Been using this system for about 5 years now except for the GPU which has been replaced and downgraded from a 8800GT which broke down about 2 years ago. Reason I got the 9400GT is because it was free but didn't know it was a low-end card. Wasn't much of a problem with games until now. Also the RAM had an upgrade from 2x 1GB to 2x 2GB.
Current plans are upgrading the GPU and PSU and add a CPU cooler.
The GPU I currently got my mind set on is a GTX 550 Ti with 1GB or 1.GB memory but I've been looking at the GTX 560 Ti too but I'm not sure if that's going to be overkill. Main reason is my resolution being 1280x1024 and not really having any plans to get a bigger monitor as I find this resolution quite big enough.
As the GPU upgrade will require a new PSU I've been recommended so far a BeQuiet! Pure Power L7 530W so I guess the PSU is covered already.
As for the new CPU cooler I've noticed with the new CPU intensive games my core temperatures are going sky high. Idling is currently 60°C, running UT2004 (only uses 1 core) raises up to ~70°C while Minecraft (uses all 4 cores at 50% and is a CPU intensive game, don't laugh xD) makes these go almost 80°C. And another reason for the CPU cooler is to perhaps try overclocking if I can find a descent cooler as I heard a friend got his up to 3GHz with a reasonable cheap cooler. I know this ain't the right section for CPU coolers but if you got suggestions, go ahead.
Main goal for the upgrade is to play Skyrim but perhaps look at a GPU which can last some time (I know might be hard to predict). Skyrim doesn't have to be at ultra settings but still would prefer to get high settings.
Not interested in SLI atm, perhaps in 1-2 years add another card but not sure yet.
Not interested in a bigger monitor either, prefer to stick with my 1280x1024 resolution for another while until it perhaps breaks down for whatever reason.
My budget at first was about €200 for the card only but then I dropped this to about €150 because of the new PSU and CPU cooler.
What I'd like to know:
a) Would a GTX 550 Ti 1GB or 1.5GB memory satisfy my needs? Or would a GTX 560 be needed or is that one overkill?
b) PSU reasonable for my needs?
c) CPU cooler suggestions (not right forum I know).
At your resolution a 550 Ti would do just fine, and 1GB of VRAM is more than enough. A GTX 560 may be slight overkill now, but it will make you more future-proof if you don't plan on upgrading for some time.
EDIT: You PSU is 400w so a 560 might be a little overload, but a 550 Ti should work well with it.
I have two GTX550 ti's and they work just fine. But I should have bought the 560 Ti's but my rig is good but not as good as these other gentelmens are. The 550 comes already over clocked a little and they are very sensitive so don't try to ajust them up or down I know I found out the hard way. Also they just released the new drivers the 285 but there are a lot of bugs with that driver. I had to reinstall the 280 for everything to work right. And for your cooler I went Liquid cooler so I don't what to tell you on that one. Thently said to make sure that you have the 6 pin power connecter to plug in the power to it. These cards are not like the older cards for example, the GT 430 where you just plug them into the socket and they work the 550 requires power to it. Other than that you should be good to go. Good Luck