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Four year old gaming comp in desperate need of a processor upgrade

Last response: in Systems
September 23, 2009 2:50:56 AM

Heya folks,

The last time I upgraded this computer, it was to play Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. Doesn't seem like that long ago, but the way modern games are chugging at any decent resolution, I figure it's time to bite the bullet and upgrade.

Current build:

Standard ATX case (aka I don't need a new case)
Old 450W PSU (from 2002... figure I should upgrade this if only in the name of wear)

ASUS A8N5X 939 NVIDIA nForce4 ATX AMD Motherboard
AMD Athlon 64 3700+ San Diego 2.2GHz Socket 939 Single-Core Processor
Kingston ValueRAM 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200)

EVGA 256-P2-N553-AX GeForce 7600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16

Running Windows 7 (release candidate)
Various (fairly new) optical drives

The big thing that jumps out to me is processing power... even Windows is starting to gripe about it, and I'm actually under the minimum requirements of some games. I've got about $300 to sling around, though I could have more in about a month if anyone suggests doing this in stages. Pretty sure $300 isn't buying me top of the line anything.

The TH community was a huge help last time I upgraded this thing, and so I look forward to hearing from you all this time. Thanks!
September 23, 2009 3:03:02 AM

Also, almost forgot: Western Digital Raptor WD740ADFD 74GB 10000 RPM SATA x2, running in raid (type 0)

Best solution

September 23, 2009 3:11:40 AM

How about this mobo cpu ram for now

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10600CL8D-4GBHK - Retail
Item #: N82E16820231180
Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy

AMD Phenom II X3 720 2.8GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Black Processor Model HDZ720WFGIBOX - Retail
Item #: N82E16819103649
Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy
GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Item #: N82E16813128392
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

Comes to about 270 + tax and shipping

Then when you get some more money go for a GPU PSU and HDD upgrade
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September 23, 2009 4:15:50 AM

If you want to play modern games, you need more than a processor.
The motherboard is outdated, and dead end. They have not made socket 939 processors in over 3 years, so you must have bought the board right at the end of the socket 939? Don't feel to terrible, I did the same thing. Should have spent a little more back then and went with the new AM2 platform DDR2 memory, but oh well it's water under the bridge now.
Anyhow, yeah you are due for a motherboard, processor and memory. Good news is AMD has very attractive parts right now that are strong on gaming, and easy on the wallet. The old 7600GT is well past it's retirement age in the gaming department as well, it ain't gonna get the job no matter how fast the platform is under it.
However, your drives are fine I think. They are old, but if you been running them in RAID this long, they must be okay.
You would be hard pressed to find anything that will out perform the old Raptors. If they are still working fine, use'em till they die.
A new PSU is a must though. With todays hardware and video cards, you cannot skimp here, this is money very, very well spent to buy quality.
September 23, 2009 1:57:30 PM

Thanks for the replies, guys - I definitely agree I need a new mobo/processor, and I guess that means new RAM, too. Stupid obsolete technology. Thanks niklas for the recommendations, I'll look around Newegg some more but those look perfect for my price range. GPU is next on the list, but I'll probably wait maybe a month for that. Sure I'll be back when the time comes, lol.
September 23, 2009 2:37:53 PM

Using Niklas' suggestions, you could round out the computer for $400.

OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply compatible with core i7 - Retail ($39.99 w/ $20 MIR + Free Shipping)

SAPPHIRE 100245HDMI Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail ($99.99 + Free Shipping)

Total: $388.96 + Shipping (Including niklas' suggestions)
September 23, 2009 2:44:59 PM

Thanks for the suggestions on a PSU - be great to just spend $40 and be done with it, but do people think this is enough to do the job? Got to admit, power supplies are one area I'm kind of clueless.
September 23, 2009 2:55:17 PM

For this build, a relatively low power one, a 500W PSU is more than enough. OCZ makes solid PSUs, and this one would do you well. Really anything in this ballpark is suitable, look for brands like Antec, Corsair, PC Power & Cooling, OCZ, and Seasonic.
September 23, 2009 11:41:28 PM

I would spend 5 bucks more and get this PSU This PSU will be ok to OC your CPU and GPU with a ATI card up to a 4890 and 3 HDD

If you go with a Nivdia Card i would go with this PSU This PSU will be good to OC your CPU and run up to a 285 with 3 HDD and a DVD

As far as GPUs go for a rez less then 1680X1050 a HD4850 or GTX260 would be good

rez of 1680x1050 i would go for a HD4870 or 4890 / GTX260 or GTX 275

rez of 1920x1080 HD4890 or see reviews on the new 5850 or 5870 / GTX 275 < and OC it

Just my opition

Run your 2 HDD in raid 0 like you are for your OS and game and pick up a WD 640 black for storage or a samsung 500 F3

Maybe look into a new HSF to OC that new CPU

gl m8
September 24, 2009 5:30:17 PM

Hey all,

Sorry to resurrect this "solved" thread, but browsing Newegg today I saw they put a HUGE deal out on quad core AMD chips. Looking specifically at:

I realize it doesn't have a L3 cache and the X3 I ordered does, but I'd imagine that fourth core is going to make more of a difference than that cache, and the new chip is worth the money.

I had ordered the combo niklas suggested,, and now obviously would like to RMA the processor (unopened I shouldn't have any trouble). Problem is, the new combo deals are less desirable motherboard wise than the one I ordered;

With this one being the closest in terms of motherboard equivalency.

Between my not wanting to pay for an onboard GPU I don't need (I have a PCI-E graphics card, after all, even though it's old) and some RAM issues I'm reading about in reviews of the ECS board (apparently their default voltage is 1.6, and the GSkill ram I ordered should be running at a standard 1.5), I'm hesitant to just switch out the entire combo. I dunno what Newegg's deal is with returning only PART of a combo... my bet is they're going to slice the $20 they deducted for the combo right out of my rebate. What do you guys think - is this the right plan? Keep the mobo but upgrade the chip? Or is that fourth core worth the time and money? Thanks!
September 24, 2009 5:41:21 PM

No, keep the X3. The new AMD quad core ships are based on the older Athlon II line, while your CPU is a Phenom II. Your CPU will be faster and OC better. Stick with the one you ordered.
September 25, 2009 12:32:30 AM

Awesome - just what I wanted to hear. Thanks!