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Upgrade a Phenom x4 9500

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April 1, 2011 5:07:38 PM

Hello,

I have an HP Mediacenter PC m3880f. Trying to decide whether to upgrade further, or start a complete overhaul..

http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c01...

Current specs:

AMD Phenom x4 9500
Asus M2N68-LA (Narra3)
3gb DDR2 pc5300
Radeon 5670
2 x 320gb 7200rpm SATA HDDs
300w PSU
Windows 7 64-bit
Samsung 23" LED 1920x100 (PX2370)

Recently I upgraded from the 8500gt to a Radeon 5670. Saw an instant boost in performance (obviously). My next step is to upgrade to at least 4gb of ddr2 pc6400, should've done this years ago..but I digress.

My question is, is it worth it to upgrade the cpu to a Phenom II x4 840 (rebranded Athlon II)? I know it will run faster, but would money be better spent on upgrading the MOBO as well, thus enabling me to add a faster/newer CPU as well as better ram? I was also considering the Athlon II x4 645 instead of the 840.

The PSU is not an issue as I have a thermaltake 600w lying around that I can toss in if needed.

I know the mobo specs state it can only be upgrade to a Phenom 9600 (AM2+) but I believe anything 95w or less will work.

PC is used mostly for playing WoW, but is also used for watching movies/tv. As it stands, it can handle everything but is definitely working too hard. I'm not into overclocking..just looking for a boost, but am not opposed to going the full upgrade route (mobo+cpu+ram) if it's the much better option. Trying to stay around $2-300, less if I'm just snagging the new CPU.

Any reccomendations?

More about : upgrade phenom 9500

April 1, 2011 5:19:41 PM

Likely your mobo will not support AM3 processors, you would have to contact HP about that. Even if it could, it would require a bios update.

At your resolution, most of the load is on the gpu, not cpu.

The Athlon II performs identicle to the original Phenom in benchmarking, so only the additional clockspeed would help. If you can get your Phenom to 3ghz, there would be no point in upgrading to a Athlon II X4 @ 3ghz because they would perform similiarly.

Now if you could get a PhenomII X4 955, that would be a much begger improvement and I've seen them around $129 the last couple days.

I'm actually pretty amazed that your 300w psu can even power that system with your new video card, I wouldn't add anything else to it, even ram, without upgrading the psu. Just so you know AMD recommends a 400w minimum psu for that video card, so with a 300w, your just waiting for a failure.

I would recommend you either upgade to a i5/i7 or wait for the next gen AMD processors.
April 1, 2011 5:27:19 PM

Thanks for the quick response. I think I'll toss in that thermaltake PSU and lighten the load, you've made me nervous! :) 

I've honestly never built intel before, is there a specific cpu/mobo combo on newegg/tigerdirect that you would recommend?

As for the ram, would it make more sense to upgrade to 8gb rather than just 4gb? I can get 8gb of pc6400 for $100.
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April 1, 2011 5:33:40 PM

For most users 4gb of ram is fine, especially for gaming.

I don't know what kind of budget you have but if you cannot overclock your cpu then a AthlonII X3/X4 at 3ghz or higher would definitely be a decent upgrade especially since they are cheap. But you must verify your motherboard is compatible with those, they are AM3 cpu's.

If you have money to spend and you want something lightning fast, go with a s1155 (not s1156) i5 or i7. A i5-2300/2400/2500 are amazing performers. The i5-2500K is unlocked so you can overclock it to 4.2-4.8ghz. A step above the i5-2500K is the i7-2600K, it's unlocked too but it also has hyperthreading which make it act as a 8 core cpu in certain apps. The 2500/K and below do NOT have hyperthreading but they are still faster than the AMD 6 core cpu's.

If you don't overclock, you don't need a K version.

Don't forget, you'll need a new s1155 motherboard and DDR3 ram.
April 1, 2011 5:47:31 PM

I think the intel upgrade route is too expensive at this time. I don't plan on overclocking at all.

I'm fairly certain the 95w and under CPUs will work, I'll confirm this with HP prior to purchasing.

I'm not looking for lightening fast performance and don't expect to get it. I can upgrade the ram to 4gb for about $60 and the CPU would be another $110. I'm wondering is this $170 well spent or is it so minor that I won't see much difference?

The Phenom 9500 runs at 2.2ghz (does it still have that performance bug issue?), the 840 would be a 1ghz upgrade..which I would think is rather substantial.
April 1, 2011 6:26:36 PM

I'd recommend a motherboard upgrade regardless.

the am2 boards will SLOW DOWN the processors communication with your memory, reducing much of your speed gain.

you can get an inexpensive, good-quality ASRock 880 motherboard for $60.
April 1, 2011 6:29:57 PM

Yes 95w AM2/AM2+ cpu's may work, but maybe not AM3 cpu's.

Either way, the system is old and needs an upgrade, and it doesn't make sense to buy DDR2 right now because it costs more than buying DDR3. If your gonna buy a cpu, motherboard and memory, you might as well just go the i5 route.
April 1, 2011 7:17:43 PM

Just did a quick price check on the i5 upgrade...it would put me at about $350 with a cpu+mobo+4gb 1333 ram.

Intel Core i5-2400 -$190
ASUS P8H67-M LX (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 - $99
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) - $50

While that's not exactly expensive...it's more than what I wanted to spend at this time. Any comparable (or workable) AMD options??

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April 1, 2011 7:43:26 PM
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No way dude, that will blow ANY AMD out of the water, including the Phenom II X6.

Not even close. You'll be VERY happy. I suggest you get 1.5v ram.

With the H67, you can even use the cpu's built in graphics if your video card ever fails.
April 1, 2011 7:47:14 PM

This is AMD's top model X6 (6core) 1100T compared to the (4 core) 2400. (keep in mind that in the timed benchmarks the lower score is better)

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/desktop-cpu-charts-2...

You could do a PHenom II X4 build for about $50-75 less, depending on how cheap you went with the motherboard, but it wouldn't even come close in performance, not to mention it has no upgrade path and it's gonna use a lot more power.
April 1, 2011 8:22:40 PM

Those were just some random components I snagged off newegg. What would you recommend in terms of a MOBO. I don't like to stray from ASUS if I don't have too...they've never let me down.
April 1, 2011 8:27:01 PM

Best answer selected by WTFpwned.
April 1, 2011 8:27:39 PM

Well the P67 would be my choice because I personally would get the K series cpu, overclock the crap out of it, and add a second gpu later.

However, I have a feeling you don't want to overclock (because you picked non-K cpu) and I doubt you'll ever want two video cards.

The H67 allows you to use the cpu's onboard graphics (if you want), you can't do this if you get the P67. You also cannot overclock using the H67 even if you do get a K series cpu.

Confusing eh?

H67- ability to use on-cpu graphics
H67- inability to overclock (even with k series cpu)

P67- inability to use on cpu graphics.
P67- ability to overclock (k series cpu's)
P67- ability to add second gpu down the road.

For your uses the H67 would be fine. Sometime soon there is supposed to be a Z68 chipset coming out that will allow you to both overclock (k series cpu) AND use the onboard cpu graphics. But I really can't think of many people that would want both those abilities together.

Gotta go for now, maybe I can help you tomorrow if you have more questions.
April 1, 2011 8:42:21 PM

Ahhh...the wonderful world of computers...

Do you have any other (cheaper) mobo recommendations. I can stray from ASUS if the price is right and stability is assured. I'm going to be using a single GPU, no overclocking needed. Decent onboard sound (I think they are all rather good now) and not an mATX board.

Thanks a lot, you've been a great help!
April 1, 2011 10:34:10 PM

well, I just built a i5-2400 system and I used the bargain-basement H61 motherboard from AS Rock, the whole system was fairly inexpensive:

for your basic switch

i5-2400: $189.99
Muskin 4 GB DDR3: $39.99
H61M-VS: $59.99

the board is VERY bare bones (2 Ram slots, 4 SATA 2 ports, 1 PCIex16, 1 PCIex1, 6 USB 2.0 in the back. 2 on the board) but it does the job of being basic computer.
April 2, 2011 6:30:17 PM

ScrewySqrl said:
well, I just built a i5-2400 system and I used the bargain-basement H61 motherboard from AS Rock, the whole system was fairly inexpensive:

for your basic switch

i5-2400: $189.99
Muskin 4 GB DDR3: $39.99
H61M-VS: $59.99

the board is VERY bare bones (2 Ram slots, 4 SATA 2 ports, 1 PCIex16, 1 PCIex1, 6 USB 2.0 in the back. 2 on the board) but it does the job of being basic computer.


I'm interested in knowing if your using a big air cooler or stock. Also if your using a large double slot video card and how that's working out.
April 3, 2011 6:26:49 AM

I'm using a small case (the Rosewill R-101), the HD6850 I'm using fits easily in the 9.5" available space (a GTX560ti is probly the most powerful card that will fit), although it blocks using a 3.5 drive in that specific slot, and it is a double-slot card. Since the i5-2400 can't overclock (just turbo), I stay stock.
April 4, 2011 3:45:37 PM

ScrewySqrl said:
I'm using a small case (the Rosewill R-101), the HD6850 I'm using fits easily in the 9.5" available space (a GTX560ti is probly the most powerful card that will fit), although it blocks using a 3.5 drive in that specific slot, and it is a double-slot card. Since the i5-2400 can't overclock (just turbo), I stay stock.


Actually I was asking how it worked out on the motherboard, not case. If everything fit on that little board.
April 4, 2011 4:05:47 PM

oh, yes, everything fit just fine :) 
April 4, 2011 6:46:16 PM

Cool I ordered the same board. $59, about as cheap as it gets. LOL

I got 1.65v ram though, hope it's ok.
April 7, 2011 6:58:40 PM

Ordered yesterday

core i5 2400 (again didn't need to OC, the 2400 & 2500 non-K are pretty close)
ASRock H61M-VS
G.Skill DDR3 1333 4gb

thanks again for all the help...glad I decided to go the intel route, these i5 chips look like monsters compared to AMD.
April 7, 2011 11:19:54 PM

congrats and enjoy
!