AM3 CPU Upgrade options - Overclock / Replace?

I've been thinking of upgrading my rig for a while, but have a bit of a conundrum. I'm trying to stick to a budget ~£250 and have decided that my best bet would be to upgrade my cpu and gpu. Regarding my gpu, I'm taking a wait and see approach for the ATI 8000 / Nvidia 700 series, since my HD 5850 still packs a nice punch. I might pick up a HD 7950 / HD 7970 if the price drops. This leaves my CPU.

Since I am stuck with the AM3 socket, I was wondering what my options are. Prices seem to have stayed pretty high for the faster AM3 cpus - realistically I think the best I can afford is the 965 BE @ 3.4Ghz and still leave money for the GPU. The 970,975 and 980 seem unusually rare in stores. I briefly considered X6, but came to the conclusion that too few games / apps would utilize the extra 2 cores to justify the purchase. My question is whether I might be better off sticking with my 955 BE, sticking a custom cooler on it and overclocking. Though I am no stranger to building computers, I'm relatively new to the whole overclocking malarkey. The 955 specs are very similar to the 965, would the overclocking potential be the same? A couple of recent tests confirmed that I can't safely push my cpu past the default 3.2Ghz clocks without temperature issues when using the standard cooler. Any cooler / thermal paste recommendations would be appreciated.

I primarily use my computer for gaming, but I am also involved in modding so having a decent CPU is handy for baking all those textures :-).

Motherboard: ASUS M4A79
CPU: AMD 955 BE @3.2 GHZ, stock cooler
GPU: Saphire 5850
RAM: 4GB DDR3 GSkill@ 1066hz
Power supply: OCZ @ 600w
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  1. An overclock would hold u over until a major upgrade to lets say lga 1150 hasewell or am3+ steamroller. i saw an increase in bf3 with my 5850 toxic when going from 3.2 to 3.7ghz. To overclock get a aftermarket cooler, i recommended the cooler master hyper evo 212 in push/pull or a xigmatek dark knight II in push pull as it'll cool similar to a $100 H100
  2. Personally, I don't really see much point in upgrading from a 955BE to 965BE and the faster clocked X4's as they are rare and much more expensive. So I'd get a good aftermarket cooler and it should be easier to overclock on a BE. As for the GPU, a 5850 is still highly capable but the new GPU series may not release until Q3 or after from what I know.
  3. Theres no point in going for a 965... just go into the bios and up the multiplier up 2 points. Poof now you got a 965. They even use the same stock cooler so you are perfectly safe doing this provided your thermal paste is still in good condition.

    new gen GPU's wont be out until 2014. Nvidia posted their roadmap today and AMD had a newsbrief on it last week or the week before.
  4. "just go into the bios and up the multiplier up 2 points. Poof now you got a 965"

    I suspected as much.... but I wanted confirmation from someone with experience in overclocking.

    "new gen GPU's wont be out until 2014."

    That is annoying, I'm guessing price cuts will also be a long way off. The ATI 7900 series would be a nice boost over what I have now, but the prices are still a little high in my opinion.

    Time to get hunting for aftermarket coolers. One potential issue.... I have a pretty large ATX Thermaltake Tower case but my power supply also happens to have a very short cable. The result is that my power cable might end up touching any particularly large CPU coolers (At the moment I have it cable tied just shy of the stock cooler, which I assume is going to be much more shallow than any aftermarket products).(Has a vision of the fan eating the power cord / power cord melting).
  5. You should be able to find a reasonably sized replacement for your stock the fans for most of the better cooling systems are encased well enough you shouldn't have an issue. Though to be safe, you could upgrade your PSU and find one that would better suit your case configuration since you won't be upgrading anything for a while.
  6. Just grab a 24pin extension or maybe its the 8pin cpu wire... still they make an extension for that too.
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