What to upgrade- CPU, GPU, or both?

Hi all

What should I upgrade for more fluid gaming graphics in high-end games such as Mafia 2, Modern warfare, etc, given my specs are:

Core 2 Duo E4500 2.2 Ghz
Radeon HD 4870 512 MB
Windows XP

Would an i5 or i7 processor be bottle-necked with my current card, or am I better off with just a new video card?

6 answers Last reply
More about what upgrade both
  1. What resolution are you playing at? A 4870 should still handle most things fairly well, but looking at your system the 2GB of ram and the 2.2GHz CPU stand out to me as limiting factors in your system.
  2. The weak link is your CPU and 2Gb of ram. Overclock on the CPU and additional 2GB ram would be the cheapest upgrade.
    I5 or I7 your card becomes the bottleneck.
  3. I'm using 1680 by 1050 resolutions.

    OK, so RAM I will add 2 GB more(?). Will upgrading to a better CPU as you suggest won't be redundant given the video card, as rolli59 suggests?

    Thanks again
  4. You want your graphics card to be the bottleneck, if its not you should turn up the graphics settings until it is. A CPU upgrade to an i5 will require you to switch to DDR3 and a new motherboard so it you might be better off getting one of the higher level C2D's or C2Q's that your motherboard supports.
  5. Overclock the current CPU is the cheapest option but then getting a faster CPU that your motherboard supports is the second cheapest.
  6. Right now the CPU is the limiting factor, the HD4870 is still a potent card and should run even demanding games at high settings at your resolution.
    Overclocking the CPU is the cheapest way forward, the C2D chips do not require massive cooling to run much faster. One of the better 'cheap' coolers is the Coolermaster Hiper 212+, it's no super cooler true, but then it kept my E6600 cool enough @3.4GHz :) .
    Adding a faster CPU is another option- a quad for preference- while they are still available in the LGA 775 package. Add in a better cooler as well, that way you can overclock later (or straight away ;) ).
    As has been said, an i5 or i7 is going to need a new motherboard and memory, in which case it might be better to sell the current rig and go for a new build.
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