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Outdated hardware, Need Advice

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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February 4, 2012 3:12:40 PM

Ok... I know my system is 3 years old. So, let's not dwell on that :p  I'm wanting to upgrade piece by piece if able, and I am needing some advice. I suspect my Graphics card is still low-mid range in capabilities but that something else is bottle-necking it. First suspect on my list is my Power Supply.
I don't have much money, but I would like to upgrade with the best possible bang for my buck first. Any advice? :)  Thanks in advance.



I have:

Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX+ 512MB Ram
Processor AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 5200+, 2700 Mhz, 2 Core(s), 2 Logical Processor(s)
OS Name Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
Version 6.1.7600 Build 7600
System Type x64-based PC
BIOS Version/Date Phoenix Technologies, LTD ASUS M3N78 PRO ACPI BIOS Revision 0305, 7/18/2008
SMBIOS Version 2.5
Hardware Abstraction Layer Version = "6.1.7600.16385"
Inalled Physical Memory (RAM) 4.00 GB
Total Physical Memory 4.00 GB
Available Physical Memory 2.79 GB
Total Virtual Memory 8.00 GB
Available Virtual Memory 6.75 GB
Page File Space 4.00 GB

MOBO: ASUS M3n78 Pro

More about : outdated hardware advice

a b U Graphics card
February 4, 2012 3:29:45 PM

What is your budget ? If you update your BIOS you can buy an Phenom II X4 becasue your motherboard support that CPU . Here is the list with the CPU's what your mobo support http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/AMD_AM2Plus/M3N78_PRO/... first update the BIOS.
Depending on your budget you can buy piece by piece an Intel PC.
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February 4, 2012 3:49:08 PM

My budget at the moment is based on my saving up lol. So if it costs quite a bit, I'll just have to save more and wait a little longer, but I am determined to get it going. As far as how much I can pour into it, I'm looking to minimize the total cost as much as possible. Really hoping to only buy two or three things right now that will increase performance. I know I may not be able to, but that's why I'm here asking you guys.

Now, if you were speaking in hard cold cash... I will have around $1000 dollars by the end of this month left over from Taxes; however, I have an arrangement with my wife to purchase a flat-screen TV... which means I will have... somewhere around 150... I'm hoping.

I'll update my bios right away, thanks for that info. I'm looking into the Phenom II X4 post haste.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I forgot to mention, I'm mainly a gamer, so this is in an attempt to make a nice gaming rig.
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February 4, 2012 10:25:44 PM

are you wanting to upgrade your current build or try to slowly replace the whole thing?
i would look at saving for a mobo/cpu combo maybe a sandy bridge so that you can keep compatibility going all the way along then go for a GPU
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February 4, 2012 11:33:46 PM

I just really want to upgrade my current build. Is my GPU really that bad?

I think after some research, I would be satisfied atm with this over the next year:

AMD FX - 4100 Zambezi 3.6ghz x4 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Sabertooth Mobo - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
G-Skill Sniper 8g (2x4g) DDR3 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Adds up to around... 383.37(added in taxes lol)... mobo is the expensive part....

Good idea? Bad? I'm hoping the rest of my rig can keep from bottlenecking my performance... any better advice on MOBO?

I actually might buy all 3 of those when taxes come in if I can suffer the wrath of my wife...
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a b U Graphics card
February 5, 2012 2:29:57 AM

NEvitus said:
I just really want to upgrade my current build. Is my GPU really that bad?

I think after some research, I would be satisfied atm with this over the next year:

AMD FX - 4100 Zambezi 3.6ghz x4 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Sabertooth Mobo - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
G-Skill Sniper 8g (2x4g) DDR3 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Adds up to around... 383.37(added in taxes lol)... mobo is the expensive part....

Good idea? Bad? I'm hoping the rest of my rig can keep from bottlenecking my performance... any better advice on MOBO?

I actually might buy all 3 of those when taxes come in if I can suffer the wrath of my wife...

To replace the X2 Athlon 5200+ is your best bet. But I would suggest to go higher than the Phenom II X4 925 you post earlier. Unfortunately, I can see that the 965 is no longer available at newegg & while available in amazon is very expensive @ $199.99 (it being phased out & in short supply) & probably now worth it.

Anyway, what is the monitor resolution you are playing at?
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a c 200 U Graphics card
February 5, 2012 2:49:28 AM

You have a Chokemax PSU, that may not be good for any more than 75% of its label. Because a computer system is dependent on its PSU, that is the first thing to replace. It is not capable of handling a more powerful system, and may damage other parts when it dies trying. A quality 650W PSU can handle any single graphics card. If you have no plans to go beyond a GTX570 or HD6970, a 550W unit would be enough. A quality modern PSU has full range active PFC (no little voltage switch) and some level of 80+ certification for efficiency. Seasonic, Antec, Corsair, XFX, and Enermax/LEPA are among the better brands. HardwareSecrets, Jonnyguru, and HardOCP are good sources for competent technical reviews of PSUs. You'll probably spend $80-$130 on a good PSU.
So, take care of the PSU first. Then, while you're saving money, read the recent article on sub-$200 CPUs for gaming. Intel will be the way you want to go. Bulldozer definitely is not, and Phenom II is getting harder to find, and is out-performed anyway by i5 or even i3 in games. Your GPU probably has a little more life left in it, with a CPU able to get the most out of it; so it can be the last thing you replace. An i3+Z68+RAM will run around $250-$300 depending on the board's features and the specs on the RAM.
Don't forget that with a mobo replacement, you will probably need a new license for Windows.
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a c 176 U Graphics card
February 5, 2012 6:03:22 AM

The 9800GTX+ isn't a bad/horrible card. Similar to the GTS250, GTS450, 5750, etc. Should be good enough to handle most games though not at max details. The CPU is whats holding it back. I wouldn't spend ~$400 just to get a new board and ram. Update your bios and get an x4. Then buy a new PSU before the one you have bites it and takes ??? with it. Upgrade your GPU after that.
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February 5, 2012 6:39:50 AM

randomkid said:
To replace the X2 Athlon 5200+ is your best bet. But I would suggest to go higher than the Phenom II X4 925 you post earlier. Unfortunately, I can see that the 965 is no longer available at newegg & while available in amazon is very expensive @ $199.99 (it being phased out & in short supply) & probably now worth it.

Anyway, what is the monitor resolution you are playing at?


I play at 1440 x 900

Onus said:
You have a Chokemax PSU, that may not be good for any more than 75% of its label. Because a computer system is dependent on its PSU, that is the first thing to replace. It is not capable of handling a more powerful system, and may damage other parts when it dies trying. A quality 650W PSU can handle any single graphics card. If you have no plans to go beyond a GTX570 or HD6970, a 550W unit would be enough. A quality modern PSU has full range active PFC (no little voltage switch) and some level of 80+ certification for efficiency. Seasonic, Antec, Corsair, XFX, and Enermax/LEPA are among the better brands. HardwareSecrets, Jonnyguru, and HardOCP are good sources for competent technical reviews of PSUs. You'll probably spend $80-$130 on a good PSU.
So, take care of the PSU first. Then, while you're saving money, read the recent article on sub-$200 CPUs for gaming. Intel will be the way you want to go. Bulldozer definitely is not, and Phenom II is getting harder to find, and is out-performed anyway by i5 or even i3 in games. Your GPU probably has a little more life left in it, with a CPU able to get the most out of it; so it can be the last thing you replace. An i3+Z68+RAM will run around $250-$300 depending on the board's features and the specs on the RAM.
Don't forget that with a mobo replacement, you will probably need a new license for Windows.


4745454b said:
The 9800GTX+ isn't a bad/horrible card. Similar to the GTS250, GTS450, 5750, etc. Should be good enough to handle most games though not at max details. The CPU is whats holding it back. I wouldn't spend ~$400 just to get a new board and ram. Update your bios and get an x4. Then buy a new PSU before the one you have bites it and takes ??? with it. Upgrade your GPU after that.


You two have given me a bit to think on. I found a Phenom II on newegg that is compatible with my Mobo for 99 dollars. I've already updated my bios, so I'm thinking about getting a PSU and the Phenom II, but... How long would that last I wonder? Hrm... new mobo/cpu/ram... or just the Phenom II, man that's hard to decide. If the Phenom doesn't improve much, then that's 100 down the drain. Also, a new Windows License would really suck since I just upgraded to Windows 7 64bit. I guess the question is... would a Phenom II last in the long haul? And handle a new GPU or even possibly Sli eventually? Or should I just go for the Mobo/Ram/CPU upgrade first, then work on PSU and GPU..

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a b U Graphics card
February 5, 2012 6:53:59 AM

NEvitus said:
I play at 1440 x 900

I used to have this exact same processor paired with an 8600GT. I played left4dead & prototype on it at 1366x768 & I do experience some lag but this is due to the GPU rather than the processor so I upgraded to an HD 4890 (yes that was more than 3 years ago & I've gone a long way ) & everything worked just fine.

So I think your X2 5200+ & 9800GTX should be fine at 1440x900. In my opinion, any expense to upgrade your rig will be wasted because you don't need any performance boost at 1440x900 anyway. Better save your money now & by the time you really need the upgrade (say, you purchased a new monitor with 1920x1080), there will be newer parts & prices have fallen so your $ could buy more than what it could today.

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February 5, 2012 7:44:34 AM

randomkid said:
I used to have this exact same processor paired with an 8600GT. I played left4dead & prototype on it at 1366x768 & I do experience some lag but this is due to the GPU rather than the processor so I upgraded to an HD 4890 (yes that was more than 3 years ago & I've gone a long way ) & everything worked just fine.

So I think your X2 5200+ & 9800GTX should be fine at 1440x900. In my opinion, any expense to upgrade your rig will be wasted because you don't need any performance boost at 1440x900 anyway. Better save your money now & by the time you really need the upgrade (say, you purchased a new monitor with 1920x1080), there will be newer parts & prices have fallen so your $ could buy more than what it could today.


You do have a point... but... SWTOR runs horribly on my system, FPS of 110 in my ship/hanger, 50 running around fighting on planets, and 25 in Fleet then 10 in pvp... and that's really my only motivation for upgrading. I run Skyrim beautifully, and the Witcher II runs quite well also, but for some strange reason, SWTOR runs like I'm on my old ME system(exaggeration), lol
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a b U Graphics card
February 5, 2012 8:35:12 AM

Ah... that totally change the picture. As I read, TOR is quite CPU intensive so you might need to upgrade after all. Go for the 925 that you found earlier. If you can find 955 or 965 elsewhere, it should be better & will last longer than the 925. Plus the fact that they are black edition will have possibility to overclock & extend the life a little bit more.
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a c 176 U Graphics card
February 5, 2012 8:55:14 AM

With respect to randomkid I disagree. The 5200x2 was a fine chip, but years ago. 2006? 2007? If you are like me and like playing older games then its fine. But if you are trying to play new AAA games it simply lacks the horsepower needed to play them.

I still think while both are needed, a newer CPU will pay off more right now. I don't see a 5200x2 being able to play todays games, so the 9800GTX+ isn't getting the info needed to perform as well as it can. And seeing as his current mobo can handle the top of the AMD line I don't see a reason to upgrade it either. Grab the CPU and PSU now, build a new system when you can.
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February 5, 2012 1:02:47 PM

4745454b said:
With respect to randomkid I disagree. The 5200x2 was a fine chip, but years ago. 2006? 2007? If you are like me and like playing older games then its fine. But if you are trying to play new AAA games it simply lacks the horsepower needed to play them.

I still think while both are needed, a newer CPU will pay off more right now. I don't see a 5200x2 being able to play todays games, so the 9800GTX+ isn't getting the info needed to perform as well as it can. And seeing as his current mobo can handle the top of the AMD line I don't see a reason to upgrade it either. Grab the CPU and PSU now, build a new system when you can.



With risk of sounding ignorant... Phenom II is top of the line AMD?
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a c 176 U Graphics card
February 5, 2012 1:12:59 PM

Technically no. The new FX chips can be faster. But I and others consider the PhII chips to be the better overall or well rounded chips. A PhII 965 clocked to 4.3+GHz should give any FX chip a good run for their money.
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a c 200 U Graphics card
February 5, 2012 1:22:30 PM

I agree with 4745454b's two last posts. When you can afford to build a new system, benchmarks clearly show that it should be Intel. On a tight budget however, a PSU and CPU upgrade would still make a substantial difference. I'm running a 970BE myself, and my games (including Skyrim) run well enough that I don't feel compelled to upgrade.
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February 5, 2012 1:46:10 PM

Onus said:
I agree with 4745454b's two last posts. When you can afford to build a new system, benchmarks clearly show that it should be Intel. On a tight budget however, a PSU and CPU upgrade would still make a substantial difference. I'm running a 970BE myself, and my games (including Skyrim) run well enough that I don't feel compelled to upgrade.


Hmmm alright. I currently have a tight budget, so I suppose if I get a PhenII 965 black edition, which I found for 119, and a new PSU, I can upgrade my GPU a little later. Then when I really need to upgrade my whole system, I can get a MOBO and Intel+some ram.

This sounds best to me at the moment considering all the info. I know the CPU is kind of a waste in the long run, but if it can last another year or 2, then that's what I'm going to grab. Especially if it improves my GPU performance.
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a c 200 U Graphics card
February 5, 2012 2:01:10 PM

I suspect it will last at least a year or two, maybe more.
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February 5, 2012 2:31:52 PM

Onus said:
I suspect it will last at least a year or two, maybe more.


Yeah, I feel confident in that. Thank everyone for your help. Off to look at PSU's for now :D 
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a c 176 U Graphics card
February 5, 2012 4:14:02 PM

It is a waste to buy another AMD CPU, but budget constraints don't allow you any other options. A PhII 9x5 should keep you gaming for several more years. You'll need to start adjusting settings as you play newer games, but it should be decent.

I do think you need a new PSU, but considering how much power a 9800GTX+ uses you could go to a 6850 or perhaps a 6870 without changing your current power usage much. A 6850 is probably the better option as the CPU will use more juice then your current one. You don't want to overload that raidmax as they are usually very low quality. Considering how good a GTS250/9800GTX+ is, I'd probably replace the PSU instead of buying a new GPU.
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a c 200 U Graphics card
February 5, 2012 4:38:39 PM

Replace the PSU first, before you get anything else. The risks to your system aren't worth it. Corsair blew up a bunch of chokemax PSUs a few years back with a 75% load; marketing, yes, but the point is worth taking.
Replacing your GPU next also doesn't make sense, since the one you have is already being bottlenecked by your CPU; a faster GPU may show no gains at all.
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February 5, 2012 10:09:15 PM

Alright, You guys have convinced me, I'm grabbing a PSU and the Phenom II x4 965. When I get the chance, I'll grab a new GPU.

I'm surprised by how confident you guys have made me, I'm normally massively indecisive. Thanks :) 
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a c 176 U Graphics card
February 5, 2012 11:05:23 PM

I guess it helps to have a bunch of people telling you what to do.
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February 13, 2012 12:33:30 AM

Best answer selected by Nevitus.
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a c 273 U Graphics card
February 25, 2012 6:04:00 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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