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Advice on my current machine

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October 9, 2010 2:59:50 PM

Hello tom's hardware community, I came across this website due to some searching on what to upgrade on my current machine.

I have this computer for 2 or 3 years (not sure) and it's far from being a super machine, but it's been working flawlessly (even though being an Acer machine and my experience with Acer is horrible.)

Anyway this is the specs I managed to find via CPU-Z:

Mainboard - nVidia MCP61 (PCIe x16)

CPU - AMD Athlon 64 x 2 +4600 @ 2.40GHz

PSU - 500W (upgraded from a 300W)

Graphics - ATI Radeon HD 4670 - 512MB version (upgraded from a GeForce 'not sure' TurboCache)

RAM - 2 x 1GB @ PC-5300 333MHz + 2 x 1GB @ PC 6400 400MHz = 4GB total (upgraded from 2 x 1GB PC 5300)

OS - Windows 7 64-bit (upgraded from a XP downgraded from a Vista)

(By the way, I am not sure what's going on with those RAM frequencies as the 6400 boxes said they would work at 677MHz, if anyone could tell me why they are working at a lower value I would appreciate it too)

Anyway, I am thinking about doing another upgrade. I am no hardware expert, and that's why I am posting for advice as I do like gaming on my PC and I can't complain much; being able to run most of the games I am/was into (like Counter Strike Source, Call of Duty: MW2, Company of Heroes, Devil May Cry 4, Mafia 2) on the native screen resolution which is 1680 x 1050 on the 'medium high' or even 'high' settings.

Now the question is, what part should I upgrade? I have once again fell under the average PC market, and did not make a PC from scratch (as I should've done), so you probebaly know better that my mainboard has its limits. RAM is on its max and it was a pain to get the plus 2GB there without several 'beeps'.

So my main concern is the graphics card, as it has like a year now and I think I can get a decent one to work on this machine and even save it for a future Mainboard upgrade.

I have been playing Darksiders and it's really impressive. I am getting an average of 35 to 45 fps although it falls to like 20 on smoke/excessive particle details and I want to get rid of that.

What causes that slowdown? Is it the graphics card particle rendering system? Suggesting that if I get a card with a faster clock I may get rid of that? Or is it a RAM issue and it means I have to upgrade my mainboard to extend far from 4GB?

Well I am open to suggestions, and I would really love to hear that if I just get a faster card I can still extend this PC gaming-life for a while, even for a couple of months, but I am ready for the truth.

Hope I have provided enough details, but I will gladly post anything else you find important. Thanks in advance.

Franco

More about : advice current machine

October 9, 2010 3:44:48 PM

i would not upgrade anything you can't take with you to a new build. Since you already upgraded the the PSU, that would basically leave the GPU and HDD. If your current HDD is working fine then no need to tinker there. Do you have budget for a new GPU?

you ram defaults to the slowest stick setting when you have different speeds

also, what PSU did you upgrade to?
October 9, 2010 4:01:11 PM

Hey ct1615, thanks for your fast reply,

I do have the budget for a new GPU, but that depends of course; I wouldn't like to go past 200€, maybe 250€. I think that would be enough no? Considering my current GPU cost me around 100€. I have been looking for the HD 5800 series from ATI. But I can't find them on the local market. What do you think?

As for the RAM that could be it, probably, considering I have got 2 different sets. PC 6400 and PC 5300.

And here is my PSU, it's no big deal, just the guy at the store told me if I wanted to get the ATI HD 4670 I would need at least 500W:

http://www.modecom.eu/opis.php?id=599&category=6&lang=e...

I think it cost me around 50€ 2 years ago.

As for my HDD, it's working just fine, although I am not sure if it has such weight on game performance. Unfortunately I can't find the HDD specifications on CPU-Z, but if it's necessary I may grab another application that tells me. All I know is...it's a SATA something and there's 2 of them, providing a total of 500GB storage which at least for me is more than enough.
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October 9, 2010 4:49:52 PM

the guy at the store does not now what he is talking about. most solid 300w will power the ATI 4670. I have never heard of your PSU but it has about 26a on the 12v....not great for a 500w unit.

Some cards you can look at that will improve performance and are very power efficient

Nvidia 8800GT or 9800GT (same card). older card so look for cheap prices but supply may be limited

Nvidia GTS 450. a new card so expect high prices, better performance then the 9800GT. Comes close to ATI 5770 performance.

ATI cards ver 2.0 (avoid the 2.1 cards, they tend to cause issues for older motherboards)

ATI 5670 - very power efficient, not a big leap from the ATI 4670, more of a solid step up. just below the 9800GT in performance.

ATI 4770 - older card and supplies may be limited. slightly better performance then the Nvidia 9800GT but not as good as the GTS450.

ATI 5770 - similar power needs at the Nvidia 9800GT. Offers the best performance of all the cards mentioned.

any cards more powerful, you would need a PSU upgrade.
October 9, 2010 5:24:49 PM

I see your points there, but I would like to make my purchase a viable solution for a next upgrade, even if it means getting another PSU.

I was really looking forward to the 5800 series, as I think that GPU will have a longer longevity, no?

Just in case I upgrade my PSU, what specs should I consider? Apart from the 500W or something.
October 9, 2010 6:22:00 PM

As well as the total wattage (power output) of the PSU, the amps available on each rail, particularly the +12V rail(s) is of critical importance. Your graphics card is usually the most power-hungry component in your system nowadays and draws power from the +12V rails. Most high quality PSUs will have sufficient amps on the +12V rail to power a particular graphics card. For more information on recommended and certified PSUs you can check the graphics card manufacturer's website. They will give you a recommended minimum power supply wattage as well as a list of tested and certified PSUs although of course you are not limited to these options.

If you're talking longetivity and you want your PSU to last you several years/builds/upgrades then you'd be better off spending the money on a high-power, high quality unit now rather than later on. I'd think seriously about whether you plan to Crossfire in the future since obviously you'll need a more powerful PSU. Heavy overclocking may also require a more solid PSU. It may also be worth considering whether you wish to go for a modular PSU and whether you think it justifies the greater price premium. Just a few things to think about, but they may just help you make the right choice for your needs. Generally, I say Antec, Corsair and Seasonic are around the most reliable brands but that's not to say other brands of PSU aren't high quality, just to say that these are known for their consistency. Hope this helps, best of luck!
October 9, 2010 6:35:27 PM

simplefranco said:
I see your points there, but I would like to make my purchase a viable solution for a next upgrade, even if it means getting another PSU.

I was really looking forward to the 5800 series, as I think that GPU will have a longer longevity, no?

Just in case I upgrade my PSU, what specs should I consider? Apart from the 500W or something.


for the ATI 5850 look for a 500w+ unit with at least 34a on the 12v

for the ATI 5870 look for a 550w+ unit with at least 40a on the 12v

for the ATI 5970 look for a 600w+ unit with at least 45a on the 12v

corsair, antec, seasonic, and xfx tend to offer the best units.

ocz, enermax, silverstone, xigmatek, zalman are solid

the lower the quality of the unit, the more power you will need so going with a cheap unit rarely saves money


October 9, 2010 6:41:06 PM

Hey, thanks for the details, you both helped. I guess I should go for a stronger PSU, and then for a way better GPU.

Actually my current PSU is a bit loud, so I may get rid of another problem there, heh.

The 5850 really seems to be a decent card, and if I will upgrade my mainboard later, it won't be as outdated as some other GPU's I could afford on my current 500W PSU.

Once again, thanks for the help!

Oh, just one more thing, I found a Eurotech 580W Silent PSU, but I don't see it listed on either of your "trustable" sources; got any feedback from these? I may get one of those high quality brands, but will have to pay the transportation fee as I don't think I can find them on local stores.
October 9, 2010 6:54:14 PM

i would pass on eurotech, what web site do you purchase from? what country are you in?
October 9, 2010 6:59:03 PM

Yea, after searching a bit I found Eurotech to have a bad reputation...

I'm from Portugal, so I usually purchase from local stores, but I am pretty much sure I will order the 2 items from Pixmania.com.

They seem to have way more offer than locals like worten, vobis, fnac...they're pretty much filled with the same GPUs, which are from last year...plus they are all selling Eurotech, which I will pass.
October 9, 2010 7:23:31 PM

Ahah, thanks!

I think I am going with either one from OCZ. Just hope they're silent...

!