I am looking for the the single most effective gaming upgrade for my year old budget gaming PC.
Here is what I have at the moment
CPU: Intel Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz
GPU: SAPPHIRE Vapor-X 100283VX-2L Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB
MB: GIGABYTE GA-H67M-D2-B3 LGA 1155 Intel H67
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
HD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST31000528AS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s
Monitor: Acer S231HLbid Black 23"
Windows 7 64 Bit
500W PSU (came with case and has been so far)
I basically built this based on a lot of articles from this site and trying to stay around 500 for the PC, not including monitor. I also decided to forgo overclocking by picking the cost effective i3.
My thoughts would be to get a SSD, but would that gain me real gaming improvements? I generally play RTS and RPG. I find that I have some lag issues with games like Shogun 2 when i use Darth mod and have 10K+ men battles and I cant figure out what is bottle-necking me.
processor to i5 or i7, or graphics card to a radeon 6 or 7 series, it will then play most games, also, consider getting a new psu, as the one that came with your case could be bad quality and could fail, which could destroy some components.
SSD will give you benefit in load times and noticeable speed difference in day to day computing, but it won't reinvent the wheel for your gaming.
I believe they just released the 3rd Gen i5's this month so might we worth it to look at CPU performance for those new models vs. cost. Here's a Gen2 i5 that would be a pickup in performance from the i3 you're using - $195 after promo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
GPU is in the same ballpark of your current processor so upgrading one over the other will just shift the bottleneck depending which component you choose to upgrade. I would look at my budget and figure out what the max I am willing to spend for better performance and pick a CPU/GPU combo that falls in that range. The 6000/7000 series Radeons would be a significant improvement in performance and you can find several mid range cards that aren't insanely expensive. Here's an ASUS to check out: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
How much are you willing to part with for a better experience?
If you're going to get an SSD, minimum I would use would be an 80 GB - I had a 64GB in a work laptop for several months and I didn't have enough wiggle room to add any media for trips. If you use a secondary HDD for your documents, music and videos, that will be a minimal need but game installs are going to add up quickly.