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Need to upgrade on a budget

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January 2, 2012 5:31:10 PM

Hey,

So I just bought SWTOR and I'm enjoying but unsurprisingly given the age and spec of my PC I'm suffering with low FPS running on low settings.

It is not economically feasible for me to build/buy a new rig in the next 6-9 months so what I'd like to try and do is upgrade a couple of components to try and achieve some middle ground settings with a smooth 25+ frame-rate. i'll leave it up to those kind enough to respond to let me know if that will be achievable.

I'll start by listing my current specs:

CPU: Intel Pentium Dual Core E2160 (1.8GHz) 1MB L2 Cache (Currently overclocked at 2.4ghz)
Motherboard: ASUS P5K AiLifestyle Series iP35
Memory: OCZ 2GB (2x1GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400
Gfx: Nvidia 8600GT 256MB
Hard Drive: 2x 160gb SATAII RAID striped.
PSU: Antec 500W

So i'd like to try and spend under $200, and as I see it the most obvious thing to do is grab more memory and a new gfx card. The radeon 6770 & 6850 were recommended. Also perhaps grab a 2x2gb kit of PC2-6400 RAM.

I was also looking at the possibility of upgrading the CPU to a core 2 quad, I was looking in particular at the q8400. But I'm not sure if the performance gain would be worth the price tag on that.

Please let me know what you think and feel free to make recommendations within that budget of what I can do to get a bit more life out of this old dog.

Thanks in advance.

Thanks!

More about : upgrade budget

a b B Homebuilt system
January 2, 2012 6:02:39 PM

I'd throw the whole wad at a GTX 560. Memory won't help, and even if the CPU becomes the bottleneck, so what? It's better than having the graphics card be it. You can always build a better gaming rig around that card as time goes on.

If you had provided a motherboard model number that appears on the list at the Asus support website, I could have suggested some CPUs. You can go there yourself and try to determine which board you have, then look under the CPU Support tab for compatible CPUs for your next upgrade, or for a CPU that fits your mobo and budget with a somewhat weaker graphics card.
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January 2, 2012 6:25:43 PM

Thanks for the reply. Seems like a good idea rather than wasting money on redundant parts that won't get reused on a new system build.

I don't claim to know a whole lot about this kind of thing, but I was surprised to hear that adding memory to the 2gb I have wouldn't make any difference, can you expand on that?

As for the motherboard as far as I can tell its a regular p5k I can't see anything additional on the board or on the website I bought it from.

I'm looking for the biggest short term bang for buck so if spunking all the money on a gfx card is going to give me the biggest boost then that's what I'll do.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 2, 2012 7:21:20 PM

nonstopstarter said:
Thanks for the reply. Seems like a good idea rather than wasting money on redundant parts that won't get reused on a new system build.

I don't claim to know a whole lot about this kind of thing, but I was surprised to hear that adding memory to the 2gb I have wouldn't make any difference, can you expand on that?

As for the motherboard as far as I can tell its a regular p5k I can't see anything additional on the board or on the website I bought it from.

I'm looking for the biggest short term bang for buck so if spunking all the money on a gfx card is going to give me the biggest boost then that's what I'll do.


Games don't need big scratchpads or swap files. They use the memory on the video card to compose frames; they have to to be fast enough to change the screen 60 times a second or so.

I can't say for sure whether there isn't a balanced combination of a better CPU and a card a little weaker than the 560 that would both fall within your $200 budget and be better than the 560 with your present CPU. You would see a big improvement with the 560, though. That said, if your board is a vanilla p5k, then, looking at Asus's CPU list, you could get a recertified e6550 for $72.00 and a GTX 550 Ti for $113.00. Your BIOS would have to be version 0603 or later, so you might have to flash it. (Beware, though. I tried that with an MSI board which promptly self-destructed by maxing the northbridge voltage. I don't miss that POS mobo, anyway.) Get on the Asus forum and find somebody who successfully upgraded like that. You'll end up with a moderately strong graphics card and a mediocre quad-core, but it will have four cores, and games like that.
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January 2, 2012 7:52:59 PM

Thanks for the advice.

I'm thinking of going with this 560

Reason being at least in 9 months time ill have a half decent gfx card to go towards a new build. If I bought a processor now I presume this would just go to waste at that time.

I could probably try to clock the processor i have closer to 3ghz, i have an aftermarket cooler on it. That would probably help a bit right?

and just to be clear, buying more memory now would be a waste of money considering the performance gain it would give me?
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 2, 2012 8:10:35 PM

nonstopstarter said:
Thanks for the advice.

I'm thinking of going with this 560

Reason being at least in 9 months time ill have a half decent gfx card to go towards a new build. If I bought a processor now I presume this would just go to waste at that time.

I could probably try to clock the processor i have closer to 3ghz, i have an aftermarket cooler on it. That would probably help a bit right?

and just to be clear, buying more memory now would be a waste of money considering the performance gain it would give me?


I have seen no articles online that indicate that more memory makes any difference to games. I myself went from 4G under Vista to 8G under W7, and I didn't see a difference. I think you'd get zero performance gain with more DDR2. Now watch somebody barrel in with proof that I'm an idiot talking nonsense.

I never recommend overclocking. I like stability. Anyway, no amount of overclocking will come close to the boost from more cores.

I like your thinking on the economics. Get a good card now, and build a machine around it. With that in mind, you might want to squeeze your piggy bank a little bit harder and go for a GTX 560Ti 2G, which is the bare-minimum doesn't-suck card in my book, buit I'm a quasi-enthusiast.


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January 2, 2012 8:57:03 PM

Unfortunately the piggy bank is at maximum squeeze as it is. Hard enough to justify to my wife that i need to spend $200 to play the $60 game I just bought when I got two new PS3 games for Christmas!

So im thinking regular 560, but my penny pinching led me to the ATI 6870 which looks similar in benchtesting that i've seen and its a few bucks cheaper. I might pop on that.
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