What should I upgrade next?

Hey All,

I'm starting to feel my computer slowing down a little and I am looking for other opinions on what my next upgrade step should be. Have I reached the wall where I need to start saving for the upgrade to a new chipset MOBO/CPU/RAM --or are there still incremental upgrades that would be worth it ?

E8400 @ Stock 3.0ghz
Biostar G31-M7 TE (this is total crap--its from when this machine began its life as a prebuilt)
4GB (2x2gb) DDR2 800
HIS 5770 1gb.
Corsair 400CX
Antec 300 case, 5 fans.
Windows Vista SP2, on a WD 7200rpm.

Note: This was originally a cheap Cyberpower prebuilt that I bought when I was in college--now that I have money I've been slowly upgrading parts. I'm financially flexible, but want to get the most out of what I have.. and just don't want to go all in for a new build quite yet.

Usage: Primary usage at the moment is Civ 5, Starcraft 2, (both CPU heavy games I know ...) and streaming HD media.

My ideas:

1. Replace MOBO and Overclock. I had planned to overclock this CPU before realizing how worthless the G31 board I have is. Would it be worth swapping in a new board for ~$80 to overclock? The E8400 should still be pretty decent for gaming--Id rather not dump it just yet... (would a mobo swap cause me software hell on a prebuilt?) (I would of course swap out the PSU if I go for 4ghz)

2. SSD/Raptor and dual-boot a full copy of Win 7. This seems like my only option at the moment for a fresh install--because I don't have backups for a lot of the EDU licensed software (full Adobe and Microsoft suites) currently installed on my Vista. This isn't much of a hardware upgrade, but I would want these things for my next build anyhow--so it seems like a decent investment.

3. Start saving for entirely new guts. (I'm thinking a significant performance jump for me would be ~$500 for an i5/X6)

4. Your ideas?/Hybrid options? Feel free to suggest specific parts.

Thanks in advance!
5 answers Last reply
More about what upgrade next
  1. Well... I suggest upgrading the mobo as you said, but why upgrade the mobo now if you plan to go to i5 and x6. I would suggest completely saving up now. Then in this motion after you've saved enough.

    1. Mobo + CPU (I recommend the i5 760/750 just because it is so good at OCing and because its performance is just amazing at its price) (That or the 1055T maybe :P)

    1B. Well another option SAVE all the way. Don't use anything until next year. Since SB (Sandy Bridge) and Bulldozer come out next year. It'll be a mech better Idea to go wait and get those chips. Bulldozer is expected to be AMD's comeback chip (if i could say that) and SB... Well its just looking like it'll demolish. Plus the i5 is back, better than ever and its only 200$ again once the SB i5 is released.

    Sandy Bridge preview: http://www.anandtech.com/show/3871/the-sandy-bridge-preview-three-wins-in-a-row/9
    As you can see.. I'm so stunned I put it as my quote <-----

    2. SSD. SSDs are really cheap right now, I mean even the cheapest SSD would have boot time miles ahead of normal HDD. Raptors, don't even go there I bought one and I regret it fully. Power consumption is crazy, and not exactly that much faster than a normal HDD.

    3. Depending on your situation, (whether you play games or not) PSU, this step is either first, or the step before the VGA card upgrade. I recommend the new NZXT Psus (the HALE90) series because its 80+ GOLD and great things seem to come from this thing. Otherwise the XFX 750/650 is a good route as well.

    4. (if you play games) VGA card, by next year you'll have a wide variety to select. Nvidia plans to release 5xx during February of 2011. Which will be interesting. But PSU will come first before this. I suggest the 6850, look up some reviews on that, beast CF performance and fixed drivers (10.11). Practically 93% scaling from single to 2 cards. Then you could do that or get one of the November or Dec releases of the Caymans (69xx) which I think will be beast, but the 6850 CF is good enough.
  2. Thanks for the long reply-- so your vote is that I save for an upgrade in a year or so?

    Thanks for the Raptor advice and your agreement on the mobo--although you probably went a little further than needed here with the CPU/GPU discussion--I'm also well aware of upcoming techs.

    I would appreciate any more other input on the feasibility/merit of going with an incremental upgrade for this older system vs saving for new guts in approximately a year. Other than overclocking, would a new MOBO yield me any other benefits?
  3. So yeah, my vote is to save up for a year. That's really what I'm doing, since my computer is working fine right now. Quick question though, do you use this computer to game alot? And if you do what play. I mean if your in a rush or something I could suggest a different plan.

    Oh ok. Umm as for your SSD situation, A-Data may have a negative connotation associated with it for SSD's but their new like of S599s really are better than OCZ's new Vertex 2's. Plus they're on par with the OCZs not mention cheaper.

    S599 100gb review: http://www.guru3d.com/article/adata-s599-100gb-ssd-review/7

    As for incremental, it's obvious you'll have to upgrade CPU and Mobo at the same time so... i5 7xx is the best choice for anything (not saying the 1055T is bad but the 750 is just great) as for mobos what would your budget be? I could suggest a cheaper mobo, or a more pricey but sturdy mobo.

    For what I'm going to use for my build I'm going to be using the MSI boards, because I'm using the 790fx gd70 and it's pretty great. So the P55A Fuzion LGA 1156 is my choice on "pricey" mobos. Its 175$ on Newegg. The reason being it'll be future proof as it as SATA 6 and 3 not to mention USB 3.0 ports. So thats my pricey mobo. Plus it has the Hydra Hybrid SLI/CF and is 16x/8x.

    As for budget, GA-P55A-UD3 is the best option at 130$. It has Sata 6 and USB 3. So... That's a good mobo. Plus it has another pci slot to CF, however it'll only run 16x/4x. Not saying its bad. Here's an idea though of the scaling for ports.

    You only lose about 4-5% of performance so not a big difference.

    New mobo, not a big change, I mean it all depends on chipset really. But a new mobo wouldn't change anything other than OCing, if your mobo is Micro ATX then just a larger board. Umm... faster memory support, like some mobos support (in your case) DDR2 1066 but some only support DDR2 800 perhaps like your mobo. But other that I wouldn't see a huge difference.
  4. Awesome--this was helpful. How much do you think the old G31 mobo will slow down the possible performance jump from the SSD?

    I do game, and my 5770 is handling FPS just fine, but Civilization 5 and Starcraft II are showing my CPU's age a little bit sometimes when there are hundred of units on screen. I suppose there is nothing I can do about that at the moment--since im not ready to dump $300+ into a new CPU until I've gotten my money's worth out of this build.
  5. Well, I wouldn't think your mobo would slow down an SSD. Any for that matter, since i'm pretty sure sata 3 doesn't haven't have variations like PCI 4x/8x/16x kind of thing. So no i don't think the SSD would be bottlenecked. Unless its a pretty crappy SSD.

    Umm.. Well, if that is the case its not that your CPU is bad, its just since those are RTS games. Games like SC2 and Civ5 are real CPU suckers. Not to say 2 cores is bad but 3-4 cores on SC2 and Civ5 really shine, even cpus like AMD 955 or Rana X3 445. The extra core makes the difference in RTS.

    Well.. 300$+ is kind of expensive for a single cpu... I mean with 300$ you could get the i5 750 and a decent mobo. 330$ is where you want to be to get a decent mobo with a i5 750.
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