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Upgrade or scrap? A three year old gaming system

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November 29, 2009 4:03:10 PM

Hi everybody,

I'm looking in to upgrading my old system (built in 2006) and I'm trying to get oriented in the current parts market. I've read up on all the recent THG articles, checked out the charts, and poked around on Newegg; hopefully someone can help me out!

The primary usage of the new system is gaming. My current monitor is 1680x1050, but I may go up to 1920x1080 if I can snag a good deal. I have moved most of my surfing/document work to a laptop after returning to school. In another year when I am back out it's possible that the new system will become my primary one again.

Here's the old system (with newegg links for parts that I will/might keep first)
MOBO: ECS C19-A SLI (nforce4, LGA775)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Memory: Corsair 2x1GB DDR2 800
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PSU: Fortron SAGA+ 450W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Case: Cooler Master Centurion
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Monitor: Viewsonic 8ms 20.1" 1680x1050
Etc: Keyboard/mouse, 2 Western Digital HDDs, optical drive

(the primary upgrade targets)
Processor: Pentium D 930
GFX: ATI Radeon x1900XT

I have identified a few different parts that I might be able to drop in to the system to improve gaming performance, hopefully without causing an upgrade cascade that will force me to replace every part in the thing.

Possible processors:
e7500 (a good Fry's deal I saw)
e8400 (this seems like a good deal looking at the "balanced gaming system" article on THG. But the forum recommendations post said it's overpriced dreck. please advise!)

Possible graphics cards:
HD 5770 (this looks like the sweet spot)
HD 5750
HD 4890

A couple specific questions to wrap it up...
Do I need to upgrade my motherboard? I've never been keen on buying an expensive motherboard...used ECS for a long while. Is my current mobo competent even to run the faster Core 2 Duos? Clearly I can't drop a quad core processor into an LGA 775, but I don't understand much about motherboards beyond the sockets. Overclocking is not a priority, though I don't mind trying.

Is my PSU powerful enough? It looks like the Core 2 Duo CPUs will be lower power consumption than my current Pentium D. The 5770 looks like it takes almost no energy at all, so can I squeeze that in to my current setup? The Fortron has been rock solid for me the last 3 years.

Budget: $400-500, with flexibility depending on what other parts need to be scrapped/added.

Thank you for any help!
Alex

Best solution

November 29, 2009 4:20:21 PM

I highly recommend a motherboard upgrade, the 1 you have has a FSB limit of 1066/800, and a C2D E8400 has a FSB of 1333mhz, so thats a no go.
Also the memory speed is poor at just 667mhz, I'd surgest new memory too.

The HD5770 is a good card becuase its DX11, and a smart move becuase of future proofing.

I'd suggest going for a Core i5 setup, it will eat most of the budget (leaving little for the graphics card), but its new technology (775 now being old tech).

Heres my suggested parts.
P55 mobo
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Core i5 750
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Ram
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

And then maybe sell your old parts to get some money for the HD5770
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November 29, 2009 4:52:09 PM

Thank you for the quick replies!

Well, upgrading the mobo is a bit of a bummer but certainly not unexpected. Ah well. Regarding i5 vs. C2D: is there potential for LGA 1156 getting superseded soon by 1366? What do I gain out of the i5 other than future upgrade potential and the warm fuzzy feeling of new technology (I do get that feeling ;)  ) Also, do I risk much by going with a cheaper motherboard?

A quick Newegg turned up another ECS contender: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Off to read the i5/i7 review. Thanks again!
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November 29, 2009 5:22:52 PM

No freakin' worries buddy.

The core i5 is really good performance for the price, you'd have to spend more money on a 775 system to get the same performance.

The mobo I listed isn't bad at all, P55 mobo's don't vary too much, but if you were to spend more, then you might be able to overclock higher (E.g if you brought a more expensive P55 motherboard with a better power phase design) Also more expensive boards might have better layouts or things like SAS controllers or extra USB 2.0 ports and eSata ports.
So its really up to you. I've never heard of ECS if im honest (I live in the UK, maybe there a big/well known company in the states).

As you may or may not know 1156 is replacing 775 as the mainstream, and 1366 is for the enthusiast market. It's a safe bet to say that there will be no more 775 processors coming out, and that 1156 + 1366 is the new standard.

Fuzzy Feeling FTW :p 
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November 29, 2009 5:33:57 PM

adb44 said:
Well, upgrading the mobo is a bit of a bummer but certainly not unexpected. Ah well. Regarding i5 vs. C2D: is there potential for LGA 1156 getting superseded soon by 1366? What do I gain out of the i5 other than future upgrade potential and the warm fuzzy feeling of new technology (I do get that feeling ;)  ) Also, do I risk much by going with a cheaper motherboard


the I5/I7 arcitecture is simply better than core2 for the same clock speed, and of course as was mentioned before 775 is being phased out, any new intel CPU will be for 1156 or 1366. I wouldn't say that you have to risk much by going with a cheaper board. As long as you do your homework you can usually find one people have had good success with. AFAIK all i5 boards are based on the same chipset right now anyway, so you don't have to worry about getting stuck with a crap chipset which historically has been a problem with cheap boards.
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November 30, 2009 6:34:55 PM

New question, guys:

I'm reading now that the Core i5, with the integrated PCI-e pipelines, has to run a Crossfire package at PCI-e x8. So this would mean if I got an i5 and a 5770, I couldn't purchase another 5770 and a bigger PSU at a later date and drop them in. Is that correct? Should I be looking at AMD platforms instead, because of that?
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November 30, 2009 6:47:03 PM

No it means that if you had 2 x HD5770's in crossfire they would both run at x8, which is fine for 5770's because they wouldn't even need more than x8 bandwidth.

You can certainly run crossfire on a P55 platform.
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