Recommended Upgrades

I'm interested in purchasing some new components for my rig, and I'm looking for some opinions on which parts to buy and which parts not to worry about. I'm concerned with the graphics, and am giving a serious thought towards Sapphire's 6950 and EVGA's GTX 570, keeping in mind that this rig is fairly mid-range to begin with.

I want to play Dead Space 2, WoW, Skyrim and Crysis 2 at maximum settings with the best frame rates, and will be doing a significant amount of data transferring and audio/video converting/encoding.

I want a new cpu fan, but I don't have any clue as to which to purchase. I'm leaning very strongly, however, to Noctua's NH-L12 [ http://www.noctua.at/main.php?show=productview&products_id=46&lng=en ] for its low profile size and cooling power.

I'd rather keep the mother board, so I won't have to worry about clean installs and extensive parts switching. I'm also giving serious thought to replacing the booting ssd in the build with a Momentus XT 500gb [ http://www.seagate.com/internal-hard-drives/laptop-hard-drives/momentus-xt-hybrid/ ].

I know that that would be considered a downgrade in many ways, it would work out for me thanks to fast start-up speeds and spacious storage. I know there's a 1tb drive here, but I'd rather use that for movies and music (not games). If I did that, what could I do with the ssd?

Current Build:

Case: Thermaltake Lanbox Lite [ http://thermaltakeusa.com/Product.aspx?C=1320&ID=1430 ]

PSU: OCZ ModXStream Pro 700W [ http://www.ocztechnology.com/ocz-500w-700w-modxstream-pro-power-supply.html ]

CPU: AMD Phenom II x6 1055t @ 2.8ghz [ http://www.amd.com/us/products/desktop/processors/phenom-ii/Pages/phenom-ii.aspx ]

Fan: AMD CPU Stock Cooler

MoBo: Gigabyte GA-M68MT-S2 [ http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=3967#ov ]

RAM: 2x4gb Kingston HyperX Blu 1333mhz [ http://www.kingston.com/us/memory/hyperx/blu ]

GPU: Sapphire Radeon 6850 1gb GDDR5 [ http://www.sapphiretech.com/presentation/product/?cid=1&gid=3&sgid=1037&pid=497&psn=&lid=1&leg=0 ]

SSD: 120gb Intel 320 Series [ http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/solid-state-drives/solid-state-drives-320-series.html ]

HDD: 1tb 7200rpm Seagate Barracuda [ http://www.seagate.com/internal-hard-drives/desktop-hard-drives/barracuda/ ]

ODD: Sony High Speed DVD RW Drive (24x) [ http://www.sony-optiarc.eu/products/dvddrivesdesktoppcs.html ]

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit [ http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/shop/windows-7/home-premium ]
12 answers Last reply
More about recommended upgrades
  1. The thing that most jumps out at me as wanting to be changed is the case. A HAF 912 or Antec 300 should be able to cool the components a lot better than the current one.

    If you got that, the form factor of the CPU cooler wouldn't be as big of a deal.

    Not that an NH-14 or whatever is a bad cooler, but the Hyper 212 EVO is known to be very powerful for its price and it is pretty large.

    After that, I guess if playing all the games at max settings is the important thing then it really helps to have a top of the line video card. The two you mentioned are both one generation old now and it would be better to aim at a 7950 or 670 instead.

    After I made those two switches, I would start saving for an Intel core instead of the AMD core.
  2. Yeah, it'll take a 670 to max Crysis 2.
    Get a 2500K.
  3. I plan on building a different computer altogether when it comes to an Intel-based computer. Right now, I'm primarily concerned with making improvements to a rig destined to remain in the mid-range. I don't mind having a last-generation card, especially given the comparatively monolithic prices of the current generation. I'd also prefer to keep the rig in a small form factor, though I'd change the case if there was an sff case with better cooling opportunities than my current one.

    Essentially, I already know what I want; I just wanted a second opinion. Also, I'm only mildly interested in Crysis 2, for example, and still stuck in the adventures of Fall Out 3. Dead Space 2 plays alright; frame rates are smooth even at maximum settings.

    I'll strongly consider an i5 build, though; thanks for the input so far!
  4. Well, you did say you wanted to max Crysis 2, and you didn't provide a budget. How much are you willing to spend?
    Oh, I misread a bit. This is all stuff you've got.
    Yeah, a 570 might do you fine. The 670 is a fantastic high-end value, though. If you get a $35 Hyper 212 EVO instead of the Noctua (and you don't need the Noctua), would you have a shot at affording it?
  5. Just to clarify, this rig is stuck with the AMD platform; since I'm keeping the motherboard, I'm also keeping the CPU (unless someone has a good recommendation on a compatible upgrade). I also stated that this was a mid range build, but wasn't clear at all on a budget; I won't spend more than $300 dollars on a GPU, and my max limit is $500 total. Since I'd prefer to keep a small form-factor case, the well-regarded 212 EVO, or any related cpu cooler, isn't going to be compatible.
  6. If your limit is $500, why not drop $400 on a 670 (which performs just about as well as its $500 competitors) and $75 on the C12-P?

    How much does form factor matter? A $25 Hyper 212 Plus and a $50 Antec 300 would cost the same as the Noctua and get you better cooling performance, especially on the GPU.
  7. i would recommend the 670 in the uk a 570 costs 175-220 for a basic 1. while you could pick up a 670 for as little as 65 quid more. but get about half as much power again so it is a worth while spend.
    as for cooling if you switch to an all in 1 liquid cooled block you wont have to shell out for a new case to put it in. so with that saving you can use what you save to put the extra to the gpu...
  8. kajabla said:
    If your limit is $500, why not drop $400 on a 670 (which performs just about as well as its $500 competitors) and $75 on the C12-P?

    How much does form factor matter? A $25 Hyper 212 Plus and a $50 Antec 300 would cost the same as the Noctua and get you better cooling performance, especially on the GPU.


    I'll strongly consider a 670 at $350~$400, but a 6950 at $200 or a 570 at $250 after rebate would also sufficiently meet my needs.

    And form factor means everything here; this computer needs to take up as little space as appropriately possible for a gaming-caliber rig. Although I recognize that the feat in and of itself is impractical.

    The 114mm (with fan) C12-P looks like an excellent cooler, but if you refer to my case's page on Thermaltake's website you'll see that there's only enough clearance for a 100mm cpu fan. While the NH-L12 may offer inferior cooling, not only would it fit with both fans attached, it will still offer better cooling capabilities than the stock AMD cpu cooler at lower decibels.

    Anonymous said:
    i would recommend the 670 in the uk a 570 costs 175-220 for a basic 1. while you could pick up a 670 for as little as 65 quid more. but get about half as much power again so it is a worth while spend.
    as for cooling if you switch to an all in 1 liquid cooled block you wont have to shell out for a new case to put it in. so with that saving you can use what you save to put the extra to the gpu...


    I really like the idea of a water-cooled sff computer; could you recommend a model and a way to install it in my particular case?

    I live in Virginia, so the prices are different. A 570, for example, will cost at least $250 with a rebate; the 670 costs much more. I recognize the potential of Nvidia's 600 series and Radeon/ATI's 7000 series over the 500/6000 series (respectively), I feel that it would be hard to justify the cost/performance ratio of upgrading generations.

    It might also be worth mentioning that I'm only playing video games for two hours a day (maybe four), and that I won't be competing in an environment where a 10% increase in performance could win the day (like WoW). The 670 is an excellent card, I'm not doubting that; I feel, though, that it's overkill in terms of meeting my needs. Someone could easily argue that it would be a future-proofing feature, but if that's the case so would swapping my motherboard, getting 4x8gb 1833mhz RAM, 512gb SSD's in RAID 0... granted, I'm using extreme examples, but here's my point: if I need it in the future, I'll buy it in the future.
  9. go with gtx 580 if you can its great
  10. Where in Virginia do you live?

    As for water cooling this PC, it will be quite difficult. I am no water cooling expert by any stretch of the imagination, but from what I understand you generally need two pretty decent sized holes, at least as big as a nickel right next to each other in the case. That lets you run cables from into the case to out of it to let the water cooling systems work.

    Your case doesn't have such holes, so you would probably have to make them yourself with some sort of tool like a drill with a pretty fat bit for instance.

    You would also have to have some tolerance for components residing outside the case and I have heard some water coolers can be pretty noisy.

    If you don't need a 680 then don't get one. If a 6950 does good enough then just get that.

    - Edit - The h60 and h80 are pretty popular water coolers for people that insist on doing it, in my experience.
  11. Raiddinn said:
    Where in Virginia do you live?

    As for water cooling this PC, it will be quite difficult. I am no water cooling expert by any stretch of the imagination, but from what I understand you generally need two pretty decent sized holes, at least as big as a nickel right next to each other in the case. That lets you run cables from into the case to out of it to let the water cooling systems work.

    Your case doesn't have such holes, so you would probably have to make them yourself with some sort of tool like a drill with a pretty fat bit for instance.

    You would also have to have some tolerance for components residing outside the case and I have heard some water coolers can be pretty noisy.

    If you don't need a 680 then don't get one. If a 6950 does good enough then just get that.

    - Edit - The h60 and h80 are pretty popular water coolers for people that insist on doing it, in my experience.


    The case (Thermaltake's Lanbox Lite) actually does have the two "nickel-sized" holes in the back for water cooling tubing. It's a black art, as far as I'm concerned, to use water-cooling in any other form than an all-in-one block.

    I can't, however, actually fit one inside the case; the radiator's way too big. I've considered installing the radiator on top, though, with the tubes going inside my case and on my cpu.

    I'd still much prefer air cooling, though; I think I'll make a thread for what cpu fans would go great with my case.

    And I'm still trying to decide between a 570 and a 6950.
  12. I would get the 570 between the two, but I like gaming performance.
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