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Help on updating gaming PC

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January 6, 2010 1:35:07 PM

Hi

I'm going to list my current PC spec and then ask you what you think I should do first, please bare the following in mind, I have a monitor that displays up to 1680 x 1050 which I will not be changing. My current main board and CPU are over 3 years old but surprisingly it still runs games at 1680x1050 very well, i'm only just starting to have to turn things down slightly from maxed out settings on titles such as MW2 and Dirt2 I can only 2xAA for example, also on MW2 I cant max out the advanced settings. I've never been able to max out Crysis for obvious reasons

Option 1

Upgrade the graphics card

Option 2

Upgrade the main board, CPU and RAM

Spec

AMD x2 4200 (Socket 939!)
Asus A8N32 SLI Main Board (I think thats right its been a while)
4GB Geil DDR RAM
XFX Geforce 8800 GTS 512
Creative X-FI Xtreme Music
Western Digital Raptor (Original version used as main drive)
Various other drives
I cant remember my PSU, I think it was called a Type-R, not sure if I can continue to use it if upgrading, its been very reliable
ThermalTake Soprano case

I'm really in two minds, my 8800GTS seems to have been a good choice at the time as its pulling the games along quite well, I imagine the bottle necks are the old CPU and chipset so i'm leaning toward upgrading the main parts first and a graphics card at a later date however i'm wondering if I should go for a DX11 card first for titles such as AvP

I'm saving for a house so cant really buy everything at once, need to do it all bit by bit and my computer is used everyday

Any recomendations on parts will be much appreciaited, I still have no idea what board or RAM to go for but I like the sound of staying AMD and looking into a Phenom Quad core, I dont think its worth waiting for 6 core, I have read into it that far

What do you think?

Thanks

More about : updating gaming

January 6, 2010 2:04:27 PM

Budget?

I would say that with your resolution, and for future upgrades, I would want to upgrade the CPU, board and RAM. An good AMD upgrade would be: X4 955 BE ($165), ASUS M4A79XTD EVO ($110), and G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1333 mhz CAS Latency 7 ($100), totaling $375.

That said, i5 is currently king for gaming. An i5 upgrade would be: i5-750 ($195, or $50 less if from Microcenter), ASUS P7P55D-E Pro ($190) and the same RAM, totaling $485.

The reasons I like the i5 upgrade more is 1.) the i5 is the best gaming CPU available. The i7 may be faster, but because of the lower price due to the exclusion of hyperthreading and some other features that are irrelevant to gaming, the i5 is just as good for gaming.

2.) The i5 motherboard, while expensive, supports USB 3.0 and SATA 6 GBps devices. This isn't important now, but will be in a little bit. Also, the board has good Crossfire/SLI support, and unlike other 1156 USB 3/SATA 3 boards, doesn't disable the new ports when Crossfired/SLIed.

That said, there are also reasons to like the AMD upgrade. 1.) AMD has stated that the AM3 socket will be the primary socket for the next few years. Meaning there will be actual CPU upgrades available. Intel's LGA1156 socket doesn't have a foreseeable upgrade path.

2.) It's cheaper.

I would only upgrade the GPU if you don't have the ~$400 for the AMD upgrade. Then I would pick up the HD 5850 for $300. Keep in mind that the soon to be released (supposedly March) Fermis will drastically change the GPU prices and recommendations...
January 6, 2010 2:13:03 PM

Wow, thats an awesome post thanks very much

My budget is a strange one in that I dont really have one, I just usually buy middle of the road, also i'm in the UK so its hard to compare prices, I would like to spend what I spent last time, £150 main board, about £200 for the CPU I think it was

I like the idea that AM3 will be standard for a while yet so I think I will be sticking with AM3. The i5 sounds cool but i'll be honest, USB 3.0 I have no use for and I already have all my SATA devices, HDD and optical drives so i'm not to fussed on that, the old Raptor still seems to pull its weight as is and i'm not really interested in changing it unless its to SSD which I really need to read up on!

Yeah I agree, I think i'll leave the GPU, its time to start researching manin boards, CPU's and RAM. Thanks for the recomendations on AMD upgrades I look forward to reading into them

If anyone has any more info on what AMD boards and CPU's to go for and why then I will appreciate reading them, also I am a little confused about my PSU IE will it be compatible

Related resources
January 6, 2010 2:30:59 PM

If the 350 pounds is your budget for the entire upgrade, you can get both CPU, mobo, RAM and GPU. It's about $550.

Another CPU suggestion would be the x4 965 BE (around $190). It's slightly faster. I'm not sure what other boards would be recommended, as the M479XTD EVO is one of the best boards for the price. You really can't get much better than that.

A good GPU in that range would be the HD 5770. Over here is $155, leaving the total (with the AMD system) at $530, or $555 with the 965.
January 6, 2010 3:19:21 PM

Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4(usb 3.0)

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MB...

Corsair Dominator XMS3 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600C8D

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MY...

AMD Phenom II X4 Quad Core 955 Black Edition 3.20GHz

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CP...

£366.37

shipped

but i would throw in a cpu cooler

Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=HS...

£389.95

with the cooler
January 6, 2010 3:43:27 PM

I thought it was going to be more expensive than this, I might be able to get it all at once which would be nice

Do I need the Black Edition if i'm not interested in over clocking? I'm honestly not fussed about over clocking

Thanks for the info again MadAdmiral , I'm definitely going to leave the GPU until after I have upgraded the rest of the system and just run my GTS for a little while longer

obsidian86 thanks for the links, I have bought from that site before, my monitor and other bits are from there, do you work there? Whats that mobo like compared to the one MadAdmiral mentioned?

Will I need that PSU or will the one I have be ok? I really need to give more details on my current PSU but its fits my current board mentioned in my first post and it was a decent one at the time, maybe I should just upgrade it anyway

I'm not sure on Corsair products, I had a problem with a previous stick of Corsair XMS and when I enquired about having it replaced they didnt bother to reply

Also, are all these boards NForce chipsets? I would like to stay with that if possible

Thanks again

January 6, 2010 3:47:16 PM

It's only sold in the BE.

Corsair's a good RAM company, but IMO, they're overpriced. I'm sure you can find some cheaper, better sticks.

The PSU should be fine.
January 6, 2010 3:53:33 PM

nope i dont work there but i did bu from them when i was in the uk a few yrs

the mobo is quite good at a good price i only chose it cuz it supports usb 3

could you give some more info on your power supply

the xms corsairs are crap the dominators are corsair's premium ram i would've chosen g.skill ripjaws but for some reason it looks like its sold out over the u.k

there are only 2 nforce am3 boards on the market the msi a750 and msi a980 but cant seem to find them in the uk
January 6, 2010 4:07:36 PM

Maybe its because of the AMD Radeon thing as to why there are no Nforce AM3 boards

Never heard of g.skill ripjaw before, are they new, you guys seem to like them, clever marketing maybe?

I'm a bit confused at the mo, I know what I want in respect of AM3, Phenom x4, but its picking which specific models to go for, I really like my Asus board zero problems with it

I have a lot of reading to do

January 6, 2010 4:10:52 PM

The Ripjaws aren't new, and I haven't seen an ad for them. They just simply have better specs for a lower price. The reviews are also good.
January 6, 2010 4:20:22 PM

g skill makes some great ram at the right price
January 6, 2010 4:20:24 PM

relentless81 said:
Maybe its because of the AMD Radeon thing as to why there are no Nforce AM3 boards

Never heard of g.skill ripjaw before, are they new, you guys seem to like them, clever marketing maybe?

I'm a bit confused at the mo, I know what I want in respect of AM3, Phenom x4, but its picking which specific models to go for, I really like my Asus board zero problems with it

I have a lot of reading to do



We like ripjaws because they're cheaper with better timings than corsair. They also won the latest F1OC overclocking competition (think superbowl world cup of overclocking) taking 1st, 3rd, 4th and 7th place.

http://www.anandtech.com/weblog/showpost.aspx?i=650
January 6, 2010 4:25:59 PM

Ok, i'll have a look into them.

Reading up on motherboards at the moment, everything has changed!

I thought PCI-E slots were 2 x 32 most seem to be 2 x 16 or have I dreamed that up
Gigabytes have two different models with two different chipsets and a fair price difference, the chipsets are AMD 790X and AMD 790FX, I dont mind paying a bit more if it benefits me

The Asus M4A79XTD Evo Seems cheap compared to the Gigabyte offerings

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MB...

January 6, 2010 4:30:51 PM

PCIe 2.0 slots operate at 16x, unless you use them in Crossfire. Then they can operate at 16x/16x (LGA1366 or board with 3 or more slots only), 8x/8x, or 4x/4x. There is actually no noticeable difference between 16x/16x and 8x/8x right now, so the advantage of buying a 3 slot board for the 16x/16x is not worth the premium paid.

It is cheaper than most others. The EVO is probably the best value in AMD builds. I taken to suggesting it even when the budget allows for more expensive boards...
January 6, 2010 4:32:36 PM

fx is amd's premium boards

the 790x asus only cheaper cuz the gigabyte has usb 3.0 support
January 6, 2010 4:35:35 PM

Ok thanks

So 790FX is USB 3.0 and 790X isnt, is that what we are saying in a nut shell? Because if thats the only difference between the Asus and the GB then i'll get the Asus and spend the change on some nice RAM

January 6, 2010 4:38:42 PM

That all sounds awesome, I would go for a usb 3.0 board because you never know how mainstream it will be, mabey in 3 years you will wish you had a 3.0 board, I think it's worth doing it even though it may not seem like it now, who knows what's gonna happen
January 6, 2010 4:41:45 PM

They'll have adapter cards. Also, by the time it's mainstream, it will be time to build a new computer.
January 6, 2010 4:43:25 PM

If that was the case I would never buy anything, there is always something due out!

Would really appreciate clarification on the FX chipset difference as I want to order the board now and then I can get the rest on pay day

January 6, 2010 4:51:20 PM

Google is my friend

790FX motherboards should be priced in the $150-$250 range, or if Quad-CrossFire isn’t in your future and you want to save a little money on the motherboard, AMD offers their 790X chipset.

The key difference between 790X and 790FX is PCI Express graphics slots – while 790FX supports up to four graphics slots, 790X is limited to two. And while you’re certainly free to take a stab at overclocking with the 790X chipset, motherboards that are built around the platform aren’t tuned as extensively for overclocking as 790FX motherboards are, or at least that’s what we’ve been told by AMD. 790X motherboards should sell for $99-$150.


January 6, 2010 4:51:42 PM

I think the FX indicates the board supports 16x/16x Crossfire. I searched "790fx", and didn't see any options with USB 3.0/SATA 6 GBps.
January 6, 2010 4:53:43 PM

See above, it supports Quad.

I'm not interested in this as i'm only interested in running one decent spec card so it looks like I can go for the 790X chipset Asus that you recemended but guess what, its out of stock

January 6, 2010 4:54:22 PM

The advice you've gotten so far is decent, but seems more geared to someone building new. You can get a satisfying upgrade for a lot less. Considering how low on the totem pole your current CPU is, an Athlon II X3 435 would be a huge jump up for not a lot of money ($88 here). Wait to upgrade your GPU until you test your CPU upgrade. If you just want to get something, a HD5770 is probably a safe choice, although only a couple of tiers higher than your 8800GTS. Considering your other plans, anything more expensive probably ought to wait.
January 6, 2010 4:55:58 PM

i meant in general he fx is the premium line, there are older fx with only usb 2
gigabyte has been the first to implement usb 3.0 on their boards
January 6, 2010 5:09:55 PM

Excellent, thats the board decided on then, next up, processor and RAM!

I think the 955 looks promising, no idea what RAM yet

Thanks for all the help, i'll keep you updated and maybe post pics if thats what you do around here, its what happens on the car forums I frequent!

January 6, 2010 5:26:15 PM

Nice thanks. It goes on about Intel boards in the description though, I hate it when they do that because it makes you wonder if they are even compatible with the AMD boards

January 6, 2010 5:35:57 PM

That's just marketing. The Intel boards specify a lower voltage (1.65V max, I believe) than was the standard. Saying that they're Intel-compatible simply means that the RAM runs at a lower voltage, it doesn't mean they won't work on an AMD board.
January 6, 2010 5:36:16 PM

its compatible with amd as well
January 6, 2010 6:18:29 PM

Cool, looks like thats sorted too. Mobo and Ram less than £200 thats awesome i'm really pleased

Just the CPU to go, i'm going to go with OEM cooling on the CPU but anyone know of a particulary good paste?

Just had a think and I have Windows Vista 64 at the mo, might as well add Windows 7 on when I format and reinstall the main Raptor drive

Looks like the spec i'll end up with will be

AMD Phenom (not sure which yet)
ASUS M4A79XTD EVO
4GB g.skill ripjaw DDR3
XFX Geforce 8800 GTS 512
Creative X-FI Xtreme Music
Western Digital Raptor
PSU still not sure of yet but might upgrade it i'll have to find out what mine is exactly
ThermalTake Soprano case
Windows 7

Should bea decent gaming rig I hope, as long as it runs 1680x1050 with everything maxed out and at least 4xAA i'll be happy and then I can think about getting a Radeon HD in a few months

January 6, 2010 6:23:12 PM

You don't need thermal paste if you're using stock cooling. The paste comes pre applied to the HSF.
January 7, 2010 9:08:41 AM

Oh yeah, I forgot!

I'm going to upgrade my PSU, I have just ordered the motherboard so many thanks for helping with that


I'm going to build a new PC with my old parts to sell on or keep as back up so i'll use my old PSU for that

So

Anyone know whats considered a good PSU these days? That will work well with the above set up?

I'm thinking Thermaltake around 600W


January 7, 2010 9:21:39 AM

Look for a PSU with full range active PFC (no little voltage switch) and at least 80+ certification. Antec, Corsair, PC Power & Cooling, Seasonic, and Enermax are among the better brands. For what you have now, a 430W-500W PSU would be enough. If you think you might run Crossfire, get 650W-750W.
!