Is It Worth Upgrading An Expensive, Ancient CPU For A Modern, Low-End One?

Is It Worth Upgrading An Expensive, Ancient CPU For A Modern, Low-End One?

Now here’s a good question. Ever since the demise of the gigahertz race, chip designs began to focus on working harder, rather than faster, so the answer isn’t immediately obvious. Toss number of cores and technologies such as Hyper-threading into the mix and we have to turn to benchmarks to get a resolution.

Rafael Coelho from Hardware Secrets put together a number of tests to find out if the aforementioned scenario warrants swapping CPUs. Coelho dug up a Core 2 Quad Q8300 from 2008 and benched it alongside a Core i3 4150, Pentium N3700 and Athlon 5150 — all from mid-2014 / early-2015.

Seven years is an eternity in the CPU business, but you don’t need to feel bad if you invested in a processor way back when. While it does get beat in the gaming-orientated 3D Mark tests, it outperformed its up-to-date, but low-end counterparts in PCMark, Cinebench and Photoshop.

A follow-up article by Coelho takes the gaming tests further, with the results showing that if your PC’s primary role is for play, it’s almost always better to go with newer, low-end chip, rather than sticking with outdated hardware.

Which is the Faster CPU: old but high-end or entry-level and new? [Hardware Secrets]


  • I am upgrading my computer, whole new system actually, going from an i5-2320 with 8GB RAM to a i7-6700K with 16GB RAM. Can’t afford a new GPU yet, and going to wait to see what the pascal chipset brings to the table, keeping my Radeon HD 7970 for now

  • I’ve got a 7 or so year old quad core i7-920 kicking around my second computer, it still holding its own.

    • Yeah, I’ve got an old Q6600 chugging away in a machine, and it still holds its own. About to get handed down to the nephew so he has something to use. Not bad for something bought 8 years ago.

      I’ve found that the processor doesnt need updating anywhere near as often as it used to, thanks to a lot of the workload being switched to the GPU these days. Thats the most replaced part of the PC these days.

  • I tend to max out my rigs before moving onto a new one, and by the time I’ve got around it the next PC’s usually a few generations ahead.
    Only last week I upgraded my main PC’s ram and CPU from 4gb to 8gb an old CPU Q6600 2.4 Quad Core to a 3GB Quad Core Xeon E5450 using the 771 to 775 mod. My Nvidia GTX650 2GB card should see me through for some time too.
    Then again my only reason for upgrading was to play Fallout 4. 😛

  • Depending on the CPU, you may find it hard to get a newer version that uses the same socket.
    Which suddenly means you’re replacing the motherboard too.
    Since my last build, USB 3 has arrived and 3.1 is coming soon, with a new fancy connector. So I’ll flip the question and ask: if you have a dead CPU and need to update anyway, is it worth updating to a new, cheaper Motherboard over an old one?

    • Good question. From experience I tend to use the PCI slots to add extra stuff such as a USB 3 slot or add extra sata ports.

      Yes I’m that guy who’ll brows Ebay looking for things to use up my extra PCI slots. :p

  • I just bought a 5 year old Mac Pro, did a dual CPU 12 core (24 Virtual) upgrade, along with a 3GB GPU and SSD for main drive. 31800 Geekbench score. all up cost me $2K To build this in todays tech will cost me 5K

  • Power pricing is the real issue here, sure you can keep a 5-8 year old processor but the older model will use a LOT more power. Have a look at the intel ark site for how much more efficient each generation becomes.

  • still rocking a Phenom II 965 Black Edition and a HD5850 in my system. its only just becoming a pain now with some games requiring more than 1GB or GPU RAM…
    i cant afford to rebuild yet :'(

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