Upgrade Path

I am looking at upgrading my current system and would like some input on what to upgrade first.

Current system:

core2 duo e7200 @ 3.6ghz ( 3.8 is easily doable )
ATI 4850 @ stock
4gb DDR2 @ 1066 5-5-5-18
- P35 chipset
- 1 x16 PCIX 1.1 and 1 x4 PCIX 1.1 ( basically crossfire is supported but actually causes a performance decrease )

System is used for gaming mainly in STALKER: CoP and Clear Sky.
Other task besides gaming are secondary.

Possible upgrades:

1] Keep current motherboard and CPU and get a ATI 5850

2] Keep current gfx and get a new cpu, ram, mobo ( most likely a PII x4 )

3] Keep current mobo and get a core2 quad and a 5770

10 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about upgrade path
  1. Option 1 or 3. Option one is the most expensive but probably the best to increase game performance.
  2. I'll second 1 or 3 too. You could look around here or some other classifieds and try to find a good deal on a G0 Q6600 for a quad. Some of the newest games actually can use 4 cores, and that's where duals start to fall behind a little.
  3. Best answer
    You now have a very good and balanced system. You may have to do a complete rebuild to improve significantly.

    If you are gaming at 1920 x 1080 or larger, then a graphics upgrade might be in order. But... you might not notice the benefits of a two tier jump to a 5850.

    If your games are capable of using more than 2 cores, then upgrading to a quad might be good, but there are only a handful of games that could benefit.

    To assess the possibilities, try a couple of tests:

    1) Run your games, but reduce the resolution and eye candy to a minimum. This will simulate what will happen if you upgrade to a stronger graphics card. If your FPS improves, it indicates that your cpu is capable of driving a stronger graphics card to higher levels of FPS.

    2) Keeping your graphics resolution and settings the same, reduce your cpu power. Do this by removing the overclock, or by using windows power management to set a maximum cpu% of perhaps 70%. If your FPS drops significantly, it indicates that your current cpu is a limiting factor, and that a faster cpu would help. 3.6 is already a good overclock. A i5 or i7 cpu will be perhaps 15% faster, clock for clock. You would have to do some work to get one safely to 4.0.

    If you stay with the core 2 line, and go to a quad, the clock rate will be lower, so if you go that route, make certain that you need more cores, versus a higher clock rate or you will be disappointed. I would not go that route and invest in an older generation quad and mobo today.
  4. I have to say that getting a steal on a G0 Q6600 has really helped my PC in quite a few ways.

    It's clocked at 3.4, just a tad higher than my E6600 was, and I saw gains across the board. I'm telling from my personal (2010) experience, new games like to have more than two threads.

    The G0's are out there, and can be had for a pretty good deal if you look around a bit. I wouldn't really advise purchasing a dead socket CPU usually, but for the right price, it's a decent upgrade for your dollar.
  5. Thank you all for your thoughts. I have a 1680x1050 screen atm but a full 1080p screen may be in the near future. I will play around with setting like you said geofelt and try and find what is currently the most limiting factor. I'm almost certain ( at least for the majority of games that I play ) that my gfx is the limiting factor. And if necessary I can push my CPU up to almost 4ghz if I need to to limit bottle necking. Again thank you for you insight.
  6. Best answer selected by NITROGENarcosis.
  7. well ive done some benchmarking.

    day: 47
    night: 42
    rain: 44
    sun: 29

    low res test:
    day: 126
    night: 143
    rain: 160
    sun: 122

    low cpu test:
    day: 44
    night: 44
    rain: 44
    sun: 29

    Needless to say droping the res greatly increased the frame rate and down clocking my cpu to 2.8ghz didnt seem to effect the benches at all.

    Looks like I'm in the market for a new gfx card!

    Thank you again.
  8. Thanks for posting the results of your tests.
    I have long suspected that the tests I suggested might be useful in identifying the weakest component.
    You are the first one to post the results.

    Get a new card that is at least a couple of tiers better than the 4850, particularly if your resolution will increase. ...Likely a 5850 or 5870. You will be disappointed with a minor upgrade.

    It is important to validate that the theory results in actual improvement.
    So post the results after you change your GFX card.
  9. I will be looking at a 5850 or gtx470 depending on price/performance ( unless something else comes out in the next month or so ). But it might be up to a month or two before I get a new card ( pesky things like rent, power bill, and food keep sucking down computer funds ) plus it is likely that 5850 prices will drop as the gtx470 comes more available.
  10. That damned rent anyway. Keeps ruining my great plans as well. I'd look at a GTX470, they seem to be quite nice for 350.
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