Advice for potential upgrades to current AMD Rig ($600-$800 budget)

Approximate Purchase Date: Tax time (Late Feb, Early March 2011)

Budget Range: $600-$800 (Before Rebates)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming>Multimedia>Internet

Parts Not Required: Keyboard + Mouse (Unless I can afford a new gaming set), Monitor, Speakers (Will try and reuse Motherboard & CPU & Ram to cut some costs, unless its gonna be a hindrance in the long run)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:, although I will consider other sites like, if they are noticeably cheaper

Country of Origin: (USA)

Parts Preferences: For brands, I tend to pick Asus & Asrock the most, although I have also used Gigabyte, MSI, and Sapphire in the past. As far as CPU/GPU preferences, Im an AMD/ATI man. Not too fond of Nvidia anymore, and usually I tend to stay away from Intel (For price reasons)

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe (Depends)

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: Just want the most bang for my buck

Heres what I have currently (Will post links to be completely thorough)

CPU: AMD Athlon II 630 (Default 2.8Ghz) (Currently OCed to 3.5Ghz)]

CPU HSF: Thermaltake Duorb

Motherboard : Asrock M3A770DE

Ram: Adata 4 GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600Mhz Ram]

Video Card: Sapphire 1GB Radeon 5770]

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 7200RPM 1.5TB Sata Hard Drive]

Optical Drive: Asus 24x DVD-R/W Drive]

Power Supply: Antec Basic Power 550Watt PSU]

Case: NZXT Beta Classic (The one I have has been discontinued. The one Im linking to is basically the same, except mine doesnt have the 2 fan spots on the top and the PSU is top mounted instead of bottom)]

Monitor: Asus 21.5 " 1080p LCD Monitor

Keyboard/Mouse: A Logitech basic wired KB/M set + a wireless KB/M (Yes, I have 2 plugged in at once, as I will switch to the wired when gaming or if the wireless batteries are running low. Not gonna bother linking them as Id like to try and get a gaming grade wired KB/M unless I go over budget with other more important stuff)

And thats what I currently am using. Considering how little I actually spent on this back at tax time earlier this year, its been a great little AMD based gaming rig.
I have some stuff in mind that Id like to get, but honestly Id like to see what everyone on here that cares to take the time and can give me advice would choose if it were their system.
If I dont need to replace them, Id like to reuse the CPU/Mobo to save a little money and be able to get a beefier video card. To me it would seem silly upgrading to a Phenom II at this point, especially with Bulldozer right around the corner. With my Athlon II 630 running at 3.5Ghz, its been doing me fine anyway.
Now if I need to get a better mobo, Id be more willing to change that out, as long as I can reuse the CPU.
I have considered cross-fired 5770's, but my mobo has both PCI-Express slots so close together, that even if I could fit another 5770 in there without resorting to one of the single slot version, the top card would more or less suffocate itself. That and my PCI-Express slots run at 16X/4X. So not really optimal for cross-fire.
I am toying around with getting a Radeon 6850 for eventual cross-fire when I do get a new mobo, if I cant fit in one this time.
Id like to get a new Case and PSU, so that I can reuse the ones I have now for my wifes PC (Her case is really beat up and the Rosewill PSU in it is junk. Lesson learned on going super cheap on the PSU). I was thinking about the Coolermaster HAF 912 or 922 for my new case, along with a 600-700Watt PSU, but once again, Ill let this ride and see what kind of input I get on here.
I definitely can reuse my monitor. I figure the year after this is when Ill splurge for a nice big 27+ inch LCD. Ive also toyed with getting another set of the ram I have and netting me 8GB, unless it will be a waste and not really benefit me that much.
Anyway, I look forward to seeing what people come up with. Id prefer to stay closer to $600 if possible, but if I have to, I can spend all the way up to $800 if necessary to maximize my system upgrades. Thank you for any and all constructive advice!
41 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about advice potential upgrades current budget
  1. Whatever case you like.

    SeaSonic S12II 620 Bronze
    XFX P1-650X-CAG9 650W

    A HD 6870 or wait a couple of weeks for the new HD 6950.

    The rest is fine, maybe a Samsung Spinpoint F3 500G for the OS drive.
  2. Well to give you your best bang for your buck, you really don't even need to upgrade your mobo, sure sure people say "OH it's 16x/4x, it sucks don't get it." That's hardly the truth. 16x/4x is only 95% performance of 16x/16x 100% being 16x/16x.

    EDIT: Just read your fear of CF because of slots, Look at that link you really will not lose ANY performance from CFing.

    Anyways just upgrade your GPU and PSU. Really all that you need to upgrade. Maybe your case. But otherwise nothing else.
  3. Also (double post) your storage, you could possibly make a upgrade for a boot drive. I'd recommend this SSD, really fast and cheap. The A-Data S599 64gb.

    For its price it does really well against top dogs that are a bit more expensive.

    Anyway, the best GPU solution is to wait for Cayman which is dropping this month, expecting (should it follow the AMD charts) a 20% increase of performance over 480 GTX. But since your case might not fit it if it's super long (lol thats what she said). Either that or your just jumpy for a GPU, I'd get CF 6870s or CF 6850. The reason being SLI really sucks balls on AMD platforms and SLI isn't supported on your mobo.
  4. Took me a moment to edit my URLs. Was panicking because they weren't linking correctly. Fixed now. And wow, you guys are fast :D
    Yeah, as far as the 16x/4x killing performance, I have read up on it not really being that bad, its more about how close the slots are together then anything. I really didnt consider cross-fire at the time I got the Mobo. The extra one was just kind of a bonus at the time, but not a full consideration in it. I just dont want to have to resort to getting a single slot 5770, seeing as the cooling on them isnt as good, and I figured if I tried to get another one of the dual slot sapphire 5770s, it would either not fit, or would be so close, the top card would burn itself up.
  5. @aznshinobi Actually, thats the exact SSD I was looking at. One of my friends seems to think Id be better of with a decent sized Velociraptor drive instead. Decisions, decision :P
    And as far as video cards go, Id prefer to keep this a ATI/AMD Affair anyway. Other then the 460, I havent been too fond of Nvidia for a while now. I have, however, been very happy with what AMD has had out the last couple generations. Granted, back when I owned a 9800 Pro, I HATED the drivers, but they have got a lot better recently.
  6. ^ Don't worry about burning the top card, 5770s don't get AS hot as 5850s. And if any card should get burnt it should be the 470 SLI those, whew those have you seen there temps in SLI. MAN they'd melt your face off.
  7. Lol no don't get Velcioraptors. I have one I know, they are a thing of the past. SSDs are now cheaper and should be the boot drives with normal HDDs as backup. I regret my Velcioraptor. It sucks alot of power in use, it's not AS fast as RAID 0 Samsung F3 1TB and is more expensive. Trust me I'm a Doctor.
  8. Well I think my friend has a set of them raided, so thats probably why hes so hung up on them. I will definitely keep an SSD for a boot drive in consideration! I was toying with getting 2 of those Adata 64GB for raid, so I can also fit some games on it, but Id prolly just be happy to have one and have Windows fly :D
  9. The only reason I was worried about temps on the top card if I can fit another one in, is the one i have hits 75c when fully pegged. I figured it get even hotter if it cant get much fresh air in it. Im rather paranoid in that regard. But thanks for the advice so far :D
  10. RAID 0 on those Adata's would seem good, but I also thought about it for my next i5 760 build. But 1 is already good enough, speed's are extremely fast already and by adding that extra drive you really gain nothing but benchmark stuff. And I find no victory in HDD benchmarks. I only find victory in GPU and CPU benchmarks. So yeah, defiantly one is good enough, use the rest on the XFX 650 BE (great PSU btw) and a GPU or two. I recommend waiting for Cayman or getting CF 6850/6870.
  11. Good point. Im not a benchmark whore either (Not for HDD anyway), and I agree on having it count where it really matters, which my main problem has been a GPU bottleneck of sorts. I usually find myself notching things down in games to 1280x800 for that extra little bit of oomph, but I would like to be able to keep things at my monitors native resolution.
  12. Well the thing is the 5770 isn't bottlenecking, i think, the Propus is not a sloucher, neither is the 5770, but the 5770's strong point is 1440x768 (something like that) and below. After that 1680x1050 or higher, it's really not going to perform as good. So to solve that upgrade your GPU to something like the Caymans of this month or the 6850/6870 CF. Well speaking of bottleneck I'd upgrade your CPU as well.. MAYBE. You don't have to but with the 955s being so cheap nowa days you should keep that in mind.
  13. I have plenty of time to wait for the new caymans to drop. It wont be til next year before I can do my upgrades anyway. As far as cases go, like I said above, Im thinking about a CM HAF 912 or 922. But Im totally open to suggestions in that regard. Also, should I just continue to truck along with just 4GB of ram. The kit I got is going for a measly 78 bucks now, so I didnt know if I should bother getting another set or using that money for something else. Im all ears, errr eyes :D
  14. I was looking at getting a 955, but they went back up in price. When I was making my initial wishlist on Newegg, they were 139.99, now there within spitting distance of a 965. And honestly, my CPU has been fine anyway, I did the research, and it came down to losing like 5-7% performance from not having that L3 cache, which I can live with for another year. I can also try OCing a little higher if needed. Ive had it as high as 3.8Ghz stable, but it was getting volt happy, and that made me a little concerned, but even then, it never broke 57c pegged with the HSF I have. I just wish I could enjoy the visuals from it. stupid case lol.
  15. Once you have the newest ram there really is no noticeable performance increase by upgrading ram. So no don't upgrade ram, especially since you really don't care about Memory benchmarks like me. Umm, if you do find the 955's cheap like 140$ jump on it, it is a great deal.

    Umm as for your OCing, I think you should look into the Hyper 212+ great HSF and for 27$ right now on Newegg you should jump on that as it's a great deal. Umm I won't post any reviews since you seem to know how to do research. Uhh Case wise... Well I love my 902 and it has a side panel with the option of sticking a 120mm for GPU cooling (I opted out of going fan crazing) plus it has black painted on the inside and case management holes, so You could go with the 902. (It has little fan control nobs which I love about it. But other-wise the HAF 922 is a great case, but just might be noisy since HAF is high air flow not HAF Quiet. So... Yeah.. But yes the HAF is good.
  16. Yeah the one I got right now is great considering how cheap it was and all the spots it does have for fans, but yeah, its pretty noisy, plus with me brainfarting on fan filters for it, it was turning my PC into a red glowing dust bunny, so I ended up taking the side fans off. I really like the HAFs, except they too dont have dust filters unless I got for the HAF X or 942, which would kill my budget for other stuff. So Im not really sure what to do in that regard. Someone told me I could get some Velcro and stick air conditioning filters outside the fans, but that would look really cheesy, I would assume, although if it gets the job done, I guess I could consider it. :P
  17. Hmmm. Starting to finally wind down. Ill check back on this tomorrow. Thanks so much for all the advice. Hoping to see more tomorrow. But I do plan on making a few changes to my wishlist already based on what I have received so far! Thanks again aznshinobi, and you too, mosox. If anyone else would like to chime in, by all means. I am finding this very helpful and appreciate it all!
  18. Oh yeah check out the 902 it has dust filters too
  19. A-data is alright IMO but g.skill phoenix and vertex 2 are too closely priced not to suggest them.
    60 gb is more than enough for w7 + programs + few games (currently 4 games + shop + weaver + office) and 10gb left.
    I would wait for price drop within a month for the graphic card and last but not least

    932 is a monster, almost broke my back taking it upstairs in my room xD(Forget the lan partys).

    I love it althought, you may want to remove the side 240mm and add 4 120 mm :) It pushes more air and with a nice fan controller the noise will be adjustable right at your finger tip.
  20. Cool Cool. Thanks for the advice! Right now its seems that the A-Data drive is around the cheapest in price for the size/performance. Ive really had good luck with some of their other products, so its the one Ill probably go with, unless theirs a major shake up in pricing by the time I am actually able to pull the trigger on these upgrades.

    As far as cases go, right now Im still trying to figure out what case I like the most. The only reason Im hesitant on the HAFs is because of a lack of dust filters expect for the HAF X 942. I was looking at some of the Antecs like was suggested, but their kinda ugly in my opinion. Im trying to balance pleasing looks (to me anyway, which is something I really like about the HAF's) and awesome cooling, along with as low of maintenance as possible. Thats one area the cheap-o case I have now falls flat on its face. Its rather ugly and plain. Although it does have decent cooling capability, it sucks in dust like no other. I ended up having to remove the 2 side fans I had installed because I got tired of cleaning it on what seemed like an every week affair. It was literally directing dust right into my HSF and GPU. I just dont want to make that same mistake again. (When it gets passed off to my wife, I will be getting it fan filters, if not before then)

    On another note, Ive been thinking at what point my CPU, even OCed like it is, would start to bottleneck a high end graphics card. I want to go as high as possible, without it starting to have diminishing returns. I'd really like to hold off until the year after this (tax time in early 2012) to upgrade my CPU and Mobo, since Bulldozer will have been out for a little while then. (Hopefully :P)
  21. Ehh..... I mean the 912 is OK but... It'd be better just to put in some extra money and pick up the 922. I mean the extra fans on the 922 help the air flow a lot better than the 912, with only 1 120 intake and 1 120 exhaust.

    Even this at the same price is a better case (IN WIN is actually a really good budget case brand)
  22. Cool man. Ill take a look at that.

    Edit: Took a look at it, it seems alright, but Im not really familiar with that brand. The reviews on newegg seemed ok overall, but Im not too fond of the blue lighting. I know thats more of a nit pick thing more then anything. Just my opinion. But I wont discount it on that point alone. :D

    Edit 2: Just noticed something in what you pointed out about the 912. I do plan on getting 2 of the 200mm megaflow fans to improve the airflow in the 912. I just forgot to post them in the wishlist above. Oops. :P
    Anyway, my only complaint about the 912 in general is there isnt an option for 2 120mm on the side, but where its placed at, it will blow right on the video card, so I can live with that. The HSF I have now (Thermaltake DuOrb) is really good about circulating air over the VRMs and chipset, along with the ram. Thats why I will prolly go ahead and keep it instead of moving to the other one you suggested. I just wish I could enjoy the whole lighting it provides, but eh, as long as it keeps things cool, thats what really matters.
  23. The other reason I changed my mind on the HAF 922/932 is a lack of dust filters, which I found out the 912 does have, surprisingly, so that will be something else I dont need to buy afterwards. Yeah, I kinda lose some of the cost savings by having to buy 2 of those megaflow fans, but I think theyll be worth the investment.
  24. Well what is the total price of the case after two fans?
  25. Ill admit, its just as much as the 922 would cost. But the dust filter aspect is one of the reasons Im really drawn to the 912 over the 922/932, along with its modular design for the drive rack inside.
    I could probably make homemade dust filters for the 922/932, but it would look like ass more then likely. I found a place that makes custom dust filters for the 922/932, but they are pricey. I dunno, Im still looking over everything and trying to weigh in my options.
    Edit: I guess if I want to cut the costs a little, I could forgo the 200mm fans and just get a set of 120mm fans to fill out what the 912 comes with. It would save about 20 bucks. I dunno. Im gonna keep looking. But dont let that keep you from continuing with the advice. I am taking everything given to me in consideration, as I research this further :D
  26. Well I'm just wondering what the price would be because then I'd suggest the case I currently have, the Antec 902 which is 110$. This or the Antec DF-35 which has a white theme, or the Antec DF-30. Which both are great cases for under 90$. Plus it has 1 top 140mm one exhaust 120mm and two 120mm intakes.
  27. As far as the price goes, the HAF 912 with 2 of the 200mm megaflow fans comes up to about $103. If I downgrade to just getting a pair of their 120mm fans, itll be roughly $80. But like I said, aesthetics and the combination of dust filters and modular capability of the HDD rack are what are really drawing me to the HAF 912. But either way, Im still gonna look at what you linked (thanks!), along with looking at other cases in that price range. Im far from being firmly decided, just leaning towards the 912 is all :P
  28. BTW the 902 has dust filters! really good ones too, easy to clean!
  29. Well Sigma is a decent company, but it's not the best. However seeing as you like Red so much this really fits your liking, plus it seems to have decent to great airflow.

    But dear god, I found the most beast case for you, painted red, dust filters, like a 902 only a bit larger, after MIR 100$.
  30. I took a look at those. I didnt really care for the Sigma case, but I think you hit the nail on the head with that AZZA case. ;)

    That thing looks really frikkin sweet. About the only case Ive come across so far that I wouldnt have to make any significant changes to. And it seems to have some really great reviews to boot! The only nitpicks it seems to have is it has blue power LEDs and you have to be a little careful with the interior paint. I can live with that, though!

    Thanks a lot for that linking it! I dont even care if I cant get it with a rebate. Its definitely a top contender now! :D

    Edit: Apparently, from my Invisible Hand price plugin I use, I can get it from for $95 with free shipping. Bonus!

    Edit 2: Damn man, after changing my wish list to have that AZZA Solano, Im now about 25 bucks under my minimum $600 budget. Kickass!
  31. Wishlist Revision 3

    Computer Case: Azza Solano]

    Video Card: AMD Radeon HD 6870

    Power Supply: Cooler Master Silent Pro 700watt SLI/Crossfire Ready

    Hard drive: A-Data 64GB S599 SSD

    Optical Drive: Asus 24x DVD-R/W Sata

    Dust Filters for the old case (Still gonna need them for my wifes build)

    Total now comes up to about $583.94. Progress is definitely being made!
  32. Well then I'm assuming your all good on your upgrade choices? Don't quite update just yet, since Cayman is releasing soon it might be just cheap enough to nudge into the list. So yah know. I mean no harm in waiting since your 6870 is out of stock anyway XD
  33. Thats what I planned on doing. Waiting it out until I find out how much those are gonna cost. But the 6870 is gonna be the bare minimum I go now, as no matter what, it will definitely outperform my 5770 by a decent amount. I got plenty of time to wait anyway :P
    Also, now that Im leaning away from going cross-fire on my 5770, Ill be able to stick that in my wifes PC, which is currently running my old 512MB Geforce 9600GT. Might need to replace the mobo in hers, since its a really cheap Geforce 6150SE / nForce 430 based design. But Ill cross that bridge as I come across it.

    I do have to say, thats definitely one thing Ive learned from building my own rigs the last few years. Instead of trying to get everything all at once for a new build, and having to make some less then optimal/efficient cutbacks here and there (cheap mobo, or PSU, for example), after this upgrade cycle, I now plan on splitting my upgrades up over the course of 2 years. For example, one year ill focus on the cpu/mobo/ram and misc stuff, like maybe a new case, and then following Ill go for a video card (or cards), a new PSU, and maybe a hard drive or something. At least its a theory Im gonna try out, so Im not buying cheap junk anymore just to make the budget work. It should work better for me that way, anyway, since I can usually only get new stuff at tax time, unless something breaks down.
  34. Haha anymore questions?
  35. Well, overall, do you think I made a good choice on the other components? Is there anything Im overlooking?
    Also, Im wondering how high I can go on the video card before my CPU would start to be a bottleneck. Any ideas?
  36. Best answer
    Well imo, I think that 6870 is really where you'll start to see minor bottlenecks, but not alot. I mean If I were you I'd upgrade to even a 955 or 740 mainly because even from 630 to 955 you'll see a really big performance increase in benchs, so.. Yeahh... I think 6870 with a 630 is as far as you go, with that OC maybe a 5870? I dunno. Here's an idea of 955 to 630:

    As you can see, you see a larger gaming increase at the bottom, I mean gaming is mostly GPU but you can see the bottleneck is a contributing factor to the
    FPS. So yeah....

    Umm I think all those components are good, If you'd like I mean you could just not get the 6870 and get a 6850 and have the money saved go for a 955. But from 5770 to 6850 it's not a huge performance upgrade. However if you plan to OC, the 6850 is defiantly the route you want to go since the 6850 can OC WAY further than the 6870.
  37. Best answer selected by darkerson.
  38. Honestly, I really want to wait til the following year so I can get a new Bulldozer based CPU/Mobo/Ram. Dont get me wrong, I know the Phenom II 955 would be an upgrade to my overclocked Athlon II 630, I just dont think it will be quite as drastic of an upgrade as I would like to see. That and they have shot back up in price, at least on newegg. They were going for $140 for a while, which wasnt bad at all, but now theyre back up to $155...not as attractive at that point.
    Anyway, I figure Ill get more for my money by upgrading the video card this time around, along with that nice little A-Data 64GB SSD. I could probably get away with the PSU I already have, but my wifes comp has a really shitty Rosewill 450 Watt PSU that is starting to fritz out (it likes to shut off 3-5 seconds after turning her computer on from a cold boot, but has no problem coming back from sleep...), so I plan on getting the CM 700 Watt PSU, putting it in mine, and giving her my Antec 550, and just throwing away that Rosewill POS. Shell also be getting my current case and DVD-R/W when I get that delicious black and red Azza case you pointed out to me :D So there is a little method to my madness :P
    But anyway, I guess my point is, I just dont want to upgrade too much on here, as it would essentially be completely rebuilding my rig. That and if I stick with my new plans on upgrading about half my system each year, Ill be able to afford higher quality stuff, instead of trying to balance too many things at once and having to make less then efficient sacrifices like I have, even on this current rig.
    But either way, thanks for all the feedback you have given me. You have been incredibly helpful, aznshinobi. I greatly appreciate it. And thanks to the others that took the time to to give me some feedback as well.
  39. No problemo, good luck with your upgrade.
  40. Thank you!
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