I'm starting to think about upgrading my 3 year old gaming PC. It still runs most modern games well at max settings, though I'm starting to see slow down on some of the very latest titles - this is clearly unacceptable
Basically I'm wondering whether I can get away with just upgrading the CPU, motherboard and RAM for now while keeping the existing graphics card, psu, case etc and still see a good improvement.
The current system is as follows:-
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
4Gb DDR2 PC7200 RAM
Asus P5N32E-SLI motherboard
1Gb ATi Radeon 4870HD graphics card
Antec 900 Gamer case
I was wondering whether the CPU and RAM may be causing a bottleneck for the graphics card since I only bought the graphics card a year or so ago as an upgrade to my original 8800GTS. However, I am thinking about upgrading to an i7 CPU so would the 4870HD in fact end up holding the CPU back or would it still have enough power?
Opinions welcome!? (oh, and recommendations for a good but not necessarily top spec i7 mobo combo would be appreciated too).
You have a reasonably well balanced system. Multiple areas of upgrade may be in order.
To help assess the options, run these two tests:
1) Run your games, but reduce the resolution and eye candy to a minimum. This will simulate what will happen if you upgrade to a stronger graphics card. If your FPS improves, it indicates that your cpu is capable of driving a stronger graphics card to higher levels of FPS.
2) Keeping your graphics resolution and settings the same, reduce your cpu power. Do this by removing the overclock, or by using windows power management to set a maximum cpu% of perhaps 70%. If your FPS drops significantly, it indicates that your current cpu is a limiting factor, and that a faster cpu would help.
I suspect that since you are using max settings, the graphics card may be the most effective option. If you do upgrade, make it a jump of several tiers, something like a GTX480 or 4870X2 or better, otherwise you will be disappointed. This month should see the launch of a GTX580 and amd 69xx series. It will pay to wait to see what comes.
If you go the cpu upgrade route, I would wait on Sandy bridge, which is supposed to launch early January. Who knows when bulldozer will arrive. In the mean time, see if you can't OC your E6600 a bit.