Here's my current setup:
CPU: AMD PII X2 550
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-MA785GM-US2H
RAM: G. Skill PI Black DDR2-800 CL4
GPU: GTS 250 512MB
I would like to graduate from the dual core setup and join the quad core bandwagon. I'm also planning to upgrade the GPU with something better (5770CF or 5850).
My upgrade choices would be either a Core i5 750 or a Phenom II X4 955.
If I would go with X4 955, I would still have to ditch the mobo since I'm experiencing space issues with my matx mobo especially in the SATA ports when using long cards. If I bought an another full atx AM2+ mobo, I could keep the DDR2. If not, then I would have to buy a full atx AM3 mobo plus DDR3 chips which gives me the next option.
If I'd go with Core i5 750, I would also ditch everything (CPU, mobo, ram) and get a new full atx lga1156 mobo and DDR3 ram. It would feel like I would do the same no matter what the option is.
Honestly I'm not that keen on spending money for another DDR2 system as I feel like I'm wasting resources on an outdated system. So I think it would be wiser to spend money with a newer DDR3 system.
You need to elaborate *why* u think u need an upgrade. For gaming i would say the only reason u need to move put of an X2 is because your game is particularly CPU intensive like GTA IV or Dragon's Age Origins perhaps Else a GPU upgrade might be your best move. If rendering/encoding it's a different story Though not 100% sucessful if u feeling adventurous you can also try unlocking that Callisto to a Deneb http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies-archive.cf...
Step one: Buy a better card - ATI 5850 would be my suggestion.
Use it in your current system to see how your games go.
Step 2: OC your current CPU if you feel you have not gained much from the card to see if that solves your issues.
The prupose of this is that the new card can be used again regardless, so rather buying all at once to get better gaming results go with the cheaper option of just changing the card to see if the results are adequate. No point paying for the new system if just the GPU change allwos you to play all your games well.
If things are still not good enough then you are correct that there is no point going with DDR2. Replace your mobo with an ASUS P7P55D E Pro (if you want all the bells and whistles - XFire capable, USB 3 SATA 6gb) for $189.99. Or if happy with a lesser board go with a low end Gigabyte or Asus around $110
Buy the Intel i5 750 for $199.99
Buy G Skill ECO DDR3 1600mhz RAM CL7 for $115.99
You can of course go the cheaper way for the AMD Phenom II x4 955 and an AM3 mobo, you lose a bit of performance but it is a good price.
Have you considered trying to unlock the other 2 cores on your X2 550? I have that same motherboard and was able to unlock the 4th core on my X3 720. Just set EC to Hybrid and ACC to Auto. You might get lucky and have a quad core alread...
I agree with both of the previous first two posters. Asteldian's thought to upgrade the GPU first is good, because maybe that's all you need; although I disagree about the i5-750, at least until you've pondered batuchka's question first. What do you hope to accomplish with this upgrade? What doesn't perform well enough, that you want to improve? If you scale a new GPU purchase for that need (per Asteldian), the results you get may suggest how much of a CPU upgrade you need.
Thanks for the replies. I'm currently gaming in a small monitor with lower resolution (1366x768) and CPU is OCed to 3.6Ghz w/o voltage bump. But according to the benchmarks and reviews I've seen, gaming in lower resolution tends to stress CPU power more than GPU. It seems that only when resolution gets higher that CPU power becomes less and GPU power determines the results. Plus I believe some games use the CPU for physics processing (BFBC2?) so do you think I would gain better frames if I migrate from dual to quad?
I would also upgrade the GPU afterwards. It's just that my matx mobo keeps me from getting longer cards as they tend to block all sata ports so I would like to replace the mobo first with a full atx before upgrading. It's just doesn't feel right to buy another AM2+ full atx mobo just to keep my current DDR2 setup (I feel like I'm wasting resources but I might be wrong). If I go with AM3/LGA1156, it would require me to have DDR3 chips.
Ok, knowing your resolution clarifies things.
Get a new HD5770 anyway. Why? At your resolution, anything more would go to waste. This clearly would move any bottleneck to the CPU. Perhaps most of all, it's a short card. I don't know which GTS 250 you have, but many of them appear to be long cards. Many of the HD5770s are short; my XFX version certainly is. When you upgrade your monitor (possibly up to 1920x1080; certainly anything lower), the HD5770 will still be a good card, especially if the new mobo you choose allows Crossfire. I agree that sticking with DDR2 would be a waste.
Ooh, I saw (and fixed) a typo in my "Best Answer," which really wouldn't help...that is, get a new HD5770 anyway...not a HD5570. I hope the later part of the message, as well as the earlier comments in this thread make that clear. Sorry about that; I hope you noticed that too.