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Old 08-11-2010, 04:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default CPU 6-core upgrade: Do I have enough watts left?

When I first built my computer, it was meant to be a mild gaming budget build. It was $500 to build. The original specs were something like:

Foxcon 780G mobo
AMD Athlon X2 5400+ 2.4GHz (OC'd to 3.2GHz)
4GB DDR2 800
HD 4830 512mb video card
160gb HDD
500W Xcilio power supply
Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
19" 1440x900 monitor

Then I bought a new monitor that supported 1920x1080 resolution and wanted to keep gaming at max settings so I purchased a new GPU as well. Then there was a sale on RAM so I purchased another 2GB. I ran out of HDD space so I purchased another 640GB drive.

Current specs:
Foxcon 780G mobo
AMD Athlon X2 5400+ 2.4GHz (OC'd to 3.2GHz)
6GB DDR2 800
XFX HD 4890 2GB video card
160gb HDD + 640GB HDD
500W Xcilio power supply
Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
Currently using my 47" TV at 1920x1080

I can now run pretty much everything at max settings, however there are some times when my frame rates drop during heavy loads or in the more demanding games and I feel the only remaining bottleneck in my system is my CPU. My motherboard is compatible with AM3 CPUs so I would like to switch to a new Phenom X6 processor and be done upgrading for another year or 2.

However, I think I am reaching dangerously close to the maximum load of my power supply. I currently have a 65W cpu (overclocked), 240W gpu (overclocked slightly), 2 hard drives, optical drive, 5 fans, and 5 usb ports drawing power. It seems like I should be able to afford the extra 60W to triple my processing cores, but how can I be sure? I don't want to purchase a CPU, find out I need a new PSU, and then have to make a separate order and spend another hour or so perfecting my wiring again.

Is there any way to measure power usage without buying a watt-meter like those ones you can buy at RadioShack for $50?
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Old 08-11-2010, 04:41 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: CPU 6-core upgrade: Do I have enough watts left?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NightSurge View Post
When I first built my computer, it was meant to be a mild gaming budget build. It was $500 to build. The original specs were something like:

Foxcon 780G mobo
AMD Athlon X2 5400+ 2.4GHz (OC'd to 3.2GHz)
4GB DDR2 800
HD 4830 512mb video card
160gb HDD
500W Xcilio power supply
Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
19" 1440x900 monitor

Then I bought a new monitor that supported 1920x1080 resolution and wanted to keep gaming at max settings so I purchased a new GPU as well. Then there was a sale on RAM so I purchased another 2GB. I ran out of HDD space so I purchased another 640GB drive.

Current specs:
Foxcon 780G mobo
AMD Athlon X2 5400+ 2.4GHz (OC'd to 3.2GHz)
6GB DDR2 800
XFX HD 4890 2GB video card
160gb HDD + 640GB HDD
500W Xcilio power supply
Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
Currently using my 47" TV at 1920x1080

I can now run pretty much everything at max settings, however there are some times when my frame rates drop during heavy loads or in the more demanding games and I feel the only remaining bottleneck in my system is my CPU. My motherboard is compatible with AM3 CPUs so I would like to switch to a new Phenom X6 processor and be done upgrading for another year or 2.

However, I think I am reaching dangerously close to the maximum load of my power supply. I currently have a 65W cpu (overclocked), 240W gpu (overclocked slightly), 2 hard drives, optical drive, 5 fans, and 5 usb ports drawing power. It seems like I should be able to afford the extra 60W to triple my processing cores, but how can I be sure? I don't want to purchase a CPU, find out I need a new PSU, and then have to make a separate order and spend another hour or so perfecting my wiring again.

Is there any way to measure power usage without buying a watt-meter like those ones you can buy at RadioShack for $50?

Not that I know of, However there are calculators, I'd say DEFINETLY upgrade to a phenom 1055 95w. It'd be amazing it's what I'm doing and you can buy a cheap 600w ocz power supply nowadays. yours seems a bit on the low side.
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Old 08-11-2010, 04:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: CPU 6-core upgrade: Do I have enough watts left?

Just realised that screen is massive and the resolution is quite high, the 4890 is a good card but maybe that may be a bit of abottleneck too?
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: CPU 6-core upgrade: Do I have enough watts left?

i think you may still have some headroom.

i looked up some 4890 reviews to find some power consumption #'s, and testers running OCed i7 rigs were getting about 300w (give or take 20w or so) of total system power draw.

that said, it's up to you if you want to spend money to upgrade the psu (if not to be safe then just for piece of mind).

also, you should look up your specific board model on foxconn's site to make sure the cpu you're looking is on your board's supported cpu list, since there are boards that support am3 cpus but can still have limitations like only supporting cpus with a max tdp of like 95w.
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Old 08-12-2010, 07:31 AM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: CPU 6-core upgrade: Do I have enough watts left?

Just buy the newer CPU and try it. Your power supply shouldn't fail or explode from it, if anything you'll notice random shutdowns when the system is under heavy load. If this happens then consider a new power supply.
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: CPU 6-core upgrade: Do I have enough watts left?

You can get a Kill A Watt meter for about $25
Amazon.com: P3 International P4400 Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor: Camera & Photo

Xcilio isn't a "Bad" power supply, but it's not really a "Good" power supply either. As a new unit a Xcilio should work just fine, but after a few years of service I wouldn't expect it to work reliably when pushed near it maximum output. I think replacing it in the near future would be a good idea.
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:49 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: CPU 6-core upgrade: Do I have enough watts left?

The Kill-A-Watt measures AC power being consumed by the Power Supply, not the components at the other end of it. Power supplies aren't 100% efficient so the number you would see would likely be over the PSU's rating even if your components were within the specification.

To monitor on the component end it's a bit trickier, you would have to stick a meter in between every power output line on the PSU to measure current and add the results together. You would probably have to modify the PSU's internal hardware and integrate an ammeter (measures current) and voltmeter, then use P=IV (power = current times voltage) to calculate the watts used. For your situation I'd say it's completely pointless to even consider it, but that's how you would have to do it (took electrical engineering last year, too much math).
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Old 08-13-2010, 07:17 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: CPU 6-core upgrade: Do I have enough watts left?

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Originally Posted by CalcProgrammer1 View Post
Power supplies aren't 100% efficient so the number you would see would likely be over the PSU's rating even if your components were within the specification.
I have a Kill A Watt meter and you'd be surprised at what you can determine with one. Here are the Idle and Full Load numbers for my Office Workstation, i7 920 @ 4GHz, 12GB DDR3 1600, GTX 280, multiple drives and fans all powered by a Corsair 750 watt power supply. The numbers are nowhere near the maximum output of the power supply, I'd say there pretty accurate.
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