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Maytridy

Computer Upgrade

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Hey guys, Last summer I put together my own computer and I'm going to upgrade one of its parts this coming spring. Here are my specs: AMD Athlon 64 3500+ Processor (2.2Ghz) NVidia GeForce 7800 GTX (256 MB) 2048 MB of RAM I experience low frame rates when I try to play games like Elder Scrolls: Oblivion on high settings. Which component do you think is slowing me down the most? Options: * New processor (maybe dual core?) * New video card * Buy another 7800 GTX and run SLI mode * Add more RAM My first instinct is that I need a better processor. What do you guys think?

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I think NVIDIA has a tool that shows you your GPU usage. If it's pinned get another 7800 & SLI it. (Although a single 8800GTX is better than 2 7800GTXs in SLI).

I'd guess, howver, that it's probably the CPU that's bottlenecking you. However to upgrade (if you want topend) you'll want to switch over to Intel & the Core2 line which also means a motherboard & RAM upgrade.

If you are suffering from load times then get a couple Raptor drives in a RAID0 array.

I'm not sure. There are lots of tools around to monitor your system performance and tell you which component is your bottleneck in a given game.

-me

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The processor is certainly the bottleneck in that system, but keep in mind that Oblivion is very taxing using the high-quality settings even for high-end cards, particularly at higher resolutions. Are you sure that you're just not expecting too much out of your computer?

What resolution are you running at exactly?


That said, hopefully you're on a socket thats newer than 754 so you have an upgrade path. Since its a relatively new machine and you've got SLI, you're probably OK. AMD CPUs are at all-time low prices right now, with the X2 6000+ (which is their top-end mainstream proc.) just having dropped to as low as $229 at some online retailers. Its a plenty-good CPU and will allow you to avoid the more costly platform switch to a core 2 machine.

Graphics will probably end up being the real bottleneck at higher settings, but I don't think you'll see the full benefit of a graphics upgrade until you have the CPU to support it.

Upgrade the CPU first. If performance is still unacceptable, consider lowering your settings or a graphics upgrade. getting a second-hand GTX for SLI is probably the cheapest option, but the 8600GTXs are due out very soon and will retain for around $200.

Is there a particular upgrade budget that you're shooting for?

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Thanks for the replies!

I'm running at 1280 x 1024 resolution, which isn't too high.

Getting a faster processor will also help out my render times in 3ds max, so I think I'm gonna go with that.

The X2 6000+ looks like an INCREDIBLE deal. Why are AMD prices so low right now? Would it be bad to wait 1-3 months and then buy a newer processor? The socket type says AM2. What does that mean?

Also, how much do you think my 3500+ will sell for?

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You need to have Socket AM2 on your motherboard to get a Socket AM2 processor. The socket is the physical connector between CPU and Motherboard; both your CPU and your MoBo have to have the same kind of socket.

Before you buy a new Socket AM2 chip, make sure you have a Socket AM2 motherboard. One way to tell is to look at what kind of ram you have: if it's DDR2, you have Socket AM2; if it's DDR, you have an older socket. You can also find out the socket type directly, of course.

I think Oblivion's problem is probably GPU; that game uses way too many polygons to draw things. A single character is 10000-20000 polygons, no matter how far away! I can play the game fine at lower settings, but any increase in graphics settings kills my framerate. I have a slower CPU than you (1.86 GHz Pentium M), so your CPU should be fine for Oblivion, too.

Try lowering the settings (especially draw difference) and see how much of a difference it makes. If you see a huge difference, your problem is probably GPU.

Of course, upgrading to a better CPU should be a cheap way to help with other stuff; I'm not advising against it. The CPU is the overall slow point in your system, so it's a good idea to upgrade it. I'm just saying you'll probably need a better graphics card/SLI if you want better framerates in Oblivion.

Also, a used Athlon 64 3500+ probably won't sell for very much. Too see how much, look at current e-bay listings.

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On the Asus website it says that my mobo "Supports AMD Socket 939 Athlon 64FX/Athlon 64 X2/Athlon 64 ", so I should be all set.

Thanks for the help nagromo. I guess it probably is my GPU in Oblivion, but I think getting a new CPU would boost my performance in a wider range of programs outside of just gaming (especially rendering in 3ds Max, which I do a lot).

Thanks again for the tips!

I could do two things:

* Take a loan from my parents and buy a processor now.
* Wait until my first paycheck comes from my summer job in about three months.

What do you think is better: buying now (with the AMD prices being so low) or wait a few months and buy a newer processor?

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Unfortunately, AMD moved on from socket 939 some time ago to transition to DDR2 using the newer socket AM2.

The fastest 939 CPU is the Athlon 64 X2 4200+, which is a dual-core version of your current CPU (2x 2.2 ghz). At least, that's the fastest model pricewatch has listed. Its retailing for about $160.

Dual-core at the same speed will help some in multi-threaded apps and by allowing background processes/other apps to run on the second core. 3DSmax will definately benefit from the extra core, but I'm not sure how heavily or even if Oblivion will take advantage of the second core.

You might want to consider this upgrade carefully, since its not nearly as big an upgrade as that 6000+ was, nor as good of a deal in terms of price/performance ratio.

Upgrading your CPU to a new socket will require not only a new motherboard and CPU, but new RAM as well since both AMD and Intel have moved exclusively to DDR2.


The Sempron 3500+ goes for about 75$ new, and is basically the same as your CPU (yours has a larger cache) with a different name, so you might expect to sell your CPU for $40-$50 if you go that route.

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It looks like I'll be selling my 3500+ with my Asus A8N SLI Deluxe as a package.

Ooh, thanks for the tip BenThereDoneThat. I'll wait until then and check out the prices when they drop.

What intel procs should I keep an eye on?

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I'm not really upgrading for Oblivion, I was just using it as an example of where I see less than desirable performance. Whether or not my new proc shreds through Oblivion or not isn't that important to me. I just want to relieve the bottleneck on my system, which is currently my processor.

Eventually I'll pick up another 7800 GTX for about $220 and pop it into SLI. That will boost my game performance.

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I would have to say yes. Some may say "Well the Core 2s are so much faster", but you have to remember, they're all in the hundreds, while AMD's are generally on the cheaper side. This, of course, changes once you get into the higher levels, where Core 2 Duos and Quads beat the shite out of AMD (in most cases).

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