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Should I upgrade my 2 year-old budget gaming PC? (Potentially motherboard, GPU, monitor, CPU)

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July 19, 2013 4:20:44 AM

Hi there, I'm very new to this and have very limited tech knowledge so please explain things simply! :ange: 
I live in the UK & purchased a budget gaming PC from Novatech about 2 years ago. (and have had various problems in the past including faulty RAM, but everything has worked fine for months now) I would link the model I bought, but it's no longer on the website.

Here are my specs (attempting to go by the template here):
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T
Motherboard: FOXCONN A88GMX (SOCKET AM3)
GPU: ATI Radeon HD 5770
Monitor Resolution: (1366x768@60Hz)
Hard Drive: 1TB
RAM: 4.00 GB Single-Channel DDR3 @ 652MHz (I have 2x4GB installed, the computer seems to recognise this but is only using 4GB, I still haven't figured that out... if anyone has any ideas that'd be awesome haha)

If you need to know power supply or brand of the RAM, let me know and I'll open up the tower and take a look!
I'd potentially like to upgrade my graphics card and get a new monitor with a higher resolution (anything bigger really, I'm not picky) in order to play games on a higher quality. However I have no idea if I would need to upgrade anything else (like my motherboard) in order to achieve this - I also don't know how to be sure that a graphics card will be compatible with a particular monitor resolution. And if I do need to upgrade my motherboard, would I need to buy a new OS? It'd be nice if I could upgrade the GPU without having to buy a new motherboard and OS! I also don't know if fitting new upgrades in the current case is ever an issue?
Oh, and my current monitor is connected via VGA not HDMI, should I be looking for a monitor/GPU combination that uses HDMI instead?

I'm fairly satisfied with my CPU, but I'd like to know if it's considered to be outdated right now.

I primarily use my PC for Gaming, watching movies/youtube videos, general net surfing.

As I'm in the UK, I'd prefer to buy parts from a UK based site - or any site that doesn't have ridiculous shipping charges to post things here.

I won't be overclocking or anything like that because I don't understand it.

I haven't set a strict budget as this is all a bit hypothetical right now, but obviously I'd like to get good value for money. I doubt I could justify spending £400 on a new graphics card alone.

And finally, I'd like to upgrade because I'd like to run some newer games on high quality such as Bioshock Infinite, which is currently recommended to be run on medium quality (steam recommends AMD Radeon HD 6950 / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560). I had no problem running Skyrim last year on high quality, although after browsing some forums it seems as though the FPS might have been poor whilst doing so - but I never noticed, maybe I'm used to it!

So, is it worth upgrading a few things myself? Should I stick to what I have and accept that I can't run everything on high quality? Or is my system completely lacking meaning I should just buy a new tower altogether?

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated! :) 

Edit: I'd probably be willing to spend around £400 overall (including GPU, monitor, etc.)
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July 19, 2013 4:31:24 AM

Well try to give us some sort of estimate for budget and we'll do our best to work with it.
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July 19, 2013 4:38:29 AM

don't buy a 560. a 2gig 6950 is good. way more than enough at your res. ( regardless of your low res, get a 2gig frame buffer )

the ram, how many slots on the board, 4? maybe you need to look at the booklet for proper placement?

or you need to try each one in the same slot to see if one of them is bad or switch slots with a single stick to see if the slots are bad.

never liked Foxconn boards. upgrading that ( if it's bad ) is the second thing I would do. No need for an entire system. wouldn't make any sense.
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July 19, 2013 4:49:45 AM

swifty_morgan said:
don't buy a 560. a 2gig 6950 is good. way more than enough at your res. ( regardless of your low res, get a 2gig frame buffer )

the ram, how many slots on the board, 4? maybe you need to look at the booklet for proper placement?

or you need to try each one in the same slot to see if one of them is bad or switch slots with a single stick to see if the slots are bad.

never liked Foxconn boards. upgrading that ( if it's bad ) is the second thing I would do. No need for an entire system. wouldn't make any sense.


If I were to get a Radeon HD 6950 2GB, what resolution would you recommend if I bought a new monitor? Is upgrading my motherboard essential or could I upgrade the graphics card fine without doing so?
And would there be any issues with compatibility?
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July 19, 2013 5:06:45 AM

I'm assuming you were going to keep using what you had, however, I use one at 1920x1200 with no problems........

moving the ram like I said above will tell whether the ram slots are bad or if 1 of your ram sticks is bad. You should try it. If it checks out okay ( the board ) no need to replace that. just the ram.

no problems with compatibility.
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July 19, 2013 5:20:50 AM

No need to get a whole new system, it's plenty good enough.
The motherboard will support just about any new card, but you'll need to confirm the installed power supply can handle it and we're getting some posts that show the GTX7xx cards may need BIOS updates to work in some older boards.
A larger monitor will be a revelation but will need a strong card to drive it at decent frame rates and the common gaming standards are 1920x1080 or 1920x1200.
When buying 'old' hardware, like a '6950, check the prices, some sellers charge far too much.
You'll need to tell us if you're going to replace the monitor before we can make any solid recommendations about a graphics card.
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July 19, 2013 5:42:20 AM

A friend has recommended a Radeon HD 7950, how does that sound if I decided to buy a 1920x1080 monitor (or possibly larger)? I understand that that graphics card now costs around £230 and a monitor that size could cost around £100 which is well within what I'd be willing to spend... So yes, I'm thinking I would more than likely replace the monitor if I were to upgrade the graphics card.

As for the RAM, I'll definitely give moving them around a try.
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July 19, 2013 6:26:27 AM

if you want a 7950 get it.

did you do the ram thing yet?

go to start/right click computer/go to properties. a box will come up. how much system ram is listed?
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