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Upgrades.. Please Help

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December 21, 2009 5:53:37 PM

Here's the deal.
I've got an old video card that was quiet good in it's day but is not giving me the FPS I want in todays newest games.
Combine that with an old CPU and I'm thinking I could use multiple upgrades.

Current System:
Athlon X2 4200+ (Socket 939)
ASRock Dual SATA2 Motherboard
4 GB of Kingston DDR (400MHz)
ATi Radeon X1950XT
Sound Blaster Audigy Gamer
PC Power and Cooling 650Watt (NEW)

Keep in mind I'm on a tight upgrade budget!
My upgrade thoughts:

CPU: Phenom II X4 955 Black - I was thinking I'd like to go with this CPU but a little conserned that I might be going overboard. I looked at Tom's CPU/GPU balance article and It looks like I could get away with a X3 Black. Do you think the quad core is worth the extra money for a budget build? Do you think more games in the future will make use of systems with more than 2 cores? I want your input!

CPU Fan/Heatsync: I plan on overclocking and need a cheap but good fan/heatsync. I was thinking the Scythe Mugen II. What do you think? I want to hit 3.8GHz if I get the 955.

Motherboard: I'm really open to any suggestions on this one. Keep in mind I'm am on a budget and wont be running dual video cards. But on the other hand I was thinking I might want SATA III for a solid state drive in the future. But it would be nice to have another PCIe slot 8X or better to install a USB 3.0 / SATA III card. It will take me a while to save the money so should I just plan on waiting and buying a board that has USB 3.0 and SATA III native (onboard) as appose to a PCIe board? Do you think it would be cheaper that way?

Memory: I don't really need any help on this. I am open to inexpensive suggestions though. But I was thinking DDR3 (1333MHz - 1600MHz range) with CL 8 or less.

Video Card: The video card will not actually be upgraded until sometime late next year, which by then who knows what will be out. I was hoping for nVidia to release the 300 series and ATi would then lower prices on the 5800 (or better) series. A pricing war would be awesome!

I know what you are thinking... If you are having FPS issues why don't you upgrade the video card first? Lets just leave it at "I have my reasons".

I would love for everyone to comment and give me feedback and any/all of my ramblings/questions!!

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a b B Homebuilt system
December 21, 2009 6:11:30 PM

The x3 is plenty good enough. You could even bump down to a Athlon II x3 which would give about the same performance for most things. The only thing missing is the cache and that's apparently a very specific cases thing.

You could wait for a mobo, but it's always a waiting game right? Though I'd say a AM3 mobo and DDR3 RAM is what you should go for.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
is a quite good single graphics card overclocking board.

Nah, if you upgrade the video card first it'll just get bottlenecked. You'd only see its performace up to about a 4670's level before it stops.

What're you planning on doing with the old stuff? That 939 CPU is expensive now since it's a dual core and it's rare for that socket. You could sell it alone on ebay for over $100
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 21, 2009 6:13:23 PM

This GIGABYTE GA-790XTA-UD4 AM3 is the cheapest out of two mobos on newegg that have SATA 6Gbps ports, altho it doesn't say that it supports 1600Mhz RAM out of the box, so you would have to tweak it, which you sound capable of. The bonus is that it comes with 2 good PCI-E slots.
As for the CPU, I'd say get the 955 if you can afford it.
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December 21, 2009 6:52:00 PM

False_Dmitry_II said:
The x3 is plenty good enough. You could even bump down to a Athlon II x3 which would give about the same performance for most things. The only thing missing is the cache and that's apparently a very specific cases thing.

You could wait for a mobo, but it's always a waiting game right? Though I'd say a AM3 mobo and DDR3 RAM is what you should go for.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
is a quite good single graphics card overclocking board.

Nah, if you upgrade the video card first it'll just get bottlenecked. You'd only see its performace up to about a 4670's level before it stops.

What're you planning on doing with the old stuff? That 939 CPU is expensive now since it's a dual core and it's rare for that socket. You could sell it alone on ebay for over $100


Thanks, I forgot that my CPU is rare and that I could sell it for a decent amount of money.
I think I may go with the Phenom II X3 because it is a black edition. (I want the unlocked multiplier) I guess I can always upgrade the CPU again in the future...
I like the motherboard you suggested that fits the bill of what I am looking for. The only thing that is a little off is the fact that it has only 1 PCIe 8X or better. Perhaps the PCIe 1X slot will be fast enough for SATA III or USB 3.0?
Anyways, thanks for your input.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 21, 2009 7:04:50 PM

Most hard drives still aren't saturating 1.5 SATA. By that I mean all except for SSD's. And those aren't saturating SATA II. I don't feel a great need for SATA III or USB 3.0 but I'm sure add on cards will come in all flavors. Even if it does come in x1 and even if it would be bottlenecked by it, it would still be faster than normal USB, and the hard drive shouldn't be too far off. I'd probably stick a hard drive one on the x8 link. ATM I think the only PCI-e card besides graphics i've seen is a x1 gigabit ethernet NIC. (besides the super high-end RAID controllers) You could look at those and see what's needed. I looked at the recent SSD on a pci-e card article and it looks like a x4 link to me.
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