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Best CPU upgrade for my system

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March 18, 2010 7:11:00 PM

Hello! Looking for a little feedback, if that's possible. I'm looking to upgrade my computer to give it a little more power, but I don't have the funds (nor will I in the near future) to overhaul my entire system, so I've decided I should change the CPU. Unfortunately, my motherboard is getting a little dated, and I've had difficulty over the last few weeks determining what would be the best fit.

Here are my system specs:

IN9 32X-MAX 680i
e4300 Core 2 Duo 1.8GHz (3.0GHz OC)
A-DATA 2x2GB DDR2 800
Zotac 8800GT 512MB 700MHz
BFG 8800GT OCX 512MB 700MHz
Cooler Master Real Power Pro 750W

At first I thought I should go with a quad, but after doing some research I'm not so sure anymore. While I know 680i quad support is spotty, I've been able to determine that my board will support a q9550. However, it doesn't seem like I'll be able to overclock at all, so for argument's sake I'm assuming that if I went with a q9550 it would be running at stock speed of 2.88. While it seems that support for the older q6600 is much more solid, I haven't been able to find anyone running an in9 32x Max that has been able to achieve an OC of over 3.0, and so I'm also assuming that the maximum speed I'll be able to attain with the q6600 is similar to what I'd see with a q9550.

In terms of dual cores, it would seem possible to achieve a minimum of 3.2 with an e8400. While I'm not sure exactly of what the maximum overclock is with an e8xxx on my mobo, it would seem to be somewhere within the mid 3s.

To further complicate matters, I'm living in Europe, where prices seem to be a bit higher, and where there is less chance of finding used/cheap parts. On eBay I've found that the price of a q6600 varies anywhere from between 100 (used) to 150 euros (new), while a q9550 will run me about 200 (new w/ e0). An e8400 seems to cost about the same amount as a q6600, while the e8500 hovers around 160 to 170 euros.

What would be the difference (if any) of a q6600 at 3.0 vs a q9550 at stock (aside from temps)? I'm not concerned about the future overclock potential with a different mobo, because if I ever do change my motherboard it will probably be to make the jump to a new CPU socket type. What about the difference between an e8400 at 3.2 and a q6600 at 3.0? What would enable me to make the best of my SLI setup?

If anyone has any input I would greatly appreciate it. My system is primarily used for gaming, with Bad Company 2 being my primary focus as of the moment. Aside from (possibly) adding more ram, I don't really plan on upgrading this system any further within the next 2 years. Maybe switch out the 8800GT's for a new, single card, but only if I really start to need it.

More about : cpu upgrade system

a b à CPUs
March 18, 2010 9:15:58 PM

I think you should get an Q6600, because i doubt your 680i can support 45nm. And don't worry about the performance, Q6600 is still a very good performer;)
March 18, 2010 9:18:05 PM

I second the Q6600 suggestion. It overclocks nicely and even though it is a bit dated now it still has plenty of power.
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March 19, 2010 2:39:08 AM

As the Q6600 is quite hard to find these days I would go with:
Q9400/9550 or E8400/8500/8600, all supported on this is very nice 775 SLI board.
Then buy an aftermarket cooler and use the easy overclock of upping the FSB to 1600 for more oomph.
Or just stay with the E8600 at 3.3GHZ.
Changing the motherboard for AM2+/3 or i3/5 is probably more money than you want to spend. Although the 775 is now a dead end.
a b à CPUs
March 19, 2010 4:36:24 AM

E8400 = dual core (45nm)
Q6600 = quad core (65nm)

Get the Q6600. They are easy to find used on ebay, ~$100-$140

They are a great overclocker and great performer
March 19, 2010 6:11:01 AM

Q6600 for cheap on ebay... Q9550 are really expensive but could also be found at bargain prices at microcenter...
March 19, 2010 6:20:28 AM

Thanks for all the replies! I'd like to point out that I can 100% confirm that a q9550 will work with my board. I've seen screenshots, and it is under the list of supported CPUs released by Abit. The only problem is that it doesn't seem to overclock at all. Similarly, I don't know how well I can overclock a q6600, but it doesn't seem to be any more than 3.0. If this is the case, would it be worth it to go with the more expensive q9550 if I can't overclock, and if I can get a q6600 for cheaper that will attain the same (perhaps even superior) speed?

I don't intend on buying a new motherboard because it's too expensive. I'm in Europe, and they are more expensive and more difficult to get a hold of. Therefore, I'm looking to do the most with what I have.
March 19, 2010 4:38:47 PM

brown63 said:
As the Q6600 is quite hard to find these days I would go with:
Q9400/9550 or E8400/8500/8600, all supported on this is very nice 775 SLI board.
Then buy an aftermarket cooler and use the easy overclock of upping the FSB to 1600 for more oomph.
Or just stay with the E8600 at 3.3GHZ.
Changing the motherboard for AM2+/3 or i3/5 is probably more money than you want to spend. Although the 775 is now a dead end.


When you say "this very nice 775 SLI board" are you referring to mine? Sorry, dumb question, but I just wasn't sure, ha. The reason I ask is because both the q9400 and the q9550 are listed as suggested CPUs, and you then go on to say I should overclock. From what I've read I haven't been able to confirm that a q9550 can overclock above 1354 fsb on my in9 32x...if you have evidence to the contrary, I'd love to hear it!

Because I DO already have an aftermarket cooler, actually. I've got an Arctic Freezer 7 Pro =D I also have an Accelero S1 on each of my 8800gt's (these coolers are freaking amazing).
March 19, 2010 4:45:36 PM

Quote:
I don't know, they are kind a pricey, especially the Q9550.

Maybe consider a Athlon 2 X4 630 and a inexpensive 790X mobo combo for about $190 (US). You will be able to use your ddr2 and still have an upgrade path with future AM3 processors. If you overclock it a little bit it will run with a Q6600.


I appreciate the effort you put into your reply. I did a quick search and found that I can buy an Athlon 2 X4 for about 100 euros, however I wasn't able to find a retailer with the particular board you suggested (though I'll do a more thorough search tonight). The cheapest 790x I managed to find (though I don't know anything about these boards) was about 100 euros, bringing my total to about 200, the same it would cost me to go with a q9550, and about 50 euros more than a q6600 alone. However, I'm not too familiar with AMD cpus (I haven't used one in years) so I'll have to do some more research to see if this is a worthwhile path for me to take.

Anyway, thanks!
a b à CPUs
March 19, 2010 4:51:31 PM

Between a cheaper Q6600 OC-able to 3.0 and a more expensive Q9550 stuck at stock go for the Q6600 for sure.

+1 Q6600!
a b à CPUs
March 19, 2010 5:07:27 PM

+1 Q6600
a b à CPUs
March 19, 2010 11:24:44 PM

grandpamasaki said:
I appreciate the effort you put into your reply. I did a quick search and found that I can buy an Athlon 2 X4 for about 100 euros, however I wasn't able to find a retailer with the particular board you suggested (though I'll do a more thorough search tonight). The cheapest 790x I managed to find (though I don't know anything about these boards) was about 100 euros, bringing my total to about 200, the same it would cost me to go with a q9550, and about 50 euros more than a q6600 alone. However, I'm not too familiar with AMD cpus (I haven't used one in years) so I'll have to do some more research to see if this is a worthwhile path for me to take.

Anyway, thanks!

At stock setting, X4 630 < Q6600 < Q9550
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/default.aspx?p=105&p2=50...

But since you are also considering overclocking potential, the Q6600 will be the best bet. I just wonder where you get the idea that Q6600 will not OC well with the 680i. I found some thread where many claims hitting more than 3.4Ghz on this chipset.
And by the way, your SLI 8800 is great even at today's standard.

March 20, 2010 7:40:15 AM

randomkid said:
At stock setting, X4 630 < Q6600 < Q9550
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/default.aspx?p=105&p2=50...

But since you are also considering overclocking potential, the Q6600 will be the best bet. I just wonder where you get the idea that Q6600 will not OC well with the 680i. I found some thread where many claims hitting more than 3.4Ghz on this chipset.
And by the way, your SLI 8800 is great even at today's standard.


Thank you! That's EXACTLY the kind of information I was looking for. Would you happen to have a link to the thread? I was pretty sure I could hit higher than 3.0 myself, but I got the impression results varied between different 680i boards. In addition, I understand that the in9 32x is based off of the 680i, so it's slightly different than other standard 680i boards. Similarly, I've found people claiming to hit over 3.0 with a q9550 on a 680i that supports 45nm quads, but nothing with my exact board, so I wasn't sure. Here's a link to someone that couldn't get past 2.94GHz

http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?p=38...

From what I'm reading, SLI really starts to shine at my resolution (1920x1200) with a CPU OC'd at about 3.4...which is why I'm debating so heavily between what CPU to get. I'd like the benefits of having a newer 45nm CPU, but if I'm certain right off the bat that I can't get near that GHz sweet spot I'd rather buy the cheaper 65nm q6600. Problem is, I can't find anyone claiming to hit more than 3.0 on my board, leading me to believe that I might even be better off going with a dual core if I can be certain I can hit over 3.4
March 20, 2010 1:41:07 PM

So looking around today I've come across some evidence of people getting pretty high overclocks on 680i boards with q9xxx 45nm quads. While I haven't found anything that has to do with my particular board, is there really such a huge difference between different 680i models?

http://www.evga.com/forums/tm.aspx?m=226370 -> Not sure exactly what board...

http://www.overclock.net/intel-cpus/593349-getting-asus... -> Striker Extreme

Also, I've run across people talking about a FSB hole on 680i boards. Maybe that explains some of the examples of poor overclocks I've been finding?
a b à CPUs
March 21, 2010 6:38:38 AM

Meh, you're in a hard place with Abit being dead. I'm sure there are more problems with that board than you might realize. It's a three year old board which hasn't seen a bios update in nearly 2.

You really need to look at what issues your particular board has and not from a board with a still breathing manufacturer. I suggest going over to an Abit board and posting there about your problem.
March 21, 2010 9:45:06 AM

Stardude82 said:
Meh, you're in a hard place with Abit being dead. I'm sure there are more problems with that board than you might realize. It's a three year old board which hasn't seen a bios update in nearly 2.

You really need to look at what issues your particular board has and not from a board with a still breathing manufacturer. I suggest going over to an Abit board and posting there about your problem.


I think you're right, and I think in all likeliness I'm going to end up buying a q6600. I already tried posting a thread over in the motherboard/abit section, but I haven't had any responses yet. I'd really like a 45nm quad to work with my system, but to be stuck at 3.0GHz is just such a waste for how much it costs, and how much it would hold back my sli setup.

Back in the day buying this board was a good idea...too bad Abit went under =(
March 21, 2010 9:46:30 AM

randomkid said:
Here is a good link for the Q6600 OC on 680i boards.

http://forums.hexus.net/hexus-hardware/124416-q6600-ove...

Of course there are differences on how boards OC. Even boards of the same model do differ so you just have to hope that your board can OC fairly good.


Thanks for that. Immediately saved to my bookmarks.
!