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GPU/CPU upgrade (yay! / oh-no!)

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Chixofnix

Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2003
Location
Kansas City, KS USA
[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 =).
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 =)!

MY CURRENT RIG: see my signature below

Upgrade #1) \\GPU//
+$165 Radeon 5770 Video Card

Upgrade #2) \\CPU+Motherboard+RAM//
+$dontwannathinkaboutit... :eek:

* 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:

-Dragon Age:Origins
-Mass Effect
-Mass Effect 2
-Diablo 3
-Resident Evil 5
-TF2/CS:S

When gaming, I prefer to play @:
-1900x1200 resolution
-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.
 
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aries2110

Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2008
Location
Middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin
A 5770 will serve you well for all the games you just outlined and is in a decent price point. Just find the cheapest one available and you will be fine. As far as CPU goes a 3800+ X2 is ancient and will hold back a modern video card badly. Not to mention most of those games are CPU bound as well which will hurt even worse. I would be more apt to find a nice budget mobo and CPU. Something along the lines of a 780G motherboard with an Athlon II X4 or the like will sit you nice for minimal expense.
 
OP
Chixofnix

Chixofnix

Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2003
Location
Kansas City, KS USA
A 5770 will serve you well for all the games you just outlined and is in a decent price point. Just find the cheapest one available and you will be fine. As far as CPU goes a 3800+ X2 is ancient and will hold back a modern video card badly. Not to mention most of those games are CPU bound as well which will hurt even worse. I would be more apt to find a nice budget mobo and CPU. Something along the lines of a 780G motherboard with an Athlon II X4 or the like will sit you nice for minimal expense.

First, I truly appreciate the straight talk - I guess I needed the hard medicine to accept what I think I've known all along :D

Alrightly so let's see how much this is gonna hurt - I'm shooting from the hip with some fast newegg prices:

Athlon II X4
  • $99/113 for 2.6/2.8GHz respectively
  • Socket AM3 means DDR2 or DDR3 RAM - Re-using my vanilla DDR isn't an option

I followed your suggestion to seek the 780G chipset... I see only one well-reviewed option that lists AM3 as an option while being ATX form factor:

ECS A780GM-A Ultra
  • Link
  • $54 After rebate/shipping - nice price
  • Onboard sound by most accounts seems good
  • I like 6x SATA ports, my current boards' 3x has been a thorn in my side for awhile now... :-/
  • Note: Supports DDR2 (not DDR3), see concern below...

It does look like a great board overall, but I wonder if I shouldn't be seeking a chipset without integrated graphics? This chipset appears made and marketed for HTPC builds... most boards are mATX also reflecting that... (If nothing else, I would like to re-use my P180 case ;))

Is it a concern in the long term, accepting that I must buy new memory regardless (DDR2/DDR3), to select a board that is DDR2 vs. DDR3?

2x2Gb of RAM that will be compatible with this CPU
  • DDR2 800 - I spot $67 after rebate here
  • DDR3 1333 - I spot $80 after rebate here
  • My current interpretation is that 4Gb without blazing speeds makes sense for me now, as I plan to stick with 32-bit XP for a while longer (meaning I can only utilize ~3.7Gb anyway - plenty for most games) and I also don't plan to overclock heavily until the new processor begins to grow long in the teeth in a noticeable fashion, at which point I expect faster RAM will be more economical (and perhaps concurrent with an increase in capacity if it makes sense at that point).

*****

So with all said and done... I'm currently looking at something like $385-412 to make these upgrades, assuming I don't pop my PSU in the process and before pawning any old parts off, which I might be able to do.

Breakdown:
$165 - GPU
$99/113 - CPU
$54 - Mobo
$67/80 - RAM
$385-412 total

Gonna need to chew on this for awhile...
 
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aries2110

Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2008
Location
Middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin
You could even go Intel for the same price or cheaper.

Quad core isn't exactly necessary. Here is a fast Intel dual core:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116093

Well featured, high clock speed, and would overclock well if you wished to. Dual cores aren't as outdated as some people think. Lots of gamers use dual core quite happily.

As far as motherboards, ECS is junk. Get a Gigabyte:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128388

And you can settle for a bit less on video card and still have a massive improvement from your 6800GS:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814261050

The GTS250 is basically my 9800GTX+ and it can actually play a lot of games well at 1920 x 1200. Many orders of magnitude faster than your 6800GS.

And to power it all you might need something a little beefier than your current PSU.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139008&Tpk=400CX

That is a guaranteed high quality PSU with all Seasonic internals. $10 off after a MIR too.

And as for memory:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231122

Popular, high quality kit.

About $412.95 before shipping. Easily would last you a long while. And because it uses newer stuff you can upgrade it later if you wish vs building a whole new system.


If you can go higher I can spec out a different price. Give me a reasonable price limit.

I like to be straightforward because beating around the bush leads to disappointment. I'm just trying to be realistic here :)
 
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Bobnova

Senior Member
Joined
May 10, 2009
Your current GPU is listed as an AGP, is that correct? If it is, you're going to have a hard time finding a 5750 in an AGP flavor.
 

Quigsby

Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2004
Location
Fargo, ND
I tried to find the 3800+ on Bench over at Anand and the lowest they go is the 4600+. The 4600+ is comparable to an Intel 2180. I would think you'd be sitting around the 2140 with your processor.

I think it could be fast enough to run something, the problem is going to be your AGP slot. I don't think they make an AGP version of the 5770, do they?

With that being said I would focus on finding a good combo deal that gives you a new motherboard and processor and try to find a second-hand graphics card.
 
OP
Chixofnix

Chixofnix

Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2003
Location
Kansas City, KS USA
Your current GPU is listed as an AGP, is that correct? If it is, you're going to have a hard time finding a 5750 in an AGP flavor.
I tried to find the 3800+ on Bench over at Anand and the lowest they go is the 4600+. The 4600+ is comparable to an Intel 2180. I would think you'd be sitting around the 2140 with your processor.

I think it could be fast enough to run something, the problem is going to be your AGP slot. I don't think they make an AGP version of the 5770, do they?

With that being said I would focus on finding a good combo deal that gives you a new motherboard and processor and try to find a second-hand graphics card.
Actually, one of the great redeeming factors of my current motherboard is that it has a fully functional x16 PCIe AND 8x AGP slot. That was the main reason I chose this board earlier, as a future-proofing measure (I had recently purchased this AGP card at a point where AGP vs. PCIe didn't have a clear winner in terms of bang/buck). Link

That said, I should be able to give this processor/RAM/motherboard a fair shot at playing with a new PCIe video card... though I'm certain the CPU will be the bottleneck, I may yet get much more playable framerates for some current games on my list! For this reason I'm pretty much certain I will not be making these upgrades all at once.

Overclocking an A64 3800+X2 to mid-4000-speeds isn't unheard of, but I'd certainly need to invest in a better cooling solution... I wonder if there are any good low-noise (potentially passive for the next CPU) air solutions out there that are compatible with socket 939, AM2/3, and LGA 775...
 

Cyrix_2k

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2003
Location
Frederick, MD
Your current GPU is listed as an AGP, is that correct? If it is, you're going to have a hard time finding a 5750 in an AGP flavor.

That board supports AGP & PCI-e x16. Cheapest option? Get the 5770 now and see if does what you want it to. You can always upgrade later. I just built a new system for my brother for around $600.

Q9550 $179.99 + tax at microcenter
4gb G.Skil 1066 DDR2 $90
ASRock P43DE $62
 

Quigsby

Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2004
Location
Fargo, ND
That board supports AGP & PCI-e x16. Cheapest option? Get the 5770 now and see if does what you want it to. You can always upgrade later. I just built a new system for my brother for around $600.

Q9550 $179.99 + tax at microcenter
4gb G.Skil 1066 DDR2 $90
ASRock P43DE $62

That's pretty cool that it supports both. I'd go with Cyrix's adice.
 
OP
Chixofnix

Chixofnix

Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2003
Location
Kansas City, KS USA
You could even go Intel for the same price or cheaper.

... [CLIPPED FOR BREVITY... ~chixo]

About $412.95 before shipping. Easily would last you a long while. And because it uses newer stuff you can upgrade it later if you wish vs building a whole new system.

If you can go higher I can spec out a different price. Give me a reasonable price limit.

I like to be straightforward because beating around the bush leads to disappointment. I'm just trying to be realistic here :)

Apologies, I wasn't yet ready to lay down a budget and I guess I suggested that... I'm in the current thought-process of figuring out some basics first, like:
  • Noting they are at similar price ponits, what's the current take on DDR2 vs. DDR3? If I put my money on a DDR2 motherboard, can I reasonably expect it will still be widely available/economical if/when the time comes that I decide I need more than 4Gb? I don't think this will ever happen (for me) until games are developed that fully utilize a 64bit processor/OS that supports >4Gb. I would not forecast this happening seriously until the next generation of home gaming consoles arrive (post ps3/xbox360), since those are where the money is currently at for developers. 2 years minimum is my guess.
  • While it would be easier to select a processor and other components behind it with a set budget in mind (I know this all too well, sorry!), I am trying to tackle finding the approximate cost-implication of these collective upgrades first, based on my fuzzy criteria of "powerful enough" for my current and anticipated games listed above. Not doing that to be difficult, but to weigh the full costs against other options (like breaking down and falling into the console-world money pit trap :eek:!)
  • If I do make these upgrades, I'll almost certainly get the GPU first, and I feel comfortable that I have made the correct selection there for the moment. However I don't want to take the first plunge before I fully understand what it will cost to purchase other components that will balance with this video card in performance without severely bottlenecking the potential performance of any component.
I know that I, along with others here, like to purchase a new motherboard with the implicit hope that it will last for at least a few GPU/CPU upgrades down the road. It's pretty easy to weigh an extra $10 in today's dollars if it means you won't need to shell out for multiple mobos in the grand course of things. That's the primary reason I feel a bit hesitant/sticky to purchase DDR2 in its heyday now...

While I've been (a bit) out of the recent gaming loop lately due to my current hardware setup, I'm still observing the trend in gaming performance where video cards play the dominant role in bottlenecking frames-per-second over CPU horsepower. To that end, I'm hoping any chosen CPU will last for at least another GPU upgrade down the road, so I'm willing to spend a bit more on the CPU to get a degree or two beyond what would be "balanced" performance with a 5770 card.

******

I ramble perhaps a bit too easily, but I guess in summary, my current questions on the table include:
  • is DDR3 the future? Is it wise to move in that direction today considering there's not a huge pricing gap?
    [CONCLUSION:] it's a question that requires a speculative response, but I'm on the side of skipping DDR2 altogether since DDR3 can be had for cheaper with some bargain hunting
  • What CPU's would have "balanced" performance in today's games with a radeon 5770 or equivalent? That is, at what speeds can we observe sharply diminishing returns in frames-per-second measured? I think a small premium for more than 2 cores is reasonable... I was once a vocal critic of dual-core ever taking off and meaning something (well documented in these forums)... I had to eat my socks on that one!
    [CONCLUSION:] personal budget-oriented research is required, but per conclusion in OP, something in the tier of an Athlon II X2 family is a good tier to start with for "balanced" performance. It seems fairly disputed whether triple or quad cores are a value adder over two cores - depends on the games (again speculative if building for the future). I'm going to personally read into trying to find some blogging and such from my favorite developers (valve/bioware/blizzard) to determine where games are headed in this regard (utilizing more than two cores or not)...
  • This just occured to me (!) don't mATX boards always fit into ATX cases? Man I really have been out of the loop :eek:
    [CONCLUSION:] I am a dummy :D
  • Did you know unsalted butter works a LOT better on really chapped lips than chapstick? It doesn't have that numbing effect but I went from bleeding to wide-smiles within an hour here this morning! :D
    [CONCLUSION:] it's unfortunate that it's terribly difficult to keep a stick of butter in your jacket pocket relative to a stick of chapstick...
 
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Quigsby

Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2004
Location
Fargo, ND
[*]Noting they are at similar price ponits, what's the current take on DDR2 vs. DDR3? If I put my money on a DDR2 motherboard, can I reasonably expect it will still be widely available/economical if/when the time comes that I decide I need more than 4Gb? I don't guess this will ever happen until games are developed that fully utilize a 64bit processor/OS that supports >4Gb, which will probably not happen seriously until the next generation of home gaming consoles arrive (post ps3/xbox360). 3/4 years is my guess.

I would say right now DDR3 is almost cheaper than DDR2. I'd bypass DDR2 if I was to purchase new right now.

[*]While it would be easier to select a processor and other components behind it with a set budget in mind (I know this all too well, sorry!), I am trying to tackle finding the approximate cost-implication of these collective upgrades first, based on my fuzzy criteria of "powerful enough" for my current and anticipated games listed above.

An Athlon/Phenom II setup with a 790X or similar motherboard using DDR3 memory would be pretty darn good bang for the buck. I'd look in to bundle deals like these.

While I've been (a bit) out of the recent gaming loop lately due to my current hardware setup, I'm still observing the trend in gaming performance where video cards play the dominant role in bottlenecking frames-per-second over CPU horsepower. To that end, I'm hoping any chosen CPU will last for at least another GPU upgrade down the road, so I'm willing to spend a bit more on the CPU to get a degree or two beyond what would be "balanced" performance with a 5770 card.

You need to consider what games you play, and not what's current. Previous generations of gaming engines relied more heavily on CPUs rather than GPUs. If you're playing Oblivion or WoW you'd get more out of a strong CPU rather than a GPU. If you're playing new games like FarCry 2 they will harness the GPU better.

[*]Did you know unsalted butter works a LOT better on really chapped lips than chapstick? It doesn't have that numbing effect but I went from bleeding to wide-smiles within an hour here this morning! :eek:

I'll have to remember that.
 

Cyrix_2k

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2003
Location
Frederick, MD
I don't think DDR2 vs DDR3 is going to be a huge deal. My choice of motherboard dictated the need for DDR2. You won't have a problem going over 4 gigs either way... my biggest issue was actually trying to find board that had four dimms, IDE, PCI-e x16 2.0, and was socket 775. Processor? You'll probably do better with dual core for a straight up gaming machine, but quad core will be more future proof. Phenom II vs i5 vs core II is more of a personal decision and depends on your budget to some extent. I went with a C2Q (Yorkfield) and don't regret it at all. Even on that cheap board with the factory HSF, it hit 3.4ghz stable up for 2.83. I noticed the bottleneck is the hard drive, by FAR.
 

Bobnova

Senior Member
Joined
May 10, 2009
If it supports both (I didn't even know that was possible, very cool feature!), just get a 5770, it'll be worlds faster then a 6600 even if it's bottlenecked horribly by the CPU..
 

Aynjell

Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
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 =)!

MY CURRENT RIG: see my signature below

Upgrade #1) \\GPU//
+$165 Radeon 5770 Video Card

Upgrade #2) \\CPU+Motherboard+RAM//
+$dontwannathinkaboutit... :eek:

* 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:

-Dragon Age:Origins
-Mass Effect
-Mass Effect 2
-Diablo 3
-Resident Evil 5
-TF2/CS:S

When gaming, I prefer to play @:
-1900x1200 resolution
-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.

Question B - Any suggestions to spend more/less on the graphics solution? A specific model/link would be appreciated!

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!

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...

A 3800X2 even at 3Ghz will horribly bottleneck any realistically fast card these days. If you're spending money on a card, it's wasted unless you get a faster chip.

At least my experienced showed this with a 260 Core 216. 2.5Ghz on a 3800X2 is a realistic expectation.
 
OP
Chixofnix

Chixofnix

Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2003
Location
Kansas City, KS USA
A 3800X2 even at 3Ghz will horribly bottleneck any realistically fast card these days. If you're spending money on a card, it's wasted unless you get a faster chip.

At least my experienced showed this with a 260 Core 216. 2.5Ghz on a 3800X2 is a realistic expectation.

I appreciate your insight! I wouldn't consider a fast card bottlenecked to be "money wasted" - more like "potential to be unlocked" upon my future processor upgrade (I am certain I won't be using this 3800+ forever ^_^).

My sincere hope though, as Bob describes, is that I will find the bottleneck is not so severe that I can't enjoy modern games at acceptable framerates - then I can eke a little more life out of this CPU before making that plunge for CPU/RAM/mobo (simultaneously unlocking the full potential of this GPU).

Of note: here I've found an article page at TH where the a battery of fps tests were run with the 5770 card and an Intel Core i5-750 overclocked from 2.66GHz to 3.88GHz.

The results are profound - the high overclock does nearly nothing for the results across all the games. It's clear a 2.66GHz i5 series is beyond the threshold of diminishing returns. I have to wonder whether the Athlon II X4 or E6500 dual core sit on or beyond that performance point as well...
 

aries2110

Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2008
Location
Middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin
You can certainly game on cheaper chip. If you want bang for buck you could try an X3 720BE like mine. That would be a bit snappier for games I think than an Intel dual core or an Athlon II X4. Though not better than a higher end quad(ie, phenom II x4, Q9xxx).

I would think if you got a new video card now you would still see a nice boost. But until you upgraded the rest of your system the video card would have a severe bottleneck. Don't forget you'd also need a better PSU if upgrading anything else because a 380W Antec is questionable for higher end hardware. Try the Corsair 400CX instead. Cheap and will power everything.
 

Aynjell

Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
I appreciate your insight! I wouldn't consider a fast card bottlenecked to be "money wasted" - more like "potential to be unlocked" upon my future processor upgrade (I am certain I won't be using this 3800+ forever ^_^).

My sincere hope though, as Bob describes, is that I will find the bottleneck is not so severe that I can't enjoy modern games at acceptable framerates - then I can eke a little more life out of this CPU before making that plunge for CPU/RAM/mobo (simultaneously unlocking the full potential of this GPU).

Of note: here I've found an article page at TH where the a battery of fps tests were run with the 5770 card and an Intel Core i5-750 overclocked from 2.66GHz to 3.88GHz.

The results are profound - the high overclock does nearly nothing for the results across all the games. It's clear a 2.66GHz i5 series is beyond the threshold of diminishing returns. I have to wonder whether the Athlon II X4 or E6500 dual core sit on or beyond that performance point as well...


Okay, let me make this as apparent as possible. Mass effect is not playable on a 3800X2 at 3Ghz, with a GTX260. It gets about 18fps with all settings on in the in-game menu.

Basically... it's a HUGE bottleneck. It just can't keep up with modern hardware. If you're at stock, unless you got an amazing chip lurking in your box, it's going to be even worse.

:sly:

An E5300 and about any OC you can pull off with them, is going to be fast enough to give you what your card can do... but don't be surprised if it's still a bit slower than say an i5 or a q6600. After all it's a low cache dual core chip.
 
OP
Chixofnix

Chixofnix

Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2003
Location
Kansas City, KS USA
You can certainly game on cheaper chip. If you want bang for buck you could try an X3 720BE like mine. That would be a bit snappier for games I think than an Intel dual core or an Athlon II X4. Though not better than a higher end quad(ie, phenom II x4, Q9xxx).

I would think if you got a new video card now you would still see a nice boost. But until you upgraded the rest of your system the video card would have a severe bottleneck. Don't forget you'd also need a better PSU if upgrading anything else because a 380W Antec is questionable for higher end hardware. Try the Corsair 400CX instead. Cheap and will power everything.
Okay, let me make this as apparent as possible. Mass effect is not playable on a 3800X2 at 3Ghz, with a GTX260. It gets about 18fps with all settings on in the in-game menu.

Basically... it's a HUGE bottleneck. It just can't keep up with modern hardware. If you're at stock, unless you got an amazing chip lurking in your box, it's going to be even worse.

:sly:

An E5300 and about any OC you can pull off with them, is going to be fast enough to give you what your card can do... but don't be surprised if it's still a bit slower than say an i5 or a q6600. After all it's a low cache dual core chip.

Thanks everyone =).

I'm getting the distinct impression I should consider pawning my whole system as a set rather than piecemealing it out - again your collective insight is invaluable and appreciated!

I will contend that I was however able to play through Mass effect on my current rig (at stock CPU clocks), albeit with compromised settings (not rock bottom) and @ 1600x1200. Not to be stubborn, but the point I'd like to nail down is that nobody with an X2 should be discouraged from enjoying the game if upgrades aren't your the near future :bday:! I'm sure I'll be playing through again with a prettier picture post-upgrades before ME:2 arrives though... :cool:

Back to the present... I'll try to do a little more homework/research into comparative CPU architecture tests to get a feel for what the current bang/buck curve feels like... should anyone feel interested in making an offer for the system in my sig feel free to PM me ;).

As always, much love to my family here at OCF - happy holidays! :santa: