APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Next week BUDGET RANGE: £450 maximum
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Photoshop, Internet
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: OS, keyboard/mouse, monitor, PSU (600w OCZ StealthXStream)
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: eBuyer.com, Dabs.com, Overclockers.co.uk, Scan.co.uk
PARTS PREFERENCES: No preference
OVERCLOCKING: No SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1440x900
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Basically I'd like an upgrade to play games like Star Trek Online, Dragon Age, World of Warcraft on their highest settings if possible... currently, my processor is squeaking and runs VERY hot (80-90 idle), but I'm unsure if I should just upgrade my CPU, GPU and hard drive (it's pretty old and slow) and keep the motherboard and RAM (DDR2, and also with this motherboard, the maximum I could use would be an AMD Phenom II 945 95w), or borrow money for a week or two from my brother and get a full upgrade.
I can run Star Trek, WoW etc almost at their highest settings with an Athlon 64 x2 5400+ (OC to 3.2GHz). The CPU is not your problem.
If your CPU is running hotter than before then your thermal goo is probably aged and you need to re-install the heatsink with new thermal goo. IF the fan is squeaking then you may need to replace the fan or entire heatsink. Something like a $20 Coolermaster Hyper TX3 would be a good choice. This is URGENT to do IMMEDIATELY as running consistently that hot may damage your CPU and/or motherboard.
Your main problem is your graphics card is very minimal. Upgrading to an ATI 5770 would at least double, maybe triple your graphics speed and give you high-ultra high settings even on a 1920x1080 LCD monitor or an HD TV. You may also have to upgrade your power supply to handle a more powerful graphics card.
My recomendation would be the new heatsink and either a 5850 or 5770 graphics card (and power supply if necessary) now. Then in another year or two you can replace the motherboard/CPU/RAM and use the same new heatsink and graphics card and you will have a completely upgraded system.
Increasing the RAM to 4GB and getting win7 64 would be a small upgrade, even if you dont decide to upgrade the CPU. Unfortunately it would be DDR2 RAM, which will be useless when you do finally replace the motherboard.
I already have 4GB of RAM, and I'm using Windows 7 64... sorry, I forgot to include that bit in my original post. Yeah I'd have to upgrade to DDR3 when I do eventually get an AM3 motherboard, but I can use an AM3 CPU with my AM2+ mobo and DDR2 RAM.