Upgrade CPU or GPU?

Hi all,

Been reading Toms Hardware for a while now, but while benchmark results usually told me evrything I needed before, now days the situation is a bit more complicated and I feel I've grown out of touch with pc-building crowd...

So I'm hoping some of you might point me in the right direction.

The problem I have is my PC is now running the latest games slowly... I usually run at 1900 x 1200 res with as many settings as I can get away with. As of "The Witcher 2" my pc cant handle the heat any more.

Here is the spec:

CPU: INTEL Core 2 Quad Q9300 2.50GHz 6M
GPU: Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5770 1024MB GDDR5 PCI-Express
MB: (P5E5) ASUS S775 Intel X38 DDR3 ATX
HDD: 300GB Velociraptor
PSU: 650W

I'm not sure if the bottle neck is the CPU or the GPU here.

The options I'm considering are:

1. Another 5770 ~£100. Cheap, but not sure if the performance gain will allow me to max out the next few games (Witcher 2, Dues Ex etc.)

2. Option 1 + New MB/CPU/RAM (Intel Core i5 2500K 3.30GHz @ 4.40GHz Overclocked Bundle) ~£450. I'm sure this will boost over all performance, but sure if its "time" yet.

3. Asus ATI Radeon HD 6950 ~£175. Judging by the benchmarks this is only slightly better than 2x 5770. So is it worth the etra cash?

4. Full monty New MB/CPU/RAM (Intel Core i5 2500K 3.30GHz @ 4.40GHz Overclocked Bundle) ~£450 + Asus ATI Radeon HD 6950 ~£175. I would only consider this if it would double the performance... New PSU as well?

All the prices are based on overclockers.co.uk

I would go for the full change in setup, but can I squeese another year out of the current one, or is it not worth it?

15 answers Last reply
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  1. A new CPU don't not provide a whole lot of avenues. Gaming is more dependent on the GPU. So i would suggest a bump in the CPU (overclock) and another GPU. The HD5770 SLI would give you a decent bump.

    But since your CPU/Mobo combo is getting a bit old and if you have no problems with the cost you can get CPU+Mobo combo.
  2. +1 a New CPU will only boost gaming with a better GPU (its crossfire not SLi).
  3. i think option 2 will let u a long way if u dont have the cash then go for another gpu but i doubt your cpu will bottleneck so OC it also
  4. Thanks for the replies.

    I'll have to get a new CPU cooler to OC it. Unfortunately the multiplier is only 7.5 so I can get 3Ghz out of it tops.

    £50 for a new watercooler and £100 for another 5770. Would a different make have crossfire issues? E.g. Saphire and XFX?

    Still unsure how much of a difference id 'feel', but £150 is far better than £750...
  5. Brand has nothing to do with it. With ATI you can CF with and HD57xx card. So it shouldn't be a problem.
  6. If you have one Vapor-X you can get another Vapor-X. It would be great. But the problem would be fitting it in the case. The Vapor-X coolers are very big. Dual slot and single slot hardly have any performance differences. Dual slots run a bit cooler that's all.
  7. Got the XFX card and Corsair Hydro H60 CPU Cooler . Just had time to install everything yesterday and couldnt really test it properly (The Witcher 2 over steam decided that a patch would require a re-download of the entire 9gb game). 3DMark11 didnt want to work either...

    Running Dragon age 2 seems to point to CPU bottleneck, but I cant tell whether it is utilising crossfire. Framerate is acceptable, but its not as smooth as id expect it to be.

    The CPU now running at 50 Idle (need better thermal paste) I can OC it to 3.3Ghz to see if that makes a difference when I get home... I'm a noob when it comes to OC (last time i did it was with jumpers on the MB). Read up on the Q9300 and the only options seems to be to set the FSB to 425 or so (multi 7.5 locked). I'll probably leave the RAM at factory settings 9-9-9-24 1333 and hope my MB can handle async mode. Dont want to mess the VCore too much, but I guess if its too unstable I should kick it up a notch? Its auto right now, which means 1.2v or something like that.

    I'm confused about the whole memory thing TBH. It says XPS on the chips and I have XPS in the bios, but no idea what it does. Can I just set it in bios and leave memory on auto for it to OC safely??

    Word of caution, that XFX 5770 did NOT come with a crossfire connector, had to use the one from my old Vapor-X card.

    I'll have another update this evening hopefuly... Maybe I can get another benchmark to work.
  8. No joy last evening. Crossfire refused to work...

    GPUZ showed crossfire enabled on first GPU screen and disabled on the second, I gather thats normal, but the second GPU always has load of 0%. Tried it on several games (Portal2, Gragon Age2, Witcher 2). Drivers installed 11.5.

    I Then uninstalled CCC as per instructions and manually uninstalled drivers for both graphics cards in device manager. This made Win7 install 11.2 drivers automatically. Curiosly Crossfire with Win7 drivers (no CCC installed) shows as enabled and the 2nd GPU does show load, but everything runs 33% slower.

    Installed CCC 11.5b drivers. GPUZ now showing driver version 11.5, not 11.5b. Got the same issue, Crossfire is enabled, but 2nd GPU never comes under load. There is no difference in game FPS with crossfire enabled or disabled.

    All tests were done fullscreen and both PCIE slots are running at x16.

    Dont know what to do now... Maybe flash the BIOS?
  9. 2 things to try:
    1 Check the new card works fine on its own
    2 Try swapping the cards
  10. simon12 said:
    2 things to try:
    1 Check the new card works fine on its own
    2 Try swapping the cards

    Did that, the other card works (running as I type this). What I found is the memory is displayed funny....

    CCC reports
    Memory Size 3839 MB
    Memory Type HyperMemory

    GPUZ reports 1GB as normal

    On the other card CCC reports just 1 GB too... Probably nothing but found it odd.

    In any case I decided to refund the card. It's too much hastle and if I sell my existing 5770 I'll have the upgrade cost to a single 6950 down to ~£150. Which should give me double the performance of a single 5770.

    That and while pulling off the Crossfire bridge the damn thing broke off (strip tore off the black connector) and as the XFX didnt come with one I now have none...

    Should get the 6950 tomorrow...
  11. Hey, I think a 6950 is a better option than CF 5770 anyway. It sucks that didn't work for you, but a 6950 is actually better performance than CF 5770s anyway. At stock clocks, CF 5770s are actually only around the performance of a single 5870, which is a tad below 6950.

    Then I would say, as mentioned, just overclock the CPU. You actually can get it a lot higher by adjusting FSB rather than just the multiplier. There's plenty of guides on how to do this. Just keep in mind that it will change the RAM speed too.
  12. wolfram23 said:
    Then I would say, as mentioned, just overclock the CPU. You actually can get it a lot higher by adjusting FSB rather than just the multiplier. There's plenty of guides on how to do this. Just keep in mind that it will change the RAM speed too.


    Thats the plan. Just not sure about RAM OC. I'd like to keep it at stock speed and just change the ratio, but my MB has no setting for that. Its 1333 and people did it with DDR2 800 so I should be ok, we will see...
  13. Well there should be some sort of FSB:DRAM ratio to change. If not, first thing to do is find out what speed it runs at by default. Might not be 1333, maybe it is.

    Anyway then you'll know the FSB:DRAM ratio (with a bit of math). Then I would suggest either aim for 1400mhz or 1600mhz roughly. Chances are that at 1400mhz you can keep stock timings, but for 1600mhz you'll need to increase them by (for example 7-7-7-24 becomes 8-8-8-27)
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