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Need to upgrade GPU or CPU

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June 1, 2010 3:13:49 AM

Currently I have an Intel E4500 2.2GHz Core 2 duo processor and an Nvidia 8800 GT. I am looking to upgrade these to an Intel E8400 3.0GHz Core 2 Duo processor and ATI XFX 4890. My only problem is that I only have the funds for one upgrade not both. The graphics card was my initial choice because 4890's won't be available much longer and it had huge gains in benchmarks that I looked up. It is, however, much more expensive then the CPU upgrade and being that my PSU is only 500 Watts which is the minimum for the 4890 it may cause problems. I also was wondering that if I do get a much faster graphics card such as the 4890 if it would bottleneck my processor. I plan on running games in 1080p. Games i'm looking to improve fps on include Teamfortress 2, Oblivion, and Left 4 Dead (Possibly others I can't think of at the moment). Other specs on my computer include 4GB of DDR2 RAM, and running duel monitors as well as stock cooling all around (My case is still the standard Inspiron 530 by Dell). All input is greatly appreciated!!!

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June 1, 2010 3:20:47 AM

Toscana said:
Currently I have an Intel E4500 2.2GHz Core 2 duo processor and an Nvidia 8800 GT. I am looking to upgrade these to an Intel E8400 3.0GHz Core 2 Duo processor and ATI XFX 4890. My only problem is that I only have the funds for one upgrade not both. The graphics card was my initial choice because 4890's won't be available much longer and it had huge gains in benchmarks that I looked up. It is, however, much more expensive then the CPU upgrade and being that my PSU is only 500 Watts which is the minimum for the 4890 it may cause problems. I also was wondering that if I do get a much faster graphics card such as the 4890 if it would bottleneck my processor. I plan on running games in 1080p. Games i'm looking to improve fps on include Teamfortress 2, Oblivion, and Left 4 Dead (Possibly others I can't think of at the moment). Other specs on my computer include 4GB of DDR2 RAM, and running duel monitors as well as stock cooling all around (My case is still the standard Inspiron 530 by Dell). All input is greatly appreciated!!!



I'd go for the gfx card, it'd offer the most improvement in my opinion.
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June 1, 2010 3:27:39 AM

500w is more than enough for a 4890 if the PSU is of somewhat decent quality. What brand/model is your PSU exactly?

If you want to decide between which to buy first, CPU or GPU. Try lowering your resolution while watching your FPS. If your FPS goes up when you lower the resolution, that means your CPU is capable of faster calculations (FPS). This means your 8800GT is the limit at the previous higher resolution, go for the 4890 first. If you lower your resolution and your FPS doesn't go up (or barely goes up), that means your CPU is limiting your GPU from going any faster, and you should upgrade your processor first.
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June 1, 2010 3:33:50 AM

It's close, but I would also upgrade the GPU. You are playing at 1920x1080, which is high so greater GPU demand, less CPU demand. Although, yes, there will be a CPU bottleneck for sure. Especially in a game like Left for Dead, I believe. Of course, the performance will still be better than now. Especially since, from what I gather from the "How to build a balanced gaming PC" articles here at toms, I noticed that the nvidia cards they tested required more CPU power to keep up.

Besides, I wouldn't recommend upgrading from a dual core to a dual core right now, especially with the cost of socket 775 CPUs. If you are going to upgrade the CPU, go quad core.

Your current CPU will just barely pass for less CPU intensive games like MW2 or cod4. But more CPU intensive games will chock.

Get the 4890 now because if you can find one, it will be the best performance/price card out there (last I saw it it was $200). But definitely plan to upgrade your CPU next to a quad core for your next upgrade.

The 500W CPU could be enough, depending on the amps on the +12V rails. check out your PSU and let us know the brand and model or how many +12V rails it has and the amps on each. If it's not a good quality one, it might not be that great.

If you can, and are willing, overclock your CPU. It will increase your performance for the new card.
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June 1, 2010 9:02:16 PM

Raidur said:
500w is more than enough for a 4890 if the PSU is of somewhat decent quality. What brand/model is your PSU exactly?

If you want to decide between which to buy first, CPU or GPU. Try lowering your resolution while watching your FPS. If your FPS goes up when you lower the resolution, that means your CPU is capable of faster calculations (FPS). This means your 8800GT is the limit at the previous higher resolution, go for the 4890 first. If you lower your resolution and your FPS doesn't go up (or barely goes up), that means your CPU is limiting your GPU from going any faster, and you should upgrade your processor first.


The brand is Antec and i tried the fps thing in Oblivion and they went from 20-30 while moving in heavy forest to 30-40 (sometimes dropping below 30) Thats the only game I have tried it on so far I will try a few later tonight but is that a big enough gap to require a GPU upgrade?
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June 1, 2010 11:15:23 PM

Yes, that means that the GPU is bottlenecking the processor.

If the temps and PSU were good enough, you could overclock the processor. That would give you good enough performance to keep up with the 4890 on higher resolutions.
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