This is my first time posting on Tom's Hardware so I just want to say hello! My question is more of a decision I'm making and I would appreciate some help. I have the choice of upgrading my current laptop that I use primarily for school (currently in college) or upgrading my PC that I built in December 2010. I use my laptop for word processing, web browsing, emails and some programming and I use my desktop for multimedia and gaming. I was thinking of upgrading the PC recently rather than getting a new laptop since it would probably be a little cheaper. Instead of upgrading the laptop I was thinking of using my computer for school/play than using my laptop for just portability walking around the campuses from class to class and in the library. My laptop is a bit heavy its about 7 lbs. I was looking to spend 600 U.S. dollars for the new laptop. I will post the specs for both machines below. Thank you for the help everyone!
CPU: Phenom 2 x4 945
ram: 8gb 1600 gskill ripjaws ddr3
motherboard: Asus m4a88td-evo v/3.0usb (LAN port recently broke sent back to ASUS for repairs) <--- big reason why I am thinking of upgrading
power supply: 700w Thermaltake Toughpower
video card: Powercolor PCS+ radeon hd 5830
hard drive: 500gb western digital caviar blue
If you're not having any serious problems with either the desktop or laptop, I would simply add an ssd to both for boot up. For what you use your pc for, you really don't need to upgrade the whole system yet. If you're a gamer, then it makes sense. If you only play games ocassionally, then upgrading may be a waste of money. Here's one example of an average sata III ssd: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... . Even though both your boards only have sata II support, sata III is backwards compatable, and the boot up times will still improve dramatically. It's not worth changing motherboards just to get sata III support. I tried that once, and was dissapointed with the result. I only saw maybe a five or ten second reduction in boot up time with windows 7. This deal comes with a converter bracket for your desktop, which makes it even better. Any sata ssd you buy can be cloned in about twenty minutes using software that's available for free with most brands. I disconnect my old drive after cloning ends. Then reboot, and connect your old drive and windows will configure it as a secondary drive.
Thanks again for all your help 01die! I appreciate it. I thought my asusm4a88td v-evo did have sata 3 support unless im misunderstanding what I am reading on the specs: 5 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), blue doesn't that mean sata3. If not can you explain the difference I thought sata3 meant 6gb/s compared to 3gb/s. I just want to make sure what my mobo supports and I respect your opinion. Anyway I think I will be getting the ssd I have been playing with that idea for awhile and I think its a smart move thanks for the help. I do tend to game a lot more when I am off of school which is now, but recently since I built this (built while at college) I just kind of picked up a samsung syncmaster 2033 my dad wasn't using anymore instead of buying my own monitor. I had a question about what kind of monitor would be good for gaming if the resolution on the one I have now is sufficient its 1600x900 also I was thinking of getting a new graphics card for around 250ish maybe I can find a deal for cheaper 250 is my max i was looking into the radeon 7850 any thoughts?
Until Nvidia answers the <$400 market, I can't recommend anything else other than AMD if you don't have $400 to spend on a graphics card. I got the Nvidia 560 Ti back in October but Nvidia hasn't annound it's $250 Kepler card and it's rumored to not come until Q3. If you don't want to wait till then, the 7850 is your best choice . It is very overclockable, is as fast as the Nvidia GTX 570 at stock settings, and will be great with a 1080p monitor. It will run most games at max levels and max antialiasing with a few exceptions, metro and crysis, but those games even bring the 680 and 7970 to their knees.
Yeah my limit is 250ish I really can't afford to go over that thanks for the info. Do you think the best idea would be to get a new monitor as well or is the monitor I have now good? Its the syncmaster 2033 I am not really experienced on displays at this moment. I do want to get into some more intense games which is why I am upgrading the gpu figured the monitor might be holding me back, but I am not sure.