Just been browsing these forums and theres alot of great info, however most people are here to build New systems from scratch. (if there is an upgrade section excuse me I haven't noticed as its 7 am), I built mine a while ago but would like to see where I can improve it. Being a gamer clean lag free games are essential, and for the money I spent I would have liked to be playing more games at the best or near best video options each has to offer. Call of Duty 4 single and multiplayer runs perfectly, high settings and all. Crysis not so well, Gta IV on max res is sluggish at best.
So the gist of this post is, if anyone can see a decent way of improving my system any help would be appreciated. I will list what I have below:
Mobo: ASUS P5KPL-CM (Dont know much about Mobo's)
Cpu: Intel Q8200
Ram: 4 Gb DDR2 800 Trancend (Never heard of this brand)
GFX: MSI 8800 GT (Looking at a 1Gb GTS 250 at around $200)
Case/psu: Shaw Extreme 550
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: As soon as I can
BUDGET RANGE: Au $500 (This is subject to the greatness of improvement)
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Games, Movies, Games, Browsing, Photo editing as well now.
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers, Monitor. (Other parts really depend on whether an upgrade would give improvement)
1. Your MB doesn't allow Crossfire or SLI due to it only having 1 PCI-E x16 slot. Further, you cannot add extra ram to your system since the MB only supports 4 GB of ram in a 2 x 2 GB configuration.
2. The GTS 250 is barely an improvement over your 8800 GT. Further, extra video ram is truly only needed for high resolution playing.
3. Your Q8200 processor, a slower clocked quad core, isn't the best for most games at the moment since many games are still "CPU clock" limited instead of thread limited. (Meaning, many games, at best, only use 1 core...some 2 cores...few 3 cores... of your processor.)
With the above said, your gaming issues are related to the following components:
1. Video card
Since this is an upgrade on a budget, your best bet at this time would probably be to get a new single video card. However, the limitation here is whether your PSU can supply it with enough power.
On a quick search, I cannot find a listing of the 12v output of your PSU. As such, opening your case and look for the power output/input sticker on the PSU. We will need to know the PSU's available wattage output on the 12v rail before we can recommend the best video card that your system can actually power.
If anything, you may be looking at a video card and a PSU upgrade now. Then, when you have more available money, move these components to a "completely new build" to get rid of your older CPU and MB.
That would be a good start I think. You could upgrade from there is you like... for instance get a crossfire capable MB, keep the CPU, and get a bigger PSU like the Corsair 750TX. All those things cost more of course.
Since your platform isn't quite dead yet it seems reasonable to me to upgrade the PSU, video card, and then maybe the case and CPU cooler. Then the MB... http://www.mwave.com.au/newAU/mwaveAU/productdetail.asp...
That gives you a MB that will support two video cards and will overclock very well.
Both posts have been much appreciated and enlightening, it seems I bought into quad core technology without even realising its benefits and downfalls, Im a keen gamer and probably always will be so it seems to me I wont be getting what I want by upgrading within my budget.
Crossfire seems the way to go for gaming however, im interested to know more about choosing a good motherboard to open these options to me in the very near future, (I can increase my budget to accomodate.)
So with what you both are saying any upgrade will need to be accompanied by a better PSU? 550w isnt enough.
I should then Aim to get a better Mobo and GPU (with plans to get another GPU for crossfire)
I can pick up a Gigagbyte G-B EP45 UD3P for $185, the Ati 1G 4870 for around $200, thats fine and under the budget, and as in the next few weeks ill have more money id rather spend it on getting a quality PSU that will support what i have, and when i buy another Ati for crossfire. Will the CPU hold me back significantly with this setup?
With the 500 bucks, I would get the motherboard and a decent power supply, your video card is fine for the short term, but a bad power supply can put you COMPLETELY out of action so focus on power supply, then motherboard.
Yeah the multiplier of 7 hurts a bit. You can get it to 2.8Ghz easy, stock voltage probably. 3.0 stable is probably in reach. That should hold you for a while. 3.0 quad with a good card or two will run everything quite well.
The mobo you are looking at is very good, as was said. Not mentioned was that it comes with Easy Tune (get the latest version 6.xx from the website if its not on the CD). I tested it for kicks and you might get as lucky as I did and use it to give you a 1-stage OC with the push of a button.
You can take advantage of that while you learn how to OC it in BIOS.
A. <With current exchange rates, $500 AU = ~ $400 US. Below prices in US dollars.>
B. <I know component availability and prices differ from region to region, but time limited. Therefore, take the following as a frame of reference at best. Eliminating all Mail-In Rebates and free shipping deals from pricing.>
C. <With your openness to changing your MB, I would suggest the following for now.>
Reasoning: Comes with "good" thermal paste for use now and at your future upgrade time. Further, a separate purchase later of a different retention bracket would allow for its use with a i7 processor if you go that route in the future. Overall, it is a good "budget" aftermarket cooler that will allow you to overclock your processor and keep it cool. (I am assuming you are using the Intel provided cooler which will not work well for overclocking.)
Video Card: XFX HD-489A-ZDFC Radeon HD 4890 1GB <$200>
Reasoning: You seem to prefer ATI over Nvidia, as do I at the present moment. With the 4890 being a newer chipset, when you upgrade/build your new system, you could easily move this card to your new system and crossfire it with another one. XFX brand chosen over others due to the lifetime warranty. (But, again, remember these are rough examples of what could be done since I am looking at US availability and pricing.)
Total: US $360 = ~ AU $446
OC your processor, as others have mentioned.
With the above, you have the beginnings of a completely new build. When you upgrade/rebuild your system in 6 months/to a year, you'll need the following:
CPU: (Probably an Intel i5, Intel i7, or an AMD AM3 socket) ~$200 US
MB: (Depends on CPU) ~$150 US
Ram: (Depends on CPU/MB) ~$60 US
If you like your case, the case fans still work, and the optical drives still work, then simply reuse them.
Total cost of upgrade 2: ~$410 US = ~$508 AU
Then, another 6 months/year later...
Video card: (2nd 4890 1 GB) ~$150 US
Total cost: ~$150 US = ~$188 AU
<<<Note: There is always a danger of trying to "buy ahead" (IE: futureproofing) a computer. This /may/ not work as intended, but it should.>>>
When finished, a year or two from now, you should have a mainstream system for that era.