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PC Upgrade Timing

Hey guys, I've been trying to follow the news but I just can't seem to get a handle on the state of the state in the world of CPUs.

I have a machine that has been kept on life-support since 2004 through a series of upgrades that don't achieve a particularly great level of balance.

LGA-775 MoBo (2007)
Core 2 Duo CPU (2007)
4gig DDR2-800 Ram (2011)
EVGA GTX-480 (2011)
IDE DvD Burner (actually a Panasonic Model) (2005)
Rosewill Case (2007)
Thermaltake 850W PSU (2011)

You are welcome to flame if you'd like (I'm looking at you GTX-480), but know that all of the parts were purchased at significant discounts through rebates / sales / broke friends, and the machine itself is quite stable.

I am at the point where the MoBo/CPU/Optical are the next on the chopping block.

As I see it, a $125 Gen3 LGA1155 MoBo + a $125 i3 2120 might be the best option. Splurging to go up to a 2400, or 2500K might also make sense if it meant that I could avoid a CPU upgrade in the next 2-3 years. The Gen3 1155 might let me get another couple years out of the system by jumping to the next gen Intel down the road (and it doesn't add much to the price). The downside (which I won't ever get past) is that when I upgrade the MoBo I will have to upgrade Ram+Optical too...

I am running 2x 1280x1024 monitors right now. Once the CPU is upgraded I will be free to add a 1080p monitor to the desk as a primary.

I use the PC for the following:

Gaming - Casual BF3, Skyrim, and MMO/RTS (60%)
Video Transcoding - (40%)
Web Browsing - (100% in Background)


What do you guys think? Can I complete a logical upgrade under $300, or do I need to brace for $400-$500? Is an i3 2120 too slow to pair with a GTX-480? Should I just wait for next gen Intel? Have I written off socket AM3 too soon?

At the moment I think:

LGA1155 - $125
i3 2120 - $125
8gb ddr3 - $45
Optical - $20
= $315+tax/shipping/cables

Past that I guess
2500k +$90
Heatsink +$30
=$425
5 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    If you have a fryes or Microcenter near you then you'd be able to go the i5 route within your $300 budget as they often have specials where you get a free motherbd with the i5 and the i5 itself is typically $199. That would leave you $100 for low cost ram and an optical drive ($20 ish)
  2. for that system i would just swap out the cpu for a 775 quad... if you cant find a decent 1 for under 150 then consider upgrading to the i3 2100 or better...
    your gfx is fine. the psu is fine the rest is starting to show its age...
    for 300 you should be able to get a cheap 1155 p67 motherboard and a 2400 or if your lucky find a rebated 2500k.. for 170 ish 100 for the motherboard and 4-8 gigs of ddr3 will cost about 330-360 but this upgrade will basically shoot you into the stratosphere for games... btw dump them monitors there actually hurting your gfx performance because there so small they will actually cause the gpu to bottleneck that much more, as the gpu wont have to work to create the screens as much as it would for a 1080 screen...

    simple rule of thumb for gfx cards to screen size to get optimal performance from your gfx.
    256mb 1024/768 max
    512mb 1600/900 max
    1gig 1920/1200 max
    2gigs plus 2560/1600
    3gigs 3x1920/1080 tri screen setup...
  3. I'd go for the i3 2120 route. Since it allows you to get a good 22'' monitor for roughly the money you save. Yet you might have some problem depending on what your standards are.

    I doubt that a dual core i3 will suit your gaming needs at 1080p for the next 2 years even if paired with a more powerful card. The i5 would also be faster in video transcoding yet if you dont expect it to be done in a min or 2 faster i dont see any problems there. It really comes down to what you expect your computer to be able to do in 2 years from now.
  4. popatim said:
    If you have a fryes or Microcenter near you then you'd be able to go the i5 route within your $300 budget as they often have specials where you get a free motherbd with the i5 and the i5 itself is typically $199. That would leave you $100 for low cost ram and an optical drive ($20 ish)


    I'm going to have to agree, I've been watching the Microcenter adds and the deals look pretty strong.

    Not sure if I'll be able to catch an i5+mobo for <200, but I should be able to get close.

    I agree with Pedrovsky that the 2120 probably won't keep me going for more than 12 months so I'm going to just save up for a little while. Hopefully by the time I've got $350 sitting around I will be able to get the next gen intel with a z77 board.

    re: Hexit, I'm not sure you understand the whole bottleneck thing... as resolution increases the GPU demand increases faster than the CPU. At lower resolutions the CPU will be the limiting factor, at higher resolutions the GPU will tend to be.
  5. Best answer selected by bmyton.
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