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Advice for Upgrading CPU Needed

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July 28, 2010 7:10:51 PM

Hey all,

I'm currently running an AMD Athlon X2 5600+ 2.8GHZ Dual Core, with 4 gigs of DDR2, 1TB 7200RPM Seagate, 600W ThermalTake Power Supply, a 280GTX Nvidia card.

I just got Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit edition, and some of my games run a lot slower. From what I have looked up, my card is no slouch, and I'm guessing that my terrible CPU is bottlenecking my entire system.

I'm not looking to spend huge amounts. I have a new case ready to move my computer into, and I've been waiting for a hardware upgrade to do it. I know I'll be needing a new motherboard and CPU, but the question is the RAM.... are there good motherboards that support DDR2 and AM3 processors? These are the AM2+ sockets, correct?

If DDR3 *really* makes a difference, I could drop money buying it, but I'd prefer not to. Is it true you have to buy it in triple channel, meaning 3 sticks, for optimal performance?

I'd like some advice on how to go about this upgrade. I've read a lot about how overclocking can boost performance but I've never done it. If you guys can recommend some good priced motherboard and CPU's, and what I have to buy (in terms of cooling, etc...) in order to be prepared for overclocking, I would appreciate it. I'm not partial to AMD or Intel - whichever is faster for the same money.

I would spend up to $200 on a CPU, and hopefully not more than $150 on a motherboard. $350 total would be doable if I can save my current RAM.

Let me know your opinions, as this community seems pretty well informed =)

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July 28, 2010 7:35:33 PM

You don't want to be building with DDR2 right now. It's dead, so you won't have an upgrade path down the road. While DDR3 isn't a huge increase in speeds, other nice features that are (mainly USB 3/SATA III, future CPUs) and would be cut out from an AM2+ board.

You only need to buy triple channel for the i7-930. You need dual channel for AMD CPUs.

Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if the card isn't holding you back. It's really not that powerful. The CPU is almost never the bottleneck for gaming simply because gaming performance is almost entirely based on the GPU.

As far as upgrading goes, you should probably start considering replacing everything (that PSU isn't that great either). Here's a good base to start with:

CPU/Mobo: X3 440 and Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 $183 after rebate. The X3 certainly won't bottleneck anything. It's powerful enough for every GPU right now.
RAM: G.Skill Eco 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $105
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $75. Unless that's a Seagate 7200.12, you'd see a big speed increase by installing the programs on a faster HDD. You can get the cheaper 500 GB version, but it'd only save $20. Of course, this isn't necessary.

Total: $363 with HDD. If you decide against the HDD, consider upping the CPU to the X4 955.
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July 28, 2010 8:08:48 PM

Boy, I don't know guys. I had a 4600x2 running at 2.8ghz. Granted, it was an older socket 939 processor, and an 8800GTS 512. I would get about 10,000 in 3Dmark 06. I upgraded to a Phenom 2 920 quad core, DDR2 1066 memory, clocked it to 3gz, and with the same 8800GTS I get 15,000 now in 3Dmark 06. (new motherboard too, Gigabyte GA790X, that probably helped some with the new memory as well)
Just food for thought.
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July 28, 2010 8:14:42 PM

I know that gaming performance is mostly GPU, but I was running for example NBA 2K10 for PC, and on WinXP it ran pretty great, and then on Win7 x64, it runs TERRIBLY. A few other games have suffered after the swap to Win7, and i even went from 2gb to 4gb of RAM when I upgraded. I can't come to any other conclusion than that my CPU is bottlenecking these games. Doesn't make sense that Win7 would sap any graphics power.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-radeon-hd-ge...

GTX280 is still in the fourth tier, and considering how expensive the top tier cards are, that's fine by me. The GTX285 still costs ~$300.00 on Newegg, and I wouldn't spend that much on a new card anyway. The 280 can serve me well.

I see your point about the new motherboard, etc... and I suppose that upgrading this system 3-4 years down the line won't cost me much, but who knows, by then, it'll be DDR4, and AM4 sockets or whatnot. I don't upgrade every 2 years (usually better part of 3 or 4) so I don't know if its worth it.

If I hadn't just bought a 1TB hard drive to use as a backup for storing my crap, I probably would have taken your advice. Why is that samsung that much faster? SOmething to do with the cache? Anyway how much is a "big" increase in speed from that HD?
July 28, 2010 8:45:40 PM

zarko,

Your GPU is perfectly fine. It is not the bottleneck for whatever you're trying to play. Win7 also isn't going to slow any game to a crawl. However, the game itself might have compatibility issues. Next time try running it in XP compatibility mode and see what happens.

Also, I'm assuming you did a fresh install of the OS followed by a fresh install of video drivers. Given your current issues, I'd recommend removing your current drivers (the clean way, remove, reboot, driver sweep, reboot) and then installing drivers again -- newest should be fine.

Your CPU is getting a long in the tooth, but should still be OK. You could consider a mild OC to 3.2Ghz for some extra performance.

Other than those things (which might help) -- your only option for more performance would be to upgrade like MadAdmiral suggested. A cheap AM3 system with the 955 for $350 total is a worthy upgrade and would boost your performance and un-bottleneck your GTX280 a good deal.

Lastly, you do not need another HDD. HDDs do not have any affect on game performance or overall processing performance, only load times - i didn't see you having issue with that.
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