Trayn

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Mar 23, 2010
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Ahead of time, all prices are from Newegg.

I'm torn here. I'm looking to upgrade my wife's computer as the old Socket 939 Athlon X2 4400 just isn't cutting it anymore, not to mention the excessivly old MB is a big limiting factor for any video card I throw at this thing. I've decided to step up to an AM3 MB and some 2GB Kingston ValueRAM. The place I'm torn at is the actual CPU to use. I'm seeking some opinions in this area and keep in mind I'm shooting for a $200 budget. I'm allowed to go passed that, but would prefer to stay as close as possible...

Phenom II X2 550 - 3.1Ghz - $87.99 - No Heatsink
Athlon II X3 435 - 2.9Ghz - $74.99 - Heatsink included

The purpose of this computer is to withstand WoW at highest (or close to highest) settings at 1680x1050 resolution. Anything extra it does past that is just gravy on top. No video editing will be done. The only other duty this machine will see is internet/email/word, etc.

Research I've done thus far:

-The Athlon will be a better multitasker since it has more cores
-The phenom has 6MB L3 Cache, but one less core
-The recent $750 gaming machine put up good results with the Athlon
-On the other hand, that CPU was able to unlock it's fourth core which is not something I'm counting on.
-I'm not overclocking the CPU at all

My main gaming rig is running a C2D E8400 at stock 3.0Ghz and I've yet to run into any frame rate issues. On paper, the Phenom and C2D are almost the same, the exception being that the C2D has 6MB L2 cache vs 6MB L3 cache. I was for sure going for the Phenom until I saw Tom's article about the $750 gaming PC. So what are some thoughts from you, my fine computer enthusiasts?
 
Solution
Wow's default is set to using only 2 cores, the problem is not CPU but rather graphics. My old Pentium D 805 runs wow fine, but then theres an expensive video card in there hadling the graphics, all while running an a/v scan and downling a file n the background.

Either processor will run Wow with plenty of cpu cycles left over and the $10 difference should not break your bank.

You need to focus on your graphics card. A 25 man raid will bring down most to barely tolerable frame rates at max settings. This is where you need to invest a few more hundred dollars IMO.

The simple fact is, no graphics card will help much in some areas. There is one thing else - make sure you aren't running shadows at max, go one notch down and you'll...

eqneal

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Feb 7, 2010
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The X3 435 for sure, I run it stock with a Msi 785gm-e51 MB, 4 gb corsair ram, a 4770 video card and WoW runs at 1900 X 1200 with all settings maxed except shadows, it looks great and high fps. The stock cooler is decent and shouldn't need to be replaced.



 

popatim

Titan
Moderator
Wow's default is set to using only 2 cores, the problem is not CPU but rather graphics. My old Pentium D 805 runs wow fine, but then theres an expensive video card in there hadling the graphics, all while running an a/v scan and downling a file n the background.

Either processor will run Wow with plenty of cpu cycles left over and the $10 difference should not break your bank.

You need to focus on your graphics card. A 25 man raid will bring down most to barely tolerable frame rates at max settings. This is where you need to invest a few more hundred dollars IMO.

The simple fact is, no graphics card will help much in some areas. There is one thing else - make sure you aren't running shadows at max, go one notch down and you'll see a decent improvement.
 
Solution

Trayn

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Mar 23, 2010
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18,510


I had also heard that Wow doesn't use more than 2 cores so was leery about investing in a third core as well. I guess what I'm wondering about is will the L3 cache make a difference in day-to-day tasks. As I stated before I have a C2D w/ 6MB L2 cache and I'm nothing but thrilled with it, even though it's almost 2 years old now. The Athlon X2 I have in there now isn't bad, but I have determined it's limit for gaming past WoW. It can run Half-Life 2 at mid-high settings with no problems. Episode 1 is the same story. Episode 2, however, turns into a slideshow at the menu screen. I would like to make sure the processor I pick out will be able to run that w/o issues basically in order to make me feel better. Has the improvements in architecture been able to make up for the lack of cache?

And I'm assuming that the inclusion of PCI Express 2.0 vs 1.1 standards will allow the 8800 GT (G92) to stretch it's legs finally. Like I said, Limfac's are killing me :p