A year ago (or so) I bought a pre-built computer off of Amazon. It was the HP Pavillion P7-1235 and I was able to get it for a very good deal. My computer features 8 GB RAM and a 3.2 GHz AMD A8-5500 CPU, but one thing it lacks is a discrete graphics card, and I've been wanting to play a variety of games but simply haven't been able to do so due to the lack of a discrete GPU.
Now, I was initially thinking to build a new PC from scratch, but I thought that perhaps the P7-1235 could rather be upgraded than be put aside to fit my gaming needs. So my questions are:
1. Looking at the current specs for the P7-1235, will my computer be able to run graphics intensive games (e.g. crysis3, far cry 3, metro last light) very well @1920 x 1080 if I buy a video card around $300? Or will I need to upgrade more components of my PC, such as the CPU, mobo, etc.
Unfortunately, that CPU will severely restrict your framerates in the most demanding games. Combined with a decent CPU though, the GTX660 Ti would deliver strong performance in any game, though not quite enough to crank all those graphics settings up to maximum in Crysis 3 etc. I'd actually recommend saving a bit of money and getting the GTX660 (it's 90% as fast as the Ti but considerably cheaper) and putting the money saved towards a good CPU (and associated costs).
It's true that a $300 card won't be fully utilized with the A8-5500, but if you think of it as the first piece of your new build, you can have good-enough graphics performance while you're saving for a new CPU/MB. You might also consider an HD7870 in the same price/performance range as the 660 and 660Ti. Look at Tom's "best graphics cards for the money" that came out last week.