This is my first post but I have done some reading. Anyways, on to the topic at hand. I currently have these components and I am wanting to do some upgrades here and some there and eventually just redo the whole system.
What I have now:
Asus Ipibl motherboard (apparently is an oem HP board)
Intel E5400 running at a current 2.7 Ghz
2 gigs of I believe kingston ram
Some cd/dvd drive
And I believe a 150 gig hard drive
My goals as of right now are to be able to play starcraft 2. But I need to upgrade to a video card as opposed to using the on board graphics. That's honestly what started this whole wanting to upgrade situation. But with the upgrades I'm doing I want some head room for other games that I have had my eyes on, such as Fallout 3, Fallout NV, NFS Hot Pursuit 2, and other current games. I'm also more of a console gamer so I would prefer to be able to keep up with a ps3 in terms of fps. I'm used to playing at 1080 so I would like to be able to either meet or exceed that resolution. I would also like to eventually have a slight multimedia rig too.
I've looked around and I have decided on the EVGA GTS 450 superclocked video card. I don't honestly know if this card will get me to the 1080 resolution but I am still learning about this SLi business. Will running this card in SLi be worth it? That is of course after a different motherboard because this motherboard is only a single PCie.
I don't believe this no name branded power supply in this current case will be able to handle much of anything. So I figure I will have to change that out. I looked on newegg and found one that is budget friendly and seems like it should be able to last for a bit. I also like the modular design.
We really need a budget to even begin to help. I'll do my best without one though.
First, I'm going to clear somthing up. You're not going to be able to match a PS3's performance without dropping a lot of money ($1,000+). The reason for this is simple. Console games are made differently than PC games. When they make a console game, the hardware they're dealing with is static. That means the programming is customized to the hardware, and some sacrfices are made in quality and other areas. By doing this, the framerate on a console game is basically locked at a 60 FPS (roughly) rate ensuring playable rates for everything. On the other hand, PC games are made for varying hardware. The games are made with the quality/details the developers want, then the minimum specs are listed to get that quality. Thus, PC games are made to allow the framerate to vary between games and within points in the same game. The typical framerate that is considered playable is 30 FPS minimum or around 40 FPS on average, though it varies by game and genre (First Person Shooters need higher FPS, strategy games are fine with lower). To get that same level of reliability as a console game across all games, playing at 1080p, you need a fairly massive video card, with the cheapest being the HD 5870 for $250-300. Of course, you get great rates with certain games with lesser GPUs, but then you're limited to what you can play. You'd also need a fairly good CPU, but some sacrifices can be made there, as it's less important for most games.
Second, pretty much everything you have isn't going to useful in a new build. You're likely looking at needing to spend $500ish to replace it. The board is a lost cause as it's likely proprietary, which means it won't work with regular PC parts, only with parts made/modified by the prebuilt vendor. The CPU and RAM are extremely old and not up to playing modern games. StarCraft 2 really likes having more than two cores (or two cores with very high clock speeds), which you don't have.
Third, don't touch that GPU. It's obsolete. You should be looking at something more like the HD 5770 or GTX 460. They'll be around the same price, yet be more powerful, require less wattage to run, produce less heat and offer more features.
Fourth, that PSU is a poor choice. OCZ isn't the highest quality. Also, it's rather small. Given what you're trying to accomplish, you're going to want parts you can move to a newer build. I'd grab a 650W unit from any of the following brands: Antec, SeaSonic, Silverstone, XFX and Corsair.
So here's the build I'd suggest. If you can't spend that much, grab the GPU, PSU and case.
My budget is more of a I have about $300 a month to spend. That's why the route of upgrading this here or upgrading this there seemed to be a better plan for me. I may stick with console gaming for first person shooters for the time being since I don't really have the money to drop all at once for a gaming pc.
I'm willing with doing an upgrade here and there. I'm sorta wanting to try to stick with nVidia as far as graphics goes. I have had an ATi before and I wanted to maybe give nVidia a go. This is also the first intel machine that I have ever had. When I was younger I was able to overclock some AMD card from 800mhz to 1000mhz. I had no knowledge of what I was doing and it stayed overclocked for at least a year and a half. I liked that it had some grunt to it. Are the cards of today the same way?
I'm also wanting to be able to do an upgrade and continue to run my system until I get the next upgrade. So the CPU/GPU deal doesn't fit in. Maybe if there was a Mobo/CPU deal that would work.
For the hard drive wouldn't I be able to use my current one at this point and later upgrade to a different drive? I've heard of being able to do a repair install on windows whenever you upgrade too much from the original operating components that was first used. Would I still be able to do that? I bought the pc without the cd key. Is that located in the device manager?
The problem with going with nVidia is that they're cheap cards are more expensive. Also, having an upgrade path with nVidia locks you into an Intel CPU, which are really expensive. You'd spend $200-300 on the CPU alone. nVidia cards and AMD CPUs don't mix well, as nVidia's SLI technology is not supported by AMD.
GPUs are just as easily overclocked today. ATI (or AMD, as they're the same company) includes software that easily overclocks the cards. A 200 mhz overclock is basically nothing these days.
It's generally not a good idea to buy parts one piece at a time. I'd recommend that you save the amount you'd spend on the parts until you have around $500-600 in total, then buy everything.
As for the current drive, it's unlikely that it will carry over. It's probably an IDE drive (a think cord to connect it to the motherboard), not a SATA drive. While most boards still have an IDE (or PATA) slot, those drives are extremely old and extremely slow. You'd be handicapping your build right off the bat.
As for Windows, this is where it gets tricky. Technically, your copy of Windows is an OEM version. What that means is that you don't personally get support from Microsoft. Instead, the vendor supplies it. That's usually not a big issue, but this next part is. You can only install an OEM copy on a single motherboard. If you have to replace the board, you have to get a new copy of Windows. There are some exceptions, but they involve getting the license (the key code) reactivated by Microsoft. I doubt you'll be able to do that, especially since you don't have the code. So you're likely looking at needing to buy a copy of Windows 7 for about $100.
If you absolutely had to buy the parts in steps, make sure that the board uses a standard power connector. If the board doesn't use the standard power connectors, you're pretty much stuck buying everything together. If it does use the standard connectors, then I'd buy the GPU, PSU, case and optical (the 5770 is like $120 without the combo). You likely won't be able to use the optical drive yet, but it's not likely to be bad. Save the remaining $60 of that $300 a month for the next group.
Unfortunately, to get a working build, you need all of the remaining components (the ASRock board doesn't have an IDE slot) and an OS. That means if you want to start gaming right away, you'll need Windows too. The total cost is going to be $400. You could drop windows out of that, and run it using a free OS like Ubuntu, but that won't allow you to game for a month or so.