Upgrade Decision

I am looking at upgrading my existing system

Core 2 Duo 2.66 GHz
Nvidia 8800 GT 512 MB
6 GB DDR2 800 RAM
Monitor - 1680 x 1050 (max likely ever 1920 x 11200)

I use this computer for simulator games only (in particular FSX and DCS Blackshark are the only ones loaded). I am able to play these with decent frame rates on moderate high details (30 fps+) but I would like to get above 40 fps with the eye candy really dialed up.

I am not a typical overclocker though I could probably be favorable to something that was easy to overclock (multiplier on the Phenom II or the turbo mode on the 1156 i5/i7 systems)

I have been doing ALOT of reading and there seems to be numerous spins on many themes. Some of the things I have read are

-Memory speed/rate doesn't have a significant real world impact on game performance (i.e. I am about as well off with 6 GB of 800 DDR2 as I am with 6 GB of 1600 DDR3)
-Games for the most part use 2 cores max and that a fast core 2 performs as well or nearly as well as an i7 in these applications
-Top end cards now can only really take advantage of an x8 bandwith on an SLI so there is no harm in having x8/x8 vs x16/x16

Leting things play around in my head I have been working through some scenarios, 3 of which ditch all of the performance components and a couple that salvage part of my existing system. I have made it a personal goal to keep the investment below $800

Scenario #1 - i7-860 System 2.66
4 GB 1600 DDR3
Nvidia 260 GTX 216 SP

Scenario #2 - i5-750 System 2.80 (opting for the more mainstream i5 and a better video card)
4 GB 1600 DDR3
Nvidia 275 GTX

Scenario #3 - i7-920 System 2.66 (similar to #1 above but with triple channel ram and slightly above the $800 limit)
6 GB 1600 DDR3
Nvidia 260 GTX 216 SP

Scenario #4 - Phenom II x4 965 3.40 (opting to re-use my memory and get a kick but video card)
6 GB 800 DDR2 (existing)
Nvidia 285 GTX

Scenario #5 - Core 2 Duo E8600 3.33 (opting to re-use memory and motherboard)
EVGA 680i SLI (existing )
6 GB 800 DDR2 (existing)
Nvidia 285 GTX (saving some money) or SLI Nvidia 260 GTX 216 SP

I welcome any suggestions or confirmation or dispelling of the above "myths" or "truths"


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More about upgrade decision
  1. Scenario #4 > Scenario #5> Scenario #2 > Scenatio #3 > Scenario #1

    scenario 5, 2 and 3,1 are close together.

    scenario 2 might actually be better than scenario 5 but I'm not sure.

    Check out this great article on balancing your CPU and GPU and the performance gains.

    When I did this order, I didn't take value and best bang for buck into consideration, I just took into consideration the gaming potential.

    As for your myths:

    1. Memory: I would personally agree with that but I have nothing to back that up.
    2. Dual core: It used to be this way but games are now starting to work better using more cores. Last I checked modern games showed little performance difference between x3 and x4 but x2 to x3 shows a gain. In the near future though, games will be more multi-core optimized.
    3. PCI-e bandwidth: I'm not sure.
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