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Considering going i5 (Sandy) for a motherboard/CPU combo upgrade. Advi

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March 27, 2011 3:04:31 AM

Hey, Tom's,

I could use some help with an upgrade I'm considering, if anybody's got the time. I'm currently running:

Core 2 Duo E7200 (2.5 GHz, socket 775)
2GB of DDR2 RAM (don't remember the clock speed)
GeForce 9800 GTX+
A single SATA HDD

All of this is on a mediocre PCChips Micro-ATX board. It's served me well enough, but I was looking to squeeze a bit more performance out of it, so I was considering a RAM upgrade. Both my slots are occupied, though, so that meant all-new RAM. And DDR3 was about the same price as DDR2 (if not cheaper), so I started looking into a new motherboard and processor, figuring it was about that time anyway... you know how it goes.

So, I grabbed a 1x4GB DDR3/1333 RAM that was on sale at my local CompUSA, and I'm looking into the motherboard/CPU combo to round this out (I'll be keeping the 9800GTX for the time being). I was considering buying a socket H2 board and an i5 2400 or 2500k ($150/$180 at MicroCenter). I'll say my budget for the processor is $230 or less for the time being, and I'm not dead set on doing this upgrade now. My questions to you, the hardware experts, are:

- Should I even do the upgrade now?

- If so, is it worth shelling out the extra $30 for the 2500k?

The most taxing thing I do on my PC right now is gaming, but I've been using it a bit for software development recently (primarily as a hobbyist and student, though I've gotten a bit of contract work as well) and I anticipate that I'll be doing a lot more of that in the near future. There's no fancy cooling system on my rig and I'm not an overclocker at present, but it's something I'd consider getting into in the future, if the performance benefits were right. Given all of this (and I'm sorry for the tl;dr) does anyone have a recommendation for me?
March 27, 2011 3:31:43 AM

Well, for gaming, the GPU is the limiting factor in your current build (and maybe the 2G RAM). For development, the hard drive is.

Buying one 4G memory module is a mistake, since Sandy Bridge uses a dual channel memory controller. You really want 2 x 2G or even 2 x 4G. If you can get another one identical to the one you already bought, you can have 8G running in dual channel.

When using Visual Studio with my old P4 3.0 system, I found CPU usage never went above 50% during a build. So, my HD was the bottleneck, which makes sense given that it reads and writes files as it compiles them. I asked the question on a Microsoft forum if VS would utilize a 4-core CPU or not. The answer was no.

So, You really need to consider a new build, with new GPU and HD (or even an SSD) if you really want to boost gaming and development speeds.
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March 27, 2011 12:42:46 PM

ForSpareParts said:

So, I grabbed a 1x4GB DDR3/1333 RAM that was on sale at my local CompUSA.
What is the voltage on the RAM? Your Sandy Bridge board needs 1.5v or less.
ForSpareParts said:
I was considering buying a socket H2 board and an i5 2400 or 2500k
There is a big difference with these two. I say that because you mentioned maybe overclocking, and for that you will need a P67 chipset MB and the 2500k. Since you already have a GPU, this would be a good choice.

ForSpareParts said:
- Should I even do the upgrade now?
- If so, is it worth shelling out the extra $30 for the 2500k?
Yes.
Yes.
You don't mention the case you have, whether you are keeping it or getting a bigger one. I assume you have a OEM built system and therefore probably have an mATX case. If you are going to OC - which you should as it is fun and gives more bang-for-buck, then you will definitely want a bigger cooler. You can fit a Hyper 212+ in a mATX case, but you may want to consider a mid-tower for futrue-proofing. Really nice ones can be had for under $60.
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March 27, 2011 5:21:59 PM

Thanks for the replies. I have questions for both of you:

@Rick: I should also have mentioned that occasionally the machine just feels a bit sluggish when performing day-to-day tasks. Also the HDD, you think, or would my CPU affect that? Also, since it's cheaper to have this 1x4GB than any 2x2 -- is it better to have 1x4 on a new CPU (with room to upgrade, obviously) than to have 2x1 on an old one?

@Noworldorder: You say it is worth doing an upgrade now -- just wondering what your reasoning is. Also, do you figure I'll be able to use this socket again next time I upgrade, or is that a silly aspiration?

As to my case: I have a few lying around, but I'm actually using an old full-tower at the moment. I'm hoping to get a full-ATX motherboard this time around -- I haven't been happy with the cramped form-factor or the lack of slots on my current board.

Edit: I checked the RAM, it's 1.5v.
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March 27, 2011 5:35:20 PM

ForSpareParts said:
Thanks for the replies. I have questions for both of you:

@Rick: I should also have mentioned that occasionally the machine just feels a bit sluggish when performing day-to-day tasks. Also the HDD, you think, or would my CPU affect that? Also, since it's cheaper to have this 1x4GB than any 2x2 -- is it better to have 1x4 on a new CPU (with room to upgrade, obviously) than to have 2x1 on an old one?

@Noworldorder: You say it is worth doing an upgrade now -- just wondering what your reasoning is. Also, do you figure I'll be able to use this socket again next time I upgrade, or is that a silly aspiration?

As to my case: I have a few lying around, but I'm actually using an old full-tower at the moment. I'm hoping to get a full-ATX motherboard this time around -- I haven't been happy with the cramped form-factor or the lack of slots on my current board.

Edit: I checked the RAM, it's 1.5v.
If Rick doesn't mind, I will interpose upon a question you asked him:
If your machine feels sluggish, I would ask if you are cleaning it from time to time, with Ccleaner for example, and removing old restore points, defragmenting? These simple things can make a big difference.
Your question to him about RAM is a conflicting in that it compares apples to oranges. Or it could be answered this way; running a SB board with one stick of RAM diminishes it's potential.
My reasoning for not waiting to upgrade is that the LGA1155 is a new socket so it's End-Of-Life (EOL) is way off. Whereas for example LGA775 is at EOL now. Why wait a year, when prices will not have dropped yet, and you are between EOLs?
That's just the way I see things. Others may not.
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March 28, 2011 3:05:37 AM

It could be a lot of things. Your CPU is not the problem, and 2G RAM should be plenty for the usual stuff. What OS and anti-virus are you using?

Is it sluggish when starting an application, or when you switch between open programs?
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March 28, 2011 3:52:42 AM

My maybe not so good opinion. Sandy bridge with its new architecture and lower power and temperature makes sense, it handles information much faster. the I5 2500K AND THE 2600K are almost identicle except for hyperthreading and 100MHz. Both have 4 cores and all the same goodies. Both overclock readily over 4 MHz.
If you want to consider upgrading decide now.
The H67 (and H61) do not overclock the Cpu. If you might or will want to get the P67 Motherboard.
As far as HDD goes the 32 or 64 bit versions are MUCH faster than older designs.
A Caviar Black or Spinpoint 64 is indicated for speed. A non K I5 would certainly get you very well started. Four GB of 1333 ram at $40 will also do well enough.
Yes it makes sense now. How much to you..
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March 28, 2011 7:00:45 PM

@Noworldorder: My disk defrags itself regularly, but I haven't run CCleaner in a while or deleted old restore points, I'll give it a shot.

@DXRick: I'm running Windows 7 Professional x64, and my antivirus is AVG.

Sluggishness: a little of both.

@walterm: Thanks for the input!
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March 29, 2011 12:10:03 AM

You need at least 4G then. It's sluggish because Win7 is having to save data to the swap-file to open more programs, and when you switch back to another open program it loads the data for that one back into memory. Plus your older HD is going to be slower at that than one of the newer faster ones.

I just assumed you were running XP-32.
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March 29, 2011 12:27:26 AM

You said you wanted to upgrade to Sandy Bridge.

I would recommend the i5-2500k CPU

Assuming you want to stick to mATX motherboard without onboard video, this ASUS P8-P67-M PRO is nice, but you'll have to wait until it's back in stock - probably about a week or two.
If you don't need mATX or want onboard video, then I can make many other suggestions.

Gskill makes very good RAM, so I suggest these.
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March 30, 2011 5:54:28 AM

@all: Thanks for the input. Based on everything I've heard here and elsewhere, I'm thinking I will:

- Keep that 1x4GB RAM and supplement it with a 1x2GB of equivalent speed so that I get the benefits of going dual-channel. I'd prefer to go 2x4GB, of course, but I'm on a budget -- and returning the memory and getting 2x2GB will actually cost me MORE than this stick did -- assuming that my rebate goes through.

- Get a full-ATX motherboard somewhere around the $110-120 price range. I'm not going to do mATX again, as the cramped form-factor and lack of extra PCI and RAM slots on my current board have forced me to make compromises I didn't want to make. I'm considering the MSI P67A-C43 B3 (http://www.compusa.com/applications/SearchTools/item-de...).

- Grab that i5-2500k (Micro Center's got it for $180 -- a steal! -- and I think I can get CompUSA/Tiger, my preferred retailer, to price match).

My next upgrade, whenever it ends up happening, will probably involve my hard drive and video card.

I'm probably going to do the upgrade in a week or two, once I've gotten paid, and paid off my speeding ticket. Anyway: what do you guys think of the plan above?
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March 30, 2011 11:04:15 AM

All great choices. You have compromised very little to achieve your goal; the MSI board gives you just enough without all the needless bells and whistles that so few people use.
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March 30, 2011 6:54:44 PM

Quote:
- Keep that 1x4GB RAM and supplement it with a 1x2GB of equivalent speed so that I get the benefits of going dual-channel.




They have to be identical! Same size. Same speed. Same color. ETC.
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March 30, 2011 8:16:05 PM

DXRick said:
Quote:
- Keep that 1x4GB RAM and supplement it with a 1x2GB of equivalent speed so that I get the benefits of going dual-channel.


]http://www.dogproductshop.co.uk/smile/sign/sign0138.gif

They have to be identical! Same size. Same speed. Same color. ETC.


Uh oh. Well, I can't afford a second 1x4GB, so what do you think: is it better to have 2x2GB total, or 1x4GB + 1x2GB?
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March 31, 2011 12:37:10 AM

Ok, single chanel is 10-15 % slower than dual, in this case the CPU will process sufficiently fast I doubt you could notice. With 4 GB no reason not to wait for future addition. Do not know what you paid for it or what it costs. lol
Relax.
FWIW, I've had good luck speeding up systems using a program I found on CNET, a free ap. MAGIX PC Check and Tuning. It may not be the best or highest rated program but it seems able to speed up an existing computer without conflicts with existing software.
Please establish recover points before using any modification software. This is meant for existing build.
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March 31, 2011 2:54:53 AM

A 4G chip is around $40, the same price as a 2x2G kit. If you can't afford that, drop to a 2400 cpu.
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March 31, 2011 5:00:47 PM

you stated that you had a Micro-ATX motherboard but didnt mention your case (size?) or powersupply wattage/age. Will an ATX motherboard fit in your existing case? Do you have a generic Powersupply? You may want to consider these things before you drop the cash and have your old powersupply fry your new stuff!
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