I'm looking for some system upgrade advice for my current setup. I'll first post my specs:
Intel - Q9400 2.6 Ghz
Corsair - 4 GB - DDR2 - PC2-6400 (533.3 mhz)
WD Black HD (not in raid) - 2 x 1 TB
Nvidia GeForce - GTX 570
I'm looking to upgrade to gain better FPS in games. I'm assuming my FPS bottleneck right now is my socket 775 processor? I've looked at several similar posts and everyone seems to love and recommend the i5-2500K Sandy Bridge socket 1155 processor.
Im also looking at motherboards obviously and could use some advice on which chipset I want to be running (I'm assuming the Z77??).
Lastly, I've toyed with the idea of grabbing and SSD drive for my OS/Game files to be run off of. Can anyone comment on any performance theyv'e seen when switching from standard sata drives to and SSD setup?
The good thing is that you have a very decent video card in the GTX 570 and an upgrade would only need to be the cpu and motherboard along with maybe a SSD if you want to.
I have been using SSD's as the Os drive since they came out and I can't tell you the difference anymore because it's been so long since I've used a regular hard drive. All I can tell you is I won't be ever using a regular hard drive as the OS drive again unless there is some kind of change in the construction of one that I don't know about.
If your looking to go with a Z-77 MB then you should also be looking at the Ivy Bridge cpu also. If you want to go with the i5-2500k then go with the Z-68 MB.
Yes they are the same socket and they will each work in both boards but they were made with the cpus in mind so to take advantage of the features you can use them it the MB it was designed for. A 2500k won't be able to take advantage of all the features of the Z77 board.
The Q9400 can probably be OC'd a bit without too much trouble; the late C2Q's are about as fast per clock as AMD's Phenom II CPU's, but the reliance on the FSB kills memory bandwidth. Try OCing a bit and see if you can get acceptable FPS.
Ive got a Gigabyte board, but im a bit clueless on how to overclock the CPU and set voltages correctly.
I'm leaning towards going with the Z77 chipset. Can't hurt to have the newer features for almost the same price, right? I've never owned an ASUS board. I pretty much always stuck with Gigabyte, but the reviews look good on this one.
In regards to SSDs: Do you install all games/programs on that drive as well and then just have a larger drive for storage?
Forgot that I'll have to upgrade RAM as well, which is cheap right now.
As far as ram goes you can pick up 8 gb for $50 as long as you have the 64 bit version of Windows.
I would put the OS and a current game or two on the SSD and the rest on the storage drive. You don't want to fill up the SSD with just anything.
If you like Gigabyte boards better then you can get a Z-77 board from them also I just listed that board as an option as to what you could get.
I use a QX9650 for my "workhorse" machine and also have a Gigabyte GA-EP45T-USB3P, not exactly the same but similar chipset. Plus an EVGA GTX 570, factory OCed.
If you can OC with your board, I'd try to kick up your Q9400 to at least 3GHz, which if your board allows it should be quite possible with out very aggressive adjustments. Running at 3GHz natively, outside of a small number of recent titles, I get very adequate frame rates with my monitor's native resolution of 1440x900, with full video features enabled and 75Hz refresh. Maybe if I ran at a much higher resolution the situation would be different, but even so with that setup I am not dissatisfied at all.
As far as upgrading the whole system, I'm personally waiting to see how Haswell plays out, and go from there. If it's a major revision to Intel's line, I might pick up the best-of-the-pack-for-the-price. If it's a bit more modest (which Intel is suggesting it will be, with a 10% improvement at the same clock over IB), I'd go with an Sandy or Ivy Bridge, which will likely be a bit cheaper by then.
So, if you can OC to 3GHz, I wouldn't buy out of Core 2 right now. Either way, starting to prepare for a new system now (and gradually buying parts for it) may not be a bad idea, if you can get what you want for a good price.