Upgrading existing socket 775 build - CPU first, need opinions

My current homebuilt system is getting long in the tooth, but I don't have the money to do a full rebuild/new build. I need something that will get me by a couple more years. I want to upgrade the CPU now, and the video card in a few months.

System needs to run Bad Company 2 at decent framerates, as well as Battlefield 3 when it comes out, at 1,920 x 1080. Low settings not affecting view distance are acceptable. These games will be it's most demanding use. My current system goes as low as 10 FPS in some situations in Bad Company 2, which is not acceptable.

Here's my motherboard, a Gigabyte GA-P35-S3G (socket LGA-775)

Motherboard's list of compatible CPU's:

Here's the memory I'm using, (1 GB each, matched pair) Kingston 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 800 (PC2 6400):

I'm also using 2 sticks of "Hynix" 2GB each. These are a mystery to me for the most part, but I got 'em free from a friend, and they work in my current rig. Here's what's printed on 'em:
hynix 2GB 2Rx8 PC2-6400u-666-12

Current CPU - Core 2 Duo E4500 Allendale 2.2GHz 2M:

I'm running Win7 Pro 64-bit, and a GeForce GTS 250, which will also be replaced in the next few months.

Here's what I'm looking to replace my CPU with - Core 2 Quad Processor Q8400 2.66GHz 1333MHz 4MB:

According to, my current E4500 CPU scores 1,274 in CPUmark:

The Q8400 scores 3,681 in CPUmark, which would seem to be a significant improvement on my current CPU's score listed above:

My questions/concerns:
I'm a bit nervous about the Q8400, as it's only become a CPU my motherboard can use in the last BIOS update, which was in June of 2009. I have applied that BIOS update. I'm hoping the lack of updates since then means there were no problems to correct.

Does anyone see any issues with the memory I'm using? My current CPU runs an 800 FSB, and the Q8400 runs a 1,333 FSB. I have to admit I'm not sure if that will be a problem.

Can I use the heatsink/fan from my Core2 Duo with the Core2 Quad? The former is 65W, and the latter is 95W, so while my old one may fit, I'm concerned about it's ability to cool the new CPU.

What are your opinions on the ability of this CPU upgrade to do what I want it to do? Do you have an alternative upgrade suggestion that is roughly similar in price?

I welcome any advice or comments that don't entail spending a great deal more money than I am now. If I had that money, I wouldn't be going cheap.

Thank you.
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  1. Best answer
    That motherboard supports a 1333 FSB and if Gigabyte say it supports the Q8400 with that bios update you have to trust that it does.

    There should be a suitable divider to run a 1333 FSB but use 800 RAM.

    Can't say I recommend reusing the E4500 HSF. Consider picking up the Arctic Cooling HSF. If you can find somewhere that stocks the previous version that doesn't support the newer socket types it might be cheaper.

    I don't think you'll get a better 775 CPU for the price. Whilst it benchmarks higher than the E4500 I'm not sure if it will make a significant difference to the performance of Bad Company 2 looking at this translated article. I had a google around but couldn't find anything that benchmarked Bad Company 2 with a Q8400 never mind with your GTS 250.
  2. It's not worth it until you can get a Q96xx cpu around 100$ on the used market.

    The Q8400 only have 4mb cache vs 12mb on the Q9xxx series.

    It will hold you back on the already dated technology.

    Wait for more cash and go for an amd system if you cannot wait, or go for an intel 1155 system later.

    DDR3 ram price is very low, ddr2 is not cheap.

  3. It's actually a pretty big increase. If you go down to the 1920x1200 res which is the closest to the OPs 1080, the 4500 should be a bit below the stock E6600. Lets say 30FPS. All of the quads are 40FPS, which is 33% higher. I'm not sure at that res if you're being bottlenecked by the GTX285 or the resolution itself. If the Q8400 is within your budget then get it. I would get a new cooler as well. (unless your stock cooler has the copper core)
  4. The Q9xxx series will never drop to $100 because it's the top of the range for that socket. The performance will continue to be outdated but the lack of availability will push the price up.

    Based on what 4745454b has said regarding the difference between the E6600 and the E4500 then the Q8400 seems reasonable. I should have been clearer in my previous post - I literally did not know if there would be a performance difference between the two for that particular game rather than seemingly asserting there would be no difference.
  5. Wow, great info guys, much appreciated. I figured the CPUs weren't going to drop much more in price, as I'm nearing the top of the 775 chip range, but video cards will continue to drop. I was going to upgrade the CPU first, enjoy something of an FPS bump now, then pick up a new video card after the prices have fallen for 3-4 more months. Currently, when there's a great deal happening on-screen, FRAPS shows I'm only getting about 12fps. That's really painful. I was really hoping for more than a 3-5 FPS bump with the new CPU - more like 10-15.

    If I get the CPU, I'll avoid the OEMs and get one with a heatsink/fan designed for it. It will likely be cheaper than buying an OEM chip and finding a 3rd party cooler.

    Maybe I should go with a new gfx card in the under-$150 range first. What do you think about that?
  6. Good call on not picking up an OEM version. That is a better idea.

    I don't know enough about BC2 to fully comment on it but I'd expect you'll get a far better performance improvement by picking up a faster GPU than upgrading to the Q8400.

    The 250 GTS isn't in these charts but I'd expect it to score around 50 or less. Maybe aim for something with a score of 100 or better?

    I'm not so clued up on US pricing or availability so I'll leave it to someone else to suggest an exact card for ~$150
  7. Best answer selected by ThisFaceLeftBlank.
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