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Upgrade from 5-year old CPU...

Discussion in 'System Builder's Advice' started by scooper22, Oct 14, 2011.

  1. scooper22

    scooper22 New Member

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    Hello everyone

    I plan to replace the heart of my rig and am looking for some advice and comments about the strategy I laid out.

    First perhaps a small rundown of the current system with the neuralgic points that have crept up:

    - CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ EE "Windsor" 90nm
    The CPU is undervolted at idle (1.0500V) and overclocked from 2.0GHz to 2.4GHz (+25%) without substancial voltage increase. As the TDP is rated at 65W this is a nice cuddly friendly processor that drains only little energy at idle (for power consumption see below)

    - Motherboard: ASRock AM2NF6G-VSTA
    This board has onboard GFX (actually disabled) and a crappy nForce-chipset that has problems with its USB ports (this has to do with the broken by design nForce-chip). There's an AM2-socket and the board is compatible to some AM2+ chips, but nothing more.

    - GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 2 GiB (reference)
    The pride of the rig, a reference 2 GiB 6950 from Sapphire with unlocked shaders, oc-headroom to 960MHz core. It's idle mode is undervolted (0.9V to 0.8V), under load the card currently runs stock 800MHz slightly undervolted at 1.05V (from 1.1V). There's plently of headroom but there's no need as it's not the limiting factor of the rig.

    - Power Usage:
    Before the discrete GPU was installed the rig ran with the onboard-GFX (GeForce6-class, DX9) on shared memory. There are some (I think) quite good power figured possible:
    - CPU idle, onboard-GPU idle: 58 W
    - CPU 2x100%, onboard-GPU 100%: 89 W (able to run most older games at 40-100FPS, Crysis on lowest settings got 5-10 FPS, but on a five-year old CPU, onboard GFX with shared memory this is.. well.. quite respectable? :) )
    With the 6950 installed:
    - CPU idle, 6950-GPU idle: 76 W (sadly a huge increase! :( )
    - CPU 2x100%, 6950-GPU 100%: 249 W (buuuurn! :) )


    As the CPU is now a five years old dual-core with slowish DDR2-800 RAM, a board that drives me nuts (one USB port running 2.0, one only 1.0 and the others completely unusable) and a power usage that makes it a potential candidate for a 24/7 fileserver I plan to replace CPU+board+RAM for something newer that will match the 6950 and Win7x64.


    For the question Intel or AMD I personally favor AMD as I don't like the public attitude of Intel, won't support their DRM, remote-shutdown-politic, and their high prices.
    I DO however have experience with Intel (Pentium I :) ). Chosing Intel is definitely not a no-go for me but I'd be reluctant and would give AMD the favour, if not at last to keep the competition between the two alive.



    The CPU.
    So I browsed some shops and specs and came to two CPUs:
    - AMD Phenom II X4 910e
    - AMD Phenom II X6 1090T

    Reasonings:
    - The 910e is a four-core, TDP 65W processor running stock 2.6 Ghz. It has proven to be overclockable up to ~3.2-3.5 GHz (+~25-35%) so the stock frequencies don't count here :)
    For me this is a very energy-efficient 4-core 3.3 GHz processor. the samt TDP lead me to the assumtion the power usage would be around the same as my current processor. It comes at 120 €.
    - The 1090T is a six-core processor with a TDP of 125W, which is twice the TDP of the 910e or my current CPU. It's clocked at 3.2 GHz and I expect it to be overclockable to 3.5 GHz (+~10%), maybe more, up to 4.0GHz (+25%). It has the same feature set as the 910e but two cores more. It comes at 150 €.

    I am unsure what the power usage of the two is at idle. I suspect them to be roughly the same, maybe +10W for the 1090T. Under load I primary want performance, power usage here is at 2nd place, however not forgotten.
    As the 910e can 4 x 3.5GHz @ 65W and the 1090T 6 x 3.5 GHz @ 125W, the favour here actually goes to the 910e. But I cannot overview the need for two extra cores in the future.
    -> So the first question here would be 910e or 1090T (1075T/1100T, BE only)?
    -> The second: Should I rather wait another 1/2 year for BD-prices to settle and take one of these? How's my timing?


    The Motherboard.
    I wanted an AM3+ socket board that is Bulldozer (Piledriver?) compatible for future CPU-upgrades. I think the AM3+ socket is a dead end but from the 1090T on there are two more CPU-generations for this socket to be expected (BD, PD), so an upgrade-path is available for the next few years.
    -> Reasonable?

    As new board I chose ASRock 970 Extreme4. It's AM3+ and provides all I need. It also has a lower power usage than the 990FX Extreme4. It costs around 85 €.
    -> How's the board I chose (future compatible, brand, compatibility, etc.) ?



    The RAM.
    As the processors both have a RAM-freq of 1333 this is the lowest speed I would choose for RAM. As I plan to overclock by, say, 25%, That would make 1666 RAM. Add some safetly and we'll check in at 1866 MHz RAM. 2000s RAM is way to expensive IMHO. Also BD fully supports 1866 in dual-channel, making 1866 RAM the lower border for future. I plan 8 GiB in two modules (so 2 x 4GiB modules) to have two empty slots for future expansions free.
    -> Reasonable? 16 GiB?

    As produt I chose G.Skill SNIPER DDR3-1866 DIMM CL9. Runs at 1.5V. However it is "certified" for Intel only and features XMP. It does not build high and fits under larger coolers. They're quite cheap at 50 € for 8 GiB.
    -> 1.5V okay? "Intel certified" without a note of AMD - Problem???
    -> Experiences? Alternatives? There are so many.....



    Supplements.
    As CPU-Cooler I chose the Scythe SCNJ-3000 Ninja 3. It's huge but fits my Maxtron. Being compatible to AM3 and having cooling headroom for very silent idle and moderate load operation. I. hate. loud. fans. Silent (or as silent as possible) is a must. The 6950 also gets an aftermarket cooler once warranty is over. Price 35 €.
    -> Is the Ninja 3 a great chunk of metal?



    I am very interested in your opinions about the strategic layout itself as also in the products chosen.

    Thank you very much in advance!
    scooper
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2011
  2. Crap Daddy

    Crap Daddy

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    What's your budget? Compared to the 150 Euro 1090T, 180 Euros for the i5-2500K is reasonable considering the performance you get in exchange. So, if you're not totally determined to go with AMD for personal reasons, the 2500K and a Z68 or even a P67 board is the best performance for the money right now and in the foreseeable future. That is for gaming.

    Since you also seem concerned about power I can tell you that an i5-2500K overclocked to 4.9GHz needs just under 20W more than an 1100T at stock 3.3 Ghz. Here:
    http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cpus/2011/01/03/intel-sandy-bridge-review/11
     
  3. scooper22

    scooper22 New Member

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    Budget does "not matter". The more bang for the buck the better. Therefore high-priced solutions rule themselves out as they have highest buck for only high bang.
    The complete 1090T system as described above is around 330 €. I think anything lower than 400 € is okay. And I am able to wait some months longer if it seems reasonable.

    The i5-2500K is a fierce opponent, I know. This is the dark sibling I have taken into account. Still prefer AMD for humanity reasons :D

    Does a price/performance/wattage interactive comparison chart exist somewhere?
     
  4. BraveSoul

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    i would go with 2500k and PCI-e 3.0/ivy bridge compatible board,,, thats what i did, almost(no pci-e 3) :shadedshu
     
  5. brandonwh64

    brandonwh64 Addicted to Bacon and StarCrunches!!!

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    Athlon 64 X2 3800+ running a unlocked 6950!! I bet its bottleneck heaven!

    2500K, Z68 Board, 2x2gb 1600mhz ram and you will be set. after that upgrade you will NEVER look back
     
    Crunching for Team TPU
  6. Red_Machine

    Red_Machine

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    Huh, I have USB issues on my 980a. Keeps thinking it's a USB 1.1 hub.
     
  7. qubit

    qubit Overclocked quantum bit

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    I know you don't want Intel, but that's where the performance is, I'm afraid, so I can't recommend anything else. You could get one of their cheap i3 processors and it will blow the doors off your old Athlon (I still have a system based on it, running as a server). That way, you'll have decent performance without giving too much money to Intel.

    You may be interested in the October gaming CPU buying guide over at Tom's Hardware, which should help you choose.
     
  8. thebluebumblebee

    thebluebumblebee

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    I remember how AMD got shafted by Intel's monopolistic practices when AMD had the performance edge with the Athlon 64's. We have no idea where AMD would be today if they had been allowed to profit fully at that time, but..., you are concerned about 3 things: Power usage, noise and bang for the buck. Unfortunately, Intel has it on all 3 accounts. Because their power usage is low, you don't need as much cooling to cool them, hence less noise. Bang for the buck leans their way with the possibility of upgrading to Ivy Bridge in a year with the Z68 motherboards (even though I think they're overpriced). But then again, what are we talking about? 30 watts/hour at gaming usage? There's also talk about a fix for BD coming out that will make it more competitive.
     
    Crunching for Team TPU More than 25k PPD

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