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Gaming PC Upgrade

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December 7, 2010 8:54:17 PM

I built this computer back in 2007. Since the parts are still in good condition, rather than building a new PC, I want to upgrade using some of my old parts while replacing others. Here's my current system specs:

Motherboard: EVGA NForce 680i SLI
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.6GHz
GPU: nVidia Geforce 8800GTS
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 320GB 7200rpm
RAM: G. Skill, 2GB

All of this is in a Thermaltake Armor case.

As for the upgrade, here are the list of parts I'm either planning to and/or willing to replace completely:

Power supply (it's starting to go on me anyway, the fan sounds like it's dying)
Motherboard
Case (Although I love my Thermaltake dearly, I'd like something with an LED temperature readout)
Processor

Obviously, I want to upgrade my RAM. A motherboard that can expand up to 24GB is preferable (I'll probably never USE that much, but it never hurts to be prepared!), and I'm an nVidia fangirl so an nVidia chipset is definitely high priority. Seeing that my GPU is still truckin' along nicely, I'd like to keep it and run dual GPUs via SLI.

I definitely want to upgrade my processor to maybe an i7, but I'm taking suggestions on that as well. I prefer Intel over AMD.

I'll also be ADDING a new harddrive (I'm such a hoarder, I still have an old hard drive with an EIDE cable in this PC because I refuse to move my data to a new HD.) Speaking of which, I'll also need a way to connect a PSU with SATA cables to a Molex HD. An adapter would be preferable.

Among the new things I'll be needing is a second monitor (I want to run dual monitors) and a video capture card (for broadcasting gameplay). I have not yet decided on whether or not I want or need a sound card.

I'm also considering alternate cooling sources, specifically an AC unit built into the case. Has anyone tried one of these, and can you tell me if there were any issues with condensation and/or a high power consumption?

I think that covers most of what I've planned out so far. I appreciate any and all input, although my only request is this-- I prefer value over highest quality/budget. I have at least two to three grand to work with on this upgrade so I have some wiggle room, but I also don't want to pay top dollar where I don't need to.

Thanks in advance!

Edit: I might have posted this in the wrong subforum. I'm sorry if I did-- I assumed that since it was already built it would go in the 'homebuilt' section.

More about : gaming upgrade

a b B Homebuilt system
December 7, 2010 9:21:32 PM

If you love your case, then why part with it? You can easily find a bay device that will give an LED readout, perhaps with a fan control option as well. Most models will run between 30-50 bucks.
I'd look at the P55/core i5 750 for your needs.
For a multi monitor setup I'd also look at the HD 6850. Pretty good value at $200.

Look for a PSU in the 600W range, choose from brands such as Seasonic, Antec, Corsair. I personally prefer modular supplies for cable management.
Related resources
December 7, 2010 9:41:47 PM

buzznut said:
If you love your case, then why part with it? You can easily find a bay device that will give an LED readout, perhaps with a fan control option as well. Most models will run between 30-50 bucks.
I'd look at the P55/core i5 750 for your needs.
For a multi monitor setup I'd also look at the HD 6850. Pretty good value at $200.

Look for a PSU in the 600W range, choose from brands such as Seasonic, Antec, Corsair. I personally prefer modular supplies for cable management.


Well, the other issue with my case is that I can't fit more than three fans in it (the newer models can take four, but mine doesn't have a bracket in the front for another intake fan). If I run two cards the current cooling I have right now probably won't be enough.

It does have excellent ventilation (as almost all Thermaltakes do) but during the summer I still have issues with high temperatures, unfortunately.

mywifehas36DD said:
You could build a nice pc w/dual monitors for around $2000. Newegg.com is a great place to buy components from. Here's an example of a DIY combo they have(i'm too lazy to search the whole site right now):


http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?I... $1640
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $190 x2=$380

Total- $2020 not including an OS...Add $100 for Windows 7 Home Premium x64


I love Newegg! I bought all of my current parts from them.

Thanks for the suggestions on the barebone kits, however I'm really not looking to build from the ground up.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 7, 2010 9:49:20 PM

So what parts do you want to keep? Sounds like you're building a whole new system here.
December 7, 2010 9:53:29 PM

megamanx00 said:
So what parts do you want to keep? Sounds like you're building a whole new system here.


I want to keep my GPU, hard drives, and my two RAM cards (although I am expanding). I'm also, of course, keeping all of my peripherals. I'll also keep my case if I can figure out alternative cooling (anything except water cooling, I hate it).
a c 91 B Homebuilt system
December 7, 2010 9:55:23 PM

I hardly suggest doing any upgrades now, you should wait for Sandy Bridge and Cayman. Cayman is coming out in 8 days (GPU) And should be an interesting prospect. Sandy Bridge is coming out next year on... January 11th I think. Somewhere around that.

Expected performance: http://www.anandtech.com/show/3871/the-sandy-bridge-pre...

I also think you should just keep your old build, and just leave it as a backup, and start from scratch with this new build. If you can't really deal with the heat, try higher RPM and CFM fans. IE the Delta's or Scythe Ultra Kaze 3000.
December 7, 2010 9:57:46 PM

aznshinobi said:
I hardly suggest doing any upgrades now, you should wait for Sandy Bridge and Cayman. Cayman is coming out in 8 days (GPU) And should be an interesting prospect. Sandy Bridge is coming out next year on... January 11th I think. Somewhere around that.

Expected performance: http://www.anandtech.com/show/3871/the-sandy-bridge-pre...

I also think you should just keep your old build, and just leave it as a backup, and start from scratch with this new build. If you can't really deal with the heat, try higher RPM and CFM fans. IE the Delta's or Scythe Ultra Kaze 3000.


Oh, this upgrade won't be happening until early spring, so I have plenty of time to brainstorm. It'll be a huge purchase for me so I want to be absolutely sure of what I want.

Thanks for the suggestions! I'll read up about Cayman and Sandy Bridge.
a c 91 B Homebuilt system
December 7, 2010 10:01:36 PM

No problem! With Cayman, it seems the most logical option would be the 6950 @ (expected) 350$. It should compete with the recent release of the 570. This should be interesting as we'll see price wars come into play. The reason being, the 570 is a huge improvement from before, it has lower temps, quieter stock cooling, and it's more powerful than the 480 with lower power consumption. The only thing is, at load, the power consumption is still over the 5870's. But still it's an improvement since it performs better than the 480 with lower power con.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
December 7, 2010 10:40:09 PM

You are looking at more like a total replacement, but think about a few things.

1) Sandy bridge is due to be available Jan 9. The 32nm quads will launch, with impressive performance(less than top end card competes with i7-980X). Read about it here:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/3871/the-sandy-bridge-pre...

If your need is not urgent, I would wait.

2) I love dual monitors. A bit of advice: Try to get an exact duplicate of what you already have. I worked for a while with mismatched monitors and it was frustrating. Colors and sizes changed as you dragged windows across.

3) If you love your case, keep it. It only takes two 120mm fans for decent cooling. Remember that newer components are built using smaller manufacturing processes, and will generate less heat. For a temperature display, use speedfan. If you really want , there are front panel bay mounted fan and temperature monitors.

4) For a power supply, do not skimp on quality. My short list would include Corsair, Seasonic, PC P&C, XFX and Antec, to name a few.

5) I don't think Nvidia makes motherboard chipsets for the current intel processors. I don't think they were that good anyway. If you go sandy bridge, your only choice will be a P67 based motherboard. X58 motherboards and i7-9xx are still good, and will have those 6 ram slots giving you a potential of 24gb. (windows-7 home is limited to 16gb) For a i5/i7 based system, you are looking at a P55 chipset based motherboard.

6) Keep your 8800GTS until you need more. At that time, consider selling it, and replacing it with a stronger single card. A single card scales better than sli, takes less psu, runs cooler and quieter. Only if you are gaming at 2560 x 1600, or will use three monitors with 3d gaming would I consider SLI.

7) If you really want performance, budget about $100 for a SSD for your OS and apps. Everything will seem so much snappier.

8) Ditch the IDE drive. Fewer new motherboards have IDE connectors. IDE is slower, and noisier than newer drives. Just clone your old drive to a partition on the new drive if you don't want to move things individually.

9) Any psu will have molex connectors if you need some. No worries there.

10) A decent tower type air cooler will be effective for cooling. You can get a very good one for <$40. Liquid cooling or something more exotic is only for record seeking overclockers. Much better to spend that cash for a better cpu chip in the first place.
December 7, 2010 11:40:04 PM

geofelt said:
You are looking at more like a total replacement, but think about a few things.

1) Sandy bridge is due to be available Jan 9. The 32nm quads will launch, with impressive performance(less than top end card competes with i7-980X). Read about it here:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/3871/the-sandy-bridge-pre...

If your need is not urgent, I would wait.

2) I love dual monitors. A bit of advice: Try to get an exact duplicate of what you already have. I worked for a while with mismatched monitors and it was frustrating. Colors and sizes changed as you dragged windows across.

3) If you love your case, keep it. It only takes two 120mm fans for decent cooling. Remember that newer components are built using smaller manufacturing processes, and will generate less heat. For a temperature display, use speedfan. If you really want , there are front panel bay mounted fan and temperature monitors.

4) For a power supply, do not skimp on quality. My short list would include Corsair, Seasonic, PC P&C, XFX and Antec, to name a few.

5) I don't think Nvidia makes motherboard chipsets for the current intel processors. I don't think they were that good anyway. If you go sandy bridge, your only choice will be a P67 based motherboard. X58 motherboards and i7-9xx are still good, and will have those 6 ram slots giving you a potential of 24gb. (windows-7 home is limited to 16gb) For a i5/i7 based system, you are looking at a P55 chipset based motherboard.

6) Keep your 8800GTS until you need more. At that time, consider selling it, and replacing it with a stronger single card. A single card scales better than sli, takes less psu, runs cooler and quieter. Only if you are gaming at 2560 x 1600, or will use three monitors with 3d gaming would I consider SLI.

7) If you really want performance, budget about $100 for a SSD for your OS and apps. Everything will seem so much snappier.

8) Ditch the IDE drive. Fewer new motherboards have IDE connectors. IDE is slower, and noisier than newer drives. Just clone your old drive to a partition on the new drive if you don't want to move things individually.

9) Any psu will have molex connectors if you need some. No worries there.

10) A decent tower type air cooler will be effective for cooling. You can get a very good one for <$40. Liquid cooling or something more exotic is only for record seeking overclockers. Much better to spend that cash for a better cpu chip in the first place.


Thanks so much for replying! Your suggestions were extremely helpful, I think I'll keep my 8800GTS-- my case currently has a 120mm and a 90mm, with room for a third 90mm intake fan on top. Would that still be adequate?

It'll be painful getting rid of my old drive...but I agree, it's time to put it to rest.

So far the only thing missing from the build is a video capture card. Anyone have any experience with them?
a c 91 B Homebuilt system
December 7, 2010 11:48:26 PM

Do you want capture cards with HDMI's or like PVR's? A good PVR is the Hauppauge HD PVR. A cheap but decent HDMI Capture card is the AverMedia AverTV HD. Has 2 HDMI ports and is a PCI capture card.

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

As for SSD's I recommend getting the S599 if you do get an SSD. It's cheap and fast. At 110$ can't be beat! :D 

http://www.guru3d.com/article/adata-s599-100gb-ssd-revi...

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

As for the case, it's decent, how many exhaust fans do you have? there is no point if you take in cold air but can't exhaust it.
December 8, 2010 12:22:48 AM

aznshinobi said:
Do you want capture cards with HDMI's or like PVR's? A good PVR is the Hauppauge HD PVR. A cheap but decent HDMI Capture card is the AverMedia AverTV HD. Has 2 HDMI ports and is a PCI capture card.

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

As for SSD's I recommend getting the S599 if you do get an SSD. It's cheap and fast. At 110$ can't be beat! :D 

http://www.guru3d.com/article/adata-s599-100gb-ssd-revi...

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

As for the case, it's decent, how many exhaust fans do you have? there is no point if you take in cold air but can't exhaust it.


The 120mm in the back is my only exhaust fan.

I'm not *exactly* sure what I need with a capture card...I just want to broadcast my gameplay to a site like justin.tv (I've tried screencasting software, but the quality isn't so great and it lags me ingame).

Thanks for the recommendation on the SSD!
a c 91 B Homebuilt system
December 8, 2010 2:57:07 AM

Oh you just need one for computer, I thought you wanted one for something like a PS3 or 360. I have no recommendations then. I'm more of a console to computer capture card person.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
December 8, 2010 3:45:00 AM

No experience with video capture.

On your case, I would install the top fan as an exhaust fan. Heat wants to rise, and as an exhaust, it will help get rid of the heat. It looks like in addition to an intake fan, you have mesh drive bay covers. That will do fine as a source of cool air.
December 8, 2010 3:52:27 AM

geofelt said:
No experience with video capture.

On your case, I would install the top fan as an exhaust fan. Heat wants to rise, and as an exhaust, it will help get rid of the heat. It looks like in addition to an intake fan, you have mesh drive bay covers. That will do fine as a source of cool air.


Mine is an older model and doesn't have a mounting bracket for a fan in the front of the case where the mesh drives are. Actually-- I don't know if I could even install one since the bottom space is taken up by a toolbox.

The 120mm and the 90mm I currently have installed are both at the back of my computer (one top, one bottom) and are both installed as exhaust.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
December 8, 2010 4:04:18 AM

Aelle said:
Mine is an older model and doesn't have a mounting bracket for a fan in the front of the case where the mesh drives are. Actually-- I don't know if I could even install one since the bottom space is taken up by a toolbox.

The 120mm and the 90mm I currently have installed are both at the back of my computer (one top, one bottom) and are both installed as exhaust.


You don't need fans in front, just some intake air which has to come from somewhere. I think the case was designed with "negative" pressure in mind. As the exhaust fans spin, they send hot air out the back and top of the case. Suction inside the case draws fresh air into the case for cooling. The main negative for this approach is more dust inside.

With front fans equipped with a filter, your case tends to stay cleaner.

If you want to monitor your temperatures, install speedfan. It will show the cpu or gpu temperatures in the taskbar, and will warn you if anything gets too hot. A nice free program.
http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php
December 8, 2010 5:40:00 PM

geofelt said:
You don't need fans in front, just some intake air which has to come from somewhere. I think the case was designed with "negative" pressure in mind. As the exhaust fans spin, they send hot air out the back and top of the case. Suction inside the case draws fresh air into the case for cooling. The main negative for this approach is more dust inside.

With front fans equipped with a filter, your case tends to stay cleaner.

If you want to monitor your temperatures, install speedfan. It will show the cpu or gpu temperatures in the taskbar, and will warn you if anything gets too hot. A nice free program.
http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php


I use speedfan now, but unfortunately it doesn't account for what's "hot" and "not hot" for a specific hardware. For instance, I always have a little fire icon next to my processor even though it's running at stock temps. I know it's such a small thing, but it irritates me...

Either way, I can go without the LED readout. Perhaps I could install the top fan as an intake?
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
December 8, 2010 6:27:47 PM

Aelle said:
I use speedfan now, but unfortunately it doesn't account for what's "hot" and "not hot" for a specific hardware. For instance, I always have a little fire icon next to my processor even though it's running at stock temps. I know it's such a small thing, but it irritates me...

Either way, I can go without the LED readout. Perhaps I could install the top fan as an intake?


In speedfan, use the configure panels to set the temperature at which you want to be warned. I found the default annoying too, so I set it high enough so that it will only trigger if a fan or whatever stops working. I don't bother with trying to control cpu fan speed. I found it annoying to have it constantly changing. I set it at a constant speed that cools well enough. If the cpu ever gets too hot, it will just lower it's multiplier to protect itself.

In your case, I would set the top fan to exhaust.

If you have doubts, try it both ways and see which works better.
!