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Upgrade Advise for a first time overclocker

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September 1, 2008 5:40:32 AM

Like many others here abouts, I've already got a system that I'm fairly happy with, but is starting to give me a few issues.

Current System
Processor: Athlon 64 3500+
Motherboard: GA-K8N-SLI
Memory: 4x512mb DDR 400
Video: GeForce 7800 GT
Sound: Soundblaster Xi-Fi Platinum

The issues I've been having are twofold. First off my DVD R/W drive has died on me and needs replacing. Secondly I've been running into memory issues when I'm gaming on one monitor and doing other stuff on the other. I've temporarily fixed the memory issue by increasing my page file, however I'd prefer to run without it.

I could just go out and pick up some extra memory and a new drive, however I don't like the idea of spending money on DDR 1 when I can get DDR for the same price or better. Also I know that I'll hitting the limits of what my machine can handle within the next year or so, and would rather not have to upgrade my upgrade that soon.

I do a reasonable amount of gaming, though I tend not to play the latest and greatest FPS, so I don't need a state of the art machine by any means. I also use my PC for a lot of multimedia, and have it hooked up to my home theatre system. I'd like a machine with more than four SATA slots, since I've already got a bunch of drives and would like to be able to hook up another via eSATA. I'm also looking at getting myself into overclocking a bit, to get that extra performance edge and to help educate myself a bit.

Currently I'm just planning on upgrading my Motherboard, Processor and Memory and am looking to spend less than $500. The video card is good enough for now, and is fairly easy to upgrade on its own whenever the time comes.

Here's what I'm thinking of getting:
Motherboard: MSI P35 Neo2-FR or Gigabyte GA-EP45.
Processor: Intel Q9300 or E8500
Memory: 2x 2GB DDR2 800
DVD R/W: Something black

I'm thinking that the Q9300 will be better in the long run than the E8500 as more apps are better to take advantage of multiple cores. However when it comes to motherboards I still feel lost.


Any suggestions?
Thanks in advanced.


PS. Would it be worth it to reformat and switch to a 64 bit copy of XP?
PPS. Any good newb guides to Overclocking out there? (I haven't even started to search yet)
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
a b } Memory
September 1, 2008 6:23:35 AM

- get a Q9550
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
330.00
(overclock later when you can afford better cooling)

-P5Q has some nice features for overclocking and cooling. Higher versions have more features but here's a basic one:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
105.00

Memory:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
70.00

That's $505.00

- You need to reformat, regardless. You cannot switch motherboards and expect your OS to just take it in stride.

- You may want to take a look at your PSU as well.
September 1, 2008 6:44:42 AM

Thanks for the quick response. I'm hoping to educate myself a bit more about hardware, so I hope you don't mind me asking for some extra detail.

For the Q9550, the difference is just the .33GHz and 6mb cache, yes? Is that really worth the $95 difference?

As for the P5Q, what's it got that the two I mention don't?

For the PSU I think I've got a 400 or 450W. That good enough?

Thanks again :) 
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a c 113 B Homebuilt system
a b } Memory
September 1, 2008 7:34:43 AM

On the CPU, that's a hard question to answer. I firmly believe that the Q9550 is the best bang for the buck, and so I recommend it. It's going to come very close in performance on non-multithread processes as the E8400, but will of course shine for multi-tasking and programs/games that support quads. More games will support quad cores as time goes by, and indeed the next gen CPUs will be almost entirely 4 or more cores.

If you want, you can buy an E8400 and push it pretty good (if you are lucky up to 4Ghz). The majority of current games would like that better.

You generally can't push a quad so hard, but I can see getting near those marks... really, whatever your price point is, is fine.

Get a Q9300 with a Xigmatek S-1283. See my random parts list for the part, paste, and the bracket you need to buy separately:
https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.as...

After re-reading your post, I realize your needs are different than I thought. You do not want a vanilla P5Q at all. You need a P5Q-E:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Why? eSATA, lots of USB, firewire, the best newbie overclocking BIOS. Excellent cooling. There are more features you might want... drive expert, etc.

Generic PSUs are never good enough. If you have a brand name and model I can tell you if it will work out.

Seeing as how you need more MB, you'll want the lower priced quad. If you need to, get the Q6600. It's a good overclocker, if you happen to get a good one of course.
September 1, 2008 7:56:25 AM

PSU: Antec SP-400.

Unfortunately I can't see your random part list since it requires me to be a member, and I can't sign up without a matching Zip and State, which is kinda hard for me since I don't live in the states... *le sigh*
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
a b } Memory
September 1, 2008 8:11:01 AM

Well, it's not like an earthwatts or anything. Older PSU with some unknown qualities. Dual rails???

However, it's OK probably... depending how old. You won't get too many more miles out of it, but it shouldn't blow up at this point. For overclocking.... that's a crap shoot. Voltage regulation might make the system unstable once you start pushing CPU voltage.
September 1, 2008 8:15:08 AM

Power supply is two and a half years old. It's also a little on the loud side, so I may try to replace it as well. Or maybe I'll just ask for a new one for x-mas :) 

I'm gonna sleep on this and do some more reading around tomorrow. Thanks for all your help.
September 1, 2008 8:31:26 PM

Okay, I've put together three sets of upgrades that I could do that I'm now trying to decide between.

Budget System:
MSI P35 Neo2-FR w/ DualDDR2 800, 7.1 Audio, Gigabit Lan, Crossfire PCI-E x16; $130
Intel Core™2 Duo Processor E8500 3.16GHz w/ 6MB Cache; $210;
Corsair 4GB XMS2-6400 TWIN2X Dual Channel DDR2 Kit (2 x 2GB); $110
Total: $450

Next Step Up:
Asus P5Q w/ DualDDR2 1200, 7.1 Audio, Gigabit Lan, 1394, PCI-E 2.0 x16; $140
Intel Core™2 Quad Processor Q9300 2.50GHz w/ 6MB Cache; $285
Corsair 4GB XMS2-6400 TWIN2X Dual Channel DDR2 Kit (2 x 2GB); $110
Total: $535

Overclocking:
Asus P5Q-E w/ DualDDR2 1200, 7.1 Audio, Dual GB Lan, 1394, PCI-E x16 CrossFireX; $170
Intel Core™2 Quad Processor Q9550 2.83GHz w/ 12MB Cache; $380
Corsair 4GB XMS2-8500D Dominator TWIN2X Dual Channel DDR2 Kit (2 x 2GB) w/ Airflow Fan; $190
Cooling apx $50
Power Supply apx $100
Total: ~$890

All prices are from my local parts store, Memory Express, and are in Canadian Dollars.

Right now I'm leaning towards the middle option, mostly due to cost. However if I do go for the top end one, what should I be looking at for a power supply and for extra cooling? I looked at the items you linked above, but couldn't find the same brand localy, and wasn't really sure what everything was for.
My current case is an Antec Super Lanboy, so I've got the front and rear fans.

Once again, thanks for the advise.
!