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

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October 5, 2011 4:28:41 PM

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 
October 5, 2011 5:28:18 PM

Hi,

wow that's a low budget :p 

Here's my suggestion:
Mobo MSI 970 AM3+
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU Athlon II X3 445
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... <- apparently $10 off

RAM 2x2 GB RipJaws
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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,r...
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October 5, 2011 5:31:40 PM

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
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October 5, 2011 5:33:49 PM

That MSI board has unlock capability BTW.
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October 5, 2011 5:35:03 PM

I don't recommending an 8-series board at this point, since you mentioned wanting upgradability.
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October 5, 2011 6:54:51 PM

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=N82E168...

CPU Athlon II X3 445
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... <- apparently $10 off

RAM 2x2 GB RipJaws
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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,r...


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?
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October 5, 2011 7:11:16 PM

Also, what's the difference between AM3+ and AM3/AM3+ when searching on Newegg? And is it okay to get an Open Box?
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October 5, 2011 7:16:44 PM

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.
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October 8, 2011 7:14:32 PM

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?


:??: 

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October 8, 2011 7:40:56 PM

try this one:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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=N82E168...

Wintec 4 GB DDR3-1300; $24.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AS Rock H61M-VS: $53.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

total: $151.97, free shipping.



the Athlon II X3 450 vs Pentium G620:
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/189?vs=406
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October 8, 2011 8:30:27 PM

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
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October 9, 2011 4:52:09 AM

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?
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October 9, 2011 9:18:15 AM

You can install a Bulldozer processor but all the features are only enabled on 900-series chips.
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October 9, 2011 3:03:10 PM

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?
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October 11, 2011 3:53:20 PM

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?
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October 11, 2011 4:00:26 PM

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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!