Help updating a 3yr old system

Hi friends,

I’m in need of a PC gaming rig, and was lucky enough to find 2 old systems in my house that might serve as a starting point to put together a decent setup. Can you guys help me with a few questions I have? I’m a newb on PC builds, and would really appreciate the help.

Here are the specs of the first uncovered treasure found collecting dust.

System 1
• AMD Athlon II 64 X2 270 Dual-Core 3.4GHz AM3 Processor
• (SPECIAL) ASRock N68-S Socket AM2+/ GeForce 7025/ DDR2/ RAID/ A&V&GbE/ MATX Motherboard
• (SPECIAL) nVidia GeForce GT430 2GB DDR3 DVI/HDMI/VGA PCI-Express Video Card
• COOLER MASTER HAF 912 RC-912-KKN1 Black SECC/ ABS Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Here are some questions I had about this system:

The 600W PSU is what I believe to be adequate for gaming purposes and it’s from what I think is a decent brand – Corsair. At least it’s a brand I’ve heard of. Isn’t 600W adequate to power a decent tower with a muscly video card inside?

The Mobo indicates DDR2. Isn’t that a fairly old memory technology? Will I need to ditch this Mobo and go with something that can accept one of the newer memory types?

The 2GB of RAM by Super Talent doesn’t sound great to me. Isn’t Super Talent a budget brand? Don’t I need RAM by a decent premium brand for gaming with a name like ‘ripjaws’ or something like that? And I surely need a minimum of 4GB of RAM for a modern system right?

The video card is only about 40 bucks on eBay, which tells me I need to upgrade it. Don’t I need a video card that costs about $150 or more?

The Windows 7 install is 32 bit. Does that mean that I can only install a maximum of 2GB of RAM that the system will see? Or was that 32bit limitation just a Windows XP issue?

It looks like I’ll need to add an internal wifi plus Bluetooth card like the Intel 6230. I’d like my wifi and Bluetooth to be internal because I don’t like dongles occupying my USB ports unless it can’t be avoided. Does anybody know if this kind of wireless card has restrictions regarding which Mobos it can be installed on?

Here's the 2nd system.

System 2
• Intel Core 2 Quad Processor Q6600 1066MHz 8MB LGA775 CPU
• Asus P5B-VM SE LGA775 MATX Motherboard
• DUAL CHANNEL 4GB (4x1GB) DDR-2 667MHZ PC-5400
• 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet Network Card (onboard)

Some questions I had about this system…

Same question as before about the RAM the Mobo will support. Will I need to ditch this Mobo to get one that can support a newer RAM technology?

Same question about the RAM brand. Don’t I need a premium gaming RAM?

Theoretically, I could take parts from one system and put them in the other if that would be advisable.
Thanks a lot for helping with these newby questions.
15 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about help updating system
  1. Add a decent graphics card to the intel build and overclock the processor to 3 GHz and you have an excellent gamer .
    Might as well swap the corsair psu in to that computer too since its way better quality

    a 64 bit OS can help but since games wont you have the 32 bit I'd keep using it .
    Or download the win 8 preview in 64 bit and use that

    4 gig is enough for gaming

    the graphics card you should use depends on the resolution of your monitor . But for around $150 you can get a radeon 6870 which will game well even at 1920 x 1080
  2. Why don't you try the systems first. Give each one a test drive with your games. If you've never built a system before, before you start touching components, I recommend an esd strap to prevent internal circuit blowout from static discharge off your body. I worked at dell and was required to wear one at all times. Of the two systems, the second one is preferred, especially when overclocked. Only change I would do is swap power supplies, which isn't too hard to do if you pay attention to the connectors; draw a small diagram, or download the board diagrams off asus website for reference. If the system you choose works smoothly with your games, you don't need to change boards or ram right away; use the leftover system to try out new parts, or sell it for some seed money to build a new one. If the second system needs windows, the 32 bit version will work fine; it will recognize about 3.25-3.5 gb of your 4 gb of ram, which is plenty for most games. If you sell the first system formatted and keep the 32 bit windows, if's worth about $200 used with the okia 600 watt power supply installed. For video, it all depends on your budget and what games you play. When you decide to keep or sell the first system, list a budget along with your games for more recommendations.
  3. if it was me and my system this what i would do. from system 1 take the 2tb hdd, the bluray, the haf 912 and the corsair psu and from the 2nd system take the motherboard out with the cpu and the ram and your wireless g card if you need it. put that all together but throw the stock intel cooler in the bin where it belongs and spend 30 bucks get a coolermaster 212 evo (best bang for your buck cooler) overclock your cpu to around 3ghz if you had a decent mobo and ram i would have said a fair bit higher and spend what ever you have left on video card hd6870/gtx560 or higher are good since you only have 4gig of ram i wouldnt be to concern with 64bit win if you dont have it your only gonna lose half a gig. that together will be a solid starting point for gaming. slap the leftovers together for a htpc or web browser thats all they good for.
    pick up a 128g ssd
    intel i5-3570
    8 gig ram kit.
    nvidia 660ti if and when it comes out.
  5. Neither CPU/Mobo/RAM combo is worth saving. The Corsair PSU is good but it's a used case, so you wouldn't be giving them more money to re-use it. The drives are re-usable too (you would of course need a fresh install of Windows).
    What is your budget for remaining parts, and what resolution is your monitor?
    On the low side, I'd look for H67>H61+i3-2120>G860+HD6770>HD7750>HD6670+2x2GB of DDR3-1333. If you have a higher budget, then Z77 or Z68+i5-2500K+GTX670>HD7850>GTX560Ti+2x4GB of DDR3-1666.
  6. Best answer
    Never mind the elitists on this website. Yes, you will eventually want to move up to an i5 with all the bells and whistles, but as a noob take the time to get a feel for taking stuff apart, overclocking, and swapping out equipment. If only everyone was as lucky as you to have 2 decent machines to mess with while starting out!

    Outlander is dead on with his advice, and that would be an excellent starting place. Once you have that in place then you will want to upgrade as follows:
    1) system drive SSD. It may not help for games, but I will never build another system without one. They simply make computers feel as fast as they always should have been.
    2) core update: Mobo, CPU, and Ram. You will have to reinstall windows for the new motherboard at this point, but all the other parts should be reusable.
    3) extras update: GPU, HDD, etc. This is where you spend money on the other fun stuff to make the system work the way you want it to. Things like card readers, newer GPU (or 2nd GPU if the system will support it), faster/larger HDDs, premium sound cards or audio software like XFi MB2. Generally things that add features, or shore up bottlenecks are done with this update
    4) Software update: new OS, office, and other software that you use on a regular basis.

    Breaking the upgrade process up like this helps you keep the system up to date without breaking the bank all in one go. Thankfully things like your powersupply, case, keys, mouse, and monitor will last for several builds/upgrades, so you can focus your upgrade cycles on things that help performance a bit more.

    Best of luck!
  7. I'm an AMD guy, but start with the intel build. Add a graphics card to that. At least something in the range of a GTX 550ti, though a 560ti or above is better. The 4gb on that system will suffice for now. Overclock the quad, if you can get 3ghz out of it, you should be happy.

    If it's got Windows 7, even 32 bit, as far as my understanding goes, you can use a 64 bit disc to reinstall using your 32 bit key, and the installer does not care as long as you are legally licensed for that key.

    Also, yank the 2TB from the other system, put it in the intel quad as extra storage.

    The other route to go is use the AMD rig, if you've got microcenter nearby, snag one of these.

    along with some artic silver 5 and an aftermarket cooler(if planning to overclock). That chip should work in the AM2+ board, check the website though. Grab an additional 2gb of ram, or swipe it from your intel box. Sell the GT 430, pick up at least a 550ti. Nice thing is you already have Windows 7 on the AMD rig, so if you can upgrade processor, ram and video card, as I said, if a friend has 64 bit Windows 7 media, you can reinstall using the 64 bit media and just use your key if I'm not mistaken.

    Also, definitely a good idea for an SSD. But those upgrades would hold you over until you totally rebuild, still allow you some decent gaming, and you could carry parts over. Lastly, if you stick with the intel build, definitely swap the power supplies, don't know how good the okia would hold up, but the corsair should be strong.

    Either way you will be happy, I have a system with a 5 year old am2 board, but I've got an Athlon quad, 4 gb of ram, a gts 450, and it's quite happy to play crysis 2.
  8. Hey this is all very good guidance and much appreciated. I'll put these ideas into practice in August when I return to the location at which these machines are, and then I'll be back to bother you guys with more questions. Fun stuff!
  9. I like the idea about the SSD. What would be a good example of one? Thanks.
  10. Here's one: Sata III ssd's are backwards compatable with sata II and sata I motherboards. $80 for 120 gb is very good; corsair, mushkin, ocz, and patriot will also work fine with the sandforce controller.
  11. I have done 3 builds with OCZ with no problems over the last year (60GB Solid3 in my wife's system, 240GB Agility 3 in my system, and a 120GB Agility 3 in a friend's system). However, I recently did a high end home system for my mother-in-law with a 120GB Mushkin and I have to say that it really blows the low end OCZ drives out of the water on performance!
    My 240GB Agility 3 hits read speeds of ~150MB/s on uncompressible data, and upwards of 370MB/s on compressible data
    The little 120GB mushkin hit ~190MB/s on uncompressible, and maxed out the interface at ~430MB/s on compressible data
    That kind of performance is normally only found on performance drives, and yet Mushkins are super cheap when you find a retailer that carries them.

    The only trick is that SSDs are still 'new' technology, so I would back up all important information to be safe, but they are well worth the money.

    Annother thing, comparing SSD to HDD. HDDs loose speed as they fill up. The edge of a HDD platter may well have a nice fast 150+MB/s read speed, but that same drive will be a dismal 60MB/s towards the center of the drive, while the SSD will keep that same fast speed all the way through the whole drive. Also, when dealing with lots of small files a HDD takes between 8-20ms to find each file that it need to access, while SSDs are all in the .09-.2ms range, which is where the real performance increase comes into play as an OS drive.

    What amazes me is that I bought my 240GB Agility 3 on sale just 3 months ago for $220 (I was waiting forever for that magical $1/GB mark, and then it happened to have a $20 rebate), and now the same drive goes for $160 on sale. That is a price drop of $20/mo, and I am just watching in disbelief as the price continues to drop. But the drive was worth it at the 91cents/GB I bought it at, and it is really worth the 60cents/GB that it is sitting at now, and the Mushkin is even better.
  12. oh, and the Mushkin drives come with an adapter tray, while my OCZ drive is sitting in my case with 2 screws in one side, and nothing supporting the other side. Thankfully the drive is very light, has no moving parts, and I pretty much never move my case, so it shouldn't be a problem, but having that SSD tray really made me feel better in my mother in law's system as she moves fairly often, and she is... let's say 'less than careful' with fragile things like computers.
  13. Best answer selected by Camineet.
  14. Ended up going with these suggestions including the EVO cooler, GTX 560 TI, and an SSD and the system build is underway. One of my staff is handling it. Thanks for all the help. I hope to play with the system soon via remote access. I'm on the other side of the planet still and won't be on site with the system for another 3 weeks. I actually plan on installing Guild Wars 2 and various other games and getting the system ready for active duty via remote access before I even land. Fun stuff :D
  15. I hope you have a good experience with it, and that the build goes smoothly! And best of luck on your deployment!
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