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Upgrade CPU vs Upgrade RAM


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#1 christnp

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Posted 26 December 2009 - 12:43 PM

{This upgrade is for my HTPC}

Current Set-up:

BIOSTAR A760G M2+
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600 2.9GHz
2x2GB OCZ DDR2 SDRAM
Hauppauge HVR-1250

Upgrade in Progress:
Galaxy GeForce 9600 GT Low Profile Video Card - 512MB DDR3


So, as you can see, my question is -- would upgrading my CPU from a dual-core to a quad-core show more system improvement that upgrading my memory from 4GB to, say, 6GB or 8GB (max)? This is for a gaming/media PC, so keep that in mind. (Also keep in mind that, according to BIOSTAR, I cannot have a CPU that requires more than 95W... which limits me to this one.)

In general, is upgrading your CPU more effective than upgraading your RAM?

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#2 cobija

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Posted 26 December 2009 - 06:14 PM

I recommend getting a better cpu, because you already have 4GB of ram, and that is fine. So get a quad core is what I would say, because youll get more performance rather than getting 2 more GB of ram.

#3 Sneakycyber

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Posted 26 December 2009 - 06:26 PM

It would depend on the reason for the upgrade. Bragging rights? Processing speed? Multitasking? You already have 4 gigs of memory so a processor upgrade could help. However upgrading from a dual core CPU to a quad or triple core processor is NOT going to increase your processing power UNLESS the game or application you are using will utilize all of the processor cores. If you upgrade to a quad core processor with a Core clock speed lower then your current of 2.95 you may even see a decrease in performance. This is one of the reasons for the major redesign by Intel for the new Core I7 series of processors if an application only uses one or two of the available cores it turns the others off and boost the clock speed of the cores in use. Lastly if your reason for upgrading is for Gaming I would recommend and high quality video card or possibly a newer motherboard that will allow overclocking and SLI or crossfire setup.

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#4 christnp

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Posted 26 December 2009 - 08:51 PM

Thanks for your replies, I especially appreciate the comment on quad-core versus dual-core and how I could potentially see a performance decrease if the game/app does not (or will not) take advantage of the extra 2 cores -- I never really thought about that, but it does make sense.

I am upgrading the video card (currently just using on-board HD from the MB) to the one that I listed above (not the BEST OF THE BEST, but pretty close to the best, if not the best, low-profile card) -- this will definitely help my performance for gaming.

So to answer your question: yes, this upgrade is mainly so that I can play GTA IV (and any newer games) without to many hiccups (while also making the best choice to improve overall performance as I am limited on how much I can spend). (I also got a 27" HD LG monitor of Christmas :thumbsup:, so I want my game quality to be as nice as possible.) On my Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, Nvidia Geforce 8600 laptop the game barely plays (which was surprising to me), but now that I mention that... I may not even have the GeForce 8600 driver installed -- huh. (Recent install of Windows 7 :huh: .)

At any rate, do you have any idea how I can tell whether or not a game will use all 4 cores? Or even 2 cores for that matter?

Oh, I mentioned that I was limited to one quad-core... it turns out that my MB supports AM3 cpus (which I didn't know). So I could also get this one.

#5 christnp

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 11:05 AM

Any advice?

#6 Wee

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 12:46 PM

Dude......with the GPU you are getting and IF you can really upgrade to that CPU...it would be like a whole new machine. If you have the cash I say Heck Yea !! Now as far as the number of cores a game will use....got me. Anyways happy building.

PS....I am currently using the same CPU on my rig ( new build coming soon) have it oc'd to 3.2, 2 gigs of ddr2800, and also a 9600GT and it plays everything I throw at it just fine.......

Edited by Wee, 28 December 2009 - 12:55 PM.


#7 ReviverSoft

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 03:20 PM

Yeah, the AMD Phenom II X4 945 Deneb is the best processor you can get for your motherboard but whether or not you need it, depends on your usage & requirements.
Also, the 9600GT is the second best "low-profile" option in this price range and Sparkle cards are quite good.

So with the add-on PCI-E card, you don't really need more than 4GB of RAM for this setup.
You could however, overclock your RAM sticks to run at 1066Mhz.

Edited by ReviverSoft, 28 December 2009 - 03:39 PM.

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#8 christnp

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 07:25 PM

Dude......with the GPU you are getting and IF you can really upgrade to that CPU...it would be like a whole new machine. If you have the cash I say Heck Yea !! Now as far as the number of cores a game will use....got me. Anyways happy building.

PS....I am currently using the same CPU on my rig ( new build coming soon) have it oc'd to 3.2, 2 gigs of ddr2800, and also a 9600GT and it plays everything I throw at it just fine.......



Good to Know! Thanks for the advice and I will look into overclocking the cpu if (for some reason) I can't get a game working that I'd like to play (e.g. GTA 4).

You could however, overclock your RAM sticks to run at 1066Mhz.


Interesting... I wasn't aware that you could over clock RAM. I'll look into that as well.

#9 christnp

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 10:20 AM

So yeah, I put in my new Galaxy GeForce 9600 GT Low Profile 512MB DDR3 video card and it runs GTA IV pretty well on High settings. It does, however, still have some very slight lagging when, for instance, you are driving fast through heavy traffic. I'm satisfied! I'm also thinking that I am going to save up some money to buy a new mobo and cpu setup when I get a chance... the current setup I have will randomly freeze up on applications such as Hulu desktop and Windows Media Center (sometimes even when I just leave my computer running for awhile).

At any rate, thanks for all the input.

#10 ReviverSoft

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 04:11 PM

Glad I could help.

A new CPU would definitely give your computer a new lease of life!

Good luck.
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#11 boxaccounts

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 03:19 AM

Valuable information.
I am proud of the runescape accounts




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