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A peice at a time

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February 23, 2012 9:07:31 PM

Hi there folks... long time lurker, first time poster (yay for finally creating a forum account!!).

With bills the way they are, I am on a limited budget and can only upgrade a piece or two at a time. What I am wanting out of the community is thoughts and/or suggestions about which pieces to go with first. I love the things you guys here at Tom's hardware come up with!

That being said, I was wondering if the community at large might help with their opinions. (Dangerous request in some places I know lol) I use this as my gaming rig. I play World of Warcraft and Civ5 mostly. Star Wars:The Old Republic is choppy so I don't play it often. I have Fallout 3 but haven't installed it.

I know my setup is a few years old at this point. Up until ToR and 25m LFR in WoW however I never really had a problem. Also something to note, I had both the CPU and GPU overclocked but a case fan went bad so I set everything to stock as the temperatures were getting dangerous. I have since replaced the case fan, but every time I attempt to reset the OC settings, Windows has a problem and resets itself. I'm guessing that this is caused from overheating as I run the AMD Overdrive Auto-Clock software.


Current Build (most of the Data is taken from my memory or CPU-z)

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 64bit (6.1) Service Pack 1 (Build 7601)
DirectX: V 11.0
MoBo: Microstar (MSI) MS-7376 AM2+
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955, Black Edition, Deneb 3.2GHz, Socket AM3 (not O/C atm)
Memory: 3x 1g Samsung DDR2 PC2-6400 (400Mhz) M3 78T2953EZ3-CF7
Graphics: 2x Radeon HD 4870 (512 MB) running in Crossfire

HDD: several... 2 are SSD setup in a raid config running the system files... a couple SATA drives for storage
DVD: Lightscribe DVD/CD burner
Moniters: Dual LG L22WTQ at 1680x1050 (75Hz)
Mouse: Razer Naga 17-button
keyboard: some cheap Kensington USB keyboard

I'm sure there is more ... but that is the basics...

More about : peice time

February 23, 2012 9:39:29 PM

I guess you could say I'm fairly new at this as well. Been gone a long time anyway. But I'd upgrade the RAM to start off with if that was my system.

Part of having a 64 bit OS is to recognize RAM over 4Gb right? Seems like I read that somewhere.

I'd drop 8 in it and see how it performs then. I'd also take my opinions as a grain of salt around here.
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February 23, 2012 9:48:05 PM

What resolution are you gaming at? If you're 1080, I'd recommend upgrading your GPU(s), as crazy as that sounds. Reason being, the 512MB memory with each card doesn't truly combine to 1GB. I'd upgrade to a single card with 1GB.

But before that, I'd definitely upgrade your mobo and RAM.

And FYI, overclocking my 955 BE from 3.2 to 3.8 did almost nothing for my SW:TOR performance. But I'm using a 6870 1GB.

Also, if you DO decide to OC the 955 again, put an aftermarket cooler on it. That should definitely help with the heat.
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February 23, 2012 9:59:34 PM

I know I have a memory deficiency and that that is causing a large scale problem... looking at the Win7 hardware monitor (not horribly reliable but constantly up) I notice that my computer is always greater then 50% Ram used and that it will often ding the 90%+ mark.

That mobo and memory combo I listed would be less then $150 and would allow for me to keep my 2xRadeon HD 4870's in Crossfire, my current CPU and peripherals and future proof for an AM3 CPU and different GPU. Not that I plan on keeping these forever, but I am doing this piece by piece sadly.

Speaking of which... a good/solid upgrade to the GPU if I were to go to a single card would be what?
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February 23, 2012 10:03:24 PM

If you're doing the GPU now, minimum Radeon 6870, or go a bit better with the Radeon 6950.

If you're waiting, check out the 7850/7870 a few months down the road.
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February 24, 2012 3:29:47 AM

If you want to get a major improvement in performance, you're going to need to get a faster CPU and GPU. Personally, I would suggest getting an intel CPU and MOBO as well as DDR3 RAM.

Also +1 for ringzero's suggestion on the GPU.
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