Upgrade GPU or MB/CPU/Memory?

My current system build is as follows:

ASUS A8NE Motherboard, socket 939
AMD64 X2 4200+
4 gigs PC3200 RAM
ATI HD3870 w/512mb GDDR4 RAM
Windows 7 Professional 64-bit Retail

I want to get an ATI 5770 card. However, I don't know how much better it will be over my HD3870 with my current rig. I can play the following games at close to max settings at 1280x1024 (monitor doesn't go any higher):

Fallout 3
RE 5
Batman Arkhum Asylum
Dragon Age: Origins

I know with Batman, I get an average of around 40+ FPS (as per the benchmark). The other games I haven't tested, but they are pretty smooth. Fallout 3 and DA both have some areas where I can see the FPS drop below 30, but it's still playable (probably around 20-24 FPS). But, these occur sometimes and as I stated, they do not take away from the game play at all.

The only game I have that I know cannot play worth a darned is GTA IV which is CPU bound. I know you need a quad core to really make this game run at playable frame rates.

However, I've been running on this hardware for a number of years (around three to four years I think).

Would it be better to upgrade my system and keep the HD8370? I need to replace the motherboard, GPU and memory. I've been looking to get an AMD X3 720 Black Box edition along with a new MB and 4 gigs of DDR3 1600 Memory.

The 5770 I can get for around $170. The other parts would come to about $260. I can't afford both the system upgrade AND the video card.

I know the system itself would last me a number of years, but so far, with the exception of GTA IV, I haven't found a game that I cannot play at high settings. Would the 5770 allow me to play the games I currently have at the highest settings possible? I don't care that much about GTA IV. I figure at this point, it's money I threw down the drain. Besides, with what I've played so far, it's pretty boring, so I don't even know if I'd play it if I did upgrade my system instead of the GPU. And no, I won't/can't sell it. I purchased it through Steam, so it's tied to my account.

I guess the only other "minus" I have with the complete system upgrade is I'd have to reinstall Windows 7 again! [:isamuelson:5] I know with my wife, every time I have to reinstall, something get's messed up (wrong settings for an application, missing files) even using the Easy Windows Transfer. Replacing the entire motherboard, CPU and memory would definitely require a reinstall and I don't feel like going through that (and I'm not able to also by another hard drive, case, etc). I'd just reuse the components, case and power supply I already have. Oh, and my power supply is 650 watts.

5 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    I would probably keep the GPU for now and upgrade the other parts. You're getting playable rates with the games you play with the card, so there is no sense in spending more for a better one. Since the only game you're trying to play, but can't is GTA4, you'll want an upgrade that can do that.

    If you buy the 5770, you likely won't see any improvement over what you have. The resolution is so low that a GPU upgrade doesn't make much sense.
  2. Thanks for the advice. I went ahead and purchased the following:

    Gigabyte MA78LM-S2H motherboard
    AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition
    4 gigs of Gaming Series DDR2-800 memory

    Hopefully, I should see some improvements over the old Athlon64 X2 4200+!
  3. Indeed. And besides, the stuff that you have now is rareified. I think if you sold it right, that alone would be enough to buy the graphics card as well, then you just need to upgrade to a 1680x1050 monitor at some point. (I got mine from woot for $100)

    By selling it right, I mean each part, the CPU will go for over $100 because it's one of a few dual cores for that socket. So much so that if it were AM2 it would be worth only like $20-25. Then you should be able to get $30-60 for that RAM. I don't really know about the motherboard but I'd guess anywhere from $15-40 depending. Then actual pictures and a good description. Having the original boxes in the pictures help too, if you still have them.

    If you don't get both doing this will at least help with the price.
  4. Well, I certainly wouldn't have suggested buying an old AM2+ board and DDR2, but you should see improvement regardless.
  5. Best answer selected by isamuelson.
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