Do you already have an LGA 775 Socket and looking to upgrade? If not, I would go with the Phenom II X4 955 for your build at that price range on a CPU.
The E7600 will be better in most games due to the higher clock speed but those games that can utilize four cores, the Q8300 will have a benefit. You really need to look at the specific games you want to play and look for benchmarks to compare performance against.
... Save up an extra $17 and go for the E8400? It's not that big of a stretch, and if it'll OC anything like the E8600, it's worth it. Though it's only got 2 cores, most gaming benchmarks put it above its quad-cored brethren.
Otherwise, it's a tough call. The 7600 does have the higher clock speed, but it's hampered by the lower FSB and L2 cache compared to the Q8300
As Tecmo34 said, it really comes down to the games you'll be running. In most cases, though, you'll probably do just fine with the 7600. Though, the Q8300 should be able to OC nicely, provided you have the proper cooling solution in place.
I'd go for the E7600 for stock speeds.
Thank you all for the input (just got home from work and was delighted to see so much helpful advice!)
It occurred to me I may be asking the wrong question, it takes maybe more knowledge than I currently possess to ask the right one straight away ;-)
I play Supreme Commander, EVE Online, Sins of a Solar Empire.
My next PC game purchase will be Supreme Commander 2 March 2nd!
I already own the 775 mobo, and recently upgraded my graphics card to an ATI 5770. Honestly, I seem to be getting GREAT performance (60fps) even with my old processor (E6300). But I'm in the mode of upgrading and thought maybe the CPU should be upgraded too "just 'cause" since it is the oldest component and I could spend $150. Maybe faster HDD or more Memory would be wiser use of the $150? What do you think?
OR where could I find instructions to monitor and determine where any bottleneck might be for a particular game?
Here are the current system specifics:
OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
CPU: Core2Duo E6300 @ 1.86 GHz
RAM: 1x 4GB G.SKILL DDR3 1333
Graphics Card: Sapphire Vapor-X 100283VXL Radeon HD 5770 1 GB 128-bit
Primary Adapter: 4800 x 900@60Hz (3-displays eyefinity)
Motherboard: ASUSP5G43T-M Pro
Graphics Driver Version: 12/11/2009 version 8.690.0.0 and Catalyst Control Center 10.1 (2009.1211.1547.28237)
Sound Card: On-board
Hard Drive: Western Digital WDC WD2500JS-75NCB3
Power Supply: OCZ ModXStream Pro Power Supply - 600-Watt
I also agree with those that say to save the extra $17 and get a E8400. I don't see a reason for you to boost RAM. Only get a bigger hard drive if you really need the space. A newer CPU will go a long way for the $150.
If you play a lot of SupCom, then the Quad is the way to go. SupCom loves Quads.
It all chokes up anyway when the Commander goes BOOM! Yes, there is a performance gain from having the quad-core, but it probably won't get noticed between these 2 CPUs.
Adding more RAM to his configuration may not help much in the end. True, if the rig were running Dual-Channel, there would be performance increases. However, 8GB is a bit towards the overkill side of things. Most systems (read: gaming rig) run fine on 4GB. The only way there'd be a boost would be to swap the single stick for 2 2's and run it dual channel. Not worth it.
Like adding a spoiler to a Geo Metro. Unless the rest of the system is bottlenecking because there's not enough RAM (highly unlikely in this case), adding to it won't help. It'll make it look cooler and make you think you've got bragging rights until everyone realizes there's no point in it being there.
Stick with the E8400. It'll perform better in a greater majority of games, both out now and upcoming titles. Just remember, system requirements for Starcraft 2 just came out. http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/62411 damn good game to be sure, only requires a single core (though, WoW has been patched to utilize dual-core).
FSB, L2 cache, and stock speed are you friends in your case. Throwing 2 extra cores at it won't make a night/day difference.
Refer to the last SBM. Better yet go here and check out the performance of the E8400 and GTX 260 (on par with the HD5770, check the chart). I know, the article even says (World in Conflict) is CPU limited. But the quad-core that's beating out the E8400 costs almost $100 more. You'll see similar frame rates between the E8400 and Q8300, with the E8400 more than likely maintaining a slight lead.
Go with the E8400 for the sake of any other games you'll be enjoying.