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Sub-$400 (usd) upgrade suggestions

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April 29, 2012 5:04:47 PM

I have spent time researching potential upgrades that would meet my needs. However, I would definitely like to get feedback/suggestions from people here before making any purchases. So... thanks in advance.

My current specs:
Motherboard: My motherboard is from an acer x3400g Micro ATX case (total crap case), but I transferred it to an Antec Three Hundred Mid-tower ATX.
PSU: BFG GS-500 500W ATX
CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 255 Regor 3.1GHz Socket AM3
GPU: EVGA GTX 550 Ti 2GB
Memory: 4GB Dual-channel 1333 MHz DDR3 SDRAM (8GB supported)
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium x64
HDD: 1TB

I would like to keep the motherboard since I can upgrade up to a AMD Phenom II X4 quad-core 965 (if higher, let me know).
I would also like to get at least 2GB more memory.

However, should I just ditch this Mobo and get a new one along with the new processor (combo kit?) that supports my current memory?

As for graphics, the 550ti was a gift so I can't take the blame for spending hard cash on it. I want at least a 560ti, or would a 6850/6950 be a better route (more bang/buck?)? Would I need a better PSU for these cards? Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

All said and done, I have $400 max to spend on upgrades so I want the best possible gaming rig I can get for an extra $400.

Most frequent games:
Fallout NV, Dirt 3, Battlefield 3, Mass Effect 2/3, Metro 2033, etc..

Thanks!
April 29, 2012 5:09:04 PM

I forgot to mention, my monitor is 22" running at 1680x1050 60Hz.
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April 29, 2012 8:33:49 PM

I would ditch the mobo and cpu - and spedn the cash on an Intel CPU - they are currently much quicker than the AMD line up
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April 29, 2012 11:28:43 PM

Thanks for your response. So I should go Intel and forget AMD. That's definitely a good mobo/cpu you suggested. But I am impatient and want a good graphics card asap. Would a Phenom II x4 bottleneck a gtx560ti or better?
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April 30, 2012 12:10:59 AM

You have an OEM motherboard right now and you will need to research what cpus are supported for that motherboard. Just because it is AM3 doesn't necessarilly mean that all AM3 cpus would work with it. So you'll need to look into that.

If you can go with something like the 965 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168..., then the 560 ti might be a decent upgrade.

However, at some point, you would need to consider if adding another step to your upgrade path is really what you want to do. If you go from Phenom x2 to the phenom x4 965 to the Intel upgrade, you are adding another step, and more money, than you would spend to go straight from phenom x2 to intel. Somethign to consider, especially if money is tight.
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April 30, 2012 2:16:04 AM

That's a good point. Eventually I will want to upgrade past a Phenom x4, so might as well go with an Intel chipset from now. Plus I have no idea if my OEM mobo will even work with a Phenom x4 as you noted. I guess I can put up with my 550ti for now until I raise the cash for something better. If I finally do get a 560ti or AMD equivalent, will my aging 500W PSU be enough or should I upgrade that when I get the card?
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April 30, 2012 2:22:55 AM

That depends largely on the card you want to upgrade to. For example, a 6950 or a second 550 ti in SLI would need more power. If i were you, i'd spring for something that has been tested (80+ bronze certified or better) when you upgrade your graphics. Since your 500w psu has not been a problem before, i would guess that you should be okay until you can get the money together to get the new card.
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April 30, 2012 10:13:00 PM

Yeah, I def agree about getting a certified PSU. So after the cpu and mobo/memory I will save up and get a 600+W bronze PSU and probably a 6950 or 560ti (possibly 6970 or 570) in a couple of weeks. Thanks for all your input. I'm definitely making the switch the Intel. Been putting it off for a while but my current rig just can't keep up anymore!
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April 30, 2012 10:51:07 PM

xebek said:
Yeah, I def agree about getting a certified PSU. So after the cpu and mobo/memory I will save up and get a 600+W bronze PSU and probably a 6950 or 560ti (possibly 6970 or 570) in a couple of weeks. Thanks for all your input. I'm definitely making the switch the Intel. Been putting it off for a while but my current rig just can't keep up anymore!


that's a solid game plan. Glad i could help!
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