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Thread: Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

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    Question Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

    Currently my system consists of an Athlon64 X2 3800+, 2GB of PC3200, Asus... something or other with a dead northbridge fan and an nVidia GeForce 7900GTO.

    I've been waiting what feels like several years now to make a large upgrade jump but in that time I've really not followed hardware as much as I used to so now I need ideas on what is the best price-performance hardware in each category to upgrade to (i.e. the best you can get before you hit that highest tier where the price rockets completely out of line with the performance increase).

    Basically I'm going to need a new Processor, Motherboard, RAM and Graphics Card. Graphics card wise I've been looking at the 8800GT but I've been looking at that for some time so I think that's going to be outdated now. RAM is quite simple as that's a case of getting the cheapest version of the highest speed RAM the motherboard takes (as I don't intend to overclock the RAM and probably not the processor either unless it's one of these fluke batches that seems to clock up massively without any extra requirements).

    So, what is the best priced high(est?) end processor out there at the moment and same question for graphics cards (although I'm leaning to nVidia specific at the moment due to Linux, but AMD/ATi have released specs so they may end up with better drivers in the end... arg.. decisions...).

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    finding nemo staffsMike's Avatar
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    Re: Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

    What sort of budget do you have?

    In terms of graphics since you have a pretty nice card already I would wait a month for the new cards to come out from both ATi and Nvidia.

    Processor wise I would go for the Q6600 at around £130 with a decent cooler £20 -30.

    4GB of PC6400 RAM for around £60, and Abit IP-35 dark raider or PRO if you want to really overclock the chip (£60 - £90)

    So that CPU, motherboard and RAM should be around £300.

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    Re: Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

    Damn, a Q6600 is the best price-performance at the moment in terms of processors? Money is variable really, I was going to save up what I needed to buy what worked out the best deals these days.

    4GB of 6400 for £60? Christ, RAM has come down again I see, it was £90 for 1GB of PC3200 last time I checked (which was ages ago when the prices spiked for some reason).

    To be honest I'm going to stick with the stock cooler on the processor as I don't intend to overclock (makes me paranoid that any crash, ever, is due to any amount of overclocking ).

    EDIT: Currently looking at the Quad Q9450, it's a bit of a price hike but I intend to hold onto it for some time and it's not stupidly more expensive...
    Last edited by Enverex; 20-05-2008 at 04:12 PM.

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    Re: Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

    Well don't get a Q6600 if you're not going to OC then. Pretty much guaranteed OC to 3.0GHz stable, but pay more money instead if you want to. And replace the stock HSF anyway, because it's noisy.

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    Re: Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

    At stock clocks you would be hard pressed to notice a difference between them, I'd save the money and get a Q6600. If you did fancy a bit of overclocking 3.0GHz is very easily to get to with the Q6600

    I's still buy a different cooler for noise purposes, you can get nice quiet ones for abound £15 which still cool the chip a bit better than stock but dont make annoying noises.

    If you want a dual core and were willing to overclock £50 is enough to get a pentium dual core which easily overclock to 2.8- 3.0GHz.

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    Re: Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

    Guys, I said no overclocking, heh.

    Secondly the Q9 series I was looking at has advantages like SSE4.1 which will be nice in the long run (and I think going back to a Pentium Dual Core is just shooting myself in the foot). I was looking up benchmark comparisons of the Q9450 against the Q6600 on apps that will utilise all 4 cores and the Q9450 is considerably faster.

    Shame about the stock-cooler, the one on my Athlon64 is pretty much silent.

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    Re: Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

    Mike pretty much hit the nail on the head. Might be worth waiting til July-ish though. More price drops from Intel and new cards from ATI and Nvidia.

    Pretty much the entire Core 2 line is one of those "fluke batches" BTW. Almost all(right down to the low end) can hit 3ghz on air with no ridiculous voltages.

    Abit IP-35 PRO is a solid board, and I put my money where my mouth is and bought one, not had a chance to play with it yet though .

    If you want to build right now, then follow Mike's advice. Q6600(mild oc to 3.0, really very easy), Nice cooler, 8800GT, 4GB of PC6400 and the Abit mobo.

    If you wanna wait til july, then same everything else, but one of nvidia's new top end cards and then the biggest quad core your budget allows.

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    Re: Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

    Few ppl are saying the new 9600 nvidia cards are damn nice. Cheap and powerfull.

    I think tom's did a review on cpu/gfx power recently on it.

    Basically to get best results from the newer cards from ATI/nVidia you need a 2.6ghz CPU at least apparently.

    Conclusions: Changing the Generation of Graphics Card has More Benefits - Tom's Hardware : GPU vs. CPU Upgrade: Extensive Tests

    One thing that is bugging me is that Tom does push for alot higher screen resolutions. TBH i only use 1280x1024 on desktop and either that or 1024x768 for gaming. Guess i'm now the midrange gamer.

    Anyone want to pass me a lottery win for a god box so i can get Tom's benchies?

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    Re: Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

    The 9600GT is adequate for 1280x1024. TBH I'd say that was low-end now, most people are getting 20" or 22" widescreens - they're cheap enough. For those monitors the 8800GT is a better bet.

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    Re: Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by ***soul-edge*** View Post
    if your not going to overclock.
    stock phenom will destroy a stock Q6600.
    dear oh dear, no it won't

    They will be similar (Q6600 being slightly better as far as I have seen) and the AMD will cost more.

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    Re: Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

    No OC, get one of the new 45nm chips. They don't OC so well, but their base clock speed is good. Pick a pricepoint that suits. Get an X48 DDR2 mobo and 4Gb of 1066 RAM. GSkill is usually the best bang per buck.

    GFX if you want to spend more than an 8800GTS then really you have to get one of the 2xGPU cards to see a noticeable difference.

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    Re: Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by Enverex View Post
    Currently my system consists of an Athlon64 X2 3800+, 2GB of PC3200, Asus... something or other with a dead northbridge fan and an nVidia GeForce 7900GTO.
    Well i'm looking at your system and in truth i see quite a nice system, not cutting edge admittedly but still modern and purposeful.
    It's all going to come down to your objective, Do you want to play games at a higher resolution? Do you want to encode quicker? Do you simply want that feeling of being 'current'? (I hope not, because that last one will keep costing you ).
    If you do upgrade, my advice is to limit your expectations, because you'll be spending relatively large amounts of money for relatively little benefit. I'm generalising slightly here.

    Overall, if it's just about games you'll be better off (financially) just changing your graphics card alone.

    That all said, here are my recommendation at the best price/performance components in the market currently:
    Case: Your call, but something by Antec rocks.
    PSU: Corsair, around the 500W area.
    CPU: Intel quad cores, lower end (the price/performance curve goes nuts here the higher you go)
    RAM: I always buy Corsair, but 4 Gig of DDR2 is an easy recommendation for any OS. (Anyone who mentions DDR3 has forgotten what living on planet earth is like).
    Motherboard: The Intel chipset P35 series has ruled for 6 months already, the P45 will be out soon. Either of those. Abit, ASUS and Gigabyte all make good ones.
    Graphics card: Anything from the £80 Radeon 3850 up to the £170 Geforce 8800GTX all hit their price/performance curve, and anyone who tells you that x is better than y isn't considering the money. X may be 20% better than y, but costs 20% more. Below that is false economy. The other factor is what you are upgrading from, and in truth a 3850 will only be a bit (50%?) better than your current card, whereas a GTX will be what... 300% better? I'm broadly guessing here. Graphics cards devalue quicker than any other component though, so the more you spend the more you lose. And the next series is about 1 month away, so don't rush right yet.

    Hope that helps
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    Re: Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by MSIC View Post
    Well i'm looking at your system and in truth i see quite a nice system, not cutting edge admittedly but still modern and purposeful.
    It's all going to come down to your objective, Do you want to play games at a higher resolution? Do you want to encode quicker? Do you simply want that feeling of being 'current'? (I hope not, because that last one will keep costing you ).
    If you do upgrade, my advice is to limit your expectations, because you'll be spending relatively large amounts of money for relatively little benefit. I'm generalising slightly here.

    Overall, if it's just about games you'll be better off (financially) just changing your graphics card alone.

    That all said, here are my recommendation at the best price/performance components in the market currently:
    Case: Your call, but something by Antec rocks.
    PSU: Corsair, around the 500W area.
    CPU: Intel quad cores, lower end (the price/performance curve goes nuts here the higher you go)
    RAM: I always buy Corsair, but 4 Gig of DDR2 is an easy recommendation for any OS. (Anyone who mentions DDR3 has forgotten what living on planet earth is like).
    Motherboard: The Intel chipset P35 series has ruled for 6 months already, the P45 will be out soon. Either of those. Abit, ASUS and Gigabyte all make good ones.
    Graphics card: Anything from the £80 Radeon 3850 up to the £170 Geforce 8800GTX all hit their price/performance curve, and anyone who tells you that x is better than y isn't considering the money. X may be 20% better than y, but costs 20% more. Below that is false economy. The other factor is what you are upgrading from, and in truth a 3850 will only be a bit (50%?) better than your current card, whereas a GTX will be what... 300% better? I'm broadly guessing here. Graphics cards devalue quicker than any other component though, so the more you spend the more you lose. And the next series is about 1 month away, so don't rush right yet.

    Hope that helps
    I think that's the problem and the reason I've not upgraded yet, although annoyingly it feels like I've been waiting years to upgrade, there just doesn't seem to be a "massive" gap yet to upgrade to (mainly processor wise). But on the other hand, my system must be quite dated because some examples: Crysis, UT3 and ArmA all run quite poorly and need the graphics levels turned down quite a lot to be playable (30/40+ FPS) which is why I've been itching to upgrade, I just don't want to shell out for a whole new system though only to find it's a "little" better rather than a considerably upgrade, which is why I'm edging towards the higher end of the price/performance spectrum, to try and make the whole exercise more worthwhile (without going into the silly priced £400 processor category).

    Regarding your comment about games, that is a weighty factor, but other games such as ArmA are maxing out my processor (or at least one core of it) and then there are things such as compile times when I'm working on programs in Linux which a high speed Quad Core would really squash time wise.

    So if I wait until next month for the next series of cards (will that be the true 9000 for nVidia or have they ballsed up everything now with their fake 9600 card which has confused everyone) are my choices in regards to processors and such likely to have changed at all?

    For the record I only need: Processor, RAM, Motherboard and GFX card. PSU is already strong enough to cope and the case is fine too.

    Thanks for the ideas so far everyone.

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    Re: Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

    I upgraded from a similar Athlon to a Q6600. In a program that uses all 4 cores against the two of my Athlon it is around 5 times as quick. That means ~2.5x per core. There is evidence that CPU will throttle game performance at higher resolutions and/or settings. But any C2D that reaches 3GHz is probably as much as you need for now.

    Worth waiting to see what comes out on the graphics market next month and how that affects prices, but chances are that anything that does markedly better than the 8800GTS will cost a lot of money and may require a faster processor to avoid throttling.

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    Re: Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

    Alot of what we are talking about here is about bottlenecks, and how to avoid them.
    Some games will be CPU bottlenecked, most others graphics.
    Certain applications (including the OS) will be hard drive / access time bottlenecked, etc etc.

    To avoid / minimise bottlenecks, you could do with upgrading the whole system in one go and get the fastest of everything currently available. Unfortunately that's not practical, and certainly not cheap.

    My honest opinion in this situation - get a new graphics card only, but wait for another month to make that decision. Then you will have a stonker to play games with. OK, your CPU may technically still bottleneck some games, but so what - it works, and if you lose 15% or 20%, well there you go but it hasnt cost you an arm and a leg. You can live with it. And waiting times for compiling? That's what god invented the kettle for. And for really long waits? That's what he invented the opposite sex for...

    Upgrade your processor et al when you know that you will honestly benefit, not just because you want to be on the cutting edge. God knows i wrestle with that one on a daily basis, the only reason i havent hardwired my bank account into Scan is because my wife is breathing down my neck...
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    Re: Substancial system upgrade, need suggestions

    Oh I agree. If all you're doing is playing games then upgrade the Video card and see how it goes. I was just pointing out that there is a significant upgrade from the Athlon to a C2D.

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