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Upgrading my PC, could use some advice.

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September 22, 2010 2:41:22 PM

Hello, I'm going to be upgrading my PC soon, and I could really use some advice. Some info: I shooting for a medium to medium-high system. I'm trying to keep each buy at under $200 unless the cost can be justified.
My needs: semi- hardcore gamer, heavy web browsing with tons of open tabs, spreadsheets, writing (I'm a writer), occasional CD ripping, watching TV shows from USB. And I don't overclock.

Current configuration:
Core2Duo
4 GB DDR3 1333 MHz (plan to keep)
Nvidia NX8800 GT 512 MB
2 x 500 GB SATA hard drives (plan to keep one)
X-Fi soundcard (PCI) (plan to keep)
550 watts PSU (plan to keep)

Here are my plans:

1) I want to upgrade my CPU and am looking at the Phenom II. I've read that it should fit my needs, and I just wanted to validate that.

2) Due to the CPU change, I'm also going to need a mobo. My needs are simple: AM3 socket, 4 SATA, on-board network, takes DDR3. Not interested in RAID or overclocking or running two video cards. Given this, I think pretty much any board will fit my needs. Are there any recommendations for chipset or brand to look for?

3) Also planning to upgrade my vid card to a Radeon HD 5670. Is there another card that I'm overlooking which will give me more bang for my buck?

4) I want to replace one of my hard drives with a small (30-40 GB) SSD drive. That would be my boot drive, all my data and other programs would run off my second drive. Any drives to suggest?

5) Can my PSU keep up with what I want to put in my PC?

6) Last two questions: I'm planning to keep my memory and sound card to minimize cost. is there any value in upgrading to faster memory (1600) or a PCI-E sound card?

Sorry for the long post. Please, any opinions, suggestion and flames would be greatly appreciated.

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September 22, 2010 3:54:39 PM

1. Yep. I recommend the Phenom II x4 955 as most worth it's price. The 965 and 970 are faster but you really won't notice the difference in most cases. For your tasks, I can't see the phenom II x6 being worth the $200-300 for you.

2. Stick with AMD 7xx or 8xx chipsets. There isn't a significant improvement between the two. I personally like to get a board with onboard graphics just in case I need to troubleshoot.

3. Um. That would not be a very big upgrade. The radeon 3870 performs a bit worse than the 5670 and the 8800GT is the only 8800 series that performs a bit worse than the 3870. If you get a 5670, you will have what I like to call an "unbalanced system" where if you are gaming, spending more money on the GPU and less on the CPU would have given you a better framerate. I recommend the Nvidia GTX460 1GB, at slightly over $200, last I checked. Well worth the price. If you want to stick a bit lower in cost, the radeon 5770 is well worth it (on par with the 4870, which performs better than the 4850, which performs quite a bit better than the 5670 and on par with the 5750). The 5670 is a budget card.

4. OCZ Vertex 2 60GB is the one I have and I find it very good. It is one of the fastest drives on the market and, unlike non-sandforce drives, the low capacity ones perform the same as the high capacity drives. I have windows 7 on mine and I keep a couple of games on it for lan play and fast map loading.

5. It overpowers your graphics card. It's more than fast enough for everything.

6. No. The sound card only if you have a really nice sound system and listen to uncompressed music. The ram speed is the very least gain vs price increase for any system.

If you get the GTX460, even the 768mb version is decent. But if you get it, you can also use your old 8800GT for physX processing for games that use it. Make sure to get a motherboard with 2 PCI-e slots. SLI support doesn't matter since the cards will not be connected in SLI.
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September 22, 2010 4:13:37 PM

Enzo, that was an awesome, in-depth reply. Thank you so much! I'm going to check out that video card that you mentioned. And that last bit of info is actually great, I didn't know I could do that. At the very I don't end up tossing away my board. Do you have a link to somewhere where I can find info on how to do that? I've never screwed around with physx before.

Also, I screwed up on one of the questions. For number 5, I meant to say if my PSU can keep up with the power demands for my future system. I'll edit that now. Can you give some advice on that as well?

Thanks again for the reply!
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September 22, 2010 4:29:53 PM

^if the PSU is of good quality, it should be fine. But if you intend to have both cards in your system, I would get a new one. A corsair 650W is an undisputed recommendation.

As for PhysX, I believe you just install both into your new computer, with the 460 in the higher slot. Then in the Nvidia control panel, there should be an option to use the second card for PhysX.
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4097/4778570875_fc46232b...

I didn't know I could do that. At the very I don't end up tossing away my board.
You mean video card, right?
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September 23, 2010 5:00:50 AM

Best answer selected by Malachiv.
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September 23, 2010 5:31:51 AM

Good advice from enzo but IMO you should aim for something better than the 768mb GTX460, the 1Gb version or a HD 5850.

You should get the mobo/RAM/CPU now and wait a few weeks for the new ATI 6 series to show up, the video card prices will go down.
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September 23, 2010 1:24:47 PM

mosox said:
Good advice from enzo but IMO you should aim for something better than the 768mb GTX460, the 1Gb version or a HD 5850.

You should get the mobo/RAM/CPU now and wait a few weeks for the new ATI 6 series to show up, the video card prices will go down.

I suggested it because it is still an excellent card and unlike the 1GB, fits better into the budget. But you are right, the ATI 6xxx series cards are coming out this December and should help lower prices so if you can wait, do. Then again though, I heard they were coming out with the 6770 and 6750 first? I dunno.
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September 23, 2010 9:20:00 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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