Upgrade suggestions

My system:

Asus M2N4-SLI
AMD Athlon 64 X2 2.2GHz
2 x 1GB "Super Talent" DDR2-800 Dual Channel
W.D. Raptor 74GB SATA
Maxtor 250GB EIDE
Nvidia 7600GS 256MB PCI-E
XP Pro SP3

The system is super fast for web browsing, M$ Office tasks, and CD/DVD burning. But, I'm getting into some multimedia stuff now (Photo Shop) and this is where it shows its weaknesses.

I think that more memory would be wasted on this system, given the limitations of 32-bit OSs. I've looked into upgrading the CPU, and I can buy an Athlon 64 X2 6400+ (3.2GHz, 1MB cache for each core) for $130. Or, I can buy a 2.5GHz Phenom (4 core) for 170-180. I _believe_ that my motherboard will support the quad core Phenom, although I may have to "flash" the BIOS.

The question is, which CPU....I've heard that the dual core can be faster for certain tasks, but that the quad core shines with multimedia apps and games (don't play too many). The quad core also had some problems earlier in its production run.

Also, at what point does it make sense to upgrade the motherboard? My mobo can support a max of 8GB of memory, up to DDR-800 dual channel. I understand that DDR-1333 is available now, although very expensive, and that the price of DDR-1000 is coming down to a reasonable level.

I think that I would be content with upgrading to the 3.2GHz dual core, but I would rather not have to upgrade again next year, so the quad looks attractive. Then again, if I really wanted to future proof this system, I would probably rebuild with a Quad Core Core2Duo. I think that might be overkill for my purposes and I'd like to stick with what I have....just need a few more "horsepower."
3 answers Last reply
More about upgrade suggestions
  1. Your board won't support a Phenom, as it requires an AM2+ socket, not an AM2.

    I don't see you getting a huge performance boost with an upgrade to 6400+.
    You could do a little better with more RAM, possibly, if you are working with large files.

    A Q6600, P43 board, and 4 gig memory kit would come in at less than $380.00 total
  2. Your board could work with a Phenom if there is a bios update... It would fall back to the original hypertransport speed though.

    Look at the cpu charts to see which of the AMD proccessors works best with photoshop.

    A second harddrive helps if you set the scratchdrive to the second drive.

    DDR 800 as all you need.
  3. you might be better off getting a better vid card with more memory. 256 mb might be holding you back, but in all honesty, I don't know all that much about what makes a good photoshop machine. it seamed to run OK on my old laptop, and its CPU was way worse than your current one,. I haven't tried it on my new laptop (better CPU, worse graphics)

    the good thing about that is you can always carry the vidcard over to your next build.

    I also sugest more system memory, unless you get a 1gig vid card (maybe then too). I'm pretty sure video memory counts toward the 32 bit memory cap. it looks like 2x1gig is about the same price as 2x512mb, so you might as well get the 2 gigs and not cry not seeing it all.

    if you are going to a major overhaul, get Vista 64, and another 4 gigs (6 total)
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