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Old July 15, 2012, 08:49 PM
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This seems like an easy question, but I'm not totally sure if it's as simple as I think.

If the usage of my dual core doesn't hit 100% while gaming, would upgrading the cpu actually provide any performance increase?

Would a program that can use 4 cores actually be hindered if the dual isn't even hitting 100%?

I'm going to be upgrading my video card and I'd like to be able to postpone a cpu upgrade if possible. My boards an am3, so upgrade options are limited and still at a premium price considering their age. A full socket upgrade just isn't in the cards right now.
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Old July 15, 2012, 10:27 PM
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Really depends on the chip and the GPU (both current and planned)

Dual core will bottleneck any of the medium to high end cards from this or the last generation (so a 560ti (ish) or higher and you want a new CPU)
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Old July 16, 2012, 05:41 AM
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You can check out these Tom's reviews that uses lower-end CPUs - if your CPU is slower than what they saw bottlenecks on, you could use an upgrade.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...mark,3120.html
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...mark,3136.html

As for your questions, the answers are:
YES - If the game maxes one of the two cores you will see 50% usage but still be bottlenecked. The other thing to note is cache - if you are running a CPU with very small cache (e.g. AMD Athlon II or Intel Celeron) you can get choppiness because of the cache but that won't be picked up by Task Manager.
YES if you're already bottlenecked by one of the situations in my first answer or if the game is running so many threads that OS scheduling overhead is causing things to slow down. Otherwise no - see how the Sandy Bridge Core i3 series, a dual core, is OK for most games today except for large scale strategy games. (Emphasis on "OK")
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Old July 16, 2012, 08:26 AM
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You could try unlocking your cpu to a quad core or three core.
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Old July 16, 2012, 06:23 PM
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Ok so I had the right idea. I'll have to give guild wars a test this weekend and double check the cpu usage.

It seems any worthwhile gpu upgrade (likely a 7850) will bottleneck the 550 even I can push it to 4ghz, but I can't imagine a x4 965 upgrade being a better price to performance ratio.

I tried previously to unlock the extra cores unsuccessfully, no luck there.

Appreciate it guys, thanks.
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Old July 17, 2012, 05:43 AM
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NP, although Guild Wars (1) is no problem for your CPU + you get all the Internet-related disruptions because it's an online game. A single-player level on a real-time strategy or physics-heavy shooter on a map with lots of stuff going on would be better. Civilizations V is another oddball that you can use to explore bottlenecks, that for a turn-based strategy game needs A LOT of CPU to produce smooth FPS.
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Old July 17, 2012, 01:39 PM
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depends on the games you play. I have a phenom II x3 710 and a gtx 460. Most of the games I play are CPU intensive, so I am bottlenecked by it more than my 460 (I play SCII, some CIV 5 and battlefield 3...BF3 puts gpu/cpu maxed at different points in game). Our CPU and GPU are comparable, so I would say you are in the same boat as me with both major components limiting in different scenarios. Whichever you upgrade will end up being limited by the other. In all honesty I wouldn't put more money into and upgraded CPU for your platform unless you get one used for cheap. And a gpu upgrade will be help back by your CPU (wasted until you get a faster CPU)......If a new MB/CPU is not an option for you then a suggest something like a used gtx 570 that will be powerful enough to last you into an upgraded CPU down the road, but not be overly expensive as you will not be able to use its full potential until you upgrade the rest. Anything less than that and its not a substantial upgrade over what you have now.

If it was me I would save and go for a new CPU/MOB first and then a new GPU when you are able.
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Old July 18, 2012, 01:50 PM
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Looks like I previously didn't try hard enough on the CPU unlock. I flashed to more stable bios and I'm running prime95 stable (90+ minutes) with 2 extra cores enabled. Also tried an hour of gaming without any issues. I'm now in the process of starting to ramp up the OC to what it was with 2 cores.

If I can get the now x4 550 to 3.5 would I be wrong in thinking a 7850 might just mesh well? I assume the cache not being designed to have all 4 cores would still be a hindrance. The main use of this rig will be Guild Wars 2, so I was hoping that an AM3 chip would still manage well enough. I'm not terribly concerned with performance in the few RTS I occasionally play. The Gtx 570 suggestion was something I thought about, but considering the price and lower vram, I figured the newer 7800 series was the way to go.

As for a new CPU/MOBO, I haven't been blown away by the new TN1 socket from AMD (although I'm going to go double check that now). Intel would end up doubling my original budget estimate so I'm holding off on building one of those. Is the new generation of AMD CPUs really worth the price for a gaming rig? I was hoping to keep the budget under 400 while moving up from the "budget gamer" series of cards.


I've gotten a bit off topic, but these two subjects seem to blend together fairly often. If I can get the CPU overclock to where I want it then I think I might just pull the trigger on the video card and see where I sit.
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Old July 18, 2012, 02:45 PM
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One point I might suggest you consider is that a new GPU might be overbuilt for your current system, but the unused GPU capacity means the money's not wasted as it can be transferred to your next system much more easily than the dollars spent on a new CPU.
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Old July 18, 2012, 09:54 PM
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As someone whom sticks with the underdog platform for various reasons (AMD) i'll chime in on this for ya.

The more cores you can use, the less your stressing the cpu with resources as it can be spread evenly over the cores. Myself im what ya'd call a "mega-tasker" I run all i can at once & not 1 app at a time. So playing a game, lisening to music thru media player, voice chatting over skype or ventrilo, running msn n yahoo messenger & multiple browsers/tabs I do tax my X6 at times ... but have yet to see it max out to 100% any cores when doin so. The ONLY time i see it gettin close in so is if i do any audio/video work.

As for guild wars 2 ..... if its anything like guild wars 1 (which i also have) it will scale with cpu/gpu so the more mhz/cores/shaders you can get the better.

As for upgrades, 7870 would be a good investment. As in the AMD platform, a good deal on a used Thurban (X6 like mine) & a AM3+ board to run it on isnt a bad idea .... dont bother with bulldozer based FX chips as there EOL'ed end of Q4 of this year. IF you are able to do a AM3+ board + used X6 or your current chip + 16 gigs of 1600+ or 1866 ram this will set you up for a few more years + able to drop a vishera (piledriver) into it for more preformance.

Hope that helps ya some.
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