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Confused by Pentium, i3, i5, and how to upgrade

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August 26, 2012 12:51:17 PM

Question: Can anyone help me pick the right CPU/Motherboard combo for an upgrade where I can hopefully reuse the max of my current components? Or if it makes sense to leap all the way to an i5 or i7 and do a complete rebuild I'd love to know.

Goal: Upgrade so I can play Guild Wars 2 and upcoming games at high settings at 1680x1050 (with the ability to upgrade more over 3-5 years (or do I rebuild entirely?).

Budget: $200 if it is just an upgrade of the CPU/Motherboard; more if I need a new case, RAM, etc.

Current Setup:

Operating System: MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 @ 2.53GHz, Wolfdale 45nm Technology
RAM: 4.00 GB Dual-Channel DDR2 @ 399MHz (6-6-6-18)
Motherboard: Dell Inc. 0RY007 (Socket 775)
Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 5670 GDDR5 (Sapphire/PCPartner)
Power Supply: Antec BP350 350w
Hard Drives: 466GB Western Digital WDC WD5000AAKS-75A7B0 ATA Device (SATA)
Optical Drives: TSSTcorp DVD+-RW TS-H653F ATA Device
Audio: AMD High Definition Audio Device

My Experience:

Since I bought this Dell Inspiron I have upgraded the RAM, the Power Supply, and the Video Card, so I am not a complete newbie. But I have never messed with CPUs and motherboards.

Thanks!
August 26, 2012 1:19:30 PM

Your motherboards socket is LGA 775, which is rather limiting in what you can get, you won't be able to get an i3 or higher with that CPU socket.
Not to mention getting a high end CPU will cost a bit more than $200 dollars :p 
You also may want to upgrade your PSU if you were to upgrade components.

I'd advise a complete rebuild because LGA 775 is rather outdated now, rather than upgrading just buy a new pc, it would probably be cheaper than upgrading all the components you'd like to.

If you were to stay with your current build I would reccommend a Core 2 Quad 9650: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You may also want to consider upgrading your GPU, though getting a higher end one would most likely require a PSU upgrade, though you could get a Radeon 7750 without upgrading the PSU which would be quite an upgrade.

Guild Wars 2 isn't a very demanding game, it depends on what other games you'd like to play but getting a mid range i5 would be a good bet with a decent GPU, like a 6870
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August 26, 2012 1:22:59 PM

hi
Although just for Guild Wars 2, theminimum system specs are'nt that high, if you want a system that'll last you 3-5 years and for MMOs and upcoming games, best thing would be to go for a new build. whats your buget for a new build?
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August 26, 2012 1:35:55 PM

Thank you so much guys - I was afraid I'd need a new build - thanks for confirming. My budget? Whatever will keep me from getting a divorce :) 

I can keep my old monitor and maybe even hard drive to save a few pennies - plus I own Win 7 (not RTM).

I think I can get away with something in the $500-600 range. I'd like to get a decent case this time and use this new build as a framework to upgrade over the next 5 years.

I looked at the $500 machine in the Builder Marathon on this site, but it only uses a Pentium CPU and that felt limiting. What do you think?
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August 26, 2012 1:37:11 PM

Swap the Pentium with a I3 and you are there!
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August 26, 2012 2:11:39 PM

Mashugana said:
I'd like to get a decent case this time and use this new build as a framework to upgrade over the next 5 years.

Since LGA1155 will be yesterday's news after Haswell comes out next year, whatever motherboard you buy today will not have much of an upgrade path so you have to either plan for a motherbaord+CPU+possibly RAM upgrade 2-4 years down the road or build buff enough to most likely not feel like you will need a platform upgrade.

Since CPU demand from most interactive types of software is leveling out, old CPUs are remaining viable for increasingly longer. I used to upgrade/rebuild my main PC every 2-3 years in the 90s because that yielded a very obvious 3-4X as much performance at a time where even simple computations took a few seconds/minutes to complete. In the 2000s my patience got stretched every 3-4 years and I expect this to increase to 5+ years looking at 2010 and beyond.

So personally, I would choose the CPU+motherboard on the basis that I am going to stick with it for ~5 years.
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August 26, 2012 2:30:07 PM

If you're going to stick with it for 5 years and have $500-$600 then get this:

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($229.99 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-V LK ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Samsung 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($46.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 1GB Video Card ($129.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $566.95

If you live near a microcenter than you can get a CPU motherboard combo really cheap. Especially if you go with the older i5-2500K. I chose the i5-3750K not because you need it right now, but because it will most likely last for 5 years. It will be much more powerful than your current chip. For example, your current processor (an E7200) gets a 2784 Geekbench score. The i5-3750K gets a 9830 before it's overclocked.

I switched out the graphics card for something much better (but still underpowered compared to the CPU) but still doesn't require a 6-pin connector from the PSU. If you upgrade the PSU in the future, then you can get a better graphics card and overclock the CPU.

One thing that will most likely be a problem is that you will need a new case. Dell often times does not use standard motherboard sizes for their systems. If you need a new case, you can get an Antec 300 for about $50. While a cheap case, it has been a favorite of home builders for years.
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August 26, 2012 4:00:59 PM

Best answer selected by mashugana.
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August 26, 2012 4:02:30 PM

Thank you very much all
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