My upgrade budget is 600$ (750$ max.), and my aim is to get highest gaming performance in 1920x1200 resolution and in Win7, preferably in racing & flying sims (Test drive Unlimited 2, GTR, X-Plane, Storm of War, FSX, Silent Hunter V).
I'm eager to overclock so a system that gives best results after being O/C'ed is most valuable for me.
So the big question is:
1) go for core i7-920 with 6 gigs of RAM platform and leave the current graphics card.
2) go for core i5-750 with 4 gigs of RAM platform and get another 9800 GTX or HD 5850 or two HD 4870's or GTX 280
3) go for Phenom II X4 955 (965) with 4 gigs of RAM platform and get Radeon HD5870 or two HD4890 or GF GTX 285 or two GF GTX 260's
4) go for Core 2 Quad Q9550 and get Radeon HD5870 or HD4870 X2 or GF GTX 285 and another 2 gigs of DDR2 RAM for current system.
5) get Radeon HD5970 or GTX295 and add another 2 gigs of DDR2 RAM for current system.
Thanks in advance for any advice!
Own ideas welcome!
It really comes down to what price you are willing to pay for a given increase in performance, and only you can make that decision.
I found your Option 4 very interesting because you used to be able to get a Q9550 from Microcenter for $160. If this will work in your current motherboard, then adding a 5870 graphics card will give you a big performance jump. But you need to check the compatibility of all of the old and new components before trying this upgrade.
As for another 9800gtx I can go with core i7 860 and 4 gigs of ram, although I would rather want to avoid the need to upgrade PC in the next year.
As for the no. 4 option I have a big deal deciding whether go for phenom 2 or stay with LGA775 (cost of upgrade is roughly the same for me because I plan to sell unused parts).