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Major Upgrade on my current PC

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March 18, 2012 8:04:18 PM

Alright, so I've finally got a job and able to build a PC soon. To no waste money, I will be using my current PC case and PSU (500W Cooler Master Extreme Power+) because they are less than a year old and will work just fine, and my current Hard drive.

I am using this computer for casual gaming, web surfing, and very light video editing. I will only be overclocking the CPU to 3Ghz at most. I will be buying these parts in 3-4 weeks. I have a aftermarket cooler that is compatible with a FM1 socket. It is the Cooler Master Vortex Plus.

What I will be buying is:
(Links)

Biostar TA75A+ AMD A Series Motherboard
AMD A6-Series AD3670WNGXBOX Quad-Core A6-3670K Black Edition APU - 2.7Ghz
MSI R6770 Twin Frozr II/OC Radeon HD 6770 Video Card - 1GB
Corsair Vengeance Desktop Memory Kit - 4GB (2x 2GB) DDR3-1600MHz


The reason I want a APU is so I can run hybrid crossfire for a boost in performance with a lower cost. I can only have 4GB of RAM because I use win 7 32bit, but I might buy a 64bit at a later date.

My budget is $400, but if anyone thinks I should wait and save up tell me. I'm only 18 and have no bills to pay for the next year and a half, but my current PC is struggling playing games I like. I would rather get a PC that would last me a few years so I could save up and build a whole computer from scratch for about $1500-$2000 in the future.

Also, if you think you can find parts for cheaper that are just as good or better than the ones listed above, please do tell :) 
I only buy from TigerDirect or NewEgg because I get discounts up to 10% per item because of how much I bought from them over the years and I trust them.

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March 19, 2012 6:26:27 PM

I would get 1866 RAM instead of 1600 RAM since this is one of the few applications where RAM speed matters. For most computers there is no good reason not to take 1333, but when A series AMD processors the RAM is used as VRAM and the extra MHZ does make a difference in video quality.

I am not a big fan of Biostar, I don't think they have a long enough track record. I would stick with Gigabyte or Asus instead. Both should have FM1 boards in about the same price range.

If I was going to have an A series processor, I would want the A8-3870k myself.

Corsair RAM - This has 2x the failure rates of G.Skill and 5x the failure rates of Crucial and Kingston. I would get RAM from one of those other makers instead.

I can't comment on current pricing or deals or whatever kind of special status you have with the online retailers, but if you can't afford those things now, I would suggest you save up till you can.

Also, I just wanted to point out that the Cooler Master isn't a respected PSU brand in a product environment where brand matters more than anything. It may work for what you are doing, but I wouldn't put super huge amounts of faith in it. PSUs from this brand are known to break early and often.
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March 19, 2012 8:51:59 PM

Well, I would have to say yes it is "better", but it not even close to "there" yet.

I didn't say a bunch of company names to choose because I was hoping you would avoid all of them.

It has 1866 RAM and a 3870k, which are better, if you assume everything is going to work.

Understand that what I want to avoid here is 2 things:
1) The system doesn't perform well
2) You have to spend hours and hours trying to figure out why it isn't working once you receive the parts and plug everything in.

At this stage, you are caught up on #1, but wide open on #2.
March 19, 2012 9:08:27 PM

Raiddinn said:
Well, I would have to say yes it is "better", but it not even close to "there" yet.

I didn't say a bunch of company names to choose because I was hoping you would avoid all of them.

It has 1866 RAM and a 3870k, which are better, if you assume everything is going to work.

Understand that what I want to avoid here is 2 things:
1) The system doesn't perform well
2) You have to spend hours and hours trying to figure out why it isn't working once you receive the parts and plug everything in.

At this stage, you are caught up on #1, but wide open on #2.

I don't know of anyway I could improve for around $400.

Out of curiosity, I looked around and wanted to see what I could get if I decided not to go with a APU based system.
This is what I found:
Crucial Ballistix RAM
MSI 880G Motherboard
Phenom II X4 830 2.8Ghz
MSI R6670 Twin Frozr II/OC

All this costs is $335 with my discounts, I was wondering if this would preform better than a APU based system? If it is better, I would be able to get this within 1-2 weeks or now if I bought the GPU later and just stick with my GT430 until then.

Some other info you might want to know is if I save up for the next 2 months I will have roughly $600, but if I continue to save up during summer break, I can work full time, I will make $3,500. I could wait and save up if my computer can play any game I want for the next 5 months. I don't know of any new games coming out that I want to play, so I should be fine.
March 20, 2012 4:16:47 PM

If you don't care to have a computer right this moment, I would honestly save a little longer.

Either that or get the core now and stick with the GT 430 until you can add video power later.

If you click on the link in my signature and load up the $1000 build, the core of this setup is about $400 including the processor, motherboard, and RAM.

You could get 1x 4GBs of the same maker there instead of 2x and get the 2nd stick if you ever get the 64 bit OS. This is preferable instead of 2x 2GBs because to get up to 8 you would have to go with 4x 2GBs later and performance wise its better to have 2x 4GBs rather than 4x 2GBs.

That would leave you with
i5-2500k
Gigabyte Z68AP D3
Crucial 1x 4GBs 1333 CT51264BA1339
GT 430

Then get a better PSU and Video Card 2 months from now.

Eventually ending up with a computer that looks a lot like either the $1000 or $1200 option.

I would honestly not go for anything higher than that. Just keep the extra $2300 - $2500 for college or something instead.
March 20, 2012 7:27:03 PM

Raiddinn said:
If you don't care to have a computer right this moment, I would honestly save a little longer.

Either that or get the core now and stick with the GT 430 until you can add video power later.

If you click on the link in my signature and load up the $1000 build, the core of this setup is about $400 including the processor, motherboard, and RAM.

You could get 1x 4GBs of the same maker there instead of 2x and get the 2nd stick if you ever get the 64 bit OS. This is preferable instead of 2x 2GBs because to get up to 8 you would have to go with 4x 2GBs later and performance wise its better to have 2x 4GBs rather than 4x 2GBs.

That would leave you with
i5-2500k
Gigabyte Z68AP D3
Crucial 1x 4GBs 1333 CT51264BA1339
GT 430

Then get a better PSU and Video Card 2 months from now.

Eventually ending up with a computer that looks a lot like either the $1000 or $1200 option.

I would honestly not go for anything higher than that. Just keep the extra $2300 - $2500 for college or something instead.

Because I dont need a computer absolutely now, ill wait. The link in your sig is great, I'm going to save up. Thanks for the help :) 
Ill even save money because I wont need to buy a disk drive, a SSD (I see no need as of now) or, possibly, a Case.
March 20, 2012 9:10:15 PM

What case do you already have?
March 20, 2012 9:41:24 PM

Raiddinn said:
What case do you already have?

I cheap $50 case I bought at Ribbit Computers, its a mid tower ATX case. it supports up to a 10 inch long graphics card that is 6 inches wide.
March 20, 2012 9:46:54 PM

Not sure exactly which cheap $50 case you mean, but you might want to consider ebaying it and getting a HAF 912 instead.

The impact of the case on the performance of the entire system should not be underestimated.

The difference between a top mount PSU case (most cheap ones) and a good low end bottom mount case like HAF 912 is huge.

Can you possibly figure out which exact case you have?
March 20, 2012 10:39:16 PM

Raiddinn said:
Not sure exactly which cheap $50 case you mean, but you might want to consider ebaying it and getting a HAF 912 instead.

The impact of the case on the performance of the entire system should not be underestimated.

The difference between a top mount PSU case (most cheap ones) and a good low end bottom mount case like HAF 912 is huge.

Can you possibly figure out which exact case you have?

After some looking around, I found my case.
APEX TX-37
I have one 90mm fan in the front and back.
March 20, 2012 11:19:15 PM

It is as I feared.

I would seriously consider what I said before.

Pretty much all APEX cases have top mount PSUs and top mounting your PSU means you might as well cut its wattage in half as well as its life expectancy.

If the PSUs die, they quite often take other things down with them too, like video cards and motherboards.

I would ebay the case and get the one I said. The sooner the better.
March 20, 2012 11:50:18 PM

Raiddinn said:
It is as I feared.

I would seriously consider what I said before.

Pretty much all APEX cases have top mount PSUs and top mounting your PSU means you might as well cut its wattage in half as well as its life expectancy.

If the PSUs die, they quite often take other things down with them too, like video cards and motherboards.

I would ebay the case and get the one I said. The sooner the better.

Why would my PSU take out other parts of my computer when it dies when it has a good power protection built into it that cuts all power if any voltages change to much, and why would it cut its voltage and life in half? I've had a 300w PSU that was being pushed well over its wattage and it lasted past its estimated life hours.
March 20, 2012 11:53:59 PM

LOL, everyone says that. Voltage protection doesn't mean anything. The PSU will give the parts too much voltage/current and they will short/fry. And for how long did you push that 300w PSU? If it is constantly pushed over the threshold, it will one day break down, and might fry your components. It's the Golden Rule of Computer Building. NEVER EVER cheap out on the PSU. It's THE most important component.
March 21, 2012 12:42:27 AM

obsama1 said:
LOL, everyone says that. Voltage protection doesn't mean anything. The PSU will give the parts too much voltage/current and they will short/fry. And for how long did you push that 300w PSU? If it is constantly pushed over the threshold, it will one day break down, and might fry your components. It's the Golden Rule of Computer Building. NEVER EVER cheap out on the PSU. It's THE most important component.

Mine actually has a internal component that will shot off the PSU if voltages get off. My PSU was $70 when I bought it 1 year ago, thats not a cheap PSU. Also I ran the 300w PSU for 4 years with a 9500GT that says a minimum of 350w PSU. It never died either, its in my closet.
March 21, 2012 12:49:06 AM

I understand, but you have to be careful. Don't try to push the PSU too much. And the main reason why some GPUs say you need a 350W or x watt PSU is because there are many people using really cheap/unreputable PSUs that deliver 1/2 the wattage they promise, so they often reccommend a higer PSU than you need.
March 21, 2012 1:07:33 AM

obsama1 said:
I understand, but you have to be careful. Don't try to push the PSU too much. And the main reason why some GPUs say you need a 350W or x watt PSU is because there are many people using really cheap/unreputable PSUs that deliver 1/2 the wattage they promise, so they often reccommend a higer PSU than you need.

Im going to save up to build a new computer from scratch anyways now. I'm most likely going to go with a 80+Silver PSU from corsair anyways.
March 21, 2012 1:39:11 AM

Heat rises. The airflow in your PC is kinda like a river in the way it flows in, through, and out.

It comes in cold, gets heated up by the components as it travels upwards, and then it gets sucked into the PSU, and then pushed out the back.

That basically means a top mounted PSU has all the hot air from inside the PC inside itself constantly during regular operations.

If you get an electrical engineering book, you will be able to read in there that heat affects electrical component conductivity and stuff like that.

Basically, every 1c that the temperatures increase inside the PSU, that is slightly less wattage that the PSU can deliver to the components.

There is also a vicious cycle aspect to this, the more the temperatures increase the more inefficient the PSU becomes. The more inefficient it becomes, the more electricity that gets turned into waste heat inside the PSU. The more this happens, the more the temperatures in the PSU rise. It basically feeds on itself.

This effect can easily cut the wattage the PSU can output by half.

I suspect this is also why PSU makers get away with liar labels. Most PSU brands can't output their stated wattage at room temperature. Many not even close. I suspect they are testing their PSUs in very cold environments which greatly increases performance during the testing period. So they just write down the max in the really cold temperature and then slap it on the box.

Contrast that with brands like Seasonic that always rate their wattages at room temperature or hotter and they can always deliver their stated wattages.

As for how it decreases life expectancy, all electrical components deteriorate over time. Even if they aren't used. If someone just turns off a computer and sticks it in their closet for 10 years, it is likely that it won't boot up when they plug it back in.

The speed of this process increases the more the components are affected by, among other things, extreme heat. The kind that top mounted PSUs routinely have inside themselves during regular operations.

As for how it can destroy other components... Many people have found out (too late) that things clearly written on the box weren't actually present in their PSU hardware. Like the slots on the circuit board clearly labeled for over current protection had no component of any sort soldered into them.

Unless you have read a review where the reviewer has cracked one open and closely examined these circuit boards, you can't really be sure that the protection is actually there.

Those of us that have been here a long time tend to have looked at a great many in depth PSU reviews and we have done troubleshooting on hundreds or thousands of computers and we see the brands and situations where things fail often in practice.

Top mounted PSUs from bad brands is just one of those situations we learn to be wary of. Cooler Master makes really great cases and CPU Coolers and I recommend them all the time to people, but they aren't great at PSUs and I never recommend them to anyone for that reason. That is just not what they do best.

Sure they may have 1 or 2 reasonable models, but that leaves 95% of them as bad ones. If 95% of their lineup is bad, its hard to know if you ended up with one of the good ones or not.

As above, the bad brand/model PSU problems are exacerbated by bad cases.

The whole computer is one interconnected system and everything has to be performing optimally for the computer to perform optimally as a whole.

Anyway, even if you have over current protection that is in the PSU and is functional and it does exactly what you said, turn itself off in case of a power surge, you still aren't protected.

There is a such thing as catastrophic power loss. If the power goes out in people's houses and it turns the computer off as a result, often times the instant power loss can damage hardware components.

It is more likely that a power surge damages components than a power loss, but power loss is quite capable of doing this.

I also want to note that many PSUs don't go out gracefully. If you hear a BANG, it likely doesn't matter what kind of protection circuits you may have had in your PSU. The damage potential is still quite large.

There are dozens of things that can go wrong here and all of them can result in damage to stuff like motherboards and video cards.

The best way to avoid all that is just to buy a name brand (Seasonic OEM) PSU and a bottom mount PSU case with lots of fans (like the HAF 912).
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