Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

The Best CPU? Hardware Upgrade, cont.

Continued:
Welcome back to my series on my new recommendations for those who are interested in maximum computer performance. This series is about a specific, high-end, upgrade path. For more general and generic advice & How To on hardware upgrades, please see Replacing or Upgrading Your CPU.

Recap:
I rebuilt a machine into an i7, X58, DDR 3, SLI ‘rig’ and its performance is impressive. I am quite taken with the combo. In the previous articles I have so far covered:

* Intel i7-920: Hyper-threading, new chip architecture, and easy (stable) over-clocking give this CPU “chip” performance numbers that make it arguably the best CPU available to us “consumers” today. And it has been around long enough now that the price has dropped to “reasonable”.

* I went with the newer X58 chipset because the X58 motherboards have the ICH10R chip, which allows dual x16 (or quad x8) PCI Express 2.0 graphics card support, and supports Solid State Drives.

As I mentioned earlier, if upgrading to an “i-Series” CPU, you will need a new motherboard, and I reco’ a X58. It is fair to warn you that X58 “mobo’s” are rather pricey. I overcame certain reservations and – due to a “clearance sale” – picked up a MSI X58M (the “M” indicates “microATX”). A detailed review of which is here.

MSI-X58M[note: I also purchased a 5-year “replace with no questions asked” extended warranty, which covered the RAM, mobo, and CPU for a very reasonable fee. Ask your retailer what their policies are. (The RAM already had Lifetime..)]

Please understand that while I am recommending an X58 chipset motherboard, I am not necessarily recommending this particular MSI board. I am happy with it, yes, but it was a unique special discount price that was my decision factor. I would not go with a “mini” (or “micro”) ATX board by choice, primarily because the number of expansion slots are fewer.
To help you decide on a board, here are some comparisons/reviews (by date published):
* X58 Motherboard Roundup Review
* ExtremeTech’s X58 Motherboard Roundup
* X58 Roundup: Seven $200-300 Core i7 Boards
* 7 Intel Core i7 X58 Motherboards Tested and Compared
* Intel X58 Motherboard Roundup – What does $300 Get You?

These boards vary greatly in number of slots (including graphics slots), features, performance, and price — so do a bit of pre-planning. Do you need four graphics slots, or will one do (if so, a P55 board may work for you…)

Biggest boost?
In my writing so far, the CPU, motherboard, and dual graphics cards have taken center stage. And one could argue “as well they might!”, but RAM is where you really put the “turbo” in a PC’s performance — upgrading your RAM is the first thing (in terms of hardware upgrades) you look at.

patriot_3pak

Patriot 6GB PC3-12800 kit

Fact is — the primary motivation for me to act, and do this upgrade was I wanted “tri-channel” DDR3 .. and I wanted 1600MHz. If you have read this series this far.. maybe you do too.

The primary benefit of DDR3 is the ability to transfer at twice the data rate of DDR2, enabling higher bus rates and higher peak rates than earlier memory technologies. For best performance, DDR3 should be installed in identical sets of 3, and I definitely advise purchasing a “3-pak” to ensure all three modules are the same.

I happened to find an unbeatable price on a Patriot Gamer Series PC3-12800 6GB DDR3 Kit (review here), but I have no idea what the best deal is today. I’m a “most bang for your buck” shopper. For those of you who are a bit more discriminating:
* Mainstream-Ready? DDR3-1600 Shootout
* The Great DDR3 1600MHz Memory Showdown
* Xtreem.com | Focus on DDR3
* Benchmarkreviews: DDR3 Review Series

Winding down for today…
Since we are talking about cutting-edge hardware here, and “enthusiast”-level performance gear (aka “high-end”) means that these items will not be in the “student” or “budget” price ranges – some “sticker shock” is to be expected. That said, prices have come down on these items enough that you are no longer paying the premium. Still, you can buy a whole new PC for less than an i-Series upgrade…

I was able to use my existing power supply and graphics cards. And at least for now, I am not going to go nuts over-clocking the CPU, so I can stay with the stock CPU cooler and I had a well-ventilated gaming case. This reduced my upgrade cost but your situation might be different — an i7 upgrade path probably will require a more powerful PSU and more efficient cooling, and you should budget accordingly.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


Share this post :

March 1, 2010 - Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, PC, performance, tech, upgrading | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

21 Comments »

  1. […] Tech-for Everyone The Best CPU? Hardware Upgrade […]

    Like

    Pingback by Geek Squeaks’ of the Week (#50) « What's On My PC | March 3, 2010 | Reply

  2. the intel i7 shook the world and its doing just awesome.. i might be upgrading to it soon

    Like

    Comment by Technology Blog | March 3, 2010 | Reply

    • Unfortunately – though we now have 64-bit+multi-threading hardware, and a good 64-bit+multi-threading OS, not one of my “daily use” programs is either 64-bit or multi-threading. So they slug along like a Yugo even when the PC is a Indy 500 car…

      The lack of 64-bit programming I understand: only recently have we had the chips in the consumer “mainstream”.. but multi-threading has been around since at least the Pentium II, (1997) and the fact that software still cannot use it is – IMHO – inexcusable.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | March 3, 2010 | Reply

  3. Hello,

    Yesterday a friend of mine helped me to upgrade my older Sony Vario. We installed new RAM, a sound card and a four port 2.0 USB lot in the PCI slot. We also cleaned out all the dust. This computer has a Intel Pentium3 PGA 370 socket. The numbers on it ar Intel P3 MALAY-866/256/133/1.7 and it is a Zero force insertion CPU. The model of the mother board appears to be a CUSL.LV rev. 1.01 I would like to upgrade the CPU. What CPU can I upgrade to and where could I purchase it.
    Steve

    Like

    Comment by Steve Baade | March 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Steve Baade,
      A quick look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socket_370, would indicate that the best (fastest) CPU that would fit would be a Intel Pentium III Tualatin @ 1400 MHz. But you would need to look up the motherboard specifications to be sure of your path — perhaps on Sony’s support pages.
      To find something that obsolete, the place to look is the online equivalent of a garage sale — Ebay and/or Craig’s List.

      … while I understand that everybody’s circumstances are different.. I will repeat: I would not sink one penny into such a machine unless it was my only option, and it was required to keep it running.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | March 17, 2010 | Reply

  4. Tech Paul,

    I found that CPU at [DELETED]

    My question is what do you mean by the path. Will my computer turn on and recognize the CPU or will I have to do something else like down load an upgrade from Sony or ASUS the manufacture of the motherboard.

    The only fan in this machine is in the power supply. It was built by a company called NBM. It has a plastic hood built into it that covers the heat sink of the CPU. I think this is a custom part. I doubt I could ever put a quite power supply in it. I know it is an old machine. So the CPU and hard drives would be the only other upgrades. Thank you for your help. Very much appreciated.

    Steve

    Like

    Comment by Steve Baade | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  5. Steve,
    An “upgrade path” refers to making choices, out of all the possibles, that will lead to success. “Paths” are largely determined by compatibility “factors”. As my series points out, when looking at CPU upgrades, the “factors” are primarily the motherboard’s ‘socket’ and its ‘chipset’.
    You simply must learn your particular motherboard’s specs. The acceptable (i.e., “compatible”) CPU’s will be listed.

    Sometimes.. if the new CPU draws more power, and/or produces more heat, you may have to also upgrade your heatsink/fan and/or your power supply.. but I kind of doubt it in your case.

    Steve.. when I first read your question, I thought you surely must be messing with me. Upgrading a P-III machine???
    The Pentium 3 pre-dates the Y2K bug, which in computers is ancient history (see, A trip back to the land of “Mega”).

    Unless you are doing this for the learning experience.. I simply have to repeat, I cannot advise doing anything to a P-III except keep it running, and that’s only if there is no other option.

    Like

    Comment by techpaul | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  6. Tech Paul,

    Yes this has been a learning experience. A few months ago a friend who is knowledgeable about computers was showing me how on the mother boards of computers there are color codes. This computer was a gift. I have not spent more then $160.00 on it so far. I bought the upgrades on either Craig’s list or eBay. Spent too much money on RAM at first. Now I have found a cheaper source. The LCD monitor cost me fifty dollars.
    In time I will have a new fast and quiet computer.
    Most likely that CPU would work. It is only twenty nine dollars. Do you think it would work.
    I might put a larger hard drive in the extra space. It is not expensive either.

    Steve

    Like

    Comment by Steve Baade | March 18, 2010 | Reply

    • Steve,
      You must find the motherboard’s “technical specifications” sheet. It will list compatible CPU’s.
      If you say it is an ASUS board, then the ASUS website is the first place to look..

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  7. Cool. I have not spent a fortune and I am having fun learning. I will in time give this computer to a friend who has never been on the web. I want to upgrade the hard drives. I have an older computer. That will get this hard drive. I have a program that I want use for school. It only runs on really old operating systems. Windows 98. I have an old 98 operating cd. So there is a use for old computers after all. That old computer will get the 40 gb hard drive in this Sony. This Sonny will get two new 500 gb drives. Then I will have a computer that is good enough for my school work. I am forty five and I just went back to collage. It is a lot of work. The CNC machining class is the class that had an old CD. I want to use it. Why not.

    Like

    Comment by Steve Baade | March 18, 2010 | Reply

    • Steve,
      I too returned to school at an .. “advanced age”, and I have no doubt it was one of my better moves. I applaud your endeavor (as well as encourage others to follow your example).
      Good luck to you!

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  8. Paul,

    Thank you. I searched for the web site of ASUS. I found it. It was a Byzantine maze. Since I was not sure what to do. I left a message with investor relations. I think there is a way to install the new and improved CPU. It is the same 370 socket series. I doubt that the mother board is incompatible. It might require a driver update. I am going to take the chance and purchase that CPU. I wish I had the new hard drives. They are only sixty four dollars each,but I have been out of work for over a year. I had fun purchasing the upgrades on Craigs List and Ebay. The best was when the man I bought the IBM LCD monitor started giving me directions to his apartment. Halfway though his directions I realized he lived four buildings away from me. I walked to his apartment.
    I am learning machining and CNC programing for CNC machining centers. I am working toward two Associate degrees and a certificate. It is a lot of work,but I am enjoying the challenge.
    I like your web site. There is so much to learn abut these machines we use every day. This has been a learning experience. This machine while antiquated is perfect for my school work. In time I will have a state of the art machine. In your opinion. How long will it be before SSD hard drives have over a Tb of capacity. Without any failures.

    Steve

    Like

    Comment by Steve Baade | March 18, 2010 | Reply

    • Steve,
      I am no engineer, and would have to defer to Moore’s Law to even vaguely guess when/if 1,000 GB solid-state drives (aka “terabyte”) might arrive, (3 years?) but I can say that a “no failures” device has yet to be made.. anywhere (in any field) and I don’t expect there ever will be any such animal.

      (Besides, the very nature of Flash memory limits the total number of read/writes. It was not meant for long-term storage.)

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  9. Probably best for a operating system drive. A traditional. platter drive for the read and writes. I am going to take a chance on the CPU upgrade. The price is not over the top. I got the impression that the mother board company supports its products. Do you have ant links to the reasons the flash drives have limits on the total amount of read writes. I am enjoying this new area of knowledge. The CNC machines and the software programs that i am learning at school. Will continue to advance. Faster then the ball screws and steel frames of the machines.

    Like

    Comment by Steve Baade | March 18, 2010 | Reply

    • Steve,
      While some people may snicker at the idea, the first place I go when I want to learn about something is Wikipedia. I read the info there, and then start clicking the “sources” and “references” links. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_memory

      Then I Google the item and add the term “technical data”..

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  10. Hey it is a great resource. I have already been to that sight. I wonder how much faster this computer will run with the new CPU. I am interested. It is not that expensive. I have spent more money on the laser jet ink refill then on the monitor. A new computer would have cost six bills. I have spent far less. The hard rives will set me back and I really need an XP operating disk. I might have a bootlegged copy now. I found a XP disk for fifty dollars. I can justify that. The next computer will require so much RAM to run Windows seven. This computer could not run that system. I am intrigued with the Linux system. I will Wikipedia that now YEAH.

    Like

    Comment by Steve Baade | March 18, 2010 | Reply

    • Steve,
      I recently purchased a Windows 7 machine for a client for roughly half that, and deals like this are extremely common (and give you a legal copy).

      However, there is no price on learning. As for Linux, it is ideally suited for running on older hardware — yes, there is a bit of a “learning curve”, but the resources are there and they are free. Linux is more than just an operating system, it’s a community. I know very few who learn it and then “come back to Windows”, .. unless they are forced to to run some game or special Windows-only program.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  11. A good motherboard. I’ve used it for three years. and until now did not experience any problems

    Like

    Comment by rainbow | May 31, 2010 | Reply

    • rainbow,
      The X58 chipset has only been available since late 2008, and I am not sure when consumer motherboards reached the market, but it was after that.. sometime last year.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | May 31, 2010 | Reply

  12. a good choice to get the best. This mainboard is very strong to be used continuously working

    Like

    Comment by dewapelangi | May 31, 2010 | Reply

    • dewapelangi,
      The MSI X58M has been supplanted with a newer edition.

      I generally agree with your sentiment, but I believe, though, that each person should base that (“best”) based on their needs. For example, if I was not trying to build a multiple graphics cards machine, I would have gone with a P55 mainboard.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | May 31, 2010 | Reply


Post your Comment/Question

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: