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Upgrade to Intel or stick with AMD for DDR3?

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January 18, 2011 1:17:12 AM

Hello, this is one of my first posts in this forum so I would like to apologize ahead of time if the format for the thread is incorrect and please inform me if it is and I will change it. Thanks

Here is my current build that I will reference to:

AMD Phenom II x4 965 Processor 3.4GHz
4gb DDR2 800 RAM (G-Skill 2gb (2x1gb) + A-Data 2gb (2x1gb))
Yes, I know my RAM setup is strange. I used to have 4gb of G-Skill, 2 were faulty and a friend had spare A-Data RAM laying around
HIS Radeon HD 6870 1gb
Kingwin MK-750W Power Supply Sli/Crossfire Certified
Seagate 500gb 3gb/s 7200RPM Hard Drive
Asus M3N78-VM Motherboard
Acer eMachine E211H 21.5" 1080p Monitor
Windows 7 64 Bit Professional
Dell 5650 100W 5.1 Surround Sound System

Here's the plan, but I'm not sure what to do: I currently have an AMD setup and have been contemplating a shift over to intel with the new Sandy Bridge processors. Basically my main motive to upgrade is the 4gb's of ddr2 ram is getting a bit outdated. I'd like to shift over to 8gb's of ddr3. I could easily do this with a very cheap upgrade to a $60 asrock mobo and grab the $110 g-skill ddr3 1600 ram. But I'm thinking, what does the future look like for amd processors using the am3 socket? All benchmarks show the intel processors to be waaaay ahead of the amd ones. Hell, the i5-2500k 4-core blows the amd 1100t 6-core out of the water! I would like to know everyone's input on whether or not it is worth the extra money to switch to intel. I'm unaware of amd's plans for their future processors, so enlighten me if I should wait for their new ones and stick with the am3 socket.
Quick random question: is DDR3 1600 worth the extra price over DDR3 1333 (8gb's is $110 vs $85)???

Main usage:
1080p gaming, web browsing, visual studio/programming, word processing.
Occasional usage:
Game emulations, photo-editing, music composition, virtual machines

Quick run-down:
Want: 8gb's ddr3 1600 or 1333 ram
Have: 4gb's ddr2 800 ram and non-ddr3 supported mb

Should I buy this:
ASRock M3A770DE AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
price: $170 - selling current mb/ram

OR

This:
GIGABYTE GA-P67A-UD3 LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Price: 465 - selling current cpu/mb/ram

This isn't a matter of budget, but a matter of what's the best option to go with for a more "future-proof" system; but i like to do it as cheap as possible. It's looking like I could sell my mb and ram for about $35-40 each and my cpu can go for about $130 on ebay. I think I'm done blabbering so I'll leave it to you guys to discuss what you think my best option(s) is/are! Any input is greatly appreciated!

EDITS:
-Changed title name
-Added sound to system specs
-Added main usage
-Added occasional usage

Thanks!
-Andy
January 18, 2011 1:37:55 AM

For what purpose, quite frankly what you have is a staggeringly good system. 4gb of ddr2 800 ram shouldn't be a bottleneck at ALL in gaming or windows, using VMs and professional video/photo/3d editing applications might need more then 4gb, but I can't think of any games that truly need more then 4gb of ram or ddr2-800 memory speeds (fast memory is among the least cost effective upgrades out there today). The upgade which is most logical for your PC is neither a CPU, nor is it ram, an SSD or better accessories (good quality monitor, get speakers and pay somebody to wire 5.1 sound through the roof, nice keyboard + mouse) would be swell.

Here's some benchmarks I found!
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/storage/display/ssd-vs....
http://ixbtlabs.com/articles3/cpu/ddr2-800-vs-ddr3-1333...

On the question of if you need to upgrade your CPU - not unless you are flooded in money. There will be a few games that will see some definite improvements like starcraft 2, but we're talking marginal improvements for over three hundred dollars. Again, not the place where you should be investing your money.
January 18, 2011 1:38:18 AM

Outside of artificial benchmarks you're not going to see a bit a difference between what you currently have, and what you're considering. 8GB DDR3 is not going to offer any real world difference. I have 8 GB of DDR3 and you know what, I use 2GB for a RAMDisk and at any given time I still have about 3GB left unclaimed. While the DDR2 has slower frequency it's cas timings are faster so the difference is negligible.

If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, pick up a SSD and a decent monitor. They'll make more impact than anything you're currently considering.
January 18, 2011 3:55:26 PM

Thanks for your suggestions. Also, good read with those benchmarks. DDR3 ram is much less effective than I anticipated it to be. I only have thought about upgrading to 8gb's because 4gb's on a quad-core is only giving 1gb of ram per core, and that just seemed a little low and if i went to 8gb i do not want to stick with ddr2. I must've been mistaken.

Both of you suggested an SSD. Obviously benchmarks cream hdd's but how is the "real world experience" with a ssd? And which would be most cost effective, if any? 120gb ones look like they run $200-$250 and i've never dreamed of spending that much for that little of storage space. It seems like it may be best to wait for their prices to drop?

And FYI I already have a 5.1 surround sound system :p  haha. I forgot to put that in my system specs :) 

EDIT:
-I updated my main post with my main usage
-Added speakers to system specs :p  lol
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