I'd like to upgrade my processor but am having difficulty deciding between the phenom II x4 955 and the athlon II x3 440? For about $75 dollars more would I notice a significant difference in gaming performance between the two processors when coupled with a Nvidia 9600GT? My motherboard is a ASUS M4A785-M 785G and I'm using DDR2 memory.
Yes--it is overkill. Basically any decent new processor is overkill for the 9600GT. If you are just upgrading the processor you are better off getting something cost effective---and not overpowering what your older system can really take advantage of. It is common for gaming computers to have graphics cards that are more expensive than the processor--processors do not bottleneck graphic cards as easily as one might think.
The x3 Rana line are a good value and highly recommended. A triple core athlon with a high clock speed will be just as good for gaming as a more expensive quad core phenom.
For gaming however, i would also look into boosting the GPU sometime soon--there have been some pretty decent shifts in GPU tech--you could get a big step up from the 9600GT in the low $100s.
Processor and VGA works differently. The faster the processor, the faster the loading times. But once it gets into displaying them, it's the work for VGA, not processor anymore. So no matter how fast a processor it's not an overkill for the VGA. Processor only 'process' the data (code, compiling, etc. code-related). The displaying frames per second will be VGA's doing.
So, X4 955 is not an overkill. It will help the loading times. Once it gets into play, it's VGA that plays the smoothness. The more better your VGA, the smoother it'd be.
So in terms, go for the X4 955. It will be significant difference between 2 & 4 cores in gaming. Especially for heavy games when there's a movie playing when game loading, like MW2.
... The faster the processor, the faster the loading times. ...
Not entirely true. Loading times mainly depend on the HDD and than on the motherboard's chipset and than on the processor. The processor is the destination, not conveyor...
all the rest was valid reasoning...