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Thread: upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

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    upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

    I built the following system in January of this year;

    Antec Sonata III (500W Antec EarthWatts PSU)
    Abit IP-35E
    E2140 (1.6GHz, 1MiB L2, 800MHz FSB, Allendale)
    2GiB Micron DDR2 800MHz
    Gainward 8400GS Bliss (256MiB)

    Up until now this machine has served well as my main Linux desktop, but the other day I decided to put Vista onto a spare disk & have the machine dual boot, with the intention of playing some games. I wasn't expecting much from such a lowly CPU & GPU, but I was pleasantly surprised - I can run Crysis at fully playable framerates at 1024*768 with everything set to 'low'. Still, I'm thinking of upgrading.

    Now I know that most 'modern' games are heavily GPU dependant, but as I have such a lowly CPU would I be wasting money by putting in something like a 9600GSO (aka 8800GS) or a 9600GT? I don't really want to spend a lot of money, because I'm not a big gamer & I can buy an Xbox 360 for under £200 & that would smoke anything I could put in this machine for the same price. But there are more PC games I want to play than 360 games (Crysis, NWN2), so I'm looking at my options.

    I don't particlarily want to overclock the E2140, despite how well they overclock even at stock voltage & with the stock cooler, because I will still be spending most of my time in Linux not playing games, so the extra speed, heat & power consumption (& possible instability) will just be wasted.

    So, options? New GPU? New CPU & GPU? Will more than 2GiB make any difference?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Re: upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

    I think the cpu is more than capable. The problem lies with the graphics card. You could certainly do with an upgrade if you want to play games. You can pick up decent gpu's for under £50 such as the 8600gts or even £65-70 will get you a 3850.

    Just for your info I'm still on single core (an opteron 146 oc'd to 2.8ghz and running a 2900gt oc'd too) Your CPU will smack mine

    As for overclocking the CPU, if you're not upping the volts then there is no extra heat generated (if I'm correct).
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    Salazaar Clone! mediaboy's Avatar
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    Re: upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

    You want to play Crysis... and you want it budget? Or did I misread?

    Anyway, the more RAM the better it gets.... RAM is the cheapest way of upgrading performance, up to a certain level of performance... 2GBs is fine, but if you want more it won't do any harm.

    be aware that 32bit OS only covers up to 4GB RAM though (and that isn't actually covered, it's slightly less, but I can't remember exact limit. 4GB is close enough) but 64Bit will cover up to a lot more than that.


    EDIT: And as for voltage affecting heat, it's pretty true. However, OCing does add in more heat, as the amount of heat created depends on all variables (As far as I know.)

    Certainly increasing Clock Speed increases heat, as does increasing multiplier.. and I don't think there's many other options for OCing a CPU

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    Re: upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

    or even £65-70 will get you a 3850
    Oh forgot to mention, new GPU will have to be nvidia, because ATI's Linux drivers are rubbish.

    You want to play Crysis... and you want it budget? Or did I misread?
    Well, as I said, I can already play Crysis albeit at low resolution & detail. I'm a supporter of the 'gameplay over graphics' thinking, but I wouldn't mind upping the experience a bit I'd like to get at least 1280*1024 with everything set to 'medium'.

    I'm no newcomer to overclocking - back in the day I was getting 1GHz+ overclocks out of Applebred Durons & Mobile Bartons - I just don't want to do it with this machine!

    I'm having a look at these two atm;

    XFX 8600GT 1GiB
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?WebProductId=771584

    XFX 9600GSO 384MiB
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?WebProductId=815996

    How much does the quantity of graphics RAM affect performance? The 8600GT has a helluva lot more, but then obviously it has the lesser performing core. Also, does anybody happen to know how noisy either of these cards are? Ideally I want something that is completely silent in 2D mode...

    One final thing I forgot to note in my OP - I won't be getting any serious gaming done until I move flat at the end of this month - are there any price cuts or new releases scheduled before then?

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    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Re: upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

    For your specificed resolution, you won't need more than 384mb.
    As for quietness, I think they should be fine in 2D mode.
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    Re: upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

    You can get a 9600GT off Ebuyer with their free Supersaver postage for around £75:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/147945

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    Re: upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

    Crysis that's a tough one because people who have spent a £1000 on PC still have problems with that game.

    Ram wont make any difference at all in that game.

    You need a new graphics card but problem is if you go for high one of them you get bottlenecking because of your cpu which you really should overclock if only to 2.0ghz.

    New graphics card
    new heatsink for cpu

  8. #8
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Re: upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

    I run crysis on 1280x1024 with no aa. I have everything on high with only texture, shadows and water on medium. My fps is around 25 whilst in forest areas around 30. Only when there's a few npc on screen it dips to around low 20s. Anything better than a 2900gt (OC'd) then you'll have no problems running Crysis at this res.
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    Re: upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

    Quote Originally Posted by Triplea4UK View Post
    New graphics card
    new heatsink for cpu
    I'm beginning to lean towards this as the best course of action. I've been reading around on the web about other peoples' experiences with overclocking E2140's & there are countless examples of the chip reaching 3GHz with no voltage increase whatsoever. I'll definately wait until the end of the month when I have moved flat though, as I don't even have a desk to work on at the current flat...

    So as not to completely kill the thread at that, I may as well ask a couple more questions now;

    Is the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro still considered the best HSF for the overclocker on a budget? Doesn't seem to be much else at that price point that catches my eye.

    The E2140 has a stock FSB of 200MHz, which means a DDR frequency of 400MHz. I have 800MHz RAM, so does this mean that (in theory) I can overclock the E2140 up to it's FSB wall (reported to usually be in the 380-390MHz range) without even reaching, let alone surpassing, the rated speed of the RAM (with CPU:RAM at 1:1)?

  10. #10
    finding nemo staffsMike's Avatar
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    Re: upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

    Just wait for a scan today only (or request it to be on a today only, themanwhocan@scan.co.uk) for this http://scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?WebProductId=700899

    It will come on for about £17, it gives thermalright extreme levels of cooling, comes with a decent quiet fan and is easily the best cooler for that sort of money.

    I have the freezer and I really don't like it. It's buzzy and loud, cools well enough but the fan has to spin very fast to get decent cooling.

    yep you can overclock it as you suggest, without going over the RAM's rated frequency.

  11. #11
    v3n
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    Re: upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

    I would spend it on the GPU as its far more important for games like Crysis. My CPU is never at 100% when im playing Crysis but the GPU on very high settings is getting killed!

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    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Re: upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

    Quote Originally Posted by v3n View Post
    I would spend it on the GPU as its far more important for games like Crysis. My CPU is never at 100% when im playing Crysis but the GPU on very high settings is getting killed!
    My single core opty is maxed out in Crysis.
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    Palit 8800gt ¦ X-fi Fatal1ty Gamer ¦ Coolermaster Cavalier 3 (Silver/Windowed) ¦

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    Re: upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

    Time to resurrect the thread with 2x more observations;

    1.) Any graphics card I buy is limited in length because of the position of the hard disk cage & 120mm fan. Trawling the web reveals that a reference 8800GT will just fit in with the power cable bending at 90 degrees & resting on the back of the fan. Obviously a card design with the power connector coming out the top of the card would be much better than the end of the card.

    2.) I really want a cooler that exhausts the hot air straight out the back of the case, because airflow through the Sonata III isn't the best. I'm no stranger to installing after-market coolers, but I don't want to void the warranty of a brand new card so I'm looking for one that has such a cooler factory installed.

    Any ideas?

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    Re: upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

    HD4850 is shorter than the 8800GT (shorther than the motherboard which is 9.6") from memory. The 9800GT will be cooler running, dont bother with the 8800 now.

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    Re: upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

    It seems to me that your CPU is good enough for the job. Here are my choices for the CPU cooler and graphic card.

    1) Akasa AK-965 Intel 92mm Heatpipe Cooler (I am currently using it on my system; it is designed for Intel 755 only so it is a very focused product; the benchmarks are very similar to Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro)
    Cost £9.34 inc. VAT in aria https://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Comp...roductId=28241
    Cost £11.74 Inc VAT in Scan http://www.scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?WebProductId=608228

    2) XFX GeForce 8600GTS 256MB (need to point out that this card is using DDR3 RAM @ 2000MHz, GPU is clocked at 675 MHz and 256mb RAM is good enough for most of games at middle settings; the card has an PCI-e 6 pin connector slot for extra power and most of all the card is shorter than 8800GT)
    Cost £46.94 inc. VAT in aria http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Compo...roductId=29713
    Not available in Scan!!
    But Scan has a down grade card - Gainward 8600GT SilentFx 256MB (1400MHz GDDR3 RAM, GPU 540MHz, the card is not as good as the XFX 8600GTS but it has a passive fanless cooling which makes it a quiet card; according to the pic on scan the card doesn't require pci-e 6 pin connector))
    Cost £43.46 Inc VAT in Scan http://www.scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?WebProductId=708663


    Those two would make a dramatic differences to your system, together include VAT and delivery it would cost you £64.23 from aria.co.uk, and £55.22 from Scan if you got the free delivery offer from Hexux (which I think you do). I would say the price are good too. I wish I have been helpful here.

    Cheers
    Last edited by Dano; 17-08-2008 at 07:09 PM.

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    Re: upgrade options - CPU? GPU? Both?

    Quote Originally Posted by staffsMike View Post
    HD4850 is shorter than the 8800GT (shorther than the motherboard which is 9.6") from memory.
    No good for him though as he is going to be dual booting with Linux and apparently the ATI drivers are a bit pooh.
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