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I want to switch to Intel, but I'm not sure if I can or should

I'm growing increasingly frustrated with the performance of my budget PC, which I only built a year and a half ago for mostly gaming. Current specs are:

Case: Rosewill Challenger mid ATX
Mobo: Asrock 970 extreme3
CPU: AMD FX-4100@4.4ghz (CM Hyper 212 Evo)
GPU: XFX Radeon HD 7770 1GB
RAM: 16GB (2x8GB sticks) G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 1333mhz
PSU: Coolmax 600w 80+ Certified
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200rpm
SSD: Corsair Force 90GB
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit OEM
generic disc drive, wifi adapter, etc.

This PC is mostly used for World of Tanks, and if you are not familiar with the title, it is pretty poorly optimized, i.e. it only uses one CPU core. My fps in game has been erratic, sometimes reaching up to 60, but often in the 30s, with sustained dips into the 20s and teens. It is often unplayable, and is making for a frustrating experience. I recently found out that I will be making a bit more money than I expected to this summer, so I am trying to figure out what components to purchase when I get paid (~2 weeks time).

The most simple solution would probably be to purchase the FX-8350. This would provide a nice performance boost, cost me a relatively small amount of money, and I would avoid the woes of screwing with my motherboard and OS and whatnot. The problem is, even now, I hear this CPU struggles to produce 60 fps on max settings in WoT, usually settling for 40-50fps. While this is a fine number for me, I largely prefer 60+ fps, so that I can just turn vsync on and not have to worry about drops, even in the most intense scenes. Also, I would NOT be upgrading my cpu or motherboard past this point, ever. There really wouldn't be any better CPU to upgrade to, not with that motherboard. I plan to upgrade my PC, then get all the use that I can out of it until it dies or can't get the job done, hopefully at least 6 years from now. That gets me a bit worried, due to the fact that I can't overclock the CPU much with my cheap mobo, and that it already isn't giving me desired performance in WoT.

My preferred solution would be to switch over to Intel. However, that would be comparatively much pricier. With this solution, I would probably pick up an Asrock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer motherboard, the new Pentium G3258, and Windows 8.1 Retail (<- That brings on a host of other questions for me, too). Even as the Pentium is less than half as expensive as the FX, it will perform magnificently in WoT, and I can get a great overclock on it to the point where it's on par with an i5 or i7 (just for WoT, obviously). The downside, of course, is that it requires a new motherboard, which I am told requires a new Operating System.

This is where my indecision comes in. I have my computer backed up to a 3TB Seagate external hard drive via Seagate Discwizard. However, I am very trepidatious about what will happen when I switch out the CPU and mobo. I don't know how much stuff I'm going to get back from restoring, when the time comes. I'm not sure how much trouble it will be to deal with reinstalling an OS, and whether Windows 8.1 is even a good choice! I don't really understand what will happen to my internal hard drives (will they be wiped, or just unable to really work without a clean OS install?). I'd like to get rid of my SSD, because it is just a little pain in the neck. I'm not seeing hardly any benefit to having it, and it doesn't have as much room as I'd like it to. I'd be happier just keeping the 1TB HDD for everything, or better yet, adding a 2 or 3TB HDD, or a larger SSD down the road. However, I digress.

Can anyone advise me on a course of action here? Does anyone have experience with a similar situation, switching from AMD to Intel? I don't want to drop hundreds of dollars, take the plunge, then end up in some sort of cluster.

In case it means anything, I will be upgrading to a GTX 760 when next Black Friday/Cyber Monday rolls around. I plan to add another down the road, if needed, but that will be the extent of GPU upgrades for this PC. Also, if I go the Intel route, I would probably upgrade to a high end i5 or i7 if the Pentium started slowing down in my games. However, aside from simple CPU and GPU upgrades, that would be it for this PC.

I'm sorry for the formidable walls of text, but wanted to be informative. Any help you can provide me is deeply appreciated!
13 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. tea urchin said:
    I would check out what other people are getting with that cpu, the hd7770 has a reputation for coughing and spluttering on certain games.


    Oh, I'm 100% positive that the CPU is the bottleneck here. World of Tanks really doesn't need much of a graphics card to max it out; the heavy demand is placed on single-core CPU performance. The 7770 used to be able to max the game out, and could even now get 60+fps all day at medium settings. I've had months to test and research and get to this point; I have the CPU isolated as the problem. And now, I am at the point of upgrading, as mentioned in my post.
  2. Bump for help.
  3. Nobody?
  4. And it is primarily your GPU holding the game back according to posts in the worldoftanks forums.
  5. NBSN said:


    Thanks for your response! However, over the past months, I have extensively read just about every forum post that is even remotely relative to my situation, and... no dice. I've tried that CPU core tip, but it was useless for me. Changing the assigned core either did not change my fps, or it worsened fps. And I have seen some people on WoT forums spouting off about how the GPU is commonly the limiting factor, but often they have Intel processors, are in a generally different situation, have no experience on the particular matter, or are just complete ignoramuses. I have taken extensive observations, and am positive that the CPU is the problem. Single core performance is really lacking... I regret not going with a $70 Intel CPU when I had the chance. I gained a few fps from OCing my processor, but not enough to make any significant difference. Also, when playing WoT, one core is always maxed out, while my GPU is around 50-70% load.
  6. I would definitely say the 7770 is the bottleneck here. With it being a budget build including that gpu, I wouldn't be at all surprised if that is the case. If your thinking of going to the FX-8350, go for the 8320 (one step down) and a good aftermarket cooler and OC it a bit. Of course I would switch the motherboard which will require a fresh OS install, BTW you can keep windows 7, and their is a way to reactivate it after a mobo swap (more on that if needed, ill keep tabs on this forum if that is needed) because the 970 chipset isn't that great for overclocking, I should know (long story), so get the gigabyte 990fxa-ud3 if you decide to stick with AMD. The GTX 760 imo is a great card so just wait before you do anything else until you swap out the cards to see if that fixes your problems. A good gpu swap can fix some serious problems. Have fun!
  7. rulejunior said:
    I would definitely say the 7770 is the bottleneck here. With it being a budget build including that gpu, I wouldn't be at all surprised if that is the case. If your thinking of going to the FX-8350, go for the 8320 (one step down) and a good aftermarket cooler and OC it a bit. Of course I would switch the motherboard which will require a fresh OS install, BTW you can keep windows 7, and their is a way to reactivate it after a mobo swap (more on that if needed, ill keep tabs on this forum if that is needed) because the 970 chipset isn't that great for overclocking, I should know (long story), so get the gigabyte 990fxa-ud3 if you decide to stick with AMD. The GTX 760 imo is a great card so just wait before you do anything else until you swap out the cards to see if that fixes your problems. A good gpu swap can fix some serious problems. Have fun!


    Thanks! It sounds like you may have some really helpful info for me (I have absolutely no knowledge of operating systems and how to upgrade and so on). Just to be clear, I just now got out of a WoT battle. Throughout the whole battle, my GPU never broke 33% load. CPU core 1 was 98-100% load. I would say that this is definitive proof that the GPU is not the bottleneck. But at the moment, that's neither here nor there for me. I would love if you could give me more info about the mobo swap process.

    Can I do a fresh install of windows in my situation? (remember that I have an OEM copy; I don't know how that affects reinstalling). I heard that OEM software is bound to the original motherboard that it was installed with; new mobo=new OS needed, unless you are using retail OS. Is there a way around this? After thinking it over, I really think Intel meets my needs best... I would just end up frustrated with AMD. In my situation, single core peformance is king! Anyway, how would I go about keeping my OS after the mobo switch, and would/how would changing from an AMD mobo to Intel mobo affect the process?

    I really appreciate your help!
  8. Ok, the process I used to keep my OS, which is Windows 8.1 btw I used over a month of ago so my info is recent and SHOULD apply to Windows 7 also. The first thing is you need to deactivate your copy of windows. You can easily search google on how to do that. Niw, I am sure you know how to prepare to install your OS and everything (back-ups and such, but I still heavily emphasize back-ups) so I can skip that part (Btw, back up documents, music, pictures, steam games before deactivating windows), and in the process overwrite where windows is installed. So what you wanna do is not have your computer plugged in to the internet or on wi-fi when you go to do the windows activation during install (BTW I hope you have your windows cd key for this as your gonna need it) or else it will screw it up. With your computer offline, type in your old cd key and it will allow windows to run unactivated. Now with windows installed, go back to the same place where you deactivated windows and reactivate it. (Make sure you are now connected to the internet for this and you did deactivate windows before the fresh install, I can't emphasize that enough). Choose the option to activate via phone. It will give you a number to call which leads to microsoft's automated activation saervice and a activation id. Follow the steps the ystem gives you, btw the answer to the "how many computers is this software installed on" question is one, but that answer will only work IF you deactivated windows before the fresh install. After jumping through the hoops and reading the activation id to the system, btw this call won't take more than about ten minutes, then it will give you a confirmation id to enter into the box. Enter the id and hit ok and windows will be activated. If the automated system gives you some bullcrap about it violating your licensing agreement by being installed on more than one computer, call microsoft tech support and give them the activation id and tell them it was a swap for a brand new motherboard so you had to do a fresh install of windows and they will usually give you a confirmation id for the activation. I had to call tech support because of office for a similiar reason a month back when I did my swap to the 990fxa-ud3. Follow these steps and you should be up and running quickly.
  9. rulejunior said:
    Ok, the process I used to keep my OS, which is Windows 8.1 btw I used over a month of ago so my info is recent and SHOULD apply to Windows 7 also. The first thing is you need to deactivate your copy of windows. You can easily search google on how to do that. Niw, I am sure you know how to prepare to install your OS and everything (back-ups and such, but I still heavily emphasize back-ups) so I can skip that part (Btw, back up documents, music, pictures, steam games before deactivating windows), and in the process overwrite where windows is installed. So what you wanna do is not have your computer plugged in to the internet or on wi-fi when you go to do the windows activation during install (BTW I hope you have your windows cd key for this as your gonna need it) or else it will screw it up. With your computer offline, type in your old cd key and it will allow windows to run unactivated. Now with windows installed, go back to the same place where you deactivated windows and reactivate it. (Make sure you are now connected to the internet for this and you did deactivate windows before the fresh install, I can't emphasize that enough). Choose the option to activate via phone. It will give you a number to call which leads to microsoft's automated activation saervice and a activation id. Follow the steps the ystem gives you, btw the answer to the "how many computers is this software installed on" question is one, but that answer will only work IF you deactivated windows before the fresh install. After jumping through the hoops and reading the activation id to the system, btw this call won't take more than about ten minutes, then it will give you a confirmation id to enter into the box. Enter the id and hit ok and windows will be activated. If the automated system gives you some bullcrap about it violating your licensing agreement by being installed on more than one computer, call microsoft tech support and give them the activation id and tell them it was a swap for a brand new motherboard so you had to do a fresh install of windows and they will usually give you a confirmation id for the activation. I had to call tech support because of office for a similiar reason a month back when I did my swap to the 990fxa-ud3. Follow these steps and you should be up and running quickly.


    Thanks for the instructions! And you're talking about Windows 8.1 OEM, right?
  10. You bet'cha. If you have any more questions let me know.
  11. rulejunior said:
    You bet'cha. If you have any more questions let me know.


    So, at what point during those steps would the actual hardware swap take place? I'm assuming I would make the switch right after the deactivation of the OS, but just want to double check. Speaking of deactivating, is this the method you used to deactivate? And if not, could I have instructions as to the method you used? Sorry, I just really want this to work, and I want to do things right.

    I've heard that if you try to run windows inactivated, you will get a black screen and some sort of error message; thus, I get why I am supposed to run it offline. However, I see that the PC needs to be connected to the internet in order to activate again... is there a short grace period before you can no longer use your "unauthorized" install of windows, or what? And I also notice that you said to go back to the same place where you deactivated windows in order to reactivate it, which makes me wonder where that place is.

    I'm really new to this sort of thing, so I don't know what all a backup saves... I backed up my computer to an external hard drive using Seagate DiscWizard, but I have no idea of what all that saved. As a matter of fact, I don't know jack, so if there is anything I need to do to prepare for an OS install besides a backup, I can't say I know what it is :p I have Home Office 2010, which is essential to me, and I don't know if that's included in the backup. I also have lots of games, programs, apps, and movies on my main hard drive. And I'm guessing that since you said to back up docs, music, pictures, and steam games, that those somehow won't be saved? Surprisingly, after searching the internet, I can't find out what a backup is actually supposed to save, which is a bit frustrating. I don't want to lose anything important, which is most things that I have on my computer.

    You also mentioned overwriting where windows is installed, and I don't really know what exactly that means, much less how to do it.

    Those are the immediate questions that come to my mind about the procedure. Sorry for all the noobish questions, but I truly do appreciate your ongoing help!
  12. Best answer
    Ok, yes you do the hardware swap right after you deactivate your OS and let your system cool down before working just as a pre-cautionary.

    This link is how to deactivate Windows: http://lifehacker.com/5958507/uninstall-your-windows-product-key-so-you-can-use-the-license-on-another-pc

    This link is how to activate windows after you install it offline and get it running: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/activate-windows#1TC=windows-7

    Those two links will tell you everything you need to know on activation and deactivation including activation by phone. You have a 30 day grace period to run Windows before it must be activated.

    I would check through your external before you do anything to see what is saved in it, which should be possible without the software. Office is a fickle thing in the fact it works exactly like Windows 8 tying the key to the motherboard. The way I overcame that since I have a two seat license of Office 2010 Pro Plus is, if you don't already have your product key for office, use Belarc Advisor which will scan your system and find all product keys for you to copy down. I'll post a link here in a moment. Then, uninstall office which should free up a seat on your license, before you do your hardware swap. Next after Windows is installed, install office and input your key. If it doesn't work then call Microsoft, and talk to a real person on this one because my experience with their automated system in terms with office wasn't great. If you do decide to go that route, then the automated system is the same for Windows as it is for Office, just different numbers.

    One thing about steam is if your entire library is backed up to your external and you can read through what is saved on your external without the software, you're golden. My guess is it also backed up the .EXE for steam, so here is a post from the steam forums on how to move your already downloaded library. Just move from your External and delete the necessary files outlined here and steam will work in no time.

    Moving Steam Install: https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=7418-YUBN-8129
    Just follow that guide right there.

    Ok, now onto where windows is installed. Now with me, when I installed Windows before my thing back in the beginning of June where I swapped my motherboard and got my ssd, I had a 100 gb partition taken out of my 1tb hdd for windows alone. I highly recommend doing that if your more of an advanced user that doesn't have an ssd, but if not, and you didn't do this originally, you can format your entire internal hdd easily. I would leave your external disconnected when you do this so you don't accidentally wipe it, but you can format your entire internal drive from the menus in the Windows install disc when you do the install. You probably remember that screen from when you installed Windows originally. The reason I say disconnect your external is because the install menus will detect all connected drives and give you the options to format, partition, etc.

    Next thing to focus on would be anti-virus. Depending on what anti-virus you have I can help you there with deactivation because a lot of them use a seat license system and will require deactivation to free up a seat for after your hardware swap.

    Here is the link to Belarc Advisor: http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html

    Just scroll the windows it brings up after you install and run it a bit to find your product keys for everything. It should be able to recover the Windows 7 product key also. Don't know about that, but I know it can recover Windows 8.1 keys. If you have any more questions, let me know.
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