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Computer Upgradin' Time; Potential Switch From Intel/Nvidia to AMD/ATI

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Last response: in Systems
February 16, 2010 12:15:51 AM

Howdy folks, mind helping me out?

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: The coming months.

BUDGET RANGE: I would give a "spending limit", but really I would just say "as little money as possible." The less I spend on a PC the more I get to eat. And eating is good, I guess. But to lay a number out there, I would say... I have... maybe $2-300 to work with. Or so. I'm going paycheck by paycheck, really.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming. Playing the most recent and advanced games on higher to highest settings. Of course some games will be expected to still kick my butt.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitor [unless someone can find a good deal for a primary to replace my 20"], speakers, mouse, mousepad, keyboard, headset, DVDRW drive, HDDs [unless someone can find a great upgrade to what I am currently using], PSU. I have another HDD, but I don't have a link for it, as I got it from a friend. I think it is a Seagate Barracuda at 7200RPM as well, but it is 500gigs, so I use it as my primary. Windows gives it a 5.4, my lowest scoring thing on my PC currently.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg, typically. Anywhere will do, that has at least a 4 star rating or higher on Google Shopping.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: Currently use Intel/Nvidia but switching to AMD/ATI is an A-OK option, especially if "bang-for-buckness" is better.

OVERCLOCKING: Yeah.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yeah, I'd like to have that option, I think.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050

Gamer here. Looking to give my PC that new-PC smell again. I just recently bought a Radeon 5770 (great sale that ended yesterday on Newegg!). Wanting to pursue other potential upgrades or benefits.

Some options I have realized: I could upgrade my motherboard and CPU to AMD stuff. That'd be cool, I guess. And get another 5770 - that's the plan in a few months, at least. Also, I could salvage my 8800GT to do something awesome such as http://www.ngohq.com/graphic-cards/16223-nvidia-disable....

Other things are getting better (or more?) RAM. I am not sure if I could tag on 4 more gigs at higher speeds, or would that cause issues? I haven't looked into that at all yet, so I'unno.

I am always looking for great monitor deals, as I'm running a 20" Acer right now at 1680x1050. I'm fine with that resolution - no need to upgrade that. Although, if I could get a "ballin'" big ol' monitor at some bigger resolution, that'd be awesome, and I think two 5770s could handle it.

Peripherals are set. Great keyboard and mouse; great sound system. No real complains there.

Here are my current specs:

GPU: EVGA 512-P3-N802-AR GeForce 8800GT Superclocked 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail

Upgraded GPU to: SAPPHIRE 100283L Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail

HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80570E8400

Case: COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-WW Black/Silver Aluminum Bezel, SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX All Solid Capacitor Intel Motherboard

RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL5D-4GBPQ

PSU: XION Supernova XON-800R14N 800W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready Modular Power Supply

So my question is this: What would any of you recommend I upgrade next? Is the motherboard/CPU idea sound? Know of any great deals? Think a certain item is a better bang for the buck than another one? Why?

I appreciate any and all input, and value your assistance. Thanks a lot, and have a good one!

More about : computer upgradin time potential switch intel nvidia amd ati

February 16, 2010 1:38:25 AM

I don't think you have a huge need to upgrade those yet, but if you do I'd recommend either going i5 LGA1156 or PII 955 AM3 (both would need new motherboard and DDR3 Ram). PII is about equal in gaming (or higher, depends who you ask) to the i5, and cost is reasonable for both as well, though you shold be able to get the PII a little cheaper. One negative to the i5 is that it is limited to 16 PCI-E lanes, so Crossfired cards only get 8x each (and that is only if you get a board that can do that) though the affect of this limitation on two 5770s should be small.
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February 16, 2010 2:09:56 AM

Right... So do you think there is any way, though, to say upgrade my motherboard without upgrading my CPU?

And I agree there's no real rush. I just want to get a crossfire/SLI supporting motherboard, for future-security, I guess. And then slowly but surely get RAM, and a CPU, as it is required. I wish I could overclock this CPU...

The issue, I guess, is using crossfire on a motherboard that supports both crossfire and Intel chipsets...

But I looked at some i5s and some PIIs. I was very pleased with some PIIs, such as http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Thanks for the response, EXT64! :D 
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 16, 2010 2:19:06 AM

I gotta say, why can't you overclock that CPU? That's supposed to be a good one for overclocking. And with what you've got now, I'd say a better bet would be to wait a year or two, get the 800-series chipset AM3 boards after they're out, get whatever CPU AMD CPU is good at that point, then at the same time get the second 5770 and crossfire.

It just seems way more bang for buck to be had by waiting. It almost seems like if I were to upgrade from my x3 720 to a x4 955 and go fully AM3 and DDR3 right now. I mean, I could, but why?
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February 16, 2010 2:22:24 AM

Oh, I guess I just didn't know my CPU was still...good. So many have come out since then. Sure, I've looked at benchmarks, etc., but there are quad-core AMDs out now that have my CPU's power or more. But...I'm no expert.

Well, I do have a heatsink on that CPU, I just don't know if I'm entirely comfortable overclocking. Here is my heatsink: ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2 92mm Fluid Dynamic CPU Cooler (And the link, to judge if it sucks too much or not for OCing: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... )

I know I've read guides here and on other places that seem solid for OCing a CPU... I just don't know. I mean, I guess I can. And probably ought to. I'd hate to break something though.
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February 16, 2010 2:24:59 AM

Well, honestly few games actually use quad cores, and even fewer actually need them. While more cores have been added, the speed of the processors in gaming have not gone up tremendously.
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February 16, 2010 2:29:32 AM

That most definitely makes me feel better. I know that a lot of benchmarks I look at still use just dual-cores, too, when performing tests.

Hopefully games won't go crazy any time soon, though. But they shouldn't; I hope.
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February 16, 2010 2:37:49 AM

Yes, in fact, your Core 2 at 3GHz will perform similar to a PII 3GHz when the game is two threads or less. Games are becoming more threaded (which is a good thing) but still the Graphics card is more often the weakest link (in the average game).
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February 16, 2010 3:11:35 AM

That makes sense, and makes me happy, EXT64.

My CPU seems to be running sort of hot though, so I'm going to get some new thermal paste and clean out its fan... http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b117/PersonCube/cpute...

No idea why it is, and I'm not sure I'm comfortable with those temperatures for overclocking (I'm not).

I will get a more accurate reader (Everest I guess) and start double-checking things to see if it is even an option. Though admittedly, I haven't the slightest why it's running so hot.
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February 16, 2010 3:46:59 AM

I agree that your current system is fine for gaming and that overclocking would be helpful. The 55c your seeing on your cpu is to be expected with that AC cooler and case. I would recommend a larger one like the Xigmatik RD1283 also known as the red scorpian. Just $35 on the egg. Since your motherboard doesn't do crossfire/si I would suggest buying a 5850 when you can for $290 then selling your 5770. The 5770 is new tech so resale is good. So about $330 upfront shipped with $140ish coming back to you from the 5770 sale. Just my 2c. P.S. I just checked out some specs on your Case. If you are running the stock 80mm fan up front I would suggest buying a faster one wheather you decide to overclock or not. Your not getting much ventilation. A fan with variable manual speed adjust would be good.
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February 16, 2010 11:44:07 AM

That cooler, while certainly not the best, should be able to do better than that in a well ventilated case as it can keep my PII X4 940 (125W, but undervolted) cooler at max.
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February 16, 2010 4:11:28 PM

Ah, I also added a 120mm fan in the front of the case (where I do not have extra CD/DVD bays) and a dual 60mm in a PCI slot beneath my GPU. I also have a fan on a little hangar thingy, a 80mm one, that is pointed basically directly onto my CPU fan.

Of course my PC is going on 3 years old, so perhaps it is just dust, etc. Though I clean my PC often (almost weekly).

I will try to remove parts and really clean it, but my non-static, PC hardware-safe wipes dried up as I've had them for so long, so I'll need some new ones. :p 

Are there any extra-helpful tricks, perhaps, I could use to cool down my CPU further?
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 16, 2010 4:25:25 PM

Well, I mean, if your case really is the thing that's stopping you, getting a crazy one with fans everywhere would be an option.
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February 16, 2010 4:54:22 PM

Huh, that is rather true, False_Dmitry_II. :o 

I hadn't really considered it. And with a motherboard upgrade, upgrading the case wouldn't be all that obnoxious.

Although, and I hate saying it, I don't know *why* my temperatures are running higher than usual.

Maybe once I get the 5770 into this things will cool down some. But I half-doubt it.

Hmm.
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 16, 2010 4:57:41 PM

I have a theory on why your temps are so high. A lot of people seem to have problems correctly installing heat sinks with push-pins. You have to make sure you follow the instructions closely. I would put money on one of your push-pins not being fully seated. I bet if you took the motherboard out of the case and re-installed the HSF making sure all four pins fully seat your temp problem would go away.
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February 16, 2010 5:00:38 PM

shortstuff_mt: ...That sounds like one of those "things" that is probably so precisely true that it's stupidly funny. I will most definitely give that a go.

Thanks a lot for the advice. I will re-post here later this evening about that after I get time to check it out.
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February 16, 2010 9:52:40 PM

Well, I reseated my heatsink, and my temps really have not gone down much. I did however adjust some of my fans and stuff, and clean my case up a good bit.

My core temps while idling sit around 51-52 degrees, and under pressure will get up to about 58.

Is this cause for concern? I know Intel says the chip can easily survive up to 70 degrees, but perhaps I'm just paranoid.

Also, without getting another/better heatsink or thermal paste, is OCing just not an option, probably?
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February 17, 2010 1:27:13 AM

Yeah, that's still a little high for my tastes. What are you using to get these temperatures?
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February 17, 2010 5:23:26 AM

I'm using Everest. Says just my CPU temp is 29. But my cores idle around 52-53.

I am also OCing right now my e8400 up to 3.4ghz.

It literally had no impact on my temperatures whatsoover, so now I'm a little confused.

Speedfan basically gives me identical readings.

...Weird, no?

When I get my new GPU I'm going to run to Radioshack and grab some new thermal paste and reseat this CPU heatsink/fan fully. If it still doesn't change, I'll get a new fan.
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 17, 2010 5:32:29 AM

It shouldn't change too too much without adding volts.
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February 17, 2010 10:35:14 AM

Try CoreTemp (I think it is called). Whichever that agrees with I'd believe.
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February 17, 2010 1:33:52 PM

CoreTemp reads I am hovering around 49-52 idle for my cores.

My "CPU temp" in my BIOS and Everest, however, is under 30. I'm not sure where this measurement comes from however. A diode...located, perhaps, beneath the CPU?

Regardless: it seems I can overclock to 3.4 with any real issues. Or at least as far as I know currently. So my CPU should be fine in terms of performance. I do, however, intend on getting a new motherboard. Sadly the link I was looking at for the motherboard I was going to get that supported Intel chips and crossfire disappeared from the Newegg. :\ I'll find another.

But I'm still worried about my temps. I have a feeling this heatsink just isn't quite pressing on my CPU, so there's not equal dispersion for the heatsink to actually work...or, the thermal paste simply isn't doing much of anything. I can fix both of these soonish.
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February 23, 2010 11:05:55 PM

Best answer selected by PersonCube.
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 23, 2010 11:10:43 PM

So did you successfully overclock?
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