<$500 upgrade


BUDGET RANGE: under $500

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming (Civ V, Diablo III, Shogun 2, Dragon Age: Origins, which believe it or not I still haven't bought), photo editing & playing about in Photoshop Elements, general usage. Note that none of the games listed need or benefit greatly from DirectX10, this is important for option B below.


PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com or similar (Not tigerdirect, I have to pay tax there)



OVERCLOCKING: Yes, but moderate.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Depends, see below

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050 but I'll be looking to upgrade to 1920x1080 at the end of the year.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: I'd expect to upgrade again or build a new rig in 2 or 3 years time.

I have an AM2+ board (GIGABYTE GA-MA78GM-S2H), 5400+ Black Edition, 4GB DDR2 800 Mushkin RAM, HD 4850 512MB, 500W powersupply that came in the Antec Sonata in my current rig. I'm looking to upgrade and spend less than $500.

For the types of games I want to play, which option works out best?

Option A:
AMD Phenom II X4 940 + HD5850

Option B:
x8/x8 AM3 motherboard, X3 440, crossfire certified power supply, 4GB DDR 3 RAM, a second 512MB 4850.

Option C:
Upgrading now is a waste of money and I may as well wait until I upgrade the monitor before I bother upgrading the rig

10 answers Last reply
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  1. X2 5400+ / HD 4850 and 1680x1050. That sure seems like a decent rig.
    Are you pretty happy with the way your games are running now?
    If the answer is mostly yes then option C makes a lot of sense.
    Upgrading is not a waste if you can carry the upgrades over into a final build. In your position I think I'd avoid getting a 2nd 4850
  2. If you go any direction, I think I'd look at down the road, the quad and the video card. Although, if you are relativlely happy, why not look at an even better video card and just skip the new chip for now, and just OC the one you have.

    Also, I realize about tigerdirect, you will have to pay tax, and don't get me wrong, with my business, I order a lot of stuff off of newegg due to pricing. However, whenever I've had issues, it seems like I've had better service from tigerdirect, so something else to keep in mind as well.

    Last thing, don't just look at the 940. Was checking your board


    And if you look under the AM3 section, it does look like you can use the Athlon II chips with a bios update. You may want to contact Gigabyte, but if that's the case, you may want to update to to say an Athlon II x4 or x3 with the highest clock speeds you can get, then grab maybe a 5870 or better if you can afford it. That should set you up for a while.

    In fact though, if I showed your board and if it's for the correct revision, according to the cpu support list, you should be able to even handle the new x6. So it's up to you.

    I agree with the guy above me though. If you are happy why spend the $$?

    But if you must spend your money, why not look at this? Again, double and triple check your mobo and bios updates to see if it supports these. It looks to me as though it might, but I may be wrong.

    Athlon II x4 640 3.0 ghz-$124

    and then maybe the 5850 you talked about or if you HAVE to spend 500, I think they had a 5870 for 389.

    P.S. If you do decide to try and continue with your current board, I know on my older Gigabyte board, some of the bios versions were a little flaky and it took me a little while to get one that actually worked correctly and would not corrupt my windows install or something like that, just be aware.
  3. Is your GA-MA78GM-S2H version 1.0 or 1.1? If the former seems to be limited to 95W TDP for AM3 so to be safe:
    945 C3 F11 BIOS onwards
    XFX HD 5850
    reuse your aftermarket HSF ^^
    $440 in total

    Negative on Option A: Socket AM2+ Deneb means it Integrated Memory Controller (IMC) can only 'talk' to DDR2 only so no carry over to AM3 socket mobos

    Option B: Too much hassle for what ultimately is not one but two outdated GPUs
    Option C: if you ok with current performance
  4. You know, I didn't even think to check for AM3 compatability! Good call guys! The board is two years old, so I'm gonna assume that its a 1.0 but I'll have a look when I get home tonight.

    The adult, logical side of me knows that I absolutely do not need to updgrade, but the kid side wants shiny new toys. At least I've set a strict budget for myself. :) An AM3 processor + 5850 is at least a forward thinking choice as I can keep these and upgrade to a new board & ram at a later date. More importantly its easier to swing $300-$500 once a year past the wife than it is to do $1500 every three years. :D
  5. Yep happy shopping/upgrading and cheers ^^
  6. I have a 9800 GTX+ (performs about the same as a 4850) on an Athlon 64 x2 5400+ (OC to 3.2). I replaced the 9800 with a 5770 and got around a 50% performance increase. Since then I have purchased and another box with an Athlon II x3, moved the 5770 to it and put the 9800 back in the 5400 so my kids have a decent gaming machine.

    You might look at just getting a good GPU (5770, 5830, 5850, 5870) that you can plan on moving to a new motherboard/CPU you will buy in a year or two and then put the 4850 back in your current machine for a backup or hand-me-down computer. Thats how I managed it without too much wife aggro.
  7. dndhatcher has a point. Although, if you didn't go with the x4, a fast x3 can still be had for under 100 bucks I'm pretty certain.
  8. I like dndhatcher's plan. My motherboard is revision 1.1 so I think I will look for a good processor and an HD5850. Then when I upgrade the board & ram I can cylcle this board and the 5400+ into my wife's computer.

    Thanks guys, you've put a smile on my face!
  9. IIRC the 5400 Brisbane BEs didn't come with HSF and you would be running on an aftermarket HSF right? If so consider
  10. One reason AMD wins and intel loses. Lol. Even on my old Gigabyte mm571 sli board(I think). It's like a 3 year old AM2 board, with a bios update, I should have no problem dropping in a 720 BE and not missing a beat. Gotta love that upgradeability. Intel is good stuff, but AMD is more than good enough.
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