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Upgrade Dilema

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January 1, 2011 6:30:05 PM

Hello,
I have an dilema for my upgrade path. My system is:

Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200 @ 3.6GHz,
Gigabyte EP45 DS3 mobo,
2 x Radeon 4830 512MB Crossfire @ 700MHz GPU - 1010MHz RAM,
4GB GEIL Ultra DDR2 800MHz RAM,
2 x 250GB Seagate Barracuda HDD,
Cooler Master GX750W PSU.

I'm pretty happy with the performance of the graphics cards, and don't think I need to change those, however I think my CPU is holding my system back. I play game mostly, like to play the hardware killers, but as you can tell from my components, I'm on a budget.

The question is, do I just buy a decent SKT775 quad core CPU, or save up and buy the latest mobo/CPU/DDR3 that Intel/AMD have to offer?
Online second hand, it seems I can pick up a Q9400 for around £110, or a Q9550 for £150 or even a Q6600 for £75. Is it worth it though? I may get around £20 for my E5200 so that lowers the price a litte. However new mobo/CPU/DDR3 will cost around £300 for what I want.

Any suggestions?

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January 1, 2011 6:52:56 PM

I would recomend the Quad core route, however the video cards you are using are also not the best anymore.

The Q9550 is a good chip and overclocks well also, but hunt around as Intel have moved on so the number of stockists is on the decline.

Failing that a socket 1156 mobo and CPU bundle can be had for good money at the moment and due to the imminent release of 1155 CPU's prces should drop a bit in the next month or so.
January 1, 2011 7:29:45 PM

Thanks for the advice. I was thinking along the lines of a quad core 775 too. I can upgrade the graphics at a later date. The CPU is my weakest link for sure. Still the E5200 has been a cracking little CPU. In it's day for the money, a great OCer.
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January 1, 2011 8:04:44 PM

My current rig is probably inferior to your's and rarely had any issues in games so I'm wondering which ones are causing you to consider upgrading? Not all games scale well in SLI/XFire so that could be part of the issues you are having. Some other games are also just badly programmed which you cannot do much with. So what games at at what resolution?

Personally, I wouldn't consider a CPU upgrade in your situation as they rarely add much to games. Moreover, the Q9550 are a bit pricey (275$ on NewEgg) when you take into account that the newer and better i5-760 is 65$ less and the i7-870 is barely 15$ more. Finally, there is also Sandy Bridge coming up and if rumors are true, the i5-2300 (Quad 2.8/3.1GHz) would sell for as little as 177$.

I understand the tight budget constraints, but to me it's another reason not to throw money around in upgrades that might be pointless.
January 1, 2011 10:50:59 PM

Well I have a native 1920 x 1080 screen, so I like to run at that res. The games I mostly play are all the obvious FPS games (Crysis, COD series, HL series, Bioshock series etc.), but also RTS games and racing games. Bit of everything really. I know in Supreme Commander, my CPU struggles in the big battles because it doesnt push the graphics cards at all and get quite significant slow downs.
I understand your point though. A new CPU is really the last significat upgrade for my machine and it might be worth holding out for a completely new rig later this year. However a quad core is tempting. I'm not solely holding out for the Q9550 as it is very expensive, maybe the Q9400. Thats got triple the L2 cache and double the cores of my E5200. Thats got to be a decent upgrade for around £100-£115 used.
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January 2, 2011 1:19:48 AM

If you can get a Q9400 for a decent price and resell your E5200 for an equally decent price then yes, it could be worth it. Supreme Commander (along with GTA IV) is one of those rare game that truly benefit from multiple cores. Just make sure you can OC the Q9400 to a similar clock as your E5200 was or else other games could suffer (many prefer higher clock speed to higher core count).
January 8, 2011 11:33:57 PM

Yeah, after having read around a few forums and websites I'm starting to agree. CPU upgrade on SKT775 is pointless. If I could get a decent quad for £50 it would be worth it but C2Qs are going for such stupid money. I wish I had a bunch of them to sell about 2-3 months back, could have made a killing. Besides just got my E5200 up to 3.83GHz. Gonna head for 4GHz. But dont think it'll be stable at that speed.
So it seems the only worthwhile upgrade really is a new GPU as I can use that on a new build in future. Thing is I'm looking at second hand 4870X2. They are going for £100 or less on fleebay and in some benchmarks I have seen they are as fast as a 5870. Thoughts?
!