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HTPC or Upgrade my exisiting PC? Help please.

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Anonymous
August 12, 2010 3:01:25 AM

Hi everyone,

I've spent all day reading the posts on this forum and trying to get back up to speed with what's out there at the moment.

I'm in a dilemma...the last PC I built was in 2006 and is now too outdated to run most modern games.

From memory, the PC I built back then used a KN1 SLI extreme mobo, GeForce 6600GT graphics, and an AMD Athlon 3600 64+ processor. It runs Windows Vista Ultimate.

I've noticed the graphics problems creeping up for the past couple of years...it won't run GTA4, nevermind Bioshock etc. The case fan is now squeeling at me everytime I switch the thing on, so I think it's time to spend a bit of dosh and get a chance to play the newer games that are out there. :sol: 

I have 2 routes I'd like to explore. Either upgrade as fewer parts of my existing PC as possible and get to play the modern games with the minimum of spend (if you think that is possible) or build an entire new PC with some HTPC capabilities thrown in, hook it up to a 32" LCD TV in the second lounge, and leave the exisiting PC for general office computing.

So here we go:

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: This week

BUDGET RANGE: £500 After Rebates for a new PC, or £250 After Rebates to upgrade the one I have.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Play 3D games (GTA series, Half Life series, Just Cause 2 etc.) as well as the games coming out over the next 2 years, Watch TV online, Downloading, Internet Browsing.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: (if upgrading) keyboard, mouse, SATA drive, optical drives, monitor, (would like a new case)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Google shopping http://www.google.co.uk/prdhp?hl=en&tab=wf

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: UK

PARTS PREFERENCES: I'd like to use an AMD CPU and motherboard, and a Radeon graphics card.

OVERCLOCKING: No. I think I might break my computer if I do.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No. I already have that on my current Mobo and never used it. I like to just pop the game in and play it.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1024 x 768, or whatever a 32" LCD TV needs if I build a HTPC.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I just want to be able to play the more modern games if I am honest. I enjoy playing games on my Wii such as Mario Galaxy downstairs on the TV, but my PC is still stuck in the days of GTA San Andreas and Sid Meir's Railroads. :( 


So far, from reading on this site, I have narrowed down a few possibilities for the processor, mobo and graphics. I need advice on these, as well as the best advice on what to do going forward.

Processor: Athlon ii X3 445 - £57.30 or Phenom ii X4 945 £100.
Is the Phenom really worth almost double the price for my needs?

Mobo: Gigabyte MA790FXT-UD5P £64.48 or Gigabyte GA-770T-USB3 £80.
I won't lie, I picked the last one because it can use DDR3 memory and also has USB3. Whilst I have no USB3 devices, I do use loads of USB pens and USB hardrives. My thinking is that USB3 versions of these items will appear in shops and I'd like to be able to use them when they do. I get bored waiting too long for data transfer.

Graphics: Asus Radeon HD 5750 £91.06 or Asus Radeon HD 5770 £109.79.
I'm not really sure what the major difference is between the 2 apart from almost £20?


I'm open to all suggestions guys. As you can probably tell, although I enjoy playing games on my PC, I am not a serious gamer who needs SLI or overclocking...I just need my PC to be able to run the games at a decent enough speed that I can enjoy them. Anything else is a bonus.

Thanks so much for all your help and advice on this.

Regards,
Chris

More about : htpc upgrade exisiting

August 12, 2010 4:56:57 AM

^ Well you have come up with good parts IMO...
CPU - X3 440/ 445 would suffice...for what you do, these are great and also if you want, you can upgrade the CPU later on...

Mobo - GA-770T-USB3 would suffice and from where did you get the price for that 790FXT ??

Graphics card - HD 5770 if your screen resolution is higher than 1440x900...but if you have a low res, anyways you wont have to worry even if you would upgrade to a higher resolution...

PSU - Antec EA 500/ Seasonic 520W/ Silverstone 500W
Anonymous
August 12, 2010 5:05:55 AM

Many thanks for your reply gkay09.

While I was waiting, I played around with a PC configuration tool at Lambda Tek and came up with this:

Components
Memory
1 x ValueRam 2GB 1333MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 DIMM £27.34
Motherboard
1 x GIGABYTE AMD3 AMD-RS785 4xDDR3 LAN FIREWIRE M-A... £54.06
Processor
1 x PHENOM II X4 945 3.0GHZ SKT AM3 L2/L3 8MB 95W PIB £87.78
Graphics Card
1 x RADEONHD 56701GBDDR5ActiveActiveDual slotDVI-IN... £68.67
Hard Disk
1 x DESKSTAR 7K1000.C 1TB SATA-II 3.5IN 7200RPM 32M... £42.77
Power Supply
1 x Trust 570W PSU Dual Fan £27.77
Chassis
1 x COOLERMASTER ELITE 360 MID TOWER CASE £21.78
Optical Drive
1 x SAMSUNG BULK INTERNAL 22x DVDRW SATA £10.89

Total: £341.06

The tool helped as it checked compatibility of all the parts LOL

I will now go back though and input the things you have suggested to see what happens. Do you think 2GB of ram will be enough if I am running Windows 7?

Thanks again!
Related resources
Anonymous
August 12, 2010 5:21:04 AM

Okey Dokey...just redid that.

Here's the new spec...

Components
Memory
1 x ValueRam 2GB 1333MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 DIMM £27.34
Motherboard
1 x Gigabyte 790XT-USB3 AM3 ATX £70.76
Processor
1 x ATHLON II X3 445 3.1GHZ SKT AM3 L2 1 5MB 95W PIB £49.27
Graphics Card
1 x Vertex3D/ATI Radeon HD 5770 1024MB PCI Express ... £101.12
Hard Disk
1 x DESKSTAR 7K1000.C 1TB SATA-II 3.5IN 7200RPM 32M... £42.77
Power Supply
1 x Trust 570W PSU Dual Fan £27.77
Chassis
1 x COOLERMASTER ELITE 360 MID TOWER CASE £21.78
Optical Drive
1 x SAMSUNG BULK INTERNAL 22x DVDRW SATA £10.89

Total - £351.70

Is there anything I've forgotten? ^

I am guessing that my old socket 939 PC is destined to become a word processor?

:) 
August 12, 2010 5:24:24 AM

^ Well if you want gaming performance, then drop the Phenom, and get a better graphics card...If you want a Quad, then get the Athlon II X4 630/ 635...The absence of L3 cache doesnt affect the performance much...

PSU - Definetly a better quality one - Antec EA or ECO series/ Silverstone/ Seasonic/ OCZ/ CM Real Power or Silent PRO...

HDD -
http://www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop/index.pl?prodID...

RAM -Yes 4GB would be better IMO
http://www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop/index.pl?prodID...
But anyways you can add 2GB more later on...So its upto you...
Anonymous
August 12, 2010 4:39:15 PM

gkay09 said:
Mobo - You can get this - This has newer chipset with SATA 6GB/s
http://www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop/index.pl?prodID...


Hi Gkay...thanks again for your advice.

They seem to be out of that motherboard and are not expecting any in until 26/08/2010.

Should I go with the Gigabyte USB3 motherboard, or do you have any better suggestions?

Cheers.
Anonymous
August 12, 2010 6:58:22 PM

I just wanted to add to this...it looks as is I'll be using this PC in the second lounge hooked up to the 32" LCD TV.
What's the best value solution for the keyboard and mouse, seeing as I'll be sat on the couch when I'm playing my games? There'll be nowhere solid to place my keyboard or mouse! Are there any solutions out there?
August 13, 2010 12:47:37 AM

You should be shopping for a coffee table if you plan to game with a keyboard and mouse! :lol: 
Anonymous
August 13, 2010 2:24:35 AM

Thanks guys for all your suggestions and advice.

I am about to place my order within the next hour.

I had to balance between what I could afford and what was in stock.

Can some of you please review my final selection and tell me if its going to be OK?

Many thanks.

http://www.lambda-tek.com/computing/pcdesigner.pl?cart=...

Components
Processor
1 x ATHLON II X3 445 3.1GHZ SKT AM3 L2 1 5MB 95W PIB £49.27
Memory

2 x ValueRam 2GB 1333MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 DIMM £54.68
Graphics Card
1 x XFX HD-577A-ZNFA Graphics Card Radeon HD 5770 1... £107.33
Motherboard
1 x Gigabyte 770TA-UD3 AM3 ATX £62.57
Hard Disk
1 x DESKSTAR 7K1000.C 1TB SATA-II 3.5IN 7200RPM 32M... £41.95
Optical Drive
1 x SAMSUNG BULK INTERNAL 22x DVDRW SATA £10.85
Keyboard
1 x SIDEWINDER X4 KEYBOARD USB PORT WIRED ... £24.58 (other half said they'd prefer this wired one over a wireless, as the keys light up for nighttime surfing/gaming)
Power Supply
1 x EA650-GB/Earth Watts 80+ certified 650W EPS 12v... £59.70
Chassis
1 x COOLERMASTER ELITE 360 MID TOWER CASE £21.78

Total: £432.71

other options for the motherboard were Gigabyte AM3AMD 880G or ASUS M4A88T-M

Thanks again. Once I have the OK from you guys, I will place the order.

:hello: 
August 13, 2010 4:06:58 AM

^ Hi some changes...
1. RAM - Get the Corsair 4GB kit...IMO Corsair is better is just £1 more...

2. PSU - You wont need 650W, change to the OCZ Fatality 550W - Cheaper, Modular and hence for a small case would be better///

3. HDD - Get the Samsung F3 1TB - Cheaper, faster and has far many positive reviews...

4. Graphics card - Get this one - MSI
http://www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop/index.pl?prodID...
!