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Need advice about upgrading my current system

Last response: in Systems
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January 1, 2010 1:45:17 AM

Right now I'm running a 4 year old prebuilt Dell XPS 600. (I know, I know)

Specs:
Nvidia NForce4 Motherboard
Intel Pentium D C2D Processor 3.0GHz (Socket 775)
2x Nvidia GeForce 7800GTX SLI mode
Creative X-Fi Sound Card
660W power supply
1920x1080 32" DVI montor

Recently, I got back into PC gaming and picked up CODMW2, GTAIV, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Cheronobyl, and Killing Floor (UT2004 mod). I tried to run each of them at high, medium, and low settings.

CODMW2: Runs badly with medium settings at 1600x1080. About 40-50 FPS.
GTAIV: Runs terribly even at lowest settings and 800x600 resolution. About 5 FPS...
STALKER: Runs badly at low settings and 1600x1080 res. About 40-50 FPS. At 800x600 res with lowest settings, I get a good 150 FPS.
Killing Floor: Runs well at highest settings and 1920x1080 res. About 100-120 FPS

First, I thought something was wrong with my system. I couldn't believe that my system preformed so poorly on low settings. But apparently, the CPU that was high-end 4 years ago sucks now (go figure), and I suspect that is holding the rest of my system back in these new games. Benchmarking in PCMark shows that while my GFX cards are preforming well as they should be, my CPU is preforming at roughly 50% of what I need to have to support the rest of my system. Also, my GFX cards only support up to DirectX 9. Is this normal, or is there something wrong?

As I understand, prebuilt systems are harder than hell to upgrade, and my motherboard doesn't even support newer processors. So that leaves me with upgrading the GFX Cards, which I believe would be majorly bottle-necked by that Intel Pentium D.

...which leads me to building my own custom built system, which I am perfectly comfortable with. But I don't have a very high budget.

What I need to know is, what hardware do I need to run the latest games at a decent FPS at at least 1600x1080 resolution? Of that hardware, what would be the cheapest route?
Are my 7800's worth keeping, or are they too out of date?

Thanks for any help provided.
January 1, 2010 1:43:32 PM

Holy crap, those are kinda demanding games. Particularly GTA4 which runs best on a quad core & 1GB+ GPU. I could play this game any day for a year. It's got pretty much TPS, racing (if you treat Brucie right, he'll introduce you to illegal street racing in addition to free copter rides.) & linear action-RPG (even though there are 2 endings, you must make contact with certain elements to progress).

What's your upgrade budget?
What's the PSU make & model?
What parts are you reusing?
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January 1, 2010 1:55:12 PM

the dell came with a 650 psu with a 42amp 12v rail wich should be a delta if im not mistaken
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January 1, 2010 6:15:13 PM

p55ibexpeak said:
Holy crap, those are kinda demanding games. Particularly GTA4 which runs best on a quad core & 1GB+ GPU. I could play this game any day for a year. It's got pretty much TPS, racing (if you treat Brucie right, he'll introduce you to illegal street racing in addition to free copter rides.) & linear action-RPG (even though there are 2 endings, you must make contact with certain elements to progress).

What's your upgrade budget?
What's the PSU make & model?
What parts are you reusing?

Well, as of right now I have $200 to spend, which probably isnt enough but that's all I have.

The PSU is a proprietary Dell 650W PSU that fits only in this case

Ill reuse any parts I can. I know for sure I will be reusing the DVD drive and hard drives, and I was questioning the GFX cards. Are they too old, or are they still good enough to reuse? (NVIDIA 7800GTX SLI)

If those are too demanding of games, what games do you suggest I use to test to make sure that there is nothing wrong with my system and it is indeed my CPU that is keeping me from a good framerate? Ive been searching this a lot, and some things I came up with were:
1) Overheating of the GPU and/or CPU can cause a slow framerate and underperformed. -I cleaned the thermal paste off of my CPU/heatsink and reapplied some Arctic Silver. And I checked and made sure the onboard fans for the GFX cards were working properly, which they are.
2) Saitek Eclipse II Keyboards can cause slow framerates in games. I unplugged my keyboard but nothing changed.

Thanks.
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Best solution

January 1, 2010 7:27:49 PM

well far as reusing the case your screwed dell likes to make only specific boards for their cases

and the power supply should fit any case since its normal atx spec

but i dunno if $200 can make much difference maybe $300 could

Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

http://secure.newegg.com/Shopping/ShoppingCart.aspx?Sub...

ASUS M4N72-E AM3/AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA nForce 750a SLI ATX AMD Motherboard

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

this is bout $300 shipped
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January 1, 2010 7:47:59 PM

obsidian86 said:
well far as reusing the case your screwed dell likes to make only specific boards for their cases

and the power supply should fit any case since its normal atx spec

but i dunno if $200 can make much difference maybe $300 could

Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

http://secure.newegg.com/Shopping/ShoppingCart.aspx?Sub...

ASUS M4N72-E AM3/AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA nForce 750a SLI ATX AMD Motherboard

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

this is bout $300 shipped

Well the reason I used the word proprietary is because it is fitted inside a second part of the case affixed to the bottom of the case. I dont think its your average shape/size etc.

I actually chose that case on my own. Glad I made a good decision.
So what else would I need with that hardware you specified?
A PSU and a video card? Or will mine do? (The weird Dell PSU and dual nVidia 7800GTX SLI)

BTW: As a side note, I prefer Intel processors. But as I understand, AMD provides competitive hardware for lower prices so I may consider changing my preference.

How does that hardware compare with these?

Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GIGABYTE GA-EP43T-UD3L LGA 775 Intel P43 ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz 6MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor (Is Dual Core w/ higher GHz > Quad Core w/ lower GHz for gaming? Please clarify)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

~$345 w/o shipping. Also, from the user reviews, I read that the included PSU on that case is a P.O.S., which would mean that I need to add another $90 for a power supply.

As far as overall price, I can go over $200, but I only have $200 ATM so I'll have to wait ~4 months to have $400 to spend. (~2 months for $300 total)
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January 1, 2010 8:15:10 PM

well the amd quad core will be a better overall investment then the dual core e8400

a speedy dual core should match a mid level quad core in most current tasks but more and more applications and games are utilising quad cores even later this yr intel and amd will be releasing hexa core cpu's

(the quad would kick a dual core ass in gta 4)

the dell psu should work in most newer cases

and socket 775 gas seen the end of its line intel has supposedly stopped production




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January 1, 2010 8:24:35 PM

obsidian86 said:
well the amd quad core will be a better overall investment then the dual core e8400

a speedy dual core should match a mid level quad core in most current tasks but more and more applications and games are utilising quad cores even later this yr intel and amd will be releasing hexa core cpu's

(the quad would kick a dual core ass in gta 4)

the dell psu should work in most newer cases

and socket 775 gas seen the end of its line intel has supposedly stopped production

Thank you for this helpful information.

I'll look into a quad core processor then.

Lastly, I feel like a broken record here, but what about my GFX cards? Are they good enough to reuse?
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January 1, 2010 8:38:19 PM

2x7800 gtx is bout as good as a 8800gtx which is still a capable mid range card these days but wait till march when nvidia shake things up with their new cards no one knows what its gonna bring to the table but should stir prices a bit
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January 1, 2010 8:48:48 PM

thats a good chip a much better gaming chip then the lower quad cores and it can be overclocked easily to 3ghz on stock cooling or 3ghz+ with an aftermarket cooler
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January 1, 2010 8:56:07 PM

obsidian86 said:
thats a good chip a much better gaming chip then the lower quad cores and it can be overclocked easily to 3ghz on stock cooling or 3ghz+ with an aftermarket cooler

Ok one more question, then I'm done. :D 

What would be a good motherboard to go with that processor. There's so many choices on newegg as far as AM3 socket mobo's go.
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January 1, 2010 9:16:18 PM

on the nvidia/amd/sli front your quite limited as far as am3 goes there are only 2

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

but luckily am3 processors work in am2+ boards at the sacrifice of ddr3 ram

but if you only ever will use one graphics card the amd 770 range is a good choice or the amd 785g it may have onboardgraphics but it just clocks that lil bit better then a 770 series

then there is the 790 series that come in 790x/790gx/790fx flavours

all the 790 series can crossfire the the 790gx has onboard graphic the 790x doesn and the 790fx is the big daddy best of the best amd boards but note many of the am2+ 790 series boards can sli
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January 1, 2010 9:47:48 PM

obsidian86 said:
on the nvidia/amd/sli front your quite limited as far as am3 goes there are only 2

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

but luckily am3 processors work in am2+ boards at the sacrifice of ddr3 ram

but if you only ever will use one graphics card the amd 770 range is a good choice or the amd 785g it may have onboardgraphics but it just clocks that lil bit better then a 770 series

then there is the 790 series that come in 790x/790gx/790fx flavours

all the 790 series can crossfire the the 790gx has onboard graphic the 790x doesn and the 790fx is the big daddy best of the best amd boards but note many of the am2+ 790 series boards can sli

I will most likely only use one GFX card. Hows this?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If I do end up wanting two, I'll go with the one you showed me:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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January 1, 2010 9:59:51 PM

those are quite good msi is really getting their act together these days
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January 1, 2010 10:06:48 PM

obsidian86 said:
those are quite good msi is really getting their act together these days

Well without a GFX card the total is $400 flat. Not bad at all. Thanks for all your help.
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January 2, 2010 12:31:48 AM

Actually I do have one more question.

Is there any way for me to overclock my current system? My Intel Pentium D or my 7800GTX?
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