Upgrading: newer CPU or new mobo and i7?

Hello all! I’m trying to plan my next upgrade. I currently have an Asus P5B motherboard with an Intel Core 2 Duo 6420 processor attached. Courtesy of the SDMB’s own Palooka I was able to score a great deal on a Radeon HD 5770 so my graphics needs are taken care of for a while. I also have 4GB of RAM (DDR2) and I’m pretty comfortable with that at the moment. I’m not buying an SSD until they come way down in price and I can get somewhere around 100GB/$100. So right now the easiest bottleneck I can upgrade is my tired old Core 2 Duo 6420.

Now for an in-place upgrade I can drop in any number of CPUs, up to some very expensive quad-core options. The P5B will take a fairly mean CPU compared to what I currently have. But I don’t know if this is really the best option per se…

On the other hand, I could get a new motherboard which supports the next-gen i3/i5/i7 processors. The advantage of this is that I would then have DDR3 memory and any other technological advances that have appeared since my P5B was produced (USB 3.0? ). The disadvantage is that the RAM isn’t free and I’d want at least 4GB since that’s what I’m running now.

I’m not sure when this upgrade would be but probably in the next couple of months. Bearing all this in mind, should I get a new motherboard, CPU and RAM or should I stick with what I’ve got and just pop a new CPU in?

Both of those are reasonable options. It sounds like your actual question is: “Do you want to spend a small amount of money or a large amount of money?”

Would your power supply handle the new mobo/ram/cpu combo?

I’ve got 550 watts of juice to spare.

It sounds like the best bang for your buck is going to be buying a new CPU. The 5770 is a good graphics card and should last for a while if you do gaming. DDR2 is still pretty serviceable RAM and unless you’re a hardcore gamer or video rendering it’ll work fine for awhile too.

Or even if you’re a hardcore gamer. There’s nothing on the market that’s going to really stress your system, DW, no matter which route you choose. Nobody’s making bleeding edge games atm. The Triple-A titles are all built for console ports, which means everything’s tied into the aging 360/ps3 hardware, playable in Dx 9.

In your shoes, I’d go with the cpu upgrade for now, maybe double your DDR2 ram if the money’s burning a hole in your pocket, and wait for the games to catch up with your current computer.

Just to add another data point: I have the asus p6t mobo. I added Win 7 64-bit and went from 2gb to 12gb of RAM, and damn, is it sweet. It’s like having a new machine. Seriously.

So, I personally think more RAM probably gets you more bang for your buck. I think the P5B can go up to 8Gb of RAM, right? A 4Gb stick of DD2 memory is only $50-60; combined with Win 7 64-bit I think you’d see significant improvement.

Just my $0.02,

What makes you think your CPU is a bottleneck?