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Which upgrade path for 1080p 30 gaming? CPU or GPU first?

I built an HTPC for my living room a couple of years ago using an AMD A8-3850 on a Gigabyte GA-A75M-UD2H motherboard.

Since then I have started playing more games, mostly Dark Souls at the moment, but I have Skyrim yet to play and Dark Souls 2 in future.

I have upgraded with a Sapphire HD7750 low profile and have 8GB of Corsair Vengeance LP 1333 DDR3 RAM.

I'm wondering where to go next so that I can get decent quality 1080p gameplay. My plan is to recase first and get a new PSU - I've got a low profile case that only supports SFX PSUs (mine's 300W).

After that, should I go for a new CPU/mobo or graphics card first?

I don't play games that much - maybe 7/10 hours per week if I'm lucky. I also don't tend to buy games when they're first out - I'm a Steam sale kind of guy so I've got a few year's worth of back catalogue to get through. I don't want 4k 120fps - just decent quality (ideally at 1080p) and passable framerates.

My current rig does ok with Dark Souls (1080p via DSFix), but the FPS drops every now and again.

I don't want to spend a load of money - maybe £150 at a time but preferably less.

Options I've considered are:

- a new GPU - either R7 265, R9 270 or an nVidia equivalent (GTX660 or 750ti?) - but my CPU might bottleneck
- new CPU/mobo - perhaps i3 or FX6350
- getting another HD7750 and crossfiring - but I think I'd need a new mobo anyway

I have no particular preference for AMD/intel or AMD/nVidia.

I'd appreciate your ideas. Thanks in advance!
12 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about upgrade path 1080p gaming cpu gpu
  1. After the recase & psu, I think GPU is the weakest link and you'd see a huge improvement swapping out that 7750 for something bigger. As you're upgrading as you go I wouldn't worry about bottleneck and just get the best card you can afford at the time.
  2. Yes your current CPU will bottleneck the r9 270 > GTX 750 etc.
    So let me get this clear, you have an AMD A8-3850, HD7750 with 8GB Corsair vengance, correct?
    If so, then i'd get my self a new motherboard first and then a new CPU, since the 7750 still has some juice left, it's not a bad card, nor a highend. You are still able to play all modern games. Now why a motherboard first? Well, your motherboard is a AMD chipset which basically means that it only supports AMD CPU's (So intel is out of the question with your current MoBo). And unfortunately it doesn't support much. Heres a list of which CPU's your current MoBo supports > http://www.gigabyte.com/support-downloads/cpu-support-popup.aspx?pid=3928

    So, if you want any further upgrades, you should consider a new MoBo, and then a new CPU. From there you should get a new PSU, because 300w isn't gonna cut it (r9 270 - 750 GTX needs at least 500w PSU to run). And then you can get yourself a new GPU.
  3. Nah, the 7750 is not great for 1080p gaming. GPU first!
  4. GPU first, your CPU is close to the performance of a Phenom II X4 945, so it isn't horrible just yet. Weakest link is GPU. Get an R9 270/270x after your case and PSU upgrade. Worry about the rest later.
  5. IS it the Sapphire HD 7750 or the Diamond HD 7750 ? The Sapphire HD 7750 low profile is said to be better in thermals and just has a better PCB in general....If your not a hard core gamer it could be enough. And there is not many mid range GPUs that have a low profile card. if you keep your case and keep the 7750 Then you could get a new MB and CPU and maybe a PSU. upgrade the rest later. So that leaves M-ATX I-ATX...FM1 is not going to help you so you might as well. Since your on a budget you could get a i3 4130 and a MB like an ASUS H81M-A or MSI B85M-P33...for example. AMD has options too that are less expensive and the best M-ATX platform is the FM2/FM2+ and there are lots of options that way you could keep your CPU until you have enough for a better APU or JUst get a Athlon II 760K.
  6. Thanks for all the input so far, but I'm still just as confused! It's been encouraging to hear that my GPU isn't past it yet, so I'm leaning towards the CPU/mobo upgrade first, but I'd appreciate any other suggestions.

    For info - the recase and new PSU is pretty much a given. I have a wide and flat HTPC case at the moment, but really need a tower case so that it'll fit better behind the new TV.
  7. ninjaluke said:
    Thanks for all the input so far, but I'm still just as confused! It's been encouraging to hear that my GPU isn't past it yet, so I'm leaning towards the CPU/mobo upgrade first, but I'd appreciate any other suggestions.

    For info - the recase and new PSU is pretty much a given. I have a wide and flat HTPC case at the moment, but really need a tower case so that it'll fit better behind the new TV.

    I've already made my opinion clear, GPU first not CPU & mobo.


    Anonymous said:
    IS it the Sapphire HD 7750 or the Diamond HD 7750 ? The Sapphire HD 7750 low profile is said to be better in thermals and just has a better PCB in general....If your not a hard core gamer it could be enough. And there is not many mid range GPUs that have a low profile card. if you keep your case and keep the 7750 Then you could get a new MB and CPU and maybe a PSU. upgrade the rest later. So that leaves M-ATX I-ATX...FM1 is not going to help you so you might as well. Since your on a budget you could get a i3 4130 and a MB like an ASUS H81M-A or MSI B85M-P33...for example. AMD has options too that are less expensive and the best M-ATX platform is the FM2/FM2+ and there are lots of options that way you could keep your CPU until you have enough for a better APU or JUst get a Athlon II 760K.


    The 760k isn't a huge step up from the A8-3850. The i3-4130 would be a little better but both would be severely limited by 7750 @ 1080p so that 30-40% improvement would be strangled away by the GPU unless you dial down the graphics. Whereas the difference between a 7750 and even just a 7850 is huge.

    I think the problem is that the current rig is relatively balanced, so as soon as you upgrade one of the CPU/GPU you're going to be bottlenecked by the component that you didn't upgrade. But I still think you'll see a better return by upgrading the GPU first.
  8. Let me repeat my answer. Your GPU is not a good card, nor a bad card. I'm telling you to start out with a new motherboard. Why? Because YOUR current motherboard will not support a newer CPU. (So if you get a new GPU IT WILL BOTTLENECK,which will ruin your gameplay experience.) So, if you start out by getting a new GPU, it will not perform ANY better than your current GPU. If you get a new CPU, it wont be supported by your current motherboard. SO, my conclusion is new Motherboard > CPU > GPU. You ALSO need a new PSU, because if you're getting either the r9 270 or 750 GTX it will REQUIRE MINIMUM 500w. Now, i hope i made myself clear, DO not get a new GPU first, because you'll be bottlenecked, AND you wont be able to run it with 300w. People who are saying that you should upgrade your GPU first, are completely WRONG.
  9. fjaesbog said:
    Let me repeat my answer. Your GPU is not a good card, nor a bad card. I'm telling you to start out with a new motherboard. Why? Because YOUR current motherboard will not support a newer CPU. (So if you get a new GPU IT WILL BOTTLENECK,which will ruin your gameplay experience.) So, if you start out by getting a new GPU, it will not perform ANY better than your current GPU. If you get a new CPU, it wont be supported by your current motherboard. SO, my conclusion is new Motherboard > CPU > GPU. You ALSO need a new PSU, because if you're getting either the r9 270 or 750 GTX it will REQUIRE MINIMUM 500w. Now, i hope i made myself clear, DO not get a new GPU first, because you'll be bottlenecked, AND you wont be able to run it with 300w. People who are saying that you should upgrade your GPU first, are completely WRONG.


    No, no I'm not. Let me explain.

    With OP's current setup, for 1080p gaming at 'decent settings' as specified, what is the weakest link? Is the 7750 held back from it's full potential by the A8? Because unless that's what you're suggesting (hint, you should not be suggesting this), GPU upgrade should come first.

    You're saying don't upgrade GPU first because CPU will bottleneck it. I'm saying don't upgrade CPU first because GPU will bottleneck it. And the latter will be more severe than the former in 1080p.
  10. You're still not getting it are you? He won't be able to run a new GPU with his current PSU. Also, eitherway he will be bottlenecked, CPU or GPU first, it doesn't matter. So firstly, he'd be better off with a new Motherboard > PSU > GPU/CPU. If you get a GPU first, you'll have to wait to get a new PSU, before plugging it in, and to avoid a bottleneck, which will definitely ruin your gameplay experience, you should consider to get both GPU and CPU after PSU / MoBo, before you can play without anything bottlenecking.
  11. Best answer
    fjaesbog said:
    You're still not getting it are you? He won't be able to run a new GPU with his current PSU. Also, eitherway he will be bottlenecked, CPU or GPU first, it doesn't matter. So firstly, he'd be better off with a new Motherboard > PSU > GPU/CPU. If you get a GPU first, you'll have to wait to get a new PSU, before plugging it in, and to avoid a bottleneck, which will definitely ruin your gameplay experience, you should consider to get both GPU and CPU after PSU / MoBo, before you can play without anything bottlenecking.


    OP has already stated that recase & PSU precedes any other upgrades:

    ninjaluke said:
    Thanks for all the input so far, but I'm still just as confused! It's been encouraging to hear that my GPU isn't past it yet, so I'm leaning towards the CPU/mobo upgrade first, but I'd appreciate any other suggestions.

    For info - the recase and new PSU is pretty much a given. I have a wide and flat HTPC case at the moment, but really need a tower case so that it'll fit better behind the new TV.


    And we both agree that there will be a bottleneck if he upgrades only one of GPU / CPU - but OP has stated he doesn't have the budget to do both at once. Given the budget of "maybe £150 at a time but preferably less" I think GPU first gives more immediate improvement to the rig as the A8 should be able to handle bigger cards than the 7750 before the A8 becomes the bottleneck and it's hard to find a better overall performance improvement on the CPU side within the £150 budget (as a new mobo will be required as well).
  12. Thanks for all the help. I think that LucoTF's point that the current combination is balanced is valid and is the reason that there are such differing views!

    If you're interested, I think that this is the route that I will take:



    I appreciate you all taking the time to answer. The comments relating to bottlenecking have led me to aim to do 2. and 3. much closer together than I'd planned.
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