Advice please: CPUs

I’m definitely more of a software person than a hardware person. I can wade knee-deep through Registry settings, but throw me into a PC box and if it’s anything more complicated than installing a hard drive or swapping over RAM, I’m a bit lost.

So I’m trying to figure out if the older of my computers (“Tintin”) can have a cheap CPU upgrade using the current motherboard. (It’s already had a hard drive and RAM upgrade.)

The specs say it’s a Gigabyte GA-M61SME-S2, currently with an Athlon 64 3500 (2.2 GHz) CPU, and I believe from looking at msinfo32 that the BIOS is version F2. (Which I suppose I could upgrade if I’m brave enough.)

The CPU support list from Gigabyte suggests the existing CPU is using an AM2 socket.

From the looks of it the fastest CPU supported using the same socket and the F1 BIOS is the Athlon 64 X2 6000+ 3GHz, indicative cost A$128. I note that it burns 125W compared to the 62W of the old one. Does that mean it would run hotter? Possible cooling implications for the overall PC?

There’s also the Athlon 64 X2 5600+ 3GHz, almost as fast, at 89W, indicative cost A$119.

If I update to BIOS version F10A, I can go the Athlon X2 7750+ at 2.7GHz at 95W, $114.

(Costs from a providers listed on StaticIce; I’ve never used them, so just trying to get a rough idea of costs.)

So is it just as simple as going and buying one of these, pulling the old one out and plugging the new one in?

And what pitfalls should I be aware of?

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9 thoughts on “Advice please: CPUs

  1. Chelsworthgale

    Daniel,

    Few things…
    Higher the wattage, higher the temp… keep that in mind, don’t stress about it too much as this can usually be sorted with the addition of another fan. More fans do mean more noise so keep that all in check. You can also look into some passive cooling such as a heat sink.

    If you do run down the heat sink path you need to ensure you have sufficient space above your CPU to install it. Check the specs of the heat sink but usually you will need about 115mm approx.

    Clock speed (the GHz bit) is the key to the CPU. If you content on spending the money on upgrading why not try and max out your current CPU and test it’s maximum output. Have a read of the tutes on http://www.overclockersclub.com about over clocking your CPU. You might be able to get the required speed out of the current chip.

    If all that sounds too much your safe bet is to go with the Athlon 64 X2 5600+ 3GHz. The slight increase in wattage shouldn’t be too detrimental.

    Given your in the south east I suggest you have a look at http://www.umart.com.au. Place the purchase online and then head in and pick it up. They are just in Mt Waverley so not far from you.

    Chelsworthgale.

  2. daniel Post author

    Thanks. I guess overclocking may get some extra speed, but even the Athlon X2 5600+ would be a much bigger boost (and a switch to dual cores, so more than double the current speed overall) at a relatively low cost.

  3. daniel Post author

    Oh, thanks for the tip to check UMart; they don’t have the CPUs I noted above, but do have the Athlon 64 X2 5000+ (2.6 GHz) for about half the price; $55 online, which looks like a bargain, and it runs at only 65W, so should be as cool and quiet as the current CPU I have. Only catch is I’ll need to flash the BIOS as the motherboard needs at least version F5 to run it.

  4. Chelsworthgale

    No worries re: Umart. When I built my HTPC they were by far the best priced company and the fact that they have a store front meant I was able to save about $50-$60 on delivery costs especially because the case I got was an aluminium case which weighed about 7kgs on its own!

    I am sure your aware of threading etc when it comes to multi cores and the fact that 95% of programs are only designed to used one core. Dual, Triple and Quad cores are only really beneficial when you want to run multiple programs. So for example here at work I often have acrobat, word, excel, firefox, work specific software (heavy user of a core), outlook and some background programs like whatpulse and tweetdeck running and quad core words best there as the PC can distribute the loads across the cores.

    Anyway food for thought, glad I can help!

  5. alland

    Which rev is your motherboard? Gigabyte’s site gives the specs for rev 2.x, and older revs may not handle am2+ socket cpus.
    If it is rev2, then you can put in a Phenom or a PhenomII. Look at http://products.amd.com/en-us/desktopcpuresult.aspx?f1=AMD+Phenom%E2%84%A2+II+X4 for 4 cores.
    In particular the 900e, 905e & 910e. It may need some serious chasing (CPL does get non-stock items if you push – for a price) but you get good performance at <64W which means low fan noise. My 9350e Phenom is just a whisper on the desk (you may need to look at the PS if your current one's fan isn't temperature controlled). I haven't used fan cooled graphics cards for ages – their fans are modified sirens. Your m/b seems to have onboard analogue graphics available.

    Raw clock speed is going to be wasted in your m/b 'cause the bus speeds are slower, go for peace and quiet I say.

  6. alland

    But did you look on the m/b itself (or the box it came in) that it _really is_ rev2?

  7. daniel Post author

    I’ll be sure to check on the MB itself before I do anything else. Thanks!

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