Main heavy use will be for gaming, but will be getting more into video editing with my new son (I'm sure one will cut in on the other).
Games I'm playing are Resident Evil 5, Assassins Creed, NFS Shift, and Fallout3. My native resolution is 1920x1200 and with these titles I am seeing some decent framerates, but having to drop rez on NFS and RE5 for true fluidity. Realistically I am looking for an extra ~5fps.
With this in mind, I am asking what would be the best next upgrade for ~$150 and I don't care if it is used. If its a video card, I am leaning toward Nvidia due to the games I'm playing and that I use badaboom.
Q6600 CPU ~$120
GTX260 Vid ~$150
HD4870 Vid ~$140
SSD ~$130 ?
Wanted to throw this out there to get some opinions for upgrading on a budget.
well well... u have a problem there, your pc is pretty good already I don't know exactly how big difference you could probably get from HD4870 compared with your GTX+, i would rather get a new CPU with higher FSB to avoid bottlenecks.
But! that will force you to change your memory to a higher fsb as well.
So.. you're in problems, the SSD is not an option in FPS I think, i will improve your gaming but while loading files not while playing.
I personally have a similar PC. but my graphic card its weaker 9800gt and it was "bottlenecked" by my old E4500 FSB 800mhz which is exactly the same as the one you have there but 65nm instead of 45nm. I changed to E7500 did some OC and got new memos and got like 20~30+ fps.
I don't know if that's an option for you but a new set of memos and a higer FSB Cpu could help you to get the most of your graphic card.
If you pay attention, he's already overclocked the CPU. If he's running DDR2 800, he has overclocked that as well. FSB shouldn't be a problem, since he's running at 1333 FSB (333mhz) as it is. DDR2 800 will run perfectly fine up to an FSB of 400mhz, and possibly higher with an overclock at a 1:1 ratio.
Now for the question. I'm not sure that a processor upgrade to quad core would really speed you up all that much in games (if any due to the lower clock speed), but it would do leaps and bounds for video rendering and such. A graphics card upgrade would be the sweet spot for gaming performance, or possibly an upgrade to a Wolfdale E8400 and an overclock...but neither is going to help that much for non-gaming performance.
If it was me, I'd pick up the HD 5770 ($160). Performance isn't quite to the HD 4870 level, but it has DX11 support and consumes a lot less power. It would certainly be an improvement over your 9800GTX+. If you need to have an NVIDIA card, as you've stated preference, I'd probably go for the GTX 275 at around $230...but the GTX 260 may be at a more realistic price point for you.
The reviews show that the e5200 does quite well in games when overclocked. Like ubernoobie says overclock the crap out of it. You have a good overclock already though to be honest. But you can likely get more out of it with the right cooler and MB. Also DDR2 @888 is plenty. I wouldn't change that. I guess that leaves the gtx260 for $165. :-) I'm confident you will see a bigger difference switching to this card versus a better cpu. You are running at a pretty high res. Good luck!
Overclocking was my first thought, My E5200 is overclocked to 3.33 with 1.32v but will not pass stress testing at 3.5 (333x10.5) even with 1.4v (my safe upper limit). Temps @ load were ~60C so no problem there. The motherboard was reviewed here at Toms and limits out at around 410 FSB, so the low multi quads are off the table. As for the memory, it is DDR2 1066 with 5/5/5/15 rated timing, but it will not do anything past 900mhz at those or released timings with voltage up to 2.2, It does the 888 5/5/5/15 with 1.9v, which is somewhat confusing. Could my nb be affecting the overclocks and memory timings?
I would naturally overclock any quad core to similar levels as above (3.2-3.4), so I thought I could see some extra frames there, but with these responses I am leaning toward the graphics cards update, just so long my lowly E5200 can feed it well enough. Budgets are such a drag... unless anyone knows where I can pick up an i7 with a pair of 5870s for $150...
paint your case red, slap in 4 cold cathode lights and a bunch of colored fans. all in red... red is fast.... impress your friends........;)
but, no really. do you want higher 3d mark scores or real fps? if your benching to impress, get a quad. if you just want more fps on real games, get a better gpu. the gtx 260 would get you a few more fps in most titles. alot of titles won't use a quad yet anyway. two cores is fine.
As fatkid35 said, quads don't lend much more performance than dual cores in games. Clock speed / cache are your most limiting factors in gaming if you already have a dual core.
A new processor could speed you up IF you're hitting a bottleneck in the processor with the 9800GTX+. A good way to rule this out would be to borrow a newer card from a friend (if possible) and check for an increase in framerate. If framerate increases an acceptable amount for the GPU that you put in, you're likely not hitting a bottleneck. If you don't see much if any change, a processor upgrade may be in order.
Honestly though, I think you'll be fine at 3.33ghz to drop in a new GPU. You should see the most gain from that single upgrade at the lowest cost. You'll undoubtedly be able to squeeze more performance out of your machine with an update to a new processor as well, but I'd suggest waiting until after you upgrade graphics. That is if you decide to upgrade to an LGA 775 processor at all. The performance increase would be worth it, coming from an E5200, but not until / if prices drop a bit more on the older processors.
Your processor is fine.
For gaming any dualcore above 3ghz and fsb over 1066 wont bottolneck any single card setup.
With an ATI 4870 would probably see that 10 fps (even 15 in some cases) increase but i cant really justify the cost, if you believe that 10 fps is worth it then it is a good upgrade
To see a real benefit you;d have to go at least for a gtx275 which would give 25-30 fps.
overclocking further (cpu wont get you much higher in real world gaming. Try overclocking the GPU as far as possible (i think the 9800gtx has a respecatable overclock margin) that will give you those 5-10 fps for free.
My advice: OVerclock and save your money for the christmas sales.