I'm owner of a functional socket 775 E5200 platform and am very curious what would be the best option for my future gaming needs. While a brand new system would be great, I see a lot of e-tailers are starting to clearance out their C2Qs for some great prices. I'd love to see a review with CPUs like the Q8300-Q9550 reviewed and compared with a few options from AMD and especially the Sandy Bridge offerings from Intel.
But instead of a straight out CPU shootout, what needs to be evaluated and tested is, if money saved by upgrading a socket 775 platform is applied to a GPU upgrade, will I get better gaming performance?
For example, if I have $400 to upgrade, I can spend $130 on an i3-2100, $100 for a mobo, and $40 for ram leaving $130 for a GPU, like a GTX 460 or 5770. OR I could spend $200 on a Q9400 and $200 on a 5870. It would be great if that price break can be found of when its better to stick with the old system and a new GPU vs a brand new build.
Don has already said in his article comments he would like to do something along these lines and I'm just trying to drum up some community support before the C2Q inventories dry up.
Normally I would recommend going with the newer platform, But in your case I'd probably recommend
(1) going with the 5870 (which you can reuse when you save up for the major upgrade).
(2) Look into Overclocking your E5200 if you have not already done so - People here can help.
Your 2100 build - you will want to upgrade the components -(1) processor - Go with a K version. Even if you are leary of OCing, newer systems have taken much of the quess work and trial and error out of the equation. 2500K @ $200 The best choice. On memory - While 4 Gigs is now the minimium, 8 Gigs is the recommended. You did not list what memory @ $40, but a good chance that you would end up replacing these modules wasting $40