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Upgrading CPU - Pentium D


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#1
DrumProdigy83

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Hey guys, I have a question about upgrading my CPU that probably is a no-brainer, but I've been searching like crazy for answers and haven't found any yet, so hopefully someone here can help. :whistling:

I bought a Dell XPS 400 back in December 2005 and it's been great, but I have really been getting into computer games (namely FEAR, Doom 3, Call of Duty 2) and after upgrading my video card (Nvidia 6800 --> Nvidia 7900 GT) I am still having some choppiness, on high or low settings.

For instance, after testing FEAR at 1186x864x32 with all settings at MAX, I receive an average fps of ~44, peak of ~61, and a minimum of ~22 - about 50% of the test was above 40fps, 3% below 25fps, and the rest between 25 and 40 fps. That's not too bad. However, with FSAA turned off, filtering dropped from 16x anisotropic to just trilinear, and resolution down to 640x480x32, I receive the exact same fps (give or take 1-3 fps) with the percentages slightly better (about 66% above 40fps, 3% below 25fps, and the rest between 25 and 40fps). Not bad performance, but not a real big difference either.

I am disatisfied because overall, gameplay is not 40, 50, 60fps smooth like the tests show. Even in Call of Duty 2, the difference between high settings and low settings is practically nothing. I think this is an indicator that the CPU is just not quite up to the task (at least the way I want).

So anyway, I want to upgrade my Pentium D 3.00GHz (830) processor to something a little faster, maybe with hyper threading? I would be willing to spend a couple hundred $$, but really no more than like $250~300 at the most. Do you guys have any thoughts or recommendations on this? Thanks for the help (sorry this post is so long)!



PS - I have 1 gig of RAM, and when I play games I make sure I don't have any programs on in the background (except antivirus autoprotect is on), screen saver off, no IMs, etc. I defragment my HD every 1-2 weeks as well. That's all. :blink: Thanks!

PS - I've had problems with Malware in the past, but a few months ago I got my hands on Spyware Doctor, and it really did the trick. Right now I use Norton Antivirus '06, Windows Defender, and Trend Micro Anti-Spyware, and no longer have any problems. As far as I know there isn't any malware on my computer at all.

Edited by DrumProdigy83, 25 July 2006 - 10:20 PM.

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#2
Samm

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Welcome to G2G

According to Dells website, the max cpu that the XPS 400 supports, is the Pentium D 940 3.2GHz.

Even this cpu won't support HT as none of the Pentium D series do. The only dual core ones that will support HT are the extreme edition series.

The main benefit of the 940 over your current cpu, is the amount of L2 cache - the 940 has 2 x 2M, whereas yours is 2x 1M. Apart from that, I can't see any other significant improvement or difference.

You may see a more significant improvement from upgrading either the video card to 512MB or upgrading the memory to 4GB. (With 4GB installed, the ram FSB will be 533Mhz, not 667MHz)

BTW if you do decide to upgrade the ram, check out how much Dell are going to charge you for the additional memory, then go to Crucial's website (www.crucial.com) & use their memory advisor. They will give you a list of ram they sell thats guaranteed 100% compatible with your system. You may just find they are cheaper than Dell.
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#3
DrumProdigy83

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Hey Samm,

Thanks for your quick reply. I think the only difference between the 940 and 960 pentium processors is the speed (3.2 GHz vs 3.4GHz), and the reason Dell doesn't offer it in their XPS 400 line is because it might cut into their XPS 700 line sales (XPS 400 is mid-level, and XPS 700 is high-end). That's just my own speculation though, and Dell MB's are not overclock-friendly so I really need to get the highest performing processor possible. The 940 wouldn't offer enough performance increase to justify its price, but the 960 might be a little easier to justify (it only costs about $35 more at NewEgg, at $229 w/ free shipping). Furthermore, the 960 sucks up less power (95w) than my 830 (130w) and generates much less heat as well (the cooling setup in the XPS case is pretty good, and if it can keep the 830 cool it should easily be able to keep the 960 cool as well).

Sorry, I don't mean to throw this stuff in your face, I appreciate your help, those are just some other thoughts I have. I have 1 GB of RAM now, which should be more than enough for most applications, but a friend of mine has a similiar computer and has just upgraded to 2 GB of RAM and swears FEAR runs much smoother overall. Places where he normally had slight "glitches" and "pauses" are no longer there, though his 3DMark 05 and 06 scores have not improved very significantly at all, just a couple of points (30-40 I think, CPU and overall... I think). I asked him to try out some other games and stuff to see if he notices any differences, I'm still waiting for him to get back to me. I think I will eventually upgrade to 2GB but not just yet... and I've always liked Crucial :whistling:

Oh yea, the video card was just upgraded from a 256mb 6800 (325MHz GPU / 594MHz DDR-2) to a 256mb 7900 GT (520MHz GPU / 1500MHz DDR-3) plus 12 more pixel pipelines and misc. other features / renderers, etc. In 3DMark tests I've already seen as much as (and an average of) 3x better performance with the new video card. I used to average 8-10fps in 3DMark 06 (some tests) and now average 25-30fps. Regardless, more video RAM would definitely help, but I just don't have to cash to keep upgrading. FEAR was playable with the 6800, with the settings on "medium" I was able to achieve similiar frame rates compared to the 7900 with settings on "MAX", though that same sort of "choppiness" has always existed. That's what I want to get rid of. Doom3 runs smooth as glass, but Call of Duty 2 has some choppiness to it too. Online reviews have given the 7900 GT a lot of praise for being able to run these games very smooth with everything set to MAX at resolutions of 1600x1200 or higher.... and yet I only run them at 1024x768 or 1152x864... should be very smooth. So yea, upgrading to 2GB of RAM might help a little, I think upgrading the CPU would have the biggest overall impact on bringing smoothness to these games. What do you think? Thanks again for your help, I appreciate it :blink:
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#4
rumble291

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What is the RAM specs? I had a problem with choppiness i changed the speed and lactencys and it went away. The processor upgrade wouldn't do that much as when i upgraded from a Athlon XP 2400 to a Athlon 64 3800 i only noticed a slight speed difference. I would upgrade the RAM to 2GB of Crucial low lactency as that should solve the problem.

Edited by rumble291, 23 July 2006 - 03:27 PM.

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#5
Samm

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Re. the cpu - you may well have a point about Dell not wanting to offer above a 940 for reasons similar to the ones you suggested. However, it would still be a bit of a gamble if you were to buy a higher spec cpu just on the hope that it will support it.

There are some system info utilities around though that can tell you the fastest cpu that a system supports. (I think SiSoft Sandra can do it but I'm sure theres plenty of others too). This may be worth considering but don't trust the results from just one utility, run a few of them if possible to see if they all agree.
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#6
DrumProdigy83

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Thanks for the replies guys. I will look into getting new memory for my computer - I'm not sure, am I just adding an extra 1GB of RAM, or am I replacing the RAM I already have with 2GB of something else (say, Crucial)?

I will check out SiSoft Sandra and whatever other programs I can find to see what my motherboard can support. It may not even be worth it for me to upgrade the CPU afterall. I'll browse around and see what I can find, then I'll report back here. Thanks a million for your help guys :blink: :whistling:
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#7
DrumProdigy83

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Just ran SiSoft Sandra, it says my upgradeability support speed is 4.00GHz+ , so I should be fine with the 960 processor at 3.4GHz. I don't know how much a new processor will help, seems like more RAM would be better especially since CPU prices keep falling. A little more research....

*Edit* I just bought some RAM at Crucial - 2GB kit (1GBx2), Ballistix 240-pin DIMM - for $300. The latency on my current RAM is 4-4-4-11, which isn't so great. Regular Crucial RAM was about ~$250, so for an extra $50 I bought the Ballistix RAM. I am going to replace the RAM I have now entirely, probably will just sell it on Ebay. I want to wait until I isntall this new RAM before I jump ahead to buy a new CPU. Hopefully the RAM upgrade will help smooth things out... I will keep you guys informed, thanks again.

Edited by DrumProdigy83, 23 July 2006 - 09:26 PM.

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#8
rumble291

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If that doesn't work check for any malware which can cause it aswell. I had like 20 viruses without knowing i took them off and my fps jumped loads.
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#9
Samm

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I think a ram upgrade is far more sensible than a cpu upgrade at this point. It should certainly give you a far more significant boost in performance than a small cpu upgrade
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#10
DrumProdigy83

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OK, so I ordered new RAM from Crucial that will be here by Thursday... Turns out my brother wants to buy a new computer before school starts for $1000 or less. I did some browsing around on NewEgg (and other places) and found everything I needed to build a new [more powerful] gaming rig for just under $1000. So, I am going to give him my XPS 400 for $1000 and build a new PC. Looks like I won't find out if the added RAM will cure the stuttering afterall :blink: but from what I've read and what you guys have said, I'm sure it would have helped.

In case you guys are curious, here is the new rig I am putting together:

Processor - http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819103751
Motherboard - http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813131011
Case - http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811119030
PSU - http://www.newegg.co...N82E16817171011
HD - http://www.newegg.co...N82E16822148140
RAM - Crucial Ballistix DDR2 PC2-5300 (3-3-3-12) DDR-667 2 x 1GB
Monitor - Dell 20" Widescreen LCD
Video - XFX Geforce 256 MB 7900 GT (520 MHz / 1500 MHz)
Audio - Sound Blaster X-fi Xtreme Audio
Optical - Sony 16x DVD & Sony 16x DVD-R (48x CD-R)

The video card, audio card (and speakers) and monitor I already have, and the Crucial RAM and Seagate HD I ordered the other day anyway. Everything else fits into the $1000 budget. So really the new computer is going to cost a little more than $1000, probably closer to $1500. I am going to put the old Geforce 6800 back into the XPS system, and he already has a stereo in his room so he won't need a sound card (he can use headphones in the integrated audio output if he wants). I bought a Samsung 17" LCD (8ms) for about $180 too, so he can just use that. The 1 GB of RAM will be enough (he doesn't really play computer games) as will the 160GB Seagate HD.

I guess that just about sums it up. I'm curious to see how the new setup will fair against my current setup. I've always wanted to try out AMD, and I've always wanted to tinker with overclocking (Dell never allows overclocking in their MBs). I may even try out SLI if video card prices drop a little more - the 7900 GT costs around $300 now give or take... if it drops into the low $200's I will probably eventually pick up another one. We'll see....

Sorry all your help had to be in vain, I didn't expect this situation at all, though I gladly welcome it. :help: Take care guys and thanks again! :whistling:
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