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Upgrading from Core 2 Duo E6600 to Q9550

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September 6, 2009 4:35:00 AM

This is a rather big decision so forgive me for the length.

I have an asus p5b deluxe wifi-ap motherboard. It uses an lga775 slot and has a default front side bus of 266MHz (so it would say that a 1066MHz processor is compatible). I was kindof/somewhat thinking about upgrading to a quad core processor but wasn't sure how much of a performance increase I could expect. Here is a link to all of the Intel Core 2 Quad processors with 1333MHz FSB, lga 775 and 12MB Cache: . I looked and the 45nm processors are compatible with my motherboard. Also, I think the multiplier on the 1333MHz processors is increased to match their normal speed while keeping the FSB at 266. I would have to double check though.

I was thinking of getting the 9550 as I think I would easily be able to overclock it to the same speed as the 9650. Also, since they both have the same amount of cache I can't think of anything else that would be different between the two. The watt usage is the same (95w) between the 9550 and the 9650. The other more expensive 9550 has the same specs as far as I can tell except it uses 65w instead of 95w. In the end the power consumption might come out cheaper but I don't really think that long term in terms of cost (I also don't know if a 65w or a 95w would be better at overclocking or it would even make any difference). The processor also added the SSE 4.1 instruction set which is supposed to improve video editing and encoding (E6600 lacks this).

The processor I have now is a Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4GHz w/ 4mb of cache (I also have 4GB Corsair XMS2 DDR2 800MHz RAM with 5-5-5-18 timings). So, if I upgraded, I would quadruple my processor cache and double my cores. I have 2 80mm case fans pulling air up near the hard drive bay, a 120mm fan blowing air in from the side, a Zalman CPU fan/heatsink , and another 120mm fan pulling air out of the back. It runs about 30-32 C stock but I can get it stable at about a 3.2GHz overclock or so (it is stable as far as I can tell at 3.66 but it exceeds the safe temperature levels). I hear the 45nm architecture (that isn't the right word is it?), or more specifically these quad cores are better at overclocking than the core 2 duos so I am thinking I might be able to get the q9550 to overclock to anywhere form 3.6-4.0 GHz and be stable. If it runs too hot at that I can always get a beefy PCI card fan and get a CPU heatsink/fan like this to fix that issue:

I know scientific applications and video editing/encoding use more than two cores but I was wondering if the upgrade to this processor would be a significant upgrade for me. The idea is I get this and get a fan nice enough to overclock to ~4.0GHz, upgrade my 800MHz RAM from 4GB to 8GB, upgrade my 8800GT 512MB to one of the DirectX 11 video cards when they come out and drop in price some (and if they don't/don't come out with any good DirectX 11 games any time soon I'll continue using this card until I have to settle for low or medium settings on my games) and upgrade my 19" 1280x1024 LCD to a 24" 1920x1080 monitor (this monitor upgrade could be the thing to make me have to upgrade that video card). So basically, I want to be able to keep the system I have now and have it still be somewhat of a beast for the next 2-3 years (i.e. be able to do heavy compiling, media editing and playing the latest game to come out with decent settings at 1920x1080) like it has been since I made it in 2006. I know I would have to start using a 64 bit OS to get the most out of all that RAM and it probably wouldn't hurt to get a 10000RPM or SSD hard drive but that is a secondary concern.

So, do you think it would be a worthwhile upgrade or should I wait (aren't the i7's already becoming incompatible with my motherboard?) I have a feeling if I wait too long I will end up having to get an entirely new motherboard, have my DDR2 RAM wasted and have to get DDR3. By the time I had to upgrade all the parts to be compatible with an i7 (or whatever the next thing will be) I might as well just build another PC (which I do NOT want to have to do since I have a perfectly good one now). I have a feeling the DirectX 11 cards are still going to be using PCI-e x16 so I am not too worried about that.
September 6, 2009 4:47:26 AM

It said it wouldn't let me edit the message so I will post this here:

What type of difference do you think I would get having the cache go from 4mb to 12mb? Would I be able to notice the difference or would it be imperceptible?

Is this type of upgrade a waste at this point in time (for playing gaming, multimedia, etc.), a waste even if it is an attempt to prolong the life of my motherboard and RAM (and any other parts that will be incompatible with new processors that aren't lga 775), or a decent/good idea? I know you can't really "future-proof" things but..
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September 6, 2009 8:12:42 AM

The extra 400MHz between the two, plus the extra cores, cache and higher FSB will certainly get you a better outcome.

The Q9550 has runs at 333x8.5 and not at 266. If you've found it is compatible with your existing board and memory, then it is a good choice.

This is it? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115041

You mentioned video encoding and playback, so I had a quick look through the charts and it appears the Q9550 is well in front of the E6600 on those particular benchmarks (even without looking, that should be apparent). When the extra cores don't count it gives a similar outcome to a C2D at the same speed, still better than the E6600.

The 8800GT is a goodie, but an oldie, nowadays. Waiting for the DirectX 11 cards to arrive and then drop in price will be a long wait. I'd expect some of the current crop of cards to drop in price when those DirectX 11 cards come out, so the bargains should be found there and not in the new technology.

All the Core i7's are and will be incompatible with your board.

Memory is the last place to go for performance. Look to the cpu and video cards first. You can have a decent system with DDR2, unless a new platform gives you no choice but DDR3.

If you buy the Q9550 now, a decent vidoe card soon, then I think that's worth doing, but spend no more on hardware.

Considering you are looking at a new os in 64-bit, you might as well go Windows 7 64-bit when released with the Q9550 (bought now or soon) and a DirectX 11 card when they come out.

As usual, it's a personal choice.
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September 6, 2009 4:43:35 PM

The 9550 is on the CPU support list. It says the board will work with a 1333 MHz FSB, it'll just run a bit hotter. I wouldn't expect to OC it much past that, since the FSB is rated to run at 1066 MHz. Getting it to the speed of a 9650 should be within reach though.

I would expect the price to come down a bit when the Lynnfield lauch, so you should wait a few days before buying. Make sure you flash the Bios to the latest version that supports the 9550.

And the will be no future processors using LGA 775, so you could consider a new CPU/mobo/RAM build. That's a more expensive way to go, and the cheapest quad core Lynnfield CPU for LGA 1156 will cost about the same as the 9550, plus you'll need a new mobo and RAM. The 9550 should last you a while though. If you buy it and a new GPU later on, that would be a better investment.
September 7, 2009 3:28:41 AM

The 9550 is on the support list for the motherboard but I don't think it runs at its normal multiplier when it is in it. I heard somewhere else that the multiplier is increased so it runs the same speed as it would at its normal FSB speed. So instead of 333 * 8.5 multiplier it would be 266 * 10.5. Of course, I could be wrong. I would really like to be able to overclock it like I have done mine now, except a little bit better. I can't get mine stable between 3.2 and 3.6GHz but when it does get stable at about 3.66-3.7 it is too hot for normal operation. I hear there is some sort or weird "FSB hole" on this motherboard where you can't really get it too stable between 360-399 FSB.

So you are saying if I wait until the Lynnfield's have launched the price will drop some more? I am not planning on doing this any time soon, I am talking probably 2-3 months (I have to find a 2nd job). I just want to make sure that if I get that processor and I get one of the nvidia 285s when they drop in price some that I will have kind of "future-proofed" my system. I can always upgrade RAM later as I already have 4GB now. Games and most other operations on a PC don't really have any noticeable difference whether a system is running 3GB of RAM or 6GB these days. Only in certain cases where you would be running something like photoshop alongside some other multimedia heavy application would you probably see any difference. Are "normal" programs starting to be coded for multi-core PCs now or are video games, scientific applications and multimedia design really the only things that care if you have more than one or two cores?

I have my eye on a few ~24" 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 monitors so in addition to the CPU and the video card I will probably be getting one of those. I want to be able to play the latest games (or the good ones that came out 3 months earlier; I tend to wait for one to show up on ebay) on this PC (at the resolution of the new monitor and pretty well) as well as do anything else I might want/need to to (compile source code and kernels, video and audio encoding, game design, programming) in the next 2 to 3 years. If the cost of blu-ray players/burners, blu-ray films and discs drop to an acceptable level and a blu-ray player for linux (probably won't happen soon but even if not I guess it couldn't hurt to use Windows for only that and games) is released I might play blu-ray films on it as well. I guess I would have to get an HDMI sound card to get the most out of the sound as right now I am just using a soundblaster audigy 4 with some cheap 5.1 speakers (I am not a music nazi so as long as it is loud, I can hear the bass and it isn't real scratchy I am happy) My audigy 4 is kind of old, should I upgrade the card too or would I be better off to get higher quality speakers? I have a cheap guitar amp that I can plug into my sound card to act as the central speaker.

I made this PC in 2006 and the only thing I have upgraded since then was my video card (went from 7800GT to 8800GT). I am hoping that apart from a new video card (after DirectX11 has been around for a bit) this machine would still be fairly beastly 2-3 years down the road. I know you can't really future-proof as technology is improving so rapidly but I am fairly certain that a quad core w/ 12MB of cache overclocked to 3.6 (assuming I get the same .8GHz increase as I did with my E6600) or 4Ghz (assuming I could get there without overheating with a beefier heatsink/CPU fan than my current Zalman) would still be able to do plenty in 2011 or 2012. I think getting ~5 years out of my hard drive and motherboard would be pretty good, considering that it is keeping up with the PC gaming market, not just surfing the internet and typing documents like most do with their computers. After my motherboard, RAM and videocard is too old to keep around I'll probably just start saving for a brand new PC. You know, the whole deal: case, CPU fan, CPU, RAM, motherboard, video car, hard drive, DVD or blu-ray burner and anything else. I just couldn't stand to have a perfectly good motherboard, CPU, RAM, etc. just sitting around gathering dust. I would prefer to just let it be a media station, a server of some kind or a folding@home PC.
September 7, 2009 3:52:16 AM

Just don't expect to get much with overclocking. 1333MHz is already pushing the 965 chipset. The northbridge won't go very far past that. Hitting a wall at 360-399 sounds reasonable.

And the 9550 can't be used at a higher multiplier than it's stock multiplier. It will in fact run at a 1333MHz FSB, even though the 965 chipset doesn't "officially" support that speed.
September 15, 2009 9:44:07 AM

If you have 90%+ of the parts and only plan to stop gap until the i5 and i7 has stabilized their jokes on users then get a q9550 you would not be disappointed.

The ram motherboard and cpu alone for i5 or i7 is about avg $500 and then in 3 months they again change the cpu socket to 2 coconuts and a corkscrew socket or whatever they plan on doing.

The 12mb cache "2x6mb" on the q9550 will pay out on video editing and a smaller budget.

q9550 in my box runs gigabyte g31 at fsb424x8.5 about 3604mhz intel stock fan and will run past 4.3ghz on air or fancy cooling if you undervolt it and have C1E enabled + decent $50 about new heatsink see toms reviews about this.

I have crappy 800mhz ram @ 1.8v not the good stuff rated / tested stable at pc8500+ 2.1V+ and it is holding me back with overclock.
ie: runs at speeds / volts lower than rated without issues.

This q9550 wants to run idle at minm. 3.6ghz+ 1.25V, 4.25ghz on air is close to normal 500fsb no problem @ 1.3625V.

It does feel like the 1.25V to 1.36V does add or does not bottleneck the cpu as much as the 1.25V does but purely speculation, test = the same either way.

Edit c:\boot.ini and add " /usepmtimer " as this will help even in crappy 1 core games to use as much of 2 or more cores on the q9550 that I use for gaming. Works wonders for dual core laptops.

Blockages = ram get yourself as much ram ddr2 pc8500 2.1V or faster if you can and try to keep the ram at 2xfsb + stock cpu 1.3625V with C1E active then it will default to say 2.5ghz and upto overclock speed 3.6ghz when needed = nice and cool.

You will notice the room temp climbing during game play if oc'd, avg <50C cpu and normal ingame >=60C Oc'd.

Win XP safe mode will run cpu at full speed and 70C temp alarm will sound if Oc'd.

A $50 gigabyte g31 / g41 works very nice with the q9550 as alternative to the asus.
Cpu posted at 4.25ghz 1.36V but slow ram stopped me as it can not default @ 1.6xfsb at any speed unless manually set = nah too much effort.

EIST will likely give you a lot of issues if enabled unless default speed.

Price drops for i7c i5c likely closer to Oct. for win7 and then again for Dec. holidays.

Video games you can play very decent at 1440x900 all high / max settings 24x boxed on a ATI4850, any res above this go for 4870x2 or 285, better check the toms charts, some games only love ati some only love nvidia others don't care.

First get what you need the cpu then test and see how it runs and if not decent enough and some cash laying around = get a better video card + look for specials / deals online and in shops. Use coupons to get discounts if possible.

A small / cheap ssd hard drive will do more for you gaming than a expensive video card upto a point as well as for video editing = large amounts of data transferred = need fast speed = happy software.

Folding @ home Ati stream in latest ati drivers will work nicely for this possibly get 2x Ati4870x2 for 3200 stream processors.
Some video editing software also supports this features = saves a lot of time.

Choosing Q9550 over i7c for what I do and 90%+ loads minm. 24/7 on all 4 cores @ 3.6ghz I might possibly see a bit of difference in speed but not enough to spend $500 for the basics IMHO.

I am very happy with my Q9550 if only Intel had a 4 cpu slot motherboard for home pc then I would really be happy and decide to upgrade.
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