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Looking for help upgrading my PC for better gaming experience

Last response: in Video Games
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December 17, 2010 3:43:34 AM

Hello - I would love some advice from the hardware experts out there regarding how best to upgrade my home-built, though not terribly high end PC. I built this roughly two years as a low end media PC and have since started using it for gaming, primarily World of Warcraft. It works fine but I'm really only seeing framerates in the 20fps range ... so I'd like to upgrade.

Here's what's currently inside:

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA78GM-S2HP AM2+/AM2 AMD 780G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
Processor: AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 5000+, 2600 Mhz, 2 Core(s), 2 Logical Processor(s)
Video Card: HIS Radeon HD 4650 1 GB DDR3 HDMI DL-DVI (HDCP) AGP Video Card Retail
RAM: 8GB 240-pin DIMM
HD: Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5"
Case/PS: Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply
OS: Win7 64-bit

I'm hoping it just might be a matter of upgrading to a beefier video card, but I'm curious if a better processor or motherboard is called for.

Any thoughts on what my upgrade path might be here? If there are any relevant bits of information I'm missing please do let me know and I'll do my best to fill in the gaps.

Happy holidays!
December 17, 2010 6:48:04 AM

1. An upgrade to the processor is recommended. Go to at least an x4 @ 2.8.
2. Upgrade your GPU as well. However, that will depend on your budget and also what kinda games you play and at what resolution, so let's have those posted as well.
3. I'm not certain about your PSU. What brand is it? Depending on your answers to (2) above, we'll take a call.
December 17, 2010 5:53:30 PM

^^ And yeah, psu ?
[Misread thought antec...]
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December 17, 2010 6:02:15 PM

namelessonez said:
1. An upgrade to the processor is recommended. Go to at least an x4 @ 2.8.
2. Upgrade your GPU as well. However, that will depend on your budget and also what kinda games you play and at what resolution, so let's have those posted as well.
3. I'm not certain about your PSU. What brand is it? Depending on your answers to (2) above, we'll take a call.


Thanks for your reply.

I'm primarily playing (and tuning for) World of Warcraft Cataclysm, but have also spent a fair amount of time playing Eve Online. Not so much anymore though. I'm playing it fullscreen at 1920x1200, which is my monitor's (Acer P243WAid 24")
native resolution.

The power supply came bundled with the case and the Tiger Direct page from my invoice doesn't list the brand. I'll have to check it when I get home.

My understanding (from reading this forum and a couple of others) is that WoW doesn't take advantage of quad cores, only dual. Is this wrong?

I'd say budget is between $300 and 500. If I can get the most bang for the buck by simply upgrading to a newer video card (or two) then I'll happily go that route and call it a day depending on how my performance improves. If a new power supply or mobo/processor is in order, then that's cool too.

I know there are a lot of WoW related threads on this board but it seems that advice is so very specific to your current hardware that I feel compelled to ask again based on my setup. Thanks for indulging a newbie.
December 17, 2010 6:07:13 PM

Well do check for the psu. It will depend upon it for an upgrade.. Any major brand, Cm, corsair.. will do fine..

As for core usage, its better for nowadays to get a quad core, all games would be using quads ..
Most of my games do use quad power..
December 17, 2010 6:40:59 PM

Will do. Antec website currently says:

EarthWatts EA 500D Green power supply (80 PLUS® Bronze certified)

But I'll check to confirm that is the same as from two years ago.
December 17, 2010 6:50:03 PM

55Range said:
Well do check for the psu. It will depend upon it for an upgrade.. Any major brand, Cm, corsair.. will do fine..

As for core usage, its better for nowadays to get a quad core, all games would be using quads ..
Most of my games do use quad power..


Would a processor upgrade require a mobo upgrade as well? Ram too? (Sorry for newb questions).
December 17, 2010 7:14:28 PM

Ram,mobo and psu,are just fine for the upgrade.
Sell your cpu, put an extra 30-40 euro max, and get a second-hand phenom II x3 or x4. It doesnt have to be from the last series phenoms (s9). Series 7 (x3) and series 8 (x4) are great chips and can be found dogcheap nowdays.
Also ditch this 4650 crap and with an extra 40-50 euro get a second-hand HD4870 or gtx260.
December 17, 2010 7:43:44 PM

yap...even better.
December 18, 2010 12:26:37 AM

mcschmidt_00 said:
Will do. Antec website currently says:

EarthWatts EA 500D Green power supply (80 PLUS® Bronze certified)

But I'll check to confirm that is the same as from two years ago.


Confirmed, this is the PSU.
December 20, 2010 9:15:15 PM

Hi all -- after some more digging, I've decided to go this route:

>> AMD Phenom II X4 945 Deneb 3.0GHz
>> GeForce GTX 460 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16

The link I posted for the video card is to a NewEgg search page because there appears to be 10 version of the GTX 460 just for EVGA. Can someone explain the differences? From what I see it's clock speed (so I'm assuming this means some are OC'd out-of-the box) and there also appear to be a label "SE" on a few of them.

So a couple of questions if I might:

1. Does this appear to be a reasonable approach to upgrading my system? I've read a lot about balancing your componentry so that one element of your system doesn't bottleneck another element. Does this upgrade appear balanced?

2. How best to determine which version of the GTX 460 I should get? Is it worth paying for the overclocking? What does the "SE" mean?

2. Will the EarthWatts 500W PSU provide a sufficient and stable enough power supply for this upgrade? If not, can you recommend an upgrade?

3. Would you recommend purchasing a cooling system other than the stock that comes with the Phenom? If so, any suggestions?

Again, thanks in advance for all your help.

Best solution

December 21, 2010 3:39:06 AM
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Yes, the upgrade is fine,as for the gtx 460, do not bother paying overclocked unless it has a better cooler/heatsync, as oc can be done by yourself easily, the psu, i would recommend something of better brand, like corsair, cm, but 500- 600 watts better. As for cooling, i would recommend the cm hyper 212+ best for price/perf ..
December 28, 2010 4:01:19 AM

Best answer selected by mcschmidt_00.
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