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Upgrade advice for a PC noob (including a potentially optimistic £200-£250 budget)

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February 10, 2014 5:46:51 AM

Hi all,

I last upgraded my gaming PC (I use the term loosely) around five years ago and needless to say it’s starting to feel a little tired. The tipping point was when I bought a new 1920x1080 monitor without considering the impact on performance, and things are a fair bit less enjoyable as a result.

My current system:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3.0GHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3
GPU: Radeon HD4850
RAM: 2 x 2GB Corsair DDR2 6400
PSU: HEC-550TD-PTE (550W)
Storage: Seagate 600GB SATA drive
Monitor: Samsung 22” running at 1920x1080
Other: USB mouse & keyboard

I’ve been gifted a new Radeon R9 270 so that’s my GPU upgrade sorted, but I have very little notion on what to do with the rest!

Approximate Purchase Date: No major rush

Budget Range: £200-£250 – after shipping if possible – is this too optimistic?!

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, streaming video, surfing the net

Are you buying a monitor: No

Parts to Upgrade: I assume CPU, Motherboard, RAM and PSU

Do you need to buy OS: No

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: No preference

Location: United Kingdon

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: Not immediately

Your Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: Currently playing World of Warcraft, Crusader Kings 2 but looking to switch to PC gaming over consoles so may want to play more demanding games in future.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: As said at the start of the thread, old system starting to struggle with most games. And that I'm starting to get into PC gaming more seriously.

I assume the new GPU will help for a little while but eventually I guess I'll need to go the whole hog and upgrade fully, so any advice would be very gratefully received!
February 10, 2014 6:06:14 AM

Are you planning to crossfire in the future?
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February 10, 2014 6:09:43 AM

AnEwG said:
Are you planning to crossfire in the future?


Hmm, I wasn't sure really. I sort of left the option open as I'm not sure of the potential benefits. To be honest I've always preferred a single card solution but I'm open to advice either way. If a non-crossfire-capable setup is better for my budget then I'm happy to go with that!
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Best solution

February 10, 2014 6:24:37 AM

CPU: i5-3350p http://www.ebuyer.com/393559-intel-core-i5-3350p-3-10gh... £127 with free shipping.
Motherboard Asus
P8H77-V https://uk.pcpartpicker.com/part/asus-motherboard-p8h77... £75.52 including shipping cost.
psu:EVGA 500B 500W 80+ BRONZE PC Power Supply:http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00DZ6R9GE/?tag=pcp0f-21 £37.60 & FREE Delivery

Total cost: £ 239.6
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February 10, 2014 6:25:56 AM

i5-3350p way outperforms a core 2 quad
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February 10, 2014 6:30:06 AM

The board supports Crossfire but not SLI which kind of sucks since SLI has less dual GPU problems than Crossfire. I am also one of favor of the single GPU solution because of dual GPU problems which do not exist in triple gpu operation but I am sure a motherboard that supports 3 cards running at x16 would be quite costly.
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February 10, 2014 7:54:23 AM

Thank you both for the replies.

AnEwG - what sort of RAM would be best to use with that motherboard? Presumably I couldn't just plug in the DDR2 stuff I have at the moment?

I'm not too upset regarding the Crossfire/SLI support but I guess it would be a good option to have, potentially. Is part of the £75 price tag due to Crossfire support? Do you think I could shave some more cash off if I wasn't bothered about Crossfire?
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February 10, 2014 8:18:12 AM

oops I absolutely forgot that you have older DDR2 modules, unfortunately these can't be used with ddr3 slots. The mobo I suggested is already in the lower mid-range price segment so it is pretty cheap compared to other boards. Since you will need a couple of ddr3 memory modules I think you will have to replace the i5-3335p I suggested with i3-4130 http://www.ebuyer.com/538188-intel-core-i3-4130-3-40ghz... this one is only 85 pounds. The rest of your money will be necssary to buy 2x2 GB DDR3 RAM: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00A86GXXO/?tag=pcp0f-21
so save about 42 pounds from stepping down to the i3 and eventually you save 5 pounds after getting the memory modules. But I don't think you can go any cheaper than this.
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February 10, 2014 12:36:36 PM

Hmm, thanks for the link! I'm starting to think that going as cheap as possible may not be the best option!

Would it be better then to go for a slightly more expensive motherboard in order to ensure I'm not having to upgrade again before I really need to? How about one from this article? http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/z87-express-motherboard-r...

I guess I'd be willing to up the budget slightly if it means having a system with a little more longevity!
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February 10, 2014 1:09:34 PM

Yes of course, those expert reviews can't go wrong!
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February 10, 2014 8:47:54 PM

lovedbyleopards said:
Hmm, thanks for the link! I'm starting to think that going as cheap as possible may not be the best option!

Would it be better then to go for a slightly more expensive motherboard in order to ensure I'm not having to upgrade again before I really need to? How about one from this article? http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/z87-express-motherboard-r...

I guess I'd be willing to up the budget slightly if it means having a system with a little more longevity!

I'd suggest the Z87, it is a trustworthy mobo. :) 
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February 11, 2014 3:38:08 AM

Thanks guys!

I should get the r9 270 today so will plug that into my current system tonight and see how the performance is looking. I might have to do a staggered upgrade due to cashflow so will likely get a new PSU next and then go for the big one - the mobo, CPU and RAM!
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February 11, 2014 3:47:53 AM

Good luck! And forget to keep us updated :) .
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February 11, 2014 6:02:01 AM

Did you mean 'don't forget' or would you rather I didn't come back?! :p 
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February 11, 2014 6:08:54 AM

oh sorry I meant don't forget lol That is what I get for typing fast without and posting without reading what I wrote.
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February 11, 2014 3:27:40 PM

Popped the new card in tonight and it's a definite improvement but I feel like the rest of my system will be holding it back quite a lot. Only tested it with WoW for an hour or so and while I'm able to up the settings a bit I'm only really playing on medium still. Though I've heard WoW is fairly intensive on the CPU rather than the GPU, so that might be a factor also.
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February 11, 2014 3:35:01 PM

Do you have games that are more GPU intensive.
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February 11, 2014 3:43:34 PM

lovedbyleopards said:
Hi all,

I last upgraded my gaming PC (I use the term loosely) around five years ago and needless to say it’s starting to feel a little tired. The tipping point was when I bought a new 1920x1080 monitor without considering the impact on performance, and things are a fair bit less enjoyable as a result. the board and ram will be 130 usd no idea what that is in the UK. That would leave 70 for a cpu. You can't over clock a 750 with no cooler and a cheap ass MB :no:  and 1600 ram will not help it much either.

My current system:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3.0GHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3
GPU: Radeon HD4850
RAM: 2 x 2GB Corsair DDR2 6400
PSU: HEC-550TD-PTE (550W)
Storage: Seagate 600GB SATA drive
Monitor: Samsung 22” running at 1920x1080
Other: USB mouse & keyboard

I’ve been gifted a new Radeon R9 270 so that’s my GPU upgrade sorted, but I have very little notion on what to do with the rest!

Approximate Purchase Date: No major rush

Budget Range: £200-£250 – after shipping if possible – is this too optimistic?!

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, streaming video, surfing the net

Are you buying a monitor: No

Parts to Upgrade: I assume CPU, Motherboard, RAM and PSU

Do you need to buy OS: No

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: No preference

Location: United Kingdon

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: Not immediately

Your Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: Currently playing World of Warcraft, Crusader Kings 2 but looking to switch to PC gaming over consoles so may want to play more demanding games in future.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: As said at the start of the thread, old system starting to struggle with most games. And that I'm starting to get into PC gaming more seriously.

I assume the new GPU will help for a little while but eventually I guess I'll need to go the whole hog and upgrade fully, so any advice would be very gratefully received!


A q6700 benchmarks to about the exact same performance as a haswell pentium g3220. A Haswell I3 is twice as fast as a g3220. Grab the cheapest I3 and a b85 board and 8 gigs of Ram. I live in the USA so I do not know your prices. If you can't afford the i3m A haswell pentium g3220, a cheap b85, board and 8 gigs of ram then get an i5 when you can. it will be a bit quicker than your chip and you will get sata 3, usb 3, and PCIe 3 and an upgrade path. It's not that bad at gaming.. 200 USD for the pentium, board, and ram. 260 USD for the I3 board and ram. The I3 will not bottle neck your card. The pentium will bottle neck your card less than an x4 750 with equivalent cheap ram and board.

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=inte...
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February 11, 2014 3:49:40 PM

He won't be able to expose the full potential of his newly acquired graphics card with a dual core/dual thread Pentium. He should get a i3-4130 instead it will be a great match to his R9 270 instead of waiting for who knows how long until he can afford the i5. And also getting a cheap board is not a good idea.
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February 12, 2014 2:20:09 AM

Thanks again for the replies, guys. Really appreciate it.

I'll try something a little more graphically intensive and see how that goes. Probably won't get time tonight though.

Had a closer look at finances last night and could realistically up my budget a bit. I'm thinking if I make some solid upgrade choices now then I hopefully won't have to upgrade again for the foreseeable future.

I saw this build: http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/2RRfm in another thread here and it looks pretty solid (I added a PSU but not sure it's any good?).

Would that work for the sort of thing I'm after? As said I'm not too bothered about OC and prefer a single GPU solution over crossfire/SLI. A little over my initial budget but if it's good then I'm happy to go with it.
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February 12, 2014 2:48:23 AM

looks great!
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February 12, 2014 3:02:25 AM

That's a good mobo then? I was a bit concerned that it may be a lower quality one but the reviews look okay!
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February 12, 2014 3:09:04 AM

Most reviewers on newegg gave it a rating of 5 out of 5.
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February 12, 2014 4:25:26 AM

Awesome. Think I'll be making a purchase then! Once again thanks - I really appreciate all your help. :) 
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February 13, 2014 11:51:57 AM

Hey Leopards, see you went for very similar to me - was it my thread you got that parts list from? I also use a Corsair CX 300 by the way, very reliable, never had any problems with it.

We'll wait and see how it goes.. enjoy the new rig!
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February 14, 2014 5:00:03 AM

Hey buddy! It was indeed your thread that I swiped it from, once I'd been advised by AnEwG that I might struggle to get what I wanted for my meagre budget I decided to up the budget a bit and then saw your thread and it was perfect!

I should be putting it all together tonight (fast delivery cost was very small compared to what I was already spending!) so will (hopefully) be able to let you know how it's running fairly soon!
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February 18, 2014 7:01:06 AM

Just an update on this now that I've installed everything.

It runs like a dream! I added an SSD for my OS and a couple of games and the systems boots into Windows 8.1 in about 15 seconds. In terms of gaming I've only tried it with WoW but I cranked it up to ultra and everything is amazingly smooth. Frame rate is consistently above 60fps, only dropping to mid-forties in very high demand areas, and no random stuttering when loading lots of things in busy areas.

I haven't tried with anything more graphically intensive but I can't imagine many games would cause it an issue right now, hopefully anyway!
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February 18, 2014 7:11:15 AM

:)  I am glad you are happy with your new rig.
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February 20, 2014 5:33:05 AM

Hey buddy, I had no issues with the RAM. I only tried the two sockets recommended by the mobo (A1 & B1 perhaps?) but everything seems to be recognised as running fine.

Is it a mobo problem, do you think?
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