Do people actually upgrade just the CPU and keep using existing motherboard?

Have you upgraded CPU while keeping the motherboard?

  • Yes, I have upgraded CPU at least once on my last/current motherboard

    Votes: 37 63.8%
  • No, I replaced CPU and motherboard on my last CPU upgrade

    Votes: 12 20.7%
  • No, I replaced the entire PC on my last CPU upgrade

    Votes: 9 15.5%

  • Total voters
    58
  • Poll closed .

ss88

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People, including myself, always talk about CPU upgrade potential when looking at motherboards, but do we actually upgrade just the CPU? Looking back over a decade, I haven't upgraded the CPU alone even once. What usually happens is the PC performance is good enough and I don't bother and by the time the PC is showing its age, I'm of the mind to replace the whole thing.

So as I'm looking at an Alder Lake build, and trying to decide on a motherboard, and being persuaded by comments about the CPU upgradeability of a higher end board with better VRM, I'm asking myself if it's actually going to play out that way, or am I just going to upgrade the CPU + motherboard at the same time, in which case, there's no point in spending extra today on a mobo that will run a CPU that I *may* get in 2 years.
 

Zepher

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When I got my Asus Dark Hero I was still trying to get a 5900X. I ended up grabbing a 5600X for it so I could finish up some Chia plotting for a friend, and then was able to get a NIB 5900X from a member here a few weeks later so I was able to return the 5600X.
But generally, I usually build a system as is and then just use it till I upgrade to an entire new platform.
 
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On my old Intel X99 setup, I went from a 5930k to a 5960X during the course of its lifetime. I did something similar back on LGA775 when I went from an E6600, to a Q6600 then to a Q9450.

On my current setup, I just went for the best right away as there will be no better CPU for AM4 than what I have right now. lol.
 

vegeta535

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I normally did in the past. Enough time passes between upgrades that I need a new MB anyway. My current 5950x system was the first MB I reused when I upgraded from a 3950x. It was a pretty high end x570 board so there was no need. If I was using a x370 board I would of probably considered a new MB.
 

LukeTbk

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I am sure people with a good motherboard an a Ryzen 2xxxx going for a 3xxx/5xxx would have been not super rare for an hfboard type.

There is 2 limiting factor to it

1) Good cpu for an swap CPU on the intels side tend to have kept their values really well in the past
2) When a new generation of CPU is out, it is not like the 3950x get really cheap either, right now the 3950x is way higher than a 5950x on pcpart picker canada.
3) For a while evolution was a bit slow and some product were really good that by the time you upgrade, time was to go from ddr3 to ddr4 for a lot of people, could be the same currently what you buy now versus the next one it will be time to go from ddr4 to ddr5 (and too expensive for the buy ddr5 right now for the future to be worth it).

The, I will get a 2600 now and a high core count one on the cheap later on, did not play out that well, 5700x are better than an older 16 core for almost everything and the 3950x/3900x never got cheap I think.

On the AM4 side it has been obviously quite good in that regard for many, but still limited imo because of the above.
 

DanNeely

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The closest I've came has a been a pair of similar spec sidegrades.

On AMD Socket 939 I initially build an A64 x2 3800 system, and a year later bought a new mobo, ram, and A64 x2 4000 and swapped my GPU and HDD/OS install/etc over. Similar system so easy upgrade.

With Intel LGA1366 I did the same with I7-920 and i7-930 systems.

My current i7-4790k has a twin, box as well but in that case I bought the faster one first and then built a second slightly cheaper on afterwards.

OTOH the last clean windows install I did (on my primary system) was switching from XP-32 to Vista-64 because the bittedness required it. Checking release dates that intall probably started on my 920, moved to the 930, was updated to w7, and then the 4790 being upgraded to w10 at the same time (that was an adventure), and baring any problems preventing it from doing so will probably end up on the next generation AMD or Intel box I plan to build in the next 9-15 months. It'll probably go to W11 at the same time just to concentrate all the upgrade pain at a point where it's not my primary system yet.
 
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pendragon1

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yes, i went 2600x to 5600x this gen. on am3+ i went 4100 to 8150(killed it) back to 4100 then to 8350.
 

polonyc2

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I'm an outlier as I like to keep my CPU/mobo for at least 3-5 years...when I change the CPU, I'm doing a complete system upgrade so I get a new mobo as well
 

Ducrider748

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I usually keep my system for a at 3 years before upgrading. Currently is a z490 10850k combo. Since I have built a complete new system it was a all out get the cpu and mobo combo that will last. After it was up and running. I have stepped back a few gens and put a z370 8700k gaming system for my daughter and a z390 990kf folding rig. Both of those were built to have top teir cpu's. So no need to upgrade them.

Back in the x58 days. It was starting with a 920 then find a 930 and finally to a 950. All three on the same board. Back then it was a buy what was available and can afford. Now I just wait till I find the combo I want and build.
 

xSneak

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I had a 8700k on an asrock itx board and i moved over to a 9900k asus xi gene z390 board when I upgraded. I wanted to see how much overclocking i could get on ambient with the better board. I don't think the board made much of a difference. I could have kept the asrock board and just did a firmware upgrade to use the 9900k. That was a decent upgrade getting the extra 2 cores and memory overclcoking.
I only did that cause I play a lot of games and i needed the extra cpu performance at the time.
Amd x470 and even the x370 boards have had some good upgrade support throughout their time.
it really just depends on what your computer use is and if you think you will need more performance within the next 2-3 years. If t he answer is no then i wouldn't consider that in buying your system right now.
 

drutman

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On my old Intel X99 setup, I went from a 5930k to a 5960X during the course of its lifetime. I did something similar back on LGA775 when I went from an E6600, to a Q6600 then to a Q9450.

On my current setup, I just went for the best right away as there will be no better CPU for AM4 than what I have right now. lol.
I have the 5820K, was it worth the upgrade, I see the 5960K for $125 on eBay?
 

pitingres

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Sure, I've done it, a few times. Most recently, a 1400 -> 1600 and a 1600 -> 2600X, both in the backroom cluster. I came close to upgrading a 2700X -> 5800X on an X470, however that's the income producing machine that has to work; while I was waffling about doing the BIOS update, I found a B550 at a can't-refuse sale price.

I don't have any further current plans to upgrade CPU without motherboard, but I'm always open to a CPU deal that could change my mind.
 

Jonnycat99

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I never have in the past because of diminishing returns (I did upgrade GPUs though). With my current AMD (AM4) board however, I upgraded my 3600 to a 5800X and noticed a significant gain in performance with my intended application (X-Plane 11).
 
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People, including myself, always talk about CPU upgrade potential when looking at motherboards, but do we actually upgrade just the CPU? Looking back over a decade, I haven't upgraded the CPU alone even once. What usually happens is the PC performance is good enough and I don't bother and by the time the PC is showing its age, I'm of the mind to replace the whole thing.

So as I'm looking at an Alder Lake build, and trying to decide on a motherboard, and being persuaded by comments about the CPU upgradeability of a higher end board with better VRM, I'm asking myself if it's actually going to play out that way, or am I just going to upgrade the CPU + motherboard at the same time, in which case, there's no point in spending extra today on a mobo that will run a CPU that I *may* get in 2 years.

I've done it plenty of times, but if I were you I wouldn't give it a second thought. Get what you need for the chip you're buying now. The VRM probably won't be a limiting factor anyway if 13th gen is supported by current LGA 1700 boards.
 
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I have the 5820K, was it worth the upgrade, I see the 5960K for $125 on eBay?
Depends on what you do and how you plan to use it... I snagged mine for around the same price a few years ago. However, I specifically went for a J-Batch 5960X with a 2W serial number (these were overclockers dreams in the day because of the low voltage ID). I was aiming for an extreme overlock for a 5960X to hold me over till I got my new platform (what I am on now). I managed to get 4.65Ghz out of it stable and it also had a great IMC, so my memory ran on that platform at 32GB 3000Mhz 13-13-13-36 @1T (which was good for X99). I had some B-Die in that system.

In CPU heavy games at the time (like BFV), things seemed a little smoother; but not as much as the jump I had going from X99 to AM4 5950X. ;) Overall, it was a great setup though.. but I also game at 4K, so I am more GPU limited than anything else. Things run much better on my platform now with solid frame times and high 1% lows.
 

MrGuvernment

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Intel Pentium 4, went through a couple but I was big into over clocking then. But beyond that not often as I only ever built a new rig every couple years and my last one I got an AMD 3900XT cause I could not find a 5900 instock when i built, only last week did i finall get a 5950X and swap it in, same mobo.
 

Nenu

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My last upgrade in the same mobo was from a 6500K to 6700K because a friend wanted the 6500K and I wanted HT for better gaming performance.
These days I buy whats good enough for quite some time so will not be upgrading on the same platform again.
Not that Intel give that choice anyway, it feels like theres a new gen motherboard chipset every year now!
Theres zero chance a new CPU will drop in my current board when I need more performance and I only bought that a bit over 1 yr ago.
2 new mobo chipset gens have been on sale since!
 
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Starfalcon

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Ive upgraded cpus in almost every board Ive had going back to the P1 days, sometimes even 3 or 4 times like I did in the P3 and Athlon days. The only system I didnt upgrade cpus in was my 3770K rig as that was the fastest cpu available for it when I got it at the tail end of that generation. Im currently planning to upgrade my current rig to a 5900X in the next few months.
 
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Harvestor

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I have done it a few times, on my lga775 I went from a E2160 that I got for like $60 if i remember correctly to a Q6600 and then finally a QX9775.

My first gen ryzen 1600 went to a 3700 on the same board with a bios upgrade.

Side upgrades are always nice when you can find the right deal on a CPU
 
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thedream829

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The only time I upgraded my CPU was when I went from an AMD Athlon XP 2000+ to a 3200+ Barton. Otherwise it was a new PC completely.

EDIT: NVM, I lied. E8400 to Q9550 also.
 

MacLeod

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I do all the time. In my personal rig I've gone thru 8 CPU's since I got into PC building/gaming in 2009. I've had 3 motherboards in that time. And since AMD is extending support for the 5000 chips to X370 series motherboards like my current X370 Strix, I'll probably move up to a 5600X soon and it'll be the 3rd CPU on it.
 

Niner21

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When I upgrade I usually go with the next platform and get the cpu I want at the time, which is normally towards the higher end. When it's time to upgrade then it's probably time to change out the motherboard as well by that point.
 

Jonnycat99

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EDIT: NVM, I lied. E8400 to Q9550 also.

Damn I forgot about that one, C2D (E8400?) to a Xeon quad core (E5450 I think - I added microcode to the BIOS and used the pin swap sticker). The extra cores extended the life for a few more years.
 

TheHig

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I do it all the time on used /new parts builds or builds around the house for my kids. I had a Ryzen 3600 spare from doing some swaps and built a new PC for my oldest son with it using the MSI x570 Unified mobo. So that PC will certainly get one last CPU bump , 5900x maybe, since he is starting to dabble in video and mess around with drone footage and the like.

I'm considering doing the opposite and taking my 12700k to a DDR5 board next year or so as it matures some and gets cheaper. Then I'll drop a 12600k on the D4 board I have now and upgrade another family PC and so on.
 
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evhvis

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Intel forced people to upgrade both motherboard and CPU by giving you 1-2 generations on each motherboard and little performance increase until they started going beyond 4 cores on mainstream. With AMD you had the option to upgrade on AM4, but they weren't good for gaming until the 3000 series came around. If intel didn't artificially limit my z270 board then I would probably have upgrade my 7700k to the 8700k, but having to buy a new MB made me wait for ryzen to mature. IIRC my p67 motherboard was one and done and couldn't use the next generation either.

Last 3 computers have been ryzen based with 2 x570 and 1 x470 system. The x470 will most likely go from 2400g to 4600g or 5600g, but my x570 systems have 5800x and 5900x so not much point in "upgrading" those as the 5950x will only be slightly better in 10% of what I use the computer for and about even in the other 90%.

People keeping their motherboards is dependent and upgrading their CPU is dependent on a socket living for more than 2 generations and that each generation has 15-20% performance increase at the minimum. If you can get 50% performance increase by simply buying a new CPU and keeping everything else then people are more likely to keep their motherboard. AMD seems to be willing to support their sockets for a longer time so hopefully their AM5 boards and CPUs are good as that would force intel to give you more than 2 generations of CPUs on the same board.

I do re-use old stuff though or give it away to friends who need a cheap computer for their children etc. I have 5+ year old CPUs still in use and some of my 8-10 year old stuff is used by others so rarely throw anything away.
 

GotNoRice

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I originally got an X570 board paired with a 3900X. I've since upgraded the CPU to a 5900X, and sold the 3900X to make up most of the money. I had planned to upgrade again to a 5900X with 3D cache, until AMD decided to restrict that to the 5800X only. Going from 12 cores to 8 cores would be a tough pill to swallow, so this will probably be the last CPU for this board.

My two systems before that I did not upgrade the CPU. I had an X99+5820k setup that held up very well with age, and I didn't really want to get a CPU with more cores because 6 Haswell-E cores at 4.5Ghz was already pushing my cooling at the time. Before that I had a Z68+2500k @ 5Ghz that also held up very well with age until it was replaced.

I probably saw the most upgrades with Socket 775. I started with a P35 motherboard and a B3 Q6600 @ 3.3Ghz. I upgraded that to a G0 Q6600 because it could do 3.6Ghz. Then I upgraded to a P45 motherboard so I could do multi-GPU. I later upgraded that Q6600 @ 3.6Ghz to a Q9650 @ 4.4Ghz. All these upgrades were spaced 6+ months apart.

On socket 7 I upgraded from a Pentium 133 to a Pentium 166 w/MMX and finally a Pentium 200 w/MMX.
 

gwarren007

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I have a dell T20 for the main computer and had a E3-1225v3, 4 cores no ht. I bought a e1230 that has 4 cores with HT and swapped them. Im happy as excel and other apps load faster and has less lag. I had to get a GT1030 for video, but that was a win as well.
 

Andrew_Carr

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I typically buy AMD, so yes, I usually upgrade the CPU at least once. I don't believe in buying high-end motherboards for the most part though and find this is usually the most cost efficient way to build. The one time I went intel recently (prior to ryzen 3000 series) I also ran into the typical problem of needing a new motherboard if I wanted a CPU upgrade so I switched back to AMD.
 

ss88

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Good points being made about Intel rapidly obsoleting platforms. As someone considering an Alder Lake build, I'm happy to see that Raptor Lake will use the LGA 1700 socket and may even support DDR4. So I might be able to start with i5-12400, then upgrade twice, first to i7/i9 Alder Lake, then later to i7/i9 Raptor Lake. That would get quite a lot of life out of an Alder Lake mobo and DDR4 RAM.
 

atarione

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I have done this 2x times.. once on my HTPC which I drastically under estimated how much cpu I would need /want and upgraded it to a different i5 cpu from a Pentium and once with my super old pc when I went from one 775 cpu to another (neither of which I can recall what exactly they were... ) ... but on a main pc not since the 775 system... my old pc was a i7-4770K that I ran from 2014 until 2021 (my wife is using it now) and my current Ryzen 5 3600... will likely go as is to the wife as well and I will build Ryzen 7000? or whatever system instead..

I am vaguely tempted to sell the 3600 and buy a 5600 ? for about $40~50 after selling the 3600 ..but I'm lazy and hate dealing with selling anything, and it honestly dosen't entirely seem worth the aggravation ...
 

OFaceSIG

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I went from a 3930k to a 4960x on x79 before my current Ryzen setup.
 

bananas1

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Replacing the motherboard is the biggest hassle. It also provides the least performance/features gained with an upgrade. So it makes sense to keep the motherboard as long as possible. Unless there is a very specific feature or set of features required, I usually go for the cheapest motherboard available and put my dollars to work with the cpu/gpu.
 

cjcox

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Not unusual in Ryzen land as they preserved socket long enough to matter. Intel never preserves their sockets long enough.
 

whateverer

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I usually upgrade,or else I wait until a platform is on massive clearance at Microcenter (and buy the best I can justify)

Both methods save me money,and allow me to get as much time out opf my systems as day-one FOMOs!

BH6 Celeron 300a@450, upgraded to Copper mine Celeron 533A @800

Then I missed-out on Athlon upgrades, as early boards had too many missing features My 760 +766 was fast, stable, but stuck with usb 1.0 ports! the Via 939 motherboard that replaced that one was quite buggy, and by the time I had the proper Nforce 4 motherboard, there was nothing to upgrade , because I paired-it with the new $350 3800 x2!

More recently,upgraded myHTPC from an i3 3225 to an i5 3570k, to improve sluggish load times and frame-rates. it just hit it's ten-year anniversary

Also, I took advantage oft the unlocked Pentium haswell refresh,+ PC MATE for $100 from Microcenter, and after I had a sudden death of my 2500k system in 2017, I got one of the last clearance 4790k from the same store!
 
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