Upgrading help

Hi guys. A few years ago, I bought a nice PC with gaming in mind, in hopes that it would last me a few years and that I could put off the horrors of upgrading for some time. Luckily, it did its job, but my PC is starting to become dated, and I think it's about time I suck it up and try to upgrade. I use computers frequently, but getting into the more technical-realm, I'm totally lost. Any help would be greatly appreciated, and I only ask that you bear with me and my small knowledge of hardware.

I'm looking to upgrade just about everything. Key questions I have is if I can avoid buying another motherboard, whether or not I can get away with skimping a bit on the CPU, and if I would be better off having someone else upgrade for me, or doing it myself. I also want to insure that whatever I buy I will be able to use with my PC.

Here are my current specs.

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 4600+

Graphics: GeForce 7900 GS

RAM: 2.0 gb

OS: Windows 7 64 bit

I've done a bit of research, though it didn't take me long to figure out I was in way over my head. I'm sure the first thing you guys will want to know will be my budget, and I'd say it's about $600-$700, give or take. I want a system that will last me a few years, if at all possible. I'm not what you would call a hardcore gamer, though it is a hobby, so that's my main intent with these upgrades.

-Looking at graphics cards, it seems the "big two" are geforce and radeon. I'd be lying if I said I truly knew the difference. I have decided, however, that the two premium ones, the GTX 590 and Radeon 6990, are just too expensive. $700 is much more than I want to spend for one individual part. So, I set my eyes on the next best, the GTX 580 and Radeon 6970. These both seem to be good, and are a little less than $500. How do these two compare? Also, if my computer was compatible with my old Geforce 7900, is it a safe bet it will work with these two? I would just hate to buy a video card and not be able to fit it in my case, or something like that.

-From what I have heard, it's better to have a very good video card than it is CPU, however, I would still like to buy a decent CPU. Again, seems like the top-of-the-line are a bit too high in price. If I'm going to be buying a $500 graphics card, I'm not sure I can squeeze in a $200+ intel i7, or the AMD equivalent. I've done a bit less research on the CPU than I have the GPU, so I could really use some advice in this section. I'd prefer not to spend more than $150, though I could be persuaded to go up if truly necessary.

-Beyond that, RAM seems fairly simple. I'll probably buy 4gb or so. The problem, of course, is that I believe I need to know my motherboard. I don't want to buy RAM and have it not be compatible. Of course, in the same vein, I'd really, really like to avoid upgrading my motherboard, because this subject I'm totally uneducated about. I also hear that replacing a motherboard is fairly difficult. Is there anyway to tell what my motherboard is? With my current specs, is it likely I'll need to replace the motherboard?

Well, that's it for now. Keep in mind that I have never opened a computer before; I'd be very angry with myself if I ended up breaking my PC, which is why I'm considering having someone do it for me. The CPU, GPU, and RAM seem easy enough to install, but if I have to replace the motherboard, I may get someone else to do it.

Note: I really didn't know what section to post this in, since I ask for help in just about everything. I figured CPU is the one I need the most advice on.
6 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about upgrading help
  1. Thanks :)

    I can't say for sure about my motherboard, but according to this program I downloaded (it's under the "mainboard" section), I have:

    Manufacturer: ASUSTek Computer Inc.

    Model: NODUSM3

    Chipset: Nvidia Geforce 6150
  2. Quote:
    sorry to say but you have an OEM HP PC, your best bet would be a new CPU/Mobo/RAM combo, since the best you can go to with that board is an athlon 64 5000+, which wouldnt be much of an upgrade.

    you could also go with an AM2+ board, keep your current DDR2 ram, and install a AM3 processor if your on a tight budget.

    I see, I may just do a full upgrade then. Is a motherboard difficult to replace for one who has never opened a computer?

    As for the actual motherboard itself, I wouldn't know what to buy. I had someone recommend me a MSI 870S-G43... how would that be, for running a fairly high end graphics card? I'm thinking of going for a GTX 580 and a AMD Phenom II X4 3.2 GHz, and that alone would come out to be nearly $700.
  3. Best answer
    I think you'd be better off spending less $ on the GPU and a little more elsewhere. I personally would buy a 2nd generation core processor and the appropriate mobo based on the numbers i've seen they are GREAT value and regarding your motherboard/do it yourself question: I built mine after reading for awhile (2 weeks selecting parts) and was VERY apprehensive but in the end its nearly impossible to plug the wrong connectors into each other. They are designed to be either color coded, labeled or just flat out wont fit. (Square peg round hole kinda thing). Biggest worry is push/pull too hard and I doubt that happens often.

    My recommendations would be something like a 5770 videocard (On sale right now I think low as $90) with either an i3 2xxx or i5 2xxx with supporting mobo (h67?) If you get a decently cheap mobo $100 ish and 150-200 on the cpu then you'll have about 400 left to either upgrade my suggestions or finish off the rest of your rig.

    You will definitely notice the speed difference in cpus and even the dual core sandy bridge (i3's) will keep pace with basically ANY phenom II x4 in videogames and perform lots of other tasks better.

    Use the Toms Hardware selection picks, they break it down by price and make a suggestion and highlight why those pieces are good choices.
  4. You could do 2500K/570/decent mobo on $700.
    You'll basically take the whole computer apart and put it back together; the mobo is too basic to just replace alone.
  5. I'm not sure I'm quite up to the task of completely taking apart a computer and putting it back together :pt1cable:

    I don't know much about the motherboard, but would it be correct to say that it's needed for everything else to function? I know I need a good motherboard to run a good CPU, but could I buy a video card, say a GTX 570, with my current mobo? At this point, I'm curious if it would be cheaper/easier just to buy a whole new PC. So far, this is what I'm thinking, based off some recommendations I've gotten.

    CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 3.2 GHz (possibly upgrade?)

    Motherboard: MSI 870S-G43

    Graphics: Geforce GTX 570

    And about 4gb of RAM. If I were to go through with this system, how would it perform, now and about two years from now (assuming, of course, that you can look into the future :)). Gaming wise, my main "goals" are to be able to play The Witcher 2, Dragon Age II and the like high, if not maxed out settings.
  6. Best answer selected by Reverb5.
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