Is it worth upgrading a 5 year old computer?


I bought my current computer off eBay at the end of 09, it's a Dell E520 and was originally built in early 07. The eBay seller had upgraded the heck out of it so when it reached me, it had:

Q6600 2.4ghz
Powercolor HD4650 512mb Go Green edition
305W Dell PSU
as well as a PCI soundcard and USB expansion.

I know this is no supercomputer by any means but it was cheap and cheerful at the time. Now I'm beginning to outgrow it a little as newer versions of software are requiring higher and higher spec.

So I was wondering, is it worth upgrading some components, specifically the PSU and graphics card? Would it be a waste of money to do this on a 5+ year old motherboard?

What is the life expectancy of a MoBo, or indeed any of my other components?

I suppose what I'm asking is, should I bother updating it, or wait til I can just buy a whole new computer? (probably 2013 at this rate!)
18 answers Last reply
More about worth upgrading year computer
  1. So what is the intended use? That's pretty much need to know before saying anything.
  2. If I were you, I would get a decent PSU (500-600w) and a new video card so you can play new games, and then in 2013, build a whole new system using those same components you bought.
  3. To be honest, with a 300 watt power supply if you were to put a video card in there it would be very bad. I doubt the PSU even has an 8 pin connector for the video card. So, I second fb39ca4 on that. If you aren't quite ready to upgrade everything you could upgrade with a 700-800 watt PSU and a decent video card then in a couple years use the same PSU and replace everything else.

    edit: the life of all parts is sort of a mixed bag, most have warranties of a few years (typically 2 or 3) so you expect them to last at least that long. If you treat it like a car, they have 3 year warranties for the most of the time and can be driven for 10 years or more! Things like overclocking will shorten the life of parts typically, but I doubt you are overclocking much. General use PCs can last a longgggg time!
  4. +1 to fb39ca4

    your processor is quad core and a very good processor and you just have to buy a 600watt or 550watt psu and a good card like gtx 460 if low in budget then get ati 6790 and you will be able to play games all that will come in next 2 years then change you this pc to i7
  5. If you're looking for a small upgrade without spending a lot of money (say, budget $100), you can buy just a better low profile video card which doesn't require auxiliary power (e.g. HD 6670)

    Otherwise if you want a substantial upgrade, its likely you'll have problems with your tower fitting a nice GPU and PSU. To get this to work it will require a bit of ambition on your part:

    Buy a new case $50-150, at least a mid-tower. That G520 tower is what Dell calls a mini-tower and many of the video cards worth the upgrade are 10-11" in length, so they won't fit, also possible problems getting a PSU to fit, and a CPU air cooler if you chose to do that (see below).

    Buy a quality 500-600W power supply $70-100.

    Buy an HD 6950 or GTX 560Ti, $220-280.

    Buy a decent aftermarket air cooler for your CPU $30-50. A reasonable overclock to the Q6600 CPU on air cooling is 3.0Ghz, and the ceiling on air cooling is about 3.6Ghz. ( I have to give you the disclaimer that I dont know what your motherboard is capable of in terms of overclocking. )

    If you don't want to do the overclocking, dont buy a CPU cooler and just buy a little cheaper video card like a HD 6870 or GTX 460 (note: these cards will still require PSU/Case upgrade) to limit the bottleneck, those are in the $150 price range.

    Pull this off, and in the future you can simply spend $300-500 more on new CPU/MOBO/RAM and your system will be completely overhauled, but for now if you're on a budget, your CPU is worth keeping.

    Good luck.
  6. you're in a tough spot. if I were going to upgrade the rest inside a 2 year period I'd buy a top end card and a PS that could handle it and my next upgrades. carry the card and PS over to next build.
  7. Hello guys, thanks for all the replies!

    I should have been clearer from the outset.

    My intentions are to do nothing that requires too much intensity. The only game I would play for the next 5 years is BF3 (judging from my experience with BF2) and I don't mind having that on medium settings.

    I also spend a lot of time with the whole adobe suite as I illustrate and animate for a living. Basically I would love for it to be as simple as "just buy a new gpu and that should carry you through for another 4 years at least", but I doubt that.

    I want it to be reliable, and last a long time.

    The fact that my MoBo is already 5 years old is what worries me.

    I am on a budget, roughly £100 tops ($160). If I buy a new GPU (probably the HD5670 because of it's low power) and my current PSU can't handle it, would I have warning signs or will it explode suddenly? My brother is currently throwing out his old Dell (coincidentally another from the same generation) and his PSU is 375w, would it be recommended to just grab his PSU or is it bad news getting one second hand?
  8. i don't know how much greater the 5670 will be but it will probably run on your current PS.
  9. Thanks Swifty but it's that 'probably' that worries me. With it being my only computer, until I find more work (and money), my livelihood depends on it so I need it to be reliable.

    According to that Xtreme PSU calculator thing, a 305w wouldn't be quite enough at full load, so would taking my brothers (equally 5 year old) 375w Dell PSU pose any problems?
  10. Nevermind guys, I've rethought the importance of my computer after my last post. I'd really love to upgrade the GPU but I don't want to endanger the lifespan and reliability of it.

    I guess I'll just have to build a new one next year from scratch. Thanks anyway!
  11. If you can salvage the 375w PSU from the Dell PC then do so.

    Dell PSUs are generally better than average, and actual power output is a bit higher than listed (as a safety margin). It's either manufactured by Delta or FSP.
  12. My worry with that though is. My brother bought his PC in 2007 and it worked fine, then he took it to his student accommodation the year after and it wouldn't boot up there, couldn't get past the BIOS screen, made strange beeps and flashed its lights. Didn't bother him much because he was a typical sociable student lol.

    However, the year after that (2009) he moved into his own apartment, where the computer worked absolutely fine again (and continues to do so). I suspect the issue was with the outlet at his student accommodation, would this have damaged the PSU somewhat?

    The good thing is he didn't use it for a year so it's only actually 3 years aged instead of 4, but could that dodgy outlet have caused permanent unseen damage to a PSU?
  13. If you are going to spend anything on it, get a PSU, then a GPU in that order, everything else will be good for a while in my opinion. But i'd be nervous about that PSU as it ages.
  14. Thanks 13thmonkey, that's what I'm planning now I think. But how long will the MoBo last? Also my Q6600 is running at 40-50C idle, 65-75C full load, is this normal?
  15. Yeah, its normal if you have the stock intel HSF. What resolution will you be playing BF3 on?
  16. at least 720p, I really don't mind a general medium look. If it matches consoles, I'm happy.

    Monitor reaches 1080p but I don't expect to play that high on my budget. As for other uses for a new GPU, I'd use it for Photoshop and Video editing mainly. (by video, I mean animation, which is generally far less intensive than full fledged film)
  17. well i'm running a Q9550, marginally better than a Q6600, and am having no troubles at all, also the psu and then gpu can be happily reused in the next build, so its not a waste. Looking at the Bf3 review in toms, it doesn't scale with cpu, so virtuall any old cpu will help, but i've heard people going from dual to quad getting a better feel.
    So that quad will be fine for a good long while.
  18. Just replaced the cpu on a Dell Optiplex 745 with a E6300. Added a 8400GS and its running perfectly on its 250w psu. My son is having major fun with it.

    OP if you want to do one good upgrade on a dell, then get another mobo
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