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Thread: Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

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    Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

    Hey Guys

    I'm looking to upgrade my old PC (athlon x2, 1gb ddr ram...) to turn it into something that'll run games and cubase a bit more efficiently. Currently it's got a fairly ok Graphics card (8800GT) and the hard drives and stuff are all fine, as is the PSU (Xclio 650w). But I'm gonna need to gut it and replace the processor/ram/motherboard. My budget is around £200, and I've had a good look on scan.co.uk to build what I can; this is what I've come up with:

    [unfortunately I can't post links...]

    LN34297 MSI G41M-E43 Intel G41 775 Motherboard £42.49
    LN27181 Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400 2.66ghz £118.74
    LN27738 Corsair Memory XMS3 Classic 4GB DDR3 1333 Mhz £38.54

    That comes to £210 - within acceptable range of my budget. I also was thinking whether it'd be worth going for this pre-overclocked bundle from scan:

    "SMART Core i3 BUNDLE - Overclocked at 4.2 Ghz"
    Intel Core i3 540 - Dual Core CPU (Overclocked to 4.2ghz)
    4Gb Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600Mhz
    ASUS P7H55-M
    Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro

    Priced at £240.

    The main key decision I'm having a hard time making is which would be better; quad core q8400 @ 2.66ghz or the dual core i3 @ 4.2ghz. I've heard that dd3 1066 vs dd3 1600 makes no practical difference, and the features of the motherboards don't really make a difference to me (I'm planning on buying a monster machine in ~6 months time with all the shinies - this is just a stop gap so I can run Rift: Planes of Telara when it comes out!).

    What do you guys think? slower, older quad core, or faster, newer dual core?

    Or maybe you can think of a much better build for £200? That'd be fantastic!

    Thanks for your time and help!

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    Re: Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

    If you're planning a major upgrade in 6 months, I'd be tempted to buy something that you can carry over rather than making a stop gap. Can you not overclock the nuts off the X2 and invest in better cooling rather than getting all new components. The most appreciable upgrade you'll notice is going to be your graphics card. The X2 is still a worthy performer. I'd be tempted to spend the £200 on cooling or a better GFX card instead of a temporary motherboard.

    Failing that, the i3 bundle will out perform the Q8400 platform quite significantly in the gaming arena. Not sure on cubase as I dont use it..
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    Re: Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

    Save the pennies and buy a second hand 5850 or 460 1 gig (£100 ish), either of those will make a significant difference and as said overclock the x2 for a free speed increase.

    If you have to:

    Asus M4A88T-M AMD 880G AM3 Motherboard £65
    AMD CPU Phenom II 955 Black Edition Quad Core Processor £102:66
    Corsair Memory 4GB DDR3 1333 Mhz £35

    Stick with the stock cooler a its quite good for a freebie and overclock to 3.6-3.8 gig for a total of £202:66. The true quad might be better for Cubase depending upon how well threadded the program is.

    Better cooler :
    Coolermaster Hyper TX3 CPU Cooler £11.27

    Alternatively you could get :
    AMD Athlon II X3 450, Rana, Triple Core, S AM3, 3.2GHz £60
    Corsair Memory XMS3 Classic 4GB DDR3 1600 MHz £40

    Run the memory at 1333 instead of 1600 and overclock the HT bus (lower the HT multiplier to *4) to make the chip faster and the ram will keep up no problem. £165 + cooler (stock one is rubbish).
    Last edited by dfour; 17-02-2011 at 10:31 AM. Reason: More ideas

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    Re: Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

    +1 to Athlon II X3 450 (£60) or Athlon II X4 645 (£80). 4GB of DDR3 RAM is very cheap now (£40). Since you have a discreet graphics card already and this is a "stop-gap" build save money on the mobo by going for a 7-series chipset: if you have an ATX case I'd recommend a Gigabyte GA770TD3L for a shade over £50, if you need mATX go for the ASUS M4A78LT-M at a shade under £50. That's £150 - £170 depending on which processor you plump for. Both will be a huge improvement over a socket 939 Athlon X2. For a stop-gap I wouldn't worry too much about overclocking, just leave everything at stock and the included cooler will be fine.

    Which reminds me: which Athlon is it? There are still a few socket 939 enthusiasts out there, and you might be able to make a bit of ready cash off ebay / gumtree selling your old mobo / cpu / ram...


    EDIT: checking the tech specs for Rift: suggest that the Athlon X2 / 1GB DDR set up will struggle brutally as minimum reqs are 2GHz dual + 2GB. Recommended is 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo (which, performancewise, is faster than the fastest Athlon X2 for s939) + 4GB + GTS250. On that basis an Athlon II X3 + 4GB + 8800GT will be able to play the game with most, but not all, of the eye-candy turned on (the 8800GT is a little slower than a GTS250, but not much), and will save you £50 off your intended budget which can go towards the complete new system when you get round to it...
    Last edited by scaryjim; 17-02-2011 at 11:09 AM.

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    Re: Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

    If you did go for the i3 system I would just buy the components seperately, I managed to get the same spec bundle, with a different selection of ram put together for £211.95, admitedly not an overclocked bundle but I doubt you wouldn't be able to get it to the same overclock.

    LN28632 - Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro v2
    LN30140 - Intel Core i3 540
    LN37493 - 4GB (2x2GB) Corsair XMS3 Classic DDR3
    LN32775 but from the today only section - Asus P7H55-M

    Drop another couple of quid off by going for the cheapest Gigbyte board that scan sell

    But if you're going to be dropping a large amount in 6 months, I'd personally just wait, save the extra money and splash the cash all in one hit.

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    Re: Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

    What processor and motherboard does the OP have??


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    Re: Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

    I posted this in a bunch of communities and you guys seem to be the ones that really know your stuff.

    More details about my current spec:

    Athlon x2 4800+, 939 I think? And the mobo is Asus A8N-SLI Premium. Back when I got this PC that was the best stuff around...

    I too have been looking at those Phenoms now, and that exact Asus motherboard that was suggested... this is what I have so far:

    LN34240 AMD CPU Phenom II 955 Black Edition £102.66
    LN35906 Asus M4A78LT-M AMD 760G AM3 Motherboard £47.71
    LN27738 Corsair Memory XMS3 Classic 4GB DDR3 1333 Mhz £38.54

    TOTAL £188.91

    That's well within budget and from the looks of it a pretty sweet processor for the price... lot better than my original consideration. In fact, I could reasonably squeeze that cooler into the deal, OC a bit and still be on budget - would you guys recommend that?

    And yeah - Rift laughs at my pathetic machine. I've been borrowing my sister's PC to play it because I get like 8fps on mine =/ I've read that the 8800GT isn't a bad card even by today's standards, so that's why I targeted the CPU/RAM/Mobo upgrade.

    I definitely want to upgrade to a 'stop gap' - I don't have a reliable income (indie game developer...) so I don't know whether I'm gonna be able to afford to get my dream machine any time soon, so waiting and putting the money towards it isn't really an option... especially as I want to play some Rift on launch

    Thanks again for your excellent advice everyone, you all kick ass!

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    Re: Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

    The socket 939 X2 4800+ fetches a decent price on Ebay AFAIK.

    BTW,AMD Bulldozer is being released in Q2 2011 and the current AM3 motherboards seem like they won't be compatible. However,the AM3 CPUs will be work in the AM3+ motherboards being released for Bulldozer. Bulldozer is the first new AMD high end architecture since the Athlon 64.

    Can your case accept a full ATX motherboard??


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    Re: Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

    I haven't any specific suggestions of components, but I would recommend going the AMD route as well. If you're planning on upgrading in 6 months' time you should then be able to buy a tasty Phenom II X6, or even hang on for Bulldozer if AMD have managed to get it released by then (but don't count on it). That would make a lot of sense money-wise.

    EDIT: Posted at same time as Cat. Bulldozer might not be such a hot option then; however, I would think it possible that the Bulldozer release might push AM3 prices down. Just conjecture, of course.

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    Re: Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

    I personally wouldn't put a PII 955BE in that motherboard. Most budget mATX motherboards will use lower spec power regulation circuits, and a power hungry CPU like the Phenom II will be running it to the limit of its tolerance. Dont' forget this a, by your own admission, a "stop-gap" rig: why spend £50 more than you need for a rig you only intend to keep for a few months?

    The Athlon II X4 will give you almost as much performance but uses less power and would save you £20. An Athlon II X3 if unlikely to lose you much performance in games, particularly games that recommend a dual core CPU (this suggests that then game is unlikely to be written to take advantage of more than 2 cores).

    The 8800GT is firmly mid-range by today's standards, but it certainly isn't bad. It'd lag a little way behind a GTS450 / HD5750 in terms of current generation cards, but be ahead of the HD5670 (nvidia don't really have a current-gen gaming card worth mentioning next to the 5670 ). A lot will depend on what resolution you want to play at.

    Your old rig is definitely worth touting round ebay etc. - as you say it was absoultely top notch in its day. If it wasn't a DDR rig I'd be advising you to keep it, but to buy another 1GB of RAM for it would cost almost as much as 4GB of DDR3! However the X2 4800+ was pretty much the top end fo s939 CPUs, so someone with a s939 looking for an uipgrade would be very interested in it.

    One last though: what are you going to do about OS? If you're on 32bit XP you'll not get best use from the 4GB of RAM: it might be worth looking at buying a retail copy of Windows 7 X64 as you'll be able to move that to your new computer when you get it. Also remember that if your old copy of XP was OEM you might have difficulties reinstalling on the new PC.

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    Re: Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

    Thanks for the fast responses guys.

    If I can whack the X2 on ebay I'd be happy to get a bit of a pricier motherboard to accomodate the phenom II - my case can house a full ATX board (as that's why my current a8n-sli is), though I thought I might be better going for mATX from a space/heat perspective cause it's a mini tower case so it's a bit claustrophobic with a full board in there. I'm probably wrong - I know nothing about form factors really, just the very basics...

    I did consider the athlon X3 on recommendation of a friend - it's a very interesting prospect but a big part of what I do is music in cubase (I vaguely mentioned it in the OP though I didn't put much emphasis on it... sorry about that), and cubase likes the extra cores. Also Rift was optimised for 4 cores after publication of its minimum requirements - there's been a big discussion about it on the Rift forums... games are using that extra core more and more these days and I wouldn't want to end up with a low cashflow and locked 'behind the curve' - if it makes sense, I'd rather spend a little extra and go for the Phenom and a slightly better motherboard, especially if I can sell my X2 on ebay.

    I already have 64 bit Windows 7. Luckily I was a student not so long ago, so I got a free purpetual license through MSDN AA

    Any recommendations on a more suitable mobo? Reckon the Gigabyte GA770TD3L would be better suited for the Phenom II?

    Thanks again!

    EDIT: After a quick look, you're dead right. The Asus M4A78LT-M only supplies 95w of power, not enough to even run the Phenom II... I used to be good at this stuff - you just helped me dodge a bullet there. Eternally grateful x_x;;
    Last edited by Ultima2876; 17-02-2011 at 05:13 PM.

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    Re: Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

    Essentially you're looking for as many power phases as you can find. The Gigabyte looks like a 4 or 5 phase design to me. If you don't mind spending a little more how about this ASUS NForce 750a mobo for £73? 8+1 phase power circuitry should easily handle the 955BE + an overclock.

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    Re: Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

    Right you are, the Gigabyte and it's slightly bigger brother (GA-MA770T-UD3) are 4+1 phase designs... I'm gonna have to read about power phases and such to get an understanding of what it means, I hadn't even heard of it until now.

    Do you think 4+1 would be adequate? How much would you recommend going £15 over and getting the nForce mobo? I suppose for £15 I can't really bicker and complain too much, especially if it's in pursuit of a more stable and solid system.

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    Re: Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

    The 750 based motherboard looks really good for the price!

    If you want to have the option of Crossfire instead of SLI I would look at this motherboard:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/asus-...sata-3gb-s-atx

    If you don't want a dual card setup then these motherboards also have split 8 phase VRMs but have USB3.0 and SATA3.0:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/asus-...-sata-raid-atx

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/gigab...-sata-raid-atx

    This motherboard has a 5 phase VRM and supports 140W TDP processors:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/255179

    It also has SATA3.0 and costs around £67.


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    Re: Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

    I'd be a little uncomfortable about putting a CPU with a TDP of more than 95W on a 4+1 phase power design. Theoretically there's no reason why a well engineered version wouldn't handle a 125W TDP CPU, but you do hear horror stories of boards going pop despite being rated to cope with the more powerful CPUs.

    Basically the motherboard has built in power regulators that help feed stable power to the CPU at an appropriate voltage. The more phases in the power regulation, the less power each phase is trying to handle individiually, so the lower the overall electrical strain and the longer the motherboard would last.

    If you were going for the Athlon IIs, I'd be more than happy with the 4+1 design as they have a TDP of 95W (and while TDP isn't the same as power draw, it's a good indicator). The Phenom II quads, however, have 125W TDPs, which is a pretty significant step up. So if you're set on the Phenom II X4 955BE, I'd definitely pay the extra for the 8+1 phase power design on the NForce 750 ASUS mobo: it's a small price to pay for peace of mind

    EDIT: Picking up pon what CAT said: I'd assume that with an 8800GT already you're not likely to go Crossfire in the near future , but the Biostar in his last link look slike a decent board for the money and has a 5+2 (CPU+Memory) design. At that point I think it's down to a personal preference...
    Last edited by scaryjim; 17-02-2011 at 06:02 PM.

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      • Not in any order
      • Graphics card(s):
      • EVEN BIGGER E-PEEN
      • PSU:
      • OVERSIZED
      • Case:
      • UNDERSIZED
      • Operating System:
      • DOS 6.22
      • Monitor(s):
      • NOT USUALLY ON....WHEN I POST
      • Internet:
      • FUNCTIONAL

    Re: Big upgrade - old quad core or new dual core?

    Out of the interest has the OP considered the Phenom II X4 840?? This is basically a rebadged Athlon II X4 650 and is around £79:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/amd-p...mhz-95w-retail

    The Phenom II X4 955BE has L3 cache though and an unlocked multiplier but the Phenom II X4 840 has a 95W TDP. The Phenom II X4 840 has around the same performance in games as a Q9400.


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

  22. Received thanks from:

    Ultima2876 (18-02-2011)

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