A budget upgrade to prepare for WoW - Cataclysm

I've been hanging onto my current system for roughly two years now and while it has served me well, it has never quite been the gaming monster I've always wanted (and probably never will be), but I can at least upgrade it now a little to put it a few steps closer towards that dream machine and also prepare it for the upcoming Cataclysm. Yes I know WoW is an old game and it's technically not very power hungry, but my specs are a bit weak, my parts probably dying, my OS in need of a reinstall and my monitor huge, so the net result is mediocre for most things and pretty weak for 25-man raiding and other places where activity is very high. I find myself running the game in windowed mode at 1600 x 900, usually medium settings (except for raiding, where everything is turned down low as can go except resolution). Anyways, here's my current setup...

OS____Windows XP Home SP3
CPU___AMD Athlon X2 3800+ / Stock
HSF___Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro
GPU___EVGA GeForce 7600GT, 256MB GDDR3
RAM___A-DATA Extreme, 2GB, DDR2 800 / Stock
PSU___Corsair 650W TX
HDD___Western Digital Caviar 250GB
Case___Antec Nine Hundred
Screen__24" DELL Ultrasharp, 1920 x 1200 max res
Optical__Unsure, but I have one and it works well

And here's what I have in mind...

- $500 budget (give or take $50)
- Keep the case, HDD, and monitor
- Replace everything else
- More focus on GPU power
- Stable, reliable parts/brand
- All parts will run at stock speeds and have stock cooling
- Dual-core and 2.4 GHz or better CPU
- DX11 and 1 GB or better GPU that will outperform a 7600GT
- Would prefer an Nvidia brand GPU
- I don't mind using a micro ATX board if it's better quality and/or cheaper

So, given all that, would anyone be able to come up with a list of parts consisting of a CPU, GPU, Mobo, RAM and PSU that could fit my budget and meet my needs?
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More about budget upgrade prepare cataclysm
  1. Unless you have a spare copy of a retail version of Windows 7 sitting around, you'll need a new copy. It'll cost $100. If you don't need that, I'd still recommend getting a new HDD. The new ones are a lot faster than older models. Also, I don't see why you think you need a new PSU. The one you have is excellent.

    CPU/GPU: X3 440 and HD 5770 $212 after rebate
    Mobo: Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3 $80 after rebate
    RAM: GeIL 2x2 GB 1333 mhz CAS Latency 9 $80
    HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB $55

    Total: $427
  2. +1
  3. Sorry, forgot to mention I already have a DVD burner/player. Also I'd prefer an Nvidia brand card if possible. I'm not biased or anything between the companies, but my last ATI card (4850 512MB) just felt underpowered and defect from the day I got it (yes I did RMA it, but I think the return I got was either the exact same card or another bad one or maybe my other parts just didn't make it feel very powerful). Also it feels like the Nvidia drivers just play nicer with Windows and most games in general (WoW included).
  4. Things have changed a lot. ATI's definitely winning the GPU battle right now. As for driver issues, ATI's problems have largely disappeared too. In fact, the most recent major issue with drivers was when nVidia's drivers were causing builds to literally be destroyed.
  5. Yeah, that CPU would stop a 4850 from being able to stretch its muscles. In comparison though, that card you're currently using is much slower.

    I totally agree with his recommendations. Also the fact that you're saying you'd prefer the other means that you are biased. Go where the price/performance is.
  6. Yeah, sorry, I guess I really am kinda biased. But I'll give ATI another shot. If, as you say, my current CPU/Mobo/RAM combo wasn't really letting the 4850 perform to its best, then perhaps that's why my experience wasn't so great.

    The reason I was thinking I need a new PSU is because recently (in the last week or two), I had been using the 4850 card as usual and would randomly have my computer shut down on me (especially while playing WoW). It was odd too because the entire system would shut down, yet the fans and lights would still be on and running fine. This particular problem went away when I went back to the 7600GT card, which leads me to believe that either there was something about the 4850 card that was causing a system shutdown (a bit unlikely), or the PSU has aged or collected dust to the point that it can't handle a 4850 (it required a 6-pin connector, whereas the 7600GT only needs the slot's power).

    And yeah, I don't have a copy of Windows 7 available at the moment, and I realize I'd need it to utilize DX11. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get that right away though, but it is part of my plan to get eventually.

    Oh and thanks for the help. Don't mean to seem like I'm not taking your advice or being rude. I'm just voicing my concerns and experiences.
  7. The PSU is a quality one and I would be surprised if after 2 years if was dying.

    If you really want to go Nvidia, then you can get the GTX 460, it is more expensive than the 5770 and to be honest in my opinion not powerful enough to bother with (while more powerful than the 5770, it still is not great enough for 1920 x 1080 resolution), but it is a nicely designed card.

    That being said, with WoW it is the CPU which will be pressured most. Ignoring Windows 7, you could even stretch to a Phenom II 955 in you budget. (not usre if it is worth it in terms of WoW gaming though as a 4th core will do little)

    Anyway, Admirals build is a solid one and leaves almost enough money to get windows 7 too
  8. @mathiasschnell

    Don't worry about it, that's sort of how I roll anyway.

    There are alot of factors involved in something like that. If it's still doing it after you upgrade pretty much the rest of the system, then that's when I'd RMA it or buy a new PSU.

    With MMO's there's also the internet. I'd say rarely but people sometimes report that even upgrading their network card produces measureable results. I'd suggest the $30 intel PCI-e graphics card if you think it's a concern. That would probably depend on your connection's general performance.
  9. Ok, then I think this is what I'll do. I'll buy myself a can of air and give the entire machine a good blowout. Then, I'll get the CPU/GPU/Mobo/RAM combo that Admiral recommended, but skip out on the HDD for now, and maybe try for cheaper RAM and Mobo without sacrificing egg rating if I can.
  10. You do realize that WoW is more intensive CPU then GPU, so I reccomend pushing a AMD 955 if possible.
  11. I know it needs more CPU power than most games, but I didn't realize the CPU took even more precedence than the GPU. And even if it does, Cataclysm will come in the next few months and bring with it graphics upgrades. Plus, even though WoW may not need that great of graphics, my 7600GT is pretty dang old.
  12. If you have more money to spare, I would consider buying a cheap case/psu combo as well as a new HDD.

    Then transfer the old components you are replacing into the cheap case/psu combo.
    Then you could sell that system, which lead to more cash in your pocket at the end.
  13. WOW is definately CPU based, the more cores, and the higher the MHz the more frames your gonna get on WoW.

    No matter what get a quad core, I recommend a amd BE so you can oc it cause its noob friendly, and definably get 4G ddr2 or 3, 1066 or faster memory, and definitely get a faster hard drive.

    I have built tons of rigs just for wow, and I play it myself :)

    If you dont want to OC consider buying one already done.
  14. Actually go this route, you will not be able to beat it and it has 8 threads for WoW to use:) just add your 7600GT til you can get something better, cause in Wow the GPU aint gonna matter.

  15. Sorry but I call BS on GPU not mattering. WoW may be more CPU-based than most games but at some point the graphics WILL hold it back.
  16. Waste your money I could care less, a fast quad with a 7600GT will get you at least 60 FPS in Dalaran, way more else where.

    If you want to play games that are GPU dependent, the 7600GT sucks ass.

    That i7 with the 7600GT will run circles around "ANY" dual core you build with a Nvidia 460 or ati 5770. "IN WoW"
  17. Many people are already posting what seems to be the new expansion's requirements and as you can see your system can still take it at minimum details but the 25 man raid's will overload it especially if you are using more then 20mb addon memory and also you won't be able to experience the new features like the way that water is rendered for example.Keep the psu since it's CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified.Replace the HDD(faster one =more fps and faster loadscreens)

    Mobo:Asrock 870Extreme3 89.99$ :This mobo will ensure future upgrades like x6 cpu's , CrossFire (X8/x8) , UCC technology which you can use to unlock another core if you are lucky +usb 3.0
    HDD:SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 74.99$
    CPU:AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition 104.00$ BE+ chance to unlock another core.
    GPU:SAPPHIRE Vapor-X Radeon HD 5770 174.99$rebate, I second MadAdmiral's affirmation, ATI is on a killing spree.
    Memory:CORSAIR XMS3 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 64.99$


    Case+Optical+screen are fine and you can replace the amd's cpu stock fan with the Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro if you mind overclocking it and even if not.After this you can also upgrade the OS to W7.
  18. Well I sorta believe you, but the fact still remains I want a DX11 card and frankly a 3.0 GHz AMD Tri-Core should be more than enough.

    By the way, I had heard that some Samsung drives were underperforming or outright failing. Or is that old news?

    Also I'm not worried about Xfire or SLI at all. I'm staying with 1 card for a long time just because it's less chance of driver issues and one card works with all games past and present.
  19. I think it's old news
  20. daship said:
    Waste your money I could care less, a fast quad with a 7600GT will get you at least 60 FPS in Dalaran, way more else where.


    I get 30 fps in Dalaran at prime time with a 5870 and a Phenom II X4 965 (with graphics on ultra).

    WoW is not CPU-bound, but additional CPU cores can help.
  21. Besides coldsleep ignore everyone else's lies. The admiral's build will play the game great. I don't play wow myself, but I helped build a comp for a friend who does. He has a 2.9 athlon II x3. He had a 9800 GT nvidia card and when in 25-man raids he told me he would turn down the graphics settings to get good performance. He told me this because that graphics card had died. After talking to me about it a couple of times he decided to pony up for a HD 5850. Now he runs everything absolutely maxed all teh time and it runs great including during those large RAIDs. BTW he's also biased towards nvidia, but went for ATi anyway (first time in like more than 10 years) and is very happy with what he got.

    Me and 2 other friends have those samsung drives now, they run great. Although a faster drive just makes things load faster and that's it.

    Also, cheap case+PSU combos mean both are terrible. The PSU will be a PoS unit that may or may not explode and/or damage your stuff, and the case will fall apart on you and bleed you.

    Also, even those recommended specs that are linked are slow compared to mad admiral's build.

    If you wanna sell the old stuff, expect a bit over $100 for it. There's a section on ebay for cpu/mobo combos. That would get $70-100, and the RAM might get you $20-30 or you could list that all together. I'd hold onto the graphics card just in case it's useful for something personally.
  22. Admittedly, I run at 1920x1200, but expecting 60 fps in Dal with a 7600 GT is unreasonable. I have a 7600 GT in my HTPC, and when I have to resort to using it, it struggles in Dal. I have an 8700m in my laptop, and it struggles to achieve 20 fps in Dal. Both are running C2Ds, but I have had a graphics card change on the notebook, and it got slower everywhere after that.

    I run close about 50fps in Dalaran with everything at Ultra with the exception of shadows turned down to low. I run 50-60fps in most non-intense 10-man ICC encounters at ultra, with shadows. LDW & Fester are exceptions, due to all of the effects. 25s are a little lower, but 60 fps could easily be maintained if I wanted to turn down from ultra settings.

    I do get 60+ fps at ultra everywhere else, unless I'm way zoomed out in a heavy shadow area.
  23. I'd say the hd5870 would be an overkill for the next expansion and a hd 5850 should do the job just fine for cataclysm and the next expansion to, as for the CPU a 3 core one will do the job afterall Dalaran FPS is overrated and the real thing that matters are 25man raids FPS when you are overloaded with addons, spell details and others. You can consider a dedicated SSD later if you are hardcore player as for the case and PSU they are definetly a keeper
  24. My friend runs 220 FPS in Dalaran(server Jaedenar) on peak hour on low details and no addons and keep's constant 30-40 FPS on LK 25man HM 20mb+addon and full details.He uses a 3core cpu BE with a 4th one onlocked running at stock Freq' + HD4850 +1066 4gb memory+7200 rpm 32mb buffer HDD.
  25. Too bad an HD 5870 or 5850 are out of budget. The X3 440 and a 5770 will do great with WoW. It's not like the game is that demanding. If it was, the majority of people who current play it wouldn't be able to.
  26. True
  27. It really depends on the resolution you game at and what you consider acceptable details.
  28. coldsleep said:
    It really depends on the resolution you game at and what you consider acceptable details.

    If I could maintain a 30 FPS minimum in 25 man raids with medium settings at 1920x1200 resolution with 2x, maybe 4x AA, I'd be quite happy.

    The specific details I consider important are Particle Density, Player Textures, Projected Textures, Texture Sharpness (forget the exact name), and Shadows. Most other stuff that involves View Distance or extra stuff in the distance or on the ground isn't quite as important to me. Also I tend to play with Vsync off since it's seemed to be an FPS boost at times.
  29. Player tex and shadows can be a killer I found,
    I had a 9500Gt a while back and things were getting slow so,
    I upgraded to a Sapphire 5770 and everythings now maxed except shadows, (I just dont like them on personally but I can run them if I chose to)
    I only have a X3 435 unlocked to X4 B35 on a M3A770 mobo and anything newer than that should rock with a 5770,
  30. Shadows really kill you.

    Have you considered upgrading just your graphics card? With a $400 budget, you should be able to get an nVidia 470 or an ATI 5870, which should be more than enough, unless you are currently CPU-limited.
  31. mrhoshos96 said:

    I'll nod this build,
    under your budget and a capable little rig for the money, possibly an unlock on the core
    cant go wrong hehe and like someone else said, a new case and psu for your old rig, sell it on to the next gen of WoWheads and offset the cost of this,
    One thing you can do for WoW, set the number of cores in your wtf config file to 3 or 4, (dep what you end up with) and in task manager set the process affinity/priority to high on all cores,
    And Bloody well turn shadows off hehe :)
  32. coldsleep said:
    Shadows really kill you.

    Have you considered upgrading just your graphics card? With a $400 budget, you should be able to get an nVidia 470 or an ATI 5870, which should be more than enough, unless you are currently CPU-limited.

    I think I might be a little CPU-limited, especially considering a 4850 512 MB card doesn't give me that great of a boost from a 7600GT 256 MB card.
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