 2 Quad Q6600 for my upgrade. with the motherboard , cpu, and memory included, the price tag came up to about $CAD 500. now to me that sounded like a really good deal, since two years ago the system that i have now cost me more than a grande.

now i've been reading up on this wonderful site, and i came across the Dual-Core E2160, which is supposed to be able to be overclocked to incredible speeds, and yet costs only pennies! i was planning to save up for the Q6600 for a month or two, but this E2160 i can practically buy tomorrow.

so now i am wondering: should i buy the E2160 instead? it sits on the same socket as the Q6600, so i can upgrade it later on, but how well does an overclocked CPU perform for gaming?

firstly, is overclocking something hard to get into and requires a lot of constant tinkering (i've only ever overclocked my CPU by like 5% using some little program i found, so i don't know much about overclocking).

secondly, will overclocking the E2160 be damaging to the CPU? is there a high chance it will "blow out" if i keep using it for long periods of time?

and thirdly, how does the overclocked E2160 compare to the other CPUS on the market? comparing the 2007 CPU charts from this site, the top CPU has an FPS of ~121 in the prey timedemo. the overclocked E2160 has practically the same fps in it's time demo of prey. i understand that the 2007 CPU charts are not overclocked, and that if they were, they'd score a much greater score, but compare those CPUs cost a lot more than the E2160 and i don't have the budget for that.

so to sum it all up, should i purchase the E2160 now or shell out 500 bucks for the Q6600 which i will keep saving for for about 2 or so months. and also, i read in this thread about the new processors that will be out by the end of this year. what socket are they going to be on? if its going to be the 775 socket that the E2160 and Q6600 are sitting on, perhaps i should just forget about the Q6600, but the E2160 and then when the new ones launch buy one of them?
October 18, 2007 4:17:24 PM

I would get the E2160 now.

For Gaming, it should do you just fine.
However, what is your current Graphics Card.
This is the most important part of a Gaming System.

This should be upgraded 1st and only then address the CPU.

If your current system only supprots AGP and not PCIE, then I could
see a wholesale upgrade.
October 18, 2007 4:28:22 PM

go with the e2160. most applications are not quad core optimized so getting a quad core system would not do you a whole lot of good. it could be a long time games are fully quad core optimized. most games are at least dual core optimized and will work great. especially if you overclock to maybe 2. 7 or 2.8ghz. if you wanted you could push the e2160 well past 3 ghz but that could really shorten its life. and as stated above you might want to buy a faster graphics card (depending on what you already have). if you have agp then definitely go to pci express. my suggestion for a gpu would be something with 320mb memory or more. also, tell us all of your current system specs please. those usually help a lot.
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October 18, 2007 4:31:56 PM

What's your current build? Maybe there is life still in it?
October 18, 2007 5:28:04 PM

for gaming... if youre considering a hardware change, you might be better off looking at your gpu and memory amount, as theyll have a far more substantial impact of game performance than a cpu will, usually. in fact, your current cpu is about as fast as the fastest cpus from intel, when it comes to gaming, when you bump up graphical settings anyhow, because games are usually heavily gpu dependant. if you only had a single core cpu still however, this would be a more cost effective change to consider, as many games now are able to take advantage of a second cpu core, compared to 2 years ago.

i would suggest however, if youre looking to get a boost in cpu performance (not necessarily gaming performance so much), to just OC your current X2, you should be able to get to around 2.4 with no voltage increase, or additional expenses even.

if youre looking for improved gaming performance, consider a faster gpu, and more memory if you dont have enough. (for the amount of money youre considering spending, a top gpu from nvidia or amd may be the way to go, over what you have currently, assuming youre on pci-e, and not agp)

this situation may change again in a few years, when more and more games start taking advantage of quad cores... then a dual core wont be able to cut it. but currently thats not the case, and your cpu is still fast enough.
October 18, 2007 5:52:16 PM

I'd actually wait for the e2200 out in December. It will be only $15-$20 more, yet overclock to much higher numbers than the e2160.
October 18, 2007 6:01:30 PM

my complete system specs are:
AMD X2 3800+ 2.0ghz
2gig ram
NVidia Geforce 7800 GTX with 256mb of memory

so as you see, my memory and graphics card is fine, its just the CPU thats dragging down my system's performance. i was actually thinking before to buy another 7800 and put it in SLI with my current one once the prices are down, but haven't really gotten around to it.

choirbass: i am looking for a gaming performance increase, so overclocking my current CPU won't really do me much good.
October 18, 2007 6:05:05 PM

3800+X2 is not cutting edge, but I agree with some other posters here that a Graphics card upgrade is more beneficial.
October 18, 2007 6:19:21 PM

speedbird said:
but I agree with some other posters here that a Graphics card upgrade is more beneficial.


the 7800 is not good enough anymore?
October 18, 2007 6:54:14 PM

its not... having a 7800GT 256 myself, its barely getting what most would consider to be acceptable framerates anymore with current games, unless you just play RPGs (or reduce your settings and resolution), whichcase ~20fps+ avg is usually okay.

you have enough memory, so no real need to upgrade there... but moving up to an 8800 or x2900 is going to at the very least double your framerates, oftentimes more. now if you 7800GTX had 512MB ram, the difference would be smaller... but with only 256MB, youre in the same situation i am pretty much, for current games anyhow.

thg had an article before that tested an x2 3800+ paired with an 8800GTX, and that outperformed any of the current intel based cpus with lesser gpus... youll get about a ~5fps boost from an upgraded cpu at increasing resolutions, compared to a 200%+ boost from an upgraded gpu at increasing resolutions (assuming you go with a current top range gpu)

an x2 3800 isnt cutting edge anymore, as another post said, but it is still more than capable of handling current games, if your gpu is capable anyhow.
October 18, 2007 7:01:30 PM

hm, i see. well what if i get another 7800 and SLI it with my current? will that improve my performance better than getting a cpu?
October 18, 2007 7:11:12 PM

that would help better too actually assuming your gaming resolution makes it worthwhile (if the resolution is too low, youll get very little improvement from going with sli). and it wont be as much of an improvement as going with just a single current generation gpu (8800 or x2900 in particular), but it will provide more of an improvement than upgrading your cpu will. you can expect to see up to a 30% or so boost by going with sli, more or less depending on how well the game can take advantage of it.

going with sli though, youll also still be limited to having only 256MB of total memory. but iirc, going with sli effectively doubles the buffer for each frame rendered (1/2 frame is rendered by each card)... making increasing resolutions able to benefit a lot more than lower resolutions do. gaming at 1280x1024 res and lower for instance, is not high enough to benefit much at all from from sli... if you were to use 1920x1200 or around there however, that would benefit a lot more from sli.

but, if your game performance is suffering, you can bet that its due to your gpu. the 7800 series was really fast in 2005, but its been pushed aside quite a few times since then by faster and faster gpus... i probably wont be upgrading mine until it becomes completely unbearable to play games with, when the next geforce series or the one after that is released (2009 or so)... by then current games may be too demanding on all but the near lowest settings, and even then it might be too much to handle.

as far as where a new cpu will help, that would be if youre running at really low resolutions and settings, making it so the gpu is no longer a performance bottleneck, making the reason for upgrading questionable then too. with lower visual settings, you might see framerates in the hundreds... which is really kinda pointless tbh, since the difference between just under 100fps and way over 200fps simply isnt noticable except on paper... and if you have verticle sync enabled, youll probably be capped at about 60fps or so anyhow (which coincidentally is still enough for pretty smooth gameplay).
October 18, 2007 8:27:37 PM

a pair of 7800 in sli will not ocmpete with a 8800 GTS / HD2900 series

buy one of those cards + a power supply (if your powersupply isnt good enough)

Then overclock your current cpu a touch and you will be much further ahead then just a cpu upgrade
October 18, 2007 9:01:24 PM

if your mobo can support it with BIOS update, just get a cheap 3 or 4 core Phenom, but yeah, that GTX isnt going to cut it for much longer
October 18, 2007 9:38:43 PM

i might be wrong, but it sounds like the OP is running a s939 system, based on the time it was purchased... i dont think sam2 was really around till sometime later in 2006, so a phenom wont work if this is the case.
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October 18, 2007 11:33:38 PM

AM2 was released in June/July of '06 so it's possible, but I'm with you on that it's probably a s939 x2. That is why I asked for the system specs, which he didn't include when it was a s939 or not and didn't list his PSU (make/model), so we could give him the best advice possible for his situation.
October 19, 2007 1:18:49 AM

its a 939, yeah. i mentioned my processor, and i didn't know that it was made for any other sockets other than 939.

in any case, the reason why i'm so fixated in upgrading my CPU is because my brother has an identical setup to mine, but he has an AMD FX 55, and his games run a lot faster and smoother than mine. and his cpu is single-core too! and his gpu (which is the same exact as mine) seems to be able to handle the current games quite well. i remember him playing the bioshock demo recently and it was running very smooth. (i didn't even bother trying..). back when we both got our systems, a new and demanding game that came out was Battlefield:2, and his system was running perfectly fine on highest settings, but mine had frames of around like 15, and would stutter on occasion. and also when i try to play a game called Oblivion, my frames are like 10-12, and if there is more than two enemys on the screen it gets even lower, whereas his system runs at around like 25-30 (i'm not really sure, but its perfectly smooth).

edit: choirbass, i searched the site for that article with the X2 3800+ paired with a 8800 GTX, but couldn't find anything. do you happen to have a link to it?
October 19, 2007 1:52:09 AM

Save your money for a quad core next year. You current system is fine. Just get a new GPU and over clock the 3800+. Check out this link....

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/pentium-e2...

The 3800 X2 faster than the E2160 but of course if you over clock the 2160 it will be faster but IMO will not provide you with a huge increase in frames if you over clock your 3800 x2. Plus you will save some money and then buy a quad core next year when they are 100 bucks.
October 19, 2007 4:16:23 AM

heres the article i was referring to... it was kinda buried as it was posted months ago; had to use google, and find a link on another site that referred to it:

http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/05/11/system_builder_m...

as far as your low performance though, that was due to something else, bad drivers, spyware/virus', settings too high, who knows... especially since many current games are now designed with multiple cpu cores in mind, or at least have dual core patches out now, even a few of the games you mentioned are, bioshock, oblivion, bf2 (compared to only 2 years ago even, when very few games were, which effectively makes your cpu faster than it was when you first got it).

hope this helps clear some things up though
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October 19, 2007 4:20:28 AM

caamsa said:
Save your money for a quad core next year. You current system is fine. Just get a new GPU and over clock the 3800+. Check out this link....

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/pentium-e2...

The 3800 X2 faster than the E2160 but of course if you over clock the 2160 it will be faster but IMO will not provide you with a huge increase in frames if you over clock your 3800 x2. Plus you will save some money and then buy a quad core next year when they are 100 bucks.

That is what I'd do. Maybe you have some driver problems or some other software related issues that is causing you fps difference to your brothers system. Your system in my mind would be better than your brothers, especially when you play games that take advantage of more than one core. I wouldn't give up on it so easy. Just get a better video card and PSU and you should be set. If you dislike that x2 3800, send it over to me, I'd be more than happy with that, since I have a 3200+ single core right now and my system is begging for a x2 of any sorts.
October 19, 2007 1:18:22 PM

thanks for linking the article choirbass, but i'm not sure if i'm getting it right. basically they are saying that at higher graphical demands, the gpu really kicks in and outperforms the other systems, regardless of the CPU?

i've got a 22" widescreen LCD and it's max res is only 1680x1050. does that mean i won't be able to take full advantage of my system if i was to get the 8800 and pair it with my X2 3800+ ?

also, about my drivers. when i first got my X2 i remember there was a syncing problem with it between the two cores, making games run all wierd, and i had to get a hotfix from AMD that fixed that. it was the "Dual-Core optimizer driver. since then, there wasn't any new drivers for a year now. perhaps its this driver thats decreasing my system's performance, and there is a new out that i haven't found?


Iunyone, what would you consider could be some of these 'other' software related issues? i'm sorry to be bothering you all but my system is performing so bad i'm kind of desperate.
i was thinking of wiping my hard drives and starting the whole system fresh from ground zero, but im not sure if that would actually change anything.
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October 19, 2007 1:53:06 PM

guitarxe said:
thanks for linking the article choirbass, but i'm not sure if i'm getting it right. basically they are saying that at higher graphical demands, the gpu really kicks in and outperforms the other systems, regardless of the CPU?

i've got a 22" widescreen LCD and it's max res is only 1680x1050. does that mean i won't be able to take full advantage of my system if i was to get the 8800 and pair it with my X2 3800+ ?

also, about my drivers. when i first got my X2 i remember there was a syncing problem with it between the two cores, making games run all wierd, and i had to get a hotfix from AMD that fixed that. since then i think i took a look if thers a newer driver but there wasn't one. (this was about 2 years ago). perhaps its this driver thats decreasing my system's performance, and there is a new out that i should use?


Iunyone, what would you consider could be some of these 'other' software related issues? i'm sorry to be bothering you all but my system is performing so bad i'm kind of desperate.
i was thinking of wiping my hard drives and starting the whole system fresh from ground zero, but im not sure if that would actually change anything.

This isn't a bad idea. I'm talking about possible virus or malware as a system hog. These usually task or steal some of your resources and some just screw things up. It doesn't hurt to format and re-install your OS. You may not have got all of the updates and this could be giving you problems. By the way, there is no bother in asking for help, that is what most of here are for. I don't think your performance is related to your hardware, because a x2 3800 isn't a bad chip. I think your just experiencing software (virus/malware) issues. This is of coarse is just my opinion. As a final question, what PSU are you currently using? Please include model/make, if you know. I'm just curious about the PSU, since some poor quality ones (even good ones) can have adverse affects to your overall system performance. I'm not saying yours is, but it makes it easier to diagnose problems, if we know more of the facts.
October 19, 2007 1:55:03 PM

I think something is wrong with your system.
I think a fresh install may help.
Be sure to download the latest drivers and all and have them handy.

The 3800x2 is not a bad CPU - It should be able to handle things OK.
I would try and hold off for a month and take a look at the upcoming 8800GT GPU coming out.

Rumors have it being faster than the 8800GTS, Cheaper than the current 8800GTS, and using less power than the current 8800GTS.
This should let you keep your current PSU.

Why Would NVIDIA compete against itself in this way?

Long answer from the fact its cheaper to make, they can now make sales to existing 8xxx customers for more profit, to it lets them start ramping down the old chip production so they can make cheaper and faster chips that will eventually power newer versions of the cards that were the current 8800GTS and 8800TGTX.
October 19, 2007 2:19:11 PM

hm, i'm not sure what my PSU is from the top of my head, but i'll rummage for it's box when i come home and give the full details. i remember i had to buy a special one that would give enough juice for my 7800, and that it barely fit into my case.

also, i doubt that it could be malware or viruses that are causing my software problems. i have several tools that keep my system clean (unless i cought something really bad).

thanks for the advice about the gpu, zenmaster. i need to save for a month or so for a new gpu in any case, so i'll see how the new 8800 is when i'm ready to buy one.
October 19, 2007 2:42:52 PM

well, the comparison that seemed the most likely to make would be the X2 3800+ and 8800GTX would represent the performance you would get from a faster gpu, but keeping your same cpu. the E6600 and 8800GTS would represent the performance you would get from a faster cpu, but keeping your same gpu (so its roughly comparable to what you were originally considering). any of the 8800s however will outperform your current 7800GTX by a fair amount.

what it means though, is that as long as youre at or below 1600x1200 resolution when paired with those particular gpus (which you are, 1680x1050 is halfway between 1280x1024 and 1600x1200). then youll still be limited by the cpu. the thing about being limited by the cpu performance (capped at about 100fps for the X2 3800+, as you saw), is that current cpus within the last few years even, are oftentimes faster than you need for perfectly smooth performance for a first person shooter (40fps+ min). and that the only normal reason you should be getting slower than that, is due to the limited performance of a gpu, which is oftentimes the sole reason for poor performance, especially when you start increasing detail and resolution settings.

the resolution of 1680x1050 (depending on detail settings too) is probably too much for your 7800GTX to handle well with the games you mentioned, tbh... if you were to drop your resolution and/or details down somewhat lower, then your gaming performance should definetly increase, under normal circumstances

your situation of poor performance regardless of which settings youre using or games youre playing though, definetly means there is something else drastically wrong, outside of your cpu or gpu.
October 19, 2007 2:59:05 PM

well, i don't really see a need to try and go above my monitor's max res of 1680x1050 in anycase, since my system's performance isn't going to go higher. those charts just show the difference that a fast gpu makes.

the performance that i am getting from games is similar to the charts from that link that use the 'low-end' pc, with the 7600GT.

i'm guessing that i should summon up the courage and wipe my system clean and start fresh, and this time i'll use a guide or something to make sure im doing everything correctly step by step, and then see how my performance is. if its still poor, i'll shell out for a new gpu.
October 19, 2007 3:01:18 PM

yeah, those charts were basically just showing that a very very fast gpu, still wont be hindered by a cpu to any meaningful degree, regardless of the resolution really either. meaning that as long as youre above 20fps, a game can still be considered playable, and that below 20fps and framerates begin getting choppy. the X2 3800+ limited performance to about 100fps for the 8800s, which is definetly above whats necessary for smooth performance in any case.
October 19, 2007 3:55:55 PM

if the 7600GT in the link you gave me was getting (taking the example of oblivion game) a 15 fps at 1024x768, what kind of performance *should* i be getting with a 7800GTX?

and also, since anything above about 30fps isn't really distinguishable, and my monitor's refresh rate is capped at 60, there is really no point in buying something so powerful, is there? perhaps i should buy a slower GPU and save some money? in the same charts, the 'mid-priced system's performance, is it being pulled up by the CPU or the GPU? how would my 3800 fair with say an 8800GTS?

i'm just disappointed that when i bought my 7800GTX, it was (i think) a top of the line card, and then when oblivion came out barely half a year later, it was already too slow to run that game =(
October 19, 2007 4:18:37 PM

well, for interactive gpu comparisons, we can use thg gpu charts:

http://www23.tomshardware.com/graphics_2007.html?modelx...

for oblivion, outdoors at 1024x768, no aa, 8x af, and hdr enabled, it shows your 7800GTX getting 15fps, while a 7600GT gets about 10fps. (so they may have had a few things different, because performance is apparently slightly worse here than in the first link, either way, your 7800GTX is still getting roughly the same performance as the 7600GT)

as far as being distinguishable, youre right, the difference between 10 and 20fps is much more noticable than the difference between 20fps and 100fps, as most people can only distinguish up to a certain degree, before theres really no difference to them...

for instance, in some games, the difference between 50 and 80fps is noticable, though only very slightly, usually in fps based games (you would need verticle sync disabled on your lcd for that to be allowed anyhow)

as far as getting a more powerful gpu, the main reason i can see for getting something faster, is so you can maintain a faster minimum and average framerate, as thats what matters most, a lot more than maximum framerates matter.

for instance, if your maximum framerate is 2000 fps, but your minimum is 5 and average is only 10... your gpu can then be considered a poor performing gpu, in the sense that just because it has outrageous max fps, its not really what could be considered playable either, its too slow.

so if your minimum and average fps are playable, thats all that really matters when it comes to gaming... and as soon as theyre not acceptable to you, its time to either start reducing settings, or upgrade your gpu usually.

edit: as far as pairing your current X2 3800+ with an 8800GTS, you can use the example of the 8800GTS in the first link i gave you, as performance will be the same for all meaningful purposes. the limitation is due to both the cpu and the gpu; the lower the resolution, the more you see the performance limit of the cpu. the higher the resolution, the more you see the performance limit of the gpu. in the charts, the gpu was limited by the cpu up until resolutions of 1600x1200 (which is why you see the faster cpu outperforming the slower cpu up to that point, and theyre both limiting performance of the gpu when the resolution is below that), at which point also, the demand on the gpu started increasing noticably as the resolutions increased beyond that, and the fps started dropping more too, regardless of which cpu was used... the gpu had then become the bottleneck.

the 8800GTX was bottlenecked after the 1600x1200 res though, because at that resolution, its performance was still at or above the 100fps that the X2 3800+ had limited it to.

i hope that last paragraph made sense anyhow

as far oblivion though too, there are mods you can download that will improve performance noticably, at no noticable reduction to image quality
October 19, 2007 6:32:28 PM

i'm really only using oblivion as an example of where my system *should* be better than my brother's. otherwise, i play a lot of MMO games too. (i hear they use a lot of CPU?)

well i guess i've come to a decision.
first, i'll wipe my system clean and start from begining, to make sure i've got everything setup correctly. (i wonder if there are any kind of guides for this or something like that? just to make sure im doing everything right).

secondly i'll see how my system compares to my brother's after the wipe. if its still slow, i'll try to OC my CPU from 2.00 to 2.7. if after this i'm still not getting a performance similar or better to my brother's then i'll just say "ah to heck with it" and buy a new GPU.

good plan?


(oh, and BTW, on the link with the x2 3800+ with an 8800gtx, it says the socket for the CPU is AM2, but mine is 939. are they different in any other way than that?)
October 19, 2007 7:42:45 PM

yeah, oblivion is still pretty demanding for any gpus really, it was just horribly coded, and wasnt until the 8800 series that oblivion was really playable at higher settings even (both aa and hdr enabled for example). as far as mmos, i suppose they could use a lot of cpu depending on how much is going on, just having a dual core though should ease up a lot on whatever demands like that there might be, its usually memory amount thats more of a problem though i believe, but, im really not too sure about that myself

well, as far as formatting your system, that in itself should correct a lot of whatever performance problems you have, seeing as how formatting 'at least' once per year is usually a good idea for that reason... some people format once every couple months even. for the most part for setting up, its just making sure you get everything updated really; motherboard/cpu/gpu/etc drivers, virus definitions, application patches, windows updates, everything like that, and you should be fine.

for a s939 X2 3800+, the safest way to OC, is to first reduce your HTT multiplier to 3x from the default 5x (to avoid the possibility of accidently setting your HTT speed too high after OCing, in whichcase your system might not post, and need the cmos battery cleared possibly), second is to reduce your memory speed: if its DDR400, you should reduce it to DDR333, and leave your memory timings at auto, just so you dont OC your memory beyond whats supported, as OCing your cpu will also OC your memory by the same amount. setting your memory to DDR333 will allow you OC your X2 by 400MHz, putting it at 2.4 per core, and your memory at DDR400 again, which keeps the memory and cpu ratios balanced, for optimal performance... if you want to go higher than that, you may need to increase voltages, which isnt recommended as you risk damaging hardware if its set too high, usually keeping it below 1.5v for the cpu and 2.73v for the memory is pretty safe. raising voltages will also raise your temperature by a lot too. you can also check for stability after OCing by using a program such as orthos, and let that run for 20 or more minutes, and if it gets no errors, youre pretty stable most likely, if it does get errors, you may need to go back and correct some bios settings that you had changed, but 2.4 is usually a pretty safe OC either way.

as far as the difference between sam2 and s939, for the X2 3800+, the main difference was primarily the use of a different socket, since performance didnt change really, and actually, its performance was worse at first, due to the additional latency of DDR2 memory, which isnt good for an integrated memory controller, that both platforms have.

but beyond the different sockets, there shouldnt be any performance differences really.
October 19, 2007 9:20:27 PM

guitarxe, i have a very similar system to yours. mine is a s939 x2 3800, and i OCed it only to 2.4ghz. so 25% up. not a whole lot. i run a 7800GT instead of the gtx. i run 2gb of ddr400 as well. my buddy and i both built at the same time, and i tailored my build to suit battlefield 2's demands. that dual-core optimizer is a must-have for any amd x2 system, and no, no newer version has come out.

it has to do with how a certain system call occurs related to dual cores. namely, there's a time call to determine from the cpu a clock timer, and it gets all screwy on the x2 amd's unless you install that driver. unreal engine 3 needs this driver to run.

my buddy built his system with a 7800GTX and a athlon64 3200+ single core, and i built with a 7800GT and a athlon x2 3800+ back when it was $381 >.< but yeah, my system slaughtered his for smoothness, even before major dual core optimized game code became popular. and my system achieved higher overall frame rates. it wasn't until he upgraded to a opteron 165 and OCed it to 2.7GHz that he stomped my system.

but in any case, my system is still pretty good. i wouldn't call my cpu a slouch. it still runs happily most anything i throw at it. now granted, unreal engine 3 games are finally starting to arrive and put my system on its knees. by which i mean, 1024x768 and max details. i'm used to gaming at 1600x1200. FEAR brought my system down to 1280x960 max details. anything doom3 engine was 1600x1200 maxed.

in any case, i'd agree, you'll get more out of getting a new video card now, and then upgrading your mobo and cpu later. go for a quad core when you do, get 4gb of ram, and go to town on crysis.
!