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Upgrading on budget

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August 4, 2011 7:59:23 PM

Hi everyone,

I've posted here before regarding the pc I was purchasing about 2 years ago and I have to say some very valuable advice was given.

So now... 2 years down the line and my Birthday is coming up. I'm looking for some help on upgrading my PC.

Here is the current build.
CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 (using Stock fan and also no OC'ing so I think its at 2.3GHz)
MOBO: Asus P5N-D (nForce 750i chipset, SLI)
RAM: 4GB DDR2(800mhz)
GFX CARD: ATI Radeon HD 4870 1GB
PSU: 700W EXCool Tornado
CASE: Antec Three hundred

So, theres my current PC build. And what I really want to do is to squeeze some more FPS out of it in games, play some more modern games and possibly even stream games on Justin.tv (Would be nice but isn't the most important thing i guess).

What I was thinking (and I'm a nooby at Hardware) maybe a new GFX card, 2 more gig of ram and a new CPU fan so I can safely Overcloak (cos as it is right now my PC gets pretty damn hot lol).

Any help would be greatly appreciated!. Thanks for you valuable time and help. Thanks in advance.

Oh!, by the way. I have around £250 to spend on upgrades :) .

More about : upgrading budget

August 4, 2011 8:38:45 PM

You may want to get some front intake fan. You can also install side exhaust fan on the Antec 300 I think. I wouldn't buy ddr2 ram anymore, they're expensive and 4gb is enough. Save the RAM for a full system upgrade. You should consider either the 6850 or 6870, they're not as expensive as nVidia and performs really well. CPU fan: I would recommend either Hyper 212+ or Mugen 2.
August 4, 2011 8:52:02 PM

Thanks Wintermint for the advice. I've just looked up the CPU fan and Graphics card and while looking I found these.

http://www.ebuyer.com/186428-amd-phenom-ii-x4-965-black...

maybe that ^^^ and the Hyper 212+ fan.

Aswell at the 6870...

Would I see a big performance boost from what I'm getting at the moment?...
Related resources
August 4, 2011 8:53:12 PM

Oh and would I be able to Over clock that CPU with that fan?. And if how far would you say I could go?... Thanks again
August 4, 2011 8:59:35 PM

Try Porta Tech.com lots of great deals for barebones. All you have to do is add the ram harddrive and graphics card from old system, just a thought, its where i got mine.
August 5, 2011 7:35:55 PM

Hi again everyone :) 

I've been looking at the AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition 3.3 GHz and the XFX HD 6870 1GB GDDR5

links CPU > http://www.ebuyer.com/249987-amd-phenom-ii-x6-1100t-bla...

links GPU > http://www.ebuyer.com/244474-xfx-hd-6870-1gb-gddr5-dual...

I'm just wondering if these two componates would be a nice addition to my PC :) . And also would the PSU be able to handle these?.

Again I really have to thank you for the advice, without you guys I'd be completely lost xD.


August 6, 2011 6:45:09 PM

Anyone have any ideas?
August 11, 2011 3:00:54 PM

Hi all, So I'm pretty sure Ima go with that processor, Hopefully that will increase some stuff performance wise (in games mostly, and some out of games doing general stuff) and hopefully powerful enouth to stream on Justin.tv.

The graphics card looks good, but i think ima wait around christmas time to get a new Gfx card.

If anyone could let me know if they think the CPU and Graphics card above will help in performacen to what i currently have I'd greatly appreciate it :) .

Thanks again.
August 11, 2011 3:29:35 PM

The AMD Phenom II X6 Black Edition 1090T 3.2GHz CPU will be a nice upgrade. If you are mostly focused on games then you should google benchmarks with both this CPU and i5-2500.

Excuse a stupid question, are you planning on replacing your motherboard? The AMD processor will not plug into the same MB you used for your Q8200.
August 11, 2011 4:22:31 PM

That question is not stupid at all... maybe I'm stupid because I wasn't aware that this motherboard wouldn't be able to support that chip. I don't really want to get a new motherboard as it seems quite hard work taking everything out and installing it all again and the size of the board and my case (plus im a complete noob).

May you could recommend me a chip which would is support on my current motherbaord, and also around the same power and price point. I know its alot to ask, but i greatly appreciate the help and I'm also trying to do some research and learn about this stuff lol.

Thanks once again for the helping hand pal.
August 11, 2011 4:26:24 PM

Oh!, I've just taken a look at the i5-2500. I seems relatively higher then my current CPU and is a fair price.

I've just taken a look at a compatibility list for my Motherboard and it seems just Intel's are support. Would this CPU be support on my current MB?..
August 11, 2011 6:32:20 PM

For some reason it wont let me edit posts. Anyhow...

If the i5 2500 isnt support by my Mobo i think i'll just overclock my current cpu. Any advice on the cpu being support if not advice on the overclock would be great :) 

Thanks :) 
August 11, 2011 7:48:28 PM

Your current mobo can support LGA 775, which is three or four generations old by now. It's a tough call to stay on that platform, as even a marginal increase will cost a lot of money because they aren't being made anymore, and you'll still be left with an older chip. You could overclock, and I've heard success stories of getting the q8200 past the 3.0GHz mark. I've never been a fan of overclocking and found it to be less work than just starting from scratch.

I personally switched from the LGA 775 (Pentium) to AM3 (AMD) because I was in the same boat- stay with my current, dated platform, or move to a cheaper one and get some real performance. I've been extremely happy with my decision.

It takes just a bit of time to crossover to a new platform, but I think the benefit would be worth it. For a complete overhaul that'll stay in your budget:
Mobo
Asus mobo AM3 socket for £40.
It's a good brand, and you don't need anything too fancy in the mobo department.

RAM
4GB for £23.
Most of the benchmarks put 4GB as the most you'll use for gaming, and this will save some coin. You'll need to upgrade to DDR3 for the new mobo, but it's pretty cheap and worth it.

CPU
Grab that Phenom II 965 that you posted earlier for £106

OR

Athlon II 450
For almost half the price at £55, the triple core is an excellent choice in terms of bang vs buck, and chances are good that you can unlock this into a Phenom quad core anyway. Even without unlocking, it's still a fantastic processor, especially for its price.

GPU

MSI GTX 550 Ti for £111


OR

Sapphire HD 6790 for £113

All in all, about £300 to get a new mobo, the higher-end CPU, memory and GPU. Or you could overclock your original CPU and put all your budget toward a new GPU, but then you'll have a lot of card that will be limited by your dated CPU. You could sell off your old stock to offset your budget as well, your old 4870 is still a decent video card that should catch a fair price online, same with your CPU+mobo combo.

Obviously I'm leaned more toward buying new and buying AMD, but it's a platform that is very budget-conscious while only sacrificing a minimal in performance.
August 11, 2011 8:05:00 PM

I think at the moment its the CPU which is really letting down my pc.

The Phenom II 965 does look enticing indeed, Would the Asus mobo AM3 socket support that?. And would it also support my current ram of would I need to invest in some new ram.

All of this is confusing for me, so thanks for understanding and helping me out.
August 11, 2011 8:31:59 PM

Hi, A very reasonable approach would be getting a new high end video card now and getting a new MB+CPU+Memory for you next upgrade.

Your current video, HD 4870, is a pretty strong card. You're talking something in the $200++ range to see a difference. Maybe GTX 570, HD 6970, GTX470, GTX560Ti, 6950? or find a great deal on an older part like a 5870 or 5970

Overclocking your current CPU will be hard because the front side bus (FSB) is already at 1333. People who got great overclocking results with the chips your MB supports used chips with 1066 FSB like Q6600 so when they overclock the FSB would still be reasonable.

A 'new' big cpu for your current MB like the Q9550 is a $300 part, I would not go there. These are overpriced CPUs because they are no longer made. This article is good, check the hierarchy chart that says "I don’t recommend upgrading your CPU unless the potential replacement is at least three tiers higher." and see how few tiers are above your current CPU. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-llano-proces... Here is a nice reference for our MB. http://www.cpu-upgrade.com/mb-ASUS/P5N-D.html

Your current system is pretty nice. Some other upgrades you can make include
(1) Adding a second disk drive and then using the nForce 750i's built in RAID support. This gives you faster boot time and faster level lods in games. Not any real change in gameplay.
(2) Adding an SSD as a system drive. Gives even faster boot time. No real change in gameplay.
(3) You have a good monitor? You have good headphones?
August 11, 2011 10:38:22 PM

Thanks tsnor, I was thinking about getting some gaming headset, but I have some big headphones at the moment which are snug on my head as we speak xD.

With the monitor I'm running two monitors at the moment have love it, play games on the bigger one and watch tv shows, movies etc on the other all at the same time xD.

I have been looking at something which is pretty interesting.

Barebone systems http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/barebones.html
I think if i was to convert to a new motherboard and be able to support the later more modern CPU's then I'll do this instead of just completely rebuilding.

I've been looking at http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/prods/barebones/Nova...

Do you think getting a barebones system (the one above) would be better for me in my situation. In my eyes, it seems like a good choice.

Thanks =]
August 11, 2011 11:35:40 PM

Your case is pretty nice, antec 300. Guessing it is better than the case in the package.
I don't know either your power supply or the one in the package so can't say which would be better.

The main difference between a barebones and getting a MB package is that the CPU and heatsink are mounted on the MB, and the MB is mounted in the case. If you can do the mounting (who put together your current build?) then I'd stick with your antec three hundred case +PSU and get something like an i5-2500K based CPU, motherboard bundle from newegg $365US add 8GB of memory (you need new memory, can't reuse old). Or use the AMD build suggested above (but make sure that you are getting enough of an improvement in the games you play to make it worthwhile). Your old MB and memory and CPU will have value on ebay if you are willing to do all the work to sell there.

aside: They make these neat cans of pressured gas. If your PC is two years old and is getting hot then it may be time to blow all of the dust off your CPU heatsink and out of the heatsink on the graphics card. Here is what i mean: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
August 12, 2011 12:04:06 AM

What if I just moved my GPU and harddrives into that new system... And I could sell other parts of my current computer.

Would you say that, that Barebones system i linked wouldn't make things easier for me. And plus isn't the cpu "alot" better then my current?.

Thanks for help
August 12, 2011 3:47:53 PM

Anyone have any ideas?
August 12, 2011 6:31:28 PM

old cpu = intel q8200 Quad Core
new cpu = AMD Quad Core Phenom II X4 850

Tom's cpu hierarchy chart: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-llano-proces...

Tom's says: "I don’t recommend upgrading your CPU unless the potential replacement is at least three tiers higher. Otherwise, the upgrade is somewhat parallel and you may not notice a worthwhile difference in game performance."

Your current CPU is 5 down from the top, your new CPU would be 4 down from the top in with the Phenom II X4s. One tier different. Better, yes. How much? Not sure. Would i do this upgrade, no. The new intel I3, I5 and I7 intel cpus are really strong (code name Sandy Bridge, each model number has 4 digits after the dash, i7-920 = old, i7-2600 = new). Even the mid tier i5-2500 stomps on my formerly high end i7-920. If you want a barebones I'd go with a Sandy Bridge based barebones or wait a while to see the performance of the next generation of AMD processors (google bulldozer and amd). Once you build a new pc based on the Phenom II X4 you have nowhere to go up, the MB will not fully support future cpus.


"Even though, right now, everyone's attention is turned towards the high-performance Bulldozer CPUs that are expected to ship at the beginning of the summer, AMD is still developing new Phenom II and Athlon II processors and one of the first chips scheduled to arrive on the market is the Phenom II X4 850.

"When AMD launches the new chip, this will become the fastest 800-series Phenom II processor in AMD's lineup since its operating frequency will be set at 3.3GHz, 100Mhz more than the current Phenom II X4 840.

"Apart from the clock change, the rest of the chip will remain identical with the X4 840, as they both are based on the C3 revision of the Propus core.

"This core was designed by AMD to be used inside Athlon II processors and made its transition to the Phenom II line with the introduction of the X4 840.

"Its most distinctive feature is the lack of a Level 3 cache " http://news.softpedia.com/news/AMD-s-Phenom-II-X4-850-C...
August 13, 2011 2:57:57 PM

Thanks pal, I know what you mean. I think the best way for me is a intel chip. As I understand, to get a newer Intel chip I will need a new motherboard to support it.

So, after lots of searching around for a decent Barebones system with a i5-2500k (which looks like a great cpu). I've found.

http://www.aria.co.uk/Systems/Bundles/Intel+Overclocked...

Now, I'm not sure. But this might be slightly overpriced in terms of whats being provided. But it comes 4 gig ram, a motherboard to support the cpu and the i5-2500k overclocked to 4.3Ghz whichs seems pretty great. All for £300.

Now, personally. The reason why I want to upgrade is to get more performance for games. Would you say this bundle is worth it in my situation. Could I put this bundle in my current case and throw in my Gfx card and PSU and start her up?

Thanks again for the advice. Helps alot :) 
August 14, 2011 4:00:16 AM

Hi,

This would make a very strong system with your current video and a monster when you upgrade video.

The bundle from aria is a CPU, MB and memory. You would add the case, power supply, video, disk and operating system and you would assemble it. I don't know UK prices for electronics. This bundle is £249.99 or about $400 US before VAT. The same set of parts from newegg is about $100 for the MB, $220 for CPU, $34 for memory and $30 for cooler. Your bundle, before tax looks very close to what you'd pay at newegg without the benefit of having the chip overclock dialed in for you. Not bad.

re: "Would you say this bundle is worth it in my situation?" I'd like to have an i5-2500k based system (although i love my i7-920). This is a big step up from your q8200. Only you know if its worth it to you.

re: "Could I put this bundle in my current case and throw in my Gfx card and PSU and start her up? " I think so. Maybe someone else sees a gottcha. I don't, but I update prebuilt systems, not start from scratch. I'd guess they give you all the right cables, thermal pads/paste (or install the heatsink) provide screws and standoffs, etc. If you are going to run at 4.1-4,4ghz, you might add another case fan to your antec three hundred. (Many of the builds on toms use this case, maybe read the article and see what fans tehy use int eh case). http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/antec-three-hundred...

p.s. knowing the heat sink, processor, etc. support 4ghz+overclocking is a good thing. I personally would not run the system in the 4.1-4.4ghz range. I'd dial it back to a mild or no overclock for long term life of the cpu. (Maybe juice it up in a year or two when games might start having higher cpu requirements.) I'd also write down the BIOS settings on paper and save then somewhere safe as soon as you get the system. Eventually the bios will get reset and you'll really want to know what voltage, etc you were using to hit 4ghz+. You might ask the place to tell you what they would consider a mild overclock, and what settings to use for that.

p.p.s overclocking is fun, but it is not safe. The MB will let you specify voltage that will fry your cpu and other MB components. The damage can be sudden or cumulative over weeks or months. Compares the temps you are seeing and the voltages you are using to what others are using for their overclocks. If the voltage you are running typically works for 6 months or so then the chip fails you want to know that so you can make an informed decision. example "perhaps you’ll find it interesting that one of the remaining samples wasn't quite up to overclocking with Intel's Core i7 and endlessly reset. Another model that lacked such protection suffered catastrophic failure, and a third sample died, taking our Core i7 920 with it in the process." http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/x58-motherboard-i7,...

Here is a neat article about sandy bridge overclocking. It starts "Important Voltages when Overclocking

"There a few important voltages which you will need to manipulate while overclocking; below are the primary ones. Not every motherboard BIOS is identical, but all enthusiast level motherboards should provide control of the voltages as shown below.

"CPU Vcore – Directly related to the CPU frequency. As you increase the CPU frequency you would need incrementally increase the v-core as well. Sandy Bridge is very new, and a “safe” voltage range for long term reliability is not yet known. As we spend more time and learn more about this platform, I will update this guide with a more educated estimate. For now, I’d suggest staying below 1.45V or 80C load temperatures. " http://www.techreaction.net/2011/01/04/3-step-overclock...
August 14, 2011 1:05:14 PM

Thanks guys for the advice. Especially tsnor. I think I will go with that barebones system. I have a good friend of mine which should be willing to fit everything for me and get me on the road, but I'm yet to ask :) . I will ask the company if they could go lower on the OC or even no OC at all.

My current PC has been pretty good at doing everything a I need it to do so far (Game development, Lots of High demand programs running at once, Games etc.) Maybe I'll mount my current pc on my wall for nostalgia or something.

All your advice has been so helpful to me, towards considering a upgrade. So a huge thank you to everyone who has helped me so far :) .

Once again, Thank you
and Take care.
!