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Core component (system) upgrade OR wait

Last response: in Systems
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September 17, 2009 9:32:52 PM

My and my mate's general system specs:

1. Intel Core 2 Duo E6750
2. Nvidia 680i LT MBs (1 Evga, the other XFX)
3. 4 x 1 GB DDR2 1066 ram (Crucial Ballistix in 1, Corsair Dominator in other)
4. 1 to 4 Seagate 7200.11 320 GB Sata 2 HDs (1 system has 1, the other has 4)
5. 1 x IDE Lightscribe DVD burner
6. 1 x Sata 2 DVD burner
7. Sunbeam Core Contact cpu cooler (1 system), the other uses Intel's boxed cooler
8. 1 x Nvidia 9800 GT video card & 1 x Nvidia 8600 GTS (for PhysX) in both systems (Brands and slot counts on the cards differ in the systems)
9. Antec 300 (1 system), Rosewill "side tunnel for cpu" case (other system)
10. "Good, moderately quiet" 120mm fans throughout the cases for air flow
11. Enermax Liberty 500w PSUs
12. Win XP Pro 32 bit
13. 1680 x 1050 resolution on 22in WS LCD monitors (1 with 5 ms refresh, the other with 2 ms)
14. Keyboards and Mice that will be kept

Issues:

1. The systems were built with the idea of running Nvidia software based Raid 1 for the OS and installed Apps, with one of the systems having a Raid 5 for file storage. (This was quickly removed due to the instability of the Nvidia raid software.) They are now running 1 HD for OS and Apps, and the file storage system has all drives running as single drives. (IE: Not secure at all.)

2. Moderate, stable, overclocking was done when the systems were built new. However, over time, primarily MB issues have caused both systems to be forced to "default timings and specs." (I say primarily, because the ram in both systems was not sold long due to stability issues. However, it checks out with all diagnostic software.) The MB, however, is known for instability in running 4 x ram sticks.

3. Finally, 1 system is starting to get "random errors/lockups" during heavy processing. (The system is frequently subject to several applications, with a browser with many tabs open, running all at the same time.)

In short, with the release of Intel's I5 processers (and with knowledge of Microsoft's OEM software licensing rules), it is time to either:

A. Do a CPU/MB/OS (and possibly ram... meaning, almost an entire new computer) upgrade on the systems.
B. Wait until one of the MBs finally completely gives out, and build one new system and use the failed system's parts for replacement for the other one. (Until that MB, also, reaches its end-of-life.)

Information requested:

1. Which of the above options would you choose if you wanted to do either A or B with the lowest USA budget as possible while keeping 2 systems functional for a theoratical 2 more years? (This includes keeping both systems capable of playing the latest "mainstream" MMOs (WoW, "latest new mainstream one") and strategy (Civ 4, "latest new ones") games with decent frame rates and processing time.)

2. If you recommend a refresh into new "core components and OS," what would you choose? (Win Vista Home Premium with 7 upgrade would be bought for this purpose.)

Initial research:

From Tom's and other website's own reviews, the logical choice for core system refreshes would be:

Intel I5 750: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Socket 1156 MB with at least 2 x PCI-E 2.0 x 16 slots:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=P...

At least 2 x 2 GB of DDR3 1333 +:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=P...

Win Vista Home Premium with Win 7 upgrade: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

(Optional)

2nd Nvidia 9800 GT video card for SLI:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

New PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Thank you
a b B Homebuilt system
September 17, 2009 9:48:16 PM

First, I would do B if the objective is minimal expense and downtime is not a consideration.

Of those motherboards, the first few only run the second PCIE slot at x4.
The ASUS P7P55D LE is the cheapest one I would consider.

You have to be careful with the RAM. The p55 and x58 motherboards use low voltage(1.5-1.65v) ram, not the 1.7-1.9v ram. Normally you would look at 2x2 kits not singles to save a few dollars.

You should really wait maybe until the end of October when all of the new ATI video cards are out and the prices have settled. One of the new DX11 cards is likely to be as fast as dual 9800s but cost less than a single one (and will definitely use less power).
!