More knowledge = more confusion

I guess confusion is not uncommon when it comes to building a PC, but still, the more I read, the more lost I get. So please englighten me, oh enlightened ones.

My questions three:
1. What kind of CPU should I get? I'm looking for something not too expensive but not any cheap junk either, something that's worth the money but doesn't get me bankcrupt. The longer the CPU stays useful the better.

I've figured that Intel's quad cores are the way to go, if I want my system keep going as long as needed. Of course dual cores still beat them, but if I get, say, Q6600, will it really become the bottleneck in situations where for example E8500 would perform nicely? I've heard that when dual cores came to the market, people downplayed their usefulnes in the near future and way too many bought single cores, which then became underpowered way too soon.

So... Q6600, or perhaps Q9550? The latter is built with 45nm technology, so I guess it would be overclocker's choice. Then again it also costs a lot more than Q6600, and I've understood that G0 Q6600 overclocks quite OK.

If you still tell me to get dual core, then I probably will. But then will something like E7200 suffice, if I get a nice cooler and overclock it near E8500?

2. My motherboard is MSI P35 Neo-F. I've been told I should replace it with something like Asus P5Q. But I don't really get it. Do I really need to replace my motherboard if I don't have any intention to go CrossFire/SLI or something like that? MSI P35 supports 45nm, supports overclocking, and to my knowledge I don't need anything fancier. But am I wrong?

3. Will EarthWatts 500 W suffice for Radeon 4870? Ati recommends that the PSU should be at least 550 W, so am I risking it if I combine EarthWatts 500 W and 4870?

An impassable mountain of gratefulness to anyone answering my questions. Thank you!
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More about more knowledge confusion
  1. this is my personal opinion

    1- i kinda agree with the whole quad is better. of course, for gaming, games will run almost as they run in dual (or slightly better or worst). lol. meaning in games the quad wont benefit you. but if you want to go for as long as possible. i would suggest a quad. my Q6600, running for a year now. n i can tell you, i dont even know what bottleneck means (unlike my P4 which i hated in 1 year time). i dont know which chip you should take. to be honest, i didnt see the hype for the newer Quads (the 9 series), as i saw for the 6 series. why? no idea. and yes, the q6600 can go 3Ghz almost easily, 3.2Ghz with more push, extreams are 3.4-3.6

    2-if the MSI doesnt have problem. and you feel that it will do enough for you. and you dont plan on overclocking to an extream. P45 is not something you need unless you going for DDR3. and since you wont xfire, i can say that p35 is just perfect for you.

    3-im not sure about ur psu's quality, and if it will be able to deliver what it says. so i cant give you an answer for that one.
  2. 1. CPU - I hate to say this depends on what you are using your comp for and how long you want to keep it. If you use mostly normal apps (ms office, internet, gaming) then a dual core is more then sufficient and will be faster. If you are using it for video editing or graphic design then I would chose the quad core. I would personally not recommend building a computer with the idea that it will last more then 2 years which makes building the $2k+ comp (not including monitor, speakers/headset, etc) a little over the top. If you want to really future proof it wait to build for another 2-6 months when the i7 chip is available and somewhat affordable. That way you will at least have a MOBO with the new socket.

    2. MOBO - without the specks I couldn't say for sure but you can get an excellent Asus P5Q P45 for at or near $100.

    3. NO! As a rule I would avoid having a PSU that supplies at or near the required minimums. I don't know much about PSU's so I typically go for overkill and I have not run into any issues. Think of it like your checking account. If you have more money in it then you need that is good. If you use every last penny and there is no margin for error that is bad. (this analogy is based on a recent personal event)
  3. 1. It all depends on what you want to do, most games still benefit more from fewer faster cores than the opposite some there might be a slight advantage for the E8500 over the Q6600. However, if you are the kind of people that leave tons of applications (or spyware) running WHILE gaming, then the Q6600 will beat the E8500. Either way, I don't suggest you go over a 200$ budget for the CPU, keep your money to upgrade to i7 (Nehalem) in a few years instead. If you decide to go for a dual, you could always upgrade to a Q9X50 down the road before switching to Nehalem. There isn't many situations where the Q6600 would really get crushed by the E8500.

    2. No you don't really need to, I don't think the performance difference between PCI-E 1.1 and PCI-E 2.0 for single-card setup would be worth the $$$. The P35 boards are great boards it's just that the newer P45 is ... newer lol.

    5. According to ATI's website, their requirements are 500W for a 4870 (with 2 PCI-E 6 pins connectors), you might be close if you run multiple HD, CD/DVD drivers or fans, but EarthWatt is a good brand so I don't think it would be too much trouble.
  4. Look at night_wolf's set-up. He is running a P35 with an OC'd Q6600 without problems so I would say that answers you MOBO question.
  5. ya, when i answered you, it was for NOW pc. but if you really wanted a future proof one. for next two years. then ill say wait for the nehlams. they are coming out pretty soon. couple of months or plus. but with that you'll need a whole new setup. mobo, rams. :)
  6. Well aren't you guys fast.

    You've all been very helpful. Many thanks!
  7. quad over duo
    overclock over stock
    brand 500w is an overkill for 300w tops that 4870 system uses at load

    550w minimum is for crap brands that dont deliver half their specifications. this way, ati's just making sure you have 300w stable.
  8. If you do a lot of cpu intensive tasks concurrently, then a quad is good.
    Otherwise, a duo can be better and less expensive. In either case, look for a 45nm part, assuming that your motherboard supports it.
    A E5200 or E8400 is good for a duo.
    A Q8200 or Q9400 is good for a quad.
    re quad core "futureproofing":
    It is not a trivial matter to utilize more than two cores in a program, and very few do today. I do not expect that to change much in the next few years. A program that requires a multi core cpu to run decently will not sell well. Your PC will continue to function for years, but it will be old in just one. Get what you need now, and plan on replacing it with the next best thing when it no longer does the job.

    The cpu, not the motherboard determines your performance, your current P35 motherboard is good.

    Whatever you do, 4gb is better than 2gb, and a relatively cheap upgrade.

    Ati says a 4870 requires a 500w psu with two pcie 6 pin connectors. Your earthwatts 500 qualifies.
    Earthwatts is a quality unit so you should have no problem. Keep it.
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