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Upgrade my PC (for shinier gaming goodness...)

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January 12, 2012 9:36:12 AM

Hi Guys and Girls,

I've had my PC for (entirely too many) years now, and it's starting to show it's age a little, so i figured it's time to give it a little love and attention.

Finances are still reeling a little after the Xmas spanking they took, so can't (unfortunately) go out and buy a new PC altogether, but i figure i should be able to upgrade what i have for a noticeable improvement.

Current system:

Processor: AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 5200+ (2 CPUs), ~2.7GHz
RAM: 4GB
GPU: Asus 1GB Radeon HD 5670 (PCI-E)
HDD: 500GB
OS: Windows 7
Power Supply: 500W

So - any ideas/suggestions? New CPU? New GPU? Throw it out and start agaibn (lol) - what do we reckon?

Main purpose is gaming if i'm honest; predominantly MMO's like Star Wars etc. Right now everything runs pretty smooth on medium/high and is stable and happy on DX9... Stutters a bit on DX11 (and takes forever to load...) so tend to play on the lower setting for things (medium for the most part) - any ideas how to get a nice performance boost, for not very much money?

Thanks in advance all!

- Mach
a b B Homebuilt system
January 12, 2012 9:49:19 AM

If you could specify what "not very much money" is as an amount, it would be helpful :) 

Upgrades and entirely new builds are both options, but budget is always the main constraint.

Are you buying in £ or $? What country are you buying within?
January 12, 2012 10:31:20 AM

Hi Adrian,

I was thinking £100 - £200 max; and buying in the UK :) 

Thanks!

- Mach
Related resources
January 12, 2012 10:46:32 AM

Your CPU and GPU are fairly weak, but your CPU is definatly the limiting factor here.

Gigabyte Z68AP-D3 Mobo - http://www.scan.co.uk/products/gigabyte-ga-z68ap-d3-int...(x16)-vga-on-board-atx

Core i3 2100 - http://www.scan.co.uk/products/intel-core-i3-2100-1155-...

8 GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600 Mhz RAM - http://www.scan.co.uk/products/8gb-(2x4gb)-corsair-ddr3-xms3-pc3-12800-(1600)-non-ecc-unbuffered-cas-9-9-9-27-165v

Total is ~£215

This will kit you out with a hilariously fast CPU, and a Z68 Mobo for future proofing.

Bare in mind that your GPU is still a limiting factor.

I can try and put one together that includes a faster GPU, but this will make it impossible to upgrade and you will be stuck with that Proc/Mobo till you need to upgrade again (which would be rather soon as it would be a slower CPU anyway)

And if you want to drop the RAM to 4GB, or use cheaper RAM, it will bring you down to the £200 mark. But the £15 is worth it in my opinion - its up to you though. The Mobo is the best value Z68 mobo available, its won numerous awards, and the CPU has price/performance of a king.
January 12, 2012 11:10:37 AM

deadjon said:
Your CPU and GPU are fairly weak, but your CPU is definatly the limiting factor here.

Gigabyte Z68AP-D3 Mobo - http://www.scan.co.uk/products/gigabyte-ga-z68ap-d3-int...(x16)-vga-on-board-atx

Core i3 2100 - http://www.scan.co.uk/products/intel-core-i3-2100-1155-...

8 GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600 Mhz RAM - http://www.scan.co.uk/products/8gb-(2x4gb)-corsair-ddr3-xms3-pc3-12800-(1600)-non-ecc-unbuffered-cas-9-9-9-27-165v

Total is ~£215

This will kit you out with a hilariously fast CPU, and a Z68 Mobo for future proofing.

Bare in mind that your GPU is still a limiting factor.

I can try and put one together that includes a faster GPU, but this will make it impossible to upgrade and you will be stuck with that Proc/Mobo till you need to upgrade again (which would be rather soon as it would be a slower CPU anyway)

And if you want to drop the RAM to 4GB, or use cheaper RAM, it will bring you down to the £200 mark. But the £15 is worth it in my opinion - its up to you though. The Mobo is the best value Z68 mobo available, its won numerous awards, and the CPU has price/performance of a king.


Thanks very much for the reply - hadn't even thought about changing a motherboard to be honest (would this cause problems with my OS/HDD at all?) - was simply thinking of either upgrading the chip itself/adding a bit more RAM and/or a cheap GPU upgrade... But now you have me thinking...

Chances are i'll buy a new one in the Summer anyway, so was looking for a nice upgrade "for now" rather than a long term considerations, not sure if this makes a difference but you've really got me thinking now...

- Mach
January 12, 2012 11:24:12 AM

Whats your motherboard? I'll be able to discern an upgrade path from there.
January 12, 2012 11:44:45 AM

Buy asus crosshair 5 motherboard and trancend axe ram 2000+Mhz (4gb $78) then use ur all old processor, hdd,graphics card, u r system will defenetly rock change the coller into water coller and over clock the processor, after getting money u can upgrade into 8core processor and extra ram also keep rock
a b B Homebuilt system
January 12, 2012 11:53:52 AM

hitechgowthaman said:
Buy asus crosshair 5 motherboard and trancend axe ram 2000+Mhz (4gb $78) then use ur all old processor, hdd,graphics card, u r system will defenetly rock change the coller into water coller and over clock the processor, after getting money u can upgrade into 8core processor and extra ram also keep rock


None of your suggestions fit into the OP's budget. Not to mention the components compatibility.

Are you some kind of "official" promoter for the ASUS Crosshair 5? I think you mention it on every single unhelpful build post I've seen......
January 12, 2012 12:03:45 PM

deadjon said:
Whats your motherboard? I'll be able to discern an upgrade path from there.


From what i can figure out (i.e. from digging out the order form from my email from about four years ago lol) my motherboard is an ASUS SKT-AM2 M2N-MX SE PLUS M-ATX 2000MT/s

Hope that means more to you fine gentleman that it does to me!

- Mach
January 12, 2012 12:05:18 PM

hitechgowthaman said:
Buy asus crosshair 5 motherboard and trancend axe ram 2000+Mhz (4gb $78) then use ur all old processor, hdd,graphics card, u r system will defenetly rock change the coller into water coller and over clock the processor, after getting money u can upgrade into 8core processor and extra ram also keep rock


Ummm... Huh?

- Mach
January 12, 2012 12:51:25 PM

Unfortunatly there are no upgrades worth grabbing for that mobo.

It doesnt support any of the new Phenom IIs, and the original Phenoms were the single worst processors ever released.
January 12, 2012 1:50:45 PM

deadjon said:
Unfortunatly there are no upgrades worth grabbing for that mobo.

It doesnt support any of the new Phenom IIs, and the original Phenoms were the single worst processors ever released.


I was worried that would be the case - I tried looking around but couldn't seem to find anything that would *fit* - glad it wasn't just me!

Now, forgive me if this is a really silly question, but looking at the alternative (i.e. your post above about changing the guts of the machine completely...) how easy is it to pull out a motherboard and chip and put in a new one? (my previous hardware experience limited to replacing a PSU, GPU, HDD, a DVD drive and previously upgrading RAM... So far from an expert) - do i need to buy any specific tools for 'motherboard operations'?

Appreciate the help!

- Mach
a b B Homebuilt system
January 12, 2012 2:29:42 PM

The motherboard is usually attached to the case by a number of screws. Simply use a Phillips screwdriver to remove them and the motherboard will lift out. (make sure the case is laying flat on its side when you do this).

All other components would also obviously need to be detached from the motherboard first. Then simply replace all components back onto the new motherboard/CPU.

Possibly the hardest part of a build, in my experience, is the heatsink/fan attachment and applying thermal paste correctly. Guides can be found on youtube however for all of these tasks, so simply watch a few if you dont feel confident jumping right in and doing it yourself :) 

January 19, 2012 8:16:15 AM

Hey guys!

Firstly; thanks for all the help and suggestions; i currently have a motherboard, CPU, RAM and thermalpaste sitting in my basket and i'm one click away from having new shinies ordered...

...then a thought struck me...

A year or so ago i had a HDD failure and tried to swap in an old one from a different machine so i could breathe life back into the rig... But i remember Windows (on that hard drive) came up with some kind of message about only being compatible with the original machine/motherboard.

I have literally just upgraded to Windows 7 (less than 3 months ago) from an old Vista install i had, and to be honest i don't fancy shelling out for another OS and having to install the whole damn thing again just because i change Motherboard...

If so - arguably, if i am buying a new motherboard, new CPU, new RAM, AND a new OS, it would possibly make more sense to get a completely new machine from scratch and keep this one as a second/spare PC?

I figure for what, maybe an extra £100/£200 on top of this setup i could get a completely new machine...

Information on OS transfer seems a little confusing online - especially regarding upgraded versions... So i'm not entirely sure whether the OS will transfer OK to the new machine...

Is there any way to test whether it will work OK? If i can simply change the MB/CPU/RAM and the HDD and OS are all fine and good to go, then perfect - i'll order now and will look fiorward to my new upgraded machine...

If not... Then it may well be back to the drawing board...

Thanks all!

- Mach
January 19, 2012 9:43:46 AM

Do you still have the Disk for Win 7?

If so, give Microsoft a call, with the Serial Number and explain what your intending to do. They should deactivate the code for you to re-activate it when your PC is up and running.
January 19, 2012 2:21:35 PM

deadjon said:
Do you still have the Disk for Win 7?

If so, give Microsoft a call, with the Serial Number and explain what your intending to do. They should deactivate the code for you to re-activate it when your PC is up and running.


Hey - thanks for the reply!

I do have the Windows 7 disk... But not the "original" Vista disk (i believe it was originally an OEM version... But the Upgrade was a 'full' version... So not sure which is the dominant licence type here)

Funnily enough, i hadn't considered calling them (previous experiences, like many in the UK, of trying to call big companies generally brings about flashbacks of automated voice number pressing horrors) - but may well give it a try; assuming i can find the number for them i'll try to give them a call before i do anything, see where i stand *officially*

Really appreciate the help!

- Mach
a b B Homebuilt system
January 19, 2012 2:30:45 PM

Big_Mach said:
(previous experiences, like many in the UK, of trying to call big companies generally brings about flashbacks of automated voice number pressing horrors)


+1.........and then even when you get to hear the sweet sound of a human voice, you find out, that the voice doesn't actually speak ENGLISH!!! :@

If you can soldier through the number pressing, automated service however and get a solid response, it shall be worth the hassle and time :) 

January 19, 2012 2:37:26 PM

AdrianPerry said:
+1.........and then even when you get to hear the sweet sound of a human voice, you find out, that the voice doesn't actually speak ENGLISH!!! :@

If you can soldier through the number pressing, automated service however and get a solid response, it shall be worth the hassle and time :) 


Haha - Alas, i do know exactly what you mean ;) 

Well, if i can find the number for them i'm up for giving it a go - assuming i can find the right number of course :) 

Will keep you all posted if/when i find a number, and with what happens!

- Mach
!