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Advice on upgrading a 4 year old PC with $400 Budget?

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October 25, 2013 7:58:39 AM

Hi guys! I'm new here and need some advice on upgrading this 4 year old computer with only $400 to spend. My parents are getting my brother a PlayStation 4 for Christmas and I would like to upgrade my desktop that was custom built by a company called iBUYPOWER. So here are my current specs:

CPU : AMD Athlon II X2 245 OC'd to 3.2GHz
Motherboard : ASRock N68-VS3 UCC
RAM : 2x4GB of DDR3-1333
GPU : nVidia GT520 1GB
PSU : Some cheap 480W PSU

I definitely know I'm going to need a new GPU and PSU but not sure if the CPU needs upgraded as well. I'm thinking it does so I was thinking of these to upgrade to.

CPU : AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (Discontinued so ill have to get it on eBay or something)
GPU : http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PSU : http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This will only be used for schoolwork and heavy gaming on an 1366x768 monitor (A TV actually). Suggestions on what I should do would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. Will clarify if needed.
October 25, 2013 8:05:37 AM

First of all Ibuypower rocks quality of alienware at half the price good choice on that! Anyways,

They have that CPU on amazon.com if you want a warranty with it instead of getting it off of ebay where you get MAYBE a 30day warranty:
http://www.amazon.com/AMD-Phenom-3-4Ghz-512KB-4000MHZ/d...

And also that PSU is $10 cheaper on amazon.com:
http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-Builder-Series-Watt-CX600...

You should get free shipping on that to because orders over $25 are free shipping.
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October 25, 2013 8:15:19 AM

According to the CPU support list for that mobo, you're limited to 95W CPUs. Even so, an Athlon X3 or Phenom II X3 should be a big step up. You will be limited; as you probably realize, your mobo is ancient-tech by today's standards. It is not hopeless though. At this time I'm not going to suggest replacing it, as that will require a new Windows license as well.
The PSU is most likely something like a Logisys, so you are correct in that it needs to go. Fortunately, you don't need anything big to replace it. I'd suggest the 380W Antec Earthwatts, which can run any graphics card with a single PCIe power connector. For your monitor's resolution, a GTX650Ti or HD7790 would easily be enough.
I'm going to confirm a couple of things then post again...
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October 25, 2013 8:37:18 AM

You might do something like this:

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power ...
Model #:EA-380D Green
Item #:N82E16817371033
Mail in Rebate Card
$59.99 -$15.00 Instant $44.99
Has been my goto PSU in budget builds for years. Can run any graphics card needing a single PCIe power connector. The Antec VP-450 would be another viable choice here; I haven't used one myself yet.

EVGA 01G-P4-3655-KR GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 1GB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 SLI Support Video Card
Model #:01G-P4-3655-KR
Item #:N82E16814130914
Mail in Rebate Card
$149.99 -$20.00 Instant $129.99
A great deal on a card that should do quite well.

AMD Athlon II X3 450 Rana 3.2GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX450WFGMBOX
Model #:ADX450WFGMBOX
Item #:N82E16819103886
$69.99 $69.99
Another source may have an X4 and I was just looking at Newegg. The extra core alone should make a notable difference. Keep in mind the 95W limit if you look elsewhere, and remember that overclocking could exceed that, so you'd need to be careful.

Acer G226HQLBbd Black 21.5" 5ms Widescreen LED Monitor
Model #:UM.WG6AA.B01
Item #:N82E16824009437
$159.99 -$50.00 Instant $109.99
There's plenty in your budget to increase your monitor resolution. The video card I've suggested should be able to maintain "High" settings on it. You'll only save $20 or so getting a 1600x900 monitor instead, and you may not care for something that narrow.

Subtotal: $354.96
Even with shipping, you should be comfortably under your budget. Your next upgrade could be a CPU+Motherboard+OS license. Keep your RAM and the new parts, and you'd essentially have a whole new system.
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October 25, 2013 8:39:00 AM

ldewitt said:
First of all Ibuypower rocks quality of alienware at half the price good choice on that! Anyways,

They have that CPU on amazon.com if you want a warranty with it instead of getting it off of ebay where you get MAYBE a 30day warranty:
http://www.amazon.com/AMD-Phenom-3-4Ghz-512KB-4000MHZ/d...

And also that PSU is $10 cheaper on amazon.com:
http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-Builder-Series-Watt-CX600...

You should get free shipping on that to because orders over $25 are free shipping.


Oh wow. I didn't even check Amazon. Thanks for reminding me. But that processor says it will take 1 to 2 months to ship. :ouch: 

Onus said:
According to the CPU support list for that mobo, you're limited to 95W CPUs. Even so, an Athlon X3 or Phenom II X3 should be a big step up. You will be limited; as you probably realize, your mobo is ancient-tech by today's standards. It is not hopeless though. At this time I'm not going to suggest replacing it, as that will require a new Windows license as well.
The PSU is most likely something like a Logisys, so you are correct in that it needs to go. Fortunately, you don't need anything big to replace it. I'd suggest the 380W Antec Earthwatts, which can run any graphics card with a single PCIe power connector. For your monitor's resolution, a GTX650Ti or HD7790 would easily be enough.
I'm going to confirm a couple of things then post again...


Doesn't Microsoft allow you to reactivate your serial if you call them and tell them the situation? What would you recommend if I could do that? Also, I'm going to buy Battlefield 4 when it comes out. Do you think those cards would do well with that game?
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October 25, 2013 8:53:12 AM

shock132 said:
ldewitt said:
First of all Ibuypower rocks quality of alienware at half the price good choice on that! Anyways,

They have that CPU on amazon.com if you want a warranty with it instead of getting it off of ebay where you get MAYBE a 30day warranty:
http://www.amazon.com/AMD-Phenom-3-4Ghz-512KB-4000MHZ/d...

And also that PSU is $10 cheaper on amazon.com:
http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-Builder-Series-Watt-CX600...

You should get free shipping on that to because orders over $25 are free shipping.


Oh wow. I didn't even check Amazon. Thanks for reminding me. But that processor says it will take 1 to 2 months to ship. :ouch: 

Onus said:
According to the CPU support list for that mobo, you're limited to 95W CPUs. Even so, an Athlon X3 or Phenom II X3 should be a big step up. You will be limited; as you probably realize, your mobo is ancient-tech by today's standards. It is not hopeless though. At this time I'm not going to suggest replacing it, as that will require a new Windows license as well.
The PSU is most likely something like a Logisys, so you are correct in that it needs to go. Fortunately, you don't need anything big to replace it. I'd suggest the 380W Antec Earthwatts, which can run any graphics card with a single PCIe power connector. For your monitor's resolution, a GTX650Ti or HD7790 would easily be enough.
I'm going to confirm a couple of things then post again...


Doesn't Microsoft allow you to reactivate your serial if you call them and tell them the situation? What would you recommend if I could do that? Also, I'm going to buy Battlefield 4 when it comes out. Do you think those cards would do well with that game?


For the windows activation question yes microsoft lets you reactivate if you have retail version if you have OEM version you might be out of luck.
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October 25, 2013 9:04:24 AM

You may or may not be able to reactivate Windows. I believe Microsoft is fairly forgiving, but it isn't a sure thing.
There is a 95W version of the Phenom II X4 955. You might look instead for the X3 740BE. Your motherboard may be able to unlock it into a X4, but even if not, you'd still get another core plus L3 so it would be a big improvement. Honestly, I would not put a lot of money into a CPU for your current board, as it would not be recoverable. A high-end graphics card, even if bottlenecked now, could be moved into a new system later, as could a new PSU.
Incidentally, the non-modular Corsair CX-600 (vs. the modular CX-600M) uses inferior Samxon capacitors that don't like heat and are known for early failure. I would not put one in a gamer. The CX-600M, though made by the same company for Corsair (Channel Well) uses all-Japanese capacitors, but costs more (which makes sense).
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Best solution

October 25, 2013 9:26:38 PM

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor ($112.97 @ SuperBiiz)
Motherboard: Asus M5A97 LE R2.0 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($64.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: EVGA 500W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($29.99 @ Microcenter)
Total: $337.94
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-10-26 00:26 EDT-0400)
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October 26, 2013 9:51:18 AM

e_X said:
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor ($112.97 @ SuperBiiz)
Motherboard: Asus M5A97 LE R2.0 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($64.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: EVGA 500W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($29.99 @ Microcenter)
Total: $337.94
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-10-26 00:26 EDT-0400)

This is another viable option, particularly if there's some reason (e.g. space constraints) why you don't want a larger monitor now. You may need that new Windows license though, which adds another ~$80.
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October 26, 2013 11:04:14 AM

e_X said:
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor ($112.97 @ SuperBiiz)
Motherboard: Asus M5A97 LE R2.0 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($64.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: EVGA 500W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($29.99 @ Microcenter)
Total: $337.94
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-10-26 00:26 EDT-0400)


This might actually work for me. The only thing I don't like is the rebate but I'm sure I can work that out.

Onus said:
e_X said:
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor ($112.97 @ SuperBiiz)
Motherboard: Asus M5A97 LE R2.0 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($64.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: EVGA 500W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($29.99 @ Microcenter)
Total: $337.94
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-10-26 00:26 EDT-0400)

This is another viable option, particularly if there's some reason (e.g. space constraints) why you don't want a larger monitor now. You may need that new Windows license though, which adds another ~$80.


Well... I just don't see the point in a larger monitor. The tv I have it hooked up to is a Sanyo 26" LCD. I'm perfectly fine with its native resolution of 1366x768. But is the 7850 good? Do you think it will be able to push out decent quality at that resolution? I mean, anything is an upgrade over this GT520. At one point I was thinking about getting a GTX460 but I don't think it's worth it now. About the windows license, I have a friend that can give me his unused copy of windows 7 if I need it so that takes off the ~$80.
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October 26, 2013 12:47:36 PM

A HD7850 is more than enough for 1366x768. A less-expensive GTX650Ti or HD7790 would be sufficient for that resolution.
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