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Looking to upgrade CPU

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November 3, 2010 9:17:35 PM

Hi everyone,

I own a Dell Studio 540 desktop that I bought around October of '08. I upgraded the PSU and the video card a couple of months after buying the system and now I'm looking into greedily upgrading my CPU/mainboard :whistle: 

I've been doing quite a bit of research online, specifically through Newegg. I'm looking for an upgrade that'll run FSX (Microsoft Flight Simulator X) as flawlessly as my budget permits (looking between $300-500); as from my research I understand the game is more CPU-intensive rather than GPU-intensive. My current CPU specs, thanks to Xfire's Gaming Rig profile, are below:

Manufacturer:
Dell Inc.
Processor:
Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Quad CPU Q6600 @ 2.40GHz (4 CPUs), ~2.4GHz
Memory:
6144MB RAM (6GB spec)
Hard Drive:
483 GB (500GB spec)
Video Card:
BFG NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX+ OC 512MB GDDR3
Monitor:
Dell Widescreen 19" 16:10 ratio 1440x900 (Digital)
Sound Card:
Speakers (High Definition Audio Device)
Speakers/Headphones:
Stereo Standard Dell Speakers + Subwoofer
Keyboard:
USB Root Hub
Mouse:
USB Root Hub
Operating System:
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (6.1, Build 7600) (7600.win7_gdr.100618-1621)
Motherboard:
whatever the heck Dell computers come with
Computer Case:
Standard Dell Studio 540 Desktop Case

And my PSU is the BFG ATX12V 650 watt, which I bought along with the BFG 9800 GTX+.

I have a few questions regarding the upgrade, if I fall through with it. Which CPU would give me the bigger bang-for-the-buck: AMD, or Intel? (I feel like I know what the answer will be to that!) If I'm looking into the Intel series, which would be better -- the quad core i7's or the new 2010 i5's?

Will the hardware I currently have work with the new mainboard and CPU? (such as the hard drive, memory, power supply, cables, optical drives, etc.) Will the case I have fit the new motherboard? I'm a bit on the cheap side; I think the case would work just fine even though technically it wouldn't really be much of a Dell anymore.

Here's what caught my eye lately, from what it seems the links change often so they might stop working. I'll add the descriptions just in case.

1) Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor BX80601950

--AND--

ASUS Sabertooth X58 LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...


2) Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor BX80601950

--AND--

GIGABYTE GA-X58-USB3 LGA 1366 Intel X58 USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

3) AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ965FBGMBOX

GIGABYTE GA-880GA-UD3H AM3 AMD 880G SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Any other CPU and mainboard suggestions are welcome, these are just some of what I'm considering as of right now.

More about : upgrade cpu

a b à CPUs
November 3, 2010 9:56:50 PM

Your CPU is still very good get a nice cooler like the Coller Master Hyper 212 plus, some good thermal paste and OC it to 3.0GHz. Look around here and ask for advice on the overclocking forum section.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=munFs4-YqhM

Buy a full HD monitor, say:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

And see how your games play. If not happy get a new video card, say, HD 6850/6870.

Next year you can get the new sockets from AMD or Intel, they're changing the sockets in 2011.
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November 3, 2010 10:28:31 PM

Your PSU is still good for your upgrade as well with the rest of your hardwares. Intel of course gives you better performance for your game but more expensive, also for multi-task, more Core Processor is better which I think you knew that already. The AMD option is less expensive but ofcourse, less performance compare to i7.

You'll get more bang for your buck if you get lower speed of i7 then over clock it. The price difference between 2 GHz of i7 is substancial which can be had in overclocking anyway.

If you are prepared to spend that much money for intel then maybe you should consider AMD at the same price range and get 6 core like the AMD Phenom II X6 1075T Thuban 3.0GHz and ASUS Crosshair IV Formula AM3 or GIGABYTE GA-890FXA-UD5 AM3 ? The MSI 890FXA-GD70 AM3 AMD 890FX or MSI 870A-G54 AM3 is even said it has milclass component for stability.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


to mosox, I don't understand why spend the money on the monitor or the video card when he specifically said, it's a CPU intensive game than video. I'm not criticizing you; just wondering where you getting at with that option?
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November 3, 2010 11:19:05 PM

Well I do see where mosox is coming at with the bigger monitor for gaming experience, and the CPU overclock to save the money. Just not the video card as much...I've had such bad luck with ATI for some reason, I'm reluctant to go back...had two fans shoot themselves, but ATI was nice enough to send me the second one.

I'd have to look into flashing the crappy Dell mobo (taking the chance of bricking it) or buying a new mobo. I took a look into Cpu-Z for some more details on my mainboard and RAM, and apparently my DDR2 memory's clocked at 400MHz! Seems pretty low to me.

Is 7200 rpm decent for a hard drive? Seems to be the standard across the board for OEM machines.

I'll have to check out the overclocking section of the forum, the Dell BIOS gives me nothing at all to change.
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a b à CPUs
November 3, 2010 11:29:57 PM

No, your RAM works at 800, it's 400 both ways. And DDR3 isn't better than DDR2. 7200 rpm is the standard for HDDs. You can leave the CPU as it is, the main bottleneck will be the video card once you switch to full HD. The new ATI 5 and most of all 6 series are very good.
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November 4, 2010 2:09:51 AM

Dell OEM motherboard does not give you option to overclock anything to avoid unnecessary service call from users; this also prevent the PC from pre-mature damages that might still covers under Dell waranty. That is why I suggest a main system upgrade. You can change your motherboard to use your old CPU, that is definitely cost alot less than CPU, mobo and RAM like this one? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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November 5, 2010 12:59:20 AM

Yeah, I'm limited with the OEM equipment. Very limited. I'm still not sure if I want to go down the road of overclocking...only if it'll be stable and not hurt the lifetime of the parts too badly. If it's true that the Q6600 can take the overclock to 3.0GHz and maintain full stability and cooling (that is, I'll probably need a better cooling fan and/or heatsink), then I'll probably take the cheaper route out. That motherboard seems decent. I'll probably shop around for the best option. Is the Studio 540 an ATX case? Will I have to rig anything to replace the mainboard?
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a b à CPUs
November 5, 2010 1:37:05 AM

You can leave it this way for a few months, probably your OS won't work on some other mobo.
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a b à CPUs
November 5, 2010 2:15:46 AM

Later, get some funds, ( moolah) and purchase a good build. Ask the Tom's community to help as well. Good luck!
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a c 81 à CPUs
November 5, 2010 4:15:59 AM

If you switch your mainboard and CPU, you'll need to reinstall everything (starting from OS) again.. The benefits will be there but since you are basically moving from a quad core to another (slightly better) quad core, the improvements will not be very high..
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November 5, 2010 6:43:39 AM

I guess you have to look up for your budget first. With new cpu and motherboard theirs is lots of new experience on that. And it would be great if you switch to a new big monitor.
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November 9, 2010 7:17:27 PM

Anyone know what size the Dell Studio 540 is? Is it ATX? I want to ensure I get the right motherboard, after all. I have an ATX power supply that fits perfectly.
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a b à CPUs
November 10, 2010 4:24:46 AM

Bet it on being a mini-ATX or even Micro-ATX.
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a b à CPUs
November 10, 2010 7:55:13 AM

ATX: 12 × 9.6 in (305 × 244 mm)
mATX: 9,6 X 9.6 in (244 X 244 mm)




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November 10, 2010 6:38:08 PM

Are those dimms for measuring the motherboard or case? I'm guessing motherboard now since there's only 2-dimms lol.
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November 10, 2010 7:53:32 PM

I'm mATX, just checked the dimms of the mainboard.
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a b à CPUs
November 11, 2010 2:13:29 AM

I'm having trouble in finding on Newegg a socket 775 mATX mobo with 4 slots of DDR2 RAM.
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November 11, 2010 2:16:27 AM

I'm probably going to end up upgrading to the AMD six-core, which is socket AM3 I believe. I think that should give more choices for mATX motherboards.
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a b à CPUs
November 11, 2010 2:35:44 AM

Your CPU is still good, that would be a waste. Also you have 6GB of DDR2 RAM.

Another option is to get a two RAM slot mATX 775 mobo and use only 2 sticks of your RAM but I think it's better to upgrade to a new case now so you can get an ATX 775 mobo, those have 4 slots for the RAM.

GIGABYTE GA-EP43-UD3L
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASRock P43DE
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

So, basically you will need a new mobo, a new case and an aftermarket heatsink for the CPU.


Good cheaper cases
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

but of course there are more.




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November 11, 2010 2:42:08 AM

So do you think it would be best for me to OC to 3.0 GHz? My main concern is my ram and other parts being compatible with the new motherboard and OC settings.

Btw thanks for looking those up. I've been looking myself and there aren't many choices for 4 slots of ram like you said.
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November 11, 2010 2:42:16 AM

I would wait another few months until Intel releases their Sandy Bridge line. Might get the current i-series CPU at a cheaper price then.
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a b à CPUs
November 11, 2010 2:57:45 AM

The UD3L is very good for OC. That leaves the RAM.

The 3.0GHz OC Q6600 should be something like this other Intel CPU (here stacked against a new $150 Phenom II X4 955).

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/88?vs=50

Do you know ahat RAM do you have?
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November 11, 2010 6:21:45 PM

Here's my pc report: http://www.mediafire.com/?t88u28b9sttggvl

It's an HTML which gives the details of my RAM. It's two sticks of 2GB and two of 1GB, dual channel @ 800MHz. 6-6-6-18 timing. The two 2GB sticks are made by Nanya, the two 1GB sticks by Elpida.

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November 11, 2010 9:08:46 PM

Yeah, I'm looking basically for speed in CPU-intensive gaming. I think I might also upgrade to the GTX460 (ask for that one as a gift...hehe) or slightly better.

Maybe AMD's 3.5GHz quad? Does anyone use these processor chips, and are they decent?
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a c 81 à CPUs
November 11, 2010 9:36:36 PM

An i5 quad core will surely be more powerful compared to any AMD quad core available.. It'll also require DDR3 memory for the motherboard.. Hope you don't mind this but IMHO, you are just too confused right now.. Best in such situation is to stick with what you have as of now and give it a month or two for newer launches and/or price cuts on the current stuff.. That'll help you get something which in return will not keep you wanting..
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a b à CPUs
November 11, 2010 10:16:21 PM

^ Good plan. As said, wait and get more funds for the 'better' stuff.
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November 13, 2010 2:27:09 AM

I see what you mean about the waiting portion, but I have spent the past few days doing some researching and I'm feeling a lot more confident in my decisions. It's not the cheapest solution, but I'm looking for something that'll give me a feeling of satisfaction for quite some time:

i7-870: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Kingston 2X2GB DDR3 RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MSI 1156 socket motherboard: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Later on down the road I'm looking at an EVGA GTX 460, and possibly even further down (wayyyy further down) a second 460 to SLI: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a b à CPUs
November 13, 2010 4:24:45 AM

If youare going the 1156 route, at least get a 1366...please!
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November 13, 2010 11:39:59 AM

Idk, taking a look at this chart here, it seems that the 1366 doesn't make much of a performance increase. But what's the main reason for choosing 1366 over 1156? This 870 caught my eye not only because of the price but because of its Turbo Boost capability.

http://www.overclockers.com/core-i7-head-to-head-1156-v...

P.S.: I realize Turbo Boost is limited to the system's capability and thermal limits. I'm looking for more gaming geared processing too.
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a b à CPUs
November 13, 2010 5:28:51 PM

^1366. Get a good i7 930 or even the 950 at newegg.
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