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Upgrading 2004 components (motherboard, processor, ram, video card)

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September 12, 2010 5:40:12 AM

So, it's been 6 years since I built my computer and I think it's time for an upgrade. I still have a Pentium 4 (single core) processor and an AGP graphics card. I'm looking at purchasing the following components. I'd like to spend under $500 for my motherboard, processor, video card, and RAM. I don't plan on overclocking at first because I'm afraid of damaging my components, but I may look into this in the future.

If I'm running XP, will I notice a dramatic improvement in speed? If I upgrade the stock processor heat sink, how risky is it to overclock the processor? Will I get much of a performance boost by changing to 8GB of RAM instead of 4GB? Are my components balanced or is there one component that is clearly the weakest link?

motherboard ($70) = GIGABYTE GA-770T-USB3 AM3 AMD 770 USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
processor =($155) AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ955FBGMBOX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
video card ($140) = XFX HD-577A-ZNFC Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
RAM ($89) = G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total = $454

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: October-November
BUDGET RANGE: <$500 After Rebates
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, surfing, email
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: case, keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, power supply (corsair 750W), 2 SATA hard drives
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com, pricegrabber.com
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
PARTS PREFERENCES: AMD processor, ATI video card
OVERCLOCKING: Not now, but probably in the future when I upgrade the processor heat sink
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Operating System = Microsoft XP
September 12, 2010 6:50:06 AM

I would change your ram to something with tighter timings like: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Most games don't use 4g of ram, so unless you're doing something that requires massive amounts of memory you should be fine.

Going from the computer you had, even a dual core processor would show a huge performance leap, so that phenom will be great. I don't know much about overclocking, but it shouldn't be too risky as long as you don't make a big jump in voltage.

Your motherboard is nowhere near bad, but I would choose a different one for better future upgrades.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
113 before a 20 dollar rebate coming out to 93. Later on if you feel like you need more power from your video card you can grab another one and crossfire it later. I know you said you weren't going to but it's always nice to have a future possibility.

Other than that You have a great choice.

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September 12, 2010 6:53:50 AM
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ucf99eng said:
So, it's been 6 years since I built my computer and I think it's time for an upgrade. I still have a Pentium 4 (single core) processor and an AGP graphics card. I'm looking at purchasing the following components. I'd like to spend under $500 for my motherboard, processor, video card, and RAM. I don't plan on overclocking at first because I'm afraid of damaging my components, but I may look into this in the future.

If I'm running XP, will I notice a dramatic improvement in speed?

No matter what operating system you are using, you should notice a dramatic improvement in speed. Most software is still x86/32-bit anyway, and XP can be very snappy.

ucf99eng said:
If I upgrade the stock processor heat sink, how risky is it to overclock the processor?

It isn't very risky to use a slight overclock even with the stock CPU cooler. Note that the Phenom II X4 965 is basically the same processor set to run 200 MHz faster, and it uses the same cooler. You should be fine up to ~3.5 GHz.

ucf99eng said:
Will I get much of a performance boost by changing to 8GB of RAM instead of 4GB?

You don't get better performance by adding more ram generally. Your computer will become very slow and often unresponsive if you don't have enough ram at any given time, but it won't perform any better if you have too much ram (the extra ram just sits unused). For general computing (web browsing, gaming, productivity apps) 4GB is plenty.

ucf99eng said:
Are my components balanced or is there one component that is clearly the weakest link?

The motherboard you selected uses an outdated chipset. If you want a more capable gaming system, I would spend more on the GPU and less on the CPU.
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September 12, 2010 7:04:52 AM

Here are some options:

AMD Phenom II X4 955
MSI 870A-G54 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard (Current generation, Supports USB3.0 & SATA III, Supports Crossfire with 8x/8x PCI-E mode)
$215 after a $20 rebate

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...


AMD Athlon II X4 630
MSI 870A-G54 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
$159 after a $20 rebate

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...


GIGABYTE Radeon HD 5850 1GB (much better graphics card w/custom cooling)
4GB OCZ DDR3 1600 CL9
$317 after $10 rebate

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...


Total:
$476 (Athlon II X4 630)
$532 (Phenom II X4 955)


Prices will drop over the next couple months (especially for the HD5XXX series graphics cards; the HD6XXX cards are scheduled to be released).
September 13, 2010 4:04:05 AM

Thanks guys for your replies.

wielander said:
The motherboard you selected uses an outdated chipset. If you want a more capable gaming system, I would spend more on the GPU and less on the CPU.


I looked into boards with the updated northbridge chipsets and included firewire support for my video camera. I settled on the one below.

ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 AM3 AMD 880G HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Thanks again for your help.
September 13, 2010 4:34:03 PM

mosox said:
If you don't get the 5850 better get a video card with custom cooling:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Some cheaper mobo:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Thanks. I'll see how low the 5850 cards go when they announce the 6XXX cards. I considered the Gigabyte boards, but decided against it after reading the reviews. I currently have an ASUS motherboard and the one I listed looks good based on the reviews.
September 13, 2010 4:35:07 PM

Best answer selected by ucf99eng.
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