Upgrading a dual-core 2180 system - is this sensible?


Aug 8, 2006
Hi all,

I'm going to upgrade my long-suffering PC, currently running off an Intel Pentium Dual Core E2180 2GHz Socket 775 800MHz FSB L2 1MB Cache - admittedly running at 3GHz comfortably on an overclock. It was bought when I had NO money 4 years ago, but now I have MORE money :D It still plays UT2k4 and CSS just fine, even plays Crysis (well sort of - it struggles with the ending!)

I can feel the sluggishness especially after upgrading to Windows 7, on XP it was ok but it's old now! (the CPU). I play games, less these days but nevertheless when I play I want good performance of the latest titles and - having read Tom's CPU for the money I'm going for an i5 2500k - with the backup of the graphics capability in case my GPU dies at any stage (rather than the 2550 one).

I will upgrade my GPU at a later date, budget £150-200 in the next few months.

As I do this only every 4 years, I'd really value your input on if I've got a good plan together. Comments and suggestions completely welcomed. Thanks in advance even - here we go:

CPU: Intel Sandybridge i5-2500K Unlocked Core i5 Quad-Core Processor (3.30GHz, 6MB Cache, Socket 1155) £158.10

I can't be bothered to wait for Ivy Bridge - I know it's out soon but I have time this week (and rarely have time usually), so I need to move on my decision really. Yes I appreciate it's supposed to be 5-15% faster and more efficient on power, but life is too short!

Motherboard: AsRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 Motherboard, Socket 1155, PCI-Express 3.0, DDR3, USB 3.0, HDMI, 7.1 HD Audio, ASRock Instant Boot - ASrock £112.63

Thought behind this is a) it's got SLI and I've already got an NVidia card (see below - tis might be redundant) b) it's got PCI 3.0 for the future (nice to have), c) I might add an SSD to speed it up (a big MIGHT).

ALTERNATIVE MOBO: Asus P8Z68-V LX Motherboard (Socket 1155, DDR3, 2 x PCI Express 2.0 x16, ATX, LucidLogix Virtu) £76.64

Reasoning - I can save £35 and I'm not really sure I'll use any of the extra features that the ASrock has if I'm honest with myself... The wife and my bank manager might be happier if total budget came in under £300...

(Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L iP35 Socket 775 8 channel audio ATX Motherboard is my current mobo)

RAM: Corsair CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9 8GB 1600MHz CL9 DDR3 Vengeance Memory Two Module Kit £40.98

This is just the one everyone on amazon seems to be buying - I have no strong opinion on RAM and it seems much cheaper than I remember!

GPU - I currently have a point of view 8800 GT 512 - I'd appreciate thoughts on a) whether to SLI this? Or b) should I just buy a replacement card in the future? The mobo above supports 8x/8x SLI so it's an option. I'll no doubt come back to this decision as my budget doesn't cover upgrading my GPU at the moment. I have a cooler for the 8800GT as it was really hot - Thermalright T-Rad² VGA cooler - looks like that's going to be a new brick with an upgrade too. I'm a bit worried about it overheating if I SLI - and is it possible to SLI with a heatsink on it? Methinks this might be a critical problem but I don't know?

Here's the rest of the pro-forma:

Approximate Purchase Date: ASAP - will likely order this weekend

Budget Range: - depends on upgrade price/performance. I can spend £300 British pounds on this upgrade for the moment, will allocate another 150-200 for graphics card upgrade later in the year.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming. All else follows from that, surely? ;-) OK - obviously web-browsing, but not much else.

Parts Not Required: keyboard, monitor, mouse, speakers, case (Antec Sonata 3 - still fine after 10 years of different builds in it!) I have some cooling but mainly fans. I have a cooler for the 8800GT actually (see above), also for the CPU but these are surely redundant now.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: amazon - UK - as I have a few vouchers. Am in the UK.

Overclocking: Yes I intend to do this.

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe - if appropriate see above.

Monitor Resolution: usually at 1280x1024 on a CRT. Might well consider a flat screen at some point in the next year. Hence will need to ensure good res when upgrading GPU (later this year). For years I could not understand why everyone swapped to flat screen monitors! My monitor still does any resolution I choose and so I can turn down the resolution if I need to - such a useful feature! Hey ho, what do I know...

Thanks again for the help!

I think you're on the right track. Later on, I'd definitely say just get a single better GPU instead of a second one for SLI. If you ever get a big monitor, being limited to the 512MB might slow you down.

Might also want to look into a new power supply at that point; not sure what's in your system now, but if it's a 4-year-old El Cheapo brand, probably best not to take chances if you end up with a new $300 video card.
I'd go for the alternative motherboard choice in your situation. Also, just get a new graphics card. If you want to game at 1080p on a new monitor, then I recommend a Radeon 7850. If you keep your current monitor, then I recommend a Radeon 7770.
Good build, Both boards are great choices, and I concur with Capt Taco, Sli/Crossfire is not all its cracked up to be. Generally, its only useful if you're running dual cards from day one.

With a single card thats old, the choice between adding a 2nd one in SLi vs a single newer card, generally the latter is the best choice. (Although there are some exceptions, GTX 460s for example Sli very well)


Mar 2, 2008
I went form dual 8800 GTX's to a 5970. Far less power and far more "Yay!"

The new hardware looks good. I'm always an advocate for less RAM is more. 4gb of 1600mhz works for most. Hell, I finally maxed out 4gb when I opened 250 web browsers.

Opening a mere 40 tabs or so in Opera or ~80-100 in Chrome may cause trouble at 4GB. 8GB of RAM is so cheap, so why not go the more future proofed option, especially since some games require more than 4GB for modern play? You can get 8GB of 1600MHz for less than $50 and some kits are between $30 and $45 (not only crap kits either, some high quality ones too).

I currently have 2 windows of Firefox nightly open,

> Runescape which is a Java based MMORPG game in one browser (in lobby)
>3 other tabs open in the window with Runescape
>Other window has a paused occurrence of Netflix streaming.

Other programs: Skype

According to Windows Task manager my usage is 4.23GB.. Yea.. Doesn't take much to tax 4GB of RAM these days. Playing Runescape while watching Netflix is typical for me. 32GB of RAM is probably overkill, but for a modern computer 16GB is the way to go if you can afford it.


Aug 8, 2006
Thanks for the feedback :)

I hereby write off the idea of two cards. Good to have the clarity!

Question - is it worth getting a motherboard with PCI 3.0? If so are there any alternatives you know of? If not I'll stick with the Asus p8z68 and get on with it.

Thanks also for thoughts on PSU - I forgot I have a corsair 650w PSU as I already had an El Cheapo which died horribly causing me to doubt all other components first and spend a bucket upgrading basically the whole pc! Never again!

I agree with Blaz on RAM I'm good with the memory choice now thanks!

Nearly there then just mobo final choice... :-/
PCIe 3.0 is not important. A PCIe 2.0 x4 slot has enough bandwidth for even high end video cards, so using PCIe 3.0 is mostly a gimmick for gaming unless you want something like quad GTX 680 in a 16 lane motherboard (I don't think many 16 lane motherboards support four video cards anyway).

PCIe 3.0 is really more important for other things like extreme SSDs and compute performance.

Corsair is good, stick with that PSU if you want to. Even if it dies later on, it shouldn't take other components with it.

I still like the alternative motherboard choice more. The other one doesn't seem worth it if you don't need it. Spending more on a motherboard only makes sense if the more expensive model has features that the cheaper one doesn't and if you will use them. More expensive motherboards don't perform better than cheaper ones at stock frequencies :)