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Upgrade GPU, CPU, or RAM?

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March 29, 2010 5:35:41 AM

Athlon 64 x2 4000+ running at 2.1 Ghz
OCZ SLi 2x1gb DDR2
I don't have a graphics card yet, so I just use the integrated HD3200 on my ASRock A780GXH mobo.
Thermaltake 500w PSU.

Which part should I upgrade first? Gaming isn't really a priority, but it would be nice :) . I think the CPU and RAM would be major bottlenecks though. I'm looking into the 5770, Phenom II x4 (AM3), and the OCZ 2x2 Reapers. Which one should I get first?
Oh, and would my power supply support all of those parts if I got them?

More about : upgrade gpu cpu ram

a b B Homebuilt system
March 29, 2010 7:37:27 AM

Not nearly enough info to answer you practically ...

Go to the newbuild forum and fill out the "HOW TO ASK" sticky form at the top of that main page ... Start a thread and give an initial budget.

= Alvin =
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March 29, 2010 8:00:28 AM

I don't want to build a new computer. I just wanna upgrade on my current one, but I'm wondering which one would be the most logical.

I mostly just use Photoshop/After Effects and the usual movies and internet. Games would be nice, but not necessary.
Which part should I upgrade first?
And I'm not really into overclocking. Maybe just the RAM if necessary, and occasionally the CPU.

Is that enough information? And am I posting in the wrong forum? I couldn't really find any other section to post in, and I thought this was the most appropriate place.
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 29, 2010 9:06:22 AM

Remember, ... I'm just one guy ... late at night ...

My opinion is that there is no feasible path of migration, as you have described.

My Advice is to save and to get mobo/ram/cpu (all at once) as a full and major platform upgrade.

Specifically, I would advise an Athlon-II or Phenom-II x3-Core Proc running at ~2.8GHz and 4GB of 1333 ... stock cooler ... no O.C. Take advantage of a newegg cpu/mobo combo deal and save about ~$20. A new PSU will likely be indicated but we will look at what you have ... might work.

= Alvin =
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 29, 2010 9:08:39 AM

What operating system are you running ?? XP-SP3 ?

More of the same RAM that you have might help.

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March 29, 2010 9:21:51 AM

Win7 ultimate. i don't wanna go 4x1 GB as I heard it causes a lot of problems. Maybe 2x2. So I should go with RAM first right now?
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 29, 2010 1:20:34 PM

If you do not game, more memory is your best bet.
But do not expect miracles.
Your processor is not the speediest.
Onboard video is just adequate to run a display, there is absolutely no performance level at all.
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March 29, 2010 1:27:31 PM

jkwonman said:
Win7 ultimate. i don't wanna go 4x1 GB as I heard it causes a lot of problems. Maybe 2x2. So I should go with RAM first right now?


Maybe in the past. I have been using 4x1GB for awhile now (upgraded from 2x1GB when I started using After Effects). I haven't heard of there being any major issues with a full board of RAM on modern systems. Just make sure it is all the same brand, speed, and size and you shouldn't have issues.

Extra RAM certainly helps with PS/AE work but you will start to see slow downs when you do rendering or anything that is computation based (ie resizing, rendering, particle systems, etc) as your CPU will start to slow down from all the calculations. I would recommend RAM first if you want to keep it cheap but otherwise, you may need to look into a new system.
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March 29, 2010 6:51:08 PM

at first, an onboard graphics chip is REALLY HORRIBLE.
A grahpics card is the most important gaming part of your pc.

Get this one:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ASUS EAH4650/DI/1GD2/A(LP) Radeon HD 4650 1GB 128-bit DDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Low Profile Ready Video Card - Retail
$64.99


or this one:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ASUS EAH4670/DI/1GD3/V2 Radeon HD 4670 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail
$79.99

That 4650 already gives you ALOT of performance boost, and you should only get that 4670 if you plan on gaming.
Dont get any better card then a 4670, as it'll be an overkill. Go spend the cash on ram or something.

You'll be able to play all games of this moment with this card.

That cpu is fine. Dont bother upgrading it.

You might want to change the ram too. You should look into 4x1gb ram. It doesnt give problems, really.
Just buy two of the same sticks you already have.

Focuss on that onboard graphics card first.

I'm running a AMD 2.2Ghz dual core, 4x1gb ddr2-553 ram, a 4670 graphics card, and a hard drive + 2x dvddrive on a 250W PSU, without any troubles. I'm really happy with my balanced-budget build, as it's able to handle all current games on mid/high settings :p 
So 500W would be enough :D 
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Best solution

a b B Homebuilt system
March 29, 2010 7:10:28 PM

In your place, with gaming not a priority, a CPU upgrade should be #1. Your mobo is AM2+, and can support current AM3 CPUs. If you don't want to spend $160 on a PII, you can pick up a decent Athlon II X3 for $85, or a X4 for $100. Any of them would be re-usable in a future build, and even the least of them will blow what you have out of the water.
Additional RAM would help, but would not likely be re-usable, as you need DDR2 now, but anything new is DDR3. You'd see a difference going from 2GB to 4GB, but not as much as you would with a CPU upgrade.
Your PSU is overrated, and marginal at best. It should be able to handle the new CPU (and RAM, if you do get more), but definitely not a HD5770. Look for a new one that has full range active PFC (no little voltage switch) and is 80+ certified. Quality brands include Antec, Corsair, Seasonic, PC Power & Cooling, and Enermax. The Antec Earthwatts series are very reasonably priced online. The 500W model should be able to handle any single graphics card (except the HD5970 and the new Fermis).
You do not list your resolution. We would need to know that, and what games you want to play, to give more meaningful recommendations about the GPU. As dmen suggests, a HD4670 may be all you need, and is certainly a big boost from the IGP. You could probably also run it on your current PSU.

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March 30, 2010 2:43:23 AM

Wow, thanks for the replies. I want a fairly future-proof rig, so I don't want to buy mediocre parts. I'm aiming towards an AM3 Phenom II x4, preferably the Denab 3.2s, or somewhere around there. I think I'll get it when the prices go down more, though. Maybe when a new line of AMD processors come out, which I hear is going to be in a few months. Should I just buy 2 more 1 gig RAM and stick them in? Or buy faster 2x2 Reapers for 77? Mine are only 800Mhz, and the Reapers are 1066. My Mobo can support 1066 only with AM2+/AM3 CPUs. Would it be worth it?

And about the graphics card: I'm running 1920x1080 and maybe another smaller monitor (Probably around 17") for multitasking. I want to play recent games such as Bioshock, Call of Duty, Starcraft 2 when it comes out, and maybe even Crysis. I don't need to run them on max settings, but at least high quality.

But right now, I just watch movies and work with Photoshop and some other Adobe programs. Maybe a little video editing in there. Oh, and I like to watch a lot of movies. Would a graphics card do any good with what I do right now? It's certainly running fine right now with my setup. Only thing I can't do is watching 1080p videos on Youtube. I can watch them if it's a file on my computer though.
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March 30, 2010 2:43:49 AM

Best answer selected by jkwonman.
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March 30, 2010 2:54:03 AM

Oops. I didn't know selecting a best answer tagged the title.
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 30, 2010 9:20:36 AM

When I watch a Youtube video, I often pause it right away until most or all of it has downloaded. This way I can watch it without all the pauses.
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March 30, 2010 10:06:51 AM

no, I mean even when it's loaded all the way. Anything above 720p gets choppy and unwatchable on Youtube. I think it's my CPU. It's not such a big deal, but I think I will go with the Black Edition PII.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
3.4Ghz, top of the line. Or a 3.0/3.2. Would the wattage affect my system in any way? I kind of don't want it to be a power hog since I rarely turn my PC off.
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 30, 2010 9:56:51 PM

There were some articles just published on Tom's about optimizing Cool 'n' Quiet that may help you get power consumption down.
With these kinds of upgrades, it would be a shame not to also upgrade your PSU too. I'd feel pretty bad if, even by chance, your existing one blew and took any of your new, expensive parts with it. If may not happen; without a new GPU you wouldn't be adding too much stress, but just saying...I probably react to voltage switches on PSUs now the way vampyres react to holy symbols.
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March 31, 2010 3:11:33 AM

haha, alright. I'll try to get RAM and CPU together first, since that won't be a strain on my PSU. Then I'll probably get a decent GPU with the PSU later on. A 125W CPU without cool'n'quiet with some 2x2s would be okay I think.. Then Maybe a 600W Corsair/Antec with a 5770. I think that would be enough, am I correct?
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 31, 2010 10:20:52 AM

A HD5770 can be run on a 380W Antec Earthwatts or 400W Corsair. I'd probably choose a 450W-500W model just for more headroom and longevity.
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