Upgrade vs. new purchase...?

Hey guys,

Just got a call from my dad; my brother hasn't had an upgrade to his computer since I built it years ago, and is looking to do so. All on his own my brother found this Gateway for $629 that looks pretty good.........


I don't think I could build a real competitive system from the ground up for that price. However, the issue of price has reared its ugly head, and I've been tasked with checking into an upgrade to present system for around $400. My brother plays games a lot, but he has been doing so on that junky Athlon 3700+ with a Radeon 9600XT for years now, so anything is an improvement.

Country: USA

Parts Needed: Motherboard, CPU, GPU, RAM

Optional Parts (if budget allows): HDD, DVD drive

To get full value out of the upgrade, I'm considering just recommending he leave the IDE HDD he has intact to save money, as well as the IDE optical drive; if there's money left over at the end, I'll get him a new SATA HDD. Since he's used to that junkbox running like crap anyway, I've been toying around with just an i3 processor or a similar AMD, any input? I also need a graphics card recommendation, if you have any. I haven't built a computer on this sort of budget in such a long time that I don't know what to recommend anymore. I did see an article here recently about the i3 not limiting performance much on a lot of gaming rigs, so it may be the way to go since games is most of what this computer is used for. Forgot to mention, he is also still using an old CRT monitor that came from a Pentium 3 computer we bought in the mid to late 90s.......I'm not really sure how much longer it will last, but on the other hand a $200 gpu may not be warranted for a 4:3 monitor that probably won't look as nice as a new LCD anyway. thanks in advance!
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More about upgrade purchase
  1. Gateway :P .

    Don't go with no gateway. With those integrated graphics it's not going to be playing much of anything. If he's a gamer, then the question should be "but can it play Crysis?", at least on high settings.
  2. mosox makes a good suggestion, but I would drop down the video card to a 5750 and add a SATA DVD burner. Also not a big fan of BIOSTAR, but I believe that board will allow you to attempt to unlock the other two cores and of course overclocking that CPU will allow you to get more out of it. Now while I could build something better for gaming for $629 than that junk Gateway, for $400 I would go with

    ASRock M3A770DE AM3 $59.99

    AMD Athlon II X2 245 $60.99 (the 250 requires the board to have a BIOS update so I chose this instead)

    POWERCOLOR AX5750 512MD5-H Radeon HD 5750 512MB $119.99

    OCZ Platinum 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 $112.99 ($92.99 after $20.00 Mail-In Rebate )

    Total so far 353.96 (333.96 after $20 mail in rebate :D )

    As for the Hard Drive I suppose I would suggest

    Western Digital Caviar Blue WD3200AAJS 320GB $47.99

    The ASRock board has ACC so if you wanted to go with an X3 CPU instead, or a Phenom II X2, you could try unlocking the cores. Of course, that's never guaranteed :D. This can certainly play Crysis on medium, and perhaps some high settings at lower resolutions. Of course, I would overclock the CPU for that. It's plenty upgradeable since it's AM3, supports 140W CPUs, and supports up to 16GB of DDR3. After the mail in rebate, I guess there would also be enough for a cheap DVD burner. For the Hard Drive, you may get something cheaper and slightly better through a shell shocker deal.
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