P35 still viable for moderate gaming PC?


I'm running a slightly aged PC (ASROCK VSTA Dual 775, E6300, 2 GB DDR"1", GF 6600 GT AGP, high quality 350W PSU).

I'm actually quite happy with its performance in current games, for example Witcher or LOTRO, at 1280x1024. Sure, I do not have high settings or high FPS, but this should give a hint at what I'm looking at for the future. I do not need high-end performance (although I do use watercooling, for silence mainly, and like to overclock when possible). I do want to be able to play current games (Witcher, LOTRO) at max settings and >20fps (minimum), and want to play next years games at medium settings and >= 15 fps (average).

I guess I'll have to do the "big" upgrade next - i.e., new mainboard, video card (8800GT), RAM (DDR2), PSU (400W or 450W should be enough, I figure).

I read lots of reviews on the current chipsets. Am I right in believing that the P35 line is still perfectly good for me? I will never use SLI or CrossFire, and do not need all the little side-features of the current high-end chipsets. And the high-end boards are more than twice the price of the P35's.

Specifically, I am looking at the ASUS P5K. As far as I understood, it overclocks quite well, especially with my E6300. And it may also host a much faster Quadcore CPU later, so the next upgrade path is open without having to buy everything anew again. Is that true, or am I missing something here (I think I *never* had a mainboard where it was worth it to upgrade the CPU, instead of getting the next CPU and a newer mainboard which actually supported it).

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  1. If you have a single core PC and are not interested high cost associated with DDR3 over DDR2 I'd say go for P35 motherboards. If you are looking for a decent upgrade without a price premium then it makes perfect sense. Couple that with the E8400, 2gb DDR2, 8800GT and you have a winner on your hands.

    Also what resolution do you game at? RTS, RPG generally do not require the graphical power that fps demand.
  2. I use a E6300 right now (Core 2 Duo, 1.86 GHz) and intend to keep that for now, maybe replace it by the fastest CPU the new board will be able to host, in a year or two.

    I certainly am not interested in DDR3, and am aware that DDR3 may never be much better than DDR2-6400 in P35 boards.

    I game at 1280x1024 right now and am happy with that in the foreseeable future.

    I occasionally play CS:S, but not in a very competetive way, so Shooter performance does not matter to me.
  3. Then I say go right ahead, personally X38 or X48 is not for you. P35 should be plenty, just get a decent graphics card, 2gb Ram and it should last you atleast 4 years for gaming at 1280*1024.
    I have a P4,8600gt and games like COD4, Supreme Commander, Dawn of War play at quite high settings at 1280*1024 so your proposed system should rock :)
  4. Thanks for the advice.

    It's so sad that the 8800's don't work in the VSTA, or I'd probably get away with only upgrading the card. :(
  5. There is a limit to AGP after all, the more you delay by buying stuff for an obsolete platform the more expensive it gets in the long run.

    BTW the best card your current system can support is the X1950pro.
  6. I got a GA-P35-DS3R motherboard from gigabyte with an E6420 and an 8800gts (640). I've overclocked the CPU to 3.2Ghz with no problems and its absolutely stable and there's barely any temperature difference over stock.

    It handles any of the latest games with ease apart from Crysis but I can still play it around 25-40 fps in ultra high (windows xp hack) at 1024x786 albeit with no AA or AF.

    I'd say P35 a good choice if you want an affordable gaming PC and aren't obsessed with graphics.
  7. cjp3 said:
    Thanks for the advice.

    It's so sad that the 8800's don't work in the VSTA, or I'd probably get away with only upgrading the card. :(

    Is it that the 8800s will not work at all or the 8800s will be bottlenecked by the motherboard (PCI-Ex16 hardwired to PCI-Ex4)? If the latter, given that you game at 1024x768, is the bandwidth limitation really going to hold back an 8800?

    These benchmarks show in some cases, the 8800s are significantly affected by the x4 bandwidth limitations, but these were also run at 1600x1200 resolutions. How much difference would we see at your resolution of 1024x768? I should also note the card used in the benchmark is the 8800GTS-320 (G80); not the card to purchase these days.

    I'd say buy the card now (unless your board specifically does not support it). If it runs well enough, then you're good. If not, then buy the new motherboard and RAM.

    -Wolf sends
  8. I would say you're close to an upgrade, but AGP is your problem rather than anything else.

    You can get reasonable AGP cards, but there is a price premium to pay that you could put towards a new mobo / RAM. There is no need to get a new processor.
  9. P35 is the sweet spot of price/performance. Great OC, good features. Works with Penryn, none of the current boards will work with Nehalem (socket LGA715).
  10. Hey,

    The P5K has intel "reference" CPU power circuity on board (3way/phase) regulator. It works fine but is not great for huge overclocks. The P5K-E or P5K-E Wifi is not much more expensive (~$20-30) and has better (8way) CPU power circuitry on board and should be a better overclocker (also has better onboard NIC). I have the P5K and wish I had known about the P5K-E B4 I bought.


  11. With the same cpu, there is very little difference in cpu performance because of the chipset. P965, P35. X38, etc.. all perform within 3% or so of each other. With overclocking, there is a bit more capability with the newer chipsets. At today's prices, P35 is a good way to go. Buy on the basis of quality, features, and price. Start with the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L for <$100.

    With the E8400, or the coming E8500 or Q9450, you will see most of what can be done with penryn today. In a year or so, nehalem will call for big changes in the mobo, and possibly a ddr2 to ddr3 change. If you want to upgrade, do it now, or plan to wait for a year.

    Newer technology parts sell for less than the parts they replace. For example, the E8400 cpu costs $50 less than the E6850, and it is 10% faster. The reason is that the E6850 may be in demand to those who do not have mobo's capable of using a E8400. The same logic applies to video cards for AGP vs PCI-e and DDR2 vs. DDR. AGP cards tend to be more expensive. Therefore, another good reason to go P35 is that you can get a better pci-e vga card for the price.

    All that said, if you are happy with your performance now, then why bother to upgrade?
  12. FYI if you want to keep your current setup you can get an ATI HD3850 AGP now from sapphire
  13. No, my problem is not AGP. Yes, I use an AGP card now, but the motherboard I use (Asrock Dual VSTA 775) has an AGP and an PCIe slot (albeit not full 16x), as well as supporting DDR and DDR2.

    Performance of the 8800 in this board is as expected quite good (as compared to an old 6600), nevermind that it's not full 16 lanes, and it would be a perfect upgrade path.

    My problem is that the XP drivers of the 8800 have a bug which leads to unbootable Windows on this board. Vista works fine with this card/board combo, but I do not want Vista now.

    My ideal path would have been: 1. replace old AGP card by GF8800GT PCIe, 2. replace DDR by DDR2, 3. replace mainboard. These 3 investments could have been done at a point where each of the respective parts would have been the bottleneck. Right now, only the video card in my system is a bottleneck, nothing else.

    Well, I'll get a P35 board now and do the full monty, I guess.
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