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Upgrade CPU or add $ to graphics card

Clay1987

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#1
Initial Thoughts

I have a question about additionally doing a central processing unit upgrade, but first let me discuss the graphics card upgrade, which seems the most important. As far as desire on the graphics card, my gut feel is low power, low noise, less parts, and modest performance with low to medium graphics settings for mild gaming and general use on an 3-yr old Dell OEM system. (I was thinking single slot but two slots are available).

As many non-enthusiasts, I am looking for something modestly cheap and painless for an OEM computer, though may could be persuaded to go for more. Also, I am sorry for innundating this post with a wealth of information, and partial replies are welcomed.

My budget for a graphics card upgrade is about $60-$110 flexible, though would go less or more dollars, depending on performance ratios (e.g., performance per $, performance per Watt, etc.), and a better understanding of demands and system limitations.

As discussed more below, I have initially settled on the following three possible choices for graphics cards:

HD6670 (1 GB DDR3) ($69),
HD6670 (1 GB GDDR5) ($89),
HD7750 ($109).


The Computer and Use

My 12 year old son has a 3-yr old Dell desktop computer (the candidate for the graphics card GPU upgrade and possible CPU upgrade) at his Mom's house that he will use for at least about 2 more years.

The system is a desktop Dell Inspiron 530 (system listed at the end of the post below) built in Feb 2009 with 3 GB RAM (DDR2 for this motherboard), integrated graphics, and apparently a 300 W power supply. It has a 19 inch LCD monitor and I believe the resolution he uses is 1280 x 1024. He may get a larger monitor in the next few months. Possible.

On the computer, he does school work (Microsoft Office), web surfing/browsing, Facebook, video chat, watching youtube videos and on rare occasion watches DVDs, and does mild gaming such as Minecraft (which the computer performance for Minecraft does not seem the greatest, an apparent victim of weak onboard graphics).

He also wants to do TF2. Portal 1, and Diablo 3, for example, and forgiving or medium games, and possibly (who knows) more demanding gaming but is willing to go with lower settings if needed.

He has a PS3 and XBox 360 for demanding games and in which he plays Skyrim, BF3, Portal 2, etc.

But he wants to get into PC gaming, at least mildly, and possibly more demanding PC gaming. Again, who knows with the fleeting desires of a 12 year old. In addition to gaming, it would be nice if the desktop computer ran faster and smoother generally. As indicated, in about 2 years, will likely get him a new computer, but for now . . .


Graphics Cards

As for a graphics card upgrade, I initially considered the HD6450 and HD6570. Low power and cheap, and should run Minecraft? At least they are discrete cards, and not the integrated graphics.

I also considered spending more money, and looked at the HD6770 ($115), HD6850, and HD7770. But I really want to stick with the 300 W power supply and only upgrade power supply, such as to a 500 W, if needed after installing the graphics card. Thinking to go for low power and something that "matches" this older Inspiron 530 system. And also possibly transfer the graphics card to the new computer to be purchased in a couple of years, and even do a crossfire dual tandem if possible and if that made sense. But that is the future. For now I am looking at a single card for the old Insprion 530.

As indicated, I now looking at the following three possible choices for graphics cards with approximate prices that do vary, and will make a purchase in the next week:

HD6670 (1 GB DDR3) ($69),
HD6670 (1 GB GDDR5) ($89),
HD7750 ($109).

I understand that some of the HD7750 models have no fan, and which appear to be generally more expensive. By the way, the Inspiron 530 computer has at least two PCI express slots available. (I will make sure to match the exact slot type with the selected card).

I have no brand loyalty, but some reason seem to generally favor Sapphire and Gigabyte, though will likely go with price over brand. It does seem that the rebate service for Gigabyte is more likely than rebate service for XFX, for example, to actually redeem the rebate. Though, I am not taking into account the rebate in making my decision, and assuming I will not be successful in redeeming any offered rebate. If I am successful, then great, it will be gravy.

An example of HD6670 (DDR3) at $64.99. (The 6670 DDR3 cards from the various packagers can go as high as $77 or so)
Computer Parts, PC Components, Laptop Computers, L... [...] 62334&SID=

An example of HD6670 (GDDR5) at $89 [though I saw a HD6670 (GDDR5) yesterday for $80 on Amazon, only one left in stock, I need to look for it again and see if it still available. I probably should have bought it yesterday].
http://www.amazon.com/EAH6670-DIS-&tag=tec06d-20 [...] B004X8EODY

An example of HD7750 (with fan) at $109 the standard price I see all over.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00782719&tag=tec06d-20 [...] B007827196


GRAPHICS CARD CONCLUSIONS

I am having a hard time deciding between the three: HD6670 (DDR3), HD6670 (GDDR5), or HD7750.

I have look at power extensivley, and they appear about the same. Some say the HD6670 (GDDR5) uses less power than the HD6670 (DDR3) but I haven't seen that in the data. I have noticed the HD7750 idles the least power of the three, but have seen inconsistent power data on peak usage. Anyway, as for power, they all three seem very low and about the same.

As for performance, based on the old computer system and the usage, if I finally believe the HD7750 will be recognizably better, I will get the HD7750, or the HD6670 (GDDR5) as a compromise. On the other hand, if I finally believe that the HD6670 (DDR3) will do just fine with Minecraft, TF2, and Diablo 3, for example, and improve the general computer experience, then I will go with the HD6670 (DDR3).

If the rebate on the HD6670 (DDR3) actually came through, then that would be a mere $39.99 for the card on his computer at my ex-wife's house with the existing power supply, and he gets a discrete card that is good.

Though, I can maybe skip a dinner out with the kids, and instead use the money to get the HD6670. Indecisive.


-------------
CPU

As for the CPU, is it worth upgrading the processor for $90?

The system has a Wolfdale E5300, 2.6, 2MB, 65W, R0 (800 MHz FSB). The motherboard is the Foxconn G33M02 (LGA 775 socket), which I understand is one of the two standard motherboards in the Inspiron 530 (the other being the G33M03), and that this G33M02 he has does not handle the Quad processors.

Apparently, the E8500 or E8600 (1333 MHz FSB, 6MB) (which I am finding in the $200 range) are the best performing processors for the motherboard, as long as the BIOS has the latest update. I came across a used E8400 (1333 MHz FSB, 6MB) from a top seller on Ebay for $90 (link below), and which I have confirmed in compatible with my motherboard, provided the BIOS has the latest update.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Core [...] 1649wt_921

Is it worth going from a E5300 to a used E8400 for $90? Apparently, the performance improvment is generally about 20-30%, but I have a hard time interpreting the results (see links for performance comparison and benchmarks below). I have also receive anecdotal info that I would notice a significant performance increase in general computer use with the E5300 to E8400 upgrade. I could instead spend that $90 on a 500 W power supply and a more powerful graphics card than I am thinking to buy. My priority is equally split between general computer use and gaming. Sorry. As for power supply, I am assuming that since both processors are at 65 W, the power requirements are about the same. Performance of the processors:

http://www.cpu-world.com/Compare/3 [...] E5300.html

http://www.cpubenchmark.net/


CPU QUESTION

In sum, the question is about spending $90 on a CPU upgrade versus instead spending that $90 to buy a power supply and install a more powerful graphics card than the $60-$110 graphics card I am planning to install (e.g., go with a 500 W power supply to replace the 300 W power supply, and buy a HD 7770 instead of the HD 7750, just an example, versus going with the HD7750 and sticking with the 300 W power supply and spending money [e.g., $90] on the central processor upgrade mentioned immediately above).


---------------

RAM

Lastly, about the RAM. The question is for this Dell Inspiron 530 built in Feb 2009 and which came with 3 GB RAM (DDR2 on this motherboard) and is running Vista, is there any reason to add RAM. For instance, I could replace the 512 MB in two slots each with1 GB, and thus giving a new total of 4 GB. Yet, I understand the 32-bit system will not utilize more than 3.0 or 3.5 GB.

Can the system utilize an increase from 3 GB to 4 GB RAM in any way?

I also assume any increase demand on the power supply from such a RAM upgrade would be relatively negligible, if any.

--------------

Dell System Configuration based on the System Tag, giving Part No., Number of Items, and Description

K086M 1 Processor, E5300, 2.6, 2MB Wolfdale, 65W, R0
JY167 1 Assembly, Heatsink, Fan, Mini Tower
WN585 1 INSTRUCTION..., DEVIATE L6 TO L5+, Pentium 4 Prescott DT, 3.0GHZ, 1 MEGB, 800FSB...
01323 0 INFORMATION..., NO ITEM
CN481 1 ASSEMBLY..., CHASSIS..., MNTW, Pentium 4 Prescott DT, 3.0GHZ, 1 MEGB, 800FSB..., NON PFC..., PWA INTEGRATED...
702EX 0 INFORMATION..., PREPARATION MATERIAL..., DEVIATION..., PRECISION WORKSTATION..., INCREASE..., #1
JY172 1 PLACEMAT..., GETTING STARTED..., DIMENSION..., DAO/BCC
83535 0 INFORMATION..., PART, ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY ATTACHMENT PACKET INTERFACE..., DEVICE
DJ331 1 KEYBOARD..., 104, UNIVERSAL SERIAL BUS..., UNITED STATES..., ENTRY..., LITEON..., BLACK...
WG440 2 Dual In-Line Memory Module 512, 800M, 64X64, 8, 240, 1RX8
P005H 1 KIT..., SOFTWARE..., ROXIO..., 10.2-0, DE
T118F 1 Kit, Software, Mcafee, 9, Compact Disk Drive, English
K257H 1 KIT..., Software, VHP32SP1A, DigitalVideo Disk Drive, Multiple, 5
XN966 1 KIT..., MOUSE..., UNIVERSAL SERIAL BUS..., 2BTN, OPTICAL..., LOGITECH...
DW623 1 KIT..., SPEAKER..., 12V, AX510PA, SHIP IN BOX..., TYPE1
DW804 1 Assembly, Dvd+/-rw, 16X, Half Height, BARE, Plds
R473H 1 HARD DRIVE..., 320GB, S2, 7.2K, SGT-BRINKS
UN492 1 Display, Flat Panel Display, 19 SE198WFPV, Silver, Dell AmericasOrganization
UN495 1 Kit, Software, MS Office Home and Student-2K7, English
CM633 2 Dual In-line Memory Module 1GB, 800, 128X64, 8, 240, 1RX8
 

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#2
huge wall of text!

For people tldr, here is the gist:
Processor E5300 2.6Ghz, Wolfdale core
Integrated graphics
2x1gb, 1x1gb DDR2 ram

What to get? Graphics (and PSU) or processor?

Now here is my answer:
Grab a decent PSU and a graphics card. the E5300 while old is still pretty capable of low end gaming. 7750 at $109 is ok, although I will get a 6770 at $90 (120 upfront cost)

XFX HD-677X-ZNFC Radeon HD 6770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 ...

I personally will leave the ram alone, getting a ram upgrade will not be very noticeable, and its extra cost which you can put elsewhere.

As for PSU, get something decent, or risk blowing your entire rig. Corsair, Antec, FSP, Thermaltake, etc are all good.
 

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#3
I would just plop in a 7750 because anything more will just be bottle necked by the CPU. Wouldn't need a new PS either.
 

Yo_Wattup

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#4
huge wall of text!

For people tldr, here is the gist:
Processor E5300 2.6Ghz, Wolfdale core
Integrated graphics
2x1gb, 1x1gb DDR2 ram

What to get? Graphics (and PSU) or processor?

Now here is my answer:
Grab a decent PSU and a graphics card. the E5300 while old is still pretty capable of low end gaming. 7750 at $109 is ok, although I will get a 6770 at $90 (120 upfront cost)

XFX HD-677X-ZNFC Radeon HD 6770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 ...

I personally will leave the ram alone, getting a ram upgrade will not be very noticeable, and its extra cost which you can put elsewhere.

As for PSU, get something decent, or risk blowing your entire rig. Corsair, Antec, FSP, Thermaltake, etc are all good.
Oh lord thank you!

Yes, get a new video card. C2Ds arent toooooo bad, integrated graphics is.
 
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#5
I would also suggest getting the 7750 and be done with it, it's the best performer per watt, and most future prove.

The cpu decent enough, I would read up on oc'ing it maybe, after getting a new PSU that is. In my eyes no cpu upgrade for that socket is worth the money it'll cost.

Better save up that cash for a new mobo/cpu/mem combo in the future.


However the PSU upgrading you should seriously consider, it's the most important part of your rig and if you get a nice 80+ efficiency one, you'll save money on the electricity bill as well.
 

JrRacinFan

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#6
Don't laugh at me but; What OS is it? If it's Windows XP, I remember something along the lines of the video card buffer getting copied to system ram. Also, the whole pc may run better sans the single 1GB dimm and strictly running 2x1GB (possibly losing dual channel). In other words, either keep the 1GB in there and potentially lose out on loading times, multitasking, and to an extent smoother visuals to the gpu. AGAIN this is all hypothetical if running Windows XP 32 bit, if so see if you can find a 2nd hand gtx260(remember this is going to be dx9 ;)), they usually go for $60 currently & give it a power supply facelift, a Corsair cx500 would be more than plenty and should last a while.

If Windows 7/Vista 64 bit, go with hd7750 & give a thought to updating power supply in the near future.
 
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#7
+1 on the PSU & VGA upgrade, because if a game is not running good enough because of a CPU bottleneck, upgrading to a e8400 won't do significantly better, specially in games that requires more than 2 cores. Save and upgrade to a 4+ cores system in the future.
 
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#8
I just put a 7750 in a mates computer paired with an e6600 core 2 duo. It went really well and the power it uses is pretty damm amazing. I did do a little research b4 my purchase and found this to be the best price/performane/power ratio.
 
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#9
I upgraded a Dell with a P4 630 CPU from an X300 to a 6670 . Surprisingly was able to play Crysis! No it wasn't terribly smooth and knocked down most settings, but it was playable.

With a Wolfdale and any one of those cards, you'll have a decent gaming rig.

The 6670 (GDDR3) was the choice because of low power draw and no need for an external power connector.
 
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#10
7750, no new supply. Hell, that thing runs almost on batteries!
 

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#11
Oh I missed something :eek:

There is a $40 6670 DDR3 if rebate goes through, I believe that will be the best deal. Any improvement from integrated will be night and day you will forget better products existed. You don't even need to upgrade your PSU for that I think.
 
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#12
As the others have said get the graphics upgrade. I put a 4870 in a friends pc with an e6550 2.33ghz a few years back and it was bottlenecked and didn't even reach the performance of my e6420@3.2ghz with an 8800gt (crysis was the only game I tested) so i'd be inclined to go with one of the cheaper cards.
 
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#13
New CPU and GPU.

Higest Dual core you can get and the 7750.

The PSU should be able to cope fine.
 

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#14
The HD 7750 is made for you.. You will not want to buy other card soon after that.. Even it runs on as lpw as 50 - 70W so thee will be no problem.

I guess your PSU is 80+ Certified, if not, purchase a Corsair CX 430 v2.


If it is 80+ then get a CPU like a Core 2 Duo E7400 @ 2.8 GHz or spend a little more on E7500 @ 2.9 GHz. Thiss is the best nder your budget..
member, GHz don't matter, the model does.

:)
 

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#15
get a CPU like a Core 2 Duo E7400 @ 2.8 GHz or spend a little more on E7500 @ 2.9 GHz
Just. Hate to say it I disagree. Save the cashe, use it toward a new cpu/board/ram upgrade.
 
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#17
Just. Hate to say it I disagree. Save the cashe, use it toward a new cpu/board/ram upgrade.
I agree, at $200 for a Core2 CPU, you can get a Sandybridge i5 2500K for that amount or less. You'd be better off saving and building a new PC for the cost of that CPU.

Otherwise, get the 7750 and be done with it as others have said.
 

Sylvester

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#18
Its nice that you care enough about your son to ask Clay.

Imho graphics obviously, assuming you want the PC to have better potential as an entertainment device as well as an educational tool.

Integrated graphics are intended as cost cutting options for small office systems which will run mostly 2D office applications and browse the internet, they save the cost of a 3D capable card where it is not needed, they dont play 3D games at all well but they do already play 2D games.

Speaking as a 47yr old qualified teacher and gamer it strikes me there is, ethically speaking, an educational issue for some young people with games and time management. Imho responsibility is learned by experience and can be helped by reasonable discussion about the real issues and a clear parental statement of responsible intentions and hopes behind such a gift.

Hope I am not overstepping the mark, just thought it might help provide food for thought.