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Upgrading my PC

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January 26, 2010 4:57:04 PM

Hello there! I built my first custom PC over the summer in 2008 and I think it's time for an upgrade.

At the moment my specs are:
ASUS P5Q Deluxe motherboard
Intel Core2Duo e8400 processor
G.Skill DDR2 800 4GB RAM (2 dimms)
VisionTek ATI Radeon HD 4870 512mb graphics card
WD AALS 640GB and WD AAKS 320GB HDDs
PC Power & Cooling Silencer 610watt PSU
Sony DVD-ROM
Antec 1200 case
Windows 7 Pro x64

I'm thinking that I should add 2 more sticks of RAM to give me 8GB being that RAM is so inexpensive and DDR2 is still on the market. I also was thinking of getting another 4870 graphics card and use CrossFire (even though it will put both PCI-E buses down to 8x). If I did that I would probably need to get a new PSU. My other thought was to rip out the 4870, buy a 5870, and sell the 4870 on eBay. I'd upgrade to a Q9550 processor, but I don't think that I really need a quad-core. I'm fairly tech savvy but I can't keep up with the latest and greatest because I'm working on my CCNA (along with two other degrees) and any other cisco academy students out there should know my agony. I'm curious if I should even bother upgrading and make my pc just last a few more years and then just do a complete overhaul. The only thing I do is a little bit of photoshop (photo manipulation and web design) and games. Just wanting some upgrade advice. Thanks in advance!
Garrett

More about : upgrading

a b B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2010 5:03:39 PM

To be honest Garett, if gaming isn't your main priority, I think you're ok. I'm sure there are different opinions, but to be honest, you have more system than I do, and I play every game I own at 1680x1050 at max settings, no lower than 50fps. What resolution do you game at?
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January 26, 2010 5:10:12 PM

I use 1680x1050 resolution (eventually I'll switch to using HDMI when I get a LED-LCD tv this summer). I play Source engine games (TF2, CS:S, DOD:S, HL2 and episodes, Garry's Mod, etc) and I'll be getting Old Republic when it finally comes out :p . Sometimes I get down to 25-30 FPS on some maps in Garry's Mod. I just feel like it could be running faster in general (faster application start ups, boot time, etc.) I'm sure overclocking would help it along, but at what cost? I'm pretty sure it would add wear and tear to the parts and lessen their life (along with voiding manufacturer warranties). I have a beast of a heatsink (Zalman 9700 or something like that, I call it big heavy copper monster) on the processor but I only use stock clocks.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2010 5:20:16 PM

It's not difficult to overclock. And you've already got a overclocking heatsink. (and the CPU you have is a monster overclocker, I've seen in one guy's sig who got it up to 4.45 gigahertz). It does take some life off, but its on the order of from 20 years to like 10 years. Still more than you're likely to use it. If you're after faster boot times, and app starts then buy an SSD. The rest of your system is pretty good. More RAM is pointless, 4 gigs is plenty. You could easily add another graphics card (though you should be maxing at that reso as is) and a PSU, overclock to feed it all, and then get an SSD for that instant feeling.(a good one, anyway)

But really, overclocking and the SSD is all that's needed.
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January 26, 2010 5:44:41 PM

SSD isn't quite in my budget right now, would RAID-0ing two WD AALS give me a significant speed boost? I'm not looking for something crazy fast, but something to speed it up and keep me up to speed for a few years until SLC SSD drives drop down in price. Which I've been told will be Summer 2011 when they are down the a reasonable, average consumer price. But like I said, I can't seem to keep up with the latest and greatest. :/ 
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2010 5:56:10 PM

+1 for overclocking. If you ran those two WD's in RAID0, it would definitely speed your boot times, or you can just use a second small drive for your OS. I have a cheap little 36GB 10000RPM drive that I keep my Win7 on and nothing else, and my boot times are quite fast. I have my E6600 clocked to almost 3, and I usually average around 100-150 in Garrys mod servers. With your RAM at factory speeds, you should be able to hit ~3.6 with that E8400.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2010 7:08:38 PM

Well, quad core LGA775 CPUs are a bit pricey. You would get more for your money buying a good cooler and overclocking your CPU :D . If you want to go quad core, the Q9505 is available and cheaper than the Q9550, though the Q9505 has less cache. As for the GPU I say get another 4870 while you still can. There will be a small performance hit as far as doing crossfire with a P45 board vs an X38/X48 board, but it's certainly not big enough to warrant purchasing a new board.
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