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Upgrading from Pentium D 820

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December 25, 2011 1:37:56 AM

Hi, I'm looking at using christmas money to upgrade my CPU/mobo and possibly RAM in my HP Media Center m7160n. Currently, I have:

3GB DDR2 RAM (2x1GB 2x512MB)
Intel Pentium D 820 @2.80GHz
Asus P5LP-LE Limestone Motherboard
Conexant Falcon II Analog TV Tuner (PCI)
RILink WLAN G (PCI)
MSi Nvidia GT440 (PCIe, dual slot)
250GB 7200rpm SATA HDD
2 DVD drives
300W PSU

I'm running windows 7 home premium 32-bit, but I'll switch to 64 if I get more RAM.

Some common tasks I need to use the computer for:
Internet Browsing
Office Applications
Animating in Flash Pro CS5.5
Animating while streaming with Livestream Procaster
Transcoding Videos with Badaboom
Recording TV in Media Center
Listening to music
Modeling in Autodesk Inventor 2011

I've also recently taken up some PC gaming, my current library and performance (all at 1280x1024):

Burnout Paradise
On low settings, around 40FPS with major slowdown during crashes.

Halo
Smooth in 3D with high settings

Sonic Heroes
Smooth with high settings

Sonic adventure DX
smooth in 3D with high settings and added motion blur filters

Oblivion
Smooth with high settings

Skyrim
around 40FPS with low settings

Trackmania nations forever
smooth in 3d with high settings

Team fortress 2
smooth in 3d with high settings

portal
smooth in 3d with high settings

minecraft
smooth with fancy graphics, smooth shading, and normal draw distance

terraria
smooth

magicka
smooth



Right now, I'm looking at this athlon II X3, and I need:
to know if this will be a significant improvement over my current CPU
a motherboard to go with it that will
-fit my tuner, wifi, and gfx cards
-have core (and possibly L3) unlocking for that fourth core
-preferably have surround sound in 3.5mm jacks
-preferably have FireWire
budget DDR3 RAM if necessary

and I need to avoid going over the PSU's limits to stay on a tight budget. right now I'm looking at around 175 USD, but I might be able to go higher. I need this desktop to last me 2 1/2 more years until I go to college.

oh, and I do all of my buying on amazon, though I may be able to make an exception for part of the order.

More about : upgrading pentium 820

a c 140 à CPUs
December 25, 2011 3:31:37 AM

Hp lists the board as supporting the Core2 Duo E6XXX and e4XXX chips. The the rest of the system will not need to be changed. You may be able to get a cpu for cheap. Rebuilding for 175 is not that easy. an e6600 while an upgrade, is not like a new system, but you need a board,memory and a cpu at the very least.

http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?cc=us&lc=en...

Benchmarks for the E6600 also has the Pentium D 840(one step above your current cpu) so you get an idea
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core2-duo-knocks-at...
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December 25, 2011 11:05:57 AM

The leonite revision supports core2duo, but mine, the older limestone, only supports P4 and PD 8xx.

Regardless, I'm looking to replace the motherboard, and I need one to go with the CPU I was looking at that supports core unlocking for a low price.
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a b à CPUs
December 25, 2011 1:24:55 PM

Core unlocking might work, but it might not and it may be unstable.

Are you stuck on AMD or is Intel an option?

Your game performance is going to rely solely on your graphics card, your's is pretty outdated, but then again so is your monitor. A new mobo, ram, cpu is not going to make your games play faster when your still using the same video card.

Today's standard monitor resolution is 1920x1080. My older 22" is 1680x1050. Yours is 1280x1024. I'd recommend a monitor upgrade first, then work on the computer. There's no bigger satisfaction than a nice monitor. I'd recommend at least a 22" (1920x1080)
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December 25, 2011 2:21:58 PM

I'm not quite as concerned with gaming performance (My PS3 works fine), I only payed $60 for that GT440 and got more than what I payed for. Intel is an option if you can get a decent amount of performance for a low price. I won't be forking out for a new monitor soon, two 22" 1080p monitors is WAY out of budget. And I'm mostly concerned with the non-gaming stuff. My performance is downright awful while streaming, which is the CPU's fault. I also like the idea of having 3-4 cores. I also run out of RAM very quickly while trying to render videos from Inventor. My budget is 120-190ish USD.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0044UHIRK/ref=ox_sc_a...
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0037TO5C0/ref=ox_sc_a...
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003N1A5W6/ref=ox_sc_a...

this is what I've been looking at right now. It runs at around $165
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a b à CPUs
December 26, 2011 1:19:09 PM

A X3 isn't going to render very well. As you can see from this chart, even a dual core i3 will beat the X3 in just about everything, including rendering. Of course it costs more, but your going to get what you pay for no matter what.

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/202?vs=289

I wouldn't recommend a AMD board with Nvidia chipset for one, and secondly I wouldn't recommend a AM3 motherboard because you will never be able to upgrade it, you should be looking at AM3+ motherboards and a minimum of a X4 955.
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December 26, 2011 3:32:31 PM

how much could I get a whole i3/mobo/ram deal for? I'm really not wanting to spend all that much on a computer I'll only be using for a few more years; that's why I was leaning towards an Athlon II. I'll also have a much harder time convincing my parents to let me buy an Intel processor.
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a b à CPUs
December 26, 2011 3:37:21 PM

It depends if you have access to microcenter or not, they have crazy combos. So it depends where you live...

Whatever you do, don't get an AMD CPU with an Nvidia chipset. That's asking for stability problems.

Core i3 is a solid choice. Or perhaps consider the Phenom 960T going for about $130 that can be unlocked to a Phenom II X6 (will be much faster than Core i3 if it works).

Then grab an AMD motherboard that supposrts your old DDR2 and you're set! I would think it easier than including DDR3 into your limited budget going with the Core i3.

Sandy Bridge really is only at its best with the i5-2500K and i7-2600K. All beyond your budget.
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December 26, 2011 6:03:00 PM

I've never even heard of microcenter. The only place I know of that sells PC components is Fry's, and that's quite a bit of a drive away. I'm probably not going to go over the price of what I picked out earlier, because that would be going over my Christmas money and cutting into my own. The RAM is really something that I also wanted to upgrade because I keep running out, and replacing the two 512MB modules with 1GB ones costs almost as much as getting 8GB of DDR3 for some reason, so why not?

http://www.amazon.com/ASRock-Socket-Hybrid-CrossFireX-M...
How about this motherboard? It says "MATX", and I'm not entirely sure if that means Micro-ATX or Mini-ATX, because my current one is Micro-ATX. Also, It wouldn't have room for my TV tuner AND WiFi card, since my GT440 is dual-slot. Can you help me find a cheap mobo that can fit all of the stuff?
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a b à CPUs
December 26, 2011 6:07:18 PM

matx = microATX

the other spec is ITX or mini-ITX
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a c 140 à CPUs
December 26, 2011 6:15:30 PM

Your are correct about a lack of space for your TV tuner and WI-FI, one would have to be a PCI-E X1 card to fit.

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December 26, 2011 6:43:58 PM

I'll probably leave the tuner out for now; I don't use it much. Then I can ask for a digital PCIe one on my birthday or something. Can you confirm that this mobo supports core unlocking and OC?
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a c 140 à CPUs
December 26, 2011 6:58:06 PM

Here is the page for that board, so it seems to have the core unlock as well as some overclocking.

http://asrock.com/mb/overview.asp?Model=880GM-LE

Newegg has some reviews listing overclocking as well
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

--------------------
Pros: 5 SATA connections, 6, unlock and overclock capable. Also has onboard IDE and basic RAID capabilitie and onboard VGA & DVI connectors. Decent features and price makes this a great value motherboard.

Cons: None

Other Thoughts: Installed AMD Phenom II X2 555 and was able to unlock 2 more cores. Using with G.Skill 4Gx2 F3-10600 CL9D memory and IcyDock MB982SPR-2S for WHS 2011 server. Best bang for the buck I could find.
-----------------------

I went with an external(USB) tuner, Don't do that if you care about picture quality.
If you can find a good Hardware tuner its ok, but most of the TV sticks deal with interlaced video and motion very poorly.
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December 26, 2011 7:05:52 PM

actually, would it be cheaper to get a USB wifi dongle and keep the tuner in? it's a good tuner with a MPEG-2 chip and deinterlacing built in. It also connects to some composite jacks on the front of the desktop.

yeah, I'll just get this when $10 Amazon Gift Cards comes in for signing up for Netflix.
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a c 140 à CPUs
December 26, 2011 7:45:06 PM

Some cheap wireless network cards are not that great, but a cheap network card is better then a cheap tv card :) 
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a b à CPUs
December 27, 2011 3:01:46 PM

halomademeapc said:
I've never even heard of microcenter. The only place I know of that sells PC components is Fry's, and that's quite a bit of a drive away. I'm probably not going to go over the price of what I picked out earlier, because that would be going over my Christmas money and cutting into my own. The RAM is really something that I also wanted to upgrade because I keep running out, and replacing the two 512MB modules with 1GB ones costs almost as much as getting 8GB of DDR3 for some reason, so why not?

http://www.amazon.com/ASRock-Socket-Hybrid-CrossFireX-M...
How about this motherboard? It says "MATX", and I'm not entirely sure if that means Micro-ATX or Mini-ATX, because my current one is Micro-ATX. Also, It wouldn't have room for my TV tuner AND WiFi card, since my GT440 is dual-slot. Can you help me find a cheap mobo that can fit all of the stuff?


Again, that's a AM3 motherboard, not AM3+ so you won't be able to upgrade the cpu on it.
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a b à CPUs
December 27, 2011 11:33:08 PM

Not that you would really want Bulldozer...
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a b à CPUs
December 28, 2011 2:20:08 PM

I would want BD. You haven't seen it's best since there are no OS's that can utilize it's architecture yet, not to mention steamroller and piledriver.

Obviously he's a gamer and it doesn't matter what quad+ core cpu that you have, if your only using a single video card, your going to be gpu bound long before your cpu bound.
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December 28, 2011 2:30:51 PM

I do a lot more flash animating than gaming, which is why I was looking for a CPU upgrade rather than another new GPU.
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a b à CPUs
December 28, 2011 5:30:43 PM

Here's an example. Take the Pentium E5300 for instance, which is a mile faster than your Pentium D 820. Look how the i3-2100 performs against it, it absolutely destroys it in everything. Not only that it's only 65w tdp.

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/98?vs=289

Not only that, the i3-2120 is the same price as the 2100 right now and is 200mhz faster.

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