Hi folks! I am looking at a GPU upgrade in the short term (for the long term) and potentially/likely a CPU upgrade as well to follow shortly thereafter... I would love some insight to my decision making =)![EDIT:] I've added conclusions to the questions I've posed in posts #1 and #11[in Cyan] to help anyone else in a similar boat get to the point =).
MY CURRENT RIG: see my signature below
Upgrade #1) \\GPU//
+$165 Radeon 5770 Video Card
Upgrade #2) \\CPU+Motherboard+RAM//
* First hope (likely naive) is that I can continue to get by with my current 3800+ X2 A64 after getting the new video card. If this is really "head in the clouds," please say so... I'd rather get over the crushing blow sooner than later!
* My current board is Socket 939. It was supposed to potentially be Socket AM2 with an expansion card but those seem to be out of stock everywhere and somewhat pricey regardless when they were last in stock.
* Conclusion 1 - if/when I have to upgrade my processor, I will need to ditch this motherboard as well for a new one (ouch!)
* Conclusion 2 - if/when I have to ditch this motherboard for a new CPU, I'll likely have to buy new RAM also (double-ouch!)
For gaming reference, as I know these things matter to those in the know... The current/future games on my list I expect to experience/enjoy more fully after this upgrade will include:
-Mass Effect 2
-Resident Evil 5
When gaming, I prefer to play @:
-Highest texture settings
-Turning OFF AA/AF/bloom(HDR)/other distortive effects that hinder frames per second
Question A - Am I correct in thinking the Radeon 5770 will meet my current and immediate-future gaming desires (per above)? I hope to avoid another GPU purchase for at least another year, so the DirectX 11 support seems an appropriate feature to splurge a bit on.
[CONCLUSION:] everyone seems to agree this GPU is a great selection for current and near future games at the settings I've mentioned
Question B - Any suggestions to spend more/less on the graphics solution? A specific model/link would be appreciated!
[CONCLUSION:] moot question as there's no dissenting the 5770 is sufficient
Question C - Based on the selected GPU (currently Radeon 5770), I'm having some difficulty determining what class of CPU balances with today's game's demands... I want to purchase for the future, but I need some help understanding what processor speeds bottleneck today's games!
[CONCLUSION:] like anything, budget will play a deciding role. That said, clock speeds from 2.66-3.88 in a i5 series have negligible fps increases. The overall suggestion is to observe comparative benchmarks of various CPU architectures, starting with the Athlon II X2 family, to find the bang/buck sweetspot for my budget
Question D - Related to Question C... would it be a waste of time/$$$ to explore getting around to actually overclocking this 3800+ with something beyond stock cooling? My rough understanding is that this series can commonly hit 2.6 to 2.7GHZ on air cooling... not sure what that would mean in the context of modern gaming though...
[CONCLUSION:] some healthy debate ensues, but it seems a point we can all agree that even overclocked and alongside a nice GPU, this processor will hamper playing the latest games without severe setting compromises. Concluding it would not be worth spending extra money to explore overclocking this chip seriously.