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Major Upgrades to Current Build

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February 1, 2011 5:55:28 PM

I am considering upgrading my current build, which is as follows:

Core 2 Duo E8400 overclocked to 3.7GHz
4GB DDR2-800 RAM, overlocked to 820MHz
Asus P5Q-SE2 Motherboard
AMD Radeon HD 5850, stock speeds
1.5TB Seagate 7200.11 hard drive
600W OCZ ModXStream PSU
Thermaltake Dokker case
Acer x223w 1680x1050 monitor

I'm considering upgrading some parts of this. My main question is whether to upgrade the mobo/ram/cpu, or get an ssd drive, or both. The other components are newer so I don't intend on upgrading them. I'm looking to spend around $200-300, and I won't go over $400. My main games are: All Valve games (TF2, LFD), Mass Effect, Starcraft 2, and Lord of the Rings Online, among others (basically, any game :]). I haven't been able to get the frame rates I want in most of my games, particularly TF2. Another option I have thought of is to reinstall the operating system (which I haven't done since I got the computer, only upgrading to Windows 7, which was an in-place upgrade). While this may give me a little more performance, I don't know if it's really worthwhile. If I forgot anything, please tell me. Any help is appreciated!
February 1, 2011 6:29:24 PM

Best bet would be to change mobo/RAM/CPU.

CPU/Mobo $244
Phnom II x4 965 and Asus Evo w/ $15 MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

RAM $55
Ripjaw ddr3 1333 cas 7
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That'll be $299 w/ $15 rebate if you wanna go after it.

You can throw in a 500gb 7022.12 for $38 after promo code. Pretty significant performance increase over the 7200.11
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Switching to win 7 won't actually improve performance. However, simply reformatting and reinstalling everything to HD probably will.
February 1, 2011 7:17:34 PM

Thanks for replying! I've seen combo deals with that CPU at Microcenter: http://www.microcenter.com/specials/promotions/AMDbundl... Which site looks like it has a better deal? Also, should I invest in 8GB of RAM? I've seen it for as low as $80-$90. And sorry if I was unclear, but I've already upgraded to Windows 7, I was just asking if at this point I should reinstall it. Finally, how much of a performance increase would that hard drive give me? Would it be around twice as fast? Thanks again!
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February 1, 2011 7:27:59 PM

The only mobo in those deals that can run 2 GPU's is $250...so not saving anything there.

Guess if you don't want xfire you can go with this mobo bundle for $185.
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

However after tax, you're not saving too much.

Re; HD performance, twice as fast is really meaningless. For ex. in terms of random read/write a SSD can be 100X faster than a mechanical HD, but that doesn't mean it xfers files or boots 100x faster.

Looks at the charts for actual benchmarks.

copy past, linking to charts doesn't work for some reason

"www.tomshardware.com/charts/2009-3.5-desktop-hard-drive...[2361]=on&prod[2371]=on"

February 1, 2011 7:36:00 PM

Hmm, well I may consider upgrading that hard drive, especially since it's so cheap. However, looking at that $250 Microcenter combo, I may consider getting that instead, since it has USB3.0 and a newer chipset. Do you think this is a worthwhile upgrade for these prices? Also, with Bulldozer coming out sometime this year, do you think it may be better to wait to see what happens there? The only problem with that is that I was unable to find when it's coming out, so it could be December as far as I know.
February 1, 2011 7:54:27 PM

rjkucia said:
The only problem with that is that I was unable to find when it's coming out, so it could be December as far as I know.


That's the main issue. All we're getting from AMD is a it's coming soon. If you can wait, then go ahead. Problem is, I doubt the bulldozer CPU's will be within your budget, at least for the first few months (flagship chips coming out first).
February 1, 2011 8:00:21 PM

I think your cpu is strong enough.
Your 5850 is also a good card.

Improvement in frpme rates will usually come from a better graphics card, particularly at larger resolutions.

Run these two tests:


1) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics card.

2) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 70%.
If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.

It will have no bearing on frame rates, but a SSD for the OS and apps will be one of your most satisfying of upgrades.
February 1, 2011 8:13:20 PM

The 5850 should not be bottlenecking at 1680 x 1050. Especially when paired with a dual core CPU. There is actually a significant improvement from jumping to 3 cores from 2 for gaming, though nowhere near as much as from 1-2 cores.

Older but valid article.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/multi-core-cpu,2280...

wat exactly do you mean by FPS you want? If you mean something like 40 then above is valid.

If you want above 60FPS, then 1: you don't actually need it since 60hz monitor can't display more than 60FPS, and 2: vsynch won't let FPS go higher than refresh rate of monitor.

February 1, 2011 8:28:10 PM

I'm pretty sure that the bottleneck is not the GPU. I just recently upgraded it from a Geforce 9800GT, and noticed only a slight increase in performance. I'm aiming for consistent 60 fps. Right now, although it does hit 60, the average is probably around 30 or 40, with the occasional stuttering. A couple strange things - For one, in Source games, turning off "Multicore Rendering" sometimes actually reduces performance; also, when playing TF2, I could be getting around 20fps, but CPU usage is only around 50% per core.
February 1, 2011 10:07:41 PM

Well per core usage is actually not that high during gaming. What multicore support usually means is offloading the 2 major CPU tasks, AI and Physics onto their own threads. At a given time however, the amount of calculations varies highly.
The problem with poorer threaded games/ 2 of fewer core CPU's is that while each task really only needs say 50% of a thread, add those 2 tasks up, throw in the other minor calculations, then OS calculations, then background tasks, and you're well over the ability of a single core.

Poor threading(game programming wise) can mean physics and AI on the same threading, while the other much less intensive stuff on another, which doesn't really help.

Turning off multicore rendering should reduce performance, since fewer threads available to the task.
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