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Potential upgrade from a P4 3.0Ghz.

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December 21, 2009 4:13:19 PM

At the moment I'm running what is probably an off lease IBM P4 3.0 Ghz. (Bought about 3 years ago, was possible 2-3 years old already by that time)

I use this system for everything, from homework to watching videos to playing DDO, Cod4, (Going to be playing The Witcher as well, got it for my birthday from my uncle).

CPU: P4 530 @ 3.0 Ghz.
Motherboard: Unknown. Proprietary though
Case: Also proprietary unfortunately
Ram: 1 gig with 3 sticks, 2 256mb, 1 512mb
Psu: Cooler Master eXtreme Power Plus 500W
Gpu: BFG 9600gt OC
Hard Drive: Not so important 160gigs though
Monitor: Lovely ViewSonic 22" VX2235wm running at 1680 X 1050
OS: Windows XP Home Edition (2002)

Now, before I mention possible upgrade, I believe that my cpu is bottlenecking my gpu, does anyone else think this is probably the case?

Ok, as a college student with very little budget, this may or may not end up being a Christmas present.

All currency in Canadian $$.

On Kijiji I saw a post for "kit Gigabyte G41M-ES2H +PENTIUM E5200 neuf a vendre" with the link: http://montreal.kijiji.ca/c-buy-and-sell-computer-acces...
(Would then get 2 gigs of DDR2 800mhz ram secondhand as well ~ 40$)

Where the two pieces are being sold together for 100$. The Cpu is apparently brand new and still in the box, the motherboard... May or may not be new, it doesn't really say very clearly.

At the Microbytes nearby, the E5200 is going for 79$ +tax and the motherboard is going for 75$ +tax. Totallying up to more than 170$.

From what I've been reading on the forums these past few months, the e5200 can potentially be a good overclocker. I haven't done any overclocking before (this is the first computer I've owned), but reading several reviews, apparently this motherboard would support overclocking, BUT, the Pcie X16 only runs at X 4. (Also, will probably use cpu at native clock speeds until I get a new cpu fan, after all, better safe than sorry.)

My main question is, if my current cpu is bottlenecking my gpu, and I went out and bought this combo, would the pcie X 16 slot running at X 4 bottleneck the graphics card? In which case, would it even be worth upgrading to this at all?
Also, if I were to buy this, it would be feasible to then replace the motherboard some time down the road, maybe in a couple months (who knows).

Also, another concern of mine would be my proprietary case. Would it be 100% necessary to buy a new one, and would it have to be a micro atx case or would it be possible to buy a full sized case, and stick the mATX in it, and then if I get a full sized motherboard, just replace it?

I'm open to any advice, keep in mind however that I cannot afford to do a full upgrade and this is just to check the feasibility of my idea before I bring the idea to my dad.

Oh yes, although this may be my first post, I've been hanging around the site & forums for a few months now, reading up etc. I just haven't had a reason to post until now. ;) 

Articles I read on the motherboard:
1) http://www.techwarelabs.com/gigabyte-ga-g41m-es2h/
2) http://www.siliconmadness.com/2009/08/gigabyte-ga-g41m-...

#2 States "Be warned though, as to provide dual digital video outputs, the board can only provide 4 PCI-e lanes on the x16 slot. This will still be enough for mainstream graphics cards but don't expect it to deal with a GTX 285 in a spectacular way." Would this seriously bottleneck my gpu? (BFG 9600gt OC)

More about : potential upgrade 0ghz

a b B Homebuilt system
December 21, 2009 5:26:44 PM

Well your ancient single core is definitely holding that back in a big way. Are you going for intel only, or would you be willing to go AMD?

I'm not sure how bad the x4 link would be, I've never had to deal with a pci-e that slow.

As far as a case goes, get one that says that it supports ATX and microATX and you can easily put either kind in it. Assuming that your power supply is standard ATX, you should be able to use it anyway.

I'd also suggest that you sell whatever you are gonna not use on ebay.
December 21, 2009 5:36:45 PM

Personally I'd be fine with either Intel or AMD, but in this case, I'm just wondering about these specific parts because at the moment in Montreal, there isn't much in terms of cheap second hand motherboards/cpus.

As to the PSU, it looks like its dimensions are: standard ATX PS2 150 x 140 x 86 (mm)
& thanks for the case info.

Also, interesting idea for spare parts, might be a good idea, and if not ebay, maybe another site.
Related resources
a b B Homebuilt system
December 21, 2009 5:49:18 PM

Well seeing as how the gtx 285 is a good 5 tiers higher I'd say it shouldn't pose too much of a problem based on their comment. It probably will have an impact but nowhere near as much as a single core CPU.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 21, 2009 6:09:30 PM

I doubt your CPU is a bottleneck. I just moved my 9800 GTX+, which is quite a bit more powerful than your 9600, to a p4 2.9 System and it performs pretty well in that system (about 80% as well as it did in the 3.2 GHz dual core system it was in before).

You will see greater improvements with a better graphics card than you will by keeping the 9600 and getting a dual core CPU.

I think you are spending a bit too much effort fretting over minute points and losing sight of the over picture. The 9600 is an entry level gaming graphics card, its not that powerful to begin with. You wont hit issues the CPU limiting your GPU until you get into high end graphics cards.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 21, 2009 6:16:11 PM

Really? Because there are plenty of benchmarks on single core CPU's on this very website that say performance gains stop at about a HD 2600 XT card level. Now maybe if you're going with huge resolutions and whatnot and putting all CPU related stuff on super low it might show a bit more than that (because that's intentionally putting as much as possible to make the card squeal) but still.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 21, 2009 6:32:00 PM

Please link those benchmarks, I havent seen them.

Most games are still single threads. Multiple cores really dont help most games, other than offloading the OS overhead, antivirus, bloatware, etc to cores the game isnt using. Thats why all the benchmarks show 3 core systems to perform as well as 4 core systems in almost all games. A clean XP on a high frequency P4 still runs pretty well. I ran the same 1680x1050 monitor with my 9800 GTX+ on my p4 2.9 with 1GB RAM and can play MMOs like DDO and LotRO at high-very high settings (with AA off - only 512MB RAM GPU) at 60+ FPS. I dont think a 9600 can get those FPS ratings even with an i5 CPU.
December 21, 2009 6:32:32 PM

Ironically I searched and found that article.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ati-agp-3850-agp,19...

What I cannot find however is a chart that compares the 530 with e5200. I searched 2006 cpu charts and q1 and q3 2008 as well as 2009, but none of them seem to compare the two (that I can see, may have just missed them, used Control + F to search though).

Also, the e5200 would perform better at everything in general, right? (I mean anything non graphics related)

So even if it doesn't do too much to improve my graphics, would it still be a worthwhile upgrade? (Keeping in mind, I'm unlikely to upgrade in the near future otherwise).
a b B Homebuilt system
December 21, 2009 6:38:40 PM

I think it's worth it.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 21, 2009 6:42:41 PM

Going to a dual core with 4GB RAM is going to improve everything. Its not going to double your gaming graphics but it could double other things you do. Also it would let you move up to win7 if you wanted (students can get it very cheap).
a c 83 B Homebuilt system
December 21, 2009 7:17:34 PM

For good gaming at 1600 I think you need a graphics card that is a few levels higher ,ike the gts250/gtx260 or 5750/5770.
read this article which will give you an insight to what you can expect from various cards and resolutions. Note that the tests were done with a e8400@3.0 which is much stronger than your cpu.
http://www.guru3d.com/article/vga-charts-december-2008/...

I think your cpu may come close to being ok for now.

1.5gb of ram is not enough, particularly since ram is cheap these days. Get a 4gb kit if you can, alternately try for 3gb.
Here is a study of the effect of 4gb vs. 2gb:
http://www.corsair.com/_appnotes/AN804_Gaming_Performan...

For any ram you are considering, do your own homework.
Go to the ram vendor's web site, and access their configurator.
Corsair, Kingston, Patriot, OCZ and others have them.
Their compatibility list is more current than the motherboard vendor's QVL lists which rarely get updated.
Enter your mobo or PC, and get a list of compatible ram sticks.

Here are a few links:

http://www.crucial.com/index.aspx

http://www.corsair.com/configurator/default.aspx

http://kingston.com/

http://conf.ocztechnology.com/index.php?c=1

http://www.patriotmemory.com/configurator/index.jsp

Cpu performance is not very sensitive to ram speeds.
If you look at real application and game benchmarks(vs. synthetic tests),
you will see negligible difference in performance between the slowest DDR2 and the fastest DDR3 ram.
Perhaps 1-2%. Not worth it to me.
Don't pay extra for faster ram or better timings unless you are a maximum overclocker.

As a student, you can buy windows-7 cheap, like $30. Look for an academic license. It will not make much of a difference, but it is a better os.
!