Need advice on budget gaming upgrade of mobo/CPU/RAM

Approximate Purchase Date: ASAP


Budget Range: $150-200 After Rebates


System Usage from Most to Least Important: moderate gaming, surfing the internet, watching online videos, music, photo editing


Parts Not Required: XFX GeForce 9600GT graphics card, Corsair VX450W PSU, keyboard, mouse, 22" widescreen monitor, speakers, Antec Sonata case w/ one 120mm fan, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com, amazon.com


Country of Origin: USA


Parts Preferences: Leaning towards AMD AM3 cpu's, but willing to look at Intel. Prefer quality, but affordable mobo - Asus, MSi, Gigabyte. No preference for memory as long as they're from a reputable make and at least 2GB.


Overclocking: Maybe


SLI or Crossfire: Maybe


Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050


Additional Comments: My old Chaintech VNF4/Ultra mobo died and I'm looking to salvage what I can for as little as possible. Would like to see some improvement from my AMD Athlon 64 x2 3800+ and 2GB DDR SDRAM. I'd prefer to have a flexible upgrade path within reason for the life of the mobo - at least one CPU replacement, adding memory, and replacing the gpu. Also, would like to make it a reasonably quiet pc. Games I play: C&C3, Silent Hunter 4, Company of Heroes. Hope I'm not asking for too much! :D
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More about need advice budget gaming upgrade mobo
  1. Hi,

    wow that's a low budget :P

    Here's my suggestion:
    Mobo MSI 970 AM3+
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130608

    CPU Athlon II X3 445
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103872 <- apparently $10 off

    RAM 2x2 GB RipJaws
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231277

    Total $202.97 -10

    I skimped on the CPU to you get a proper mobo that allows updating to BullDozer in the future. Memory is solid and the Athlon II X3 is still on the Best CPUs list for the strictest budgets: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/gaming-sandy-bridge-cpu,review-32284-2.html
  2. If possible, get a mobo that allows you to unlock the 4th core to your Athlon X3. From experience, I know the ASRock 880GMH board works fine for that purpose. It's somewhere on newegg for ~$80
  3. That MSI board has unlock capability BTW.
  4. I don't recommending an 8-series board at this point, since you mentioned wanting upgradability.
  5. FinneousPJ said:
    Hi,

    wow that's a low budget :P

    Here's my suggestion:
    Mobo MSI 970 AM3+
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130608

    CPU Athlon II X3 445
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103872 <- apparently $10 off

    RAM 2x2 GB RipJaws
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231277

    Total $202.97 -10

    I skimped on the CPU to you get a proper mobo that allows updating to BullDozer in the future. Memory is solid and the Athlon II X3 is still on the Best CPUs list for the strictest budgets: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/gaming-sandy-bridge-cpu,review-32284-2.html


    Thanks for your suggestions. Yeah, I think I have to go with AM3+ from the perspective of value and upgradeability. I'm unfamiliar with motherboards these days and feeling a little burned by choosing Chaintech all those years ago - it was a good board, but the support and manual sucked and the company got out of the mobo business! So, how would you rate or rank mobo manufacturers today?
  6. Also, what's the difference between AM3+ and AM3/AM3+ when searching on Newegg? And is it okay to get an Open Box?
  7. If the open box product are still under warranty I guess it's fine if it doesn't bother you. As for the motherboard just get one with a 900-series chipset and you're good.
  8. I'm definitely going with the Athlon II x3 450, especially with that $10 rebate! :D

    I'm still going back and forth on mobo, though. I was zeroing in on a 970 chipset board, like the Asus M5A97 or the Gigabyte GA-970A-UD3, but I'm having second thoughts. I'm trying to figure out if there's a chance that I'll eventually upgrade the CPU to a Bulldozer in this mobo's lifetime. I mean, there's plenty of power in a high-end quad-core Phenom II, right? Money is really tight now, so that's why I'm waffling.

    If I decide to go with an AM3 socket, then I'm considering the ASRock M3A770DE for only $59.99 plus $4.99 shipping. I've read that ASRock used to be owned by Asus and has a pretty good reputation. What do you guys think? I just want to avoid another Chaintech - i.e. failed business. Does ASRock make good quality boards that are reliable?

    What about Asus' M4A87T?


    :??:
  9. try this one:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131728

    its am3+ ready, (95W max, so 41xx, 61xx) and much cheaper.

    ---
    alternately:

    Pentium G620 2.6GHz: $72.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116399

    Wintec 4 GB DDR3-1300; $24.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820161456

    AS Rock H61M-VS: $53.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157241

    total: $151.97, free shipping.


    the Athlon II X3 450 vs Pentium G620:
    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/189?vs=406
  10. Only AM3+ motherboards with a 970 or 990 series chipset are worth considering at this point .
    Search on Newegg for the chipset and you find them .

    The main problem will be is that for now gaming performance wont improve much , or even at all . The graphics card ill still be the limitation
  11. I noticed that there are some AM3+ motherboards with 880g chipset that claim to be ready for Bulldozer cpu's. Is that true? What's the catch?
  12. You can install a Bulldozer processor but all the features are only enabled on 900-series chips.
  13. FinneousPJ said:
    You can install a Bulldozer processor but all the features are only enabled on 900-series chips.

    Yes, but i'm curious about what features would be missing on the 880g?
  14. OK, I've decided to narrow my choice to an AM3 board due to serious budgetary constraints. Besides, I think I still have a decent upgrade path for my needs. Anyway, I'm seriously looking at ASRock M3A770DE or ASUS M4A87T. Does anyone know if both have solid-state capacitors or is that no longer a worry?
  15. AS Rock uses solid caps on 'mission critical' parts, and less fancy caps elsewhere as a cost savings. It tends to translate to solid caps where the most stress would be, and where they standard caps are, the lower stress doesn't worry the lower-quality caps.
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