Need some quality opinions on a potential upgrade...

Hi All,

I built a PC about a year ago, and while its served me well i find that im not getting max FPS anymore - and it might be time to jump on the Intel Quad bandwagon.

Current PC :
X2 6000+ @ 6.2ghz ; 4x1gb OCZ 8500 @ 800mhz ; 8800 ULTRA @ 1130/650 ; Asus Crosshair 0802 ; 150 Gb RaptorX 10000 rpm ; 2 x 1Tb Seagate 7200 rpm @ RAID 0; Zalman 9700 cooler; Antec 182 Case + 4 120mm fans ; 750w Seasonic M ; Dual Boot XP sp3 + VISTA64 Ulti.

Its a decent machine and has been a total beast in the FPS department to be honest. The mobo has trouble supporting the ram and the bios updates are cr@p and always bugged. It also doesnt seem to like 4gbs and gives issues like BSODs or fails to POST at some random times in the year. But generally its served me well.

Im playing games like Crysis Warhead and Stalker : Clear Sky at the moment ( which are both superb ) and im finding that my PC is craving more than it can offer - especially on the high to ultimate settings in games - which i like to play on within reason.

So my question basically is this : Is it worth it for me to dump my AMD board and CPU and go for a decent quad core like the Q6600 or the Q9550 ( as i intend to OC them on air to at least 3.6ghz ).

Or should I just get a Phenom X4 9550 Black Edition and OC it to 3/3.2ghz and save myself a lot of cash and effort. All it requires apparently is a bios upgrade on the crosshair from the AM2 to AM2+ board build.

Would i see any massive gains by going the INTEL route ( as their CPUs pawn the AMD ones - but at a cost ). Or would the Phenom provide me with a nice quick boost without much cost while also putting me in the Quad market finally?

Your advice is much appreciated :)

Cheers
15 answers Last reply
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  1. imo, i would go with the X4 9550 BE and OC that lil sucker.

    if you're going the intel route, you gotta get a new mobo, new CPU. a Q9550 is at least 310$ with a decent mobo maybe in the 150$ ish range. so thats quite a bit of money you're gonna spend there.

    the 8800 Ultra is still a viable card but i think if you want to see FPS increases, you might have to drop the money on a 4870 with either build. the 4xxx series is known for their AA abilities at good resolutions so you'll get a more detailed game at higher res. Especially with the 1gb version that came out which doesn't cost too much more from the 512mb.

    the phenom is the easier route for your quick boost for sure, i would go w/that myself and save some money. i think a X4 9550 will be adequate for the time being.
  2. I don't think i 'd bother upgrading much if i had that machine. Personally i would update the video card if anything. 4870 as suggested is a great card and performs a noticeable bit better then the ultra. I don't believe your processor is a bottleneck yet.

    But it does sound like your looking for a motherboard change due to your motherboards issues with the ram etc. In which case the Q9550 is a great processor. And i'd go with an ASUS P35 board. I'm not sure if you can get an x38 for 150 yet. If you can get one of those, but one of the DDR2 models. They support a higher FSB "1600" so overclocking is pretty easy. Even if you went with the cheaper Q9450.
  3. The Phenom's are not bad but, even overclocked to 3.2Ghz, they have no possibility to compete with a Q6600/9550 at 3.0Ghz much less 3.6Ghz.

    Even so, I would recommend upgrading the GPU first and seeing how much of a performance boost you get.
    I think with a 4870 or 4870x2 you should see some significant FPS gains even with your x2.
    As you would need an upgraded GPU anyways to see real gains, start here and see what it gets you.
  4. I would take the e8500 over X4 9950.

    Honestly it's a matter of cost. How much do you plan to spend on an upgrade?

    I would sooner upgrade the video card to a 4870 and hold out for awhile to see what AMD and Intel have for their next platform launches.
  5. Well, to be honest - i could actually dump several hundred pounds into a new build as i have the cash readily available. But im trying to be sensible here and weigh up the value for money option - and not just jump on the first hype bandwagon.

    Im definately not going down the DD3 route ( as its too expensive and insufficient in the results at the moment ); and im definately going down the SLI/Crossfire route either ( as the methodology is just not optimised on a wide scale yet ). So a nice DDR2 board ( preferably Intel ) sounds really good at the moment - in light of the instability ive experience with the Crosshair. MY ram is still top notch and i have 4gbs of the stuff - it OC's really well so ill stick with DDR2 for the time being definately.

    In truth i do want to go the INTEL route as AMD did drop the ball - which is hard to admit being a long time AMD user. Intel just seem like they have the better chips at the moment and i agree with outlw6669 about how a 3.0Ghz Q6600 will own a highly OC'd Phenom BE.

    I see that the recommendation is to go for a new card - which does make sense as its well over 1.5yrs old tech now and cards move so fast in terms of technological increases in speed and power. The ULTRA is still powerful and still owns most other high mid-range cards today. Is it really going to make a huge difference if i go for a 4870x2 ( which looks amazing )/ or a GTX 280 OC ( which also looks really good - but not sure if its better than the 4870x2 )?

    The next AMD launch will be the 45nm Phenoms - which i think will do really well. But thats prob towards Jan 09 and there will prob be issues just like the last release. Not sure about the next Intel release - i think they are focusing on dominating the low to mid market to steal it away from AMD again at the moment. But the next mid-high range chipset will prob be remarkable no doubt.

    If only i had a 775/Intel board i wouldnt have this problem in the first place...
  6. I think it's important to address what rez you're running stuff at, the GTX 280 and the 4870X2 are massively powerful but really only pull away significantly from mid-high range cards at above 22" resolutions.

    The quick and dirty CPU upgrade would get more frames out of your 8800 Ultra to an extent, but personally I'd probably get a mid-range X38 mobo, lower range wolfdale CPU (which you can OC the nuts off ;) ) and then the GTX 260 (updated SKUs out soon!) / 4870 .
  7. Thanks for the advice guys. Ive always appreciated the range of opinions and experience to be found in the THF :)

    Basically im running at 1920x1200 as i have a 24" widescreen. So the CPU bottleneck issue wont really be a problem with the CPU running at 3Ghz or over. Just keen to maybe reap some benefits from a larger CPU cache and quad processing for the recent CPU intensive games.

    Looking at some charts and benchmarks for Warhead it looks like the GTX 280 pulls ahead of the 4870x2 at high res ( i.e. 1920x1200 etc - and Crysis is Nvidia optimised anyway so its too be expected ). But the 4870x2, at a technical specification level looks like the better card for sure.

    So I might just get the Phenom 9950BE as a quick route to quad ( and OC it to about 3ghz-ish! ) and then a 4870x2 which should come in at the £500ish mark i imagine.

    Otherwise with a Q9550 or even a Q6600 + a decent Intel x38 DDR2 board im looking at about £400 without even a new GPU...

    Hmmmm...choices, choices.
  8. Combo Deal: $305
    AMD Phenom 9950 2.6GHz 125W Quad-Core Black Edition & ASUS M3A78-T AMD 790GX w/sb750
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductCombos.aspx?Item=N82E16819103291&SubCategory=343&SortField=0&PageSize=10&page=1

    I don't know if a similar option is available to you at your location.

    I think one of the possible issues you are dealing with is the OCZ PC8500 @ 800MHz and the nVidia 590 chipset. With the Phenom 9950 BE and the Asus 790gx your RAMs will run spec 1066MHz (and depending on your OCZ # may be on the mobo QVL list) and most likely 3GHz+ will be available to you at stock volts with the Phenom.

    If you are not pleased with any gain in performance you may bundle the 8800 Ultra and Asus Crosshair, sell them, and put the cash toward your new Radeon HD4870x2 (or you could run 2 X Radeon HD 4850 in CrossFire on the M3A78-T) <---- IF that looks like an option for you consideration may be given to the ASUS M3A79-T Deluxe AMD 790FX ...

    http://usa.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=149&l3=789&l4=0&model=2503&modelmenu=1
  9. Personally I would dump my coin on the new 4870x2 video card and see what kind of performance gains you get, which should be very noticeable. Then sell your 8800 Ultra to recover some coin.

    Wait for the new releases in a few months to see what kind of performance difference you can get with the new chips from both Intel and AMD. If it doesnt seem worthwhile to upgrade to the new stuff, guess what? You get lower prices on current hardware and you win both ways.

    This way you dont get the current hardware and find out 6- 8 months down the road the new stuff is 20% faster and it leaves you wanting for more again.

    The 6000x2 is a nice chip and will keep you happy until then...
  10. I would not spend money for a new Intel based system if i was you. Keep in mind though if you're looking into getting a Phenom to OC, your mobo doesnt have the newer SB that really helps its OC potential.

    You said your machine used to get max FPS. Im a lil confused. Does it not still get the same FPS in the games you where playing back then. Or is it you dont get the FPS you want out of crysis and the other games.
    If its the 1st of those I would simply do a clean install of windows before spending any money.

    As others have said I would spend the money to upgrade your video card. That is where you will gain the most FPS increase in games at the res. you play at.
  11. Ye - definitely leaning towards a 4780x2 at the moment.

    I do secretly just want to dump this frikkin Crosshair as it has been nothing but problems ( i have RMA'd about 2 of them ).

    Was looking at the new M3A79-T that WiseCracker suggested - looks amazing. If they had it in stock in the UK i might be tempted to go for the 9550BE, M3A79-T mobo and a 4780x2 :)

    That would tide me over for a while.

    I clean install my XP every other month basically :)
    I was getting max FPS a few months ago but Warhead and Clear Sky and a few others are really just pulling down my FPS's and making the ULTRA show its age i guess...
  12. THe 790GX boards are nice. But, go with the 4870X2 since you are gaming at that res.
  13. Personally I would wait for new gpus and cpus to hit the market and go from there. Your pc doesn't need any upgrading at all. An upgrade from an 8800 Ultra to a gtx280 is not going to be that dramatic, although it would of course make a difference. In your case, your CPU is the weakest link.

    Be smart and hold out as you're going to waste a ton of money buying these current parts. It's' just not worth it.
  14. You might want to read this set of tests with various 2 and 4 core CPU's and an 8800Ultra.
    http://www.guru3d.com/article/cpu-scaling-in-games-with-quad-core-processors/2

    The net is that the performance is somewhat similar for all but the slowest clocked cpu's in the games they tested.
    A E8400 would be almost as good as the extreme quads. How would the E8500/E8600 fare?
    If you play supreme commander or FSX which are multi core optimized, then stay with a quad.

    My conclusion is that you have plenty of cpu, and a vga card upgrade is the only thing that will help.

    Look for a 4870X2. Consider a highly clocked GTX280 from EVGA in case you might want to use their "step-up" program if a better part should appear within 90 days.
  15. geofelt said:
    You might want to read this set of tests with various 2 and 4 core CPU's and an 8800Ultra.
    http://www.guru3d.com/article/cpu-scaling-in-games-with-quad-core-processors/2

    The net is that the performance is somewhat similar for all but the slowest clocked cpu's in the games they tested.
    A E8400 would be almost as good as the extreme quads. How would the E8500/E8600 fare?
    If you play supreme commander or FSX which are multi core optimized, then stay with a quad.

    My conclusion is that you have plenty of cpu, and a vga card upgrade is the only thing that will help.

    Look for a 4870X2. Consider a highly clocked GTX280 from EVGA in case you might want to use their "step-up" program if a better part should appear within 90 days.


    Thanks geofelt.

    I was just reading that article on guru3d yesterday :) And i was looking at that water cooled GTX 280 from EVGA too...

    Its just that so few games are even partially, let alone fully, optimised for more than 2 cores - that its almost not worth it for a pure gamer to go quad YET. I do play alot of SupCom but i find that at a decently high setting its not the FPS lag but the ping/net lag from the other gamers with poor bandwidth or crap CPUs that drag the game to a stutter mostly.
    I have witnessed on reviews that SupCom does benefit greatly from multiple cores - but thats only 1 game... Crysis claims it does but the results are inconclusive at best.

    So basically - thanks for all the responses everyone. A lot of good opinions.

    Im going to order a new Noctura NH-U12P fan and maybe get my X26000+ to 3.3 or 3.4 ( going to be a good adventure!! ). Im also going to get the 4870X2 as that card rocks - and ill pawn off the 8800 ULTRA to recoup some coin. Ill get the new ASUS M3A79-T Deluxe AMD 790FX when it hits the stores in the UK and dump the frikkin crosshair. Then maybe i can get my 4gbs of OCZ 8500 to 1066 with some tighter timings too.

    Ill wait for the new chips from INTEL and AMD - would lean toward the new 45nm phenoms when/if they come out soon then ;)
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