Upgrade CPU, GPU, both, or neither?

I got some great feedback here from the last thread I posted, so I'm back for some more help. I'm thinking of upgrading either my processor or my graphics card, and I have a budget of about $300. Here are my current specs:

Athlon II X2 250 w/ factory heatsink

Gigabyte ATI HD 4850 512MB

Asus M3A78-EM motherboard

4GB DDR2-800 memory

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit

1680 X 1050 monitor

Now because my current power supply has one 6-pin connector, the most current GPU I could get in ATI's 5000-series would be the 5770 without having to make a PS upgrade, if I'm not mistaken(having DirectX-11 capability is not a priority). From a CPU standpoint, I can go to the top with the 965 BE and have money left over for an after-market cooling solution, such as the Corsair Cooling Hydro Series(I would like to do some OC'ing).

So I would like to know from a performance(gaming) standpoint what would be a good choice to make. Would going with a change in graphic cards or processors come out better; maybe their is a combination of upgrading both within my budget that would be more beneficial; or would the results of the best possible scenario be so insignificant that I would be better off keeping what I have until I can make a total overhaul or new system, and use that money for something else(such as putting a new radio in may car...which is what I will do)?

Thanks in advance for all of your feedback.
17 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about upgrade both neither
  1. If you really want to upgrade your CPU and video card, i would suggest selling the ones you have now. That way you could make a little more money.
    For your CPU upgrade i suggest: . You can overclock this CPU or leave it just has it is. Some people might say that there are not that many programs that use 4 cores. Well my answer to that is: 2 cores used for gaming(because games these days use 2 cores), one core for all windows and other programs when you are gaming and one core for spare. You will not have to upgrade for a wile after that, meanwhile more programs will start to use multiple cores so quad core is a very good choice.
    As for video card you should buy this witch is a standard one, or any other like it or this one witch runs more quiet and with lower temps but as people said there you have to make an upgrade of the bios(read the reviews for more info). At the resolution that you play it will be ok.

    After that in the near future mabee you can afford a new motherboard with DDR3
    RAM and a better power supply to make a crossfire system with 2 video cards.

    The other choice would be to sell your hole rig and make a new one.

    PS: if you decide to buy a new CPU also you should consider buying a new CPU cooler even if you do not overclock, it will help. Less noise and lower temps(depends on the cooler)
  2. Best answer
    For right now, a 4850 jumping to a 5770 would not be THAT big of a jump. If you want to upgrade, you'd want to go a bit higher than that to see a really noticeable difference. the Athlon II you have is fine for for what you're doing, so to get better performance from that, I'd pick up an aftermarket cooler and OC it (they do OC decently I think).
    I just realized something, and THIS is what I would do with $300 and your system.
    I would get a new Mobo- probably this one: ($90)
    Get a second 4850: ($85 with VGA3171 promo code)
    Get a new PSU: ($50 after MIR)
    Get a CPU Cooler:
    Don't know what your case is, so I don't know what will fit, but there are a number of them that will cool your CPU well enough to get some nice OC results for less than $50.
    So- New Mobo + second 4850 + PSU + CPU cooler = $280, and you'll get a VERY nice boost in performance.
  3. What PSU are you using first of all?

    +1 GPU+OC only a little different.

    Your best bet is probably an aftermarket heatsink and oc. Then throw in a 5830.

    However, if you can get a decent (3.4ghz+) oc with your stock heatsink then i'd go with a 5850 and game like a champ. :)

    Cheaper CPUs are still easily keeping up with GPUs these days (except super high-end of course), even your little 2-banger can keep up with a good little clock increase.

    This is all assuming your PSU is up for the task.


    I'm pretty sure that mobo is hybrid crossfire only (IGP+GPU).
  4. Raidur- problem with the 5830 and 5850 is the OP only has 1 PCI-e connector, so the PSU doesn't have enough connectivity, and may not even have enough power (if the OP uses a molex to PCI-e adapter) to run those.
  5. Yeah, that's why I asked for his PSU info. :)

    Maybe he'll have to stick with stock cooler+OC+PSU+5830.

    We'll see, these new 5 series cards are very power friendly, but then again molex isn't everyone's favorite alternative.
  6. I think 2x4850 would actually perform about on par with a 5850 as well, and the OP said DX11 is not a priority for him. 5830 just is not a good value as far as price/performance are concerned MUCH better top go with 5770 or 5850 in that respect, and a 4850 for only $85 is KILLER.
  7. I totally agree with you.

    However, I'm pretty sure his mobo is only 'hybrid' crossfire. (IGP+GPU)
  8. Right- which is why I suggested the motherboard replacement in my post as well- took his $300 budget and worked it to get him the CPU fan, Mobo, 4850 and PSU. Not bad for less than $300! lol
  9. Ah! Totally missed that, hehe.

    @OP: Get back to us with your PSU info and you know your options!

    Any way you go I think you'll be happy. One things for certain, see if you can OC that CPU!
  10. Just walked in the house from work; that's for all the responses.

    Haven't had a chance to go thru the options in detail yet, but here is the PSU that I currently have:

    At the time I bought it I had a problem with the previous PSU and I didn't own the 4850 either, so I was just looking for something as a replacement and a little room for a GPU upgrade in the then near-future(the 4850 followed). The 6-pin connector for the 4850 isn't an adapter.
  11. Umm yeah- you want to replace that PSU. The PSU is probably the one place to NEVER EVER skimp and get a cheap one as its part that can blow out and take your whole machine with it. be VERY careful with loading that even close to what its "rated" for.
  12. Lol...once I looked in my PC and saw what I had(I forgot what I bought) I felt bad to even post the link since its pretty much a BS PSU. I wrote off my PC for being nothing more than a internet/paper writing/Half-Life 2 on Medium settings machine before I made a few changes, and now I'm within a few moves of making it a solid gaming rig that I will be very happy with until I can build one from scratch with the amount of money I would like to really allocate for it. I'll be ordering that PSU you recommended ASAP, and I think I will go with the setup you suggested; I like the idea of having two 4850's in Crossfire, and I'll grab a CPU cooler to OC my current CPU...I actually got it at about 3.5GHZ when I first got it on air but dialed it back to factory to play it safe.
  13. ^ +1

    My cousin bought a $500 emachines from Best Buy to have the crappy PSU take out the motherboard a month after her 1 year warranty ended. New mobo and corsair psu for about $100 and she'll be good for another 3+ years. She's lucky the CPU didn't go with it I've read a couple horror stories about her PC's PSU.

    What were your temps when you were at 3.5? You'd be ok without aftermarket cooling if your stress test temps are low enough.
  14. Nice man- good luck with the upgrades:-) 2x4850 is a really solid gaming rig right now (basically the same as my 5750's)
  15. Best answer selected by mikhail357.
  16. Raidur said:

    What were your temps when you were at 3.5? You'd be ok without aftermarket cooling if your stress test temps are low enough.

    I actually don't remember the temps, and although they weren't very high, me being a novice in OC'ing, I didn't do any type of stress testing because I just wasn't too comfortable with doing that on the heatsink that came with the CPU. It's the 1st CPU that I've been able to have the option to OC, and I've done enough reading on the subject to know that I'd feel better with an aftermarket cooler, even if it's not elaborate or expensive, which is not always needed.
  17. If you aren't comfortable with it, don't do it- thats what I always say for that. If you feel uncomfortable OCing on the stock cooler, get an aftermarket one just for your peace of mind. It doesn't matter what your temps were if they made you uncomfortable, and its worth the money to not be worrying about it :-)
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