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Recommended upgrades on budget rig?

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February 7, 2012 6:54:46 PM

Go easy on me. I'm a computer building noob. This site has come up in so many of my searches and helped educate me a lot. I decided to join for more detailed advice on my particular situation.

Current system:
ECS MCP61M-M3 (V7.1) (Cheap AM3 micro ATX with a max TDP of 95w)
Phenom X6 1045t @2.7Ghz stock clock
8GB Patriot "sector 5" ram running at 1066 with 7 CAS timings.
OCZ vertex II 60GB SSD
500GB WD 7200 RPM HDD.
Galaxy GTX 560 (not a Ti)
Corsair TX750
Windows 7 64-bit

I don't game much(just started playing Skyrim), but I do play with HD rendering often.

I just got a bonus from work and I'm considering using a little of it (300 or less?) to upgrade my computer. The problem is all the options I can think of seem to offer minimal performance returns.

The most cost-effective performance upgrade I can think of would be a motherboard upgrade and an OC. But I have never OC's anything and the 1045 has a locked multiplier so I'm not sure it would be worth the hassle.

An OC would cut render times, and a nice SLI-ready MB with 4 memory slots would give me room to grow down the road, but I'm not sure how much I'm willing to trade between CPU lifespan and shortened render times. (my last over-the-counter computer lasted >8 years)

Any suggestions? From where I am, how much of a performance improvement can I get for that small amount of money and is it worth it?
a b B Homebuilt system
February 7, 2012 7:08:43 PM

Look at a decent AM3+ mobo 970 with a 1090T, hit up 8GB(2x4) of Corsairs Vengeance RAM, should be good to go.

You can try selling off your CPU/MOBO/RAM to raise a bit extra.
February 7, 2012 7:21:49 PM

sarinaide said:
Look at a decent AM3+ mobo 970 with a 1090T, hit up 8GB(2x4) of Corsairs Vengeance RAM, should be good to go.

You can try selling off your CPU/MOBO/RAM to raise a bit extra.


Thanks for the reply. I have considered an unlocked X6, but they are out of stock on Newegg and Tigerdirect. What other reputable sources should I check out?
Related resources
February 7, 2012 8:05:50 PM

MSI P67A-G45 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
B3 Ready; Military Class, UEFI, SLI, Front USB3 $109.99 after MIR Receive a $30 prepaid card by mail from MSI! Expires on 2/29/12
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I5-2500K $229.99 free shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$30 for a CM Hyper 212+ http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I understand that's well over your $300 budget but if you want to make a significant impact this will do it!
February 7, 2012 8:07:42 PM

you could always scratch the amd stuff all together and get some intel sandy bridge stuff. thats if u render alot. like an i5 2500k and an asrock extreme 3? thats around 300. the ram should be fine.
a c 136 B Homebuilt system
February 7, 2012 8:10:48 PM

The AM3+ motherboard makes sense .
You can overclock your current X6 . It doesnt have to be unlocked .


Boards with the 970 series chipset that limit you to one graphics card start at around $90 . DDR3 RAM will be around $45 for a 2 x4 gig kit . A good CPU cooler will be $30

The AM3+ mb would give you options to upgrade later to an FX 8150 [ and later piledriver cpu's] that render as fast or faster than the intel 2500k

Changing your motherboard might mean you cant use the copy of Win7 you currently have if its OEM
February 7, 2012 8:28:59 PM

Outlander_04 said:
The AM3+ motherboard makes sense .
You can overclock your current X6 . It doesnt have to be unlocked .


Boards with the 970 series chipset that limit you to one graphics card start at around $90 . DDR3 RAM will be around $45 for a 2 x4 gig kit . A good CPU cooler will be $30

The AM3+ mb would give you options to upgrade later to an FX 8150 [ and later piledriver cpu's] that render as fast or faster than the intel 2500k

Changing your motherboard might mean you cant use the copy of Win7 you currently have if its OEM


Is there an AM3+ that has an "overclocking for idiots" setting in the BIOS?

I like the cost/benefit ratio of this idea, but I don't know how much risk I'm taking with the equipment.

What's the relationship between increased clock speed, heat, and longevity?

-And then there's the learning curve that comes with overclocking a locked CPU.


I can't see myself getting an i5 without throwing in the extra ~100 for an i7. (If I'm going over the 300 limit, that is.)

Best solution

a c 136 B Homebuilt system
February 7, 2012 8:39:47 PM
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Z1NONLY said:
Is there an AM3+ that has an "overclocking for idiots" setting in the BIOS?

I like the cost/benefit ratio of this idea, but I don't know how much risk I'm taking with the equipment.

What's the relationship between increased clock speed, heat, and longevity?

-And then there's the learning curve that comes with overclocking a locked CPU.


I can't see myself getting an i5 without throwing in the extra ~100 for an i7. (If I'm going over the 300 limit, that is.)


No need at all for the intel . Especially when an AM3+ upgrade leaves the door open to add an FX processor that would be faster at video encoding anyway
http://www.guru3d.com/article/amd-fx-8150-processor-rev...

In the meantime OCing the phenom is relatively easy
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/amd-phenom...
Expect performance to scale with MHz . A 10% increase will encode 10% faster .
The ASUS M5A97 board is out of stock at Newegg , but this Asrock
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
should work , and is cheaper
February 7, 2012 8:54:04 PM

Read the overclocking article. If I can get into the low 3's with stock voltages with an SLI ready AM3+, that might be a decent bump in performance and give me some room to grow.

If I can get stock 1100t performance for the price of a MB upgrade, I would be happy. (Assuming I don't shorten the lifespan of the CPU too much) It looks like it will render as well as a stock i5 at that point, and only cost me about, what, ~150-ish for a good AM3+? (I'll look into the AS rock for SLI)

Did I understand the article to correctly regarding the ability to keep Cool and Quiet function with this approach?

a c 136 B Homebuilt system
February 7, 2012 9:12:21 PM

This is the only budget AM3+ that can SLI/ crossfire
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

All other models that can do that have 990 chip sets and cost more .

You should be able to leave coo and quiet enabled . It might limit your maximum overclock but you will still easily reach 100T speeds and beyond .

All those processors are the same silicon . Just that some are clocked lower to make a performance range . Its more marketing than anything else. You wont have longevity or heat issues if you OC reasonably
February 7, 2012 10:12:54 PM

Outlander_04 said:
This is the only budget AM3+ that can SLI/ crossfire
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

All other models that can do that have 990 chip sets and cost more .

You should be able to leave coo and quiet enabled . It might limit your maximum overclock but you will still easily reach 100T speeds and beyond .

All those processors are the same silicon . Just that some are clocked lower to make a performance range . Its more marketing than anything else. You wont have longevity or heat issues if you OC reasonably



That looks perfect. Since I'm only doing a MB/OC upgrade (with this approach) I could spend a little more if there were some benefit. Firewire, lots of fan headers, SLI -even comes with a bridge....

I could spend a little more but I can't think of what another ~50 bucks would get me that I want now or may want down the road.

If there are no befits that someone can point to for the extra money, it looks like I will order this board and learn to OC.

Thanks.
February 8, 2012 12:50:45 AM

Best answer selected by Z1NONLY.
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