1. #1

    What to upgrade?

    My current system:
    Intel E5200 2.5GHz
    Gigabyte GA-EP43
    Sapphire Radeon HD 4670 512mb
    4gb RAM
    Windows Vista 32bit

    Video settings: Max except for shadows at lowest setting and particle density/effects lowered 2 notches; 15-30fps Dalaran, Raids ~ 30fps (dipping to 7-15fps during heavy AOE/particle effects).

    My system tends to choke in high-populated areas and during AOE (especially in 25mans). As a tank and healer I always feel like these drops in performance are effecting my in-game performance, so I am looking to make a < $200 upgrade. Seeing that my processor is my weakest link (and has a broader effect across the whole computing experience), I was looking to upgrade it while keeping my current MB.

    My options:
    C2D E8400 3.0GHz
    C2Q Q8400 2.66GHz

    or upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit and hold the rest of the upgrade money until I can do a i5 + MB upgrade.

    Just wondering which would be the best upgrade, not only for WoW, but general computing performance.

  2. #2

    Re: What to upgrade?

    Have you considered overclocking that E5200? You should be able to get to 3.5 provided your chip is half decent, it should buy you enough time to get by and save a little for an i5/mobo/graphics card upgrade all at once.

    Personally I'd just hoof the processor as hard as i can and blow my upgrade dough on a graphics card (ymmv, plus getting a 64bit OS should be on your list somewhere too, eating up your budgetary requirements).

  3. #3

    Re: What to upgrade?

    I have already overclocked the E5200, and had it up to 3.25GHz but it was always a bit unstable (upping the CPU/RAM voltage didn't help), and it's a bit annoying to crash due to the OC while tanking. Eventually I dialed it back to 3GHz, and while it was more stable I didn't notice any real improvements so I just reverted to stock settings. I always chalked up the lack of seen performance to not being able to run the RAM 1:1 (I think the closest I could get was 3:5). Maybe I'll give the OC a try again before spending some cash.

    And I'd rather go Win 7 over a graphics card with my reasoning being that a processor or the OS effect the whole computer, while a graphics card really only effects less than 1/4 of what my computer is used for. The other reason I abhor the idea of upgrading the graphics card is the inane numbering/naming of the cards. To someone like me that doesn't constantly keep up with the bleeding edge, it seems like one needs a PHd to decode the names/stats of the cards.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  4. #4

    Re: What to upgrade?

    Your operating system. Go to Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit. You're not utilizing all of your system and graphics memory. You cannot address more than 4gb of memory in a 32 bit OS. But that is shared between system and graphics.
    2x Intel Xeon 5680 12 Cores (2x6 Cores)@ 5.0ghz.* EVGA Classified SR-2 Motherboard.*Kingston Hyper-X 48gb(12x4gb) DDR3 1600.* 3x OCZ Colossus SSD 1.5gb (3x500gb) Raid 0.* 2x Enermax 1250W PSU. 4x EVGA GTX 480 Quad-SLI.* Samsung F3 1TB Storage Drive.* Custom Watercooled (EK 2xCPU/4xGPU Blocks, 2xMCP655 Pumps, 3xXSPC Dual Bay Reservoirs, 3x480 GTX Radiators, 24x Scythe GentleTyphoon AP15 Fans in Push/Pull).* 3x Dell 3008wfp 30" IPS Monitors.* ASUS Xonar D2X 7.1 PCIe

  5. #5

    Re: What to upgrade?

    So I tried the overclock again; ran Prime 95 for 6hrs with no problems, started WoW to find crashes (something about memory I believe, I stupidly didn't save the error message). Basically I had to revert to stock clock speed so I could raid last night. A better overclocker could probably get it to run stable, but I just don't have the knowledge or the patience to get it there.


  6. #6
    Moderator Cilraaz's Avatar
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    Re: What to upgrade?

    What settings are you using as far as clock, multiplier, voltages, memory multiplier, etc?

    Also, I would suggest OCCT for stability testing. If you use the Linpack test, it will essentially give you the same results as Prime95, but a ton faster. One hour of OCCT-Linpack is probably equivalent to about 8-12 hours of Prime95. It's also shown me stability issues when Prime95 tested fine.

  7. #7
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    Re: What to upgrade?

    I also have an e5200, and have seen the "memory could not be read" message you saw when you tried your overclock. The most stable I could get windows to run was at 3.5, but WoW wouldn't run. 3.25 was the most stable I can get the game to work. The error actually occured when my RAM hit the 1066 mark, but goes away the moment I bring it back to 1060.

    I got this stable with 260 bus, 12.5 multi, memory at 1060, and cpu voltage 1.3, memory +.2. WoW is stable at these settings, though to be honest I don't see much difference from the results you're getting, except a little better performance in Dalaran.

  8. #8

    Re: What to upgrade?

    Cilraaz, here is the info you were asking about

    Clock: 266
    Multi: 12.5
    VCore: 1.3v (after vdroop 1.26v)
    Mem multi: Can't remember; I want to say it was underclocked a bit (RAM is stock at 800), at a 2:3 ratio. The Gigabyte boards have really cryptic settings here (i.e. 2A, 2B, 2C, etc.) so fine tuning this is a pain.
    RAM voltage: 1.9v
    RAM timing: stock 5-5-5-15

    My reasoning to going for 3.33 was I could run the RAM at a closer ratio compared to 3.25, but as I saw later 3.25 wasn't running well for me either (errors, no real improvement, etc.)

    Allthas,

    I've never tried 3.5, as I never really felt comfortable with any of my lower OCs. I went back and got 3.25 running ok, but still ran into glitches, especially in WoW. Regardless I am back at stock speeds again.

    On a side note, when I had it at 3.3 and later at 3.25 I saw, at best, a 1-3 FPS increase in Dalaran and no improvement while doing a quick VoA run (which actually ended in a crash while I was dpsing the fire guy).

    All of this topped off with having to replace the ISP's crappy cable modem and I've had my hands full.

    Another interesting thing is my load temps at stock are around 42c, and idle at 37c; with the OC I was up to 57c load and 46c idle, and this is with a decently ventilated case and a AC Freezer Pro 7 on the processor. While within acceptable limits, this still strikes me as higher than it should be.

  9. #9
    Moderator Cilraaz's Avatar
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    Re: What to upgrade?

    How about your northbridge voltage? That could be a bit low and cause some issues when the CPU's pulling information from RAM. The max vCore on an E5200 is 1.45v, so you could have a bit more room to bump vCore (if the temps can handle it) for stability. I'm thinking it's northbridge voltage that's causing you issues, though.

    Also, if your RAM is at 2:3, that'd be 399MHz with the base clock at 266MHz. Figuring in the doubling from DDR and you're right at stock.

  10. #10

    Re: What to upgrade?

    No clue what the northbridge voltage is, and I don't remember seeing anything about it in the bios. I'll check on that once I can get back to the machine in question.

    CPUz told me the ratio was 2:3 and I am pretty sure the bios listed it at 600-something, but it was the closest I could get to stock. Once again I'll check later tonight.

  11. #11
    Moderator Cilraaz's Avatar
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    Re: What to upgrade?

    I'd check three specific voltages: Northbridge, PLL, and MCH.

  12. #12

    Re: What to upgrade?

    There is not a listing for "Northbridge"
    PLL: 1.55v (Auto)
    MCH: 1.1v (Auto)

    Would either of these be the Northbridge?
    CPU Vcore: 1.3v
    CPU Reference 0.805v (Auto)

  13. #13
    Moderator Cilraaz's Avatar
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    Re: What to upgrade?

    They aren't Northbridge. It might be labeled as VTT or QPI, but that's typically on the latest generation boards. It almost might be labeled Memory Controller or something similar.

  14. #14

    Re: What to upgrade?

    Well here is a list of what I can see in the BIOS:

    CPU Vcore 1.3v
    CPU PLL 1.55v
    CPU Reference .805v
    MCH Core 1.1v
    ICH I/O 1.55v
    DRAM 1.9v

  15. #15
    Moderator Cilraaz's Avatar
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    Re: What to upgrade?

    I'm an idiot. I'm surprised nobody called me out on it. I believe MCH is actually Intel's northbridge (Memory Controller Hub), while ICH is Intel's southbridge (I/O Controller Hub).

    Does your northrbridge have a heatsink on it? Do you have any way of checking the northbridge temperature? If so, you could bump the MCH voltage a little to try to increase your overclock's stability. I'd probably try 0.05 increase per stability test, and stay at or under 1.3v (from what I'm reading, a lot of people hit stable at or around 1.3v).

    Also, do you have one listed as CPU Termination? I've seen this as an alternate name for VTT.

    Finally, I'm seeing a lot of people doing overclocks on setups like yours with more FSB and less multiplier. I didn't do much overclocking during that era, so I can't personally say if that's better for overclocking.

  16. #16

    Re: What to upgrade?

    I believe CPU Termination is a safety feature; if the CPU hits 1.4v it gets shut down. And yes the Northbridge has a heatsink on it but I don't ever remember seeing a temp listing for it in RealTemp or Speedfan.

    I'll bump the voltage a little bit to see, but I am pretty much done with the OC. Too much tweaking for little to no gain in my case.

  17. #17
    Moderator Cilraaz's Avatar
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    Re: What to upgrade?

    CPU Termination (VTT) voltage is "the termination voltage for data lines used to interface the MCH with the CPU die(s) via the Front Side Bus." (Source). Basically, it's the voltage that holds up information transfer from the CPU to the northbridge.

    You received little to no gain going from 2.5 to 3.2GHz? Honest question.

  18. #18

    Re: What to upgrade?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cilraaz
    You received little to no gain going from 2.5 to 3.2GHz? Honest question.
    Maybe 3fps. It was hardly noticeable and the slowdown in aoe intensive encounters was still there.

  19. #19
    Moderator Cilraaz's Avatar
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    Re: What to upgrade?

    Quote Originally Posted by Utopea
    Maybe 3fps. It was hardly noticeable and the slowdown in aoe intensive encounters was still there.
    That's quite interesting and a bit shocking to me. I would have expected a greater increase.

  20. #20

    Re: What to upgrade?

    That's what makes the upgrade decision harder, well that and my cheapskate budget. ;D

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