I need some advice with a motherboard choice for an upgrade in the near future. Currently my specs are as follows:
Core 2 Duo E7300 @ 3.2Ghz
Corsair XMS2 DHX, 4 x 1Gb @ 800Mhz
Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro Rev. 2
I aim to upgrade to an AMD Phenom II X4 955 (or perhaps a tri-core and unlock, I'm not certain yet). This obviously means buying a new motherboard. I intend to use everything else still; my memory overclocks very nicely, and I cannot afford the additional cost of DDR3 memory, no matter how nice it would be.
The problem is that on my current board, the memory and the cooler literally sit a millimetre apart. The memory is very tall, looking like this and the cooler is not exactly small either, linked here.
My question is this. What reasonably priced ATX (not Micro-ATX, please) motherboard would accommodate the cooler and memory without problems? If this seems to be a problem, alternatively you may suggest a different cooler, but the memory is staying!
I live in the UK and am looking to spend around £200.
If you are interested in overclocking, two sticks of ram will usually work better. You should be able to sell your 4 sticks and get a 2 x 2gb kit of ram without losing much on the exchange. For what it is worth, the fancy ram heat sinks are mostly for marketing since extra ram cooling is largely not needed.
I see your problem as being mostly from the cooler. Can you mount the cooler fan so that it pulls the air through the cooler instead of pushing it?
Let me assume that you will make the change because you want more cpu power. For gaming, graphics upgrades will normally be more effective. To assess the possibilities, run a couple of tests:
1) Run your games, but reduce the resolution and eye candy to a minimum. This will simulate what will happen if you upgrade to a stronger graphics card. If your FPS improves, it indicates that your cpu is capable of driving a stronger graphics card to higher levels of FPS.
2) Keeping your graphics resolution and settings the same, reduce your cpu power. Do this by removing the overclock, or by using windows power management to set a maximum cpu% of perhaps 70%. If your FPS drops significantly, it indicates that your current cpu is a limiting factor, and that a faster cpu would help.
Firstly, thank you for the reply, and that link is helpful in reassuring me that the memory will fit the potential motherboards.
I have considered selling and buying RAM, but with prices having risen lately, it seems as though it will prove to be a bit silly to lose out on money for the same performance and capacity. From one site, I know they managed to overclock the memory from the stock 800Mhz to 1149Mhz. I do not wish to attempt to overclock to such great lengths, but to achieve maybe 1000Mhz would be great.
With regards to the cooler, I have found a couple of videos on Youtube which show installations with that cooler on Gigabyte AMD motherboards, and as suspected, it slightly overhangs the nearest DIMM slot. However, on picture comparisons (I have a multiple layer image on Photoshop to compare), it appears Asus boards have more room, which would allow the space for the cooler and all the memory without contact. It would be close fitting, but the cooler already sits right next to the RAM on my current setup.
The cooler on AMD boards appears to operate vertically and, unless I am mistaken, the cooler DOES pull air through the heatsink. Correct me if I'm wrong, though that is how I have set up my cooling, with a rear exhaust fan. For air to flow upwards would be fine, as I have a top power supply with a fan on too.
It is the first step in series of upgrades to eventually overhaul my entire computer. I have a few game titles at the moment which really need more CPU power (they run, but could run better), and so the quad core is the first step. At present, I only have a 1440 x 900 resolution, so the graphics card is more than suitable, until I later upgrade that and to a full HD monitor. I cannot afford to do it all at the same time.
I see no point in upgrading the monitor until my computer can cope with the native resolution and likewise, there is no point getting a far better graphics card for it to only be used on a 19" monitor.
I will look into playing around with game settings, though like I said earlier, I know for a fact I have a few games (and ones which I would consider buying with a better processor) which are definitely held back by the dual core architecture.