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Which should I upgrade: CPU or GPU?

By Marty9231
Sep 24, 2011
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  1. Hi,

    I'm thinking of upgrading my system a bit with BF3 on the verge of release. The parts I want to upgrade are my processor (AMD Phenom II x3 720 BE) and my graphics card (Sapphire HD4850). I will upgrade only one of them to begin with, but I wonder which one is my weakest part that I should upgrade?

    The processor upgrade would be:
    Phenom II X3 720 BE --> Phenom II X6 1055T (Or is something else better?)

    The graphics card upgrade would be:
    HD4850 --> HD6850 (Or, again, is something else better?)

    Other parts of interest:

    Mobo: ASUS M4N78SE
    PSU: Be Quiet! Pure Power 530W
    Samsung 1TB harddisk

    Thanks in advance,

    Marty
     
  2. Ritwik7

    Ritwik7 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,288   +7

    I'd say upgrade the GPU and overclock the X3 720 to squeeze out some extra performance. It's a fantastic chip. I have mine running at 3.6 GHz stable at 1.52V. You could also try unlocking the fourth core on the X3 using Advanced Clock Calibration. However, I'm not sure that every batch of the X3 720s had a disabled fourth core.
     
  3. Marty9231

    Marty9231 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 206

    I tried overclocking my cpu but I can't find a stable setting. That might have something to do with my MoBo's unability to set specific voltages. I can only have it 'auto adjust voltage'. Anyway, my motherboard was also unable to unlock the fourth core of my processor, because I don't have ACC (I think).

    Edit: I noticed you have a similar motherboard, could you maybe assist me with overclocking it? Apart from changing the multiplier I have absolutely no clue about how to do it.
     
  4. Ritwik7

    Ritwik7 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,288   +7

    I suggest you first download AMD Overdrive. It's an excellent utility to overclock any Black Edition CPU.

    Read this: http://www.overclockers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=596023

    As for unlocking the fourth core, I'm afraid you're right. The motherboard does not support ACC. You need at least an SB 750 Southbridge for that.
     
  5. Marty9231

    Marty9231 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 206

    I've already tried using AMD Overdrive once, but i found out I couldn't use it because I have a nForce chipset.. Are there any similar tools for me to use , or just BIOS?

    I think that guide will come in handy though, thanks for that.
     
  6. Marty9231

    Marty9231 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 206

    Ok, update: After having played BF3 Beta, I was told that the game was more GPU intensive. The problem is that when having everything (except AA) on high, while standing still in the game, my FPS is 30-40 ish. When moving and looking around however, my fps rapidly drops to 15-25, and my cpu usage hits constant 100%. This leads me to think I reaaly need to upgrade my CPU, am I right in thinking this?
     
  7. Ritwik7

    Ritwik7 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,288   +7

    I think the HD 4850 may have trouble handling BF3 with all settings on High.
     
  8. Marty9231

    Marty9231 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 206

    I know, I thought the same. But it has no trouble just watching the view while standing still on high settings. It's when I start to move and play that my CPU goes to 100% load, and my fps drops.

    Edit 1: And besides, I didn't intend to run everything on high, I just want to achieve max fps and playability

    Edit 2: Ok, last but not least:

    I have now overclocked my GPU a bit using AMD Catalyst. It is now running on 700MHz GPU clock and 1038MHz memory clock.
    This makes my current specs:

    CPU: AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE OC@ 3.2 GHz
    GPU: ATI Sapphire HD4850 OC@ 700/1038MHz

    The overclocking of my GPU pulled my FPS in battlefield up to about 25-35 fps. However I still feel like my CPU is the limiting factor. It runs at a constant 100% when playing battlefield, and I have the feeling that the game is going to be more cpu intensive when it get's released, with all 64 players in all sorts of vehicles on the same map.

    With this final bit of information in mind, what would be the best single upgrade for me, again I just want to reach the best FPS with the current settings (about medium):

    Phenom II X3 720 BE --> Phenom II X6 1055T - OR - HD4850 --> HD6850

    I'm personally edging towards the CPU, because I know that it would also significantly boost the performance of the rest of my system (windows, mainly). However I might be totally wrong about this.

    Marty
     
  9. Linzay

    Linzay TS Rookie

    Hey i was just googling something similar and came across this and thought i would pitch in! I was running bf3 beta on all high settings at 1650x1050 (cuz thats the best my monitor can do!) with zero problems with fps at all no drops or anything.
    My system is an Amd x3 720BE, ati 6870, 4gig ddr2 ram, 500gig hdd. This system has held up really well and i dont think you will really see much gaming difference between the x3 and the x6. I love my 720be it runs everything today really well (witcher 2, bf3, dead island, civ 5, portal 2, cod, dragon age 1 & 2 etc etc) i would upgrade the gfx card as thats pretty old and underpowered for games today. I would also say make sure you have atleast 4gig of ram, it made a real difference to my gaming. If you havent got 4 gig upgrade that as well! Hope i helped :)

    P.s. My cpu is at stock clocks! :)
     


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