Budget Upgrade for 4 year old system

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Next couple weeks BUDGET RANGE: $400-500 Before Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Surfing the web with heavy multitasking (iTunes, Citrix, Torrents, Streaming video [MLB anyone?], Moderate Gaming (L4D 1-2, Diablo III / Starcraft II if they ever come out), that's about it.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Case, CD/DVD drives, Speakers

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg, Tiger Direct, anything really. Use Newegg a lot for reviews.


PARTS PREFERENCES: None, have had AMD and Intel Machines, ASUS and Biostar boards


MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050 currently on my Dell E207WFP


Looking to build a machine that can handle my system usage listed above with ease. Additionally, I would like it to last 3-5 years, with some headroom for upgrades without replacing the motherboard.

Currently running:
Windows 7 Ultimate
Asus P4P800 Deluxe mobo
Intel Pentium 4 CPU 2.80 GHz Northwood 800 MHz FSB 512k L2 Cache
2.5 GB PC3200 Ram (4 slots filled- 512mb, 512mb, 1024mb, 512mb)
NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GS w/ 256 MB DDR3
Seasonic 330HB Power Supply - Will continue to use unless advised it won't be strong enough

As you can imagine, running this machine under standard settings can get a bit sluggish in Windows 7 with torrents, iTunes, and 10-20 Chrome tabs. Streaming video, h.264, flash, etc brings everything to a crawl.

I think I've settled on the AMD Phenom II X2 550 BE for a CPU, based on the CPU buyers guide 2.0 here. Sounds like it can handle everything I want to do and possibly unlock to 4 cores (SB750 Southbridge required?). Also, having an AM3 slot seems to give me plenty of opportunity to throw a significantly more powerful chip in there a couple years down the road.

That leaves me me with $200-400 for a mobo, memory, and graphics card (unless mobo has sufficient onboard video), and power supply if necessary. Thoughts, recommendations?

*edit* added details
12 answers Last reply
More about budget upgrade year system
  1. Stop drop and roll to a Athlon II x3. Slightly slower per core, adds an extra core and is cheaper. This also has the chance for unlocking, but intending to get that is really a crapshoot.

    With anything from a HD 4890 to a 5850.
  2. Thanks!

    Looks like I could have made a big mistake going with the 550 without considering the X3.

    Think it's possible I can support that build with my 330W Seasonic PSU?
  3. With a graphics card no. Look for a 500~ish watt corsair, seasonic, or antec earthwatts.
  4. For heavy multitasking, you need enough ram to keep all your current tasks in memory at once. With 2.5gb, I think you are seriously short there. Going to 4gb or 6gb would make a world of difference in your current system.

    I think you would be well served by looking at the new 32nm clarkdale duo cpu's. Here is a recent anand article on the i3-530.

    Do not be put off by the included graphics. Your 7800GT can still be used.
    I am testing a i5-660 for a friend and it is a gem. It runs superpi 2m almost as fast as my overclocked i7-920. The integrated graphics seem capable of running CIV-4.

    If you plan on updating, I suggest you pick one of the 32nm cpu's. Use the manufacturing technology filter on newegg to find them.
    The i3-530 starts at $125:

    A H55/H57 motherboard with 4 ram slots should cost about $110. P55 motherboards will work also, but you will not get support for the integrated graphics.
    If you are multitasking, adding a second monitor is a great addition. You could do it with either the integrated graphics, or a separate vga card.

    4gb of DDR3 ram should be $100. Sometimes it is hard to match ram to add later. A 8gb kit up front at about $200 might be better.

    Initially, reuse your psu and graphics card. They are doing ok now.

    All this will set you back $335 or $435 with 8gb ram.

    If you should find later that you need more graphics capability for games, then you will have to upgrade both the psu and the vga card.
  5. Sure, except we know that AM3 will be the main socket for at least the six-core CPU's in the future. We also know that the 1156 socket will never see any. This was why he chose this platform.
  6. I know that it's a little over your budget but this was in the latest Maximum PC.


    It's $647.00 and you could always substitute some to get the price more into range. Not to mention that Neweggs prices vary a little with supply and demand issues. It's a good build for someone that is looking for a somewhat mid range PC. With Windows 8 coming out in a couple years it's nice to have a little headroom.
  7. False_Dmitry_II said:
    Sure, except we know that AM3 will be the main socket for at least the six-core CPU's in the future. We also know that the 1156 socket will never see any. This was why he chose this platform.

    From what AMD is saying right now, they will be using the AM3 socket for the hexacore and octacore processors. They will also be using it for the new APU processors that they are starting to release this year.
  8. Thanks for the differing insights geofelt, but picking a socket that has a lot of headroom is a big selling point for me. From what I've read and the other comments made the AM3 seems to provide the most bang for buck as well as upgradability.

    If I was going with Intel I'd want to go with a 1366 just to ensure my mobo wasn't totally obsolete in 3-5 years (like the situation I'm in now). Clearly a 1366 setup is not feasible with my budget constraints.
  9. In 3-5 years, the mobo that you buy today will still be doing the job you have for it today. But... it will be obsolete. If your needs are the same, it will still work. At that time, you will be able to buy something cheaper and much better if you need more.. It will be impractical to upgrade a current mobo . Get what suits you today, and save the rest for the inevitable future upgrade. If you got a 1366 mobo, the upgrade would be a 6 core 32nm gulftown. Are you prepared to upgrade to a $1000 part? Will it be any different with AMD?
  10. Yes it is different with AMD. I bought the very first 780G motherboard from gigabyte way back when it came out. I got a 4600+ to go with it. Sometime in august I added $120 to it by getting a Phenom II x3 720 (the Athlon tri-cores werent out yet) and it still runs like a champ. This unlocked the rest of my 4850 and now I can run crysis on high. I challenge you to have done the same with a intel mobo from the beginning of 2008. o wait...
  11. Is it worth the extra $20-40 to get a mobo with a 790GX/FX Northbridge and SB750 Southbridge over one with a 770 NB and SB710 SB?

    I'm just unsure how much of a performance difference the NB and SB will make.
  12. Performance difference pretty much nothing. You could go for the gigabyte board that has USB3 and SATA3. These will probably help more and will probably come in handy over the life of it.

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