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$400-$500 Upgrade Budget

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January 17, 2012 9:34:17 PM

So currently I am running a pre-built HP Pavilion desktop I got around 4-5 years ago, I've only upgraded the GPU (260 GTX), PSU, and RAM to 4GB to have 64 bit.

Here are screenshots of my current specs:




Now I am looking to see what parts I need to upgrade in order to run SWTOR and other games with relative ease. I might need a new case, it's a standard HP case I can measure it later if dimensions are needed.

Approximate Purchase Date: ASAP, the closer the better

Budget Range: Before rebates I'm looking to spend around $400-$500 on upgrading parts

System Usage from Most to Least Important: This computer is going to be a gaming rig, looking to optimize it for good FPS on SWTOR and other games as well as newer games to come (D3, etc), going to be using it for smaller stuff like internet, movies, maybe some video editing if I decide to fraps.

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Speakers/Headset, Case(?)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: NewEgg.com, maybe somewhere else but I usually order it from here

Country: Washington, USA

Parts Preferences: I don't really have a preference but I have been using nVIDIA GPU because I hear AMD is more loud and power hungry

Overclocking: Maybe (If I know how to do it properly

SLI or Crossfire: No idea what this really is so, no.

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1200

Additional Comments: I don't really care about how loud it is as long as the computer doesn't overheat and I am a big computer noob (to say the least) I've only ever installed a GPU/PSU and I am not too sure how to put a mobo/CPU together besides the fact that it needs some sort of special gel. I am not sure what kind of cables my HDD runs but whatever it was 4-5 years ago? Still using the 250 GB one I have.

More about : 400 500 upgrade budget

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January 17, 2012 11:18:39 PM

Actually Nvidia is louder and much more power hungry although some do make reasonably quiet cards.

Your graphics card is not the latest and greatest, but it is not so bad. Here is Tom's current hierarchy chart. In order to see significant improvement, you would need to go at least three rungs up on the chart. This would bring you to a GTX 560 ti or equivalent. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/fastest-graphics-ca...

That card will eat about $225 or so right there. Good brands are EVGA and MSI(Twin Frozr)

CPU - The gaming standard right now is the Core i5-2500k. It is made for overclocking. However, you can save a few bucks by going with the i5-2400 which is only 10% slower at stock speed. Still plenty fast. Or you could save even more by dropping to the i3-2100. Still plenty fast as well. In any case the best prices on processors right now is a place called Microcenter.com. Since you do not live near one, you can select the web store from the top of the page drop down box. http://www.microcenter.com/index.html

Motherboard - SLi or Crossfire is a multi-video card setup using either Nvidia SLi or AMD Crossfire. I would not worry about it because results are not really worth the expense IMO. For a single card, all you need is a micro-ATX motherboard. They are less expensive, and perform just as well as ATX boards. A Z68 based socket 1155 micro-ATX board from Gigabyte or ASUS is all you need. Will also be upgradeable to the next generation of Intel CPUs.

For ram, get a 8gb(2x4gb) kit of DDR3 1333. Good brands are Gskill, Kingston, Corsair. Unless you plan on heavy overclocking of the ram as well(which makes little difference), then the plain stuff without the fancy heatsinks works just as well.

I would also invest in a good quality, 80 Plus or Bronze Certified, 650 watt power supply from Antec, Corsair, XFX, Seasonic, or Silverstone. You do not want to run a high powered video card on an elcheapo brand PSU no matter what the wattage says.

Cases are more of a personal preference thing, but you need at least a mid-tower with good airflow. This one is pretty popular right now. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... The one in my signature is pretty good also.
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January 17, 2012 11:27:56 PM

Actually Nvidia is more power hungry than AMD, whomever told you that was wrong.

Compare the GTX 560 to the similar performing Radeon 6870, the Radeon has a 50-70 watt lower TDP without sacrificing performance.

Now the GTX 560 Ti has performance more in line with the Radeon 6950 but uses about the same amount of power as the GTX 560 so the three cards all have similar TDPs, I think they are all around 200-210 watt TDPs. The 6870 has a 150 watt or so TDP.

Is your hard drive's cable very wide and thin (probably gray) if yes then it is IDE. If it is thin and not wide then it is probably SATA, SATA is often many different colors.

SLI and Crossfire are technologies that allow multiple GPUs to work together on a single or multiple displays that are treated as a single display. You can't afford a decent multi GPU setup with your budget and your PSU probably couldn't handle it.

You can't play most games at 1920x1200 at decent quality settings with that low of a budget. This is a problem because if you don't play at the monitor's recommended resolution (or 1/4 the recommended resolution, 1/2 on both sides) there is scaling problems that lower the picture quality no matter what the settings are at. For your monitor you might need to increase your budget or get another monitor, either way it would cost more money to get the correct picture.

SW:TOR, Skyrim, and Wow and similar games (or older games) might (no guarantee here) not have problems running on a lower budget but anything else will definitely need more graphics performance to run at 1920x1200 with high quality settings.

Installing a CPU is one of the easiest parts to install, even easier than a video card because you don't need to do anything about drivers. You just put it in the motherboard (how this is done depends on the type of socket but they are all very easy to use), spread the thermal paste (if necessary, some coolers, like stock coolers sent with a CPU already have the paste applied to the cooler) on the CPU, install the cooler, and plug in the cooler's fan(s) and you're done. The only thing easier to install would be the RAM, it just gets pushed in and it's done.

EDIT: I seem to have been beaten to the first answer here. Sorry about some info being repeated because of that.
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January 17, 2012 11:51:18 PM

Alright well I took a look at getting these:
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml... $50
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $150
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $230

Already dips into the 400 range without even thinking about PSU/RAM/Case

I am fine with not playing at extreme resolution, I wouldn't mind downgrading in resolution.

I just want parts that can be upgraded within this budget that will run SWTOR fine, I don't care too much about anything else.
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January 18, 2012 12:30:40 AM

You can certainly go h61 on the motherboard. However I would not go with the Biohazard brand, spend a few more dollars and go with the Gigabyte. You will not be sorry. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Since the budget is so tight, what I would do is get everything except for the new vid card right now. As I said, yours is not so bad. You can always get the new vid card later. I think you would still see a nice improvement. Even my lowly new system was a huge improvement over my similarly aged AMD homemade system, and I had a slightly better CPU than yours(Athlon X2 250).

I can get by with a lesser video card due to my monitor size and resolution of 1440x900. Plus I could really care less about playing games at ultra high settings. Already been there, done that, and was not impressed. Just as long as it's playable is all I care about. Your mileage may vary.
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January 18, 2012 12:44:33 AM

Alright, thank you for the advice, this is what I'm looking at right now:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $53
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $190 (Microcenter i5-2400 is only available for in store pickup)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $30

So totaling around $273 right now, with these upgrades do you think I'd have to pick up the case too?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - Adding $60 on to make it:
$333 or is the case not really entirely needed since I'm not getting a new GPU that requires good airflow as my GPU right now runs fine and doesn't overheat in my case.
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January 18, 2012 1:14:58 AM

tlmck said:
Actually Nvidia is louder and much more power hungry although some do make reasonably quiet cards.

Your graphics card is not the latest and greatest, but it is not so bad. Here is Tom's current hierarchy chart. In order to see significant improvement, you would need to go at least three rungs up on the chart. This would bring you to a GTX 560 ti or equivalent. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/fastest-graphics-ca...

That card will eat about $225 or so right there. Good brands are EVGA and MSI(Twin Frozr)

CPU - The gaming standard right now is the Core i5-2500k. It is made for overclocking. However, you can save a few bucks by going with the i5-2400 which is only 10% slower at stock speed. Still plenty fast. Or you could save even more by dropping to the i3-2100. Still plenty fast as well. In any case the best prices on processors right now is a place called Microcenter.com. Since you do not live near one, you can select the web store from the top of the page drop down box. http://www.microcenter.com/index.html

Motherboard - SLi or Crossfire is a multi-video card setup using either Nvidia SLi or AMD Crossfire. I would not worry about it because results are not really worth the expense IMO. For a single card, all you need is a micro-ATX motherboard. They are less expensive, and perform just as well as ATX boards. A Z68 based socket 1155 micro-ATX board from Gigabyte or ASUS is all you need. Will also be upgradeable to the next generation of Intel CPUs.

For ram, get a 8gb(2x4gb) kit of DDR3 1333. Good brands are Gskill, Kingston, Corsair. Unless you plan on heavy overclocking of the ram as well(which makes little difference), then the plain stuff without the fancy heatsinks works just as well.

I would also invest in a good quality, 80 Plus or Bronze Certified, 650 watt power supply from Antec, Corsair, XFX, Seasonic, or Silverstone. You do not want to run a high powered video card on an elcheapo brand PSU no matter what the wattage says.

Cases are more of a personal preference thing, but you need at least a mid-tower with good airflow. This one is pretty popular right now. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... The one in my signature is pretty good also.


I disagree on a few minor points here. First, I would recommend 1600MHz RAM over 1333MHz RAM because they are about the same price so the minor increase in performance is actually worth it.
Second, Micro-ATX boards do not perform exactly as well as ATX motherboards do. Some very high quality Micro-ATX boards are in line with high quality ATX boards but the top ATX boards still reign supreme in performance without getting even larger multi CPU boards.
Third, the performance increase of Crossfire and SLI often is worth the price increase. Whether or not it is worth the power usage increase is a bigger concern among the high end SLI and Crossfire setups. Multi-GPU scaling has improved to almost 100%* and now the main problem besides the above are micro-stuttering and highly variable FPS, but both problems are reduced with faster GPUs in dual GPU setups and pretty much extinguished completely when you add a third GPU.

*:D epending on the video card's architecture. Nvidia's GTX 500 lineup has great scaling and better micro-stuttering and FPS variability than most other video cards besides AMD's 7700/7800/7900 and 6900 cards. The NGC architecture from those 7700/7800/7900 cards and the VLIW4 architecture from the 6900 cards are the most recent designs from AMD and are better than the older SLI and Crossfire implementations.


That i5-2400 and GTX 560 Ti are both great choices but I also think the Biostar board is a poor choice. Biostar isn't a bad manufacturer but all boards that cheap tend to suck regardless of the manufacturer that made them.
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January 18, 2012 1:16:20 AM

Oops. Forgot that some Microcenter items are in store pickup only. Bummer unless you want to fly down to CA. :) 

All should work fine. You can save 5 bucks on the ram by going with this if you want. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... the difference between CL ratings is negligible unless you are trying to squeeze out a few extra benchmark points. And, as stated earlier, the fancy heat sinks ae not really necessary either unless you really over clock the ram. In such a case, these would work. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...|20-231-394^20-231-394-TS%2C20-139-659^20-139-659-TS%2C20-148-262^20-148-262-TS%2C20-231-396^20-231-396-TS%2C20-231-253^20-231-253-TS

The 560 Ti runs just a bit hotter than your card, but it should be alright. The main thing I was concerned with was the new motherboard fitting properly. Your old one appears to be standard microATX, but you just never know until you get the new one in there.

You'll also know about the airflow pretty quickly. If it gets too hot, you will likely experience shut downs, and/or possibly blue screens.

Anyway, good luck!
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January 18, 2012 1:29:58 AM

Isn't the new one I'm picking up also micro-ATX?

Alright well I think I might just go with the CPU/mobo/RAM upgrade and possibly the case, want to see people's opinions on what I should do with it as I don't think I'll need a case with better airflow just yet until I plan to upgrade my GPU/PSU.
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January 18, 2012 1:32:04 AM

kevinlong said:
Alright, thank you for the advice, this is what I'm looking at right now:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $53
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $190 (Microcenter i5-2400 is only available for in store pickup)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $30

So totaling around $273 right now, with these upgrades do you think I'd have to pick up the case too?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - Adding $60 on to make it:
$333 or is the case not really entirely needed since I'm not getting a new GPU that requires good airflow as my GPU right now runs fine and doesn't overheat in my case.


Those parts are all good choices except for the RAM. Another $4 to $7 and you could get 8GB instead of 4GB. $30 or so is too much for 4GB of 1333MHz memory.

If airflow is a problem then you can look at your case and check if it supports more and/or larger fans than it currently has. If the fans aren't the best it can hold then a cheap fan upgrade is probably enough to fix any heat problems with your current case so long as you don't start overclocking.
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January 18, 2012 1:36:49 AM

blazorthon said:
I disagree on a few minor points here. First, I would recommend 1600MHz RAM over 1333MHz RAM because they are about the same price so the minor increase in performance is actually worth it.
Second, Micro-ATX boards do not perform exactly as well as ATX motherboards do. Some very high quality Micro-ATX boards are in line with high quality ATX boards but the top ATX boards still reign supreme in performance without getting even larger multi CPU boards.
Third, the performance increase of Crossfire and SLI often is worth the price increase. Whether or not it is worth the power usage increase is a bigger concern among the high end SLI and Crossfire setups. Multi-GPU scaling has improved to almost 100%* and now the main problem besides the above are micro-stuttering and highly variable FPS, but both problems are reduced with faster GPUs in dual GPU setups and pretty much extinguished completely when you add a third GPU.

*:D epending on the video card's architecture. Nvidia's GTX 500 lineup has great scaling and better micro-stuttering and FPS variability than most other video cards besides AMD's 7700/7800/7900 and 6900 cards. The NGC architecture from those 7700/7800/7900 cards and the VLIW4 architecture from the 6900 cards are the most recent designs from AMD and are better than the older SLI and Crossfire implementations.


If you have the time, could you possibly link to some real world data to support these claims. And by real world, I am not referring to benchmarking programs that point out minor increases in this or that category.

Honestly, I have been building these things for 24 years now, everything from the highest high end to the very low end, and I have yet to see any differences that my two eyes can see that make the high end worth the money. Now if you are into benchmarking for bragging rights, then sure, this component or that can give you a few more points or frames per second. But this OP is on a budget and just wants to play some games.
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January 18, 2012 1:42:34 AM

Alright then I'll pick this up instead for RAM:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Did not even know the slight increase in price, good catch.

Alright well I think I'll just go with that CPU/mobo/RAM upgrade

Do you think there be any other issues with connecting stuff to my mobo? Such as the HDD I have right now as well as other components of the case?
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January 18, 2012 2:13:00 AM

I'm not saying that it would be worthwhile to use the more high end parts on a low budget system but there are differences and if you don't notice them then I have to ask when was your last high performance system and what were it's parts including the monitor.

Faster RAM improves minimum frames per second in games but does not improve the maximum and doesn't help the average too much because of that. It is not a large improvement going from 1333MHz to 1600MHz, probably not even perceptible, but the performance improvement is noticeable in other programs more than gaming.

Micro-ATX boards don't allow as much overclocking headroom as similarly priced ATX boards because they just don't fit the same amount of stuff like power phases and that is important for overclocking. Once again not a big deal for this low budget but it is a fact that you ignored.

As for not noticing a difference, well some people have worse eye sight then others. For example, without my glasses I really can't tell the difference between 1080p Blu-Ray and a regular DVD in picture quality but with my glasses the difference is very obvious. I can even tell the difference between 720p and 1080p on my uncle's TV when I have my glasses on.

Don't worry about me citing benchmarks. I know how useless they are and refuse to use them in my arguments unless they actually help prove my point (admittedly they don't often help).

kevinlong said:
Alright then I'll pick this up instead for RAM:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Did not even know the slight increase in price, good catch.

Alright well I think I'll just go with that CPU/mobo/RAM upgrade

Do you think there be any other issues with connecting stuff to my mobo? Such as the HDD I have right now as well as other components of the case?


I recommend against 1066MHz memory because the performance difference between 1066MHz and 1333MHz is more pronounced than the difference between all frequencies above 1333MHz.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Try this instead, its 8GB and 1333MHz and it has a 5/5 rating for under $40. I can't recommend 1600MHz kits even though they would actually be a little cheaper because H61/H67 doesn't support anything above 1333MHz and sometimes chokes with faster memory. I've had to help two people with H67 boards that refused to work with 1600MHz and don't want to risk it.
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January 18, 2012 2:23:25 AM

Alright here's what I'm looking at right now, I decided to change my mind and think about trying out Bill Me Later -

I have a question regarding Bill Me Later, couldn't really figure it out from their website:
How does it work? Does it operate like a credit card in which they send home a bill every month and if I pay off the balance in 6 months there is no interest applied? Also is it possible to have the bill be sent online? My fiance doesn't want me spending a lot so I don't want her to open up that bill and see a nice big number.

Here's what I am at right now with my choices:
http://i.imgur.com/y7GpZ.png

I just need help now with picking out a good PSU that works with this build.
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January 18, 2012 2:34:29 AM

I don't know how bill me later works but I think that your right about it, that's how it seemed to work last time I looked into it. Way I see it though it's better to already have the money and just pay without bill be later to be safe, you never know if for some reason you won't be able to pay a few months later should you wait until then.

Good PSU brands are Corsair, Seasonic, Antec, Enermax, PCP&P, and maybe a few I forgot. I'll look for a choice or a few.
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January 18, 2012 2:36:57 AM

I was thinking ahead already and I will have the funds, I'm planning to pay about 150 every month so it should be over within 5 months so I hope it works out.

Yeah I was wondering what specific PSU I could do with certain railings stuff that would fit in with the build I posted.
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January 18, 2012 2:50:36 AM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
There's my recommendation if you can deal with a mail-in-rebate to bring the price down to $50 from $70. It's 600w and only $50 and from Corsair, no complaints here.

If you don't want a MIR then here's another PSU:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It's a little more expensive because of the lack of a rebate at $63 and has only 520w but it's enough for you anyway. This one is from Antec.

@tlmck
What do you think of these PSUs?
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January 18, 2012 3:16:59 AM

Think you linked the same PSU's, do you think my 4 year old HDD will run fine with this gaming rig? I don't want to have to update that as well.
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January 18, 2012 3:42:14 AM

Also, @tlmck:

Here is a link where Tom's went into Crossfire and SLI. It shows how two identical GPUs can be almost twice as fast as one of those GPUs. Each "benchmark" in here is a real world test within the games, not some synthetic bragging rights garbage.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-stut...

What Tom's called micro stuttering in this article actually isn't micro-stuttering. They confused it with variable FPS (there is probably a better name for that but it is an accurate name none the less). Micro-stuttering is explained by some comments in the recent comment pages.

It is actually where some frames are sent to the monitor within a given time frame (as small as or smaller than a second) where some frames come out slower than the monitors refresh rate. It can be caused by many different things besides just the video card but the video card and game being played are the greatest factors.

Some video card features can improve micro-stuttering and variable frame rates depending on the situation. Vsync can improve variable frame rates and micro-stutter but not in all cases.

As for proving that most Micro-ATX boards can't go as fast as most ATX boards, just look at them. A micro-ATX board will generally have fewer power phases. The amount of power phases isn't everything (the quality of said power phases is also important) but it matters. There is also the problem of connectivity and port placement. Many Micro-ATX boards have some SATA ports blocked by large video cards, a significant handicap since most Micro-ATX boards don't have additional SATA ports over the default like many ATX boards do.

And as for the RAM? Sorry but I can't find the sites I last visited on the subject so I can't show evidence for this one. I only found the site because someone else gave me the link and I just don't remember what site it was. The link was given when I said that faster RAM doesn't help gaming to a new builder last year. Since I can't find it I have to assume that only CPU limited titles would really benefit from faster RAM and even then it wouldn't help maximum FPS but minimum FPS (arguably the more important anyway) can be improved in such situations by significantly faster RAM. I realize it's hard to believe someone who can't prove something so I don't expect you to trust me on this one.

Maybe you'll have better luck finding it.
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January 18, 2012 3:46:10 AM

You better get a new case or you will run into issues with the front panel. Most HP etc computers I have worked on use a simple bracket for connecting the front panel to the motherboard. This bracket will not fit into ANY Retail motherboard sold. This means you will need a new case so that you can connect the new motherboard to your parts.

I would check to see if your motherboards front wires are connected together like this before making a purchase without a case if they are you will need a new case along with the other parts if not you are good to go with your current case. Although as an added bonus the new case will give you the reset button (Good for most hard lockups) that I have yet to see on ANY OEM computer....
------------------------------

Hard Drive wise I would wait a few months for the prices to drop a bit if at all possible. Your drive is getting pretty old and nearing what I would say is the I will die anytime now age. But given the prices of current drives (2 - 3X what they were 3-5 months ago) I would wait for them to drop a bit before getting a new one. Prices have eased a little bit over the last month but they are nowhere near what they used to be.
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January 18, 2012 4:07:12 AM

Alright so here is what I am looking at right now:
http://i.imgur.com/VwSlZ.png
I will only be bringing over my HDD from my old computer looks like so hopefully all the wires work together!

Also any advice on if I should get some thermal paste or what kind I should get?

I'm completely new with putting this together so I want to know what to be prepared for.
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January 18, 2012 4:08:55 AM

Thermal paste and a cooler should come with the CPU. The thermal paste should already be applied to the cooler so you don't need to worry bout the paste.
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January 18, 2012 4:53:10 AM

kevinlong said:
Alright then I'll pick this up instead for RAM:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Did not even know the slight increase in price, good catch.

Alright well I think I'll just go with that CPU/mobo/RAM upgrade

Do you think there be any other issues with connecting stuff to my mobo? Such as the HDD I have right now as well as other components of the case?


Actually, I believe I linked to this ram. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you are going back to 8gb. Then The ones I linked earlier would be fine.

Honestly, Gskill has way too many similar parts. They need to quit that.
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January 18, 2012 5:31:18 AM

blazorthon said:
Also, @tlmck:

Here is a link where Tom's went into Crossfire and SLI. It shows how two identical GPUs can be almost twice as fast as one of those GPUs. Each "benchmark" in here is a real world test within the games, not some synthetic bragging rights garbage.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-stut...

What Tom's called micro stuttering in this article actually isn't micro-stuttering. They confused it with variable FPS (there is probably a better name for that but it is an accurate name none the less). Micro-stuttering is explained by some comments in the recent comment pages.

It is actually where some frames are sent to the monitor within a given time frame (as small as or smaller than a second) where some frames come out slower than the monitors refresh rate. It can be caused by many different things besides just the video card but the video card and game being played are the greatest factors.

Some video card features can improve micro-stuttering and variable frame rates depending on the situation. Vsync can improve variable frame rates and micro-stutter but not in all cases.

As for proving that most Micro-ATX boards can't go as fast as most ATX boards, just look at them. A micro-ATX board will generally have fewer power phases. The amount of power phases isn't everything (the quality of said power phases is also important) but it matters. There is also the problem of connectivity and port placement. Many Micro-ATX boards have some SATA ports blocked by large video cards, a significant handicap since most Micro-ATX boards don't have additional SATA ports over the default like many ATX boards do.

And as for the RAM? Sorry but I can't find the sites I last visited on the subject so I can't show evidence for this one. I only found the site because someone else gave me the link and I just don't remember what site it was. The link was given when I said that faster RAM doesn't help gaming to a new builder last year. Since I can't find it I have to assume that only CPU limited titles would really benefit from faster RAM and even then it wouldn't help maximum FPS but minimum FPS (arguably the more important anyway) can be improved in such situations by significantly faster RAM. I realize it's hard to believe someone who can't prove something so I don't expect you to trust me on this one.

Maybe you'll have better luck finding it.


I certainly understand the micro stuttering. I read a recent piece on another site linked elsewhere in this forum, about how most cards do not exactly match up. Although they did find a couple of GTX 580's that were almost perfectly in sync, and even the author agreed that this was a fluke as I recall. He was also using a different form of measurement than FPS. I just cannot recall what it was.

And while you point out differences in uATX and ATX, that still does not prove the point that ATX is any better. The same issues could be had when comparing ATX to ATX. Now in the old days, most uATX were suspect, but with the advent of better cooling and Lan party sized boxes, The motherboard manufacturers upped their game.

Thanks to the local Fry's, I also get to look at new boards as they come out. You'll note I only linked to ASUS and Gigabyte. For me they are the only tw0 worth buying. And in general I go with Gigabyte because they are usually priced less at the same quality and feature level. Having worked in Electronics manufacturing for 17 years, I can say as far as build quality goes, you have ASUS and Gigabyte and then everyone else.

Something else I like to do over there is play with the gaming rigs they custom build for display. On a recent trip was a Core i7-2600k overclocked, with triple 570 cards. On the other end of the shelving section was a Core i52500k overclocked with a single 580 card. Both had the same mobo, 8gb ram, SSD and HDD setups, and 23" monitors. I played the new Batman game on both and could tell no difference in performance even though I am sure the 2600k rig would wipe the floor with the other in various benchmarks. It also cost about $800 more for the extra cards and CPU.

I do appreciate the link to the Tom's article though. I usually skip over those due to my lack of interest in multi-card setups. I was interesting reading though.

There is also a Tom's article on ram and how the various ratings and such measure up. Stuff like CL, megahertz speeds, etc. The end conclusion was the differences are really only significant in benchmarking programs due to the fact that there are too many other variables that affect game play.
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January 18, 2012 5:46:38 AM

tlmck said:
I certainly understand the micro stuttering. I read a recent piece on another site linked elsewhere in this forum, about how most cards do not exactly match up. Although they did find a couple of GTX 580's that were almost perfectly in sync, and even the author agreed that this was a fluke as I recall. He was also using a different form of measurement than FPS. I just cannot recall what it was.

And while you point out differences in uATX and ATX, that still does not prove the point that ATX is any better. The same issues could be had when comparing ATX to ATX. Now in the old days, most uATX were suspect, but with the advent of better cooling and Lan party sized boxes, The motherboard manufacturers upped their game.

Thanks to the local Fry's, I also get to look at new boards as they come out. You'll note I only linked to ASUS and Gigabyte. For me they are the only tw0 worth buying. And in general I go with Gigabyte because they are usually priced less at the same quality and feature level. Having worked in Electronics manufacturing for 17 years, I can say as far as build quality goes, you have ASUS and Gigabyte and then everyone else.

Something else I like to do over there is play with the gaming rigs they custom build for display. On a recent trip was a Core i7-2600k overclocked, with triple 570 cards. On the other end of the shelving section was a Core i52500k overclocked with a single 580 card. Both had the same mobo, 8gb ram, SSD and HDD setups, and 23" monitors. I played the new Batman game on both and could tell no difference in performance even though I am sure the 2600k rig would wipe the floor with the other in various benchmarks. It also cost about $800 more for the extra cards and CPU.

I do appreciate the link to the Tom's article though. I usually skip over those due to my lack of interest in multi-card setups. I was interesting reading though.

There is also a Tom's article on ram and how the various ratings and such measure up. Stuff like CL, megahertz speeds, etc. The end conclusion was the differences are really only significant in benchmarking programs due to the fact that there are too many other variables that affect game play.


I said some ATX boards will beat all uATX boards because they simply have more room. Of course not all ATX boards are created equal and cheap ATX boards will lag behind expensive uATX boards. For example, there is an $185 ROG Asus uATX board. It probably doesn't beat some $150-$180 ATX offerings though it will trample most ATX boards anyway. I also agree about Asus and Gigabyte generally being the top quality motherboards but some other brands are better than the others too, just not by as much. For example, foxxcon (or however they spell it) is generally garbage as is most Biostar boards but ASRock and MSI are generally between Asus/Gigabyte and those garbage boards in quality.

The monitors are probably at 1080p where the differences between those two setups really won't be noticeable. In fact a single GTX 570 would probably look about the same as those two setups at 1080p.

You need higher resolution monitors to see the differences, 2560x1440 or 2560x1600 are the preferred single monitor resolutions and then there is dual or triple 1080p monitor Eyefinity setups.
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January 18, 2012 6:34:38 AM

If it were me, I would get less CPU and more board up front. My i7 2600K is under RMA and I have purchased an i3 2120 for testing and to run while I wait... it runs SWTOR just FINE, 1920x1080, high settings, with a 5870.

Get a board with SATA 6GB/s and USB 3.0.

And on the RAM, just be aware that Intel does not officially support RAM speeds over 1333. The CPU controls the RAM, and so if you have to RMA the CPU and tell them you have run 1600MHZ RAM they will deny your RMA.
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January 18, 2012 6:45:34 AM

I just purchased $650 worth of stuff there, so I'm hoping for it to come in and I'll see how it turns out!
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January 18, 2012 6:45:54 AM

Best answer selected by kevinlong.
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January 18, 2012 7:01:27 AM

kevinlong said:
I just purchased $650 worth of stuff there, so I'm hoping for it to come in and I'll see how it turns out!



$650! Holdin' out on me huh! :) 


Seriously, good luck and thanks for the best answer. We will still be here if things go horribly wrong. :) 
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