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Best Core2Quad to OC under $150

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June 29, 2011 7:54:45 AM

Hello,

I am looking to upgrade on the cheap by getting a Core 2 Quad to go into my 775 mobo(Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3L)

But since I have skipped over this gen. of CPU's entirely I know little to nothing about them besides what I have read in the past few days. I know their is a lot of folks out there with good knowledge of these CPU's and OC'ing them. So I have a few questions...


1. I am looking for the best performing Quad to OC and use strictly for gaming under a current price of $150

2. I have been considering the Q8400 $130 or the Q9300 $143 @ SuperBiiz.com, what do you think of these two?

3. Is the amount of L2 cache on these chips an important factor for gaming?

4. Do you have any better suggestions for me to consider other than these two? Links/References please.

5. For a good OC is it true the lower the multiplier the better for OC'ing?

6. Should I consider a q9400?

7. Any other suggestions or advice?

8. I know the Q6600 ~$155 has a BIG reputation for OC'ing, should I consider this chip even though its higher price, little slower, on 65nm process, and an older model?



Thank You.

More about : core2quad 150

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June 29, 2011 7:42:13 PM

Anyone Have any kind of advice or suggestions? Please.
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June 29, 2011 7:56:02 PM

I think you are on the wrong track.
The current Intel sandy bridge cpu's are much superior for gaming.
Even the cheapest G650 will outperform any of the upgrades you are considering in a gaming environment.
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/pentium-g8...
A cpu/mobo/ram can be had for as little as $172.

cpu:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
mobo:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ram:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Otherwise, look on ebay for used cpu's that will work with your motherboard.
Get the list of supported cpu's from the gigabyte web site.
What is supported might depend on your motherboard revision level and bios level. CPU-Z will identify those.
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June 30, 2011 8:07:33 AM

Thanks for the different angle to look at things... I never considered the new Pentiums, But I did look at the prices of the i-3's and assumed a new Mobo/CPU/Ram would be more than I intended to spend. I may have been too hasty and overlooked better options.

Is there any gaming performance reviews/comparisons of these CPU's? Can they be overclocked at all with just a basic mobo?

Thanks.
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June 30, 2011 4:03:58 PM

Thanks Guys,

@geofelt - I think you may be overestimating the performance of the Pentium G620 Sandy Bridge, unless you know something that I don't know or have have yet to read. According to Anandtech The G620 performs marginally better better than the Q8400 in the gaming benchmarks. And what I am thinking(forgive me and please correct me if I am wrong) is with a Q8400 quad core and a mild overclock I will get better gaming performance within my budget and without buying a new Mobo/CPU/Ram over the G620. And as far as I know and from what I seeing an OC on the G620 is not even possible. I am also leaning more towards a quad core just due to the fact that more than ever games are taking advantage of these extra cores and are recommended for best performance in a lot of newer and slightly older titles and I don't think (Again, forgive me and please correct me if I am wrong) that any newer dual core within my budget will provide this type of performance.

@Supermunche - Thanks for the link to the CPU round-up but I have been reading those articles for several years and I am well aware of them :D  The issue is that I am trying to stay within a set budget and anything but some of the lowest priced CPU's not on Intel's socket 775 will unfortunately put me over budget due to needing a new Mobo/CPU/Ram to build the system. Thanks though.

From my further research its looking like the i3-540 is the only chip with good performance and low price that would fit what I am looking for, but I have no idea how well this will perform OC'd, I'll have to look into this further. But this too is more than what I was considering to spend on this upgrade. FYI, this upgrade is to hold out for Ivy Bridge next year :D , Maybe I should just try to hold out, IDK...


So now the question for everyone is...

Q8400 - $130 Vs. i3-540 $203


What do you think? Quad Vs. Dual, intend to OC and use for gaming.
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June 30, 2011 6:32:08 PM




Thanks for the input. I am just having trouble wrapping my head around how a practically non-OC'able dual core will perform better than a OC'd Q8400 quad for gaming. I am going to rule out the i3-2100 just because of its limitations on OC'ing (if my source"Can an i3 2100 be overclocked at all?" is correct and I believe he is, the MAX is 3.4GHz on the i3-2100).

I am mostly interested in the i3-540 as I have seen OC's over 4GHz and even past 4.5GHz. How do you figure this option will fare in gaming over the now determined unfavorable Q8400?


Here is what I am now considering:

CPU - Intel Core i3-540

Mobo - GIGABYTE GA-H55M-S2V

RAM - Kingston HyperX 4GB


TOTAL UPGRADE PRICE = $203 (With discounts and rebates) and maybe a copy of Win7 to upgrade from XPsp3.

Any thoughts or suggestions on this? Reason I want to OC is I love tinkering, I'm sure some of you will understand.
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June 30, 2011 7:14:25 PM

1. I am looking for the best performing Quad to OC and use strictly for gaming under a current price of $150

- Check Craigslist or EBAY for used CPU's, i would go for the Q6600 - G0-stepping or if you can find a Q9450/Q9550 for $150.00, go for it

2. I have been considering the Q8400 $130 or the Q9300 $143 @ SuperBiiz.com, what do you think of these two?

- These two will work but from what i understand, will not OC as well as the Q6600 or Q9x50 series

3. Is the amount of L2 cache on these chips an important factor for gaming?

- Sort of but at this point, you are sticking with LGA 775 so it may be irrelevant when it comes to 775-based Quad Core CPU's



5. For a good OC is it true the lower the multiplier the better for OC'ing?

- Not necessarily, I had my Q6600 running @ 3.6 on stock multi with an air cooler

6. Should I consider a q9400?

- Like i said, it is a decent chip but might not OC as well as others due to the already high FSB



8. I know the Q6600 ~$155 has a BIG reputation for OC'ing, should I consider this chip even though its higher price, little slower, on 65nm process, and an older model?

- My Q6600 is still going strong, not too far off in performance from my i5 750 with the same GPU.
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June 30, 2011 8:09:31 PM

Jonpaul, you might want to start your own thread instead of hijacking this one.

Athechief73:
How many of the games you play can use more than two cores? There are very few that do.,
For that reason, a strong duo is still competitive with quads. Just changing to a quad with the same clock speed, and same architecture will not bring great improvements.

For gaming, the graphics card is usually the limitation on performance(FPS) and not so much the cpu.

If you think your graphics card is strong enough, you might want to run these two tests to help clarify your options:

1) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics configuration.

2) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 70%.
If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.

You may not be aware, but there have been two generations of cpu architecture changes since lga775. That is, that newer cpu's will do more work per clock, giving perhaps 50% more work on a clock for clock basis.

You are right, the g-xxx cpu's are not overclockable, nor are any of the other sandy bridge cpu's except the 2500K and 2600K
I only referenced the G620 to put a low $ perspective on your options.

I think the 540/H55 is a much better solution.
But, for a similar price you can get a sandy bridge 2100 solution.
True, the 2100 can't be overclcoked, but It is some 20-30% more efficient per clock. And it has hyperthreading.
Read this article on <$200 gaming cpu's.
It shows the sandy 2100 to be a bit faster than the i3-560, and even the amd X6 1075T:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-gaming-cpu-cor...
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June 30, 2011 8:18:26 PM

geofelt said:
Jonpaul, you might want to start your own thread instead of hijacking this one.



Not sure what you mean by this.

I was just making a solid statement based on my own experiences with what i have dealt with. I did not "hijack" anything nor did ask any questions. I simply pasted his questions above my answers so he had a reference to each answer i supplied....


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June 30, 2011 8:18:27 PM

geofelt said:
Jonpaul, you might want to start your own thread instead of hijacking this one.

Yeah jonpaul, we don't go through people's posts line by line and actually answer their questions around here!
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June 30, 2011 10:32:42 PM

jonpaul37 said:
Not sure what you mean by this.

I was just making a solid statement based on my own experiences with what i have dealt with. I did not "hijack" anything nor did ask any questions. I simply pasted his questions above my answers so he had a reference to each answer i supplied....


Sorry, I apologise, I misread your post, starting with "I am looking...
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July 1, 2011 5:23:47 AM

"Reason I want to OC is I lover tinkering, I'm sure some of you will understand."

Based on this statement alone, even if you splurged on a K-series Sandy Bridge, everything I'm hearing / reading from overclockers and true tweakers is that they're pretty boring from that perspective. Change the multiplier and adjust voltage setting and done... air or water, and you probably wouldn't have any real fun unless you tried to use dry ice or liquid nitrogen.

I've decided if I do upgrade to a K-series, I will have to do advanced water-cooling to satisfy my need to tinker. Largely due to that, I'm waiting for Bulldozer and Ivy Bridge... I think. I'm still mulling it over.

Grab any of those core 2 quads and you'll have more fun tinkering than on any newer intel platform within the same price-point. I love my q6600.. I've developed an unhealthy bond with it. I've been running it at 1600 fsb with 9x for 3.6ghz for ages. I got the bug again to tinker so I raised the fsb to 1700 with a 8x for 3.4ghz. I'm gonna keep playing with it to see how far i can push the mobo in terms of fsb... its fun and addicting. I'm OCD wuwu~
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July 1, 2011 8:24:03 AM

Wow, I thank you all for the great info... It seems this may be a harder choice than I first thought it to be.

I have considered buying a used CPU, but I don't know if I can trust buying privately from CL and there are not very many to be had on Ebay (I would consider buying used here because of buyer protection) and the seem to have too high of prices for my liking.

The only issue I have with the Q6600 is that for some reason its price is significantly higher than other Quads in the 8xxx series because of demand I guess. I believe I found a Q6600 SLACR(G0? I think it is.) for $165 new.

I did not notice in the article the sandy 2100 was a bit faster than the i3-560, thanks for pointing that out.

I have one BIG problem with doing a OC on the Q6600 without spending any more $, my current RAM, 4x1Gb DDR2 667. I have had this up to 366.5MHz but that is as far as I can take it with my CPU and current mobo and I don't know if I can push it any further. I do not yet have the Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3L in hand and I have yet to check and see if the RAM has a separate clock or if it is linked.

My current CPU is a P4 650 3.4GHz stock(only OC's to 3.74 on my current Mobo) and I have a XFX 5830 1gb, so I dont think that the CPU/GPU limitations tests will be necessary, but that is very useful advice, thank you. I think it goes without saying... I need a stronger CPU.

My big question for all of your now is... What do you think is a better option?

1. Buy a Core 2 Quad of some type and use the Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3L and my 4Gb of DDR2 667, and overclock it the best I can.

OR

2. Buy a i3-540 and a new Mobo/RAM and get a nice OC out of it and have the benefits of 1600MHz RAM.


Please forgive me if this is unorganized, cryptic, and a grammar nightmare... just got home from work and its VERY late.
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July 1, 2011 8:44:26 AM

In either case, you should perceive a great leap in performance. With either choice you'll be drooling over bulldozer and ivy bridge in a few months. I don't have an i3 or better because I already have a q6600 and am holding out. So in your case, the i3 setup will give more bang for the buck. The architecture is better, its more efficient power-wise, and the optimizations will boost the daily use.
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July 1, 2011 8:46:06 AM

Oh and duh, you can later pop in a better cpu if you so desire.


Edit: Scratch that, the i3-540 is on a dead socket, 1156... that changes things as far as future upgrades.
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July 1, 2011 9:23:57 AM

thechief73 said:

The only issue I have with the Q6600 is that for some reason its price is significantly higher than other Quads in the 8xxx series because of demand I guess. I believe I found a Q6600 SLACR(G0? I think it is.) for $165 new.
...
I do not yet have the Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3L in hand and I have yet to check and see if the RAM has a separate clock or if it is linked.

I have several (6) Core2 systems, mostly highly overclocked. The G0 Q6600 will, in all likelihood, be able to be overclocked enough to make up for the 10% improvement that the 45 nm microarchitecture would yield. The Q8X00 CPU's are pretty indifferent overclockers. $165 for a new G0 Q6600 is a pretty good price.

I have an EP35-DS3P. Currently, it has an E7500 running at 4.1 GHz in it.

If you were buying a CPU for an EP35 motherboard that you already own, I'd say "Go for it."

The combination of buying another motherboard (unless you can get it really cheap) with needing to buy better memory makes this a bad financial decision. Maintaining an existing Core2 system is one thing. Actually building one from scratch does not make a lot of sense.
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July 1, 2011 9:30:27 AM

So will my current 667 DDR2 RAM be an issue when trying for a high overclock? I have only had it up to 366.5MHz so far. I do not yet know if the mem. clock is separate or linked, is this a feature on some newer motherboards only? I know I have read about it somewhere's.
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July 1, 2011 11:30:48 AM

jsc said:
The combination of buying another motherboard (unless you can get it really cheap) with needing to buy better memory makes this a bad financial decision. Maintaining an existing Core2 system is one thing. Actually building one from scratch does not make a lot of sense.



Well... the Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3L is being given to me by a generous friend that gets hardware from his employer, my current system is 775 also, but my Mobo lacks support for anything much over a very few of the Pentium D line-up. So the plan is to swap in the Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3L and buy a yet to be determined CPU to game on until Ivy Bridge drops.

My pondering's as of now are $165 for a Q6600 or $203 for a i3-540 Mobo/4Gb 1600 RAM/CPU upgrade(Links for the parts in my post further up). I would OC both, I have read 4GHz is easy on the i3-540, but I don't know if my current RAM (4 x 1Gb DDR2 667) I have will work on a high Q6600 OC and I don't know what the difference in gaming performance will be between the older quad and a new dual core.

Anandtech Q6600 VS. i3-540 - Both @ Stock Speeds

If the performance of an OC'd i3-540 will be high enough over the Q6600 OC'd using my current RAM I can justify the extra cost and sell the Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3L and other old PC parts to cover the cost.

Or... My last option if the Q6600 wont OC well without faster RAM modules but a Q8400(cheapest NEW Quad Core I can find) and just get a nice mild OC out of it and hold out for Ivy Bridge. I have been running on this P4 650 since Dec. 05, another year wont kill me to put up with it, but it would be really nice to do a little upgrade.

Side note: I am not concerned about future proofing or upgrade-ability when it comes to using the 1156 platform.

Sorry for all the options/questions, but this is the kind of thing that you cant get from benches and reviews, you need to get some first hand input on.
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July 1, 2011 5:17:45 PM

I applaud you for this thread. Too many times you see "hey I bought this for Y dollars". What do you think? hehehe

Last thing I'll say since I'm still sleepy and you know more about the i3 than I do. Have you joined the 4ghz club yet cuz I haven't and I'm startin to get jealous :D 
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July 1, 2011 5:25:18 PM

The ddr 2 667 ram is a big question mark when overclocking. Assuming you unlink the fsb and mem clock, the more you raise the fsb, the higher the throughput will become even if keeping the mem clock relatively low. You might find yourself developing headache after headache as you repeatedly load memtest86+, running through the gambit or even cheating and running tests 5 and 6 repeatedly to find its peak. After all that, you may be very disappointed with the results.
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July 1, 2011 5:29:41 PM

When I first got my q6600 ages ago, I was running it on a fatal1ty branded 650i nvida chipset with dirt cheap 533 ram. I was stuck at 2.8ghz overclock on the proc with the ram I squeezed out a little over 700mhz. Not until I upgraded to a 750i chipset and proper ddr2 ram did I unleash 3.6ghz on the proc and 1066 on the ram.
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July 1, 2011 5:53:57 PM

You may get lucky, 2 years ago i found a Q6600 on Craigslist for $50.00, it came out of a Dell machine, it was G0 and it was one hell of an overclocker. Like clonazepam, i too had mine running @ 3.6 on air with a 400 FSB, stock 9x multi (vid was 1.23) and my G.Skill DDR2-800 RAM needed to go from 1.8 to 2.0 so i could loosen the timings to 4-4-4-12, worked for about 1 year - 8 months at that speed and not a single issue. I sold it after that to get the Sandy Bridge rig i have but it was hard to part with it...

the cooler i used was a Xigmatek HDT S1283 and i believe my voltage for the CPU was 1.39
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July 1, 2011 6:12:36 PM

Many overclockers will say the q6600's sweet spot is 1600fsb + 8x mult with mem at 800mhz 4-4-4-12.

You recently said you could probably live with your P4 for another year, so having said that, like jonpaul stated, you might enjoy a little gambling on the used market for even bigger savings. Again, the performance increase you perceive when jumping to c2q or i3 will be significant and if its meant to hold you over til ivy, you'll have no problems living with either decision.
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July 1, 2011 6:40:18 PM

Damn thing is not letting me edit so I have to keep adding new replies =/

I have a Pentium D 820, stock is 2.8ghz, in a machine for web / email. Even oc'd to 3.4ghz, the q6600 at stock 2.4ghz still feels like a mighty leap. Jus' throwing this out there for reference.
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July 1, 2011 6:44:59 PM

If the board you have is a good overclocker then go with the Q6600. ebay has losts of them. You will need a good cooler.
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July 1, 2011 10:20:49 PM

Ok, thanks alot for the info guy's, dont worry bout the posts clonazepam, its no biggie your helping a lot, as for the 4GHz club there is not a doubt I'll be in within a year's time :D  I just need to rid myself of this 2005 Build once an for all even though it has performed faithfully for so long... also sorry I have been absent for a while, crazy hours.

With the Q6600, I figured I could reach a min. of 3298.5MHz(366.5 x 9 =3298.5MHz / 1466MHz FSB... am I doing this correctly?) with the 9x multi(You say 8x... Wiki/Intel says 9x. IDK whos is right) and my DDR2 667 running @ 733 / 5-5-5-20(which it has passed memtest @ this speed) above that is no-mans land for my RAM.

I have a Prolimatech Megahalems to throw on it so I am good on cooling.

From what I have read the board does a good job on OC's.

I'll do some more looking around. Still looking for an opinion on a OC'd Core 2 Quad chip VS. a OC'd i3-540(Dual Core) strictly in the gaming worthiness.



Oh and if I don't hear back from you guys due to the holiday...


Have a safe and Happy 4th of July weekend :D 



In case we find ourselves starting to believe all the anti-American sentiment and negativity, we should remember England 's Prime Minister Tony Blair's words during an interview. When asked by one of his Parliament members why he believes so much in America, he said:

"A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in ... And how many want out." .....

......In the history of man only two defining forces have been willing to die for you:

1. Jesus Christ

2. The American G. I.

One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.

Lets keep that thought out there for all to remember…..just in case they forget.
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July 1, 2011 11:43:32 PM

"with the 9x multi(You say 8x... Wiki/Intel says 9x. IDK whos is right)"

Both. I used 9x mult too but if you were to summarize the overclockability of the chip you can almost guarantee it'll do 3.2ghz with 1600fsb x8, whereas the 3.6ghz is not so much a guarantee.

I was Army Military Police. I appreciate the quote. I've been touched (in a good way). Thanks for that reminder ;-)
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