I have a 3-year-old HP Pavilion p6140sc Desktop computer. specs HERE. (OS: Win7 Home Premium 64-bit) Originally I didn't buy the the machine for gaming purposes but now I feel like I need to have an upgrade since the newer games are becoming too demanding for them to run smoothly on my equipment. My goal would be so that I could play all the newest Source games consistenly at 60fps on high(est) settings, and likewise with Serious Sam 3, and also prepare my computer for Diablo 3. I have a primary 1920x1080 gaming monitor and I use a second monitor at 1280x1024 only for IM programs, not gaming. Question is, what would be the easiest (cheapest) route to this goal?
Being a PC hardware-noob, I don't think I want to go experimenting with overclocking. There's no way I have the necessary experience to figure out what should I get without knowing bottlenecking effects and such - which is why I am posting here.. Also I'm primarily looking for a single graphics card solution. I was looking to spend maybe around 300 euros but if that's not even close to achieve my desired goal then I might be willing to go higher. I live in Finland btw.
so youre pretty constrained with what you can do for a few reasons. First; your 300w power supply isnt sufficient to power a card what will play most new game on high settings. Second; your stock cpu (asuming its the base phenom II x3 720) is a decent cpu but could potentially be a bottleneck in some games. you also dont have the option to OC the cpu even it you wanted to because of a locked bios.
so you have a few options. listed from cheapest to most expensive
option1:buy a new card and psu and make due wit the cpu. you should still see substantial gains in many games with an upgraded gpu
option 2: option 1 and add a faster cpu as well. a 955be would be a nice Upgrade and would drop right into your motherboard. Also if you chose to build a ps in the next year or so you could carry the cpu, psu and card over.
option 3: save your money, bide time and build a pc when you can afford it.
personally i would go with option 3 however that doesnt help you right now so maybe buy card that will work with your current psu. AMD HD6670 is about the fastest card you will find that fits that requirement and should provide a decent upgrade
Your biggest problem will be the power supply. I wouldn't trust a no-name box to run a decent graphics card. You'd be fine up to around the 5770/6770 (same card) level, but after that I'd recommend a 430- or 500W PSU.
What matters here is your budget. I'd say you could go up to around the $200 level before being bottlenecked by the CPU and without maxing some Valve games (assuming an acceptable PSU), and with the PSU you'd be looking $250. You could spend any amount of money up to that, starting around $90.