Out of the loop on current CPUs, motherboards and RAM

Discussion in 'PC Purchasing Help' started by tabs, Jun 27, 2015.

  1. tabs

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    Background
    My current rig has a Q9650 @ 3.98 with 4GB DDR2 ram and a 980Ti. I've basically ignored CPU, mobo and RAM technology in the last few years and have no clue about it's current state. All the numbers and letters are different! I'm thinking about upgrading these in the next month or two and have a few questions.

    The machine will be used primarily for gaming.

    Questions
    • Will my PSU work with current motherboards?
    • Is it a bad time to do an overhaul like this with DDR4 seemingly fresh on the market?
      It's not like the current performance is horrible. I could live with it another 6-12 months if it were a super bad idea to upgrade just now.
    • What is my Q9650 comparable to in current technology?
      This would help me to estimate performance gains when looking at recent reviews. I'm not entirely convinced that I'll be 'wowed' by my upgrade at the moment. That feeling is important. :)
    • Are there any pitfalls or gotchas that I need to know about when choosing a current motherboard?
    • Has overclocking changed much in the last few years since the Core2?
    • Any advice on how much RAM I should get?
      I've not noticed any issues running with 4GB for so very long.
    • Are there any questions you think I should have asked, but haven't due to ignorance? :D
    Parts
    If you'd really like to and have some ideas, feel free to mention parts that you'd recommend me using.

    My budget is anything up to £700 for CPU, mobo, RAM and aftermarket CPU cooler (if required). Obviously I would prefer it less, especially if the performance gains between say £450 and £700 were minimal.

    CPU
    I want a CPU that has the potential to overclock well using on air. Am happy to use an aftermarket cooler if the gains are worth it.

    I tend to prefer the upper end of great mainstream overclocking CPUs over the tippy top high end ones that have a big premium.

    Mobo
    The mobo should be full size and I've no need for integrated graphics, SLI or more than one ethernet port.

    It should have a good amount of USB connectors and support RAID.

    RAM
    Particularly clueless here. My gut tells me I want 16GB of the stuff. I also don't know if DDR3 or DDR4 is preferable currently.

    Performance-wise I'm not sure how much difference there is between mainstream and high end in real world gaming situations. In the past I've had very high end RAM and bog standard and besides getting some mind blowing numbers in non-gaming benchmarks I don't know that I've experienced much of a difference. This is going back a few years though, so maybe there is more in it now.
     
    #1 tabs, Jun 27, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2015
  2. Rikimaru

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    Wait for Intel Skylake reviews. In August I think.

    Overclocking changed a lot for Intel. You need special CPU edition and MB chipset.
     
  3. UniversalTruth

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    Or...

    Just try with waiting Windows 10 and DirectX 12.

    DirectX 12 and the games on it are promised to unleash some hidden power with "slower" CPUs like yours. ;)

    If nothing spectacular happens in the next several months, then just forget Intel Skylake and wait for AMD Summit Ridge.
     
  4. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    Unknown, as the specs page is a bit barebones.

    Well, it will WORK, but unless you disable advanced power saving tech you might have your PSU wonk out on you if it doesn't support today's efficient near-zero idle power draw processors*.

    *Evil joke: as a workaround, just buy AMD chips... :p
     
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  5. tabs

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    Like I said I'm out of the loop so I don't get the reference therefore the humor confuses me. Which bit was the joke? The bit after the asterisk, the bit before, both bits or all of it? :)

    Here's an image of the specs page in case it's not showing in your browser properly.

    Maybe asking if my PSU is compatible is a bit daft, but I've been bitten by making assumptions before when doing big upgrades. At the easy end I could be looking at getting an adaptor or two for the mobo power connection, or it could be worse and there's been some more significant changes that I've not heard about.

    As far as AMD / Intel goes, I don't mind which I use as long as it's fast. My knowledge is a few years old but I understand AMD make some great value chips. The thing is though I'm on this PC a lot and don't mind paying a bit more for some extra grunt. At the time I built this system Intel had been ruling that roost for quite a while. From what I can see they still are? I can see the value in waiting for the next architectures to come out if they're just round the corner.. though in the past I've typically not liked buying first gen stuff as it's usually overpriced and the mobos aren't as stable.

    I would love to get some good data on just how much my system is holding my GPU back. Anyone here with a 980Ti I could compare notes with?
     
    #5 tabs, Jun 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
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  6. Pixel

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    DX12 may verywell be the equivalent of a cpu upgrade for you in games that are properly ported. While there was this Batman Arkham Knight fiasco that in part had to do with the difficulty of porting from console to pc. DX12 will make it easier in many ways and Win10 is free so hopefully most AAA PC games will take decent advantage of dx12 by 2017. May mean many many people who's bought an intel quadcore from the last 6-7 years don't have to upgrade for many dx12 games. You'll probably see a huge performance boost in some dx12 games, which in dx11 would normally be cpu bound by your system.

    check out my sig
     
    #6 Pixel, Jun 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
  7. tabs

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    I have my CPU running at 3.98Ghz, so it's not really a low clocked one. It's the fastest locked multiplier C2Q they made and has 12mb L2 cache, but I can't ignore that it's 7 years old already.

    Every DX version has had pre-release claims about how much faster everything will be and they never really panned out as they were marketed, as your sig alludes to. By the time DX12 is the baseline target for AAA games my current chip's age will be in double digits.

    My current reality is that while the typical framerate is ... lets be fair.. pretty awesome with this GPU, the minimum framerate is what it's all about and that leaves something to be desired in a few of the most demanding games I play right now. In the past I've fixed this problem by upgrading the rest of my system to catch up with more frequent GPU upgrades I've done. This time round though I've not been following much of what's been going on in the hardware world, hence the thread.

    I care about having a good experience in current and near future games and they're unlikely to be remade for DX12. I also own and regularly play on a rift dk2 and will be getting a consumer VR device (not sure which yet, probably oculus). Having framerate dips in these things is much more jarring than on a monitor.

    As I said earlier in the thread, It's not so bad that I can't live with it for a while longer, but the idea of waiting for DX12 to become the default path in all the games I'd want to play seems a bit far off, and I have doubts that it would help all that much anyway as by that time AAA devs probably won't be limiting their CPU usage to cater for chips a decade old. More likely that they'll be leveraging the extra performance available to modern processors in some way.
     
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  8. swaaye

    swaaye Entirely Suboptimal
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    Well hey Haswell and friends are pretty great. Skylake might be a shake up moment but who really knows until it happens (whenever that will truly be). I agree with the sentiment that people are putting an awful lot of hope/dreams/faith in that Direct3D 12 / Vulkan advertising.

    I would just wait until some new game comes along and you feel genuinely inadequate. Then spend freely and have fun doing it.
     
  9. DuckThor Evil

    DuckThor Evil Anas platyrhynchos
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    A member here did a lot of tests with an overclocked GTX 970 on an old and more recent processor that might be of some help to you.

    https://forum.beyond3d.com/threads/...vs-q9550-in-70-benchmarks-bonus-i7-860.56767/

    You can just forget AMD stuff for now. It might be worth to wait for Skylake, unless you want more than 4 processor cores, then a Haswell-E platform with 5820k processor might be your thing.
     
    #9 DuckThor Evil, Jun 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
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  10. UniversalTruth

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    I don't remember about DX11 (or any other previous DX version, for that matter) pre-release claims which promised anything as significant related to overheads, etc.
    DirectX 12 is the first.

    What do you mean with "you feel genuinely inadequate" ? About what ?
     
  11. tabs

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    @Dr Evil Thank you, that's very helpful. Funny that what I've been trawling the web for was right here under my nose at B3D. His results clearly show that there are indeed huge performance gains to be had in gaming by upgrading this system.
     
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  12. DuckThor Evil

    DuckThor Evil Anas platyrhynchos
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    Yeah his tests are very good. Intel's CPUs saw a very nice performance increase with the first gen i7 processors. Sandy Bridge was also a very nice boost, but not so much in games anymore, at least not in most single player games though. After Sandy Bridge the advancements have been a quite small increments and amount to close to zero in gaming. I do agree that you are in need and will benefit very nicely from a CPU upgrade with having such a powerful GPU. After Skylake comes out you can see if it's worth getting over the current parts, which might be available at reduced priced at that point. I plan on running my 4770k for a long time still.
     
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  13. swaaye

    swaaye Entirely Suboptimal
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    DirectX 10 had talk of CPU overhead reduction. There was also chatter about upgraded GPU command processors in DX10 GPUs to reduce driver overhead.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/direct3d-10,1356-6.html
    http://techreport.com/review/12458/amd-radeon-hd-2900-xt-graphics-processor/2

    I was telling him not to upgrade until a new game is clearly running poorly because of the CPU. Though there is no denying that a Core 2 Quad and a 980Ti are a time warped combination. That GPU is surely bottlenecked. It might even be on PCIe 1.1, though that may not have any tangible effect.
     
    #13 swaaye, Jun 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
  14. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    :p The bit after the asterisk, alluding to the fact that AMD chips draw more power than the competition...

    It's not daft, it usually pays to be precautious about these sort of things. No, your PSU should be compatible in the big scheme of things, meaning the connectors will fit and so on (and you're obviously good on the power ceiling front with an 850W unit, unless you want to go triple-SLI/crossfire with a high-end model GPU perhaps...)

    Your only real concern is if it supports the so-called EuP Lot 6 standard or not, which essentially specifies a power supply should be able to handle >1W loads on the main 12V rail(s); if it doesn't - and pre-Haswell PSUs might not - you may find your PC difficult/impossible to boot or shutting down on you if you put it in standby mode or even just leave it to idle, as older PSU designs may expect a certain level of "base" power draw, and if they don't get that they can't regulate properly and undercurrent/voltage protection or similar may trigger.

    Probably not that much, most of the time. As long as you can hit 60fps, anything more than that is typically just wasted as almost all displays can't update any faster anyway. Minimum FPS will be higher on a faster, more modern CPU of course, but per definition you don't hit minimum FPS very often. :)
     
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  15. UniversalTruth

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    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/49?vs=677

    At 4 GHz your Q9650 should be on par / faster than Core i3 3220 (Ivy Bridge at 22 nm).

    About memory, 8 GB DDR3 would do better than 4 GB DDR2.
    You can combine Q9650 with DDR3, no problems here.

    Of course, he bottlenecks the videocard. I do wonder why he decided to jump with the highest high-end GPU on this system.
    Probably something like GTX 970, GTX 960 would fit much better.

    In all cases, it would be hard to find a game which will run poorly.
    Keep in mind that you can adjust the settings with low image quality sacrifices and game would still look astonishing.

     
    #15 UniversalTruth, Jun 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
  16. ToTTenTranz

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    The CPU might become appropriate with DirectX12, but you'll definitely need more RAM, like yesterday.

    If you can't find some 2nd-hand DDR2 modules, you could always try to find a LGA775 motherboard that supports DDR3 and start from there.

    Regardless, I also think it's not very wise to spend >500€ on Motherboard+CPU+RAM just a month before DX12 comes in.
     
  17. tabs

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    Like a lot of people, I tend to upgrade bits at a time rather than the whole thing at once. I always upgrade my GPU until I notice my CPU holding it back significantly. I'll wait til August to see what happens with the new Intel chips. Gut feeling is I'll be getting a decent chip and board from the current gen, but we'll see.

    The thread Dr Evil linked clearly shows the performance gains I could get by upgrading my CPU right now, but I'm happy to wait a bit. I won't be buying any more RAM modules for this motherboard with a system upgrade so soon.

    Thanks, that's useful info. I'll dig around and see if I can find anything. Failing that, it will be put to the test on build day with many crossed appendages.

    Yes, I'm not interested in average fps particularly as long as it's above my refresh rate. It's the dips that are the problem, particularly in VR.
     
    #17 tabs, Jun 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
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  18. UniversalTruth

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    Our idea is to help you with saving money. Because no matter what you are doing now, you WON'T be able to enjoy 4k.
    By the way, you didn't say what type of monitor you are using currently.

    Even if you do not realise it now, your appetite will inevitably come and then you will need to upgrade... once more.

    Given that you stay with your systems quite long time, anyways.

     
  19. Pixel

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    So its settled wait for skylake to see its performance, and to drop prices on older cpus, since you want to play old dx11 games, and multiple publishers/developers will continue to poor ports. And as multiple developers have said, and the public dx12 docs read these dx12 performance improvements are fairly contingent on the developers skill at manually dealing with the resources that used to be automatically handle by dx5-dx11 api. Hard to say how many companies will continue to put out bad ports.

    But I just want to say we've seen from numerous games including BF4/Thief4 and other games AMD's Mantle API supporting titles that the cpu demand is reduced significantly. Before its public debut to everyone not under NDA, AMD's dealings with MS as part of its Mantle development pushed Microsofts hand to make improvements on its own API. This time as we've seen from AMD's Mantle the cpu performance benefits from low level multithreaded APIs are big and real.
     
    #19 Pixel, Jun 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
  20. tabs

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    Yep, that's the plan.
     
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