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What is the best Upgrade path?

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August 3, 2012 2:10:36 PM

Hi guys,

Sorry in advance for the monster post - trying to comply with the guidelines for upgrade advice and also explain my situation properly.

Approximate Purchase Date: ASAP

Budget Range: ~£100-160 per major component (complications however - detailed below)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: gaming, internet browsing, music listening (headphones)

Are you buying a monitor: No

Parts to Upgrade: CPU, mobo, RAM, GFX, HDD (maybe)

Do you need to buy OS: No

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: ebuyer.com, dabs.com, scan.co.uk, amazon.co.uk, ebay.co.uk

Location: London, UK

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Your Monitor Resolution: 1920x1200 (I think)

Additional Comments: to play BF:BC2, Witcher 2, PlanetSide 2, (current games basically)

Why Are You Upgrading: I am currently looking to upgrade my computer for a better gaming experience (primarily for PlanetSide 2), but I'm on a very tight budget.

I understand my greatest hurdle is the LG1155/DDR3 upgrade. What I mainly would like to know is whether there are better components than the ones I've chosen which have an equivalent price, and also which part of my system needs upgrading most - CPU, GFX, or HDD?

I have never over-clocked my PCs, but I seem to remember when I built my current system (below) I did so with OCing in mind. If you guys think squeezing a bit more out of my current setup and saving the money up is a better short term solution compared to my proposed upgrade route, I'd definitely look into it.


My computer:

1 x Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3GHz (1333MHz) Socket 775 6MB L2 Cache OEM Processor
1 x Point Of View 8800GT 512MB GDDR3 256bit Dual DVI PCI-E Graphics Card
1 x ASUS P5K Premium WiFi-AP iP35 Socket 775 8 channel audio ATX Motherboard
4 x OCZ 1GB DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 Platinum XTC Memory CL4 2.1V
1 x Arctic Power 700W PSU - 4x SATA 1x PCI-Express
1 x Arctic Cooling AC-FRZ-7P Freezer 7 Pro Socket 775 Processor Cooler
1 x Standard 180GB Samsung SATA drive.
1 x Coolermaster CM690 Dominator Black Mid Tower Case

My original plan:

i5 2500k - £160
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo CPU - £20
HD 6950 2GB - £130 (eBay)
ASUS P8Z68-V LX - £60-70 (eBay)
G.Skill Ripjaws-X F3-12800CL9D-8GBXL 8 GB : 2 x 4 GB Memory - £40
[OCZ Onyx Series 32 GB SSD - £38]

I'm hoping that my existing PSU and case are sufficient for this (is it?)

The problem I have is that I have is that I can only save about £100 per month from my pay, so I need to do this in a piecemeal fashion. This would be pretty difficult with the above system, as upgrading anything except the GFX would require about £300 at once for everything to be compatible. Due to other obligations, I can't really start saving properly till after August.

So with this in mind, I've started shopping around for ways to get a proverbial foot in the LG1155 door. I have been using the gaming CPU/GFX hierarchies and I have come up with the following as an alternative:

i3 G630 - £43
ASUS P8Z68-V LX - £60-70 (eBay)
G.Skill Ripjaws-X F3-12800CL9D-8GBXL 4 GB : 2 x 2 GB Memory - £23.51
Scythe SCURK-3000 Universal Retention Kit v.3 - £13 (so I can reuse my existing CPU cooler - dunno if this is practical)
HD 4850 1GB - £35(ish) (eBay) / HD 4870 X2 2GB - £60 (eBay)
Use existing HD (or is the upgrade to an SSD of greater benefit than these other upgrades?)

The G630 seems to be very decent for the money - especially seeing as I can still sell on my old E8400 for £30-£40, so I come out even.

I feel this setup has the advantage that all the components have been around long enough that they aren't going to drop much in price anytime soon - so when I have the funds I can upgrade the rest of the system bit by bit to the parts in my original plan, and sell these parts on at roughly the same price that I bought them.

One issue - according to the GFX hierarchy from 2011 the 4870 X2 is in the same tier as a 6970, but in the latest "Best Graphics Cards For The Money" the HD 6670 is listed as the best in the cheapest bracket, yet it still costs £50 and according to benchmarks and the 2011 hierarchy it is placed far below the 4870 X2, and hardly above my 8800GT. I don't get it. Any ideas, anyone?

So what are your thoughts? What is the best route to getting my computer up to the standard required to play current games with reasonably high settings, without any big individual costs?

Thanks for your help!

More about : upgrade path

a b B Homebuilt system
August 3, 2012 2:36:21 PM

not sure I would consider the G630 a big upgrade over the E8400 Wolfdale for gaming any way. yes it would get you onto a LGA 1155 platform and running DDR3 memory. Tier wise THG shows them on the same level for gaming.

the HD 4870x2 is a monster card. doesn't do DX11, but it will cut through the rest pretty well. it is power hungry and runs really hot even at idle. the HD 4870x2 is "7" tiers higher than a 8800GT and would be a significant improvement.

for immediate gratification get the HD 4870x2.

then save up for a the transition to a new CPU platform.



a c 118 B Homebuilt system
August 3, 2012 2:41:54 PM

The better plan is to save up for the right system in the first place, not buy intermediate parts that are just going to end up collecting dust.

Watch.. Linus is smart
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FK4ip08auGg
Related resources
Can't find your answer ? Ask !
August 3, 2012 2:45:00 PM

Exactly the information I was looking for!

Thank you so much.

Couple of small things:

Do you consider the SSD upgrade to be a particularly important one? Evidently it is not anywhere near as good an upgrade as the HD 4870X2 replacement for my gfx, but say that was a 10, on a scale of 1-10 of improved gaming performance, and from what you're saying the G630 is maybe about a 2 (just for getting onto LGA 1155), say, where would you place an SSD?

As far as the power consumption and heat from the HD 4870X2 - do you feel my power supply will be sufficient for it, and would you say some sort of extra/replacement GPU cooling be advisable?
a c 118 B Homebuilt system
August 3, 2012 2:55:15 PM

Quote:
Do you consider the SSD upgrade to be a particularly important one?

On a tight budget, not at all. SSDs will not improve how high quality you can play games at, nor will they increase your frame rates. They merely decrease the amount of load time between levels and whatnot. I would not consider an SSD unless you can afford at least a 128GB. The reason for this is because between NTFS formatting and Windows7 you will lose almost 20GB of a 64GB SSD.

Considering a single game nowadays can easily take up 10GB alone, that doesnt leave much wiggle room. I also wouldn't consider an SSD if its going to compromise budget elsewhere. For gaming, the video card is going to be the most critical component.

Quote:
(just for getting onto LGA 1155), say, where would you place an SSD?

You really should take the time to watch that video I linked you. I know its lazy of me, but I've said it so much to other people on the forum, that video makes it easy.

You need to keep in mind even though that video is 2010 its still very relevant. Intel specifically is going through yet another socket change mid-2013 to LGA1150. Meaning possibly by the time you're ready to upgrade to a proper gaming CPU like an i5, you're either going to be buying last generation stuff, or buying yet another motherboard. Financially, it doesn't make sense.

Quote:
do you feel my power supply will be sufficient for it


Wattage wise, 700 is enough, however since I know nothing of that particular brand or quality, I cannot speak to it any further but to say wattage is not the sole determining factor in whether a PSU is appropriate.

a c 84 B Homebuilt system
August 3, 2012 3:20:11 PM

For gaming, the graphics card is much more important than the cpu.
Planetside 2 does not seem to have very high recommended requirements.
A E6600, and a GT140. If true, your current pc meets those.
http://www.game-debate.com/games/index.php?g_id=2252&ga...

To help clarify your options, run these two tests:

a) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics configuration.

b) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 50%.

Go to control panel/power options/change plan settings/change advanced power settings/processor power management/maximum processor state/
set to 50% and see how you do.


If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.

If you decide on a graphics upgrade, make it a significant one, or you may be disappointed.
From a 8800GT, I think you should be looking at a GTX460 or 6850 class card or better.
Your 700w psu should be capable of running any single graphics card.

I would not try to use a X2 type card. cf/sli shows up very well in benchmarks, but may be susceptible to microstuttering.
Particularly with dual lower strength gpu's.
Read this article:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-stut...

If you decide on a cpu upgrade first, the G630 is a surprisingly capable cpu. But the ivy bridge dual core offerings are due out this year, and might be even better. They come with cpu coolers that will do the job. No need for any adapters for your 775 cooler.

SSD prices are down, and still dropping. I highly recommend them, everything you do will feel so much quicker.
But, they are not a necessity for a tight budget. On a scale of 1-10, the gaming improvement is about 0.5, the overall experience elsewhere is about 8.



August 3, 2012 3:24:41 PM

nekulturny said:
Quote:
Do you consider the SSD upgrade to be a particularly important one?

On a tight budget, not at all. SSDs will not improve how high quality you can play games at, nor will they increase your frame rates. They merely decrease the amount of load time between levels and whatnot. I would not consider an SSD unless you can afford at least a 128GB. The reason for this is because between NTFS formatting and Windows7 you will lose almost 20GB of a 64GB SSD.

Considering a single game nowadays can easily take up 10GB alone, that doesnt leave much wiggle room. I also wouldn't consider an SSD if its going to compromise budget elsewhere. For gaming, the video card is going to be the most critical component.

Quote:
(just for getting onto LGA 1155), say, where would you place an SSD?

You really should take the time to watch that video I linked you. I know its lazy of me, but I've said it so much to other people on the forum, that video makes it easy.

You need to keep in mind even though that video is 2010 its still very relevant. Intel specifically is going through yet another socket change mid-2013 to LGA1150. Meaning possibly by the time you're ready to upgrade to a proper gaming CPU like an i5, you're either going to be buying last generation stuff, or buying yet another motherboard. Financially, it doesn't make sense.

Quote:
do you feel my power supply will be sufficient for it


Wattage wise, 700 is enough, however since I know nothing of that particular brand or quality, I cannot speak to it any further but to say wattage is not the sole determining factor in whether a PSU is appropriate.


I intend to watch the video - just I'm at work right now! The problem here is that we're always going to be playing catch up in this game - unless I'm willing to stick with my 775 for another year and then buy a far more expensive CPU/mobo, surely I'm going to have to upgrade to 1155 at some point? I think I'd look to get an i5 around December time, if all these other upgrades go to plan.
a c 118 B Homebuilt system
August 3, 2012 3:38:20 PM

Well, when you get home check out the video, I have to head out myself atm. But yea, honestly it will be cheaper in the long run to stick it out with your Wolfdale for another year. This time next year, you'll be looking at Haswell CPUs on the LGA1150 socket. It just saves you more money in the long run and makes a lot more sense.
August 3, 2012 3:45:07 PM

geofelt said:
For gaming, the graphics card is much more important than the cpu.
Planetside 2 does not seem to have very high recommended requirements.
A E6600, and a GT140. If true, your current pc meets those.
http://www.game-debate.com/games/index.php?g_id=2252&ga...

This is what I understood too, but I have friends in the beta and they have mentioned people having issues with much better systems than mine. Perhaps it's just teething problems.

geofelt said:

To help clarify your options, run these two tests:

a) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics configuration.

b) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 50%.

Go to control panel/power options/change plan settings/change advanced power settings/processor power management/maximum processor state/
set to 50% and see how you do.


If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.

Thanks for the tip - I'll try it when I get home!

geofelt said:

I would not try to use a X2 type card. cf/sli shows up very well in benchmarks, but may be susceptible to microstuttering.
Particularly with dual lower strength gpu's.
Read this article:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-stut...

Interesting, I had heard that mentioned before actually. But yet two months after that article was published, this same website lists two X2 type cards in their top 4 tiers of gaming cards. Why on earth would they do that?

geofelt said:

If you decide on a cpu upgrade first, the G630 is a surprisingly capable cpu. But the ivy bridge dual core offerings are due out this year, and might be even better. They come with cpu coolers that will do the job. No need for any adapters for your 775 cooler.

The reason I am looking at the G630 is because it's so cheap I can sell my E8400 at the same price and come out even on it, so it'd mean my only cost for getting a LGA1155 setup would be the mobo and RAM. But I suppose if the upgrade to the G630, DDR3 RAM, and a new mobo is less of a boost than the equivalent expenditure (about £100) on a new graphics card, it'd make sense to go down the gfx upgrade first, right?
August 3, 2012 3:49:07 PM

nekulturny said:
Well, when you get home check out the video, I have to head out myself atm. But yea, honestly it will be cheaper in the long run to stick it out with your Wolfdale for another year. This time next year, you'll be looking at Haswell CPUs on the LGA1150 socket. It just saves you more money in the long run and makes a lot more sense.

Hmm, alright, I may well do so. At any rate - it looks like a GFX upgrade should be my first move.

Would overclocking my E8400 be a good move at this point, then? Does anyone know of some good OCing tutorials for complete novices? As I said before (but correct me if I'm wrong) but I think my setup is very overclockable.
a c 118 B Homebuilt system
August 4, 2012 5:50:01 AM

Quote:
Hmm, alright, I may well do so. At any rate - it looks like a GFX upgrade should be my first move.

That would be a good start yes, I would get yourself something decent that you can port to the new build. Something like a 7850 or possibly even a 7870. Both of these cards probably would be bottlenecked by the E8400, so depending on how long it would take you to be able to afford to upgrade everything else, it might not be a good idea.

As far as overclocking the E8400. It would be worth it if you're unhappy with how its doing now and want to squeeze some more time out of it without being annoyed as easily by who outdated it is.

Heres a guide to overclocking on it. And yes the Core2Duos do have some hidden potential so to speak:

http://www.legionhardware.com/articles_pages/intel_core...
!