I am a short term lurker and reader. I have also read some "Build your own pc books" Today I decided to join because I feel as a Computer Science student I should I really know more about the hardware of a computer plus I really want to upgrade my HP and maybe build one from scratch after I get practice upgrading it(in fact after thinking about it, that is my new years resolution). This PC is mainly used for School as I said I am a CS Student and minimal gaming(WoW, SW ToR) but I would like to get into playing higher powerful games like Skyrim(So I can mod them Other then that introduction I guess what I am asking is what are some easy upgrades that I could go about doing?
The Specs are
Model #: HP Palvilion HPE h8 -1000z
RAM: 6GB(I here its good to start here for beginners)
CPU: AMD Phenom(tm) II X4 840T 2.9 GHz
GPU: 1GB DDR3 AMD Radeon HD 6450 [DVI, HDMI. VGA adapter](would like to eventually get this upgraded)
HDD: 1TB 7200 rpm SATA 3Gb/s hard drive
I am guessing I would need a more powerful PSU for a new GPU(I have no idea what the current is, how would i find it?)
Well I guess that is it for now I look forward to your input
You need a 500W -550W power supply: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Video card upgrade depend on your monitor resolution. If your resolution is a 1920x1080 full hd an 560Ti or 6950 it will be a great upgrade. If your resolution is lower then fullhd then a 6850 or 6870 video card is the way to go.
Your 6 GB ram is fine, leave it. Your MB will not let you overclock the memory, so any 'performance' memory will run at it's lowest, safe, default speed, not the advertised speed.
Getting a solid power supply (PSU) is critical, but you already have one. Hp says they have their 460 watt PSU in your computer. I have the same PSU in a few systems powering a hungry i7-920 with hd5850 and an i7-920 with gtx260 (overclocked). No need for you to upgrade at all. http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c02...
Please post what u end up doing so next person googling your HP model number will see what worked for you.
More on power consumption since you want to learn this, not just have it work. You can google the type of video card, e.g. HD6770, with the keyword TDP to get the approximate peak power consumption of a video card. (TDP of an HD6770 is 108 watts, the TDP covers the chip not the card but it assumes absolutely everything running which never happens, so just use TDP of the chip as consumption of card. XBIT labs has a custom power measurement tool that can check amps drawn by video cards, you can cross check over there if interested).
All video cards use 12V. All power supplies dominantly provide 12V. There is a sticker on your PSU that tells you how many amps of 12V is provided max. Amps X 12v = watts (roughly). Your processor, the Phenom II X4 840T, also has a TDP, which is 95 W (google it). Your MB uses some 12V too (you can google that too, or just use 25w as an estimate). The total of the non-video 12v in your system is roughly 120 watts. Your PSU, the 460 watt psu, probably puts out 400 watts of 12v, so you will not have an issue powering any single graphics card (and your MB does not let you use two cards). (I'm typing on a PC that uses the same 460 watt PSU, but am too lazy to open case and tell you how many amps of 12v).
2nd Edit: Aside as a comp sci student you can get some free software from Microsoft. You already have win7 64-bit -- get a freebie when you go to win8. Get a copy of office if they'll give it, etc. check with school.