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Upgrade CPU, motherboard and ram or just videocard

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April 19, 2011 10:36:29 PM

Hey guys. I'm a poor college student so I can't afford to upgrade my entire system at once and I have about 200 bucks to spend on upgrades.

My current rig:

Windows XP SP3
Motherboard: Asrock 939dual SATA II
AMD Opteron 165 @ oc'd to 2800
2 gigs of RAM
Video: eVGA 7800GT

450watt Antec PSU 28a on +12v rail


I was thinking of getting this for the CPU

AMD Athlon II X3 450 Rana 3.2GHz 3 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX450WFGMBOX @newegg for 79.00 and then unlock the 4th core

Motherboard: ASUS M4A785-M AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard for 69.00

and for memory: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) for 64.99

It's either I upgrade all that or just get a new GTX 460 videocard for around 185.00

I mostly play COD4 (competitively) and minecraft. And I record and write music with Ableton Live
I triple boot with Windows7, XP and Ubuntu but I mainly use XP because it seems manage resources better than win7 (I get 30 more FPS in games and everything just seems to run faster in XP).



a b B Homebuilt system
a b V Motherboard
April 19, 2011 10:48:49 PM

Get this board instead. Same price, but uses DDR3 RAM instead of DDR2: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

With that, you can save some money because DDR3 is cheaper than DDR2. Even this will work fine in your system: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You might be able to get somewhat of a newer GPU if you do some searching around craigslist or here at Tom's Hardware. Also, AnandTech's For Sale forum is very active.
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a b B Homebuilt system
April 19, 2011 11:11:01 PM

I would keep the system as is, and be content with F.E.A.R, Medal of Honor, Quake3 and 4, Doom3, etc...; the newer games will still be waiting to be played.

Save the money for a complete upgrade based around a 2500k/P67, at least a GTX560, Win7, and, at least 4 gb of RAM.
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a c 238 V Motherboard
April 19, 2011 11:12:50 PM

Don't count on a lot of value out of unlocking a 4th core. Games barely use two cores for the most part. Faster cores, 2 or 3 are best for gaming.

To clarify your options, run these two tests:
1) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics configuration.

2) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 70%.
If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.

Your first upgrade should be to 4gb of ram.

If you change your motherboard, consider a sandy bridge cpu.
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April 19, 2011 11:13:06 PM

boiler1990 said:
Get this board instead. Same price, but uses DDR3 RAM instead of DDR2: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

With that, you can save some money because DDR3 is cheaper than DDR2. Even this will work fine in your system: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You might be able to get somewhat of a newer GPU if you do some searching around craigslist or here at Tom's Hardware. Also, AnandTech's For Sale forum is very active.



Ah I see. I had no idea that DDR3 is cheaper than DDR2 nowadays.
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April 20, 2011 1:59:07 PM

I purchased the AthlonII x3 450, tried to unlock the 4th core and could not, just know that its not always going to work (unlocking the 4th core) And you more than likely would never notice a performance difference depending on what your doing. But it is a great CPU and im satisfied with it completely, upgrading a pentium dual-core rated at 1.8GHz this was a great upgrade and I would buy another for the price.
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April 30, 2011 12:58:55 AM

Best answer selected by nyan_cat.
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