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Upgrading components when there's possible hardware problems or starting from scratch?

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March 6, 2014 10:22:31 AM

Hello! I'm a longtime reader whose finally decided to create an account to ask this question. It's inspired by a specific issue I've been having with my current system but is really more general/conceptual. Feel free to skip to the last full paragraph to read my actual question.

I have an old gaming rig that I built back in 2008 or 2009 that I'm looking to upgrade. For several years now, it's been randomly freezing and (less frequently) BSODing in the middle of playing games.

After spending way more hours/days/years trying to fix or at least determine the cause of the problem, I've decided it's probably best to just upgrade the system. From what I can tell, the most likely culprits for the specific issues I'm having are either the graphics card or PSU, and I'm considering beginning by just upgrading those two components.

This leads me to my current dilemma and question. Let's say for the sake of argument that the problems I've been experiencing are in fact rooted in a faulty piece of hardware. And let's also assume that said piece of hardware is not the PSU or the graphics card. If I buy a new PSU and graphics card and connect them to my old rig, is it possible that the remaining faulty component(s) can damage them in some way or another? I'd definitely like to know this before replacing the PSU and GPU!

Thanks for any help you can provide!
March 6, 2014 10:27:47 AM

In all likelihood nothing will be damaged but that can't really be guaranteed. Since your having problems anyway and planning to upgrade you may just wish to upgrade the whole thing at once and then try to fix the other one
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March 6, 2014 10:34:32 AM

I like your plan.

If you buy a new graphics card and psu, I think there is little risk that some other problem would damage your new additions.
The most likely source of damage is with a bad psu, and that is what you are replacing.
Whatever you do, buy only a quality psu with sufficient wattage.

If that does not fix your problem, then it is time to the rest of your upgrade.

What graphics card and psu are you thinking of?
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March 6, 2014 1:05:08 PM

Spectre694 said:
In all likelihood nothing will be damaged but that can't really be guaranteed. Since your having problems anyway and planning to upgrade you may just wish to upgrade the whole thing at once and then try to fix the other one


Thank you for your reply! This definitely seems like the safer route, and there's a good chance that this is what I'm going to do. Do you know by any chance what damage a faulty component (other than a PSU) in my PC could cause to new components? It certainly makes sense to me that a bad PSU can wreck a new component, but apart from extreme malfunctions, I'm not really seeing what harm could come from a faulty motherboard, RAM, etc. Any links to reading material about this would be greatly appreciated!
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March 6, 2014 1:12:00 PM

JalapenoPoppers said:
Spectre694 said:
In all likelihood nothing will be damaged but that can't really be guaranteed. Since your having problems anyway and planning to upgrade you may just wish to upgrade the whole thing at once and then try to fix the other one


Thank you for your reply! This definitely seems like the safer route, and there's a good chance that this is what I'm going to do. Do you know by any chance what damage a faulty component (other than a PSU) in my PC could cause to new components? It certainly makes sense to me that a bad PSU can wreck a new component, but apart from extreme malfunctions, I'm not really seeing what harm could come from a faulty motherboard, RAM, etc. Any links to reading material about this would be greatly appreciated!


There is very little real damage other than heat damage anything other than the power supply can do unless it shorts out. Very unlikely though I am just a little wary of it since I spilled a couple drops of water in an old water cooled build which shorted and burned the whole build.
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March 6, 2014 1:13:20 PM

geofelt said:
I like your plan.

If you buy a new graphics card and psu, I think there is little risk that some other problem would damage your new additions.
The most likely source of damage is with a bad psu, and that is what you are replacing.
Whatever you do, buy only a quality psu with sufficient wattage.

If that does not fix your problem, then it is time to the rest of your upgrade.

What graphics card and psu are you thinking of?


I'm glad to hear it! That's exactly what I was thinking regarding the PSU, and this option is really tempting to me. It also would be satisfying to finally see whether or not the GPU/PSU were the problematic components (and, if not, be able to finally figure out which was causing problems). Still, this is a large enough purchase for me that I want to be reasonably sure that I don't mess things by buying a few components now instead of waiting awhile to buy the whole system.

TBH, I haven't given much thought to which graphics card I'll be buying. Do you have any recommendations? I'm still running a Geforce 9800 GX2. So pretty much anything will be a huge improvement. If there's a good candidate in the 700 series that's reasonably priced, I'll almost certainly go with it. Otherwise I'll probably get either a 600 series or finally try out AMD in something other than a laptop!

Thanks for your response!
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March 6, 2014 2:56:02 PM

I asked what graphics card you were considering because it is the graphics card that determines how large a PSU you will need.
Here is a handy chart:
http://www.realhardtechx.com/index_archivos/Page362.htm
A 9800GX2 was a beast in it's time, and required 575w.
Today, a GTX750, a $100 card will beat it and only require a psu not as good as 400w.

I suggest you stick with nvidia since you are familiar with it's drivers.

As to psu, this chart will tell you what the good units are:
http://www.eggxpert.com/forums/thread/323050.aspx
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March 7, 2014 1:50:39 PM

geofelt said:
I asked what graphics card you were considering because it is the graphics card that determines how large a PSU you will need.
Here is a handy chart:
http://www.realhardtechx.com/index_archivos/Page362.htm
A 9800GX2 was a beast in it's time, and required 575w.
Today, a GTX750, a $100 card will beat it and only require a psu not as good as 400w.

I suggest you stick with nvidia since you are familiar with it's drivers.

As to psu, this chart will tell you what the good units are:
http://www.eggxpert.com/forums/thread/323050.aspx


Wow! That reduction in power draw on the new cards is crazy! It blows my mind that they can still find ways to improve this given the massive increase in performance over seven generations.

Thanks for the links and your help with my questions!
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