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Motherboard/CPU Upgrade Suggestions?

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Last response: in Systems
February 8, 2008 4:57:14 PM

I'm looking to upgrade my CPU which will also require a motherboard upgrade. I had intended to keep using my existing memory at least for a little while, but the problem is I'm using DDR2-533 and it doesn't sound like many boards support it these days. If the motherboard/CPU together are cheap enough maybe I could afford to replace the memory, my budget for this is about $525 max.

What I've got:
P4 550 with HT (3.4Ghz single core)
Intel D915GEVL motherboard
1GB DDR2-533
Geforce 7600GT
Raidmax Scorpio Full Tower Case
Antec Truepower Trio 550 watt PSU
2x 500GB Western Digital SATA II harddrives
PATA CD-RW/DVD-ROM
PATA DVD-RW
Windows XP

What I want:
E6850 Core 2 Duo (3.0Ghz) or maybe an E8400 would be a better choice here? (Didn't realize any Penryn CPUs were out when I started writing this.)
Penryn compatible motherboard, I was looking at the Foxconn X38A because it has PCIe 2.0 and DDR3 slots in addtion to DDR2, but not sure if I need that with a new CPU socket on the horizon? (Probably be a couple years before I do another CPU upgrade if LGA775 gets replaced.)
1GB+ compatible memory if the total price is $525 or under. (Under $475 would be great and let me upgrade quicker, but that seems like it may be a bit too low.)

This is a gaming rig, though I'm still using an old 15" LCD at 1024x768. Not big on overclocking, but good support for it would be a plus. (Flight Simulator X in particular I want to run well.)

Any suggestions?

More about : motherboard cpu upgrade suggestions

a b V Motherboard
a b à CPUs
February 8, 2008 5:33:19 PM

GA-P35-DS3L, $96. It will support your PATA devices and the 2 disks, and you can still add two more hard disks later.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128059&Tpk=GA-P35-DS3L

Q6600, $277
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115017

G.Skill DDR2 800, 2GB, $47
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231098

Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro, $33
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835186134&Tpk=Arctic%2bFreezer%2b7

This is well within your budget, at $453 with shipping.

Add an HD 3850 too if you can stretch the budget to $650. This part can wait, FSX won't benefit that much because it's CPU-limited.

Note that in all games except Flight Simulator X the E8400 is better than the Q6600 thanks to higher clocks and poor programming that doesn't use cores 3 and 4. In FSX though the Q6600 is much better. I suggest you get it to 3.2 Ghz or so. The fps in FSX tend to go up in direct proportion to the Q6600 clock.

Forget X38 and DDR3, they are not necessary and definitely not on your budget. If you have more money coming, you're MUCH better off spending it on an HD 3850 512MB than on X38 or DDR3.
February 9, 2008 8:46:03 AM

Originally I was hoping to use my existing memory and just wanted to upgrade the CPU and Motherboard. (So the X38 and E6850 were within my original $525 budget.) I'm assuming that DDR2-533 won't work for modern boards. (And DDR3 support was interesting only for future proofing, to do step-by-step upgrades later assuming DDR3 eventually replaces DDR2. Of course, that didn't work so well last time when going with DDR2 instead of DDR since I only got DDR2-533.)

While FSX is one game I use (and probably the main one) I more then likely will be playing other games. Could a Q6600 overclocked to 3.0/3.2Ghz get similar preformance to a stock E6850 or even E8400 with other games? I'm a little wary about overclocking, simply because I've never really done it.

As far as that motherboard, I do like Gigabyte but think I'd like a bit better motherboard then that. More USB ports would be helpful and eSATA would be nice. Wifi would be cool since my current USB adapter doesn't seem to have Vista drivers (and probably won't get them) but given past experiences with PCI Wifi cards probably wouldn't work reliably. The DS3R boards on Newegg look nice but are more expensive, looking to see if I can trim the budget elsewhere and see some interesting memory after-rebate prices.

Patriot Extreme $24.99 after rebate:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Crucial Ballistix $39.99 after rebate:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Crucial's over the $475, but the Patriot Extreme's just under I think at $468.59. Don't know much about the brand though. (Crucial and Kingston and a few others I know of, but not Patriot.)

Still thinking this over. Would like to hear opinions about this from other people too.

And while my video card's not top of the line, I'm hoping I can get it to last for a while yet. I don't need to run everything with settings maxed and my resolution limit right now is 1024x768 anyways. (Max my old LCD can handle.) Was able to run and beat the Crysis demo without any major problems even with my old P4 550, and have played quite a bit of UT3 Demo online. This'll probably be my only major desktop upgrade for a while. I'm also more of an Nvidia fan then ATI. This video card is only the 3rd addon video card I've owned, the other two being a Voodoo 3 2000 PCI and Geforce FX 5200 PCI, so that shows I don't upgrade very often. My LCD was originally bought for use with a P3 933Mhz Compaq when the original monitor died and I'll probably use it till something forces me to replace it.

Edit: One little thing, would installing the cooler for the Q6600 (stock or otherwise) be basically the same as my Prescott's stock cooler? (Have heard people having trouble installing it, but am wondering if it was 'cause they were used to something different. This was my first build so I'd never done it any other way and didn't find it so hard, just a nervous business since it was my first time.)
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a b V Motherboard
a b à CPUs
February 9, 2008 8:23:07 PM

EdrickV said:

While FSX is one game I use (and probably the main one) I more then likely will be playing other games. Could a Q6600 overclocked to 3.0/3.2Ghz get similar preformance to a stock E6850 or even E8400 with other games? I'm a little wary about overclocking, simply because I've never really done it.

Edit: One little thing, would installing the cooler for the Q6600 (stock or otherwise) be basically the same as my Prescott's stock cooler? (Have heard people having trouble installing it, but am wondering if it was 'cause they were used to something different. This was my first build so I'd never done it any other way and didn't find it so hard, just a nervous business since it was my first time.)


A Q6600 at 3 GHz will match a stock E6850 or E8400 in other games (that is, give or take 5% or so, you won't notice a difference IMO). It would beat them senseless in FSX or video encoding. But, to make the comparison fair, keep in mind that the E8400 can be overclocked too, even higher than the Q6600.

Installing coolers: it depends on the cooler. The Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro is trivial to install even for the mechanically challenged who have never installed a cooler before. The Scythe Ninja is a pain to install (OK, for me at least :)  ). The Thermalright Extreme is even more work IMO. It also depends on the motherboard - some mobo/cooler combinations don't even fit.

February 9, 2008 9:17:02 PM

If I were using an E8400 or E6850 I probably wouldn't be overclocking them. And on occasion the quad core could be useful when transcoding files for my PMP so I'm pretty much sold on the Q6600. However it seems other people saw the rebate on that Patriot Extreme memory too 'cause now it's out of stock, so unless I were to go with the stock cooler or a cheaper one (and I don't really know enough about them to choose one myself) I guess I'll have to wait couple weeks.
a b V Motherboard
a b à CPUs
February 9, 2008 9:26:30 PM

You could try this one:

CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 $34 after rebate, free shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145590

The Patriot was $30 with shipping, after rebate, and the rebate might not be there when they are back in stock.
February 9, 2008 9:35:33 PM

The Patriot Extreme memory was cutting it pretty close. With the DS3R motherboard ($133.60 with shipping) and the other parts listed above that leaves me with $31.40 for memory. (Well, I suppose I could go through my pile of change.) In a bit less then two weeks I'd have $525 plus however much I've got in change. Since I'd rather order this stuff sooner then later I guess I'll start counting change.