Upgrade Help (CPU or GPU)


Just wanted to say that I am new here to these forums and I was recommended to search/start a thread here with the questions I have.

So my Current specs are:

CPU: AMD FX-6200

GPU: Radeon 7870 GHz Edition

RAM:  G.SKILL Ripjaws 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1600

HDD: Samsung 840 series 128GB SSD

HDD2: Western Digital Black 1TB HDD

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD3


So my question is what would be the best part to upgrade to see the biggest performance increase in gaming. I'm sure it will most likely be either my CPU or GPU but cant seem to figure out which would be best to upgrade. Currently the games I play the most are Day Z, Arma 3, H1Z1, LOL, and playing through The Witcher 2 now.


You will almost certainly always gain the most benefit from upgrading the GPU of your system over the CPU. Now that being said, your CPU is based off of a much older architecture, being the Zambezi Core, which is very week when in comparison with Intel Core i architecture. Most of the games you have stated are multi-player games, and as such would usually need more CPU horsepower than GPU from my understanding. What resolution you are playing at also comes into play here. Could you possibly state what you are currently running at in most games for us?

For the games you play I'd recommend a CPU upgrade. Nearly all the games you play are really poorly optimized and demand strong single core performance.

I suggest you make the jump to Intel. How much money do you have to spend? So we can determine what mobo and i5 to get

You would most definitely see the biggest increase in performance by upgrading your GPU. Most games are GPU heavy anyway. Unless you are a big RTS player, your CPU is fine for now.

May I suggest at R9 285 or perhaps the 290.

I would also suggest upgrading your CPU after your GPU given that the upcoming "next gen" titles like Batman Arkham Knight and The Witcher 3 are needing beefier CPUs. But like I said, upgrading your GPU would yield you the most performance upgrade immediately.

All the games he plays are heavily CPU dependent. It isn't just RTS games....

But those are the games he/she plays for now. Games never last, the CPU upgrade wouldn't be as efficient as a GPU upgrade. For future gaming a GPU upgrade would last longer, but for OP's current setup, I see no reason to upgrade unless he/she is aiming to get those few extra frames.

I know all games are more or less CPU dependant, depending on the game and engine. However I was not aware that multiplayer games/modes require more CPU usage.

Either way, unless he's lagging on multiplayer games or modes, he doesn't need the CPU upgrade, although I do recommend he does upgrade it after his GPU.

I'm always running my games at 1920 x 1080

I have been reading up on the i5 4690 and that its really good for single core or dual games but are most games single core?

Edit; i would like to stay under $400 and if my budget get pushed a little I can always save up a bit more.

As the other Comments suggest I am looking to increase FPS to make gaming on my computer feel slightly more smoother and not as choppy.

Right, however, generally, your choppiness in game can be attributed to your lack of GPU power. Upgrading your GPU will bring you a bigger performance increase across the board than a CPU can. 

Lag in multiplayer games looks a bit different than general choppiness in gameplay.

From what I've read so far, multiplayer games tend to be very different when it comes to CPU needs. But multiplayer depends on 3 things, that I know of, CPU, network card, and your connection speed. So if multiplayer is your main focus, look at those areas. Otherwise, a new GPU is your best bet.

For gaming at 1080P I would suggest a Radeon R9 280 or better on the AMD side, and an nVidia GTX 960 or better on the nVidia side of things. Later on upgrading your CPU to a Core i5 series or better. 

Grab GPU-Z and open up your Task Manager and look at CPU load. 

Play a game. When you notice FPS drops and stuttering look at your GPU and CPU load. If GPU load is dropping but CPU load is at or near 100% then your CPU is holding you back.

In general, "choppy" or in consistent framerates, or very low minimum framerates are usually caused by a lack of CPU power.

The 7870 is a decent GPU and can easily push all of the games, except for perhaps the Witcher 2, maxed at 1080p. While true that in general a more powerful GPU will be a better upgrade to get more performance, if his CPU is bottlenecking (which in these games with a 6200, it is) then even if he goes to an R9 290 he will still have poor performance. His max and average FPS may go up a bit yes however, his minimums will stay put and, if anything, the experience will be even more inconsistent and "choppy."

When someone asks what the best course of upgrades would be I have no idea why people suggest a complete architecture switch to Intel. The price of a new board and compatible CPU is almost always more than simply an upgraded CPU and better video card. That card he has currently has only 2 gigs of ram and is 256bit. Mate, even with the current prices, save money get an 8350 and a 290x. Or wait like two months for the 390x to come out and get that 290x for even less...PS an extra kit of ram wouldn't hurt either!

-Brian Timothy



That is true it is generally more. However, upgrading from a 6200 to an 8350 will give him very little benefit in single threaded games as the 8350 uses the same weak cores. 

I would suggest, if he doesn't wanna make the jump to Intel, to get better cooling an OC the hell out of the 6200 and get a better GPU. 

And getting more RAM won't help. 

Upgrade the CPU in my opinion. For League of Legends I had a fx6300 that was hovering around 70- 260 fps with an overclock to 4.6 GHZ and I was fairly happy but I had to fight the cpu tempretures of my massive overclock, but it never really went over 55 degrees while playing League of Legends. As I have gotten some money I have upgraded to the Xeon 1231 V3 (Intel i7 4770 without the igpu) now I hover around 100 - 360  thats is with maxed out settings with HUD Animations on AA on and Lining. Even though I had to change the motherboard to support my CPU it was worth for me since I also play Skryim which was horrible which is lightly modded no enbs just the 2K Textures, Better Shaped Weapons, HD Fire, Open Cities and Unbelievable Grass. It was choppy and slow through towns like Markarth (FX6300 OC) but with the Intel it was less obvious. If I where you even a recent i5/Xeon 1220 would do the job much better than the AMD FX6200 for the games that you are playing. I have a R9 270x slightly overclocked so just bump off my fps that I told you about 20 fps and that's what you would roughly see. I'm not saying that the AMD FX 6200 is not a bad CPU is just not suited for the games that you are playing.

His problems aren't from CPU issues, I have a machine I cobbled together from spare parts and its rocking a four cour phenom 945 and 8 gigs of 1600mhz ram. And just to prove that this single core crap isn't and issue I put a 295x2 that I got on cyber Monday for just over 600$ in it. It plays all the newest AAA titles buttery smooth at high fps even at 1440p (I don't gave access to a 4k display). All that other hardware is circa 2009-2010! I was giving him not only a suggestion for the current is, but making sure his rig is setup for future games as well. In the OP he stated he plays witcher 2, don't you think he'll get witcher 3? There's no way that card will give him a good gaming experience even with a 2011 socket chip. In addition new titles have started taking advantage of multiple cores (I believe bf4 already does). And to your point about over clocking I don't like to suggest people do that if they don't know what they are doing. In all the builds I do for people I'll do a conservative, stable, and reliable of and then lock the bios... Because I learned that people will mess with it and burn out their systems.

-Brian Timothy

Great testing method, wish I thought of it. It's so simple. We should let this test determine if he needs a CPU or GPU upgrade.

I also agree on the CPU becoming a bottleneck, which is why I suggested that he upgrade the CPU after his GPU.

I'm curious now. I think I'll run this test when I get home while running Hawken.