Question CPU upgrade or complete rebuild

Feb 17, 2020
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Hey there,

I'm in a situation where my system, from what I can tell, is consistently bottlenecked at the CPU, especially after buying a new RTX card. As a lazy man who also wouldn't mind saving a few dollars, I considered upgrading the CPU to the highest that my currently installed motherboard would support. I want to understand the tradeoffs and make sure that CPU is truly where I need to make an investment in order to get value out of my RTX card.

Option A) Upgrade CPU to something compatible with my (older) existing motherboard. I had been looking at the 7700k (link), but apparently they just sold out of everywhere so now I'm looking at the 6700k (link). Obviously bummed the 7700ks have gone scarce, if I am looking to go with this option I feel like I need to go ahead and scoop up a 6700k before Amazon sells out.

Option B) Upgrade my motherboard and rebuild around my video card. If I did this, I would still want to utilize my existing components where I could. Would there be anything besides the CPU I would need to upgrade here? Would the gains be noticeably better than if I went "Option A"?

Current specs:
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z170-HD3P ATX LGA1151 MotherboardCPU (link)
  • Current CPU: Intel Core i5-6600K 3.5 GHz Quad-Core Processor (link)
  • Memory: 16 GB of DD4 @2666HMz
  • Video card: Nvidia Gefore RTX 2080
  • Power Supply: 750w
  • Storage: 2 SSDs and 1 HDD
  • Standard cooling on case/cpu (fans)
  • Happy to provide any additional specs/benchmarks here as needed.
Expected use: High end gaming. Want to take advantage of ray tracing on supported software. Have a 144hz gsync monitor which benefits from high frame rates. Also have an Oculus Rift, some games now have frame rate issues (ex: No Man Sky), hope to have all sorted by the time Alyx rolls around.

Thanks for reading, and any advice!
-Jared
 
Feb 17, 2020
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Thanks for the reply @ohio_buckeye - thoughts below.
  • I think I had a mental block around using AMD with an Nvidia card, but that's worth considering. I've used Intel on everything I've built since way back in the day, so I think I defaulted to that on the upgrade as well.
  • Swapping out motherboard/cpu would be elbow grease. I'm sure I could figure it out, but not as simple as swapping a CPU and fan.
  • Good to know on the RAM, I know a lot less about the upgrades that have happened on that type of component the past 5 years.
 

ohio_buckeye

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That's the thing in my opinion. Have a look.


You see that you can get new parts vs used. The ryzen 3600 in many cases is beating the 7700k. Plus if you go with something like a ryzen setup, you would have a little upgrade path. I think the 4000 series comes out this year sometime. So before you drop 300 on a cpu that's used it's worth looking at.
 
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bryanc723

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That's the thing in my opinion. Have a look.


You see that you can get new parts vs used. The ryzen 3600 in many cases is beating the 7700k. Plus if you go with something like a ryzen setup, you would have a little upgrade path. I think the 4000 series comes out this year sometime. So before you drop 300 on a cpu that's used it's worth looking at.
I agree with this. I'm upgrading from previous generation and have opted to get a quality mobo with an entry level ryzen cpu until the 4000 series comes out. It's a defined upgrade path for me, and AMD is a step ahead of Intel on the current platforms and I don't really expect that to change until the next architectures.
 

ohio_buckeye

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Don't get me wrong, there will be a performance uptick with the 7700k. That said, I wish I could find the video now from a guy called tech deals on YouTube. But he had a video recently where he was showing a 7700k starting to hitch just a bit in one of the recent ghost recon games.

If you don't want to switch the board, I guess you could go for 7700k, but seems like 300 would be better spent on a newer setup that has an upgrade path coming up.
 
For the $300 cost of a 6700K (if lucky), you could pretty much fund an R5-3600 and a B450 board...and thankfully not be already needing another upgrade by the end of this or next quarter...(Anyone who sells a 6700K used is likely doing that anyway)
 
Feb 17, 2020
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I was dragging my feet, but after doing a lot of reading you all are right... dollars definitely seem to be going farther with AMD. Appreciate all of the answers so far.

Ok, so, a few other questions:
  • R5-3600x seems like a good sweet spot on CPU for me. Love the included fan.
  • With an AMD upgrade eventually around the corner with the 4000 series, is it worth investing in a better motherboard than the B450? (ex: ASUS 570 link). Can't tell how important getting to 570 is, or if PCI 4 will actually be worthwhile for video cards.
  • In general, should I upgrade anything else? I read AMD might be more taxing on RAM?
Thanks for all of the help so far!
 

ohio_buckeye

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The current ram you have will hold you back slightly. I'll let other guys comment that know more specifics there.

If you want to go for an x570 that wouldn't be a bad choice per se. As far as pci gen 4, at least on graphics cards I think they've pretty much said that graphics cards won't saturate pci e 4 for at least a few more years. The area where you'd be affected probably is the speed of nvme drives for example. But imo the current stuff is pretty fast.

Me personally I'm running a first gen b350 board and did a bios update to it and dropped in a ryzen 3600. I don't feel like I'm really missing performance. If I am I don't think enough to worry about. But that said if you have the money, an x570 board won't be a bad move either.

Just make sure to have good airflow in your case as the 3000 chips run in such a way that they can appear to get pretty warm due to the way the cores sleep and come to life so quickly.
 

GarrettL

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That's the question right now with the upcoming 4000 series, what motherboard for the long term?

Until the older 350/450/470 motherboards are confirmed to run the 4000 series by AMD we just don't know. The B550's should be out soon, hopefully.
 

ohio_buckeye

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Saw something that oems may have some now. I went from a 1700x on a b350 board to a 3600. I would think if you picked up a well known board like an msi tomahawk max that they would support it given its popularity.
 
I was dragging my feet, but after doing a lot of reading you all are right... dollars definitely seem to be going farther with AMD. Appreciate all of the answers so far.

Ok, so, a few other questions:
  • R5-3600x seems like a good sweet spot on CPU for me. Love the included fan.
  • With an AMD upgrade eventually around the corner with the 4000 series, is it worth investing in a better motherboard than the B450? (ex: ASUS 570 link). Can't tell how important getting to 570 is, or if PCI 4 will actually be worthwhile for video cards.
  • In general, should I upgrade anything else? I read AMD might be more taxing on RAM?
Thanks for all of the help so far!
The major reasons to go with the X570 are they support higher RAM capacities, guaranteed 3000 series support out of the box, better power delivery, and PCIe 4 (not that useful outside of enterprise use right now). The cheapest MSI B450 MAX goes for $100 right now and the MSI Tomahawk MAX is $115 whereas the cheapest X570 boards start at $145.
 
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ohio_buckeye

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However if you have the money the x570 boards aren't bad investment as I would think they would certainly support Zen 3.

If you have a Microcenter nearby check them out. They usually have lower CPU prices and give you 20 bucks off if you buy the board along with a cpu.
 

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