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Need Advice on Component Upgrades Please !

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October 22, 2008 1:45:29 AM

Hi guys :) 

I'm looking to update my system and I have around £700 (approx $1250) I'm hoping u guys could help me decide finally on what do. I have a few questioons that together I cannot find answers that help me settle on a few things. I've been doing all my upgrading for years, but don't follow the industry as much as I used to when I worked in the computer business. The PC is used purely for gaming apart from general use so this is the main consideration. Also I guess I won't be upgrading for another 18 months or so after this. please also bear in mind that I've never overclocked and at least for a while won't be and thus am interested moreso in stock performance.

I am currently running an intel E6300 @1.86ghz, 4gb 667mhz kingston value ram (On WinXP32 bit so only 3.37gb is recognised) and a BFG Geforce 8800GTS 640mb factory OC. I want to upgrade my cpu/MB, gcard and monitor, as I'm still on a max 1280x1024 dell TFT. I am stuck as to whether to get a top end dual core like an E8400/E8500 or entry level quad Q6600. I am also looking at a EVGA Geforce 9800GTX+, and a 24" 1920x1200 monitor. I have trawled through the forums and read the ups and downs of these components but what I would like to know which would be the best combination. I've also decided on an Asus P5Q-E Motherboard, and a Thermaltake Toughpower 750Watt PSU as my current 500W wouldn't cut it.

The E8400 is only £9 ($16) less than the Q6600, but having read about current Q supported games, clock speed etc, which would still be the better one to go for ? Also, is it worth me going up to 4 gb 1066 mhz Corsair ram (2x2gb) from the 667 (4x1gb)? or would spending the money on a better cpu be more worthwhile ? I mean how much difference would the ram make between those two types ? If I stuck with the older ram and got the e8400 which would save me around £90 ($160) but I would need another £200 ($360) to go up a gcard level to say a 9800GX2 which I don't have.

So I'm in a quandry guys, should I go: E8400 on P5Q-E, 4gb 1066 corsair, 9800GTX+, 24"; OR Q6600 on P5Q-E, 4gb 1066 corsair, 9800GTX+, 24"; OR E8400/Q6600 on P5Q-E, 9800GTX+, 24", and leave the 667 ram in. - Which would give me the best gaming performance at resolutions say between 1280x1024 to 1600x1200, as I feel that on a rig of the described spec would not perform well above 1600x1200. I'm not out for the best as I can't afford it but want as much bang for my buck, but also good and ready for any games that come out in the next 18 months.

Another question...which is better 2gb running at dual channel or 3.37gb at single channel ? I know I'll eventually have to upgrade to Vista, but how much of a performance gain would I actually see in games on this OS over xp32 ? I mean for example will games use more available ram under Vista or does the OS not matter when games detect ram ?

Any advice u can provide on these questions would be greatly appreciated ;)  (For UK responses - Prices are from dabs.com)
a b B Homebuilt system
October 22, 2008 2:20:48 AM

Get DDR2-800 that will achieve its advertised timings on the JEDEC default 1.8V. Mushkin makes some good 2x2GB sets. You will really minimize potential grief that way, and have room for overclocking later because you can push the voltage yourself.
Long term, I believe an HD4870 will offer comparable performance, and sip measurably less power doing it, which means less heat.
Are any of the Q9xxx quad cores available to you? Check prices; Intel just announced more cuts, so maybe one of them will be in reach. A Q9450 costs more that a Q6600, but also runs cooler.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
October 22, 2008 3:03:14 AM

Seconded.

Also, you are misinformed on what dual channel means. You can put 4GB into your 32bit machine and you will have 3+GB of dual channeled memory... however if you run a 1GB video card you'll end up with something like 2.6GB useable RAM addresses.

I have a link here with some parts suggestions if you need, although of course I point to newegg.

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/257075-31-what-parts-...
Related resources
a b B Homebuilt system
October 22, 2008 3:41:01 AM

Have you considered getting a Q6600 and overclocking to 3.0ghz?
Seems this is the thing to do for a budget build, and it is apparently very easy to reach the speed of say an e8400 and be solid. Plus you have 4 cores. You don't need anything other than DDR2 800 for this either.

And yeah, your 3.37 of memory is running in dual channel mode, as long as you have matched sticks in the corresponding slots. If you have 2-2 gig sticks and are not getting dual channel, you have them in the wrong slots...that is all. If you have 4-1gig sticks in all 4 slots, then you have dual channel as well. Just if you have only 2 sticks, you have to them in 2 certain slots, not just any slot will work.
October 22, 2008 5:07:05 AM

Interesting about the ram. They are matched pairs of 1gb sticks in the right slots, I just assumed they wern't running at dual channel because on bootup when I take one pair out it says 2gb running at dual ch but when I put the other pair in the corresponding slots it only recognizes 3+gb and doesn't say at dual ch. Plus with windows confirming the 3.37gb I assumed that because the OS didn't recognize the rest it was like having only 3 sticks installed thus not being in dual ch. Perhaps a bios update would solve this. However if u say it is still technically running at dual ch, then that's great ! I've always avoided overclocking due to worry of invalidating the warranty and having to upgrade cooler=more $. I may end up doing it with the Q660, But with the specs I described will there be any bottleneck at the cpu ? Enough to warrant getting a better Quad cpu instead of faster ram that is. You say I should go for 800 mhz ram but for 4 gb that's around £18 ($32) less than the 1066. - Not much of a saving but if I can stick with the 667 ram I have I save a further £63 ($113). But if the 4gb 667 ram will cause any bottleneck then I'd rather upgrade and have a decent backup system. Does the ram speed between 667 and 1066 give any noticable frame rate improvements with the specs I described ?

I can get the Q9xxx cpu's however a Q9450 is £100 ($180) more than the Q660 which is a bit much, hence if I can forgo upgrading the ram without penalty then I could stretch to a Q9400.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
October 22, 2008 5:21:15 AM

667Mhz RAM will work with the CPU, but you won't be able to overclock it, likely.

It's awfully cheap right now and a really good time to buy RAM.

If the money is tight I think your choices would be

1) Get new RAM and a Q6600 and overclock (should get an after market cooler too.)

2) Keep your RAM and get a Q9450 or 9550 (check prices on both) and do not OC.

Dabs seems to have the best deals:

http://www.dabs.com/productlist.aspx?&NavigationKey=111...
October 23, 2008 3:08:31 PM

Thanks guys.

So the 667 won't slow me down at all if I keep it ?

I think I'll go for the dual core and 800 ram based on your suggestions, but split these upgrades over 2 months so I'll have an extra bit of cash to spend which I think would be best to go to the gcard. However I've seen 2 of the same card on dabs.com for very disparate prices - can anyone tell me the difference as I can't find anything on google ?...

MSI GeForce 9800GX2 1GB GDDR3 PCIE 2xDVI HDMI 600/2GHZ £276.69

ASK Inno 3D GeForce 9800GX2 1GB PCIE DDR3 PCIE Dual DVI £355.98 ... I mean WTF?!

Obviously a better card than the 9800GTX+ and would give me more performance than the quad core etc at this stage and for a while. They appear to be identical hardware - What am I missing ? - cos it's obvious which one I'll buy if they are the same.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
October 23, 2008 4:43:14 PM

Never heard of ASK Inno.

If money is tight another suggestion would be to get one 4870 now and grab another down the road when you need it.

http://www.dabs.com/ProductView.aspx?Quicklinx=55PF&Cat...
That seems like a good price to me, in relation to your MSI 9800GX2
October 24, 2008 8:42:01 AM

OK guys your making me lean towards ATI after years of being with nvdia hehe. OK finances are planned and the upgrades will be done over 3 months which will give me around £1000 total. Don't wanna go any longer than that as I want it finished asap lol. Therefore I can stretch to an HD4870x2 which I would get along with the psu now and the rest later. However I have a couple important questions: Firstly, as the HD4870x2 is a PCIE2.0 x16 card, will my current mobo support it ? It's an Asus P5LD2SE which has a PCIEx16 slot. Will I suffer a performance drain until the mobo is upgraded ? or will it not work and have to wait ? Secondly, will a Coolermaster Real Power Pro 700W modualar PSU be sufficient to power it with an E8400, 3 internal SATA drives incl DVDRW, and 4 standard case fans ? and would it still suffice if I eventually went crossfire ? I've checked the PSU calculator on antec's websiteand it seems ok but just wanted your experienced opinions on it.

Thanks again ! :) 

btw Proximon maybe you've seen it as INN03D ?
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
October 24, 2008 12:34:19 PM

If you do buy a 4870X2 you would save some money in the long run, as you would not need a more expensive crossfire board and not need quite as much PSU.

I say this because otherwise you are proposing quad crossfire, which would be a waste of cash mostly. Yes you would have some performance gain but not very much. You would need a bigger PSU than that, probably a 1000HW Corsair would do it.

Two 4870s in CF or one 4870X2 is all the graphics cards you should need for some time to come. You would HAVE to have a 30" monitor and at least an overclocked Q9550 to make sense out of quad CF at all.

I do not see any thorough testing of the Cooler Master 700W modular, but it's not a bad PSU. Whether it is a good one remains to bee seen. Needs heat chamber and voltage ripple testing.

It would be enough for a single 4870X2, but not two. I would want a bit more for crossfire 4870s.

You can start with a 4870X2 on your board, but it will be limited by the CPU.

I keep coming back to a single 4870, and a crossfire board for you... It just seems like you would be happier having that upgrade option, and if you tried it I think you would see that a single GPU and a Q9550 would be all you need for now.

here are my picks for you:

http://www.dabs.com/productview.aspx?Quicklinx=4RYB&Cat...
Corsair 750TX. Not modular but the better PSU.

a 4870
a Q9550
x48 http://www.dabs.com/productview.aspx?Quicklinx=50N7&Cat...

This leaves you with the ability to upgrade to a second 4870 as you need.
October 25, 2008 4:55:51 AM

Thanks Proximon :) 

I ordered an HD4870x2 and the corsair TX750 for now as according to reviews etc 1 x2 is faster than 1 HD4870 with ddr5 etc, plus its around £70 cheaper than 2 4870's and takes less space. I probably wont end up doing CF, as by the time that comes It'll probably be better to uprgrade the card again. Only decision left really is when I get the mobo should I get the x48 chipset for 2xPCIEx16 or save over £50 and get the P45 with one x16 and 1x8. I know if I do end up doing CF I still can only at 8x but like I said, I may well not bother as the time I intended to go sli before never materialised for the same reason...things had moved on a lot. I will go with the Q9550 also like u said when I do get the mobo. For now I'll have to live with the peformance hit for a month or so by keeping current cpu/mobo and ram.

I'm still running xp pro 32bit. With the system upgrades complete, what difference in performance will I see when I upgrdet to Vista ? - I hardly know anything about vista except it uses more ram and quad cores better. Burnign question is, is it worth doing it sooner or later and why - just daunted at having to learn all the details and nuances of a new version of Windows atm.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
October 25, 2008 5:31:36 AM

I run both XP Pro 32 and Vista Premium 64 on this computer. Both OS are well installed, updated, and configured. Both are stable. I see minor performance differences in games because DX 10 taxes my 8800GT more than DX9.

Other than that, Vista 64 boots faster, and works faster in any app that takes advantage of 64 bits. The energy and time saving sleep mode works flawlessly in Vista 64 (for me, your mileage may vary). This is a first for me, in the 14 years I've been building computers I've never had one that slept well.

I fully intend to just strip away the XP in the near future.

Just get a good P45 board. I like my P5Q-E.
!