How far do I need to go to notice a big difference?

I want to replace my current machine, but I'm not sure how far I need to go to make a noticeable improvement over what I have now.

I haven't been able to run new games in a long time, and I haven't picked up anything new in a long time, either.

The last game that ran well on my machine was Hitman: Blood Money. Before that was Hitman: Contracts. I tried the Cyrsis demo and got very low FPS. I also have GTA IV and I get about 12 FPS (imagine playing Max Payne with bullet time constantly on ;) )

My current build:

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 4200+ (dual core, socket 939)
GPU: nVidia 7600 GT
RAM: 3 GB DDR 2

So, there's a ton of great stuff I haven't played, so I don't need a 'future proof' system. If I can get it to run GTA V and Hitman: Absolution, I'll be happy. But even if not, there's a big backlog of titles I can choose from.

My monitor is a 1440x900, so that's the resolution I'll be aiming for.

I don't have any idea for a budget yet. I don't want to spend too little and not notice a big difference. But then again, I don't want to spend more than I have to; if I'd be happy with a $500 build there's no point in building a $1,250 system.

I have an Antec Sonata II with a 380 watt PSU. I can re-use the case, but the CPU probably will need an upgrade. My HDD is old, and needs to go (I don't trust older HDDs; data is worth more that the drives to me so I usully replace them often). I have a DVD burner I can use. So basically I need everything but the case and the DVD burner.

I'd appreciate any advice or input you might have. Thanks in advance!
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  1. Seems to me that any upgrade will significantly improve your system. For this build, we can go with AMD since they produce cheaper CPUs and GPUs.


    CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 $125
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103808

    Graphics: PowerColor AX6870 $160
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131378

    MoBo: ASRock 970 EXTREME3 $85
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157280

    PSU: COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus 500W $40
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817171031

    Case: NZXT BETA $45
    http://www.amazon.com/Classic-Tower-steel-chassis-CS-NT-BETA-EVO/dp/B002OEBILA

    HDD: Seagate - Barracuda 1TB $55
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Seagate+-+Barracuda+1TB+Internal+Serial+ATA+Hard+Drive/8490625.p?id=1186003683968&skuId=8490625

    RAM: Crucial Ballistix sport 4GB $22
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148419

    Heatsink+Fan: STOCK $0

    DVD-ROM: LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer $19
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106333

    Total: $552

    Explanation: I chose the Phenom II x4 because it is a 4 core CPU, and it'll help future proof your system more because of the 4 cores it has. I chose the 6870 because it is a mid-range gfx card that is able to give decent FPS (60FPS) on Battlefield bad company 2 with a resolution of 1920x1080, so with your monitor resolution you should be able to withstand games for a while. The MoBo is CrossFire capable, which means in the future, if you decide to get another RADEON 6870 you can CF it and make the 2 gfx cards work together as one card. It is also an AM3+ MoBo, which supports the newest AMD FX CPUs, in case you want to upgrade later. CM PSU, 500W, enough for Crossfiring 2 6870's. NZXT BETA case looks kick ass for that price, I would totally recommend it. If you want, you can change to the NZXT GAMMA, which is about $10 less, but still cool. I really don't think the HDD is that price, since the HDD price has gone up and normal 1TB drives sell for ~$150, so we cautious. The 4GB of RAM will be sufficient for all your needs, most games don't exceed 1.5GB of RAM usage, so you should be fine for the next generation of games.
  2. r0aringdrag0n said:

    HDD: Seagate - Barracuda 1TB $55
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Seagate+-+Barracuda+1TB+Internal+Serial+ATA+Hard+Drive/8490625.p?id=1186003683968&skuId=8490625

    ---

    I really don't think the HDD is that price, since the HDD price has gone up and normal 1TB drives sell for ~$150, so we cautious.



    When I first read this, it was listed for $55 so I tried to buy one right away. Right at checkout my network went down, and I was tired so I called it a night.

    Worke up, tried to buy it, and the price had nearly trippled :(

    Your system is pretty close to what I had in mind, except I was thinking of going with a lesser vid card (to a 6570) but adding an SSD (for an OS drive - I know it won't do much for gaming except for load times, but I think it should make an improvement for everything else I do - web browsing, general computing, word procerssing, etc - right?)

    Maybe I'll hold off until January and look at HDD prices - and by then video cards should be a touch cheaper as well.

    Would I notice a huge difference from a 6570 to a 6850?

    Thanks!
  3. emesis said:
    When I first read this, it was listed for $55 so I tried to buy one right away. Right at checkout my network went down, and I was tired so I called it a night.

    Worke up, tried to buy it, and the price had nearly trippled :(

    Your system is pretty close to what I had in mind, except I was thinking of going with a lesser vid card (to a 6570) but adding an SSD (for an OS drive - I know it won't do much for gaming except for load times, but I think it should make an improvement for everything else I do - web browsing, general computing, word procerssing, etc - right?)

    Maybe I'll hold off until January and look at HDD prices - and by then video cards should be a touch cheaper as well.

    Would I notice a huge difference from a 6570 to a 6850?

    Thanks!

    Comparing the 6570 to a 6850 is like comparing a tank to a jeep in a contest in which has more firepower. the 6850 will boost your gaming performance beyond your wildest dreams. I normally tend not to add SSDs because of not being all the useful. It normally speeds up boot times by like 5 seconds, which is really insignificant. The CPU is what really matters
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