Upgrade/New Build



SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Analysis (CPU intensive chessbase engine for example), office work, surfing the internet/email, watching/editing videos/movies, light gaming.

PARTS DEFINITELY NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitors, Speakers, SSD

PARTS POSSIBLY NOT REQUIRED: See current system below. Can use any parts I already have in place. Seriously considering re-using current graphics card.


PARTS PREFERENCES: Prefer Intel processors

OVERCLOCKING: Yes (new to overclocking but prefer to have computer with good O/C capability). My original system was an Inspiron 530 before I upgraded some parts. Have been slightly frustrated the last couple of years not being able to upgrade and modify at will.



Current System:

OS: Windows 7 Professional 64 bit
CPU: Intel Q6600 2.4 GHz
RAM: 4x2 GB Corsair 240 Pin DDR2 = 8GB total
Hard Drive:WD 500GB SATA (7200 RPM)
MOBO: Foxconn DG33M03
PSU: Liteon 350W
Graphics:EVGA GeForce 9600 GT, 256 bit, 512 MB
Monitor: Dual Monitors 2 x Acer X233H 23" 1920x1080

Already Have/Ordered:

Intel X25-M 80GB SSD
Plan to use this as a system drive either in a new build/upgrade or on my current laptop.

Extra 500 GB HD with docking station and external drive enclosure. Currently used for drive imaging and extra storage space.
Plenty of peripherals (good keyboard, mice, sound system, mic etc).


I could definitely use some help devising an intelligent upgrade path. Here are a couple of brainstorming ideas that I could try.

1. Get a new MOBO, case, optical/cd drive, new PSU, etc. Use SSD as system drive. Keep old Q6600. Try to overclock to 3 GHz. I don't believe I can overclock with current MOBO.

2. Build entirely new system. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe this would also necessitate the purchase of DDR3 RAM if I were to get something like an i5 750 Lynnfield (my current top pick CPU for the $$).

3. Point two makes me wonder if there is a better route and more intelligent plan. Perhaps a different CPU upgrade that would allow me to use my current RAM? Would be nice to avoid the $100+ for 4GB or $200+ for 8 GB DDR3 if possible.

If you were in my shoes, how would you handle this? I am open to a lot of different ideas. If I choose to build, this will be my first attempt. I also do not have overclocking experience but am more than willing to learn in the interest of saving money and developing hardware skills.

Thanks in advance,

12 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    Might I recommend going with an AMD based system with an AM3 processor plus an AM3/AM2+/AM2 motherboard? Their black edition processors overclock like mad if you want, and you would be able to keep your current memory, which would save you a couple hundred dollars. Since you're only doing light gaming, that also saves you some money due to the fact that you probably don't have the need such a large graphics card.
    Here, I'll whip together a quick build for you. I know you want Intel-based parts, but it would immensely hurt your upgrade path, plus AMD has some hex-core processors perfect for analysis.

    I'm not completely sure from what you said whether or not you'll need a copy of Windows 7. If you're only using what came with the Inspiron, then it won't work on a new motherboard and I'll have to budget it in. If you actually bought a copy of it, then you're good. Other than that, I think that a 5750 should be good for running two monitors off of, and the hex-core processor is perfect for what you're doing. If you want more overclocking potential, though, I can swap it out for a Phenom II x4 965 Black Edition processor, which has an unlocked CPU clock speed multiplier, and is surprisingly easy to overclock with.

    Any thoughts? How do you feel about going with an AMD-based system?
  2. Matt,

    Thanks for the reply. Yes, I would be willing to consider an AMD based system. It seems to fit my needs well. I'll definitely be doing a lot of multitasking, many open programs and windows (both text and video) simultaneously.

    Base configuration for reference/tweaking:

    Case: COOLER MASTER RC-692-KKN2 CM690 II Advanced Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
    MOBO: MSI 790XT-G45 AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard
    Graphics: GIGABYTE GV-R575OC-1GI Radeon HD 5750 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
    PSU:OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ600MXSP 600W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready
    Processor:AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Thuban 2.8GHz


    Case: Looks good to me.

    MOBO: Ditto

    Graphics: Regardless of what system I choose, should I go with a higher priced GPU? Everytime I have upgraded graphics cards, I have been pleased with the results. I noticed the one in base configuration is not reviewed at Newegg. I normally feel more comfortable with reviews to check out. Makes me wonder which cards are being picked over this one for purchase. Would it be a better choice to get something with 256 bit? Agree that upgrading from 512 RAM to 1 GB seems like a good move.

    Processor: Seems like the best AMD option for me. Great reviews. Which heat sink/cooler would you recommend if I decided that the fans that come with it are too loud (as multiple reviews have complained about).

    First Build:

    Given that this would be a first build for me, I would like to take steps to minimize logistical problems. To that end, would you make any specific modifications? For example, would a corsair PSU be statistically more reliable than the base configuration choice? Same question with MOBOs. Looks like you have a good one picked and that the PSU/MOBO's have a certain failure/defect rate no matter how you twist the numbers/reviews. My current experience level is limited to taking my current Inspiron 530 apart into little pieces and putting it back together (being careful to recall where it all went).


    I have a purchased copy of windows 7 so I will not need to buy a new one.
  3. Ah, that's good. You just answered pretty much every question I could have asked. To answer your questions in order:

    Whether or not to go with a higher priced GPU is up to your budget. I think you're right in the fact that it would be wiser to get a more reviewed card, though. If you have the money for a 58xx card with a 256-bit memory interface, then I'd go right ahead, but the price starts to get a bit steep past the 5770.

    If you plan on OCing, it would probably be a good idea to get a better aftermarket CPU cooler anyway, but the stock one will do just fine at stock settings. If you do want something a little better, though, well... I'm probably not the person to ask about that. Sorry. You'll have to go to the Overclocking forum and start a thread there telling them what you're looking for. I'm running a Sunbeamtech Core Contact Freezer right now, and I've got the same case that you're looking at. It barely fits, to be honest, but it does quite a good job. It is rather loud at max power, though. The only things I can really recommend for CPU cooling are the ThermalRight Ultra 120 Extreme and the Cooler Master Hyper 212+; both of which are ~$60. I'd say to give the stock cooler a shot, although with some better thermal compound than what they give you. If it's too loud or too hot for your liking, then maybe consider something a little better.

    Yes, a Corsair PSU will be more reliable. To put it simply, Corsair PSUs are basically the best around. Still speaking from experience, though, the OCZ ModXStream has been solid all-around, and is what's powering my system right now. The motherboard you're looking at, on the other hand, is made by one of the best motherboard manufacturers there are. I'd say that ASUS, MSI, and Gigabyte all make solid boards, followed by Foxconn, which is a little cheaper, in both price and quality.

    If you managed to find a little extra budget, then by all means, go ahead and get a Corsair PSU or a better graphics card. That's about all I can say. If you're really interested in a 256-bit GPU, then the cheapest Radeon 58xx card out there is probably the HIS Radeon HD 5830. It's also made by one of the largest and best GPU manufacturers out there. If you just want a 5750 with a fair number of good reviews, then this MSI card is probably the way to go. You could always go mid-way and get a 5770, too. This seems to be another good card from HIS if you want to go that route.
  4. Very good info. Thanks. The way to get an excellent system overall may be to increase the budget slightly. I'll definitely spring for a Corsair PSU based on what appears to be greater statistical reliability. If I only get 650 watt, it wouldn't add much cost at all. I'll post a slightly geared up build and see what the $ amount comes to after I have had a bit more time to research. Right now the base build is only at $600 and I have $200 to spare. Stretch that a bit and I might have a real good machine that will last a good 2-3 years.

    Thanks for the graphics recommendations. I will research those options soon and post more.
  5. What do you guys think about this AMD build?

    Processor: AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Thuban 2.8GHz $199.99

    Motherboard: MSI 790XT-G45 AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD $89.99 + $4.99 shipping = $94.98

    Power: CORSAIR 750HX 750W Modular $149.99

    Graphics: MSI GTS 250 1GB 256-bit DDR3 $129.99

    CD Drive: ASUS Black CD/DVD $22.99

    Case: COOLER MASTER RC-692-KKN3 CM690 II Basic BS Mid Tower $79.99

    Total cost including shipping (excluding MIR): $677.93
    $15 Newegg gift card would be an added bonus = same as cash for me.

    SSD and peripherals already have/ordered.


    I selected the power supply to cover all possible future needs. Possible overkill. Modular 650W might be enough. Could cut cost here. What do you guys think? I am trying to envision when I would actually need 750W over 650W.

    Looked closely at the 5770 graphics cards, but have currently selected what appears to be an inferior Nvidia. My reasoning is that the ATI 5XXX series seems to have some issues with grey screen of death that are not fully resolved. The issue appears not to be isolated and could also impact me given that I run windows 7 64 bit. I want stability and don't feel I need the performance/price ratio of the better ATI models. Push comes to shove, I can just add another identical GTS 250 in sli that should cover my needs. I expect to see a notable difference in performance compared to my current 9600GT.

    Do you guys see any compatibility issues? What would you change/tweak?


  6. Well, that looks quite a bit better. I love the 750w modular Corsair PSU, and I'm actually planning on purchasing one for myself in the near future. I know you probably want feedback from someone other than me, and come on, people... I know you're out there... but I figure I can still put in my $0.02 on the topic.

    Aside from Graphics, everything else looks perfect.
    That's comparing the 250 to the 9800GTX+, which is only fractionally better than your 9800GTS. Not much performance increase.
    If you want SLI, which is nVidia's multi-gpu system, then you'll have to go with a more expensive nForce board, since most AMD platforms only support CrossFireX. If you really want SLI support, I can recommend an Asus nForce board, although it is a fair amount more expensive.
    At $100+, I really wouldn't recommend an nForce board of this type. If you're looking for stability, you'd have a lot more stable system running a 5750 (or two) on an AMD-chipset based (eg, 790xt) board with CrossFire than you would with an nForce chipset. nForce boards have been known to be extremely problematic.

    Speaking from experience, the 5xxx series hasn't given me a single problem with my MSI 5770, but it's up to you. I'd still recommend getting a 5750 over that GTS250. The 5xxx series has DirectX 11 support, too, which would really help with future-proofness. After looking some more, I'd gladly go with this Sapphire card. It has two DVI-out ports, excellent cooling and performance, and the reviews easily back it up.
  7. Matt,

    Thanks once again. I see your point on the GPU. I certainly did not do a very good job of thinking that one through. Didn't realize there might be compatibility issues. Here is the same build with the 5750 back in place of my Nvidia pick. Your logic makes more sense.

    Processor: AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Thuban 2.8GHz $199.99

    Motherboard: MSI 790XT-G45 AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD $89.99 + $4.99 shipping = $94.98

    Power: CORSAIR 750HX 750W Modular $149.99

    Graphics: SAPPHIRE Vapor-X 100284VXL Radeon HD 5750 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 $139.99

    CD Drive: ASUS Black CD/DVD $22.99

    Case: COOLER MASTER RC-692-KKN3 CM690 II Basic BS Mid Tower $79.99

    Total cost including shipping (excluding MIR): $687.93
    $15 Newegg gift card.

    SSD and peripherals already have/ordered.

    Only concern left would be the PSU. I could get a Corsair non-modular 650w for $80 (using promo code). End of the day it would $60 cheaper. Suppose that would just be a question of whether I wanted to spend the extra money for a nicer PSU.
  8. Quote:
    Thanks once again. I see your point on the GPU. I certainly did not do a very good job of thinking that one through.
    Ah, we all know the feeling, don't we? :)

    All I really have left to say is that if you think your cable-management skills will be up to the challenge, then go ahead with the non-mod PSU. You could always get a modular 650w or a non-modular 750w if you want to go half-way. Like you said, though, it's whether or not you want to spend the money for a nicer power supply. And considering the fact that your original budget up at the top was $800USD, you're still around $100 under-budget even if you do get the 750HX.

    Good luck!
  9. After a little more fiddling, another graphics card switch (this time up to HD 5770 for $20 more), and the dramatically cheaper non-modular PSU, here is where I stand. Being under budget is not looking bad to me at all.

    New Build

    Processor: AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Thuban 2.8GHz $199.99
    Motherboard: MSI 790XT-G45 AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD $89.99 + $4.99 shipping = $94.98
    Power: CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W $79.99
    Graphics: SAPPHIRE 100283L Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 $159.99
    CD Drive: ASUS Black CD/DVD $22.99
    Case: COOLER MASTER RC-692-KKN3 CM690 II Basic BS Mid Tower $79.99

    Total cost including shipping (excluding MIR): $637.93
    Less $15 Newegg gift card.

    Pretty close to final build I think.
  10. Best answer selected by Cardinalduke.
  11. Well, I'm glad you found something that works for you. :)
    Be sure to read up on building here at Tom's. The hardest part, for me at least, was probably installing the CPU cooler and connecting all the front-panel wires to the motherboard. Looks like you saved $150, too. :D
    Well, good luck with your build. I'm glad to have helped.
  12. Update:

    Used the PC building guide presented on the site. Very helpful!

    System is up and running with one hitch so far. I am getting two short beeps right after post. Indicates possible parity error based on beep code chart. Maybe I can start by trying swapping out some RAM to see if it still generates the error. May be due to something else though.

    I ended up having to purchase a second processor (cheap single core) to update the BIOS with before it would post. Then reinstalled new processor with new thermal paste. MSI was helpful immediately troubleshooting the no post problem. System appears stable upon analysis with Prime 95 and reading temperatures with core temp and speedfan programs. Currently running memtest86. Windows 7 professional installed without a hitch. SSD really speeds up boot time, but I have a lot of work ahead of me to get the system is optimally fast working order.

    Just installed an H50 cooler. Testing cooling now. Before would run 55-59 C core temp under load by Prime95.

    Edit: After install of H50 core temp shows high reading of 39 C. 20C reduction in temperature prior to any OC
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