CPU: AMD Athalon II X3 435 w/the 4th core unlocked.
MB: ASRock M3A785GXH-128M (AM3)
RAM: ADATA4GB Dual Channel DDR3 1333
Video Card: ATI 5850
Upgrade Budget: ~300
I'm trying to deterime the most cost-effective upgrade that will have the greatest effect on performance.
I know that my CPU is probably my system's bottleneck, but since I'm stuck with an AM3 board, it seems like a waste to throw in one of the higher-end phenom II X4s; I think I would better off just going with an I5-2500k setup.
On the otherhand, if I decided to move from AMD to Intel then I'm afraid that my Radeon 5850 will become the bottleneck.
Would dropping in a second 5850 for Crossfire have a signifigant impact on performance (currently ~150 on ebay), or should I just go with Intel and then upgrade the graphics when my budget allows it?
In my opinion (being sorta anti-Intel), I would go with the Crossfire rather than the more expensive system upgrade. Or you could just build a whole new system. I think a CPU upgrade isn't all that necessary.
couple of things. getting a processor with L3 cache on it will help a little. at this point in time I wouldn't waste my money. cross firing will have SOME benefit SOMETIMES but again NOT worth the "upgrade" unless you get the card for $50)..... seriously!
going to Intel......... depending on the processor will bring new life into your old 5850. having said that/a new board/processor/memory.... maybe old will not be compatible.. ??..........
If you can't make a significant buy ( 2500+ ) I would hold on to my $300 and keep adding to it. it's really not worth the minor upgrade the small amount of green can bring to give any real benefit buying anything lesser.
i do have a 5850 and know it's limitations. should have added your monitor/res so i could have assessed better.
You are in an interesting situation, one not specific to you. I'll give you two options, one of which has already been stated above.
OPTION 1: Sell your CPU/Mobo, upgrade to a 2500k and Z68 board.
The merits here are rather obvious. If you decide to go this route, you'll get a faster processor that will last you a good amount of time. A 2500k is a very high value chip, one I expect to retain value for some time like the Q6600 did before it. It's fast, cool, quiet and can handle any game out there. A worth buy. The downside is, you will see a small, if at all, increase in performance.
OPTION 2: Spend the money on a second 5850/5870.
This setup is going to get your more FPS without a doubt. Games will scream, the enemy will be at your mercy. You get an incredible value for your money and can handle most games for years to come. Your Athlon X3 (unlocked, I'm guessing to a Phenom II X4 840?) should be just fine on most of today's most demanding games, allowing you to get the best possible framerate. The downside to this route is when upgrade time comes. Your CPU and mobo will be worth next to nothing, meaning you'll have to throw down a bundle of cash for the new tech.
Which do I suggest?
That depends on how happy you are with your setup. Are you not getting as many FPS as you'd like? Are you having to turn the detail down farther than you think is necessary? If so, go ahead and get the second 5850/70. It will almost double your performance. Use the remaining money to buy an SSD, or just pocket the change.
If you are happy with how things are now, I'd grab a 2500k. It's a very fast chip that will let you remain bottleneck-free for several years. When new tech comes out, you can probably sell it for those looking to upgrade from an i3-2100 or similar for 80%. That's not a bad return.
It's really your call. I'm an FPS freak, so I'd probably grab a second 5850. Make sure your PSU can handle it though.
A bit more background: I'm (obviously) mainly concerned with gaming performance. I currently run a 24" monitor at 1920x1080. Performance wise, I'm pretty happy with what I have; I can run the majority of the newer games on high settings with more than playable framerates. I mostly play RPGs (Skyrim, The witcher 2, etc...). Skrim runs on Ultra without too many slow-downsf and The Withcher 2 is playable on ultra with about 30 FPS average.
So, would a crossfire setup be more effective than a single card from the current generation? I assume that I could sell th 5850 for about $120 or so and recoup some of the costs. If I were to take this route then would my current CPU bottleneck the newer card?
Perhaps I'm just getting the urge to upgrade because I haven't gotten any fancy computer parts in the mail since 2010. I have about two years of military training starting next month, and I doubt I'll have time for games (what a terrible thought).
save your money. you'll soon not have time to be around the thing let alone have interest after the new stuff you'll be involved in. by that time you should have enough money to buy the better stuff around if you still want something.