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Core 2 Duo to Core 2 Quad upgrade - advice needed!

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January 26, 2013 4:28:09 AM

Hello all. This is my first post in the forums at tom's hardware. In the grand scheme of things, although I do know my way around the inside of computers, I am still a noob. There is so much out there I still don't know.

A while ago, I was given a free computer - a HP Compaq DC-5800 Microtower. It came stock with:

-3.00ghz Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 45nm "Wolfdale" CPU (6mb L2)
-2x 1gb DDR2-800 ram
-160gb Seagate Barracuda HDD
-300w power supply
-Windows XP Professional SP3

I have since upgraded it with:

-4x 1gb OCZ DDR2-800 ram
-2x 250gb Seagate Barracuda HDDs with jumpers removed
-550w Antec PowerTrio PSU
-EVGA Nvidia Geforce GTS 250 Superclocked (512mb GDDR3 VRAM)
-Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit.

Through being resourceful and having some generous friends I managed to get away with paying only $50 for the graphics card and nothing for the rest of it.

So, it's a competent machine. It's a decent bit better than the Mac Mini (early 2009) that I have been using so far and I have already enjoyed the luxury of running some older games like Just Cause 2 and Fallout: New Vegas at impressive settings. I want to use this computer to familiarize myself with the hardware and software (specifically windows) of modern day PC's (having been a mac guy all of my life). I own a Xbox 360 and have been using that for the past 4 years but I think it's time to reach for a better, more expandable platform that can suit my increasing needs as an above average computer user.

Getting to the point: I recently started doing some research into upgrading my processor, reason being that should this machine have a quad core it would be capable of running some of the newer games at decent settings with decent FPS (similar to that of a console). I want to make this computer competent enough to last me for the next year or so before I can build a top of the line DDR4 based gaming PC. According to my research into the matter of processor upgrades, my motherboard (HP 2820h) can support an Intel Core 2 Quad 9600. This is a decent processor and I can certainly afford to spend the $200 it will cost to buy it new considering how much I have already saved on the computer itself.

I already know the whole deal with Arctic Silver thermal paste and socket types (mine being the LGA 755) but I have heard that there are some uncertainties with regards to installing a new processor (worst case being a bricked machine). Another concern I have is about the HP BIOS. it is incredibly restricted (basically only a "setup" menu with none of the advanced options for hardware monitoring that are present within a normal bios). I know I'm missing out on a lot of things, so I wanted to ask the community out there wether this processor swap would be a good idea that is worth the money.

If there are any further questions as to information that may have not been that specific, I will try my best to provide it to you.

Thanks,
Lobsterbox
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
January 26, 2013 7:49:03 AM

1. Where are you sourcing your quad?
2. Isn't your Core fast enough already?
3. Did you check the HP website?

I would do a little research or not do it at all. With the LGA 775 (not 755) there are different cores (Conroe, Cedar Mill, Smithfield and more) and different things, it sold for a long time and there are different support (e.g some support DDR2 but others DDR3).
a b à CPUs
January 26, 2013 7:58:09 AM

i suggest you dont upgrade from core 2 duo to core 2 quad. the upgrade is most likely not worth it and you will not see any major improvement in performance in games.
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January 26, 2013 9:07:46 AM

Core 2 duo E 8400 is a decent overclock able processor. What you have to do is just buy a water cooled CPU cooler.
My point is instead of buying a Core 2 quad buy a CPU cooler and just overclock it aggressively. I bet it will surely cross the line what you you expect from a Core 2 quad.

February 3, 2013 8:00:51 PM

sanilmahambre said:
Core 2 duo E 8400 is a decent overclock able processor. What you have to do is just buy a water cooled CPU cooler.
My point is instead of buying a Core 2 quad buy a CPU cooler and just overclock it aggressively. I bet it will surely cross the line what you you expect from a Core 2 quad.


First of all, the motherboard in that HP will not allow him to overclock. OEM machines lock down the BIOS to prevent such tweaking. Secondly, a C2Q WILL benefit him in modern games, as more and more titles are multi-threaded these days. OP, don't listen to anyone who tells you a C2Q isn't a worthwhile upgrade to your PC. They are still relevant and surprisingly potent, even so many years after they were introduced. You will need to make sure that your PSU can support the juice a quad will pull, but if it will, $200 for a 775 quad makes more sense than tossing everything for a new i5 or i7 build, unless you have plenty of ready cash.
February 3, 2013 10:17:53 PM

Lamiel, you are quite right. I cannot overclock the computer no thanks to HP's BIOS. In addition, I will not have the large sum of money needed for a top of the line PC build for at least another year so (nor would I want to spend that money now for a PC that will be as outdated as lead goblets with the release of next-gen tech in a year or so) I want to make this computer of mine last as long as possible.

Since I got this computer for free and only ever had to toss $50 for the graphics card, spending $200 on top of that will mean a powerful enough rig to last me up until that time. I know of very few newer games that do not use multiple threads. Based on some rough calculations, the addition of a quad will mean that my power supply will be under 87% load. That sounds like it's pushing it, but since my PSU has full protection circuitry It's worth a try.
a c 105 à CPUs
February 3, 2013 10:52:36 PM

budget for cpu?

February 27, 2013 4:10:20 PM

Well, I lucked out. I got a core2quad Q8300 for free that is (according to findlaptopdrivers.com) supported by my HP 2820h motherboard. The Q8300 is 2.5ghz with a 4mb L2 vs my existing E8400 with a 3.0ghz with a 6mb L2. As stated before, overclocking is not an option. Since there is no longer any large sum of money at stake, it all comes down to wether or not the extra cores will outweigh the disadvantages that a smaller L2 and a slower clock speed will present (especially considering the PC is mostly used for gaming. According to passmark, the E8400 benches at 2,050. The Q8300 benches at 3,172. Let me know what you guys think.

Thanks,
Lobsterbox.
February 27, 2013 5:49:58 PM

At 2.5Ghz, the quad will only have an advantage in those titles that make good use of more than two cores. Battlefield 3 is a good example of a game where you could see increased performance. In other games, where one or two cores are used, you'll take a performance hit. The good news is that the older games which use fewer cores are less likely to need a high clock speed in the first place, so the hit may not even be very noticeable. In newer games, and in most general purpose computing, I'd choose a 2.5 quad over a 3.0 dual every time. Also, it will be a great way to dip your toes in the waters of PC tinkering.
August 23, 2013 5:23:33 PM

Lobsterbox said:
Hello all. This is my first post in the forums at tom's hardware. In the grand scheme of things, although I do know my way around the inside of computers, I am still a noob. There is so much out there I still don't know.

A while ago, I was given a free computer - a HP Compaq DC-5800 Microtower. It came stock with:

-3.00ghz Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 45nm "Wolfdale" CPU (6mb L2)
-2x 1gb DDR2-800 ram
-160gb Seagate Barracuda HDD
-300w power supply
-Windows XP Professional SP3

I have since upgraded it with:

-4x 1gb OCZ DDR2-800 ram
-2x 250gb Seagate Barracuda HDDs with jumpers removed
-550w Antec PowerTrio PSU
-EVGA Nvidia Geforce GTS 250 Superclocked (512mb GDDR3 VRAM)
-Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit.

Through being resourceful and having some generous friends I managed to get away with paying only $50 for the graphics card and nothing for the rest of it.

So, it's a competent machine. It's a decent bit better than the Mac Mini (early 2009) that I have been using so far and I have already enjoyed the luxury of running some older games like Just Cause 2 and Fallout: New Vegas at impressive settings. I want to use this computer to familiarize myself with the hardware and software (specifically windows) of modern day PC's (having been a mac guy all of my life). I own a Xbox 360 and have been using that for the past 4 years but I think it's time to reach for a better, more expandable platform that can suit my increasing needs as an above average computer user.

Getting to the point: I recently started doing some research into upgrading my processor, reason being that should this machine have a quad core it would be capable of running some of the newer games at decent settings with decent FPS (similar to that of a console). I want to make this computer competent enough to last me for the next year or so before I can build a top of the line DDR4 based gaming PC. According to my research into the matter of processor upgrades, my motherboard (HP 2820h) can support an Intel Core 2 Quad 9600. This is a decent processor and I can certainly afford to spend the $200 it will cost to buy it new considering how much I have already saved on the computer itself.

I already know the whole deal with Arctic Silver thermal paste and socket types (mine being the LGA 755) but I have heard that there are some uncertainties with regards to installing a new processor (worst case being a bricked machine). Another concern I have is about the HP BIOS. it is incredibly restricted (basically only a "setup" menu with none of the advanced options for hardware monitoring that are present within a normal bios). I know I'm missing out on a lot of things, so I wanted to ask the community out there wether this processor swap would be a good idea that is worth the money.

If there are any further questions as to information that may have not been that specific, I will try my best to provide it to you.

Thanks,
Lobsterbox


Dear Lobsterbox,
If you would like a higher FPS, better gameplay, and higher graphic quiality I recommend that you don't spend $200 on a new processor, but rather spend that $200 on a higher performance grphics card. The GTS250 you have is a decent card, but if you aim to play games like Just Cause 2 at higher graphics, I recommend a newer card, like a Nvidia GTX650. The GTX650 is within your $200 budget and will give you a great increase in gaming performance. But, if your looking for more simple task perfomance, like facebooking, internet browsing, and word editing, you should look more into the better quad processor. Dual core is aging, but it will still do the job if your main purpose is for gaming. For example, I currently use a HP a6157c from 2007 with a Core 2 Duo e6700 @ 2.66ghz, but it can still play high end games at high fps, because I have a nvidia GTX550 that does the job nicely!
Sincerely, me
August 31, 2013 11:11:18 PM

Hey man...

I am sort of in this same boat as you. Thinking of upgrading to a Yorkfield processor (one of the intel quads Q9xxx series). I have intermediate experience when it comes to PCs...I have built a couple and try to keep up on the detailed specs of all new various components (though I'm no professional).

I have a an HP pavillion 6814y desktop from 2009...

Stock specs:
"Benicia" Motherboard....HPs name for the ASUS IPIBL-LB mobo
Intel core 2 duo 2.8Ghz E7400 Wolfdale processor (TDP at 65w)
6GB memory
500 GB 7200rpm HDD
24" HP full HD monitor

Upgraded specs:
Went from Vista basic to Windows 7 ultimate (loved that change)
But the real change....came when I upgraded to an EVGA card (using nvidia's GTX 550ti) 2GB GDDR5
BUT, because of that I also had to upgrade my PS...went with a thermaltake 430W from the stock 300W.

Im not much a huge gamer...The games I play are Starcraft II, Diablo 3, and Star Wars Old Republic which I only really play occasionally (Ah the joys of being an adult and working your life away,lol) So my requirements will vary considerably from "hardcore gamers"...

Funny thing is though...I ended up putting down a bunch of a cash for an Alienware M14x back in 2011...Lol. Now THAT is one amazing piece of hardware. However whats even more funny is that I can run those particular games on very high graphic settings on my desktop. The one game I did play exclusively on my Alienware was Skyrim though.

As for future upgrades, Im thinking about buying a small size SDD (120 GB) and see if I can improve my boot speeds (and thus ensure I will have a hard drive that wont fail anytime soon). The only problem is the max my board will support is SATA II...but then again I like to play around with things so hopefully theres modest improvement in disk transfer rates. Picked one on ebay for about 70 bucks (new). We will see if the upgrade is worth it.

In hindsight I probably should have put down that money for a gaming desktop, but honestly it comes down to what types of games and applications your computer will using. But I knew what I had would be good enough for many more years to come as my requirements aren't that demanding (I dont do graphic rendering or video editing, etc). Plus It is nice to have a beast of a laptop that I can take anywhere.

In short, you will get better bang for your buck if you upgrade to 200$ video card just like the previous post said. But beware, that its a bit cramped in those cases...I had to remove my sound card and TV tuner...
!