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vince
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Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Mon Dec 25, 2017 2:45 pm

Hi there,

My son wants to upgrade his computer with his x-mas money. It's a decent system already, but he would like to improve on the gaming performance. His current CPU is an Intel Core i3-3220, 8Gb of DDR3 RAM, and his GPU is a Radeon R9 380. My challenge is that I'm not sure what should be the priority here. I don't think he has enough $ to change the entire Mobo-CPU-RAM, but if that's the move that makes more sense, maybe I could help him out. Other than that, well it's between the CPU and GPU I presume.

I wonder if that i3-3220 is bottlecking the GPU. If it's the case, then maybe upgrading the CPU would be the first step. I realise for LGA1155 I will have to go used. I have checked a few options that seem to be good (these are in CAD):

    i7-3770 $180 (ebay)
    i7-2600 $130 (ebay)
    i5-3570 $90 (ebay)
    i5-3470 $60 (local kijiji)

For GPU, I was thinking a GTX 1060. I know here it's basically: the more money you can spend, the better.

But still, between CPU and GPU, which one do you think should be upgraded first? And also, if you think the best thing to do first is change Mobo-CPU, and it can be Intel or AMD, then please do say so. Thanks.
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Arbiter Odie
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Mon Dec 25, 2017 3:14 pm

The i3 is the bottleneck here-- if you can get a working 3770 (k or no k) for $180, that will be an amazing boost for him. Lots of games these days use four physical cores quite happily.

You probably want to wait for another generation or two of graphics cards to come through before upgrading. NVIDIA's been milking the 10xx series for all it's worth, and the Vega chips are kind of, well, meh in terms of improvement.

Your son probably wants to wait for Ryzen 2 before considering a CPU/Mobo upgrade. He can keep that system humming along decently for that $180, and if you get the k version, he can overclock it a good bit. I think 4.5 Ghz was normal for those chips.

R9 380 vs 1060:
https://www.anandtech.com/bench/product/1771?vs=1750

i3 3220 vs i7 3770k
https://www.anandtech.com/bench/product/677?vs=551

Edit: Added second link, fixed grammar.
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vince
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Mon Dec 25, 2017 3:23 pm

Thanks for your input Arbiter Odie. I kind of suspected that. So first thing: CPU!

Also looking at the comparison R9 380 vs GTX 1060, it seems like that would be a great improvement as well, almost doubling the framerate. But if the i3 is already a bottleneck, then it will be even worst for the GTX1060!
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The Egg
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Mon Dec 25, 2017 3:26 pm

Meh. Of course it would be easiest to just suggest a new build, but if he's on a tight budget, I'd go the least expensive route to 4-cores with the 3470. Single-threaded performance will be roughly identical, but it'll help where more cores are useful (and you're only spending 60 bucks). I'd have a hard time putting in more money than that into an old system with one of those i7's.

The GPU is a little different, because it'll give him the largest boost and you can always carry it over to another system later. You'd want the aforementioned 1060 in order for it to be a meaningful upgrade.
 
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Mon Dec 25, 2017 4:33 pm

The Egg-- I don't think he will actually realize those gains 380 --> 1060 with that CPU, though? I mean, it's a 2 core hyperthreaded ivy bridge. And surely the i5 3570k would make sense? Better base clocks, and again, he can overclock if he wants.
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Topinio
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Mon Dec 25, 2017 5:16 pm

The GTX 1060 is not enough better than the R9 380 to be anything more than a stopgap, IMO: it'd get you from kinda ok to fairly solid, if the rest of the system was decent and could cope -- but in this case, I'd be very surprised if your 2012 i3 isn't the bottleneck holding back the R9. (You could benchmark, ofc.)

I reckon that the whole machine is not long for this world, maybe another year or two, so if you can save up and/or afford to replace it entirely in the next 6-9 months then you should -- something with Zen refresh and Windows 10 is the way to go. If you can afford a minor bump now but cannot stretch to a new machine or saving for one (inc. new Windows licence), then a dead-platform upgrade to the CPU is necessary to keep playing and the $60 i5-3470 seems like a no-brainer, in that boat.
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MOSFET
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Mon Dec 25, 2017 5:22 pm

I have scenarios where my i5-7600K at 4.7 GHz bottlenecks my GTX 1060 6GB. Definitely upgrade the CPU first, even if you're just climbing the generational ladder to a 3570 or 3770 (K). With DDR4 climbing $10/day, make use of the RAM you have for as long as you can.
Be careful on inserting this (or any G34 chip) into the socket. Once you pull that restraining lever, it is either a good install or a piece of silicon jewelry.
 
Topinio
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Mon Dec 25, 2017 5:43 pm

vince wrote:
Also looking at the comparison R9 380 vs GTX 1060, it seems like that would be a great improvement as well, almost doubling the framerate. But if the i3 is already a bottleneck, then it will be even worst for the GTX1060!

Yes, on that CPU bottleneck point. On the GPU step, https://www.bit-tech.net/reviews/tech/g ... review/10/ shows the GTX 1060 FE 6 GB only getting +40% on minimum and +44% on average FPS versus a (presumably thermally-constrained) Sapphire Radeon R9 380 ITX Compact 4GB.

Presumably your R9 380 is faster, and that was with an OC'd i7-5960X @ 4.2 GHz and 16 GB RAM and a 960 GB SSD, and so your expected performance delta from dropping in a 1060 will be lower, maybe +20% or +30%, certainly not +100% ...

I don't know what your current settings or FPS is at, but a 1060 6GB will only deliver 60+ FPS for you (which I assume is a target) at the settings where you can now get 40-50 FPS. And that's for $263 or more.

If you are prepared to spend that, a better option would seem to be a new platform, e.g. $317 for i5-7400 or $333 for i5-7500, though the obvious problem is needing a Windows 10 licence, and you can change the GPU another time.
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Mon Dec 25, 2017 7:45 pm

Another vote for the CPU. Might look for an i7-3770S (that's a letter "ess"), it's a lower-power version of the i7-3770 that has a slightly lower clock and a correspondingly lower selling price compared to its full-fat brother. That's what I did to replace an i5-2500K a couple months back, it's about the cheapest possible way to upgrade Sandy/Ivy Bridge-era hardware to 4C/8T. The i5 models from that era are 4C/4T.
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Mon Dec 25, 2017 8:08 pm

It's a pretty tough call for me.

Some games run at nearly the full potential of a GTX 1080 using just an i3
Other games run like slop unless there are more than four threads (so an i7 quad) and high clocks at that....

The 380 isn't bad, it'll do most new games at med/high 1080p still. Getting a 1060 will let you run ultra details with fewer slowdowns, but only if the i3 can hack them. The i3 isn't bad, it'll perform almost as well as a stock 3770K, right up until you find a game that wants >3 threads when it tanks hard.

So, I'd spend some time researching whether his primary games are CPU or GPU limited. In the absence of that knowledge, I'm going to say get the 3770 - no point downgrading to Sandy (2600) or sticking with a 4-thread i5. Real cores are better than hyperthreading, for sure, but at the same time, non-primary threads on many games aren't high-demand, so the i3's two fake cores aren't that much of a real-world disadvantage compared to the i5 and he won't see a huge difference.
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travbrad
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Tue Dec 26, 2017 8:18 pm

Yep a lot of it depends on the game. Even so there are more and more games at this point that would benefit from more cores. Games that only use 2 cores are thankfully the exception now rather than the rule, at least among semi-demanding games where it actually matters. Usually a large part of the cost of used CPUs can be recouped by reselling it yourself when you're done with it too, if you do decide you want a whole platform upgrade a couple years from now. And if you save up and upgrade your GPU say a year from now you'll see a lot bigger difference with an i7 than an i3 too.

I haven't run into anything that my GTX 970 chokes on at 1080p, and that has pretty similar performance to a R9 380 at 1080p. I don't really play new AAA games though so that's probably why. Forza 7 runs fantastic (100-120FPS usually) but that's literally the only AAA game I've played from this year.
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Tue Dec 26, 2017 9:06 pm

Yeah, man, RAM is so expensive it kind of kills whole system upgrades right now. I'd also go for the CPU first, either a 3570 or a 3770. I don't even know that the $90 difference between the i7 and the i5 is even worth it. I'd be tempted to go 3570 right now and put any extra money away to get a graphics card upgrade later.
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DancinJack
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Tue Dec 26, 2017 9:50 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:
Yeah, man, RAM is so expensive it kind of kills whole system upgrades right now. I'd also go for the CPU first, either a 3570 or a 3770. I don't even know that the $90 difference between the i7 and the i5 is even worth it. I'd be tempted to go 3570 right now and put any extra money away to get a graphics card upgrade later.


Agree. 90 is way too much for what you get out of that battle. 3570 ftw. If you can get a 3570K, that'd be top notch. 4 physical cores + OC would be a yuuuuuuge upgrade. (hopefully you wouldn't have to buy a new HSF to OC though)
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:05 am

DancinJack wrote:
derFunkenstein wrote:
Yeah, man, RAM is so expensive it kind of kills whole system upgrades right now. I'd also go for the CPU first, either a 3570 or a 3770. I don't even know that the $90 difference between the i7 and the i5 is even worth it. I'd be tempted to go 3570 right now and put any extra money away to get a graphics card upgrade later.


Agree. 90 is way too much for what you get out of that battle. 3570 ftw. If you can get a 3570K, that'd be top notch. 4 physical cores + OC would be a yuuuuuuge upgrade. (hopefully you wouldn't have to buy a new HSF to OC though)


2nd that-even the $30 from the 3470 to 3570 is questionable-that could go towards a GPU.
Remember Ivy Bridge i5's non K are still partially unlocked (before Intel went stingy) allowing OC of 4 bins above turbo boost.
3470 should get to 3.8 all cores and 3570 4.0.
May even be able to add 0.2 to those nos, depending on how bios handles "multi-core enhancements"

My logic here is that this is a short term solution (3 years) so minimum spent the better.
Both those CPU's if OC should be able to feed up to a 1070 with minimum/no problems (depending on game)
In a few years are likely to want a more powerful GPU-then a more powerful CPU will be required.
good luck............................................
 
vince
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Wed Dec 27, 2017 12:28 pm

Thanks everyone for your input.

I just realised that the 3470 is actually an "S" flavor. I think it's a bit less powerful than the non-S. I think I'll target the 3570 which I can get used for just a bit under $90CAD on ebay.

I don't remember what he has as CPU cooler. I'll have to open his PC up! ;)
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Dieter
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:23 pm

I don't have much input on the parts selection, but if you're going for a CPU upgrade, maybe look for some refurbished systems and pull parts from that, rather than buying them individually. For example, on eBay I recently picked up a business-class HP desktop with an i7-4770, 16GB RAM (2x8GB), Win10 Pro, and 500GB HDD for $310 shipped. Priced out, that's a steal IMHO.

I'm not saying to follow my lead and get a loaded system like this (I found out later that HP uses proprietary power supplies/connectors in their systems, so no go on a power supply upgrade), but you might be able to find a newer-gen i5 or i7 in a refurb system for cheaper than the CPU alone. Others would have to chime in if the CPU cooler than came on your i3 can handle the load of an i5/i7, assuming the cooler on the refurb system couldn't be transferred over.

My normal recommendations these days for upgrades is to move to an SSD, as it makes the biggest difference in general use of the system, but it won't have the impact of the CPU upgrade when gaming, so probably not an applicable recommendation in this case.

Good luck!
 
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:33 pm

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vince
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:54 pm

DancinJack wrote:

Thanks DancingJack, but that's actually around $82CAD + $15CAD (shipping) + $8CAD (customs). Pretty much the same as the one I just ordered for $102CAD.

Next step is to install this puppy (once I get it of course) and see what kind of difference it makes.

Thanks again!
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DPete27
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:11 pm

Just an FYI, the stock Intel cooler for i3's is different than the i5/i7. Not sure about the locked i5/i7, but certainly the K-series (unlocked) CPUs have a beefier stock cooler.

I'd DEFINITELY recommend taking advantage of the bin increase on Ivy Bridge (if you have a Z77 or B75 series mobo) to give you an extra 400MHz if you can. I think you can also enable Multi Core Enhancement (MCE) to run all 4 cores at the single core turbo speed. You might have to look for slightly older BIOS versions to re-enable this functionality, my memory is a bit rusty on this, but Intel might have put a stop to this via mandated BIOS update at some point. If you provide the model # of your mobo, TR gerbils might be able to help.

I had a forum thread here discussing this topic back in the day.
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:26 pm

K-series (unlocked) CPUs have a beefier stock cooler.


Do they now? :wink:
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DPete27
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:18 pm

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's good, just that it's taller and/or has a copper slug compared to the i3 (and possibly locked i5) stock cooler. I still throw the beefier stock coolers in my closet box collection. Definitely if you plan on doing the +400MHz trick, go for some kind of aftermarket cooler (preferably tower-style).
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HERETIC
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Re: Help me choose an upgrade for my son's PC

Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:32 pm

MOSFET wrote:
K-series (unlocked) CPUs have a beefier stock cooler.


Do they now? :wink:


Should read-Used to have a beefier stock cooler.......................................................

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