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Best system upgrade for $250-$275

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February 1, 2012 9:24:35 PM

Hello,Tom's Hardware community! I have a bit of a problem regarding a future upgrade for my computer. My birthday is coming up in about a month, and my parents promised me that they would pay for an upgrade to my current system. Now, my budget is relatively tight for what I'm trying to buy. Initially, no budget was set regarding components, but I decided to stay fairly conservative on price, in the 300$-325$ range. I presented what about 2 months of research had led to on the components I wanted, only to be shot down, and told that I needed to cut the price to about 250.00$ to 275.00$ range. Currently, I'm running an HP Pavillion Phoenix SE a6755y desktop (Google that for system specs), but upgraded with a Corsair Builders' series 600w power supply and a XFX Radeon HD 6870. I plan to keep the hard drive, disk drive, network card, power supply, and graphics card, and use the new setup as a mid range gaming PC. So, what I need your help with, is finding the best performance for that price range

Necessary components:
Motherboard-Must have at-least 1 PCI-e x1 slot, and 1 PCI-e x16 slot for network card and ATI HD 6870, DDR 3 1333 support
Case- Something, anything that has better airflow than a stock HP case, would prefer straight black, or if applicable, blue LED
Memory- 8 GB DDR3 1333
Processor: Doesn't matter as long as it's decent for gaming, at-least 3.0GHz

What I'm looking at now:
Motherboard:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Case-http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Memory-http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Processor- Phenom II x2 3.4ghz http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... or
Athlon II x4 3.1GHz-http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
If any money is left over-Extra case fan- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

*I may or may not be able to get a decent discount on the processor, because the father of a friend of mine works at AMD.

You help will be greatly appreciated!!!!! :D 

More about : system upgrade 250 275

February 1, 2012 9:33:19 PM

If you can get a good deal on an AMD processor then phenom II x4s are the best gaming cpus they make. You should easily be able to fit one into your budget.

For Intel bases computer you will be looking at an i3 most likely. generally the i3 is slightly faster in games than an AMD processor.
February 1, 2012 9:41:41 PM

Wouldn't I also be paying more for an intel compatible mobo?, I've looked at them and they seem to run more expensive. Also what about the other components I mentioned?
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February 1, 2012 9:54:35 PM

both intel and amd have motherboards starting at around $60. The cpu should be about $130 and the ram is about $50. would fit into your budge.

the i3 is better at less threaded applications while a phenom iix4 is better for multi threaded applications. Gaming generally favours the i3 if you don't OC the phenom, the i3 however cannot overclock.
February 1, 2012 9:59:06 PM

I don't really plan to overclock because I have no idea how to do it, but since I can hopefully get the discount on the AMD stuff ill probably go with the Phenom II x4. Does the case I linked have good airflow? or would it be a good idea to spend a little extra on another fan?
February 1, 2012 11:04:43 PM

I was already looking at that one before, on the more expensive upgrade I as looking at. Puts the total to 267 with 5 dollars shipping. my other concern is the Motherboard I linked. It seems a little barebones, but has two PCI-E x1, with one in a location so that my network card wont be impeded by my massive 6870.
February 2, 2012 5:26:09 AM

Volklskier25 said:
I was already looking at that one before, on the more expensive upgrade I as looking at. Puts the total to 267 with 5 dollars shipping. my other concern is the Motherboard I linked. It seems a little barebones, but has two PCI-E x1, with one in a location so that my network card wont be impeded by my massive 6870.

Why are you concerned about network card slot? Most motherboards have built in Network adapter so you do not need to use your old network card in the new mobo ( unless it is some fancy network card that claims to have magic powers to pawn your enemies in games).
February 2, 2012 6:25:02 AM

i3-2100 and an asrock z68 extreme 3 gen 3.
February 2, 2012 10:26:09 AM

amuffin said:
i3-2100 and an asrock z68 extreme 3 gen 3.

Looks to me like you didn't really read my wall of text... Just those two items already put me out of my budget range, and i still need a case and memory.
February 2, 2012 10:37:18 AM

randomkid said:
Why are you concerned about network card slot? Most motherboards have built in Network adapter so you do not need to use your old network card in the new mobo ( unless it is some fancy network card that claims to have magic powers to pawn your enemies in games).


Like I said before, this motherboard is as barebones as possible. Looking at the specs it doesn't look like it has built in WiFi functionality. The card im talking about allows me to hook up a WiFi recivier to the computer, so i can acess my home network.

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February 3, 2012 4:11:53 AM
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Volklskier25 said:
Like I said before, this motherboard is as barebones as possible. Looking at the specs it doesn't look like it has built in WiFi functionality. The card im talking about allows me to hook up a WiFi recivier to the computer, so i can acess my home network.

A wifi card, I see. In fact not even high end motherboards have built in wifi adapter. Okay, then.

For the motherboard, consider this instead. Being AM3+, you got possibility to drop in an FX processor in the future.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
or if you can afford a little more, this ( which features core unlocking capability if you select the Phenom 2 X2 565 ).
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
February 3, 2012 10:47:42 AM

I think im going spend a little more to go with the asus board. It has all the slots I need for my cards, and better memory compatability than the ECS board at only 10 dollors more. My only gripe is that it can only support 8Gb of memory. Id rather have quad channel memory in order to upgrade in the future than an onboard videochipset, but heck, 8Gb of DDR3 1600 is plenty for now.
Another question, would it be more worth it to buy the phenom II x2 565 and unlock to a quad core, or get the phenom II x4 960T and unlock to a x6 core thuban? Which has a higher success rate? And which is better for O.C'ing
February 3, 2012 11:12:31 AM

You are a kid who certainly know the right questions to ask. I myself will go for the 960T. For 25% additional cost, you have double the # of guaranteed cores. So unlocked or not unlocked, you got yourself a better deal with the 960T.
February 3, 2012 3:56:34 PM

After doing some research, it looks like the phenom II x2 565 has a MUCH higher sucess rate with core unlocking, compared to the 960T. If im ever going to get an 6 core processor, id wait till the new piledriver cores come out, along with windows 8, so the extra cost actually leads to better multithreded application proformance. If i get the 960T it puts me out of my budget range with the upgraded mobo. I think my best option both price and proformance wise at this point will be the 565, unlocking it, getting a new cooler once I have the money, then overclocking.
February 3, 2012 5:48:54 PM

Best answer selected by Volklskier25.
February 3, 2012 6:15:00 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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