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Need advice....

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January 13, 2010 1:37:22 PM

Current System:

Athlon x2 64 5000 BB edition OC'd to 3.2 GHZ
4 Gigs DDR2 Ram @ 800mhz
BIOSTAR TA770 A2+ mobo
Visiontek Radeon HD 5850 at stock speeds
(Using latest ATI drivers from website )
2x 500gb 7200rpm hard drives

The only new addition to my system is the hd5850. The rest of the stuff was bought in Jan of 08.

I installed the 5850 on Monday and have been reasonably happy with the results but I think my CPU is now holding me back (although I am not sure to what extent). I have been considering one of the two options:

1. Upgrade my CPU to a Phenom Quad Core 9850 (cost about $120) (Fastest my mobo supports)

or

2. More intensive upgrade to:
I7-920 $279.00
Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R $188.99
OC2Gold 6GB DDR3/600 $149.99

Total cost $618.97

OR

3. Don't upgrade CPU and stick with my current setup. cost $0

I am really having a hard time justifying spending an extra $500 to go up to a I7-920. My primary use of this machine will be for gaming. Spending $120 on a new proc (the fastest my mobo supports) would definitely be doable but I don't want to spend the mony and then find out that my 5000+BB edition wasn't really holding me back that much and gain a paltry 5-10 extra fps in games. Another downside in buying the Phenom is that I hate to buy a new cpu for a board that is somewhat out of date...


Questions:

1. Is the 5000 x2 @ 3.2 ghz really holding me back that much? Am I getting 90% of the framerate that the card can possibly push? 80%? 20%? (I know that you can't really know.... a guess here would be fine)
2. Can the Phenom 9850 push the card to its max (or close to it) making it not that necesary to drop an extra $500 for the i7?

Thanks for the help,

Brian

More about : advice

a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 13, 2010 2:11:54 PM

The i7 option is actually $600+...

The 5850 shouldn't be holding you back at all, so I'm guessing it is your CPU/board/RAM. I don't think it'd be worth it to just upgrade the CPU, as most of the build is pretty far behind the times.

Another option (and what I think would give you the best performance) would be spending $500 to get an high-end i5 build (i5 at $200, Asus P7P55D-E Pro at $190 and 2x2 GB DDR3 1600 at $110). This option is very future proof, with the ability to Crossfire and USB 3/SATA III support. If the cost is really holding you back, you can probably find a mobo for $100.

If I were you, I'd be wanting to get a new DDR3 build. How much are you willing to spend?
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January 13, 2010 3:08:20 PM

I want just enough CPU power to get the most I can out of my GPU. I am getting playable framerates out of Crysis Warhead at 1680x1050 (seems to hover around 40) with settings all at Enthusiast except shaders set to gamer. Borderlands I was using FRAPS last night and got 51FPS average @ 1680x1050. I guess my problem boils down to this:

Say that with my current proc I am getting 51fps average in borderlands.

If the Phenom will take me to 75fps and your solution will take me to 80fps then I am going with the Phenom.

If the Phenom will take me to 60fps and your solution will take me to 100, then I would probably do that

If the Phenom will take me to 60 and your solution will take me to 65. I'll probably do nothing. I don't want to spend $500 on an extra 15fps.

I guess that this is all a scaling issue. The problem is, I can't find a clear answer on how the hd5850 scales with processor speed.
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Related resources
January 13, 2010 3:10:49 PM

Ohhhh.... I forgot to add that $500 is the differential between the Phenom 9850 option and the i7 option, not between doing nothing and the i7.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 13, 2010 3:30:56 PM

el_brio said:
I want just enough CPU power to get the most I can out of my GPU. I am getting playable framerates out of Crysis Warhead at 1680x1050 (seems to hover around 40) with settings all at Enthusiast except shaders set to gamer. Borderlands I was using FRAPS last night and got 51FPS average @ 1680x1050. I guess my problem boils down to this:

Say that with my current proc I am getting 51fps average in borderlands.

If the Phenom will take me to 75fps and your solution will take me to 80fps then I am going with the Phenom.

If the Phenom will take me to 60fps and your solution will take me to 100, then I would probably do that

If the Phenom will take me to 60 and your solution will take me to 65. I'll probably do nothing. I don't want to spend $500 on an extra 15fps.

I guess that this is all a scaling issue. The problem is, I can't find a clear answer on how the hd5850 scales with processor speed.

I say do nothing if you are planning on running at 1680x1050 or at best just get the Phenom...

Reasons:
1) Anything above 40fps is considered an acceptable frame rate and you are getting that now.
2) Anything above 60fps is not visible to the eye since your monitor refreshes at 60fps max (unless you have one of the new 120hz... :D  ).

If you plan on or want to run at 1920x1080 or higher in the future, MadAdmiral's recommendation is the way to go...

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Best solution

a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 13, 2010 3:37:28 PM

Here's a comparision of the i7-920, i5-750, Phenom II X4 955, X4 9850 and a 3.1 GHz dual core. I have no idea what GPU they use, but I'm sure it's not really relevant. They didn't have the CPU you're using now, only AM3 CPUs, so I'm sure your frame rates are even lower.
Share
January 13, 2010 5:23:13 PM

Thanks for the link MadAdmiral. It is an interesting comparison, but I expect results like this for this type of test since the games listed here are CPU limited not GPU limited. I think that if something like Crysis at high detail and high resolution (which I think are GPU limited rather than CPU limited) were included in this test, the framerates would exhibit much less of a spread.

The link does have one very interesting test in it.... the 3dmark vantage GPU test which shows that pretty much any of these cards is going to max out (or close to) the GPU:

i7 - 9,293
i5 - 9,139
Phenom II 955 - 9274
Phenom I 9850 - 9165
Phenom II x2 550 - 9,254

Based on this I would conclude that if I am running GPU limited games (which I am now and in the future I think that they will be even more so) that I wouldn't see a whole hell of a lot of difference between running a Phenom 9850 vs. an i7 920... and apparently the i5 may even be a bit slower.... but whatever the case, spending $500 (or $620) isn't going to do much more for me frame rate wise than spending $120 on a Phenom 9850. Sound logic or no?
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 13, 2010 5:50:31 PM

Well, the power of a GPU is relative to a CPU. In other words on my secondary system, my 4600+ x2 is not limiting the HD 4670 that's in there. It was limiting my 4850. If you've got a 5850, you can be sure that it's limiting you.

Now then, which of these is your motherboard.
http://www.biostar.com.tw/app/en/t-series/content.php?S...
http://www.biostar.com.tw/app/en/t-series/content.php?S...

If it's the second one, you can flash its BIOS and go with a AM3 CPU.

You need enough of a CPU to "unlock" your graphics card's potential. Now, that Phenom quad core might be enough, but it would be better to do the mobo/ram too. Since you're on AMD it would be cheaper to go with a AM3 motherboard. You could get a $80 mobo $80~ish CPU and a $100 4 gigs of RAM. This is with a triple core, which is still better than what you have, and quite possibly, that Phenom. If you saw in the thing, the Phenom II dual core was faster than the older quad phenom in alot of situations.
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January 13, 2010 6:39:14 PM

It is the first one unfortunately. The 9850 95w version is as high as it will go.
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January 13, 2010 6:40:25 PM

Are there Phenom II boards that will take ddr2 or is the ddr3 performance boost really worth it?
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 13, 2010 6:57:15 PM

There are boards that will use the Phenom II and DDR2, but I wouldn't want to buy a board that only uses DDR2. It won't be long before DDR2 disappears.

I don't have any benchmarks I can point you towards, but the DDR3 boards are worth it just for the current tech.

EDIT: Forgot to tell you what to look for. Any board that says "AM3/AM2+/AM2" will be able to use the Phenom II, but will only accept DDR2.
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January 13, 2010 8:18:26 PM

Another Option:
ASUS M4A78T-E AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W

$395

So with this setup, I don't know if I am going to get an extra $275 worth of performance vs the Phenom 9850....
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 13, 2010 8:32:40 PM

^ Yes, you are getting quite a performance boost. Also consider overclocking. That's a pretty good board to OC on.
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January 13, 2010 9:01:19 PM

OK. Well I just went and did it. I got the:
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W

and the Asus mobo similar to the above except with no onboard video. I guess this way I can sell the old mobo/cpu/ram and the upgrade won't be as painful. Thanks for the advice guys. BTW - How much would you guys ask for my old mobo/cpu/ram? $150 seem right or is that too low?
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 13, 2010 10:46:12 PM

Nah, I think you're in the right neighborhood for that set of stuff to sell. You may want to look into selling each individually because that can easily end up higher. (just depends on what pieces are people after more)

I was suggesting an x3 because it's cheap, faster than the other option and lines you up for the six-cores that will come later, but I guess that works too.
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January 14, 2010 12:09:03 PM

How far is the socket am3 platform going to go? It seems like everytime I buy a motherboard with the intention of upgrading to a better CPU a year or so down the road I end up having to do a complete rebuild due to a socket change. PC gaming is an expensive habit. I end up spending about $600 every two years or so to stay reasonably current.
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 14, 2010 12:22:55 PM

AMD has stated that the AM3 socket is going to be their main socket for the next couple of years. It's more of an Intel thing to introduce a new socket for every new CPU (see the Core2's LGA775 and the i7's LGA1366 and the i5's LGA1156). AMD has generally stuck with one socket for a while.

AMD also does nice things like making it so the new CPUs will work in an older socket. Current AM3 CPU will work in AM2+ or AM2 sockets, but those will only use DDR2.
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January 15, 2010 3:32:26 PM

Great. Just great. I got the stuff today and the CPU had a bent pin. It was on the edge. I straightened it out with a razor..... I never had this happen before. I don't know if the CPU is toast or if it will work. I guess I will see when I get home. ARRRGGHHH!!!
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January 21, 2010 3:16:19 PM

Works fine. System is kicking ass compared to the old one. Fresh install of Windows 7 Pro 64. Haven't over clocked yet. I don't need to. GPU is definately the limiting factor of this build. MAybe once they drop in price I will drop in another 5850 in crossfire. Or maybe that new Nvidia chip will be the better way to go at that point. Anyway. This issue is closed. Thanks for the help guys.
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