Major upgrade... any comments?

I'm going to upgrade my mobo/CPU/RAM in the next few weeks. I've got some parts picked out that would do the trick, and was wondering if anyone had ideas on what I should/could do differently, or if there would be any shortcomings.

CPU: Phenom II 955 BE
MOBO: Gigabyte GA-870A-UD3
RAM: 4GB (1x4GB) Corsair XMS3 DDR3-1333 CL9 (9-9-9-24)
Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus

- I'd overclock lightly at first, then perhaps more later
- the mobo should give me the option of an X6 as a future upgrade
- 1 DIMM as opposed to 2, so that I can reach 16gb max in the future

I'd match this up with my existing Gigabyte 460GTX and Thermaltake 550W PSU, along with existing SATA drives + possibly a new SATA III and/or SSD when the prices come down more

On the mobo: seems it's not SLI certified.. idea being I'd get a sencond 460gtx in the future as an upgrade. Is it worth finding something else with SLI, or is this overrated?

Any other comments welcome.
Thanks in advance
8 answers Last reply
More about major upgrade comments
  1. Hey there,

    I would say you have done very well here, so there is not much to comment on in terms of changes.

    First up, the CPU. The 'Black Edition' title means it has an unlocked multiplier - so it is meant to be overclocked. You are going the right way about overclocking it lightly just to make sure and cranking it up slowly.

    Now for the motherboard. I would say that an SLI-enabled motherboard would definetely be worth the money. It is better to spend $30 more now than buying a bigger, bulkier single card later on. I am thinking of doing a similar upgrade myself and I have decided to include the following ASUS board:

    As for the RAM, it is fine but to ensure you get the best match get at least two sticks at a time. Dual-Channel will work best if the RAM is from the same batch but it will still work so long as it is the same brand; I have even heard of it being done with different brands. Just a recommendation there.

    As for the rest, you seem to know your stuff and you are going about it the right way. The only thing I may urge you to consider is a 600W or larger PSU because the GTX 460 can take quite a bit of power and overclocking will increase the demand to the CPU as well. You will almost definetely need a 600W-650W PSU for SLI later on.

    Good luck,
  2. Thanks for the tips. I'll consider a different board with SLI. This board is paired up with the CPU at the store I'm considering (in Germany), so it seemed like a good match, but I'll see.

    As for the RAM. I suppose if I wanted 16gb in the end and bought a pair, then I'd need an 8gb pair right away. The other option would be to get 2x2gb, then later (when cheaper) add 2x4gb for 12gb alltogether... which is probably enough for the life of the system.

    Any disadvantage of using two pairs which are not the same size?

    About the PSU. I think I'll keep the overclocking at a minimum, or even stock for now, and when I need more performance or SLI I'll consider a new one.

    I'm also now considering a case upgrade, and looking at the

    Thermaltake V3 Black Edition VL80001W2Z or...
    Antec Three Hundred

    My aim would be to eliminate any heat bottlenecks, now or in the overclocked future, as well as keeping the noise down. My current setup makes a racket and doesn't have a proper intake option.

    Thanks again
  3. I personally use the Antec 200 and I have filled up every fan bracket it has. I would recommend the Thermaltake over the Antec for you because it has more fan brackets. That will keep it cooler if you do use SLI or overclock in the future.

    Fair enough about the PSU. Keep in mind that not all PSUs perform equally; many do not even output the wattage it is labled at so be wary. Try this website to give you a rough idea of how much power you need:

    As far as I know, there should be no problem with DIMMs of different sizes so long as they are 'paired' properly in the motherboard. That means the 2GBs are paired and the 4GBs are paired. Do not try to dual-channel a 2GB with a 4GB or it will not work.

    Good luck,
  4. 1) Ram, even from the same vendor, and part # can be made up with different part technologies. This can result in incompatibilities. That is why ram is sold in kits.
    Ram is cheap today, so I suggest you get a 8gb kit of 2 x 4gb. Unless you do massive multitasking, or use large ram enabled apps, 8gb is the sweet spot. No game I know of today can use more than 2 or 3gb by itself. Most current motherboards can handle different ram sizes, and even uneven capacity per channel. Download and read the motherboard manual to be certain.

    2) Cooler is good, and inexpensive.

    3) The GTX460 is very capable. Are you having any issues with fps? I suggest that any graphics upgrade be done with a great single card vs. sli or cf. Some games do not do well with multiple gpu's. If you need more, sell the GTX460, and get a better singe card, like a GTX570 or 6970. In a year, there will be even stronger cards available, and at better prices. Unless you have a 2560 x 1600 monitor, or are planning on triple monitor gaming, a GTX570 should be plenty.

    4) PSU is ok, but I prefer Corsair, Antec, XFX, Seasonic, or PC P&C units for quality. Look at the XFX 650w unit for $65 after rebate. It is modular, and will power any single graphics card made today:

    5) I very much like ssd's. It is one of the best performance $ you will ever spend. Get a 64gb unit for the os and apps, and use your hard drive for storage and backup.

    6) Cases are a personal thing, and most will work. Looking at the pictures, I am not impressed with the cooling capabilities of the thermaltake case. I like at least two 120mm intake or output fans. I think the Antec 300 is a great case. Get the illusion version which comes with two additional intake fans for not much more
  5. Thanks for all the great advice. To geofelt's points:

    1) I'll go for the 2x4gb option. It may end up being Kingston or Crucial instead, but I understand these are also good names.

    3) I am having some FPS issues, but I am almost certain it's due to the CPU, an AMD 2700+ which is overclocked to 2.8ghz or so, but still a limitation. You may ask why I have a brand new card in this old 939 system.. well my 7600GT quit on me and needed to be replaced, so I got something that would work in the new machine.

    I think I'll take the advice to move to a better single card when the time comes. That will not restrict me in terms of mobo for the moment, and like you say, be less complicated.

    4) I'll stay with this PSU for now as it has been good to me, but I'll move up when I get to overclocking or other components

    5) I'm stoked to move to SSD as well, but waiting for the prices to come down a bit, ideally I'd get 100gb or so.

    I was wondering about a couple of mobo features I've read about:
    - FAN control: any idea whether the gigabyte board above can control the case fan speeds according to temperature/load? I haven't seen this in the literature. My goal is to have a quiet machine, at least when not gaming
    - Wake-on-LAN: would be handy to wake the pc when using the laptop via wireless in order to print or access files etc. Looking at the manual it seems to have this. Any experience or comments about it?

  6. Speedfan is a free program that can control mobo connected fans, according to temperature.
    I don't think any motherboard controls anything other than the cpu fan according to temperature.
    Some motherboards will not have sufficient number of 3 pin headers to manage all the fans.

    Personally, I prefer to set the fans to a speed that is adequate, but constant. I find it less annoying that way.
    I even set the cpu fan to constant. Under load, it might get hotter, but so what?

    I think every motherboard will have the wake on lan option in the bios.
  7. In my Antec 200 case, the fans that are in it only have the IDE power plugs for them, that is all. There is no cable for fan controllers. There is, however switches on the back which I always leave on the [HIGH] setting. The only fans that are self-controlled are the CPU and GPU fans.

    I am not concerned about fan noise as I am always wearing closed-ear headphones with music or games streaming through them and there are other computers around me that also get noisy. My fans on their loudest are still quieter than the other two computers so that is my reasoning.

    These are minor details now, so it would seem that you are pretty well settled on your choice, but just to recap.
    CPU is fine
    Cooler is fine
    Case could be better cooled
    RAM 8gb is fine
    Mobo might want SLI support
    GPU is fine

    Good luck,
  8. That sums it up for sure. I'll decide if SLI is important and look at the case a bit closer, I'm leaning towards the Antec.

    Thanks for the help!
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