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Upgrades

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April 11, 2010 11:23:44 PM

Hey all. Long time reader of tom's but first ever post. I was wonder if you could help me decide on an upgrade path for the future. I've a limited budget so any upgrades will happen over time but i'm still aiming for the same thing. First of all my current build is

CPU: Athlon x2 6000
Mobo: ASUS M3A78 Pro
GPU: HD4870 512mb
RAM: 4gb (2x2gb) [only DDR2-667 unfortunately]
Monitor: Dell 2209WA and LG Flatron L203WT (both 1680 x 1050)

My primary use is gaming and ultimately i'm looking to go with a tri-monitor setup and while I could slap in and HD5870 I wonder if the rest of my system is up to scratch. My plan was to drop in a phenom II x4 955 when it dropped clost to £100 then upgrade to the HD5870/5850 depending on price at the end of its life (HD6xxx cards are announced). If I went this path I might then pick up an AM3 board and memory and look to crossfire. The recent article however about is the i3-530 good enough got me wondering if I needed to upgrade my processor at all. My questions are

1) Is the athlon x2 6000 enough for a HD5870 running 3 x 1680 x 1050?

If so then when coming to crossfire (need a new mobo anyway) I could jump to an intel i5-750 otherwise I will be going the AM3 route
If I go the AM3 route:-

2) Is the Phenom II good enough for crossfire setups?

The performance of the Phenom II isn't much higher than LGA775 processors.I remember reading that i5 gave a good boost in sli/crossfire setups tho.

3) Is this the best upgrade path or do you advise some other way?

Ultimately this will cost a lot of money in the long run but I want to keep my expenditure to a minimum. What are your thoughts on this?

Thanks in advance and Im sorry if this seems blatantly obvious but I thought I should get advice before parting with my hard earned cash.

More about : upgrades

a c 83 B Homebuilt system
April 11, 2010 11:55:48 PM

You have a reasonably balanced system now.

With three monitors, are you planning to use all three for gaming with eyefinity?

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.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 12, 2010 12:04:36 AM

1. Your 4870 still has quite a bit of life left imo.

2.
Quote:
HD5870 running 3 x 1680 x 1050?

You are talking about Eyefinity correct?

3. Your probably better off getting an doing CrossFire down the road. The 48xx cards are getting cheaper by the week.

4. Your X2 CPU should be fine for a while. Oc it if needed.
Related resources
April 12, 2010 12:05:12 AM

Thanks for the reply. In far cry 2 I know My CPU is maxed out 100% on both cores but in most other games it sits between 50% and 70%. Ill download fraps or similar program and test it out properly.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 12, 2010 12:30:02 AM

^ Download EVGA Precision and enable FPS in the OSD. You can also OC the GPU while at this :D 
April 12, 2010 12:42:14 AM

Shadow703793 said:
^ Download EVGA Precision and enable FPS in the OSD. You can also OC the GPU while at this :D 


Never heard of EVGA precision before tbh =p

I tried OC'ing the processor before and got to 3.2GHz and that wasn't stable. it hardly felt worth while fine tuning for the 0.1GHz increase and sorry yes, I do mean eyefinity. Sorry for the confusion!
April 20, 2010 2:18:41 PM

Unfortunately I haven't carried out any tests yet due to a death in the family then starting back to uni this week, but while on my travels I did come across this website which provides some information.


Basically it looks at how the i7 9xx, i5 - 7xx, core 2 E8xxx, core 2 E6xxx, phenom II x4, phenom II x2, Athlon II x 2 and sempron 1xx perform when paired with an HD5870 in crossfire.

I took the E6xxx @ 2.6/2.8GHz as a rough indicator for how my Athlon 6000 would perform. Interestingly the Sempron puts up a good fight. It also may be worth reading the first article and

It seems that Maybe slotting in an HD5870 and going eyefinity would work. If needed then get an AM2+ board for crossfire then later I could still drop the phenom II 955 in if still needed (especially if games become more CPU intensive). Ideally tho I would like to aim for the i5 750 tho the second article shows the i3 has amazing performance and the article on bottlenecks on the HD5970 show the phenom II matching the i7 (with some exceptions)

What are you views on these articles?
can provide links to the other articles if you have trouble finding them or are too lazy to search lol.
a c 83 B Homebuilt system
April 20, 2010 4:19:16 PM

Good link. There are some eyeopeners there. If one is willing to spend $700+ on a 5970 or 5850 crossfire, then you should be willing to spend $200+ on an i7-750 or i7-930.

If you are on a budget, and will spend $300 on a 5850 or such, then it seems like a more modest cpu would be appropriate. The i3- 530 seems to be a very good option for such a budget build. Here is an article exploring just that:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i3-gaming,2588...
April 20, 2010 5:15:06 PM

In one of the conclusions they said that the i3 was keeping up with the i7 but the i7 runs away in cpu intensive games. Far cry 2 being one example.

Part 1 of the article: (Part 2 is the same only more CPU's on test but the conclusion is of interest)


CPU scaling with the HD5970 (phenom II x4 vs intel i7)


While I agree splashing out on the HD5970 most people will be using a high end system but the articles show that it isn't totally necessary. ATM Im looking to do rolling upgrades since I can't afford to make a large one of payment. an i5 750 + mobo + ram + GPU is looking close to £1000. Why spend that if you can get away spending £300-400 on the GPU and phenom II? Basically eyefinity on the cheap While thats an extreme example and the articles show you still loose some performance but the game is still playable. Those tests didn't use AA but adding AA would put more strain on the GPU, not the processor.

Theres still very few eyefinity resolution benchmarks out there never mind processor bottleneck ones. Tho thanks to Tom's for the article they done on the topic a few months back which did get me interested in it.

!