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Upgrade CPU or add $ to graphics card

Intitial Thoughts

I have a question about additionally doing a central processing unit upgrade, but first let me discuss the graphics card upgrade, which seems the most important. As far as desire on the graphics card, my gut feel is that a low power, low noise, less parts, and modest performance with low to medium graphics settings for mild gaming and general use on an 3-yr old Dell OEM system would be nice. (I was thinking single slot but two slots are available).

As many non-enthusiasts, I am looking for something modestly cheap and painless for an OEM computer, though may could be persuaded to go for more. Also, I am sorry for innundating this post with a wealth of information, and partial replies are welcomed.

My budget for a graphics card upgrade is about $60-$110 flexible, though would go less or more dollars, depending on performance ratios (e.g., performance per $, performance per Watt, etc.), and a better understanding of demands and system limitations.


The Computer and Use

My 12 year old son has a 3-yr old computer (the candidate for the graphics card GPU upgrade and possible CPU upgrade) at his Mom's house that he will use for at least about 2 more years in which he does school work (Microsoft Office), web surfing/browsing, Facebook, video chat, watching youtube videos and on rare ocassions watches DVDs, and does mild gaming such as Minecraft (which the computer performance for Minecraft does not seem the greatest, an apparent victim of weak onboard graphics).

He also wants to do TF2. Portal 1, and Diablo 3, for example, and forgiving or medium games, and possibly (who knows) more demanding gaming but is willing to go with lower settings if needed. He has a PS3 and XBox 360 for demanding games and in which he plays Skyrim, BF3, Portal 2, etc., but wants to get into PC gaming, at least mildly, and possibly more demanding PC gaming. Again, who knows with the fleeting desires of a 12 year old. In addition to gaming, it would be nice if the desktop computer ran faster and smoother generally. As indicated, in about 2 years, will likely get him a new computer, but for now . . .

The system is a desktop Dell Inspiron 530 (system listed at the end of the post below) built in Feb 2009 with 3 GB RAM (DDR2 for this motherboard), integrated graphics, and apparently a 300 W power supply. It has a 19 inch LCD monitor and I believe the resolution he uses is 1280 x 1024. He may get a larger monitor in the next few months. Possible.


Graphics Cards

As for a graphics card upgrade, I initially considered the HD6450 and HD6570. Low power and cheap, and should run Minecraft? At least they are discrete cards, and not the integrated graphics. I also considered spending more money, and looked at the HD6770 ($115), HD6850, and HD7770. But I really want to stick with the 300 W power supply and only upgrade power supply, such as to a 500 W, if needed after installing the graphics card. Thinking to go for low power and something that "matches" this older Inspiron 530 system. And also possibly transfer the graphics card to the new computer to be purchased in a couple of years, and even do a crossfire dual tandem if possible and if that made sense. But that is the future. For now I am looking at a single card for the old Insprion 530.

I have settled on the following three possible choices for graphics cards with approximate prices that do vary, and will make a purchase in the next week:

HD6670 (1 GB DDR3) ($69),
HD6670 (1 GB GDDR5) ($89),
HD7750 ($109).

I understand that some of the HD7750 models have no fan, and which appear to be generally more expensive. By the way, the Inspiron 530 computer has at least two PCi express slots available. (I will make sure to match the exact slot type with the selected card).

I have no brand loyalty, but some reason seem to generally favor Sapphire and Gigabyte, though will likely go with price over brand. It does seem that the rebate service for Gigabyte is more likely than rebate service for XFX, for example, to actually redeem the rebate. Though, I am not taking into account the rebate in making my decision, and assuming I will not be successful in redeeming any offered rebate. If I am successful, then great, it will be gravy.

An example of HD6670 (DDR3) at $64.99. (The 6670 DDR3 cards from the various packagers can go as high as $77 or so)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102988&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-Video%20Cards-_-Sapphire%20Tech-_-14102988&AID=10440897&PID=3962334&SID=

An example of HD6670 (GDDR5) at $89 [though I saw a HD6670 (GDDR5) yesterday for $80 on Amazon, only one left in stock, I need to look for it again and see if it still available. I probably should have bought it yesterday].
http://www.amazon.com/EAH6670-DIS-1GD5-Radeon-GDDR5/dp/B004X8EODY

An example of HD7750 (with fan) at $109 the standard price I see all over.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007827196/ref=asc_df_B0078271962033515?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&tag=pg-469-34-20&linkCode=asn&creative=395097&creativeASIN=B007827196


GRAPHICS CARD CONCLUSIONS

In conclusion, I am having a hard time deciding between the three: HD6670 (DDR3), HD6670 (GDDR5), or HD7750. I have look at power extensivley, and they appear about the same. Some say the HD6670 (GDDR5) uses less power than the HD6670 (DDR3) but I haven't seen that in the data. I have noticed the HD7750 idles the least power of the three, but have seen inconsistent power data on peak usage. As power, they all three seem very low and about the same.

Based on the old computer system and the usage, if I finally believe the HD7750 will be recognizably better, I will get the HD7750, or the HD6670 (GDDR5) as a compromise. On the other hand, if I finally believe that the HD6670 (DDR3) will do just fine with Minecraft, TF2, and Diablo 3, for example, and improve the general computer experience, then I will go with the HD6670 (DDR3).

If the rebate on the HD6670 (DDR3) actually came through, then that would be a mere $39.99 for the card on his computer at my ex-wife's house with the existing power supply, and he gets a discrete card that is good.

Though, I can spend $60 taking the kids to dinner, and maybe skip a dinner and instead get the HD6670. Indecisive.


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CPU


As for the CPU, is it worth upgrading the processor for $90?

The system has a Wolfdale E5300, 2.6, 2MB, 65W, R0 (800 MHz FSB). The motherboard is the Foxconn G33M02 (LGA 775 socket), which I understand is one of the two standard motherboards in the Inspiron 530 (the other being the G33M03), and that this G33M02 he has does not handle the Quad processors.

Apparently, the E8500 or E8600 (1333 MHz FSB, 6MB) (which I am finding in the $200 range) are the best performing processors for the motherboard, as long as the BIOS has the latest update. I came across a used E8400 (1333 MHz FSB, 6MB) from a top seller on Ebay for $90 (link below), and which I have confirmed in compatible with my motherboard, provided the BIOS has the latest update.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Core-2-Duo-Processor-E8400-SLB9J-3-0GHZ-1333FSB-6MB-Cache-3-00-GHZ-/300714714886?pt=CPUs&hash=item4603fe6706#ht_1649wt_921

Is it worth going from a E5300 to a used E8400 for $90? Apparently, the performance improvment is generally about 20-30%, but I have a hard time interpreting the results (see links for performance comparison and benchmarks below). I have also receive anecdotal info that I would notice a significant performance increase in general computer use with the E5300 to E8400 upgrade. I could instead spend that $90 on a 500 W power supply and a more powerful graphics card than I am thinking to buy. My priority is equally split between general computer use and gaming. Sorry. As for power supply, I am assuming that since both processors are at 65 W, the power requirements are about the same. Performance of the processors:

http://www.cpu-world.com/Compare/384/Intel_Core_2_Duo_E8400_vs_Intel_Pentium_Dual-Core_E5300.html

http://www.cpubenchmark.net/


CPU QUESTION

In sum, the question is about spending $90 on a CPU upgrade versus instead spending that $90 to buy a power supply and install a more powerful graphics card than the $60-$110 graphics card I am planning to install (e.g., go with a 500 W power supply to replace the 300 W power supply, and buy a HD 7770 instead of the HD 7750, just an example, versus going with the HD7750 and sticking with the 300 W power supply and spending money [e.g., $90] on the central processor upgrade mentioned immediately above).


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RAM

Lastly, about the RAM. The question is for this Dell Inspiron 530 built in Feb 2009 and which came with 3 GB RAM (DDR2 on this motherboard) and is running Vista, is there any reason to add RAM. For instance, I could replace the 512 MB in two slots each with1 GB, and thus giving a new total of 4 GB. Yet, I understand the 32-bit system will not utilize more than 3.0 or 3.5 GB.

Can the system utilize an increase from 3 GB to 4 GB RAM in any way?

I also assume any increase demand on the power supply from such a RAM upgrade would be relatively negligible, if any.


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Dell System Configuration based on the System Tag, giving Part No., Number of Items, and Description


K086M 1 Processor, E5300, 2.6, 2MB Wolfdale, 65W, R0
JY167 1 Assembly, Heatsink, Fan, Mini Tower
WN585 1 INSTRUCTION..., DEVIATE L6 TO L5+, Pentium 4 Prescott DT, 3.0GHZ, 1 MEGB, 800FSB...
01323 0 INFORMATION..., NO ITEM
CN481 1 ASSEMBLY..., CHASSIS..., MNTW, Pentium 4 Prescott DT, 3.0GHZ, 1 MEGB, 800FSB..., NON PFC..., PWA INTEGRATED...
702EX 0 INFORMATION..., PREPARATION MATERIAL..., DEVIATION..., PRECISION WORKSTATION..., INCREASE..., #1
JY172 1 PLACEMAT..., GETTING STARTED..., DIMENSION..., DAO/BCC
83535 0 INFORMATION..., PART, ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY ATTACHMENT PACKET INTERFACE..., DEVICE
DJ331 1 KEYBOARD..., 104, UNIVERSAL SERIAL BUS..., UNITED STATES..., ENTRY..., LITEON..., BLACK...
WG440 2 Dual In-Line Memory Module 512, 800M, 64X64, 8, 240, 1RX8
P005H 1 KIT..., SOFTWARE..., ROXIO..., 10.2-0, DE
T118F 1 Kit, Software, Mcafee, 9, Compact Disk Drive, English
K257H 1 KIT..., Software, VHP32SP1A, DigitalVideo Disk Drive, Multiple, 5
XN966 1 KIT..., MOUSE..., UNIVERSAL SERIAL BUS..., 2BTN, OPTICAL..., LOGITECH...
DW623 1 KIT..., SPEAKER..., 12V, AX510PA, SHIP IN BOX..., TYPE1
DW804 1 Assembly, Dvd+/-rw, 16X, Half Height, BARE, Plds
R473H 1 HARD DRIVE..., 320GB, S2, 7.2K, SGT-BRINKS
UN492 1 Display, Flat Panel Display, 19 SE198WFPV, Silver, Dell AmericasOrganization
UN495 1 Kit, Software, MS Office Home and Student-2K7, English
CM633 2 Dual In-line Memory Module 1GB, 800, 128X64, 8, 240, 1RX8
7 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about upgrade graphics card
  1. I had a typo regarding the graphics card conclusions. Let me say it as intended. I am willing to skip a dinner with the kids, and use the money to get the HD7750, if that is what I decide.

    Thanks for reading the long post.
  2. Best answer
    The 6670 would probably be the best gpu, your cpu is rather weak by today's standards even if you get an E8400, there would be no point in buying a new psu and a more power gpu. Getting a more powerful gpu would just mean it won't be fully utilized. The 7750 is a lot more energy efficient but costs quite a bit more, you may or may not fully utilize the gpu.

    The ddr3 version is if you are going to run your current monitor but if you get a larger one, you should get the ddr5 version. The faster memory is useful for higher resolutions.

    The CPU upgrade wouldn't really be worth it, the 30% increase doesn't translate to much since general things that are done in milliseconds by the cpu. In general use you'd not find much difference. If you want gaming performance, the E8400 could give a slight improvement tho.
  3. you may also consider getting window 7 64 bit and adding more ram, not sure if its worth it but window 7 seems faster than vista and the 64 bit will be useful for more ram if needed.
  4. esrever said:
    you may also consider getting window 7 64 bit and adding more ram, not sure if its worth it but window 7 seems faster than vista and the 64 bit will be useful for more ram if needed.



    Good suggestion. I thought about that but I am thinking I will wait till the new computer system purchase in two years to get the windows 7 64-bit (for the new system). We'll see.
  5. esrever said:
    The 6670 would probably be the best gpu, your cpu is rather weak by today's standards even if you get an E8400, there would be no point in buying a new psu and a more power gpu. Getting a more powerful gpu would just mean it won't be fully utilized. The 7750 is a lot more energy efficient but costs quite a bit more, you may or may not fully utilize the gpu.

    The ddr3 version is if you are going to run your current monitor but if you get a larger one, you should get the ddr5 version. The faster memory is useful for higher resolutions.

    The CPU upgrade wouldn't really be worth it, the 30% increase doesn't translate to much since general things that are done in milliseconds by the cpu. In general use you'd not find much difference. If you want gaming performance, the E8400 could give a slight improvement tho.



    Thanks for the excellent reply. Going with the 6670 ddr3 does seem simple and cheap, and will be adequate, and my system may not benefit signficantly from more graphics card. I was wondering, and have seen related discussion, that an older processor like mine will bottleneck at more intensive graphics requirements such that the full capability of a stronger graphics card (e.g., 7750) is not realized. It seems intuitive.

    A hard part of the decision with the graphics card, is that I almost willing to to go with the 7750 solely for the fact it is the lowest power consumer, if that is the case, to insure I do not have a problem with the existing 300 W power supply. His Mom and sister do ocassionally use the computer, and in any case, I would hate to see a crash because of an exceeded power supply.

    Also thinking 7750 because he may get a larger monitor, and the price bump from the 6670 gddr5 ($89) to the 7750 ($109) is only $20. (Blew $20 today on junk food.) And the 7750 is the newer technology. But then again, the 6670 ddr3 is a straightforward purchase, and I have seen many comments online that the card worked with typical Dell OEM 300 W power supplies, and provided decent graphics performance. In terms of probably application, we are talking Minecraft, TF2, and Diablo 3, for example, and I think the 6670 ddr3 will do well?

    As for the processor, I think I am giving up on the processor upgrade, or at least put it on the backburner with likely never doing it.
  6. Best answer selected by clay1987.
  7. well both cards should do well. The 7750 does offer the things you mentioned. I'd say its probably worth if money isn't really that tight between it and the ddr5 6670.
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