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CPU Replacement Question

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February 12, 2010 4:22:54 PM

Ahoy TomsHardwareForum!


I had a quick question about a price-performance CPU.





I currently have a Core2Duo 3.16GHz Wolfdale chip in my old computer. I was going to upgrade my old computer since I got a bunch of grant money for College. So, here is my build so far.



CD / DVD Burner: Have one (LITEON 18X)
Computer Case: Have one (Huge Alienware Chassis)
Hard Drive: Have one (80GB Seagate)
Power Supply: Have one (650W Silverstone)




Video/Graphics Card: Have one (eVGA GeForce 7900 GT)

Going to upgrade to an ATI Radeon 5770; it's cheap, has DirectX 11 support, and should future proof me for a while over an ATI Radeon 5750.




So, here is the real reason I am asking TomsHardwareForum for help.

If I upgrade my computer with a better Graphics Card, DDR3 RAM, and a DDR3 Motherboard, would I be better off keeping my old 3.16GHz chip, or upgrading to Core i5-750 or Phenom II X4 955?



Is a Core i5-750 worth the extra $40 over an AMD Phenom II X4 955?
Keep in mind, I do 3000+ hours a year of gaming on average and nothing else.



If I can get away with keeping my Core2Duo for a while longer until other CPU prices drop a tad, I think I'll do that.




Thanks for everything,

Necromentia
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February 12, 2010 4:30:01 PM

In terms of straight performance, you would be better to upgrade. Whether or not, it's the best decision depends on if you're happy with how your computer is working now (or after you stick in the new GPU).

If you were to upgrade, I would even suggest going lower than the X4 955 (down to the X3 425) if that allows you to afford the HD 5850.

Here are three comparable builds (USB 3/SATA III boards, similar prices):

CPU/Mobo: X3 425 and Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 Combo for $197
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB DDR3 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $115
GPU: HD 5850 $290

Total: $602.

vs.

CPU: X4 955 $166
Mobo: Same $140
RAM: Same $115
GPU: HD 5770 $150

Total: $565

vs.

CPU: i5-750 $200
Mobo: Asus P7P55D-E Pro $190
RAM: Same $115
GPU: HD 5770 $150

Total: $655

As you can easily see, the AMD builds are much better than the i5 build for gaming, and are cheaper. Between the two AMD builds, the first one is the better gaming build, as games depend heavily on the GPU. The 5770 is a nice card, but is often overpowered by many current games. The 5850 is only a little underpowered for playing Crysis at 1900x resolutions and max details. I think it's worth the extra $37 to get the bigger GPU.
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February 12, 2010 4:32:20 PM

that cpu is still perfect for gaming
No need to upgrade that part
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February 12, 2010 4:36:38 PM

It makes no sense to buy a new motherboard that will fit that old socket 775 CPU, if you are buying a new motherboard go intel socket 1156 or AMD socket AM3.

The i5 750 is a faster processor than the 955, if overclocked.

One thing you should be considering for gaming performance is if a cheaper Athlon IIx 3 CPU and bumping the GPU up to a 5850 would be a wiser first step for better gaming performance immediately plus later you can replace the CPU with a Phenom II x4 for even better results.
*edit* MadAd posted such a build while I was writing this.
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February 12, 2010 4:59:47 PM

So MadAdmiral and dndhatcher, if you were in my position, would you keep the old CPU and upgrade the mobo/ram/graphics card, or upgrade the CPU as well?

I don't know if going from DDR2 to DDR3 is going to be a big deal in a few years, but the prices look so similar that you might as well >_<

Thanks for the info TheDuke
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February 12, 2010 5:03:29 PM

You'd need to upgrade it all at the same time. You can't get the new mobo/RAM and keep the old CPU.

What I would do is set a budget for all four parts, pick out the parts, and then buy only the graphics card. If the performance boost isn't enough, buy the new CPU, board and RAM.
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February 12, 2010 5:20:26 PM

Thanks MadAdmiral! An extra $150 for a video card just isn't my taste :( 

Here is my build so far!




Video Card: ATI Radeon 5770 ($150)

RAM: 4GB DDR3 @ 1600MHz, A-DATA ($99)

Motherboard: ASUS 790X ($110)

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 @ 3.2GHz ($161)


Grand Total: $520



I noticed I can get some combo deals to widdle the price down to about $470~

Especially this one.

ATI Radeon 5750, Same ASUS 790X Award Winner, and same AMD Phenom II X4 955 CPU for $376

Add in the same A-DATA 4GB RAM and you got $475



$520

vs.

$475


I guess now would be to say is the 5770 upgrade worth a $45 upgrade? I've seen some charts here on THW, but I'd like to save as much money as possible :) 
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February 12, 2010 5:25:37 PM

For gaming, the 5770 is pretty light. The 5750 is extremely light and not a great gaming card.

What's your monitor's resolution? If it's 1900x, you really should get the 5850. If it's less than that, the 5770 is good enough.
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February 12, 2010 5:29:38 PM

I only have a 19" LCD Monitor.

1280 x 1024 :)  So I guess a 5770 is in order >_<



If worst comes to worst, I can buy the Ram, Mobo, and CPU right now and wait until prices drop if that would be a better option.
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Best solution

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February 12, 2010 5:32:11 PM

Definitely, assuming you have no plans on upgrading.

The new GPU will give you the best gaming performance gain right away. Most likely, your system is already bottlenecked by the GPU. Thus, if you upgrade everything else, you won't see any difference.

Keep in mind that the 5770 is only a few months old, and not likely to see a significantly lower price for a while. The other stuff will also decrease in price over time.
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February 12, 2010 5:35:03 PM

Hehe. Sounds good MadAdmiral!

I don't want to see a performance upgrade immediately. This is just to upgrade when the new DX11 games come out.

I have an 8GB DDR3, GTX 260, 3.0GHz Core2Quad beast right now :)  I just want to wait to upgrade my older machine when worst comes to worst. My current gaming machine has a 4 year warranty left on it right now, so I can't crack it open.


I'm going to go ahead and buy the CPU, Mobo, and RAM since their prices have pretty much bottomed-out.

Think the 5850 will drop in price by, say, June-ish? I usually do my hardcore gaming over the summer :) 
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February 12, 2010 5:39:34 PM

Unknown. nVidia's response to ATI's 5xxx series cards are due out in March, but there haven't been any benchmarks to show if they'll be any good. If they're better, ATI's prices should drop. If they're the same, prices could either stay the same or decrease. If they're worse, ATI's prices could stay the same or increase. So no one really knows.
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February 12, 2010 5:49:53 PM

Thanks a ton MadAdmiral! I just purchased the Mobo, CPU, and RAM.


Is there any place you can forward me to that helps with putting together a new motherboard and stuff?

What I mean to say is, I know where a Motherboard goes, how to mount it, where all the power supply cords connect to, where the RAM pops into, but do I have to mess with the BIOS at all?

Thanks again <3
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February 12, 2010 5:54:23 PM

Check the Step-by-Step Guide to Building a PC sticky. You shouldn't HAVE to change anything in the BIOS.
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February 12, 2010 5:55:52 PM

Sweet. So it's basically plug and play? :)  Big ups Admiral.
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February 12, 2010 5:56:11 PM

Best answer selected by Necromentia.
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February 12, 2010 6:00:09 PM

Something else you should be aware of. If you used an OEM version of the OS (or the computer is a prebuilt), you will need to buy a new copy of an OS to install. OEM copies are tied directly to the motherboard, so once you replace the board, you need to replace the OS. A copy of Windows 7 (OEM) is $105 on Newegg.

If you have the full retail version of Windows 7, you'll be fine. So you might want to double check, or you'll need to shell out some more cash...
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