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Advice on upgrades Please (This text is just so I stand out )

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November 9, 2010 2:21:57 AM

Hello, generous and compassionate patrons of Tom's Hardware, and welcome to my advice column.

Current rig:
______________

Mobo: K10N780SLI3wayWiFi

CPU: AMD Phenom 8950 Black 2.5GHz 125W Quad

GPU: GTS 250 1GB 256-bit

RAM: 4GB iced out Platinum OCZ DDR2-1066MHz

HDD: WD Caviar Black 640GB 7200RPM 32mb cache

PSU: Kingwin Mach 1 1000W Modular

Thank you for reading if you've gotten this far.

What I'm looking to do is upgrade to an AM3 motherboard. Specifically, my motherboard has a faulty bus and freezes up incessantly. Therefore, I have to either buy an older, compliant AM2+ board or upgrade to a SATA 6, USB 3, AM3 board. I did some preliminary research and found a lot of hype about the 890FX chipsets, so I'm leaning toward something comparable, maybe cheaper. However, I run into the CPU compatability with an AM2+ processor and an AM3 board. Most of the AM3/2+/2 boards I've seen lack USB 3 and SATA 6.

What I need from you is advice on how to modernize this rig due to a necessary motherboard replacement. I love this community, thanks in advance!

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a c 91 B Homebuilt system
November 9, 2010 2:35:06 AM
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Well the reason for lack of USB 3 and Sata 6 on AM2+ boards is because AM2+ is a bit outdated. You should look into the Asrock 870 Extreme USB 3.0 Sata 6 capable.

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

Then you should check out the Phenom II X3 740 which is a great budget CPU for only 85$ of course you have to buy a HSF. Which will only run you about 27$ for the Hyper 212+ with free shipping and man is that 212+ a great HSF.

EDIT: NVM the Hyper 212+ is 30$ plus 8$ shipping, just go to amazon with free shipping it only costs 27$.

After that total it should cost... 197$ but then you still need ram which will be around 80$ depending on the ram, but going with a good budget one which is Mushkin Enhanced, that's 80$.

Hyper 212+: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Phenom II X3 740: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Mushkin Enhanced Blackline DDR3 1600: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
a c 91 B Homebuilt system
November 9, 2010 2:44:35 AM

Anyways, what the CPU/MOBO/HSF upgrade should do for you is give you clearly USB 3 support which is needed, and also the better CPU performance of the Phenom II's since the arch is updated. The HSF will allow you to keep you new CPU cool, and since you can have a chance to unlock the 740, you'll have the chance to save money and get a downclocked 955. Not only that but the Phenom II line had a huge performance increase since the first Phenom lineup. Anyways, the ram is there because you need DDR3 to run on AM3 boards.

GPU-wise the 250 holds its ground and you don't need to upgrade that anytime soon, unless of course you plan to play Crysis 2 in which case you should think about the release of the Cayman series this month, which should have 20% over the 480 GTX with probably less heat and power. But otherwise you shouldn't need to upgrade you GPU. You could try the 6850 which is the best bang for the buck of the ATI/AMD lineup since you can OC it so good and its CF scaling si beast. The reason I didn't mention Nvidia chips is because you will not be able to SLI later since AMD chipsets suck with Nvidia SLI or just Nvidia cards in general. But you could get 980n chipset, but that's just stupid since it's not USB 3 or Sata 6.
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November 9, 2010 3:24:51 AM

I also looked at the 870 chip, but when compared with the other 800 series, it lacks quite a few features. Upon further digging, I'm led to believe AMD is in the works of releasing AM3+ motherboards and processors? Perhaps I should wait until that release and get the AM3 board upgrades for half the price?
a c 91 B Homebuilt system
November 9, 2010 3:32:31 AM

Well It depends, the only reason I didn't tell you to wait is because you said you had freeze up problems and BD (AM3+) is going to be in mid 2011, can you wait that long? If you can that just wait until then. As for the 870 it really isn't bad I mean if you think that its features aren't good enough, then go figure but for a budget update the 870 defiantly isn't lacking it can hold up with the 890s.
November 9, 2010 3:57:51 AM

I can't really wait as I've suffered from this freeze up for over a year now and having exhausted hundreds of dollars in speculative replacement parts, I'm more than eager to transition. Your advice has been extremely helpful, especially your reference to the 212 and suggestion of the x3. I was looking at the Deneb 945 just now and you're right about the 740 they're quite comparable. I would need some instruction on OCing to unlock the 4th core but your advice is nonetheless sound. Thanks again, and I'm still open to further suggestions.
a c 91 B Homebuilt system
November 9, 2010 4:42:02 AM

Umm, although the 945 is a good option, I wouldn't go that route mainly because it isn't a black edition. I mean it can still Oc, but I think ocing with a Black Edition processor I find it like 10x easier than fixing multi's and ram speeds.

As for your eager transition, this would be the best fix since it's only 200$ total I believe. Umm Afterwords, I think what you should do is when you have like 300 upgrade your GPU or 350. Since at 350 or around that price point you can afford CF 6850 (I say 6850 not 460 SLI since SLI on AMD chipsets suck if you didn't know that already and the scaling of 6850-460 is about the same with a bout the same performance. At 300, I suggest doing an upgrade on on maybe Cayman since it may cost 300$ and you'll get a huge performance boost from your old 250 GTS. Of course you could still get the 6870 single.
November 9, 2010 2:54:01 PM

I'm a bit reluctant to buy this because my current, fried board is ASRock.
a b B Homebuilt system
November 9, 2010 3:19:01 PM

AS Rock has a good rep, but I can understand if you want to avoid them from your own experience

you can get this MSI version for $99.99, with a $10 MIR, making it $89.99 after rebate, compared to the $84.99 of the AS Rock.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

you can save the difference with some DDR3-1333 for $59.99
Either this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
or this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
a c 91 B Homebuilt system
November 9, 2010 9:25:41 PM

Well if you don't find that you like Asrock go with Screwy's option, of course Asrock has really improved their boards ever since the old AM2+ chipset. But still it's valid. I mean ram wise if you don't think CL will matter to you or timings then those ram sets are good as well, still for performance reasons I stand by my Mushkin decision.
November 9, 2010 9:34:43 PM

What I've done is taken your advice on the mobo. I found an MSI 870 chip mobo from Microcenter for $95 after rebates. Microcenter is only about 20 mins from my house so I opted out of online purchasing. I got 4 (2x2)gb of ddr3-1600 of corsair xms3 RAM. I also got the hyper 212 HSF from amazon and the phenom II x3 740 CPU from newegg. Now for a final question,
To swap my motherboard, do I need to do anything special setup-wise, or can I just unplug everything, and plug it all into the new board and fire it up? Also, if anyone knows off the top of their head how to OC my new MSI 870 mobo to accept the 1600mhz RAM? Thanks again for everyone's input.
November 9, 2010 9:46:16 PM

Best answer selected by prodigy.
a c 91 B Homebuilt system
November 9, 2010 10:13:54 PM

From what I understand off MSI's site, you just need to make sure your CPU can handle DDR3 1600, and I'm pretty sure it can. So all you need to do right now is take everything out and just install everything you just got, and it should be good to go. Just remember to set all your stuff in bios (IE Timings, clocks, etc.) before re-entering windows, after that though, you should be good to go.
November 9, 2010 10:22:17 PM

Just so I get this right...
I'm going to disconnect everything, mount the heatsink and fan accordingly, insert the processor and 1600 RAM, along with the other accessories (HD, DVD, etc.), fire it up, and spam f2 to get the bios setup, select DDR3-1600 from the RAM list, and then save and exit which will bring me to windows? I'm a stickler for the English language, so you and me are both suffering from that previous "sentence." I've never overclocked anything before, so I may have to open up a new troubleshooting thread. Are you saying I have to manually set the 8-8-8-24 timings? Or just set the CAS latency to 8? Shinobi, thanks a million.
a c 91 B Homebuilt system
November 9, 2010 10:33:33 PM

Umm to my learning or what I do is Delete, but I think F2 works to. And from AMD MSI boards, it's not selecting DDR3 1600, it is selecting the multiplier and settings timings in the timing menu. Yes all of this is set manually, but you could use the auto presets for timings which aren't correct. The reason I'm not exactly sure is because I've never built any current Intel Mobo builds, only current AMD builds.

But I would assume your right.
November 9, 2010 10:54:04 PM

Yea, f2 is what this ASRock board uses, that was just a reference to the bios setup menu at that point in the process.
a b B Homebuilt system
November 9, 2010 11:31:47 PM

the other thing you'll have to do is load your Motherboard drivers. Depending on the version of Windows installed, you may have to re-register or reinstall windows
a c 91 B Homebuilt system
November 9, 2010 11:39:09 PM

Haha you'll probably hafta do what screwy said, but when I upgraded I didn't have to, I don't know if you'll have to.
!