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Need advice - Upgrade to Phenom II X4 965 BE (and new mobo)?

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November 16, 2011 4:30:33 PM

Hello,

I have been doing ongoing research the last couple of months on the ideal new build for mostly CAD (AutoCAD, Revit, maybe Inventor and/or SolidWorks, possibly some future need for rendering, etc.), multitasking with internet browsing, music/video streaming, Excel, Word and other programs in the background; maybe for playing games as well. Here is my current setup:

CPU - Athlon 64 X2 6000+ 3.0 ghz (Windsor dual core)

Motherboard - Asus M2N-VM DVI

RAM - 4 X DDR2 1 GB 400 MHZ

VIDEO CARD - NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GT

CASE - NZXT mid tower

HDD - Western Digital 500 GB

600 Watt Power Supply

Windows XP Professional - 32bit

I had been considering building an entirely new Intel-based system from the ground up, centered on the i7-2600K, new case, new everything - a $1,300-1,500+ investment more or less. I realized that I can't really justify a need for such a system at the moment (given the uncertain times we live in). My current setup works adequately, it does have a problem/gets slowed up by large AutoCAD files, and if I have too many other apps like Google Earth open in the background, it freezes up entirely on occasion, necessitating a restart.

Like I said, I had been considering an entirely new, relatively expensive build sometime early next year. Then I thought maybe just upgrading this one a little for the time being would suffice, and wait another couple years for Haswell or something. I looked at the max CPU that my current board would support, dead-end there. Then I thought about replacing the motherboard, CPU, and RAM, keeping the power supply, case, 7950GT and 500 GB HDD. The Phenom II X4 965 BE keeps rearing it's head as one of the cheaper ones ($120-$130) out there for how much quad-core, unlocked performance it offers. I would pair it with probably this board- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - or something similar in features and price (I can make do with 1333 MHZ limited RAM). Add in a cheap 8GB RAM set for $40-$50, and I figure it would be like a new, much faster system for around $250 tops.

So, given the Phenom II's price/performance, would that make sense? Is that processor going to be end-of-life soon, and not available as new for much longer? I know that my all-new build thinking centered on Intel, but I have done some comparisons, and to get down in the price range currently offered by the X4 965 BE would be like some of the more basic i3's, which don't offer the same overclockability. Thoughts?

Edit: I would probably also purchase Windows 7 64 Professional, and either another separate HDD to run the current Windows XP when I need to access my 32bit programs (AutoCAD 2004, 2010) -or- run Windows 7 64 in 32bit mode (I have heard this was possible, but I am not sure how it works) when I need to run those programs, 64 bit mode for any new programs I intend to use. So, if I upgraded the OS, then the whole rebuild would be more like $500, still pretty cheap, non?
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
November 16, 2011 4:58:47 PM

If you are going to buy a new mobo and cpu, consider sandy bridge. Amd is a decent value, but it is 20% less efficient on a clock for clock basis.
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 16, 2011 5:19:31 PM

a 64bit opsys ( W7 ) and tons of ram/ and a 2600k for starters.
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 16, 2011 5:38:36 PM


Spend the extra $20 for an AM3+ motherboard with 4 DIMM slots, 6 x SATA 6Gb/s and USB3 ...

Gigabyte GA-880GMA-USB3 AM3+ 880G

Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1333

AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz

That's around $260.

The PhII 965 goes on sale every week or so for $115 -- the PhII 955 for $105. More/faster RAMs in addition to better disk I/O will help your multi-tasking more than anything. Mechanical HDDs will not drop in price until probably next March/April while recovering from the flood damage. Not sure about your total capacity needs but you could dual boot XP/Win7 off a single 128GB SSD - or even a 64GB SSD for that matter - and use your current HDD for data, storage and backup.

Your 7950GT is clearly holding you back in some fashion. Try running in OpenGL mode, or updating your DX9 runtime and nVidia drivers.

And the best improvement you might make would simply be a fresh install of XP -- it will do wonders. Make sure you have an SPk2 update available if it is not your base version.



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November 16, 2011 5:51:27 PM

geofelt said:
If you are going to buy a new mobo and cpu, consider sandy bridge. Amd is a decent value, but it is 20% less efficient on a clock for clock basis.



If I went with SB I would go with at least an i5 2500K, at current prices, that is ~$100 more than the Phenom II; i3's are in the lower price range of the Phenom II, but do not come in quad-core, and are not unlocked, whereas the black edition AMD chip comes stock clocked at 3.4, and from what I've read, is fairly easy to o.c. into the 4's with the right mobo.

When you say AMD is less efficient clock per clock do you mean power wise?

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November 16, 2011 6:08:41 PM

Wisecracker said:
Spend the extra $20 for an AM3+ motherboard with 4 DIMM slots, 6 x SATA 6Gb/s and USB3 ...

Gigabyte GA-880GMA-USB3 AM3+ 880G

Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1333

AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz

That's around $260.

The PhII 965 goes on sale every week or so for $115 -- the PhII 955 for $105. More/faster RAMs in addition to better disk I/O will help your multi-tasking more than anything. Mechanical HDDs will not drop in price until probably next March/April while recovering from the flood damage. Not sure about your total capacity needs but you could dual boot XP/Win7 off a single 128GB SSD - or even a 64GB SSD for that matter - and use your current HDD for data, storage and backup.

Your 7950GT is clearly holding you back in some fashion. Try running in OpenGL mode, or updating your DX9 runtime and nVidia drivers.

And the best improvement you might make would simply be a fresh install of XP -- it will do wonders. Make sure you have an SPk2 update available if it is not your base version.


Thank you.

AM3+......hmmmm....I hadn't initially considered this because I was intending this to be a cost savings upgrade transition to my future dream Intel build....but now that I think about it, I might want to retain the ability to switch to a Piledriver or subsequent AMD processor depending on if those are going to be drastic improvements over the Zambezi chips. I don't inherently have anything against AMD, so I might as well keep an open mind. Do AM3+ socketed boards carry any other advantages that AM3 boards won't offer?

I haven't figured out yet how I want the two different OS's to function, your idea sounds good though. I need to keep the XP because I have 32bit CAD software that I will still need to use for the next year or two, but I also wanted to have 64-bit capability to run any newer software I purchase in that timeframe. I figure that even though my 32bit programs would not see the benefit of the additional RAM, they might like to run off of a quad core with a much faster clock speed than my current dual core. With the dual boot I am assuming that I would have to restart the system (not that big of a problem) when I wanted to switch or is there such a thing as accessing the BIOS without restarting?

As for the 7950GT...I was also planning on replacing that shortly after upgrading the CPU, although if I really wanted to pinch pennies I could start with replacing that with a GT 430 or so, and see if there is a performance difference.
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a c 136 B Homebuilt system
November 16, 2011 6:11:48 PM

You wont need intels top end to way more powerful than your current computer .

An i5 2400 combined with an H67 [ or budget Z68 preferably] motherboard is going to cost around $700 for a complete machine .
Its going to be an order of magnitude more powerful than your current computer .

If you do decide to stick with AMD then you should consider the Phenom X6 , and buy an AM3+ motherboard , probably with a 970 series chip set . These start from around $85
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 16, 2011 6:28:16 PM

why can't you use the 32bit CAD software on a 64bit opsys ? if you don't move to 64bit all your other upgrades will do next to nothing. your apps need more ram to make things run smoother/faster.
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November 16, 2011 6:29:29 PM

Outlander_04 said:
You wont need intels top end to way more powerful than your current computer .

An i5 2400 combined with an H67 [ or budget Z68 preferably] motherboard is going to cost around $700 for a complete machine .
Its going to be an order of magnitude more powerful than your current computer .

If you do decide to stick with AMD then you should consider the Phenom X6 , and buy an AM3+ motherboard , probably with a 970 series chip set . These start from around $85


I should clarify that I am looking for cheap overclocking as one major part of the solution I am researching. You can't overclock the 2400, right? I was interested in the Phenom II for it's unlocked OC ability along with a near-budget price tag. For this particular purpose, $50-$100 difference in the price of the processor is enough. When I build a brand new system from scratch in a year or two, that price difference won't matter as much to me, and I will just get the top end mainstream chip, which will probably be an Intel- Ivy Bridge or Haswell equivalent to the i7-2600K. Unless AMD gets it in gear, and fixes whatever it is that is hindering Zambezi so much.
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November 16, 2011 6:31:27 PM

ebalong said:
Thank you.
I haven't figured out yet how I want the two different OS's to function, your idea sounds good though. I need to keep the XP because I have 32bit CAD software that I will still need to use for the next year or two, but I also wanted to have 64-bit capability to run any newer software I purchase in that timeframe. I figure that even though my 32bit programs would not see the benefit of the additional RAM, they might like to run off of a quad core with a much faster clock speed than my current dual core. With the dual boot I am assuming that I would have to restart the system (not that big of a problem) when I wanted to switch or is there such a thing as accessing the BIOS without restarting?


Depending on your 32bit software there may not be a need to use XP to run them. The only reason you would need XP is if the software has legacy 16bit code or 32bit drivers. Otherwise Windows 7 64bit will offer each 32bit program 2GB of memory that it can use so even though it is a 64bit OS 32bit programs can still benefit from it.

ebalong said:

Do AM3+ socketed boards carry any other advantages that AM3 boards won't offer?


A UEFI BIOS, newer chipset (likely has better USB and SATA controllers even though they are the same versions), support for booting to 3TB+ hard drives. Board will likely be supported longer after you buy it, and they likely have newer addon chips (Sound and Network controllers). BTW my term for AM3+ only applies to those using the 900series chipsets.
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November 16, 2011 6:36:31 PM

swifty_morgan said:
why can't you use the 32bit CAD software on a 64bit opsys ? if you don't move to 64bit all your other upgrades will do next to nothing. your apps need more ram to make things run smoother/faster.


I was told that AutoCAD 2004 does not have the ability to be switched to operate on 64bit OS. I haven't checked this for myself, so if anyone knows for sure, please tell me. You are right, other software like AutoCAD 2010 can run on either. I guess I was figuring that the higher CPU clock speeds would benefit the older software that couldn't take advantage of the increased RAM, i.e - the things that slow up my AutoCAD 2004 running on a dual-core 3.0 ghz processor would not be a problem with a quad-core that I can OC to over 4.0 ghz, right? Or are you saying there wouldn't be a noticeable difference?
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November 16, 2011 6:43:02 PM

ebalong said:
I was told that AutoCAD 2004 does not have the ability to be switched to operate on 64bit OS. I haven't checked this for myself, so if anyone knows for sure, please tell me. You are right, other software like AutoCAD 2010 can run on either. I guess I was figuring that the higher CPU clock speeds would benefit the older software that couldn't take advantage of the increased RAM, i.e - the things that slow up my AutoCAD 2004 running on a dual-core 3.0 ghz processor would not be a problem with a quad-core that I can OC to over 4.0 ghz, right? Or are you saying there wouldn't be a noticeable difference?


Doing a quick search the only thing some people said that needed to be done is running 2004 as administrator and possibly using one of the compatibility switches. Application/Game Software doesn't have an switching ability per say. Although the OS can read what type of software is going to be run and run them in an emulation mode as 64bit Win 7 does for 32bit software.
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
November 16, 2011 7:11:33 PM

ebalong said:
If I went with SB I would go with at least an i5 2500K, at current prices, that is ~$100 more than the Phenom II; i3's are in the lower price range of the Phenom II, but do not come in quad-core, and are not unlocked, whereas the black edition AMD chip comes stock clocked at 3.4, and from what I've read, is fairly easy to o.c. into the 4's with the right mobo.

When you say AMD is less efficient clock per clock do you mean power wise?


No, I mean that a 2500K@3.3 will do more work than a x4 965@3.4 at stock.
A 2500k will easily oc to 4.0-4.5 which is usually more than a X4 can do.
Compare and look for your relevant apps. These are at stock:
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/102?vs=288
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November 16, 2011 8:05:33 PM

geofelt said:
No, I mean that a 2500K@3.3 will do more work than a x4 965@3.4 at stock.
A 2500k will easily oc to 4.0-4.5 which is usually more than a X4 can do.
Compare and look for your relevant apps. These are at stock:
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/102?vs=288


Thank you for your input.

Yes, the 2500K is king of the hill for processors between $200 & $300; I take it that your advice is spend the extra $100 (over the Phenom II), because the performance superiority (plus having a newer chip) of the i5 2500K is worth at least that much? Of course, that logic has the potential to put me on a slippery slope for justifying an extra $200 over the AMD processor for the flagship Intel - i7 2600K. :lol: 
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Best solution

a c 84 B Homebuilt system
November 16, 2011 8:41:59 PM

ebalong said:
Thank you for your input.

Yes, the 2500K is king of the hill for processors between $200 & $300; I take it that your advice is spend the extra $100 (over the Phenom II), because the performance superiority (plus having a newer chip) of the i5 2500K is worth at least that much? Of course, that logic has the potential to put me on a slippery slope for justifying an extra $200 over the AMD processor for the flagship Intel - i7 2600K. :lol: 


The 2500K goes for $200, yes, that is $70 more than the 965. If you can walk in to a microcenter, they are selling them for $180.

Is it worth it? only you can answer that.
But there is a saying "the bitterness of the product is remembered long after the sweetness of the price is forgotten"

If you can't manage the $55 or $70 difference, then by all means get the 965, or even a 2100. With the 2100, you preserve the option to upgrade to a 2500K, or an ivy bridge.
With a 965, what options do you have?
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November 16, 2011 9:38:00 PM

geofelt said:

With a 965, what options do you have?



:lol:  No options, I guess. Unless the motherboard is AM3+, and Piledriver comes out next year and somehow kicks ass, which I don't think will happen. Point taken, I think now that the 2500K is the happy medium, with a proper mobo, still won't cost more than $300-$400 to upgrade (recycling most of my other components). I can stretch that 1155 socket motherboard's usefulness with some Ivy Bridge variant in the near future. Okay, I'm convinced, not going to switch to AMD this time.
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November 16, 2011 9:38:59 PM

Best answer selected by ebalong.
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 17, 2011 12:49:27 PM

Too bad.

For your proposed uses the Intel rig really offers you nothing over a PhII quad except greater expense.

There is no magic bullet in AutoCAD that requires more than 2 cores. Your video card in refreshing your views is effectively your limiter, and any modern card with 1GB of GDDR5 will handle any 2D line drawings quite nicely.

And the AMD Phenom II X4 970 Black Edition Deneb 3.5GHz with code EMCJJJC33 is now at the $130 price point.

Keeps you on-budget, doesn't it ??

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