Is now a good time to upgrade?

Dark Comet

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Hi, my current system looks like this;

Windows Vista Ultimate
WD Raptor 150GB
500GB Samsung HDD
Asus Maximus formula MB
ATI 5850 1GB GPU
Q9450 CPU @2.67GHZ (Can not O/C it as it runs far too hot)
4GB DDR2 RAM
Cosair 620 watt PSU
Antec 1200 case

I'm out of Hard drive room now so I'm thinking about upgrading to something like this;

60 SSD (Not sure on what brand yet)
Windows 7 Home (For trim support for the SSD and the fact its a better OS)
2TB WD black HDD for programs etc
4 or 8GB DDR3 RAM
I2500K or I2600K CPU
ATI 5850 GPU (Carried from old build)
Cosair 620 watt PSU (Carried from old build)
Antec 1200 case (Carried from old build)

I use my PC almost everyday and its my main gaming machine so I feel the upgrade is a worth while one but is there anything that's coming out in the future that's worth waiting for? I'm confused on the status of PCI 3.0, is this out already? If I was to upgrade my GPU to the ATI 7000 or 8000 series in the future I'd assume I'd need it.

Has anyone got anything to add? The system will last me about 2-4 years
SSD recommendations?
4GB or 8GB RAM?
I2500K or I2600K?
Is there anything new coming that would be worth waiting for?


 
Your PC is still pretty good, if you don't mind sticking with it for a bit i would give it 6 months before upgrading. This means you can wait for the new series of graphics cards, better SSD reliability, Bulldozer and Ivy Bridge.
 

AdrianPerry

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As the above posted, since you have a good working build currently, its not really worth upgrading right now, as theres so much new tech coming over the next few months.

Ivybridge Processor,
BullDozer Processor,
ATI 7000 Series,
Nvidia 600 Series,
And probably Windows 8 too sometime Q1/Q2 2012.

If HDD space is what your after you best bet is to pick up either an External USB HDD, or buy something like a 1TB Samsung SpinPoint F3 to add to your current build.

EDIT:
PCI 3.0 - This is planned for use with the new series of processors/GPU's, i dont believe currently anything actually uses it. Some recent motherboards (ASRock GEN3 series in particular) have started making PCI 3.0 ready motherboards just to prepare for whats to come :) More info below copied from wikipedia:

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PCI Express 3.0 Base specification revision 3.0 was made available in November 2010, after multiple delays. In August 2007, PCI-SIG announced that PCI Express 3.0 would carry a bit rate of 8 gigatransfers per second, and that it would be backwards compatible with existing PCIe implementations. At that time, it was also announced that the final specification for PCI Express 3.0 would be delayed until 2011.[16] New features for the PCIe 3.0 specification include a number of optimizations for enhanced signaling and data integrity, including transmitter and receiver equalization, PLL improvements, clock data recovery, and channel enhancements for currently supported topologies.[17]

Following a six-month technical analysis of the feasibility of scaling the PCIe interconnect bandwidth, PCI-SIG's analysis found out that 8 gigatransfers per second can be manufactured in mainstream silicon process technology, and can be deployed with existing low-cost materials and infrastructure, while maintaining full compatibility (with negligible impact) to the PCIe protocol stack.

PCIe 2.0 delivers 5 GT/s, but uses an 8b/10b encoding scheme that results in a 20 percent ((10-8)/10) overhead on the raw bit rate. PCIe 3.0 removes the requirement for 8b/10b encoding, and instead uses a technique called "scrambling" that applies a known binary polynomial to a data stream in a feedback topology. Because the scrambling polynomial is known, the data can be recovered by running it through a feedback topology using the inverse polynomial.[18] and also uses a 128b/130b encoding scheme, reducing the overhead to approximately 1.5% ((130-128)/130), as opposed to the 20% overhead of 8b/10b encoding used by PCIe 2.0. PCIe 3.0's 8 GT/s bit rate effectively delivers double PCIe 2.0 bandwidth. PCI-SIG expects the PCIe 3.0 specifications to undergo rigorous technical vetting and validation before being released to the industry. This process, which was followed in the development of prior generations of the PCIe Base and various form factor specifications, includes the corroboration of the final electrical parameters with data derived from test silicon and other simulations conducted by multiple members of the PCI-SIG.

On November 18, 2010, the PCI Special Interest Group officially published the finalized PCI Express 3.0 specification to its members to build devices based on this new version of PCI Express.[19]
 
If your main usage is for gaming, then I think your most effective upgrade is the video card.

To help clarify your options, run these two tests:

a) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics configuration.

b) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 70%.
If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.


If a gpu upgrade is indicated, make it a jump of several tiers, from a 5850 to a 6970 or a GTX570. Your psu could even handle a GTX580. But, 28nm parts are due out near the end of the year, so waiting might not be bad.
I favor upgrading to a great single card vs. dual cards.

If a cpu upgrade is indicated, then the 2500K is about as good as it gets. For gaming, the 4 cores are plenty, and you can OC to the same levels as a 2600K. Use the $100 saved on a great graphics card. Despite bulldozer, I expect the 2500K to be the best gamer, at least untill ivy bridge becomes available. Even then, a 2500K will be able to drive any sane graphics configuration well.

I love a SSD for the OS and apps. Look for 80gb-120gb. Intel 510 series seems to be the least trouble free today.

Ram is cheap, get 8gb. Here is some justification:
http://blog.corsair.com/?p=65
 
With the ram prices so low now you could take advantage of that as long as you were going to be running Win 7 64 bit. And when you do your upgrade you will probably only need to go i5 2500k for the cpu and the video card definatly. Plus unless you are going with the latest and greatest then you could wait but if you are only going up a couple notches why wait.
 

Dark Comet

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Thanks for the replies guys.

I use my PC for just about everything but gaming is the most demanding. The whole wait 6 months thing is something I'm still contemplating. Ivy bridge is targeted for a 20% increase I think so it might be worth waiting. I could just buy a 2TB WD black for now and wait it out. I just wish steam would allow you to install games on other hard drives then the one its installed on. On the benchmarks a 2500K is a good increase from a Q9450, even for games.

I can't overclock this processor because its hitting high 60s on stock speeds with an after market cooler. I should have sent it back to Intel to be honest. But that's why the 2500K would be a nice upgrade.
 
"Q9450 CPU @2.67GHZ (Can not O/C it as it runs far too hot)" "high 60s stock"

Not normal for this CPU. First do the easy things -- use a can of compressed air to blow out the dust from the cooler. I'd guess from your post that the high temps are from day 1 and are not a dust problem, but... blowing it out is simple.

Second, verify fan operation on the CPU cooler. Plugged in right, MB BIOS able to read temps, fan control abel to change fan speed... You might get high 60s with a dead fan on passive cooling with a good cooler and decent case airflow... maybe?

Finally, its a pain, but I'd get some artic silver cleaner and thermal paste and do a new paste job on the CPU. Take off cooler, clean it, put the absolute minimum paste on the CPU per instructions and slap the cooler on again. (too much is problem more often than too little). Sometimes the cooler gets knocked off a bit during installation and the thermal compound doesn't work right. (have seen this also on a factory heatsink on a 3850 -- always ran really hot then was cured when heatsink re-mounted).

Finally, it's an EXCELLENT time to upgrade. (best time to upgrade is when you have the $$ and the time and the interest). The I5-2500 is an animal. Go for it.
 
Oh, if you do upgrade per your original post, it would be really neat if you could od a side by side test of using the Raptor as your system drive vs. using the SSD as your system drive. Boot time, load time, etc.

p.s. I'm not sure if the intel caching technology will ever work right, but it holds promise. With the right intel chipset you would set up the SSD as a cache rather than as a drive. Then just use your large spinning drive and the intel caching logic would write to both and read from SSD when possible. This seems simpler than explicitly managing the SSD the way you currently manage your raptor. You'd need the z68 chipset in your MB. Smart Response Technology (SRT). http://www.anandtech.com/show/4329/intel-z68-chipset-smart-response-technology-ssd-caching-review/2
 

Dark Comet

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I could do a comparison but the Windows 7 install would be new and my Vista install is quite old so it wouldn't be completely fair.

As for it running too hot I did email Intel and they said as long as the CPU does not go above 71.4C its fine. I wish I would have done something about it now but the Q9450 was quite rare and didn't want to RMA it as the only other CPU I had to put in while I waited for a new one was a 1.8ghz dual core. I did put an after market cooler on it with Artic Silver 5 paste and it did improve temps, just not enough to justify overclocking. Re-sited it a few times too, I just assumed I got unlucky with it.

The whole reason I was gonna upgrade now and not wait for Ivy bridge is because I read its targeted for a 20% increase and that's not to say Intel will hit the 20% increase. So waiting 6 months for a 20% maximum increase didn't seem worth it to me.
 
"I could do a comparison but the Windows 7 install would be new and my Vista install is quite old so it wouldn't be completely fair. "

Yep, you'd need to clone the SSD to the raptor after you set up win7 on the SSD. Then benchmark.

p.s. I'm not sure how much better you will like win7 than vista. I use both a lot. I'd stay with vista then upgrade to win8 when it comes out -- "however recent hints from the corporate vice president for Strategic and Emerging Business Development Dani Lewin pretty much confirms that Microsoft are planning to bring out Windows 8 in Fall 2012." == rumor.
 

Dark Comet

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Only reason I'm going to get Windows 7 is for TRIM support for my SSD. The faster boot/sleep times etc is just a bonus.
 

Dark Comet

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Sandy bridge was a 17% increase apparently, So its possible. By the look of it they're also working on the graphics core alot (Something I won't benefit from). But is it worth the 6 month wait? Its not the jump the Q6600 was from P4 upgrades. There's always gonna be something new coming out. I know power consumption helps with temps which in turn helps with overclocking but the 2500K is already running @3.3ghz and overclocks really well I've heard. I assume the 2500K is also more efficient then a Q9450?
 

Dark Comet

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Acording to the news some of Gigabytes MB's are not true PCI 3.0. There bus speeds are slower. I want to make sure I get a true 3.0 MB if I was to buy one. Can anyone suggest a good motherboard? I'm willing to pay £150 for one but can go higher or lower if its offers something worth the extra cost.

With SSD's there is the Cosair force and a few OCZ drives. Any advice which to get? I want to put Windows 7 and WOW on the SSD and then everything else on the 2 TB WD black.

I know 8GB was overkill before. But is it worth it now? Also why do MB's use dual channel again? They started to use triple channel and dropped it now? I thought triple channel would have offered better performance. Regardless of how much RAM I get should I get 2 sticks or 4? People say 2s better for overclocking but I would have thought getting 4 sticks would allow more bandwidth to the RAM over 2?
 

AdrianPerry

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I think this is the article you are refering to in terms of non-genuine PCI 3.0 http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/msi-gigabyte-pcie-gen3-mobo,news-36383.html

ASRock Extreme3 or Extreme4 GEN3 fits your budget.
EX3: http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/prods/components/motherboards/intel1155z68chipsetmotherboards/Asrock/Z68EXTREME3GEN3.html#utm_source=google&utm_medium=base&utm_campaign=products
EX4: http://www.scan.co.uk/products/asrock-z68-extreme4-gen3-intel-z68-s-1155-ddr3-sata-6gb-s-raid-sata-pcie-30-%28x16%29-graphics-on-board-

As for RAM, Dual Channel 1600MHz CL9 8GB (2x4GB) is probably your best option.
Corsair Vengeance (Can get it in blue, black, red, or low profile): http://www.scan.co.uk/products/8gb-%282x4gb%29-corsair-ddr3-vengeance-jet-black-pc3-12800-%281600%29-non-ecc-cas-9-9-9-24-xmp-150v
G.Skill: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004HZG4ZO/ref=asc_df_B004HZG4ZO4370460?smid=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&tag=googlecouk06-21&linkCode=asn&creative=22206&creativeASIN=B004HZG4ZO

A great SSD of choice currently is the Crucial M4:
http://www.scan.co.uk/search.aspx?q=crucial+m4
 


Yeah i'm not trying to persuade you to wait, i'm just putting the facts out there.
 

Dark Comet

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Oh right ok I'll look into it thanks



I know I'm just having a hard time choosing what to do myself :p