In which order should I upgrade?

Ok so my current PC just won't cut it for any game made within the past few years so I've finally decided to build a new one. However, because I am 1. Impatient and want to play some of the games that came out this year and 2. Would rather pay in monthly installments (can't since I'm 19 and have no credit) I have decided to buy a few parts at a time in essence transforming my current system into the new one. I'm not really sure what order I should do this in though to make it a smooth transition and also avoid buying parts I won't be able to put into my current rig. Anyway, here's my current setup.

Apex TX-381-C

Biostar A880G+ Micro ATX AM3

AMD Athlon II x2 3.2GHz

nVidia GeForce GT430 Fermi

ePower 550W

Rendition by Crucial 2GB

Not sure on the HD or CD/DVD drive as I pulled them out of an old Dell and never really looked at them.

And here is what my final build will be after all upgrades:

Cooler Master Storm Enforcer:

ASRock Z68 Extreme4 Gen3

Intel i5 2500k

HIS IceQ X Turbo X 6950 (may unlock it to a 6970 and possibly add a second one a few weeks after I purchase everything on this list)

Corsair AX750

Corsair Vengeance 8GB 1600

Crucial M4 128GB SSD

Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB

Samsung Blu-ray drive

Cooler Master Hyper212 EVO

Plus a Cooler Master Megaflow 200mm fan for the top of my case and a Cooler Master Sickleflow 120mm for the rear and some cathodes.

I'm not really sure which order I should upgrade the components in. There are some parts that obviously need to be purchased together such as CPU/Mobo, SSD/Windows but I'm not sure what would be the smartest order to do this in. I'd like to do it in parts of around 300-500 give or take on each purchase but if the only good way is to buy everything in 2 or 3 parts I'll do what I have to. Unless this is extremely stupid to do I would rather do this than buy it all at once. Any suggestions?
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More about order upgrade
  1. I think your order should be this.

    CPU Cooler
    Bluray Drive

    You can buy RAM right now and use it in your current system. You will probably notice an immediate speed increase. Then get CPU/Motherboard/hard drive and put them in your current case. Use the stock cooler and don't OC until you get the new case/cpu cooler. You will have to reinstall windows when you get the new Mobo which is why I suggest getting the hard drive at the same time. Then get the PSU and Case and move all your stuff into the new case and hook it up. Then get the GPU since you have a good enough PSU installed. Then get the CPU cooler and OC. Finally add the blu-ray drive at the end.
  2. If I get the CPU/Mobo/SSD all at once (I'm installing Windows on the SSD) I'll have to also get windows which will be about 750. Is it possible for me to install Windows on the SSD and keep my current HD for a while? Since the HD will be purely storage. Would I have to do anything to the current HD?

    That way I could break it up into CPU/Mobo and SSD/Windows and then get the new HD later perhaps along with the Bluray Drive? So something along the lines of:

    RAM/Case/Fans/PSU ~$350
    GPU ~$300
    SSD/Windows ~$300
    CPU/Mobo ~$410
    HD/Bluray/CPU cooler ~$250

    Would that work?
  3. The motherboard that the OP already has doesn't say it works with 1600 RAM. The RAM with part number CML8GX3M2A1600C9 is also not on the QVL of the old motherboard.

    For that matter, it isn't on the QVL of the new motherboard either.

    There are only two 4 gig stick types that are on the original motherboard's QVL and neither of those are on the new motherboard's QVL.

    You are rolling the dice if you try to do jsrudd's plan of new RAM for the old system and then bring it forward to the new system.

    For this reason, I always urge people to upgrade their core (Processor, RAM, and CPU) as one unit.

    I do think in this case that it is a good idea to do what I generally suggest here as well. However, I think you should choose different RAM. Something that is on the QVL of your new motherboard.

    Here is the QVL listing for the new motherboard:

    I suggest you look through the RAM listed on that page and buy one listed there of your preference rather than the Corsair Vengence 2x 4GBs.

    This core (Processor, CPU, and Motherboard) will work with the rest of the old parts. However, you will need to reinstall windows on your old hard drive when you make this switch.

    If you want to avoid having to reinstall windows on the old drive and to install it again on the new drive, you will have to get the new drive along with the core. This will require stretching because of the high priced motherboard you have chosen as well as the high priced SSD. It is your call in this regard.

    If you don't get the SSD along with the core, then get it in the next batch

    As an aside, if it were me, I would get the SSD along with #2 and suffer through having to waste time reinstalling windows on the old hard drive in #1. The reason for this is that you won't have to install two different video cards on any one drive. The change over process for video cards doesn't always go smoothly and there is no change over process if the new HD and new Video Card are gotten at the same time.

    #2) PSU & Video Card (& SSD if not gotten in #1).

    Another aside, I would get a better PSU up front if you are sure you want to go with 2x or more video cards. I generally suggest 650 for 1 high end card and +200w for each other video card.

    That being said, a more exact figure for determining the necessary power is to count it manually. 75w per card comes from the motherboard slot itself. Add to that 25w per pair of PCIE wires (6 pin = 75w, 8pin = 100w). So a video card with 1x8 and 1x6 has a potential draw of 250w and 2x6 = 225w.

    The initial 650w I suggested is a little aggressive so it can soak up the extra 25ws on 8+6 cards with only +200 instead of +225.

    In any event, if you are not considering going over an x2 setup then you will be fine with a regular 850w (if the manufacturer website says a higher number, go with that instead).

    As another aside here, if you get the hard drive in this step (which I recommend) then you will have to use the old CD drive to install windows with and to use for a long time. Old CD drives in new systems can cause the system to boot extremely slowly.

    This step will require stretching no matter how you slice it. If you stretch even further in this step to get the CD drive, you will potentially avoid 10 minute boot up times, though. Not that you are guaranteed to have that if you don't stretch here, but it is a possibility and it can potentially make the time you wait to save up the next $300 - $500 pretty excruciating so I feel I must mention it here.

    Step #3 - Whatever you didn't already get, Case, CPU cooler, potentially the CD Drive, 1 TB standard hard drive

    Step #4 - Potentially another video card.

    Some final thoughts, though...

    1) I would suggest you stick with a single video card configuration and not go with more than one video card. If you follow that advice then you can drop $100 from the cost of the motherboard as well. I would do that if you intend not to go with 2+ video cards as well.

    2) 2x high end video cards can create a lot of heat. You will want to have the maximum size fans in every available slot if you go this route.

    3) If you DO want to have 2x video cards, don't put them in adjacent slots. The top one will have trouble breathing if you do this. Make sure there is a wide gap between the slots you have the video cards in. Ideally, you want to have one in the highest and one in the lowest slot if at all possible in order to have the maximum room for the top one to breathe.

    4) This order does require stretching the 300 - 500 budget most likely, potentially even largely so. However, I do think that it will be the easiest and least error prone way to progress through the build. If you want to minimize potential pain and suffering, the way I described is a good way to do it.

    You could have no problems at all if you go a different way, but there are many potential (and quite painful) problems you will only experience if you deviate from this plan. Some of them I have tried to describe quickly above in my asides, but there are too many potential points of failure for me to list all of them.

    5) Don't shy away from the payment plans. Ask Newegg if you can have one of their credit cards. They may just accept you, especially if you demonstrate willingness to make a large purchase on it and/or you demonstrate willingness to pay in blocks of $500.

    Credit is all about risk management. The card company risks you buying things and never making payments. They don't want to take a money loss and you don't want to take a credit loss, so a lot is riding on you making the payments on time.

    However, card companies are much more willing to accept people with short lines of credit (say, $300) rather than tall ones ($1000+). If you can show that you can pay for most of the purchase up front and only charge like $100 of it then the card company's risk is much reduced since $100 is their maximum loss instead of say $600.

    Believe me, they WANT to give you a card, they are just scared to. If you make it easy on them, they may just do it.

    I say all this because if you can build your credit when you are young, it will help you a lot when it comes time to, say, buy a car instead of a computer.

    If you can indeed get the card and pay $500 up front and $15 a month or so it will minimize interest charges for the computer AND it will minimize interest charges when you go to buy a car which could potentially be more than $100 a month in interest alone.

    If you can pay $1 a month in interest now, it may save you $50 a month in interest later.

    You absolutely must be responsible with credit though, no credit is often better than bad credit. If you do get a shallow $100 credit line or something you absolutely must pay it on time every time.

    If you can't get a card from newegg, consider just going to whatever bank your parents use and trying to get a secured card. You might be able to potentially get your parents to give the money to secure it if they think you are trustworthy.

    A secured card just means if you have a $1000 limit then there is $1000 in cash in an untouchable account that the bank can pull from if you don't pay. They will still hammer your credit, but they won't take a $ loss. This maximizes your chances of actually getting a card successfully. Then you can proceed with the above plan of paying $500 in cash and keeping $100 on the card and making your monthly payments on time.

    If your parents won't secure it, though, its tougher. You would have to come up with the cash to secure it yourself which would delay your computer purchasing but it would set you up for a life of less interest later which is very very good for you.

    As long as you are responsible, it is never too early to start with credit. If you need more time to become responsible, though, then wait on it. Doing like a lot of kids do and maxing the card and not paying on time can set you up for a life of pain and that happens a lot when non-responsible people get credit cards.

    Anyway, if you can make it work and you can handle your end, I would try to pursue it. There should be something in there somewhere that can work for you if you can arrange it. Feel free to discuss the options I outlined with your parents or other adults you trust.

    - Edit - Typo
  4. That was very informative Raidinn. I doubt that I am going to go for an xfire set up just because by the time I need it there will likely be a single card out that will be a better solution/upgrade. Because of that I'm going to look for a cheaper mobo. Also I found some RAM from GSkill that was tested with the original board I had picked but it was 1.25V. In case the new board I pick out only lists lower voltage RAM what is the difference between 1.5 and 1.25?

    So from what you have told me it seems the best route would be:

    Case/PSU/Fans/Blu-Ray ~350
    Mobo/CPU ~350 (depends on what mobo I find)
    GPU/RAM ~350
    SSD/Windows ~300 (May find a cheaper SSD)
    HD/CPU cooler ~200

    I want to get the case and what not first so that I don't have to install everything into my current case and then at the end move it all into the new one. Then Mobo/CPU to ensure compatibility with my RAM and hopefully my current RAM will work on the new mobo. I put SSD/Windows second to last because I have no problem with reinstalling Windows on my current HD even a couple times if I have to. Plus I'll have all my new components by the time I get my SSD.

    Is that a better path to take? Also there's no way I could get my parents to help me get any kind of credit card. For some reason they're extremely against credit cards. Do you think if I called Newegg I'd have a better chance of getting a line of credit through them? I could pay around $500 upfront and have it paid off in a couple months. I make about $200 a week plus I'll be selling my current PC and my PS3 as I won't have use for it. I would like to get it all at once to avoid any problems but I find it easier to spend this much money in payments and of course I'm impatient.
  5. I changed the mobo to an ASRock Extreme3 Gen3 it's $125 so about $60 cheaper. I also dropped the Crucial M4 SSD for a Corsair Force Series 3, only about $30 cheaper but it helps and it has good reviews.

    I'm not sure how I feel about the case I picked. It looks really nice and will have the space to fit everything but I'm not sure about the cooling. I'll have to read more reviews but I'm open to suggestions.
  6. Best answer
    I have heard a lot of good things about Cooler Master Storm xxx cases (the Storm Scout, in particular), but I have no experience using them.

    However, I looked at the pictures on Newegg and it doesn't look like it is possible to use side fans on the Storm Enforcer case.

    Side fans are potentially very good for helping keep your internals cool which helps them function in tip top shape. I use side fans and I don't know how I ever lived without them.

    I can tell you that even with 8 fans on my case it is still very quiet (something of primary importance in my build) and my temps are very nice.

    My case costs about the same as the Storm Enforcer case and I can highly recommend it if you are looking for a different case.

    In any event, if you want to delay any real performance gains in order to get the case stuff first, I would change the build order to this instead:

    1) Case, Fans, PSU, Blu Ray
    2) Motherboard, Processor, RAM
    3) Graphics Card
    4) SSD, Windows
    5) Hard Drive & CPU cooler

    Also, I want to point out that you can get windows for $65 if you have access to a student email address. If you look up windows 7 student upgrade on the internet you will find the website. I don't know if you do indeed have such an email address or if you know someone that does, but it saves you 2/3 of the cost on a legal copy.

    Not sure why your parents are against credit cards. They make the world go round. Indeed using a credit card is actually better than using cash even if you have the amount in cash.

    Many credit cards give you 3% of your money back when you buy something. If you bought $500 worth of stuff they would give you back $15 in cash. So you charge the whole $500, then pay the whole $500 from your cash to the credit card in less than 30 days so you don't get charged interest, and then they give you the 3% back and your total cost is $485 instead of $500 for the same stuff.

    Also, cash sales have a tendency of being pretty final a lot of times. If you have a credit card and you buy something with it and you take it home and it doesn't work, you can tell the credit card company if the retailer won't give you your money back for it and the credit card company will give you the money back and bill the retailer. This way you can force people to refund you even if they don't want to.

    Mind you, this gets entered into records, if you abuse this priveledge it will follow you around in your life and people will know about it with potentially negative effects.

    It is best to only use it if you really get ripped off, but it is good protection to have when it is free and that is something you only get with credit cards.

    You also don't get good credit by paying cash which can save you untold amounts of money in your life if you have to buy things on credit (like cars and houses).

    The advantages of credit cards are honestly just too large to ignore them. I can't imagine why your parents wouldn't value them.

    Regardless, it is quite possible if you call up Newegg and talk to somebody that deals with credit cards that you can indeed get one.

    Motherboards - This motherboard is $75 shipped

    There is no reason not to take this if it will work for your purposes.

    You may have trouble getting 1600 RAM to work natively, but tbh 1333 is generally good enough and 10x more people come in here with problems using 1600 ram as those who have problems with 1333 RAM.

    Either way you should be fine as long as the RAM is on the QVL for the board. If there is a set of 2x 4GB 1600 RAM that would work with this board on its QVL then there is no reason not to get it.

    I think you would notice the additional $60 saved on the purchase price more than you would notice the difference between 1600 RAM and 1333 RAM in the worst case if you were forced to use 1333 RAM after not being able to find any 1600 RAM on the QVL.

    Also, the idea with a credit card is not to pay it off. Indeed, if you pay it off it actually hurts your credit score. You have the highest credit score by keeping some amount every month that is a reasonable percentage of the maximum. About 25% - 33% of the max constantly on it is optimal from a credit score perspective.

    If you were getting a $500 limit, you would want to keep $125 - $175ish on it continually. The theory is that this helps the credit card company know that you will be paying them interest on a routine basis (they get 0 interest if you have 0 balance) and its also a responsible usage amount that allows you space to use it in case of need (which you can't do if you keep it maxxed out all the time) and it again reduces their potential loss on your account to 25% - 33% of the maximum loss (if that is all you ever have charged at any one time).

    Ideally you would just keep paying the $15 or so minimum payments every month because every month you pay your credit score goes up automatically. If you don't have to pay then they don't have to increase your credit score after you paid.

    Anyway, I hope that stuff gives you some more to think about.
  7. Best answer selected by Shavako.
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