Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question
Solved

Suggestions for upgradiing 3 year old Alienware computer?

Last response: in Systems
Share
October 3, 2013 6:24:33 PM

Hello, I've been thinking of buying a new computer but, courtesy of input from Deemo13 and TNoDz about the ease of building my own, I thought perhaps I could just upgrade my current one.

I have a three year old Alienware Aurora, all components original:
i7 950 @ 3.07 Ghz, 3068 Mhz, 4 Core(s), 8 Logical Processor(s)
Graphics card: On my invoice it says: 1 GB ATI Radeon HD 5870 GDDR5 (CYPRESS,Parker,G). From Sysinfo: AMD Radeon HD 5800.
9 GB Triple Channel DDR3 1067Mhz (6 DIMMs)
Hard drive: 1TB,7.2K PHAR-XLOB
ICH10 PCI Express Root Port 2
Windows 7 Ultimate, x64
Alienware Liquid Cooling
I believe the PSU is 525 watts, though I'm not sure.

Approximate Purchase Date: next week, though I can wait a month or more if the new AMD card or some other newer component is deemed a good upgrade.

Budget Range: $500 - $750 after shipping

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Animation, Photoshop, gaming

Are you buying a monitor: Not immediately, maybe in a few months.

Parts to Upgrade: whatever would best optimize my system for the above uses

Do you need to buy OS: No, unless a new motherboard is the solution

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: no preference, though newegg seems the most popular

Location: New York, NY

Parts Preferences: no preference

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Your Monitor Resolution: Two monitors: one at 1920 x 1200; the second at 1280 x 1024. Probably adding another 24" inch monitor in a few months.

Additional Comments: Because of my job and possibly poor habits, I normally have three browser windows open, each with 10 or more tabs, along with Photoshop and Netflix. Occasionally I will also have WoW running in windowed mode, but not with Photoshop.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: System seems to be having some trouble handling all the windows and applications. I've CCleaned, defragged, and updated drivers.
October 3, 2013 7:02:01 PM

buy a samsung 840 128gig pro ssd, upgrade the psu to a better brand (xfx,corsair,seasonic,antec) then buy a better gpu (new amds come out soon) but with that budget look at a 7950-7970
October 3, 2013 7:45:36 PM

Antijenius said:

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: System seems to be having some trouble handling all the windows and applications. I've CCleaned, defragged, and updated drivers.


If this is your main reason for upgrading, then I would probably recommend a higher memory capacity and clocks to start. It's pretty easy to find reasonably priced 12GB kits on NewEgg. I would recommend going for 1600MHz, it's been shown in bench's that Nehalem and Sandy Bridge don't scale much beyond that, and it tends to offer a good price to performance ratio.

Here are some options:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820104127
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226402

Due to the clock and timing differences I would recommend completely replacing your existing kits if you upgrade, don't mix.

Next you could try upgrading your graphics card, although I would probably wait a month or two for AMD's new series, or Nvidia's rumored price drops in November. At the moment anything at or above a 7850 or 650 Ti Boost would probably be a worthwhile upgrade, so the $150-$200 price point. But again, price to performance ratio in this segment is likely to improve even more over the next 2 months.
Related resources
October 3, 2013 8:06:01 PM

An SSD is also a good option, although if I understand your reason for upgrading correctly it probably isn't going to help your primary performance issues very much. An SSD will improve application load times, Windows start-up performance, and greatly reduce install/update times, but won't have as much of an impact on multitasking/application performance unless you're page filing to disk (out of RAM), in which case it would be far more beneficial to just increase your memory capacity.

But if you have an additional $100-$200 in your budget a 120GB SSD definitely couldn't hurt. Keep in mind that you're motherboard probably doesn't support SATA3 (definitely not natively), so throughput, though still vastly superior to your hard drive, will be impacted.
October 4, 2013 9:00:39 AM

Thank you HillBillyAsian and Dragonsqrrl! I'll take both sets of advice, and get a new PSU, get the Mushkin memory, wait for a month on the graphics card, and splurge on an SSD.

If you wouldn't mind, I have a few follow-up questions:
I would completely replace my existing memory with Mushkins, so as not to mix, is that right?
Would a 256GB SSD just be wasted on my current machine?
And any particular wattage on the psu?

Edited because I forgot to also reply to HillBillyAsian in the original post.
October 4, 2013 9:18:11 AM

For the ssd being wasted, it depends how much you want to store on it, the more you store the faster it wears out, (not that they wear out fast, they just run out of room to random write to different parts)
as for the parts here :D 
with a 250g ssd:
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/1KL57
with a 128g ssd:
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/1KL5L

edit: as for the new amd cards, they should be coming out in a few weeks...suposedly, if you buy these parts now, and maybe your monitor, you should have enough saved up by then to pick up the card you want.
October 4, 2013 2:40:19 PM

Thank you HillBillyAsian, that's super helpful. And I can see what the options are in a month or so when the AMDs come out.

Best solution

October 4, 2013 3:34:44 PM
Share

Antijenius said:

I would completely replace my existing memory with Mushkins, so as not to mix, is that right?
Would a 256GB SSD just be wasted on my current machine?
And any particular wattage on the psu?

Edited because I forgot to also reply to HillBillyAsian in the original post.


Yes, if you upgrade to a new DDR3 1600 kit remove all your existing memory and replace, don't mix either of your existing sets of memory with the new one. After installing new memory I usually stability test with memtest 86+ followed by Pime95 for at least 12 hours each.

As for maintaining SSD performance over time, there are 2 options I would highly recommend to help mitigate the problem, Corsair's Neutron GTX or SanDisk's Extreme II.

Reviews:
http://anandtech.com/show/6428/corsair-neutron-neutron-gtx-all-capacities-tested
http://anandtech.com/show/7006/sandisk-extreme-ii-review-480gb

Performance longevity is the new critical metric for SSD performance, and not just brand new, fresh out of the box performance, which is the primary metric you would traditionally see in an SSD review. The problem is out of the box performance doesn't necessarily give an accurate picture of how the SSD will perform down the road, after a ton of incompressible reads and writes. A lot of older controllers, and even a lot of current controllers, are pretty terrible at maintaining performance over time, and in some worst case scenarios there can be a night and day difference between a band new drive and the same drive after its been filled up with certain types of data. In the consumer SSD market the Neutron GTX and Extreme II lineups offer pretty much the best performance longevity at the moment, and in addition they offer great performance out of the box.
October 4, 2013 6:19:21 PM

Thanks Dragonsqrrl, for the thorough explanations, and I think I'll go with the Sandisk Extreme.

Sincere thanks to both Dragonsgrrl and HillBillyAsian, and to this extremely helpful community. Let me know if you guys need help with...art, which is my specialty.
!