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Upgrading Mid-range Gaming Rig - $400-600 Upgrading Dell Inspiron 531

Last response: in Systems
January 8, 2012 9:22:32 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: Before March 2012

Budget Range: $500 after rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: SW:TOR, streaming video, streaming music, all at once.

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, OCZ 1000w Power Supply (model # OCZ1000PXS), Inspiron 531 case (hopefully).

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:, tigerdirect, or whatever is cheapest.

Country: USA! Boulder, CO.

Parts Preferences: Little preference, but AMD seems cheaper and just as good.

Overclocking: maybe, not familiar with it.

SLI or Crossfire: Not familiar with it.

Monitor Resolution: 1600x1200 or more

Additional Comments: quiet is nice, but seamless transitions between concurrently running applications as well as fast rendering of character models and terrain in high traffic areas of MMOs and the highest FPS possible in-game, are the primary reasons for upgrading.

I don't need to upgrade everything at once, I'd like to upgrade whatever will make the biggest difference and then stop upgrading once I'm satisfied with performance. That said, what do you think I should upgrade 1st, 2nd, 3rd to get the biggest gain in frames per second and switching between programs?


Current: M2N61-AX OEM motherboard made by ASUS
Desired: GIGABYTE GA-970A-D3 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard

Current: AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 4400+, 2.3ghz
Desired: AMD FX-4100 Zambezi 3.6GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor FD4100WMGUSBX

Are the MOBO and CPU compatible? Good buys? I have very little preference concerning MOBOs but I feel this CPU is a great buy for the ghz. So, if there are other factors I should be considering or if there are comparable and better options, let me know!

Current: NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250 - 2.542gb 256bit GDDR3
Desired: SAPPHIRE 100315L Radeon HD 6850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity

Current: 2x 2Gb G.Skill
Desired: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 - $60

Inspiron 531 - hopefully it will all fit in this:

What upgrade will give me the biggest performance boost?

Thanks in advance for any and all feedback. I've upgraded the ram and graphics card in this machine once already, I don't know why it has a 1000w powersupply, I think most of the inspirons came with a 450w one, but 1000w is great so I'm not complaining. Upgrading the cpu and mobo will be new experiences for me so any noobie warnings are appreciated :) 

January 11, 2012 9:28:44 PM

Thanks for the link! I read through it and now I'm trying to decide between the Radeon 6850 - $150

and the 6870 - $200

is there a big gain in terms of gamin performance there or is it likely negligible?

or maybe even the 6950 - $250 - if there is a significant jump in FPS

but the Radeon HD 6970 - $350 - costs way too much to be seriously considered, I could just buy 2 6850s and have $50 left over...