Rebuild or Upgrade?

Hi all, I have been reading the forums over the last few days and am very excited to discover the wealth of knowledge here. Hopefully someone can give me a bit of guidance for the following:

Current System (4 years old, bought from HP online):
Pentium D 820 (2.8 GHz)
2.0 GB RAM (DDR2 533, 512 x 4)
2 x 80.0 GB SATA 7200 rpm drives (1 master 1 slave)
400 W PSU
GeForce 6600 GT (256 MB) GPU {was downgraded to this after my GeForce 8500, 512 MB died)

Current use: surfing, office type work, on-line gaming (currently Vanguard SOH).

When playing Vanguard, I play on Highest Performance setting and am getting 20 FPS, using 50% of the system memory with a 1 GB pagefile and about 50% of the CPU. On the Highest Quality setting, I am running around 5 FPS, using 65% system memory with a 1 GB pagefile and about 60% CPU.

So the question is, is it worth building a new system or simply upgrading the GPU?

1) If I build a new system, it will be with a ASUS mobo (with 16 GB RAM support, 4 dimm slots, 2 PCIe x 16), an Intel Core2 Duo 3.16 {wolfdale} (to keep price down from the 3.33), 3.0 GB RAM (keeping harddrives with XP), a 750 W efficient powersupply and the ATI 4870 (possibly 2 in crossfire).

2) If I upgrade it would be to a GeForce 9800 GT (512 MB) or the GeForce 9600 GT (512 MB) GPU (nothing else in the current system is really upgradeable as the processor and mobo are end of life).

Obviously option 2 is significantly cheaper (preliminary price checking showed option 1 at $700 to $800 and option 2 at $150.00) but option 1 gives me a fun hobby to start. I would like to do option 1 but only if it will actually improve game performance over simply upgrading the video card (I like the whole money to performance valuation).
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  1. Build a new system. That 50% CPU usage makes me suspect you have one core maxed and one not used (the game is not multithreaded), so the CPU is a bottleneck. If I'm right, simply replacing the GPU will disappoint you.

    I'm assuming you're talking about the P5Q Pro or P5Q-E boards. Both are good. I'd prefer the Gigabyte GA-Ep45-UD3P though.

    I'd recommend the Corsair or PC Power & Cooling 750W PSUs. Those are the best in that range AFAIK.
  2. One more thing: if you get the HD 4870, I think Sapphire is your best bet.

    A new HDD (WD6401AALS) would help there too, otherwise your current drives will become the new bottleneck. You can still use them to store movies or whatever, where speed is not important.
  3. Thanks for the response Aevm. I appreciate it, and needed the nudge to go in taht direction!
  4. Upgrade your system. The Core 2 Duo you have chosen is an excellent choice. I would reccomend 4GB of memory (the extra memory will be well worth the money).

    Want an excellent power supply? Get a "PC Power and Cooling" power supply. High quality with a 5yr warranty. I have the 610 but that works for me because I never plan on using a crossfire setup. (typically the frame rate increase is not good enough to justify the extra cost)

    4870 is also a great choice.
  5. I ment "Rebuild"
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