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Help with what I can upgrade computer with

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January 1, 2012 4:22:24 AM

I'm looking to update somewhat my computer for a better gaming experience without burning up my wallet. I'm currently using a system with the following:

EVGA NFORCE 680i SLI MB REV D Motherboard
CDCR, E4500, 2200/800, 2M, 2C Processor
WM552/XG691 HYNIX 1GB DDR2 PC2-6400 Jedec STD memory
Seagate 250 GB Sata 3G 7200RPM 8MB Cache NCQ System Drive
Killer NIC K1
EVGA NVIDIA Geforce 8800 GTS 3200MB PCI-E Superclocked graphics processor
Vista OS
AVC Pentium 4 Dual Core HSF Z9H741K001 High-Performance Liquid cooling
700 Watt OEM ATX PSU Rev2 Powersupply
GX2 G80 Dual slot card keeper graphics processor

I'm not a computer building expert, so I need to keep things simple and inexpensive, getting the biggest bang for the buck. Please help me if you can. I need specific items, not "get yourself 2 x 2GB Ram sticks" and the easiest way to install them.

Right now, it seems like upgrading the RAM would be the best bet. What exact ones should I get?

More about : upgrade computer

January 1, 2012 4:42:51 AM

How much money do you have to work with? We can do endless imaginary upgrading without a budget cap.
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January 1, 2012 4:47:08 AM

To be honest, as little as possible. Something along the lines of $500 total max, not all at once. For example, I notice that on Ebay I can grab a stick of ram for $20, so getting 2-4 of those is very doable (I just don't know what will work best/work at all) but spending the whole $500 at once isn't much of an option for me right now.
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January 1, 2012 4:54:43 AM

don't know what you do or play or what res.................. IMO, save your money until you can do a proper upgrade. Spending $5 here and $10 there is just throwing good money after bad. The 775 is dead and will become useless inside 2 years for any serious gamer.
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January 1, 2012 5:05:26 AM

One of my main goals is just to be able to play Diablo 3 well when it comes out and Star Wars: The Old Republic with the requirement of : -Supported OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7

-Processor: Dual core processor 2.6 GHz Intel Pentium D or AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ or better recommended)

-RAM: 2 GB (3 GB recommended)

-Video Card: 256 MB DirectX 10.0–compliant video card or DirectX 9.0–compliant card with Shader Model 3.0 or higher (512 MB video card recommended) (see supported list)*

-Sound Card: DirectX 9.0 or 10.0 compliant sound card (5.1 sound card recommended)

-DirectX Version: DirectX 10.0 libraries (included on disc)

-DVD-ROM: DVD-ROM dual-layer drive

-Hard Drive Space: 12 GB

-Peripherals Supported: Keyboard, mouse, optional controller.
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January 1, 2012 5:14:29 AM

I mostly agree with swifty, although spending $40-$50 to get more RAM may delay the inevitable long enough to be worthwhile (that's just the price of a single game). This set for $44 shipped would be suitable: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Especially if it's a cheap generic, and considering its age, I would not trust your PSU for any more than 400W-450W. What brand and model is it? Money spent on a new PSU would not be wasted, as you could move that PSU into your new build later.
A 500W Antec Earthwatts would be able to run almost any single GPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... for $58 shipped.
Finally, after you've upgraded the PSU, upgrade your GPU. It would be severely bottlenecked by your current CPU, but you would be able to move it into your new rig (along with the PSU) so it would not be money wasted. I would suggest a HD6870 or GTX560.
These changes would make a difference, but your CPU is quite weak. The key point here is that, with the exception of the RAM (a minor item), the money you spend on a PSU and GPU will not be wasted.
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January 1, 2012 6:49:35 AM

Thank you jtt283. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but perhaps what I needed to hear and listen too. It's just tough explaining to my wife why I need to upgrade a computer to game with when I already have "a perfectly good computer." That's the main reason why I have to do a little bit at a time (or squirrel away money for awhile).

Would you reccomend just going with the one set (2 x 2GB) over two sets (4 x 2GB) for the RAM? How much of a difference would it make ? (On a sidenote, I do a lot of photoshop/photo work on this computer).
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January 1, 2012 7:54:46 AM

If you've been getting by with 1GB of RAM, getting just one set for 2x2=4GB of RAM will be a huge step up. It is certainly all any games need. Buying more would be wasting money, since DDR2 cannot be re-used in a new system.
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January 1, 2012 8:52:46 AM

Would this path make sense (considering I'm not going to be able to go out and replace/upgrade my computer or parts at once or on a large scale) ?

Step 1: 2 x 2GB (4GB) Ram - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820146693
$50

Step 2: New PS or hope that my current one will be fine. What is the risk of using my old one, surges/frying things or just no power? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817371035
$70

Step 3: Graphics card GTX 560 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$250 for a 2GB one or $190 for a 1GB model

Step 4: New CPU : Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 3.33GHz 6MB SLB9L
$150

What do you think ? Total $520 over time.

I understand I'm working with older gear and I'd probably be better off scrapping it for a new computer with a better motherboard and more, but getting a new computer just isn't going to get past the "boss."

I appreciate your help so far.
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January 1, 2012 7:58:42 PM

If the old PSU fries, it could take other parts with it.
This GTX560 is a lot cheaper: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... The one you listed costs more than some GTX560Ti cards.
I would not get a new CPU. That's money wasted. Better to save for a new CPU/Mobo/RAM. Getting a GPU as powerful as a GTX560 is predicated on an eventual platform upgrade. If that isn't possible, don't get anything stronger than a GTX550Ti or HD6770, as even they will be bottlenecked some by your CPU.
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January 2, 2012 4:19:45 AM

Thanks for the help guys, I appreciate it. It just looks like it's boiling down to me needing to get a new computer sooner rather than later. I've been very hesitant to move away from my current motherboard as I've heard that oftentimes you'll have to replace almost everything as the old equipment (psu, drives, etc) often won't work with a newer motherboard.

I'm not going to fool myself into thinking I know how to build a computer, but it looks like I need to learn.
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January 2, 2012 4:54:41 PM

2nd opinion: Spend $200 on video and memory. Play it. It'll be good.

Your CPU is fine. E4500 is not that bad. You can also do a mild overclock on the E4500 from maybe 2.2 to 2.6 or 2.8 and see if that makes a difference in the games you play.

Your memory is no good, grab 2GB more for total of 3GB. You should have 2 empty slots. DDR2 costs next to nothing but teh price will start going up as people stop producing (most have already announced EOL dates for DDR2). Buy now, don't buy a lot it's throw away when you eventually get new system/mb. Assuming you are on a 32-bit OS, 3.3GB is about all you can use. No point in throwing away 1GB to get 4GB to only use 3.3GB. Try this $26 2X1gb kit from crucial: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ---BUT if you have a 64-bit version on win7 then add the 4GB kit to our current 1GB of memory to get a total of 5GB -- that should help with photshop,etc. No need to go to 8gb.

Your Video is your real problem. Buy Hd6850 or stronger card ($150+). (HD5770/6770 workable if you are cash starved - $115) Spend enough to plan on carrying the card forward for as long as your 8800. Here is good reference. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/fastest-graphics-ca... Your Geforce 8800 GTS 320MB was great in 2007, after 5 years it's earned retirement. Aside: 250 for a 2GB one or $190 for a 1GB model --> Go for 1GB video card not larger. There is no difference in performance unless you run extreme AA levels or have a monitor larger than 1920X1200, the extra memory is literally unused.

Leave the PSU alone. It's not what we'd recommend, but it's been in production with good stability. The only ref I found for the 8800 320mb said 146 watts. The new video card you get will probably draw in the same neighborhood. So I can't see why the need to swap.

Disk drive could be a problem: "320GB " It's a really really bad time to be buying hard drives, but your system performance stinks when your disk gets full. How full is the disk? When you get down to 50GB left every file fragments, and the disk defragmenter can't operate cleanly. With the small memory size that makes the paging problem worse. IF you are really tight on space here's an odd suggestion -- find a USB 2 external disk of a couple hundred GB cheap. Move stuff to it. As the flood damage in Thailand gets repaired and disk drive production returns to normal grab a 2GB WD black or equivalent disk drive. A year ago I bought a pair of WD black 1.5TBs for under $90 each. Right now that drive is $180. In 6 months it'll be under $100 again.
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January 3, 2012 2:16:34 AM

Best answer selected by Silverandblack.
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January 3, 2012 2:19:55 AM

Thank you all for your help. I'm going to take a very limited approach for the time being. I'll be going 2 x 2G ram (4 total) for this computer and instead of getting anything else saving money to rebuild a dream machine with higher end gear.

I appreciate the help, you were all helpful.
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