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$300-$400 to spend on system upgrade, not sure what to keep/sell

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September 23, 2011 7:54:24 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: ~3 weeks BUDGET RANGE: $300 to $400 should be enough,

USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Internet usage, Movies, Coding/Work,

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Mouse, Monitor, Speakers, Power supply (400-500 Watts, I think), OS (windows XP), OEM blu-ray drive. The HD is compatible with SATA. Case is an Ultra (?) ATX Mid-Tower, compatible with Micro ATX, AT, and Baby AT.

NOT SURE IF I SHOULD KEEP WITH THE NEW BUILD OR SELL/THROW OUT: I'm currently using 2 1gig sticks of DDR2 RAM--is a a motherboard that handles DDR3 RAM going to be backwards compatible with my DDR2 sticks. My GPU is an EVGA eGeForce 8800 GT--my monitor is HDMI compatible, but my video-card isn't: is it worth upgrading?

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: No real preference, I have accounts with the majors players. But I am open to others if the prices are better.

PARTS PREFERENCES: I grew up buying intel chips, call it sentimental value only. Realistically, whatever gives the best price/performance.

OVERCLOCKING: No SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Don't know what they are, and I'm not looking for a fight.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Monitor is Dell 2408WFP, http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c...

Not sure what an ideal resolution is for a wide-screen monitor, maybe you can make a suggestion?

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

I've been building my own machines since high school just by shopping around, and the last time I made a motherboard/CPU/RAM purchase was about three years ago. I'm looking for a compatible build with most of my hardware so that I can just upgrade my mobo, CPU, and possibly RAM/GPU, if necessary. I'm looking to put together a build to play first person shooters from 2010-2011. I don't need to see the reflection of my avatar in my eye, I just want a playable frame rate.

As a side comment, if I could get some information about installing quiet cooling systems, I'd be appreciative too.

I'm still not sure where to start as far as processors/motherboards. I don't know whether it's worth keeping or trashing my graphics card, and I would like opinions on the following:

MotherBoard:
ASUS F1A75-M FM1 AMD A75 (Hudson D3) HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Processor:
AMD Phenom II X4 840 Edition Deneb 3.2 GHz 4x512 KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004LRO9B4/ref=asc_df_B004LRO9...

RAM:
Patriot Viper II PGV34G1600ELK 4096MB PC12800 DDR3 Dual Channel Memory Upgrade - 4GB (2 x 2048MB), 1600MHz
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Is the DDR2 RAM going to be compatible with the DDR3 MoBo I'm going to buy?

None of these are set in stone!! I'm just looking for advice, how to get the best "bang for my buck" and some direction where to take this build.

Thanks a lot for your free advice, it's really appreciated!
September 23, 2011 9:54:40 PM

They shouldnt be set in stone ... since the mb and processor are incompatible

DDR2 and DDR 3 are not interchangeable either

If I was you , I'd look at the tomshardware system builder marathon [ on the home page] $500 build . You have the case, psu and dvd drive so that brings it in to your price range . You could make selective changes to things like the RAM too which was a little too budget ,
AND to guarantee future upgrades swap the motherboard for one using the latest 970 series chipset which support the next generation of processors and gives you the latest technologies
The 6870 is an excellent performer at 1080p resolution

But ideally you need a copy of Win 7 64 bit to make use of the RAM
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September 23, 2011 10:44:02 PM

What does a "400-500W" PSU mean? What's the model? Take a look. If it's a clunker, you'll need a new one for safety.
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September 24, 2011 12:08:31 AM

1) What is your current cpu? In what way does your current pc not satisfy you?

2) That Dell is one great monitor. It would be a shame to run it at anything other than it's native resolution of 1920 x 1200.
HDMI is just like DVI except that it also sends sound. No reason to prefer one over the other. Since you have discrete speakers, HDMI is irrelevant.

3) You have a good start, in that you can reuse the case, probably the psu, the DVD drive (assming it is sata), and the hard drive.
How big is the hard drive, and how much space do you need?

4) For gaming, the graphics card is the most important component. How well are you doing now with the 8800GT? Initially, you could also reuse that, assuming it is a pci-e card. If your gaming is for strategy based games like civilization, it will do. If you favor fast action games, then you are looking at a stronger card, something like a $150 GTX550ti or similar. If you go for an even stronger card, you are looking at a psu upgrade past 400w to support it.

5) If you will upgrade your cpu, then look an Intel sandy bridge of some form. Most games use two cores, and a quad largely goes unused. If you have multi core enabled apps, then a quad would be better. Read this article on <$200 gaming cpu's:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-gaming-cpu-cor...
I like the 2100 for a budget build, particularly if you are not an overclocking enthusiast.

6) It is not clear if you can reuse your XP license. If it is from a pre-built pc, probably not. If it was a retail license then yes. It is really a moot point because a 64 bit version of windows 7 is probably the right thing to do. It will cost about $90.

7) DDR2 and DDR3 have different socket keys, and are incompatible. DDR3 ram is very cheap. You can get 8gb(2 x 4gb) for about $40.

8) Here is what I tentatively suggest for starters:
Intel 2100 cpu $125
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
H61 micro-atx motherboard $55
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
8gb of ram $41
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
My last build was for my son using these three components. He uses two 1920 x 1200 monitors attached to the integrated sandy bridge graphics.
It works fine for movies and civilization(my favorite game) It is about the strength of a $50 graphics card, and probably not much different from your 8800GT.
For the other part of the budget, get windows 7, and put it on a SSD.
Yes, a small SSD can be bought for about $100:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Prices are dropping, so you should be able to get 60gb for that price if you shop around. Use your current hard drive for storage and overflow.
Believe me, a PC with a SSD feels very responsive.

9) The stock intel cooler is quiet at normal loads. At max load, the small fan can be noisy. If you think this is a problem, look at the Xigmatek gaia or cm hyper212 coolers. They include quiet 120mm fans and cost about $30.

10) I would do the cpu/mobo first, and leave the graphics for later when you have been able to properly evaluate your needs.

----------good luck------------

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September 24, 2011 8:07:51 PM

Outlander_04 said:
They shouldnt be set in stone ... since the mb and processor are incompatible

DDR2 and DDR 3 are not interchangeable either

If I was you , I'd look at the tomshardware system builder marathon [ on the home page] $500 build . You have the case, psu and dvd drive so that brings it in to your price range . You could make selective changes to things like the RAM too which was a little too budget ,
AND to guarantee future upgrades swap the motherboard for one using the latest 970 series chipset which support the next generation of processors and gives you the latest technologies
The 6870 is an excellent performer at 1080p resolution

But ideally you need a copy of Win 7 64 bit to make use of the RAM




Hey thanks a lot for your advice, I hadn't seen the marathon system build, but it's a great place to start.

Would you mind recommending a MoBo that uses the 970 chipset, so I have some upgradability? What would you suggest for a slightly more powerful RAM--Mushkin Enhanced Redline 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) 240-Pin DDR3-1600 Kit was used in the $1000 system, but that MoBo & CPU is priced too high for me.
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September 24, 2011 8:14:46 PM

geofelt said:
1) What is your current cpu? In what way does your current pc not satisfy you?

2) That Dell is one great monitor. It would be a shame to run it at anything other than it's native resolution of 1920 x 1200.
HDMI is just like DVI except that it also sends sound. No reason to prefer one over the other. Since you have discrete speakers, HDMI is irrelevant.

3) You have a good start, in that you can reuse the case, probably the psu, the DVD drive (assming it is sata), and the hard drive.
How big is the hard drive, and how much space do you need?

4) For gaming, the graphics card is the most important component. How well are you doing now with the 8800GT? Initially, you could also reuse that, assuming it is a pci-e card. If your gaming is for strategy based games like civilization, it will do. If you favor fast action games, then you are looking at a stronger card, something like a $150 GTX550ti or similar. If you go for an even stronger card, you are looking at a psu upgrade past 400w to support it.

5) If you will upgrade your cpu, then look an Intel sandy bridge of some form. Most games use two cores, and a quad largely goes unused. If you have multi core enabled apps, then a quad would be better. Read this article on <$200 gaming cpu's:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-gaming-cpu-cor...
I like the 2100 for a budget build, particularly if you are not an overclocking enthusiast.

6) It is not clear if you can reuse your XP license. If it is from a pre-built pc, probably not. If it was a retail license then yes. It is really a moot point because a 64 bit version of windows 7 is probably the right thing to do. It will cost about $90.

7) DDR2 and DDR3 have different socket keys, and are incompatible. DDR3 ram is very cheap. You can get 8gb(2 x 4gb) for about $40.

8) Here is what I tentatively suggest for starters:
Intel 2100 cpu $125
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
H61 micro-atx motherboard $55
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
8gb of ram $41
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
My last build was for my son using these three components. He uses two 1920 x 1200 monitors attached to the integrated sandy bridge graphics.
It works fine for movies and civilization(my favorite game) It is about the strength of a $50 graphics card, and probably not much different from your 8800GT.
For the other part of the budget, get windows 7, and put it on a SSD.
Yes, a small SSD can be bought for about $100:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Prices are dropping, so you should be able to get 60gb for that price if you shop around. Use your current hard drive for storage and overflow.
Believe me, a PC with a SSD feels very responsive.

9) The stock intel cooler is quiet at normal loads. At max load, the small fan can be noisy. If you think this is a problem, look at the Xigmatek gaia or cm hyper212 coolers. They include quiet 120mm fans and cost about $30.

10) I would do the cpu/mobo first, and leave the graphics for later when you have been able to properly evaluate your needs.

----------good luck------------


1) My current CPU/Mobo is an OLD EVGA nForce 650i Ultra Motherboard with an Intel Pentium D 925 Processor, 3 GHz Dual-Core, it's just not up to the task for the first-person shooters like Portal 2 and Dues Ex that I want to play.

2) Thanks for clearing that up.

3) I just bought an internal 1T Hard Drive, so it's fresh and has plenty of space.

4) Thanks for the advice on the GPU, I guess what I'll do is focus on the MoBo/CPU/RAM first, and if the card is really holding me back I'll upgrade that too, but I'm hoping that those three components will at least get me to a new level of gaming.

6) My XP license is legit, bought it retail, not part of a pre-built case. Is Windows 7 really going to give me a performance boost, will I be holding my hardware back if I'm trying to run it in XP? Would you be willing to explain that a little clearer, thanks? And will installing it on a SSD improve gaming performance, or just my general internet usage?

Thanks for getting me started here, I really appreciate the help!
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September 24, 2011 8:28:10 PM

What's the PSU?
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September 25, 2011 1:02:24 PM

ScrewySqrl said:
here's my $400 suggestion.

keep case, blu-ray, hard drive

Asus 760G am3+ mobo: $57.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Phenom II X4 955 + Corsair CX 500 v2: $162.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

4 GB DDR3: $23.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

XFX HD6850 + free Deus Ex $149.99 w/ $30 rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$394.95

+1
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