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What to upgrade next?

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February 7, 2010 3:40:00 AM

I'm currently in the process of trying to figure out what to upgrade on my system next. Performance so far is pretty good, but I still have to hold back in some games - I want to be able to crank full settings without fear. So I'm unsure - what should I upgrade next? Computer specs:

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale @ 3.00GHz and 1333 FSB
Memory: 2048MB OCZ DDR2 RAM (2 x 1 GB) + 2048MB Corsair XMS DDR2 RAM (2 x 1 GB)
Hard Drive: 500 GB Western Digital 32MB cache SATA II + 320 GB Western Digital SE16 SATA II both @ 7,200 RPM
Video Card: EVGA GTX 260 PCI-E 2.0 896 MB DDR3
Operating System: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
Motherboard: EVGA Nvidia nForce 750i FTW

As it stands I'm between buying another GTX 260 to SLI as I see it scores at the top of benchmarks up there with the GTX 295 and such when used in SLI - or buying more ram (Maxmium supported 8 GB I think). So my question, which will I see more benefit from and in what way? I only wish so much I had bought more DDR2 ram when it was cheap - I bought the Corsair XMS pair for $20 new after rebates and the OCZ pair was like $25 after rebates. Now memory is expensive as hell...

Anyway, my upgrade plans do not include the possibility of a motherboard/CPU upgrade. If I could I'd buy a Core i7 and do that whole shebang - but that's not in the budget right now. My CPU scores a 6.5 on the WEI, my memory and GPU 7.1 and the lowest is actually my hard drives at 5.9 - but I just bought the 500 GB WD and I'm not going to the hassle of buying another hard drive (What do I have to do to up that score - buy a 10k RPM? No thanks...). But I have a question regarding the Intel chipsets since I've been out of the loop on the newer Core i5 and Core i3 processors - do we have any indicators between the LGA 1156 or the LGA 1366 socket which is going to be the longer lived series? My CPU upgrades would include a quad core, but I'm curious if I wouldn't see a big improvement simply from getting a Core 2 Quad - something like a Q9550 would be ideal but now you're talking the same money pretty much as a Core i7 920 or 860.

Now I understand a great deal about computers and stuff, but can someone explain to me what it is about Core i7 that makes them much faster - or just faster - than the Core 2 series? I mean between a Q9550 and a Core i7 920 how big is the performance difference? Given the higher overall cost of upgrade including the mobo and ram it would be nice if the Q9550 performed close enough to the i7 920 that it would be the more worthwhile upgrade. But then again, what effect would this have on my gaming performance - or would it noticably? I'm no overclocker, but I would definitely bump both quad cores to 3 GHz.

Anyway, anyone care to weigh their opinion in (or explain the newer Intel processors to me vs the older)? I'd appreciate it.

More about : upgrade

February 7, 2010 4:58:56 AM

Personally if it was me, I would OC that cpu you have. It should OC nicely and give you better performance than a quad at 3ghz. Also get another 2gigs of ram. This should be good enough for a while without spending 400+ bucks. Theres still a lot of potential in your system you haven't tapped into yet.

Thats free performance sitting in your current hardware. OC amigo!...
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February 7, 2010 6:43:01 AM

I'm using the stock cooler - what kind of OC are you talking about running? Something that could be doable on a stock fan or one that requires something more? Because I have an excellent CPU cooler in mind if I had to buy one, but it's something like $90 or $100 - I forget.

Still, I have never OCed anything for fear of breaking it and voiding the manufacturer warranty. How exactly does one OC a CPU?
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February 7, 2010 2:10:33 PM

Over clock the cpu and buy 4g of matching ram.
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February 7, 2010 7:07:40 PM

Again - can I do any OC'ing on the factory fan? If I OC I intended to buy a Thermalright TRUE Black Ultra-120 eXtreme ($75) + the cost of the mount clips and a pair of 120mm fans (probably $15-$25 depending) - having never OCed I'd rather overkill to ensure my CPU doesn't overheat. But still, how do I OC? I really am totally clueless in this regard.
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February 7, 2010 7:16:56 PM

Have you thought about buying a SSD as an OS drive? You can get a decent one for about $129
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February 7, 2010 7:24:15 PM

Hmm - not really. To me they're still way too overpriced given the small space. I'd still hate to switch OS drives after being on this one now though and getting all my stuff on it (after recently losing an older hard drive's installation forcing me to buy my current drive). Not to mention, my current OS drive is also my largest drive - my 320 GB is literally full. My crappy mobo only has four SATA slots and I intended to get a Bluray player soon enough which will take another SATA. Add my SATA DVD drive and I have no more SATA slots. It's all really a complicated pain...
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February 8, 2010 3:24:45 AM

I found this guide to help you out. It will take a lot of reading but thats the way to learn if you don't have some1 with you guiding you along the way.

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/240001-29-howto-overc...


Keep asking questions about things that are unclear. You will learn!

As for the hard drive, stay with what you have. OC'ing is the answer to your issue for now. The hard drive would be a nice addition but maybe at a later date.

The stock hsf can usually take some overclocking but not the level you will be going to do. Buy a good after market cpu cooler.

You don't have to spend 80 bucks to get a good cpu hsf:

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

There are many others that people can recommend. Read the reviews. Usually going with one with a few hundred reviews and 80% or greater positive feedback is the way to go. Just be sure your case can handle the taller hsf assemblies since some of them are too tall for some cases...

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February 8, 2010 6:01:02 AM

Thanks for the links - the Thermalright Ultra 120 extreme is only $60 and since it is the highest rated that's okay by me. I mean with that HS you showed it'd come out $40 vs $68 after shipping plus two 120mm fans for $5 each - eh when it comes to stuff like that I'd like to have the best or near the best. So what would I be able to overclock to? I saw one person who overclocked a CPU just like mine for 3.0 to 3.6 which doesn't seem like it'd be that big a difference - how good of an OCer is the E8400 anyway?

I looked some more and I'm also giving consideration to the Tuniq Tower at $65 as well, really liking it in fact. But the guide you linked, I have been reading it for awhile now and further down people criticized him in parts for being completely reversed on the truth. All this complex non-sense...this is why I fawking hate OC...slapping another graphics card in SLI is so much easier...*sigh*
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February 8, 2010 6:07:35 AM

RavinRivie said:
Thanks for the links - the Thermalright Ultra 120 extreme is only $60 and since it is the highest rated that's okay by me. I mean with that HS you showed it'd come out $40 vs $68 after shipping plus two 120mm fans for $5 each - eh when it comes to stuff like that I'd like to have the best or near the best. So what would I be able to overclock to? I saw one person who overclocked a CPU just like mine for 3.0 to 3.6 which doesn't seem like it'd be that big a difference - how good of an OCer is the E8400 anyway?

I looked some more and I'm also giving consideration to the Tuniq Tower at $65 as well, really liking it in fact. But the guide you linked, I have been reading it for awhile now and further down people criticized him in parts for being completely reversed on the truth. All this complex non-sense...this is why I fawking hate OC...slapping another graphics card in SLI is so much easier...*sigh*


I may be wrong, and your motherboard could become a limiting factor, but I think most E8400's can hit 4.0Ghz fairly easily. Gonna need some Intel guys to varify it.
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February 8, 2010 12:11:33 PM

A moderate OC is easier than getting the final tweaking out of the cpu to get the max OC. Theres a couple of things you need to disable (I don't remember right off what they are) and then you can increase the fsb a few times until you hit, let says 3.4 ~ 3.6Ghz and then you will need to run prime 95 overnight to make sure it doesn't lock up or crash to assure its stable.

Once you get into maxing out the OC you will likely need to change your voltages slightly (not too much) but before you start messing with voltages do some reading to better understand or get someones support here that OC's enough to know what they are talking about.

As far as the OC guide, for some reason I can't find the one I wanted to link you to. Maybe someone else has the link...
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