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A gaming-oriented Phenom II X3 or X4?

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Last response: in Systems
July 24, 2009 4:38:04 PM

So I've had my first build up and (successfully) running for the last 3-4 months now. But now, after learning so much more in those 3-4 months, I realize I want more lol. Essentially I like to game on my computer. Once school starts I'll prolly be doing some multi-tasking between Word, Firefox, and E-mail. But I want to upgrade my computer to be able to handle peak load times. Right now I'm running an AMD Phenom 9950, an EVGA nVidia 9600GT superclocked edition, with 4GB of DDR2 1066 RAM (G. Skill) and a Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-UD4H. So that peak load I was talking about is the dreaded FSX. Now it's no Crysis, but it's certainly one heck of a demanding game. I can't even touch the highest settings of it w/ my current setup. I have found out through some experimentation that if I disable 2 cores and then overclock them to 3.0Ghz I can actually squeeze out a good 4 or 5 frames extra in gameplay. So this leads me to believe that FSX is both CPU and GPU dependent. I also think that FSX is a single threaded application which is a real bummer seeing as it would perform much better if it could even make use of 2 cores. So my question for you guys is... "If I were to upgrade my CPU, would it be better to go w/ an AMD Phenom II X3 720 or an AMD Phenom II X4 940?" I'm leaning to the X3 because I rarely ever find myself utilizing my fourth core on my current 9950, so the price and lower power consumption of the X3 would justify it's purchase. So any comments, suggestions, or recommendations would be nice. And I'm also going to be upgrading to an ATI Radeon 4850 1GB card in the near future.

p.s. I'm 15 years old and have no job (yet), and my parents like teaching me the value of a dollar... so tech on a budget is welcome :D 

More about : gaming oriented phenom

a b B Homebuilt system
July 24, 2009 4:43:57 PM

The best way to get a value for your dollar it to overclock. A 720 will perform significantly better than your 9950 and will give you easy overclocking capability. I assume you have an Am2+ motherboard so you can keep your whole setup and just swap the processor.
July 24, 2009 5:45:35 PM

for FSX you need an i7 CPU, if you have any of the service packs applied, as FSX can use upto 256 cores when the SP's are applied.
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 24, 2009 5:54:33 PM

Figure out what your upgrades will cost. Ask your father how many hours he has to work to earn that much (after extortion). Then put in at least that many hours busting your butt around the house and yard. Earn it. Then enjoy the hell out of it.
a b B Homebuilt system
July 24, 2009 5:58:47 PM

What PSU do you have? Make sure it can power a 4850. If yours is a cheap generic that came with your case (e.g. not an Antec Earthwatts like in the Sonata), it probably can't.
July 24, 2009 6:21:25 PM

if it can handle a 9600 it can handle a 4850
a b B Homebuilt system
July 24, 2009 6:36:21 PM

The chart I've got shows 7.1A for a 512MB 9600GT under load, and 9.1A for a 512MB 4850. Earthwatts 430, sure; Raidmax 450, probably not...
July 24, 2009 7:09:15 PM

Uhh, the PSU is approved for 500W. It's a pretty cheap one though and it revs it's fans alot and i'm not satisfied w/ it. I'm looking into a new one also. I did find a 600W Raidmax that was a pretty good deal on the egg...
July 24, 2009 7:18:51 PM

Well, if you want to gamble a little, a Phenom II X3 can be unlock to a X4... but it's a hit or miss. I am quite happy with my Phenom II X3. :p 
July 24, 2009 7:22:12 PM

For your budget and your range of power I will get an OCZ ModXstream 700W. With the power you use, your efficiency will be around 85% which is extremely good for a 50$ PSU with mail-in-rebate.
July 24, 2009 7:25:09 PM

Can somebody recommend a good PSU then that is ~500W and doesn't cost a fortune. I realize that if you want the best.. ya gotta pay the price. But I'm not going that route. I just want a quality, but AfFoRdAbLe PSU. so like $40-70? $70's even pushing it...
July 24, 2009 7:25:56 PM

oh thanx you posted as i was typing :D 
a b B Homebuilt system
July 24, 2009 7:35:55 PM

I'd go with the 940. Prices will probably drop on it soon once the Phenom II 965 is released next month. The cheapest good quality 500W unit that I would recommend would be

FSP Group Blue Storm II 500W $59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you want to hunt around for a PSU then make sure you take a look at the PSU tiers

http://www.eggxpert.com/forums/thread/323050.aspx

You want to get at least a tier 3 PSU. You would be O.k with a tier 4 PSU if you can get it cheap but in general subtract 50-100W from the reated wattage of those to be safe. Nothing is really wrong with most of the tier 4 PSUs, as they are rather stable and reliable, but they tend to be less efficient and don't always supply their ratted wattage very well. Stay away from tier 5 PSUs
a b B Homebuilt system
July 24, 2009 7:54:24 PM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
The earthwatts series is quite efficient, it runs at about 83% efficiency for most loads and got jonnyguru's recommendation.

Try to stick with antec, corsair, PC Power & Cooling, or seasonic, if you really need to save you can drop down to OCZ. And no you really shouldnt go for anything below a tier two power supply, they are rated too high and are cheap for a reason. I recently saw one for $13, i didnt even know you could get that many capacitors for $13. If it seems cheap, there is a reason, dont buy it or you may lose more than just the PSU.
a b B Homebuilt system
July 24, 2009 9:39:28 PM

I like this OCZ one, and don't worry it's not much of a "drop down": 500W $34
July 24, 2009 11:08:35 PM

I think i found my PSU. Thanks jbakerlent!
a b B Homebuilt system
July 24, 2009 11:19:07 PM

FSX is thread optimized with the latest service packs installed and will fully take advantage of a quad core CPU. Do a Google search for "FSX thread optimization" if you want for information. I would get the 940 and overclock it to a safe level.
July 24, 2009 11:26:56 PM

back to the original question though. Phenom II 720 or 940? Cause I think 3 cores would be enough. Opinions?
July 24, 2009 11:27:33 PM

hmm, but the price... and the 720 has a lower power consumption
a b B Homebuilt system
July 24, 2009 11:35:11 PM

I guess you'll have to decide whether FPS or price and low power consumption are more important to you. FSX is a game that screams "quad core" IMO. It will take all the cores and processing power you can throw at it.
July 25, 2009 1:25:43 AM

I know the job market sucks right now, but surely you can find something at the local mcdonalds, or mow a few lawns and then you can afford some sick deals. Plus you should really figure out your overall budget (which I don't think I saw anywhere) but maybe I missed it.
July 25, 2009 2:10:57 AM

hey

im also 15 :) 

i would reccommend the 940 for sure. the overclocking is great and FSX can use a hell of alot of cores so that fourth core would really help. and u will see a HUGE improvement in performance over your 9950

also your 9600gt provides very little graphics power unfortunately. one of the best deals for the money right now is the ATI HD4870. its around $150 and has great performance

any of those psus mentioned would be fine and i would second that 700w model mentioned (im too lazy to scroll back up :p )

hope this helps
July 25, 2009 2:40:57 AM

Working at Mcdonald's would just make me fat lol. But I've got an application in for the local Y, so I should start gettin a little bit of money in soon. As far as a budget... I'm looking to upgrade my PSU, CPU, Graphics Card, and add some fans (my HDD is toasting right now). So to recap, PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Graphics Card: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Case Fan (currently poor flow): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... CPU Heatsink (OCing): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... . So does this sound like a winner? I know many of you may be saying "GO FOR THE 940". But I honestly think that the 720 will be plenty and that the extra core will not be necessary. I could always try to unlock the 4th core!
July 25, 2009 2:50:28 AM

oh snap! that comes out to $358.24 (includes shipping & handling, MIR deducted). I guess that isn't toooooo bad...
July 25, 2009 2:53:34 AM

$411.23 (includes shipping & handling, MIR deducted) w/ 940. So $52.99 difference.
July 25, 2009 4:07:14 AM

oh yeah i forgot about combos lol, thanks. And the $15 difference isn't bad at all. but is that a good card? idk it looks a bit sketchy, and only one DVI
a b B Homebuilt system
July 25, 2009 4:19:08 AM

I'm sure the Gigabyte GPU would be fine. It doesn't have the fancy cooler that the HIS card has, but it does have a nice Zalman fan. It also includes an HDMI to DVI adapter if you need dual DVI. I would rather have the Gigabyte GPU and a 940 than the HIS and 720, but it's not my money. :) 
July 25, 2009 4:29:08 AM

IK you might be getting annoyed w/ my constant bombardment of questions. But I found this http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... and thought it would be pretty nice. It's a 4890 ik, but the one hold back is the locked multiplier on the CPU now. I'm thinking I like the unlocked multiplier more than a step up to the 4890.