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Worthy CPU upgrade for gaming rig?

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January 14, 2013 3:33:08 PM

Hi.

I have the following gaming system:

Asus M3A78-T mainboard (AM2+ socket)
Phenom X3 8750 CPU, stock speed is 2400 MHz, overclocked to 2900 MHz
8 Gb DDR2-800 memory (can't go to 1066 because of mainboard/cpu limitations)
Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 Vapor-X with 2 Gb GDDR5
1280x1024 17 inches monitor

I mainly play FPS games, mostly Battlefield 3 at max settings at 1280x1024 (native monitor resolution).

Usually FPS don't go past 30-35, and sometimes depending on the scene (mostly head to head battle, not using vehicles), it goes under 20fps, making nearly impossible to frag the enemy because of lack of responsiveness (ok, ok, not all due to my rig power, I know :D  ).

I think this graphics card should be capable of rendering this game faster, but it looks like the CPU can't feed the graphics card with enough juice. If I start the task manager en play for 5 minutes, if I look at the task manager's graphics, all the time the three cores 90% or more. I guess that this game is CPU bound, because if I change resolution to 800x600, for example, the fps remain the same.

I wonder if a worthy upgrade that does not hurt my wallet too much would be changing only the CPU by a Phenom II X4 970 or 975 (980 is more expensive and is not supported by this mobo as seen here: http://support.asus.com/cpusupport/list.aspx?SLanguage=...

Or maybe a Phenom II X6?

May this upgrade improve the game experience enough to be worthy until I have enough cash to build a new rig?

By the way, when I build the new rig, the current mainboard, cpu, memory and graphics card will replace my current HTPC (this mobo has HDMI output), which has some trouble playing 1080p videos (It's a monocore pentium IV 3.06 GHz, not even hyperthreaded).

What do you guys recommend? Wait until building new rig or throw out some $100-$120 in a new CPU which I can sell later to get some funds?

Is there a reliable way to determine if this game is cpu or graphics card bound?.

Thanks a lot and don't hesitate to ask anything.

Regards.
a c 143 à CPUs
a b 4 Gaming
January 14, 2013 8:19:23 PM

yes you are cpu bound. BF3 multiplayer is a cpu hog and will use every core you have.

The Phenom 2 would be a nice upgrade and you will be able to play but would like be still cpu bottlenecked some even at that resolution.

The second problem you face is finding one of those processors. They don't make them anymore and they go for more than they're worth when you can find them.

Since you play bf3 online, you might want to see if you can get a thuban core. The 960T has a chance to unlock to a x6 core but the true x6's are nice to play bf3 on.
a c 328 à CPUs
a b 4 Gaming
January 14, 2013 8:36:28 PM

+1^
The Phenom II X4 965BE is still, available at places like Newegg for about $100.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You'll be a bit handicapped with DDR2 RAM, but it will help un-bottle neck the GPU until you can upgrade the whole system. At the lowly resolution of 1280x1024 you should have no problem maxing out graphics. Just be sure your 'lag' is not internet or server lag.
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a b à CPUs
January 14, 2013 9:38:04 PM

The 965 will be a substantial improvement. BF3 likes as many cores as you can throw at it (uses up to 6, iirc). The extra core and the higher clock rate will yield a nice FPS boost.
a b à CPUs
a b 4 Gaming
January 14, 2013 9:55:24 PM

I unlock my 960T and down clock 250 Mhz to play BF3, i see a 15-20 FPS improvement in MP vs. the quad. If you can find a 960T go for it.
a c 175 à CPUs
a b 4 Gaming
January 14, 2013 10:35:46 PM

tiger direct has 95watt 1045t, it may be clocked at 2.7Ghz but if its bf3 fps u want to improve 6 cores is the way to go lol its $110 too

But yes ddr2 may hold u back some.
January 15, 2013 10:19:50 AM

Thanks a lot guys.

So, I suppose I have to go for a X6 1045T. Here, in Spain, I can get one of this processors for 103 euros, and a X4 965 for 96 euros. The price difference is very small. What about the overclockability of this processor (1045T)?. This mainboard seems to overclock very well, by the way. I have a very good cooler installed on my current rig, a Scythe Ninja 2 rev b. With this cooler my idle temps are about 23-24 ºC, and in load only 39-40 ºC, so I think I can reach pretty decent overclock whith the new processor.

What's your opinion?

Will I be able to hit the 3.4 - 3.6 GHz with air cooling?

Thanks again.
January 15, 2013 10:50:10 AM

dont buy anything from amd from the last year they are not worth it check this gaming hierarchy------------- http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-cpu-review-o... the intel core i3 3220 beats all the 6 cores or quad core cpu from amd............select your cpu carefully because bulldozer core is not good enough to even beat the phenom series they are way better then the fx...........if you are tight on budget then go for the i3 3220 its too good i am using it with nvidia gtx 460 and my fps stays at 60 even at highest settings in the benchmark
January 15, 2013 11:40:48 AM

mohit_king said:
dont buy anything from amd from the last year they are not worth it check this gaming hierarchy------------- http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-cpu-review-o... the intel core i3 3220 beats all the 6 cores or quad core cpu from amd............select your cpu carefully because bulldozer core is not good enough to even beat the phenom series they are way better then the fx...........if you are tight on budget then go for the i3 3220 its too good i am using it with nvidia gtx 460 and my fps stays at 60 even at highest settings in the benchmark


Dude, I think you didn't catch the question completely.

I just want to extend the life of my rig at a reasonable price until I can afford a new system, that will probably be Intel based, but not for now. Changing completely the platform means spending more than 400-500 euros, I cannot do this now.....
a b à CPUs
a b 4 Gaming
January 15, 2013 2:44:47 PM

Did you check and see if you could find the 960T ?
1045T is not a "B.E. or black edition" chip meaning it has a locked multiplier and overclocking will definitely be limited
January 15, 2013 3:00:37 PM

Yes, but I can't find it in Spain. Maybe I could try eBay, but I also have to be confident that I will be able to unlock the other 2 cores. Can my mobo unlock them?
January 15, 2013 4:19:59 PM

By the way, the multiplier of the 1045T is locked. I'm not sure if it will be better buying a X4 965 Black Edition than this X6, because its multiplier is unlocked. What is better? Unlocked X4 or locked X6?

a c 328 à CPUs
a b 4 Gaming
January 15, 2013 6:19:58 PM

My vote is to the 965BE. I had mine safely up to 3.7GHZ before I had to switch to an after market cooler. If you have other apps that benefit from more than 4 cores, then go for the X6.
a b à CPUs
a b 4 Gaming
January 15, 2013 7:30:07 PM

Yes the any of the "T" chips will work on your board with a BIOS update. The 960T has about an 80% unlock rate to a perfectly fine X6. The reason for this is many 1090T's were disabled into quad cores in light of the FX series performance issues so AMD would still have a few quad selections under the well known "Phenom II" name and keep revenues up. The 1045T does have a locked multiplier and that will definitely hinder getting a worth while amount of OC out of it. I would rather game on a fast quad than a slow hex, but chances are with the 960T you will get both.
a c 175 à CPUs
a b 4 Gaming
January 15, 2013 7:40:08 PM

the locked x6s with tweaking can reach 4.0ghz, just matters on the chip etc, my locked 1055t reached 3.4 with only fsb and ram change, which is 3.4ghz on cpu and ram down to 1333, but at 3.2 ram stayed at 1600, and for me i didnt need to go farther so i didnt try to, but there are some guides or overclocking locked x6s, its just more difficult when compared to a black edition
a c 143 à CPUs
a b 4 Gaming
January 15, 2013 8:53:27 PM

my 1055t is currently at 3.8ghz and running fine. Its luck of the draw though.
I still recommend the 960T and if you can't unlock it then theres no real loss, you still have a fast quad core.
January 16, 2013 8:09:23 AM

But, just a simple question: at stock speeds, which one runs faster BF3, the X4 965 BE or the X6 1045T?. If we look at Tom's CPU hierarchy chart, the first outperforms the second (one tier up).

Phenom II X4 Black Edition 970, 965, 955
Phenom II X6 1055T, 1045T
a c 328 à CPUs
a b 4 Gaming
January 16, 2013 2:55:26 PM

The hierarchy chart is a good guide to go by for games in general. But each game has its own idiosycracies. In the latest chart just released, they got moved around a bit.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-cpu-review-o...
But I doubt you'd be able to tell the difference with a good card.
!