CPU bottlenecking HD 5850. Upgrade to i3, i5 or Phenom II 955?


Jul 12, 2011
I'm looking to upgrade my four year old system with a set of new components and I thought maybe I might ask the community.

You might be thinking, "FOUR YEARS OLD???". Well it has received a couple of mid-life upgrades and hence there are a few components I'm thinking of holding on to.

Current build:
Mobo: Gigabyte P35 based LGA 775
CPU: Intel Pentium Dual Core E2180 stock 2.0GHz OCed to 3.0GHz
Ram: 4x1GB OCZ DDR2 800MHz sticks running at 4-4-4-12
GPU: Asus Radeon HD5850 TOP DirectCU (replaced a dying 8800GT)
PSU: SeaSonic S12II-620 620W Bronze Power Supply (Had to get this to power the beast of a GPU upgrade)
HDDs: Assorted 1TB and 2TB drives from WD/Hitachi

So this trusty rig has been serving me well for the most part of four years. The 8800GT it originally had gave out last year so I stumped out quite a bit of cash to throw in a HD5850. Recently I've finally started encountering very bad CPU bottlenecks (I'm assuming they ARE IN FACT cpu bottlenecks) on titles like CoD:Black Ops and BF:BC2 which aren't terribly optimised for the PC, although Crysis 2 still runs beautifully. (I game at 1680x1050)

Hence I'm looking toward a CPU upgrade, which probably means the Mobo + CPU + Ram have to go. If possible I'd also like to throw in a small (40-80Gbs) SSD for installing Windows 7 + common apps (browser, photoshop, foobar, IM client) on.

I'm basically considering three options: an i3 (2100), Phenom II 955 BE and an i5 (2500k) build.

Could anyone advise me on possible Mobo + Ram + CPU combinations for the above options and perhaps what I should consider when making a decision. As for my personal preference, I'm more inclined toward having a larger initial outlay to "futureproof" the system a little better, so I guess the i5 build would trump the rest.

As for a budget, I'm looking to do this under $500 since I'm reusing some components.


Mar 15, 2011
heres what id grab if i had to do that upgrade right now:

other good deals:

i think the i5-2500k is the only right choice for your needs. there are many great z68 and p67 mobos available, ive chosen the above because they are particularly good deals at the moment. alot of it depends on your needs: extreme overclocking? dual graphics card setups? firewire? esata? raid?