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Upgrading Socket 939 System

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February 23, 2009 4:36:23 PM

Hey everyone, I'm new here and looking for some advice. Here is my current setup, which I have had for about 4 years (I added the second gig of memory about six months ago):

AMD 64 3700+ "San Diego" 2.2ghz (oc'ed to 2.5ghz)
DFI LANPARTY UT nF4 Ultra-D 939
2 x 512mb OCZ EL Plat rev. 2, and 2 x 512MB Patriot Extreme (2gb total 184-Pin PC 3200)
eVGA nVidia 6800GT
2 x HITACHI Deskstar 80GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s (in Raid-0)
NEC ND-3540A DVD Burner
OCZ 520w PowerStream power supply
Dell 21" widescreen LCD at 1680x1050 resolution
Lian-Li PC-V1200 ATX case

I've been noticing that my computer has been running a little sluggish lately. It takes like 15 seconds for iTunes to start up. I get blue screen of death when I keep the computer running for too long, even though I never have spyware or viruses. I think my overclock is pretty gentle, too. I think what I really need is at least 4gb total ram for today's applications. So, instead of scrapping 4 x 512mb sticks, and paying a lot for expensive 1GB 184-pin sticks... I'm thinking about upgrading to AM2/3 or i7. I would keep my case, hard drives (probably just use for extra storage), dvd burner, monitor, and if possible the powersupply.

My budget is flexible, but I'm looking to put in $600. I just want to upgrade with the best deal. I don't need to have cutting edge. For some background info, the only games I intend to play are World of Warcraft and StarCraft 2, when that comes out. I'd like to be able to play at near max settings on those games. Also, I do a lot of multitasking with browser/iTunes/Warcraft, so memory is probably going to be key.

Where should I start?

Thanks!
February 23, 2009 4:45:03 PM

Current DDR 3200 not compatible with AM2. 2 X 2 GB kits of DDR2 are cheap.

AM2 780/790 with PII 940 would destroy your current system. Like make it hide in the closet.

February 23, 2009 4:47:17 PM

Unfortunately, the socket 939 is a dead end. I remember having a hard time even a year ago trying to find a CPU for that platform.

I'm guessing you'd make good use of a quad-core CPU, based on what you're describing. Since you're considering i7 I guess your budget is good. You have three main options IMO:
i7 920/X58 board/6GB of DDR3 - fastest, but most expensive
Q9550/P45 board/4GB of DDR2 - almost as good, even better in some games, cheaper
Phenom II 940/790GX board/4GB of DDR2 - almost as good as the one above, cheaper

As for the GPU, I'd recommend a HD 4870 1GB. It's excellent bang for the buck.
The GTX 260 is also very good, but I still think the HD 4870 is better here because it supports Havok (which will make Starcraft 2 nicer) and because you can Crossfire it on all three of those platforms (X58, P45, 790GX).

A new hard disk like WD6401AALS ($80, 640GB) could also help there. I suspect it has a better average read-write rate than your RAID-0.
Related resources
February 23, 2009 4:55:47 PM

badge said:
Current DDR 3200 not compatible with AM2. 2 X 2 GB kits of DDR2 are cheap.

AM2 780/790 with PII 940 would destroy your current system. Like make it hide in the closet.


But would I notice a significant speed increase by spending about $150 to replace my 4 x 512 sticks with 4 x 1gb stick? If I would, I might just want to milk this system a little longer. Then again, it would be another $150 wasted when I decide to upgrade the rest.
February 23, 2009 5:10:49 PM

@bmuell, what for DDR2 or DDR3? you can get 4gb 2x2gb of 800mhz ddr2 for about $50 and over here in the UK you can get 2x2GB 1600mhz DDR3 for £90 or about $130

If you're willing to wait then wait for the high end AM3 quads which run at 3.2-3.5ghz, It'll beat the I7 anyday.
February 23, 2009 5:13:14 PM

@aevm: 7 920/X58 board/6GB of DDR3, and an HD 4870 was my initial thought, but I'm also curious about AM3.

Also, power consumption and heat is a consideration for me. I need an outrageous OC, and I'd prefer use the stock HSF. I'd also like to use my current power supply, so I'm trying to avoid xfire/sli.
February 23, 2009 5:15:12 PM

Your OCZ 520W PSU has enough power for a HD 4870 (recommendations from Sapphire say 500W or more). It only has one PCI-E connector and you need two, but that's easy to fix with a $3 adapter. You definitely can't do Crossfire with that PSU.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812887001

February 23, 2009 5:17:31 PM

@bmuell: Are you in the USA, Canada, UK, elsewhere? If we know the country we can give you more useful links. www.Newegg.com is great as a source of info but only ships to the USA.
February 23, 2009 5:18:44 PM

Yeah I live in the US, and I've ordered from Newegg before. However, now I live in CA, so sales tax applies... I wish there was a way to avoid that, but I'll probably keep ordering from them.
February 23, 2009 5:22:42 PM

That's good, the US has the best prices.

What's your budget for CPU/MB/RAM together?

February 23, 2009 5:34:47 PM

About $600 for everything. I could postpone the video card purchase until StarCraft II actually comes out.

edit: ack, not used to the forum yet, keep adding in quotes from previous posts.
February 23, 2009 6:14:17 PM

Let's see...
$100 GA-EP45-UD3R
$275 Q9550
$50 DDR2-800 2x2GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231209
$175 Sapphire HD 4870 512MB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102810

LOL, it's exactly $600.

A Phenom II 940 + 790GX combo would be $343 (saves you $32 over the GA-EP45-UD3R/Q9550), the MB has more features, but the CPU is a bit slower.
http://secure.newegg.com/Shopping/AddToCart.aspx?Submit=ADD&ItemList=Combo.159867

A i7 920/x58/DDR3 combination is not doable for $600-$175. It would consume all your $600 ($290 CPU, $250+ MB, $100+ RAM) and leave you to struggle with the old 6800GT. That makes no sense - the machine would still not be able to play any recent games properly.

February 23, 2009 6:19:56 PM

Why are x58 boards so expensive? Will they go down in price?

How would this compare to AM3?
February 23, 2009 6:40:30 PM

X58 boards are designed for maniacs with 2 or even 3 video cards and with serious overclocking in mind. In your case, you'd pay for features you don't need.

Then there's also the fact that this is the highest-end product available and it carries an extra cost simply for the prestige.

AM3 is a bit too new so I don't really want to comment on it until I do more research. Right now I see a single AM3 quad CPU at Newegg, it's called Phenom II X4 810. It's a bit slower than the Phenom II 940, according to this review:
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=3512&p=1
It costs $176, a MB would be $140 (ASUS M4A78T-E AM3 DDR3 AMD 790GX), and it needs DDR3 which costs more than DDR2. On the whole, it costs more than the Phenom II 940 version and delivers less performance.
February 23, 2009 6:47:04 PM

aevm said:
A Phenom II 940 + 790GX combo would be $343 (saves you $32 over the GA-EP45-UD3R/Q9550), the MB has more features, but the CPU is a bit slower.


I would go with a 790GX mobo but instead go with a 5400+ BE ($65-$70) and then wait for prices to drop on the Phenom II's. Sure you are getting a slower CPU but you also get somewhat of an upgrade path that can carry parts over to AM3 if you get an AM3 CPU for the AM2/AM2+ mobo. With a 4870 1GB, you will crash through WoW with all settings maxed or close to it.
February 23, 2009 7:06:37 PM

So, you're thinking of an AM3 board like this one:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131366&Tpk=M4A78T-E
with a $70 dual-core like this X2 5400 BE:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103289

That means you pay $70 and live with a slower CPU for a while, hoping that the Phenom II 940 will drop in the meantime from $230 to $160 just to break even. That is, if it drops to $160 you have lived with the slower CPU and went to the trouble of installing the CPU twice, all for nothing. Hmmm... this makes sense to me only if you expect the Phenom to drop way under $160 and to do it soon too. I wouldn't bet on it, TBH.
February 23, 2009 8:22:24 PM

I'm actually really interested in the DFI LanParty JR X58-T3H6 ($229) now that Lian-Li has updated it's PC-V351 (see THW frontpage!). I might have to put off upgrading the video card so I can afford the i7 920. The only game I play right now is WarCraft 3 and that runs fine on my 6800GT. I also like the idea of staying with DFI since I've never had any problems with them. The problem is DDR3 memory is expensive for a 3 x 2gb kit, the best I could find is this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
!