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Affordble (and recommended) upgrades?

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December 6, 2010 6:45:31 PM

Hi guys,

The system I have now is decent, but it's starting to show its age. I play games like World of Warcraft and some first person shooters (Call of Duty games).

I'm looking for some affordable upgrades that will give me some noticeable improvements and was wondering if you could help!

Here is my current rig:

Monitor: 22" 1680X1050 res


Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA770-DS3 AM2+/AM2 AMD 770 ATX All Solid Capacitor AMD Motherboard

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


Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ Windsor 3.0GHz Socket AM2 125W Dual-Core Processor


RAM: 2 X 2GB sticks (4GB total) GSkill Gaming ddr 2 RAM (cannot remember specific model)

Graphics Card: MSI NX8800GT 512M OC GeForce 8800 GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card


PSU: Rocketfish 700W PSU (I know, I know- but it's been working fine!)


Thanks guys! I really appreciate your help! I couldn't do this without you!
a b B Homebuilt system
December 6, 2010 7:57:02 PM

hmm.

I'd say the main upgrades you would want is an AM3 mobo/processor/DDR3 RAM and a modern GPU.

a Mobo/CPU/RAM upgrade would run around $180-190ish ($75 for a X3 445, $50 for 4 GB of DDR3, and $60 for a motherboard)

similarly a modern GPU would run $120-180 (GTS 450, HD5770, GTX 460 768 or 1 GB, HD 5750, HD 6850)
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December 6, 2010 8:51:54 PM

You may be able to upgrade the X2 to an AM3 like the above without changing the board... Bios update.

Any of the above GPUs will work just fine for your res.
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Related resources
December 6, 2010 9:00:30 PM

^^ Disagree, change the mobo because it will nueter your HT speeds if only an AM2 board, which judging by the age, it probably is.
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
December 6, 2010 9:07:15 PM

Most of the time, if you have a dual core @ 3.0 or better your gaming will be limited by your graphics card.

To clarify your options, run these two tests:

1) Run your games, but reduce the resolution and eye candy to a minimum. This will simulate what will happen if you upgrade to a stronger graphics card. If your FPS improves, it indicates that your cpu is capable of driving a stronger graphics card to higher levels of FPS.

2) Keeping your graphics resolution and settings the same, reduce your cpu power. Do this by removing the overclock, or by using windows power management to set a maximum cpu% of perhaps 70%. If your FPS drops significantly, it indicates that your current cpu is a limiting factor, and that a faster cpu would help.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 6, 2010 11:28:35 PM

Geo: Given the current system is a ~2 year old AM2 version of an Athlon 64 X2 (itself a 5 year old design), running an 8800, I'd say he's both CPU and GPU limited
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
December 7, 2010 12:32:00 AM

ScrewySqrl said:
Geo: Given the current system is a ~2 year old AM2 version of an Athlon 64 X2 (itself a 5 year old design), running an 8800, I'd say he's both CPU and GPU limited


I agree, but let's try to find out instead of guessing.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 7, 2010 6:03:38 AM

Ouch i have never seen peeps make so many rudimentary mistakes when giving advice so here goes:

1. GIGABYTE GA-MA770-DS3
Is not an AM2 mobo. AM2 mobos have HT 1.0/1000 MT/s and are still on PCIe gen 1.0/1.1 This is a true AM2+ albeit the pioneer batch i.e on SB600
http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=...
Quote:
Hyper Transport Bus 5200/2000 MT/s
Expansion Slots 1 x PCI Express x16 slot (The PCI Express x16 slot conforms to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)


2. Any AM3 X2 and above is way better than a Windsor 6k so since WOW is on the table just hit a Deneb 940BE @ $96 free ship and stick to your current platform? Rev 1.0 of your board has no BIOS for AM3 chips but 940BE at that price sounds good no? You may want to hit a decent air cooler if u dun have one on hand
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Have BIOS updated to ver. F7

3. I would look to hit a GTS 450 or better
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December 9, 2010 5:45:11 PM

batuchka said:
Ouch i have never seen peeps make so many rudimentary mistakes when giving advice so here goes:

1. GIGABYTE GA-MA770-DS3
Is not an AM2 mobo. AM2 mobos have HT 1.0/1000 MT/s and are still on PCIe gen 1.0/1.1 This is a true AM2+ albeit the pioneer batch i.e on SB600
http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=...
Quote:
Hyper Transport Bus 5200/2000 MT/s
Expansion Slots 1 x PCI Express x16 slot (The PCI Express x16 slot conforms to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)


2. Any AM3 X2 and above is way better than a Windsor 6k so since WOW is on the table just hit a Deneb 940BE @ $96 free ship and stick to your current platform? Rev 1.0 of your board has no BIOS for AM3 chips but 940BE at that price sounds good no? You may want to hit a decent air cooler if u dun have one on hand
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Have BIOS updated to ver. F7

3. I would look to hit a GTS 450 or better


Whoa.. So my board is compativle with an AM3 proc?

Also- what processor would u rec? Best bang for buck?
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 9, 2010 8:18:01 PM

your board is an AM2+ boad that can handle an AM3 proc.

I'd suggest a relatively low-powered one, probly an athlon X2 250 or X3 450
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December 9, 2010 9:23:50 PM

ScrewySqrl said:
your board is an AM2+ boad that can handle an AM3 proc.

I'd suggest a relatively low-powered one, probly an athlon X2 250 or X3 450


Why low powered?

Will an X3 450 really make that big of a difference?
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 9, 2010 10:22:32 PM

I was suggesting those as less powerful, but still good chips, compared to say a Phenom II X4 or X6
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December 9, 2010 10:27:55 PM

ScrewySqrl said:
I was suggesting those as less powerful, but still good chips, compared to say a Phenom II X4 or X6


Would my PC not be able to handle a Phenom II X4?
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 9, 2010 10:38:57 PM

the Phenom IIs might not work, as I think your version of the 770 (with DDR2) can only handle 95w Chips. I'm not certain of this however
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December 10, 2010 12:05:49 PM

ScrewySqrl said:
the Phenom IIs might not work, as I think your version of the 770 (with DDR2) can only handle 95w Chips. I'm not certain of this however



My current processor is 125W. Or is that an entirely different case?
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 10, 2010 12:21:48 PM

if your current pro is 125W, then yeah, it can handle Phenom II as well, at least in the latest Bios.
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December 10, 2010 12:57:28 PM

ScrewySqrl said:
if your current pro is 125W, then yeah, it can handle Phenom II as well, at least in the latest Bios.



Do you have any rec. on a CPU that would provide a nice gaming upgrade, but is also a good balance between price and performance?

Thanks!
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 10, 2010 12:58:55 PM

Least expensive bang for buck:
AMD Athlon II X3 450, $79.00
AMD Athlon II X4 640, $99.99
AMD Phenom II X4 955, $144.99

take your pick.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 10, 2010 2:36:34 PM

that will work as well., basicalyl about the same as teh Athlon II X4. might work better than any of them since it is an AM2+ chip.
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December 10, 2010 3:52:29 PM

Will I notice big performance improvements in games?
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
December 10, 2010 4:08:07 PM

vertigofm said:
Will I notice big performance improvements in games?


What is your FPS performance now?

What would you consider a big performance improvement?

At 1680, your 8800GT should be adequate.

Your cpu may or may not be adequate. See what happens if you lower your gaming resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases substantially, it indicates that your cpu is good enough.

What distresses us the most is not the high or average FPS, but the occasional FPS drops to low levels. That is mostly caused by a lack of graphics power, not cpu power.
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December 10, 2010 4:47:29 PM

geofelt said:
What is your FPS performance now?

What would you consider a big performance improvement?

At 1680, your 8800GT should be adequate.

Your cpu may or may not be adequate. See what happens if you lower your gaming resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases substantially, it indicates that your cpu is good enough.

What distresses us the most is not the high or average FPS, but the occasional FPS drops to low levels. That is mostly caused by a lack of graphics power, not cpu power.



FPS don't improve much when dramatically lowering graphics.

Also, I would like to play games like Black Ops... Which is why I am looking towards the video card.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 10, 2010 4:53:45 PM

vertigofm said:
FPS don't improve much when dramatically lowering graphics.

Also, I would like to play games like Black Ops... Which is why I am looking towards the video card.




Then your CPU is a bottleneck! In that case, the 940 BE CPU ($95) will see considerable improvement, as would an Athlon II 450 ($79) I'd say grab the 940 BE, and then use its multiplier to overclock it from 3.0 to ~3.2-3.4 GHz, which is should do fairly easily without a voltage increase

Then grab a better video card: GTS 450, HD 5770, GTX 460 768MB are all between $100 and $150
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December 10, 2010 5:29:09 PM

ScrewySqrl said:
Then your CPU is a bottleneck! In that case, the 940 BE CPU ($95) will see considerable improvement, as would an Athlon II 450 ($79) I'd say grab the 940 BE, and then use its multiplier to overclock it from 3.0 to ~3.2-3.4 GHz, which is should do fairly easily without a voltage increase

Then grab a better video card: GTS 450, HD 5770, GTX 460 768MB are all between $100 and $150




I was actually looking at this:

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


Unless you think that might be overkill?
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
December 10, 2010 5:57:16 PM

+1 ^
clocked a bit higher also.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 10, 2010 6:20:52 PM

not your ram, at least not right now.

This upgrade should see you through at least a year, maybe a year and a half, I'd say, But ones sandy bridge and bulldozer are out for a while, you'll want to do a whole system upgrade, start looking at it in late fall of '11 and no later than summer '12
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 12, 2010 10:29:13 PM

One of those is an SE model that ScrewySqrl is recommending. It does not match the power of the full GTX 460. Unfortunately the deals on video cards have been rather sparse on Newegg lately. Maybe wait for a few days and see what happens?
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December 12, 2010 11:01:55 PM

eloric said:
One of those is an SE model that ScrewySqrl is recommending. It does not match the power of the full GTX 460. Unfortunately the deals on video cards have been rather sparse on Newegg lately. Maybe wait for a few days and see what happens?



I think both are.

This might help.


My monitor is a max resolution of 1680X1050. That's the max res I will always play on.

My friend told me (but I don't know how much he really knows) that I won't really need more than 768mb RAM on a video card for that resolution. He did say that the most important thing for me will be clock speeds....

I'll keep my eye out on Newegg as well....
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 13, 2010 12:46:35 AM

Yeah, those are SE models, and they are only $155/159. While a bit slower than the basic 768 MB model (and even slower than the 1GB model), it should still be great for a 1680x1050 resolution monitor, and a HUGE improvement from the 8800GT.

If you don't want the SE models, look at these options:

Asus 768 MB model, $149.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Zotac 1 GB model, $179.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


both also have $20 rebates
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December 13, 2010 4:40:02 AM

At present, there is no real reason to get a motherboard. Simply get a BIOS update that allows your mobo to support Athlon II CPUs. An Athlon II X3 450 is currently only $79.00 on newegg. Do that upgrade and see if the performance boost is sufficient. In the real world, 4GB of DDR2 and a GeForce 8800 will game just fine in most situations. Take it one step at a time. That CPU upgrade alone will bring your computer into the current age. Take me for instance, I have an MSI K9A2 Platinum mobo with 8GB of OCZ Reaper DDR2-800. Do you think I have any intention of upgrading my motherboard anytime soon? Hell no! That was the whole point of AMD's upgrade path! If you use your computer for gaming, I can pretty much guarantee that all you need is a new CPU. Everything else in your system is passable. If you do the upgrade and decide that it's still not gaming fast enough, then change the vidcard. The motherboard is the LAST thing you should change because you'd have to buy new RAM for an AM3 board and that's an expense that you really don't need to incur. That CPU change ALONE will make your computer feel like a rocket and that's what you want right? All these people telling you to "buy this" and "buy that" are trying live out their fantasies on your dime. My Phenom II X4 940 is almost 2 years old but I still haven't felt any need whatsoever to even overclock it, much less upgrade it. Hardware has advanced far past software as of late and you won't really notice a big difference between an Athlon II and a Phenom II. The only reason I got the Phenom II was that I wanted a Quad-Core CPU and the 940 had JUST come out with the 920. I chose the 940 because I wanted a CPU I could overclock easily (The 920 wasn't a Black Edition with an unlocked multiplier like the 940) and I was working at Tiger Direct so I got a great deal on it. If the Athlon II had been out, I would have purchased that instead but all that existed at the time was the i7 (WAY too expensive), the Core2Quad (just not worth it) and the Phenom I (problematic and slow). The Phenom II came out and I got the performance of a Core2Quad Q9400 for a fraction of the price. The 940 is still on the market and it costs less than $100 now at newegg (You have to get a cooler though). I would recommend it but the TDP is too high for an AM2 socket that is limited to 95W so the Athlon II X3 450 is the way to go. Tomshardware listed it as an outstanding gaming CPU. It's true that your HyperTransport version is half the speed of the most current one but as I said, try before you buy. I'm willing to bet it won't matter in 90% of cases and you'll have saved yourself a bundle of cash. If you decide it makes a difference then you can always get a motherboard but at least you tried to save money. Here's the link for the 450:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
If you decide after changing the CPU that you want a new mobo, this one will do the job just fine and since it's an AM2+ motherboard, you won't have to get new RAM:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Your other alternative is to get the motherboard with a Phenom II X4 940 CPU ($96):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
and this CPU cooler ($25):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Then you'll have the L3 cache of the Phenom II X4 architecture, an extra core and an unlocked multiplier so you can overclock it to Phenom II X4 975 levels. Remember, the only difference between the AM2+ Phenom II CPUs and the AM3 Phenom II CPUs is the DDR3 memory controller in the models that end in 5 and the base clock. Otherwise, they're exactly the same. Really, really, though, if the Athlon II had been around when I wanted a CPU, it's the one I would have bought. Pop it in and see what happens, I don't think you'll be disappointed. :sol: 
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