Thursday, February 18, 2010

PC Upgrades Guide -CPU (Febuary 2010) From Dual to Quad

When Chinese New Year is over, I bet you guys get a full load of ang-pows, if not a full load at least enough for you to buy tech and gadgets as bling if you like. Since most of the PC hardwares nowadays is getting faster and cheaper (it happens all the time), upgrading your two year old machine sounds reasonable where new games and OSes requires more than just the basic hardware power to push beautiful stuffs out.

Lets make things clear, this upgrade guide is created to show how much improvements you get from one to another new hardware and shows you whats its worth. Recently i still see some people recommending some *other people getting a dual core, a fast dual core no doubt, but they're missing the point of upgrading. Dual cores are getting cheaper month by month and I'm not surprised to see alot dualies users as dual is the norm nowadays and even sometimes hard to cope up with any CPU intensive tasks.

Now, quad is the future and the future is here and cheaper than ever before, no point taking a dual or at least get a triple core AMD processor at a bargain price OR get yourself a AMD unlockable dual to quad (will cover later).  Long story short, get the quad and forget the dual no matter how fast dual can run old apps or games, quad is cheap and why not quad ?

Now, less talk more picts !


65nm Process
2600 Mhz x 4 (quad-core)
L2 cache 2mb / L3 cache 4mb
4000 MT/s HyperTransport Bus
up to 16.0GB/s I/O Bandwidth
Socket 940 Pin AM2+/AM3 
DDR2/DDR3 Support
95w TDP

Now if you notice on the last second picture or the seventh picture, the pins are slightly different even though both runs on the same 940 pin AM2+ / AM3 socket . Newer Athlon II and Phenom / Phenom II CPUs works on older AM2+ board however older CPUs like the Athlon X2 will not work on the new DDR3 AM3 motherboards due to the reason of older memory controller located in the CPU itself where Athlon X2 supports only up to DDR2 while its successors are capable of running DDR3.

Running a new Athlon II/5series or Phenom / Phenom II on a AM2 is not recommended BUT do consult your motherboard CPU support list in order to know what processor your motherboard supports before you buy the wrong stuff.

Here's the story, this PC being reviewed is running an old Athlon X2 5000+ 2.6ghz which i got it quite cheap (Thanks to Tommy, lol) as a temporary usage until it get a faster replacement, and i did which made my girlfriend happy, lol.


AMD Athlon X2 5000+ 2.6ghz , 1mb L2 cache , 1000x2 HyperTransport bus / AMD Phenom II X4 810 2.6ghz , 4mb L3 cache , 1800x2 HyperTransport bus

Asus M4A78-EM , AM3 socket, DDR2 , PCIeX16 ver 2.0
2x2GB DDR2 KVR (Kingston Value Ram)
Seagate 500Gb Sata2
First graphics card : Onboard ATi Radeon HD3200 with 256 Shared DDR2 ram (disabled)
Second graphics card : Galaxy 9600GSO 384Mb DDR3 (enabled)
Acbel E2 510w PSU

All tests was done with the second graphics card running except the tests with Athlon X2 5000+ in 3DMark Vantage.

The specs above is what most people like you me and anyone else cares most, and the benchmarks running will be :


HWmonitor (the lower the core (c) temperature, the better)
3DMark06 Basic Edition (the higher the better)
3DMark Vantage (the higher the better)
Cinebench R10 (the higher the better)
PCWizard CPU tests (the higher the better)
SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP4 (the higher the better, except for the Multi-core latency test)

Covered results on tests will also include temperature readings on full load and idle. Now lets start !

AMD ATHLON X2 5000+ 2.6ghz
AMD PHENOM II X4 810 2.6ghz
INTEL Core2Quad 6600 3.0Ghz (overclocked) Quad-Core
HWMonitor (Celsius)

20 Min Stress
20 Min Idle

Graphics Benchmark

3DMark06 Basic Edition
3DMark Vantage
3589 (7k+ expected)

PCWizard 2010

Processor Benchmark
Cache Memory
CPU Threading

SISoftware Sandra 2009 SP4

CPU Aggregate Arithmetic
15.2 GOPS
31.71 GOPS
CPU Dhrystone ALU
16.9 GIPS
54.55 GIPS
CPU Whetstone iSSE3
13.48 GFLOPS
30.37 GFLOPS
35.55 GFLOPS
Multi-core- Intercore Bandwidth
Multi-core- Intercore Latency
*updated C2Q with proper OCed result, sorry for the mistakes.

It doesn't take a pro to understand the numbers above, you can tell how much improvements jumping from the dual to a quad at the same clock speed.

As you can see above, jumping from a dual core to a quad core provided a large amount of scores gained in synthetic tests, in real application test like games it provides around a rough 40% increase in performance in CPU intensive games. Slapping a 9600GSO 384mb DDR3 with it and it'll run GTA4 @ medium @ 1366x768 without any hiccups !


Any quad core with a 2.6ghz is more than enough to power most current apps and games. For games, you better divert your budget for a faster graphics card instead of pushing it to the processor. I get alot of sellers telling bullshit suggestions (sorry, i can't take it, its utterly BS to me) like saying don't take the mid-end, take the high end so you can overclock you ass to the moon. End of the day, they become the smart ass when you bought something you don't need.

First of all, not everyone overclocks, and even if they do they do it with the low end. Taking a high end to overclock is like you're competing in a international overclocking campionship. Seriously, if you got the cash go buy it for good, but not for the sake of the bullshit advice those dealers tells you.

Second, CPU can lasts around 5 years of hard beating from resource intensive games if you get something proper that prepares for future use. Like buying a dual core for game nowadays ? forget about it and get a quad. A dual for photo editing use, good !

Lastly, So if you're planning to upgrade your two year old machine, go grab youself a cheap second hand Core 2 Quad if you're still running a dual or get a new Phenom II or Athlon II at least with a triple core processor that costs below RM400 for a upgrade now, you'll won't regret it. BUT be sure to check you motherboard CPU support list, if it doesn't support any of the quads, well ? Time for a big change in the insides.

If anyone have questions to ask, feel free to ask here via comment or chatbox, I'd be glad to help.

*side note*, I've been using this Phenom II for quite a few months now and i've been too buzy to do a proper review on it, tested it on lan and it rocks with or without a dedicated graphics card.
This PC was served as one of the LAN gaming session i've held sometime before 31 December 2009 by playing Borderlands 4 player co-op.