Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question
Closed

$400-450 budget: Upgrade CPU/MoBo or GPU?

Last response: in Systems
Share
February 6, 2012 7:58:29 PM

Rather than building a new system every 4-5 years, I'm slowly upgrading the one I have every couple of years. I have about $400-450 to spend, but am unsure what will give me the biggest "bang" for my buck. Whatever I don't upgrade now will likely have to wait 2-3 years for a replacement.

Approximate Purchase Date: 2-3 weeks

Budget: $400-450 US

System Usage: Gaming (SWTOR and Skyrim, primarily)

Current system
Case: Lian Li Lancool K-58
Processor: E6600 Core Duo (2.4 GHz, 1066 MHz FSB)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS4P (P45)
Memory: 2 x Crucial Ballistix 1GB DDR2 800MhZ (4-4-4-12, 2.0V) (2 GB total)
CPU cooler: Sunbeamtech Core-Contact Freezer
Power supply: Corsair 750TX (750W)
Video card: Sapphire Vapor-X HD 5770 1 GB 128-bit
Hard drive: Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB 7200 RPM
Optical drive: Samsung Lightscribe DVD-W
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Overclocking: I'm very nervous about it (not OC'ed currently), but may eventually.

SLI or Crossfire: No

Additional Comments: Heat is a concern for this rig as I do not have A/C and ambient temperatures run about 85F during the summer (Which is why I have a case with 4 fans and a CPU cooler without overclocking).


I see two options currently (both include memory upgrades as I'm down to 2GB due to yet another blown Crucial Ballistix DIMM)

Option 1: Upgrade CPU and Motherboard
CPU: Intel i5-2400 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz Quad Core ($190)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3H (Z68) ($160)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaw 2x4GB DDR3 1600MHz (8 GB total, $47)

Total cost is just shy of $400. I went with a Z68 for "future-proofing" of PCIe-3 (as that will likely be standard when I replace my GPU in 2-3 years). I'm also considering the Intel i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz for potential overclocking, at $40 more than the 2400, though that money is largely wasted if I never OC (the 2400 also comes with an additional 1 year warranty from Newegg for free).

Option 2: Upgrade GPU
GPU: XFX Radeon 6970 2GB 256-bit ($330)
Memory: G.Skill 4x2GB DDR2 800MHz 5-5-5-15 (8 GB total, $100)

Total cost of $430. The downside here is the $100 "wasted" on memory that will be replaced. Buying more Crucial Ballistix is not an option as I've now had 4 DIMM's die on me over the course of 3 years.


My gut tells me to go with the motherboard/CPU combo as it's less likely to become "old tech" in 2-3 years compared to the GPU, plus has advantages outside of gaming as well. But options would be very welcome!

Best solution

February 6, 2012 8:02:29 PM

Option 1, IMO would be a far better way to go. Even if you upgrade your GPU and RAM your CPU will still be a bottleneck.

However the i5-2400, while an excellent CPU, is not unlocked. If you want to try overclocking you will need an i5-2500K and an aftermarket cooler (like the Hyper 212) in order to do that.

You can reuse everything else - even your GPU is still pretty current, and then upgrade the GPU as the next option and you'll have a really killer system that way.
Share
February 7, 2012 10:48:36 AM

Thanks for the response! I think I was just enjoying looking at the newest GPU tech, but knew that it wasn't really the better option. :) 

After talking with a coworker, he suggested that I spring for the 2500K, even though I don't plan to overclock right now. Instead, I can wait the 3-5 years until I'd be considering replacing it and then overclock at that point to squeeze a little more life out of it. If it dies, then I have the money to replace it, otherwise I save myself some money for a little while longer.

Any thoughts on the motherboard? It's one of the higher-end midrange offerings, though it's gotten mixed reviews on Newegg due to some problems posting for some people.
Score
0
Related resources
February 7, 2012 9:21:47 PM

cchadwick said:
Thanks for the response! I think I was just enjoying looking at the newest GPU tech, but knew that it wasn't really the better option. :) 

After talking with a coworker, he suggested that I spring for the 2500K, even though I don't plan to overclock right now. Instead, I can wait the 3-5 years until I'd be considering replacing it and then overclock at that point to squeeze a little more life out of it. If it dies, then I have the money to replace it, otherwise I save myself some money for a little while longer.

Any thoughts on the motherboard? It's one of the higher-end midrange offerings, though it's gotten mixed reviews on Newegg due to some problems posting for some people.


I have the UD3P which is the next model up from that. I'm aware of the boot loop feature but it seems that's more brought on by overclocking than anything else. I'm using it in a system with a CPU that can't be OC'd so I think if you don't it should be fine.
Score
0
February 7, 2012 9:59:55 PM

Whats your monitor Rez? If its 1600x900 , u are better just going with I3 2100, Gtx 550 ti, 2x4 ddr3 1333mhz Ram, and a cheap H61 motherboard for the I3 2100.

What Games are you playing?


Videos of I3 2100 and Gtx 550 Ti Performance.

Skyrim
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GDulsavxC0

BF3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-iLfwJXeF4

MW3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLWVCgVsnP4


Budget + Performance = i3 2100 + Gtx 550 Ti. Want more Performance for your money? grab a Gtx 460 on Neweeg There are 4 or 5 models all below 140dlls
Score
0
February 8, 2012 12:53:30 AM

g-unit1111 said:
I have the UD3P which is the next model up from that. I'm aware of the boot loop feature but it seems that's more brought on by overclocking than anything else. I'm using it in a system with a CPU that can't be OC'd so I think if you don't it should be fine.


What exactly is the difference between the UD3H and the UD3P (or even the UD3)? As far as I can tell from the specs, they're basically identical except for 4 more USB ports in the back on the UD3/UD3P instead of VGA/DVI ports for the onboard processor. Is there anything more than this? They certainly don't make it easy to compare.
Score
0
February 8, 2012 5:42:40 PM

In my opinion, spend the money you have on getting a new motherboard, preferably a P67 and and i5-2500k, as that would be much better than upgrading the GPU. the CPU is gonna be one hell of a bottleneck for the 6970.

The i5-2500k would cost around 220$ and the P67 mobo would cost around a 90$ more. that makes it 310$. and you still have a lot of money to upgrade the RAM.

ASRock P67 PRO3 SE : http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
G.Skills value series (2x4GB) : http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You would still have money left from your budget. ;) 

Sorry i didn't notice you required a PCIe3 mobo. in that case add a 20$ more and a get a Gigabyte GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3. You would still end up spending the amount of money you intend to.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Score
0
February 8, 2012 6:01:29 PM

cchadwick said:
What exactly is the difference between the UD3H and the UD3P (or even the UD3)? As far as I can tell from the specs, they're basically identical except for 4 more USB ports in the back on the UD3/UD3P instead of VGA/DVI ports for the onboard processor. Is there anything more than this? They certainly don't make it easy to compare.


Main differences:

Onboard graphics:
- UD3H: Onboard graphics from CPU can be connected through DVI or VGA connections
- UD3P: Onboard graphiss from CPU can be connected through HDMI-only, replaces VGA and DVI connections

RAM:
-UD3H: Max RAM speeds of up to 1600 with speeds of 1866 and 2133 achievable through overclocking, max capacity 32GB (4 x 8GB)
- UD3P: Max RAM speeds of up to 1866, speeds of 2133 achievable through overclocking, max capacity 32GB (4 x 8GB)

RAID:
- UD3H: Supports up to RAID 10 w/2 x SATA 6GB, 4 x SATA 3GB
- UD3P: Supports up to RAID 10 w/4 x SATA 6GB, 4 x SATA 3GB

Rear Panel:
- UD3H: 2 x USB 3.0, 4 x USB 2.0
- UD3P: 2 x USB 3.0, 6 x USB 2.0
Score
0
February 8, 2012 11:54:41 PM

kalpak2021 said:
Sorry i didn't notice you required a PCIe3 mobo.

It's not an absolute requirement, but it seems like a wise investment for "future-proofing" if I'm intending to upgrade the graphics card in another 2-3 years. Thanks for your suggestions!

g-unit1111 said:
Main differences:

Thank you for this! The number of USB ports is the biggest difference for my own use, so I think I'll go with the cheaper option so long as that will be sufficient for my use (have to double-check what I'm plugging in currently).
Score
0
March 1, 2012 1:08:30 PM

Thanks for everyone's replies!

I ended up opting for the GPU/motherboard/memory option and will save the GPU for a couple of years down the road (for that matter, upgrading the HDD is a bigger priority since it's an older 3GB/s model).

I went with the i5-2500K to allow overclocking down the road (although I'm not doing so now), the Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3 (I chose this one over the other Gigabyte boards since it had more USB ports), and the Ripjaw memory. I also had to go with a new CPU cooler since my Core-Contact wouldn't fit the new motherboard. :(  (As an aside, why can't motherboard manufactures move the memory slots further away from the CPU ... most coolers are behemoths and can make fitting memory with "fins" hard to put in without rearranging fans on the cooler).

Everything seems stable after a week's worth of usage and >24h of running Prime95. Things run so much smoother now, I'm definitely glad I went with this option!
Score
0
March 1, 2012 1:09:14 PM

Best answer selected by cchadwick.
Score
0
!