PC hardware--CPU & Motherboard & RAM/Upgrading my CPU


QUESTION: I wish to upgrade my CPU, but I am not sure which one I can buy that would be compatible with my motherboard. I am in no position to buy a new PC or new motherboard, so I have to buy just a new CPU. I will post my PC specs from DxDiag, I hope it will be enough. Can you suggest any CPUs from 10th or newer generation, preferable with two cores? Thanks in advance.

System Information
Time of this report: 7/1/2015, 21:57:57
      Machine name: STIVKOBRA-PC
  Operating System: n/a 64-bit (6.1, Build 7601) Service Pack 1 (7601.win7sp1_gdr.150525-0603)
         Language: Serbian (Latin) (Regional Setting: Serbian (Latin))
System Manufacturer: ECS
      System Model: GeForce7050M-M
         BIOS: Default System BIOS
         Processor: AMD Athlon(tm) 64 Processor 3200+, ~2.0GHz
         Memory: 4096MB RAM
Available OS Memory: 4096MB RAM
         Page File: 3244MB used, 4943MB available
       Windows Dir: C:\Windows
   DirectX Version: DirectX 11
DX Setup Parameters: Not found
  User DPI Setting: Using System DPI
System DPI Setting: 96 DPI (100 percent)
   DWM DPI Scaling: Disabled
    DxDiag Version: 6.01.7601.17514 32bit Unicode

DxDiag Notes
     Display Tab 1: No problems found.
       Sound Tab 1: No problems found.
       Sound Tab 2: No problems found.
         Input Tab: No problems found.

DirectX Debug Levels
Direct3D:    0/4 (retail)
DirectDraw:  0/4 (retail)
DirectInput: 0/5 (retail)
DirectMusic: 0/5 (retail)
DirectPlay:  0/9 (retail)
DirectSound: 0/5 (retail)
DirectShow:  0/6 (retail)

Display Devices
         Card name: ATI Radeon HD 4550
      Manufacturer: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.
         Chip type: ATI display adapter (0x954F)
         DAC type: Internal DAC(400MHz)
        Device Key: Enum\PCI\VEN_1002&DEV_954F&SUBSYS_29201682&REV_00
    Display Memory: 2296 MB
  Dedicated Memory: 505 MB
     Shared Memory: 1791 MB
      Current Mode: 1440 x 900 (32 bit) (60Hz)
      Monitor Name: Generic PnP Monitor
     Monitor Model: ASUS VW193D
        Monitor Id: ACI19D5
       Native Mode: 1440 x 900(p) (59.887Hz)
       Output Type: HD15
       Driver Name: aticfx64.dll,aticfx64.dll,aticfx32,aticfx32,atiumd64.dll,atidxx64.dll,atiumdag,atidxx32,atiumdva,atiumd6a.cap,atitmm64.dll
Driver File Version: 8.17.0010.1129 (English)
    Driver Version: 8.
       DDI Version: 10.1
      Driver Model: WDDM 1.1
 Driver Attributes: Final Retail
  Driver Date/Size: 4/30/2013 06:19:54, 1094024 bytes
       WHQL Logo'd: Yes
   WHQL Date Stamp:
 Device Identifier: {D7B71EE2-D60F-11CF-5B71-2A09BEC2C535}
         Vendor ID: 0x1002
         Device ID: 0x954F
         SubSys ID: 0x29201682
       Revision ID: 0x0000
Driver Strong Name: oem6.inf:ATI.Mfg.NTamd64.6.1:ati2mtag_R7X:8.:pci\ven_1002&dev_954f&subsys_29201682
    Rank Of Driver: 00E60001
       Video Accel: ModeMPEG2_A ModeMPEG2_C

ANSWER: Your system uses an AM2+ socket motherboard, the CPU compatibility list for it is here:

You should be able to upgrade not only to dual core options (e.g. Athlon64 X2), but also triple core and quad core options (Phenom). Refer to the ECS link to determine if you would need a BIOS update for a given CPU. You may also need a more robust cooling solution if you move to a significantly more powerful CPU; this shouldn't be terribly expensive however. Look at Arctic's 939/AM2/AM3 heatsinks - they're very affordable and offer good performance. All of the CPUs that are compatible with your motherboard are out of production, so I would suggest ebay (or some similar source) to find a used model - I linked to the list as your selection will be inherently limited by what's available used.

The Radeon HD 4550 should be perfectly functional as long as you aren't hoping to run modern games at high resolutions/settings - it will support UVD2.x which means full HD video decoding, Aero acceleration, and it also supports DirectX 10.1, and will handle many games (including some newer ones) as a result. With a Phenom triple or quad core, I wouldn't be surprised if this machine could even handle relatively modern games at lower settings.

If you have any further questions, feel free to ask.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: It's actually an AM2+ socket? I thought it was just AM2. I was about to buy the strongest processor that AM2 can run, AMD Athlon X2 6000+ 3GHz, but hopefully I can buy a lot better one. Also, I noticed that the version of the motherboard is (1.0A), does that count to something? I have no problems with buying a new cooler, I was already planning to buy a new one as well. Still, thank you so much for your help, and I await for the answer to this follow-up question.

ANSWER: According to the ECS specifications it is AM2+, per the provided link. They do not list any variations of PCB board revisions, so I'm assuming that should not be a problem. Just make sure that you don't buy a Phenom II or Athlon II as those do not appear on the list - it appears to support many first-generation Phenom processors though (triple and quad core), although it appears there is a limit at 95W TDP which will exclude some of the top-of-range Phenom and Athlon64 processors as well. Something like the Phenom 9500 or 9600 would probably be a good choice, if you're looking to maximize performance. A quick search of ebay reveals the 9500 to be around $20 (US dollars), and it should offer a considerable improvement over the 3200+ you presently have. The clock-speeds of the Phenom chips will be slightly lower than what you could achieve with an Athlon64, which is partly a power issue, but also remember that Phenom is AMD K10 based, which offers improvements over K8. Finally note that if you're concerned about the TLB bug, you should look for a B3-stepping xx50 sequence processor (e.g. Phenom 9550); you can read more about that here: http://techreport.com/review/13741/phenom-tlb-patch-benchmarked

If you have further questions, feel free to ask.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Alright, just a final thing, to be assured. I am aware that v2.0 can support more stronger processors, but I am not sure if it's that version. I've posted a photo of my motherboard, maybe it will help, I'm not sure. By the look of it, it says that the version is 1.0A. I will look into that list and find a good processor. Thank you. Sorry for bothering you this much, but I am just careful about investing my money in a wrong processor. Thank you in advance.

Looks to say V1.0 to me too. If you're really concerned, just make sure you buy a processor off of the 1.0 list - later revisions should support everything that was available on earlier revision boards. Multi-core Phenom is already going to be a significant upgrade over a single-core Athlon64, the differences from that to Phenom II or similar would be much less significant.


PC hardware--CPU & Motherboard & RAM

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I have nearly two decades of experience in IT, computer repair, and related fields and will attempt to provide the most solid, brand-agnostic advice when it comes time to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing machine. I can answer anything from the seemingly basic to the downright complicated - and will do my best to provide this information in a clear and concise manner.


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