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Is my CPU bottlenecking my system? (Core 2 Q9300)

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July 26, 2010 9:02:38 PM

CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 2.5Ghz
Motherboard: XFX 780i (at newegg, FYI)
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295*
RAM: 4GB DDR2-800
PSU: 750W Antec

I built my computer about two years ago and went with the Q9300. I've kept the graphics card relatively current (more on this at the bottom)* and upgraded from 2GB to 4GB of RAM. Generally, I'm mostly happy with my performance.

Lately, I've been considering buying a new motherboard-CPU. Thing is - whenever I monitor my CPU cycles with some utility during intense gaming, I never see any of the four cores max out.

So, should I invest in a new Core i7 + motherboard + DDR3? Will I see an improvement in performance? I just imagined that if my CPU was bottlenecking my system, I would be using like 70-80% CPU cycles during intense gaming.

* I bought the GTX 295 about two months before GTX 480 came out (I had gotten tired of NVIDIA's bullshit stalling). The first batch of benchmarks didn't seem to be conclusive that the GTX 480 was any decisive improvement over the GTX 295, so I decided to wait it out for a dual-GPU high-end GF 400-series card.

To me, seems like my RAM + GPU is slowing me down more than my CPU. Opinions please.

Edit: I've looked at getting a newer CPU for my processor socket (LGA 775), but Newegg still wants like $300 for a Core 2 Quad Q95xx. To be honest, if I'm going to spend that much money (over $150), I'm going to go all out and get a Core i7 with new motherboard. I would consider if I could get a Core 2 Extreme for dirt cheap, but alas.
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July 26, 2010 9:21:33 PM

a simple OC of the processor will tell you if thats holding you back thou I beleive it would be thr DDR2-800. Have you tried to OC your memory?
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July 26, 2010 10:58:00 PM

There will be no performance improvement from a memory/motherboard update. DDR2-800MHz is great.

There is no "bottleneck" in that system against the GPU. The term is so overused.

The only improvement you will notice is from a new graphics card. Since you already have a GTX295, the only worthwhile upgrade would be dual or triple SLI GTX480s. You may have to overclock for the dual 480s and definitely for the triple 480s.

If you seriously are not happy with your current computer, I would sell it and build from scratch. Allocate about $3000-$3500 for a new one with a core i7 980X, 3 GTX480s in SLI with 6GB of DDR3 memory.

If not, stick out with your current computer until a new build is worthwhile.

Or you could upgrade to an AM3 or 1366 platform and upgrade your GPU in the future when an upgrade is worthwhile. But you will be stuck with the i7 models when sandy bridge comes out if you go that route.
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July 26, 2010 11:40:06 PM

gta iv - maybe, otherwise not realy
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July 27, 2010 1:15:40 AM

No need for any changes you've got an amazing rig
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July 27, 2010 1:41:07 AM

Going from a quad not being maxed to another quad with hyper threading isnt going to give you a noticeable gain.

If you convert mass amounts of video, or do cad, or multitask til your pc is unresponsive you need a i7, if not your perfect where you are. Buy 2 or 3 monitors if you want to upgrade and itching to spend $$ Acer has a nice 23" touchscreen out now.
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July 27, 2010 5:02:21 AM

Thanks for the replies guys.

Performance wise, will I see any improvement going from 4GB to 8GB?

Edit: And what about if I went from the Q9300 to a i7-980 or another Extreme Core i7? I was thinking about going that route. (I have more money to spend now than when I build this PC).

Only thing - if my Q9300 isn't lagging my system now, I don't see why a i7, even the 980X would improve anything.
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July 27, 2010 5:23:40 AM

Just overclock it wont hurt you
take the bus up to 400 set your mem devider 2 to 1
add a lil voltage 1.29xx or so 500mhz is an excellent boost


EDIT I might have gone a lil heavy on the voltage not sure about your chip
but you can always dial it back once your stable
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July 27, 2010 9:58:07 AM

Quote:
No improve from 4gb to 8gb.Take a look at these
www.tomshardware.com/reviews/build-balanced-platform,24...


I don't know dude.

Maybe more RAM isn't worth it, but some of those linked benchmarks show a huge improvement in some framerates going from a Q9500 to a i7-920 with my graphics card.

So, if I go from my Q9300 to a i7-980, I might see an equally huge improvement. Hmmmm.
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July 27, 2010 1:26:49 PM


I noticed an improvement when I went from a Q6600 @ 3.6 to an i7 920 also using a GTX 295.

If all you are doing is gaming, there really is no need for more than 4 GB ram, though running with 8 GB might make you able to run with no swapfile and that will make your system feel more responsive.

If you generally are happy with the performance of your system I would hold out upgrading just now, and see what happens with the next line of CPUs from Intel and AMD, they are not that far away now.
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July 27, 2010 4:11:41 PM

lothdk said:
I noticed an improvement when I went from a Q6600 @ 3.6 to an i7 920 also using a GTX 295.

If all you are doing is gaming, there really is no need for more than 4 GB ram, though running with 8 GB might make you able to run with no swapfile and that will make your system feel more responsive.

If you generally are happy with the performance of your system I would hold out upgrading just now, and see what happens with the next line of CPUs from Intel and AMD, they are not that far away now.


Yeah, that's probably what I'll do any way.
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July 28, 2010 1:27:33 PM

Update!

I was playing Battlefield: Bad Company 2 today. Just got it. I turned all the visuals way up. The FPS was okay but it was definitely eating the CPU cycles. I think around October-November, I'll invest in a new motherboard with a new processor.
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July 28, 2010 2:38:44 PM


That would be awfully close to the release of Intel Sandy Bridge.
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July 28, 2010 4:06:20 PM

lothdk said:
That would be awfully close to the release of Intel Sandy Bridge.


Yeah, I'm aware, but you're talking to the guy who bought a GTX 295 a month before the GTX 480 came out. :kaola: 

I don't know what I'll do. I have DSLR to pay off first, then I'll look at where the new processors are.
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