Hello all. A friend of mine built me a PC recently that works great for basic functions for work and school. However, I'm also a gamer and would love to be able to run Diablo III without any major lag and would like to be able to run WoW at not the lowest settings. I was thinking of replacing my video card first then moving on to the processor, but seeing as I've never replaced PC components before I thought it'd be best if I check here first. My first question is how should I go about upgrading it? Should I upgrade certain portions before others (and if so, which order is best)? Do it all at once? My second question is what parts would you recommend to run games like D3 and WoW without getting too crazy on the budget? I would love to keep this project under $300 overall, if possible. If not possible, other suggestions are welcome.
Here's what I have now:
Processor- AMD Athlon 64 processor 3000+ 1.80 GHz
Video Card- Radeon X1550 64-bit
Sound Card- Realtek AC'97 Audio
Motherboard- ASUSTeK Computer INC. A8N-SLI 1.XX
There's really not much you can do to upgrade that system to make things much better. A better GPU will help a lot, but no CPU you can upgrade to with that mobo (Socket 939) is much better and not worth spending money on.
Those are a little over your $300 Budget...but for an $365 including a $10 mail-in Rebate...and ALL are free shipping...this would move you to being very relevant and in a good position to play anything you want...maybe not on ultra but with pretty darn good results.
This also keeps you in the AMD camp...which you are familiar with. There's cheaper ways to go...but you give up a LOT of performance for very small savings...you maybe could save $40-$50 bucks...but the hit you would take would be enormous AND you wouldn't be near as current with chipsets and features!!
Asrock has become a MAJOR player in the Motherboard market and their reputation has increased by leaps and bounds...the above is a HUGE improvement over what you have now and most of the products have a very large owner base with plenty of support and guides as to squeezing out all the performance possible!!!
Good luck my friend and whatever you decide...enjoy the fun you get out of very current hardware and performance you will get for the hard earned money you spend!
I agree with tekman here on the suggestions he made. I have one slight modification though. I'd suggest you go for an HD 6770 instead of the 550Ti since it performs better in D3 and $20 bones cheaper to boot.
GPU's are a "personal preference" choice...I've been buying AMD for the past 3-4 years exclusively...the price points and performance for the money has been better from AMD than from Nvidia...the 550 is an excellent gpu but I agree with ohyouknow on the choice..I've just never owned a 6770 so therefore couldn't speak to how it performs..I've had a pair of 5770's in xfire and a 6870 and now I am using a 6970...so for the money and performance I choose AMD GPU's but I do very little gaming...so I couldn't speak to how it would perform and with the rebate..$120 for a relevant GPU sounded pretty fair AND there's a lot of owners out there that HAVE a lot of tips and guides for the 550...and the 6770 is a card that seems to be headed for the "out of stock" "end of Life" gpus where as the 550ti is still selling and being stocked with all models available at newegg...also there's a lot more of the 550ti's sold vs the HD6770's.
So should I upgrade my mobo first then work on replacing everything else?
Since your system is so ancient, even upgrading to a platform with CPU-IGP would be a significant upgrade to your current video card as well. If you can wait a while longer, you could get the desktop variant of AMD's Trinity which kicks IGP performance up another notch.
Otherwise, you could still get an AMD APU (mothball your X1550) and add graphics later.