Upgrading to a new CPU - question about overclocking quad vs duo

So I'm thinking about getting a new processor (along with ram and motherboard but those to me are much easier choices) and am a little hesitant about how many cores I should be getting and how they are in terms of overclocking. Right now I'm pretty much set on either




I'm very happy with my vid card that I got about 2 months ago, an MSI 9600 GT as I can play games like Lord of the Rings Online at full settings, Half Life 2 on max etc etc. Recently I've been going on an RTS binge making up for all these games I haven't played, having just beaten Kane's Wrath which played like a dream. I moved on to the most frickin epic greatest RTS ever by the name of Supreme Commander :) . Unfortunately, though I can max out the settings just fine, when I tell my victory fleet of 200 destroyers to go forth and annihilate, my 3.4 ghz Pentium 4 gives me a big F you and slows down a decent bit.

Setting the graphics lower really makes no difference, and I listen to my fan speed on the ol graphics card and it never goes nearly as loud as say when I'm playing LOTRO, so now I'm looking at upgrading the processor, since that seems to be limiting me a good bit. So the question is, for which CPU can I get more bang for my buck in terms of overclocking and general performance. So say, could I easily get the quad core to 3.0 ghz and the duo to 3.8 ghz or thereabouts and at those points which processor would outperform the other one?

I don't do any kind of graphic designing or rendering or any of that other stuff. The only thing I use for my computer is school work (Microsoft Word was never too big of a system hog :D ) and gaming, with no leaning towards any genre in particular. As I said earlier right now I'm going through an RTS phase, considering picking up Sins of a Solar Empire (which seems to be Supreme Commander in space, something my P4 is not happy about heh), but I'll also get any freshly released FPS or RPG as well (Mass Effect ran perfectly maxed out settings).

I apologize for this being so long, but wanted to make sure it was clear where I'm coming from and for what purposes I use my computer, as I don't care if a video renders in 141 seconds as opposed to 200 seconds ;) . Also, I see that on August 10th there is some kind of price drop, will it affect what I would want to buy or will this price range remain the same?
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More about upgrading question overclocking quad
  1. what you would want is the c2d e8400 or i would go for the e8500 these processors can easily oc to 3.8+ and they are better the the q6600 at stock speed. if your going to do mostly gaming get a dual core.

    people say that quad cores are more future proof. but by the time quad cores perform better in games then dual cores the q6600 will be way outdated

    if you oc i would get would spend the money on a quality motherboard and ram to
  2. The only thing is for RTS games a quad will do better. 3.4GHz is easy on a Q6600 and most other quads. But once you finish your RTS phase you might get back to FPS where a higher clocked (and OC to about 4GHz) dual will serve you better.

    In the end its up to you but if you want the best RTS experience quads, if you want the best overall game experience then dual.
  3. Dual cores will always overclock better than quads, simply because they offer less voltage instability and because you can get the heat out of them alot quicker. Here's and E8600 at 6.25Ghz:


    Having said that, your still two cores short of a quad, so just buy a quad. Also because the quad market is now firmly entrenched and have high enough numbers, games will become quad core optimised.
  4. It's generally agreed that future gaming will use quad core more.

    Current games will probably benefit more from a overclocked dual core.

    I can't speak for RTS too much. I can tell you that my current setup runs the BIG battles ( 3000 + troops ) in Med. 2 Total War without a single hitch:

    E8400 OC to 3.6
    4 gigs RAM
    P5Q -E
    8800GT @ 1680x1050, full settings
  5. Before you go advanced in buying a Quad Core and stuff....

    Have you double checked if yor motherboard can support the Core2Duo series with a BIOS update?
  6. I would go with a quad. First of all, the Q6600 is an overclocking beast. I am able to take mine to 3.6ghz, which is way more speed than you will ever need. Honestly, 3ghz is all you need to completely eliminate a CPU bottleneck on the GPU. Which is why I will recommend the Q6600, since it usually can overclock to 3ghz without a voltage bump. Plus, quad does great with RTS games. It will perform slightly better than a duo of slightly higher frequency in dual optimized games, due to the fact that the other cores can be used to run background tasks and the other two can be devoted to the game.
  7. "Honestly, 3ghz is all you need to completely eliminate a CPU bottleneck on the GPU."

    I agree, even playing crysis with all the eye candy on, I couldn't load all of my 4 cores.
  8. Ahhh... even on a dual core, you won't see both core fully loaded. And on a side note, I don't think any would want to see their CPU fully utilized, when its the GPU's job for the graphic's.

    If you just standing around with nothing much going on, what do you expect your quad to do? Hum?
  9. stridervm said:
    Before you go advanced in buying a Quad Core and stuff....

    Have you double checked if yor motherboard can support the Core2Duo series with a BIOS update?

    I will be buying a new motherboard as well so that I can also replace my 2 gigs of ddr2 533 with 4 gigs of 800 or 1066, so compatiblity won't be an issue. And yeah, my current mobo doesn't support dual or quad core since it's an intel 925x. From the responses and looking over turpit's CPU buying guide, seems the choice is better to go with the quad core. In the guide it also shows the gaming benchmarks, and while the FPS see a nonexistent performance increase, Supreme Commander (which started this whole upgrade in the first place :) ) shows quite a nice improvement.
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