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What to upgrade in my current PC to experience better gaming

Last response: in Systems
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July 11, 2011 3:22:15 AM

Hello everyone, I've been an avid reader of Tom's for quite some time and I thought I'd finally get to asking a question about my computer. What I have been noticing is some lacking performance from games that I should be running fine(mostly open world games) and was wondering what the problem was, and if the people of tom's could help me out?

The current build is
Prrocessor
AMD Phenom X2 555 BE 3.2Ghz dual core.OC to 3.4 Stable on stock cooler. (99% sure I can't unlock the other two cores in it sadly)
L3 cache 6mb L2 cach 2x 512 kb

Motherboard
Msi 870a G-54 ( I see this motherboard is used by quite a lot of people but i'm not too sure how good it is compared to the new things out atm)

Ram
2x 2gb Dual Channel DDR3 Ram (I ordered another 4 and they should be here tomorrow morning)Edit: I meant another 2 sticks of 2 gigs. woops

Video Card
ATI Radeon HD 5770 (Overclocked to 900 mhz by 1350 mhz)

PSU
500 watt Corsair

My native res on my monitor is only 1400x900 and I don't think i'll be getting another monitor anytime soon.
I've been testing out for a while what all the computer can run and I see a lot of problems with open world games such as oblivion and a recent play through of GTA IV. Even on lower settings it just gets so choppy randomly and then its smooth again, is that because its a dual core?
Lastly what is bottle necking here, the gpu or the cpu? Thanks in advance for your help -Deminos
a b B Homebuilt system
July 11, 2011 4:23:16 AM

4 gig of memory is enough to run games. While your PC is not a power house, it should run these games quite well on medium to medium high settings. Look at your drive first, download HDD Tune and run it, to see if your drive is performing up to spec. Slow downs and then speed ups again could mean your drive is under performing for some reason, or you could have other background tasks running that are causing your games to slow down. Lets start there and see what you come up with.
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July 11, 2011 4:30:55 AM

What kind of things should I be looking for while running HDD tune?
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July 11, 2011 4:54:07 AM

gta4 runs smoothly on a quad core, most likely problem would be your cpu and hdd.defrag your hard drives and game and see what happens. your gpu is just fine
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Best solution

a b B Homebuilt system
July 11, 2011 4:55:00 AM

Lower your resolution and turn off eye candy to see how much difference it makes; if very little, then your CPU rather than you GPU is the bottleneck. I suspect your dual-core CPU is your bottleneck, particularly when some background O/S process wants to run.
You can get a Phenom II X4 955BE for $120 now, which would likely make a visible difference. A X3 720BE is only $75, but doesn't include a cooler, likely to run at least $30 for a good one; for the price difference, the 955BE is the better buy.
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July 11, 2011 5:01:21 AM

at lower resolutions, the cpu has to work harder than gpu, so that means you have to upgrade to a 955 to see the optimal performance.
or if you cant upgrade, as said by jit, lower down the eyecandy settings
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July 11, 2011 5:37:42 AM

I've put it down to low settings and it still hiccups just as much, even other games that have been running at max settings at 60 fps seem to be having problems, maybe my cpu or Gpu is going bad...

Edit: GTA IV on low settings on everything actually loses more Fps and hiccups more when I put on everything low, that does not make any sense.
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 11, 2011 1:31:20 PM

It does make sense. On low graphical settings, the GPU has to do less work, meaning any issues are probably due to the CPU (which is now having trouble feeding the GPU at a fast enough rate). That test means that your CPU is in fact the bottleneck. Getting a x4 955BE should make a substantial difference for you.

Edit: Sorry if this seems like it's obvious, but make sure your GPU is installed in your mobo's x16 slot, not the one that only runs at x4. It is the one nearest the CPU.
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July 11, 2011 4:22:05 PM

It is installed in the right slot, that is for certain. Well I guess i'll be purchasing a new processor soon.
Thanks for your help everyone very much appreciated!

edit: installed the ram 6gigs of it is hardware reserved ugh.
also I'm thinking my memory might be really slow, its only getting a 2.6k in amd overdrive and 5.5 in windows
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 12, 2011 9:44:25 AM

The memory speed will make maybe a 3% difference; maybe. The CPU is the bottleneck. A dual core has to much to do and not enough threads to do it any more.
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 12, 2011 11:32:47 AM

have you checked the CPU temps while gaming? your PC may be throttling your CPU down due to high temps. (HWmonitor and speedfan are good ways of checking as well as temps shown in your BIOS, check the temps during a gaming sessions using speedfan/HWmonitor).
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July 12, 2011 6:28:01 PM

My cpu never goes over 40 while gaming.
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July 19, 2011 1:12:11 AM

Best answer selected by Deminos.
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 19, 2011 10:17:46 AM

Thanks. Did you get a new CPU?
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 19, 2011 10:38:08 PM

Reset your BIOS to defaults.
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July 19, 2011 10:49:53 PM

I have already done that, no changes at all.
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!