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Next mini upgrade?

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June 18, 2012 11:37:45 PM

Hey there Tom's Hardware!

I have this system which I built 1.5 years ago:

AMD Athlon II x3 445 (unlocked to phenom II x4)
HD 5770
Asus M4A79XTD EVO
4GB DDR3-1333 RAM
Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB HDD
Zalman CNPS9700NT
Corsair VX-550W PSU

And at the time it was good for the price. These days its still pretty good (well... good enough for me and my wallet), but I'm looking to upgrade it just a bit. I don't have the money for a big RAM/CPU/MOBO/GPU upgrade - at most I'd be spending $200NZD ($100-$150USD).

What's the best thing for me to upgrade? Consider that I do game, but not very much and not competitively. Plus the 5770's fine for me. I'm thinking of putting a 120GB SSD in.

More about : mini upgrade

June 19, 2012 12:21:16 AM

An SSD won't really help with gaming.

Otherwise, for general PC usage (opening/closing programs, loading, etc...) an SSD is so much faster than a standard HDD.

Look at the Crucial M4's. I would get a 128GB.
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June 19, 2012 12:39:42 AM

I don't know much about that corsair. Someone else can chime in or maybe check some reviews....

I know the Crucial's are very reliable and high quality. The M4 is $217 on that list.
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June 19, 2012 1:13:03 AM

While getting an SSD is a great option, ask yourself this; Are there any apps that would GREATLY benefit from SSD speeds?? If not, 64GB is all you really need to give you that 15-20 second boot time; as well as improved overall system responsiveness. [64GB = OS, All needed drivers and most/all of your apps depending what you use].

I think your PC is lacking in terms of ram; not by much but 4 more GB will help more than you think when your multitasking.
Your probably better off getting the BEST of both worlds; by this I mean, take a compromise and get a 64GB SSD and also another 4GB of 1333mhz DDR3 ram. However, you will have to do quite a bit of work tracking down the exact model of ram you purchased 1.5 years ago.

Hope this helps!

~Coffee

Edit: The Corsair Force 3 SSDs have a pretty solid track record! Just to be sure; copy the model number your interested in and search for it on newegg.com and check the reviews; you can filter out the "Verified Owners" reviews only to give you a more credible overall product review score.

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=EN...
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June 19, 2012 2:17:24 AM

Interesting! Didn't think of that. My initial reaction is that, the smaller the SSD is the more I might regret not buying a bigger one later on. Is 64GB or 90GB really enough though? Seems like so little. I'd be putting linux mint on there too (through mint4win, similar to wubi, because I don't use it that much).
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June 19, 2012 2:56:55 AM

I have windows, Office and steam with one game and my 128GB is already half full. If you go the SSD route, get the bigger one.

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June 19, 2012 3:50:14 AM

rzilla91 said:
Interesting! Didn't think of that. My initial reaction is that, the smaller the SSD is the more I might regret not buying a bigger one later on. Is 64GB or 90GB really enough though? Seems like so little. I'd be putting linux mint on there too (through mint4win, similar to wubi, because I don't use it that much).


64GB is more than enough for OS + Drivers + most/all of your apps; i.e MSN, Skype, Photoshop, Ventrilo, etc. However if you feel that there are large apps that you use that would GREATLY [and I mean GREATLY] improve via the use of a SSD then by all means get a 128GB. However, also keep in mind that you are lacking quite a bit in the RAM department as well. And before considering the 64GB SSD/4GB Ram route, look around and see if you can track down another 4GB ram stick; same as the one you bought 1.5 years ago; could be tricky.

Edit: Also, I've noticed that SSDs are dropping in price quite rapidly in recent weeks/month. I think it's VERY realistic to say that SSD prices will drop to $0.70-0.65 USD per GB before the end of this year. I mean, you already have Crucial M4 slashing prices down to about $0.87USD per GB [256GB Model], HUGE price drop since last year around xmas which was still around $0.97 per GB and this was during "mini" sales too; they were usually just over $1USD [$1.10ish] per GB.

cranked said:
I have windows, Office and steam with one game and my 128GB is already half full. If you go the SSD route, get the bigger one.


I have Windows 7, ALL necessary drivers, MSN, Skype, Ventrilo, iTunes [1.5GB worth of songs] + Steam [With Dead Island, Killing Floor, Cryostasis and Bulletstorm] and my 64GB SSD is 99.9% full. Keep in mind Dead Island = 7.5GB, Bulletstorm = 6.5GB, Cryostatsis = 4.9GB, Killing Floor = 1.65GB Respectively. I think that proves my point that 64GB is enough to get by; if you plan ahead carefully.

I rest my case.

~Coffee
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June 19, 2012 3:56:30 AM

I just don't see why you would want to get into a situation where you have to "plan ahead" to maximize space on an SSD. For the games he is probably playing and general pc usage, 4gb ram is fine.

I may be wrong about this, but I thought I read that it isn't good to completely fill an SSD like that and it's far too late for me to be getting involved in finding where I may or may not have read that. Someone else would probably know off the top of their head.
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June 19, 2012 4:02:57 AM

I've been reading SSD reviews on Tech Tweak and they talk a fair bit about SSD performance when the SSD is half-full, which seems can be quite noticeable - but I'm no expert.

I suppose a compromise could be 90GB SSD and another 4GB of RAM (i've been able to find the same sticks). It just worries me that my C drive has 180GB of stuff on it right now. Though to be fair, there's over 20GB of music that I could store elsewhere, 20GB of steam games I never play, another 20GB of non-steam games I never play, plus I'm long overdue for a fresh install.
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June 19, 2012 4:54:54 AM

rzilla91 said:
I've been reading SSD reviews on Tech Tweak and they talk a fair bit about SSD performance when the SSD is half-full, which seems can be quite noticeable - but I'm no expert.


It's true; SSDs lose speed when they are over half/two-thirds full; however keep in mind that they are still wayyyyyyyy faster than HDDs even with that slight handicap.

rzilla91 said:
I suppose a compromise could be 90GB SSD and another 4GB of RAM (i've been able to find the same sticks). It just worries me that my C drive has 180GB of stuff on it right now. Though to be fair, there's over 20GB of music that I could store elsewhere, 20GB of steam games I never play, another 20GB of non-steam games I never play, plus I'm long overdue for a fresh install.


Excellent; however keep in mind not to store media [i.e music, movies, video files] on SSDs as they do not gain any notable benefits. Also keep in mind that when your installing your OS for the first time; UNPLUG ALL of your hard-drives; only keep your SSD plugged in when installing the OS; otherwise it causes conflicts when you boot up. There is a thread somewhere that explains why this happens... but don't FORGET it! @_@;;

~Coffee
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June 19, 2012 5:02:51 AM

With regards to your SSD upgrade path, here's my advice:

Buy the largest SSD you can get and willing to pay for.

120-128GB SSD capacity range is the sweet spot. Going lower than that is up to you though the extra space left would be beneficial for your SSD for wear-leveling.
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June 19, 2012 11:45:00 PM

Turns out I can save a little money buying it off ebay - I can get a 128GB Samsung 830 SSD for about $191 NZD (it costs $320 here D:) . If I buy locally my best choice is Crucial m4 128GB at $217 NZD.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Samsung-830-Series-128-GB-Inter...

Good idea/bad idea to get it from ebay? RAM's so cheap these days that I could easily get 4GB as well :) 
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June 20, 2012 12:05:09 AM

SSD would be a nice choice, but i dont really consider that a small upgrade lol

i would say go for an 8GB RAM upgrade, since thats a lot cheaper and i think that can carry over if you decided to upgrade your entire mobo. SSD does too, but RAM's are cheaper :p 

i bought these a while back... and its been taking care of me :) 
CORSAIR XMS3 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
http://www.eio.com/p-42217-corsair-cmx8gx3m2b1600c9-xms...

idk if that fits your compatibility though...
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June 20, 2012 2:39:55 AM

rzilla91 said:
Turns out I can save a little money buying it off ebay - I can get a 128GB Samsung 830 SSD for about $191 NZD (it costs $320 here D:) . If I buy locally my best choice is Crucial m4 128GB at $217 NZD.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Samsung-830-Series-128-GB-Inter...

Good idea/bad idea to get it from ebay? RAM's so cheap these days that I could easily get 4GB as well :) 


Get the SSD and Ram... and....

Never EVER EVERRRR consider buying "big ticket" PC hardware from ebay; the sellers usually offers no warranty; considering the unit works to begin with.... sure there are reputable sellers but if something does go wrong; you can't return it for a refund or exchange. I mean... considering they sell fake USB flash drives [i.e 8GB that's actually 512MB] I think it's too risky; and this is from personal experience.
However; ebay is a great place for buying things like; zip ties, cables [i.e DVI, VGA, HDMI, USB cables, screws, PC accessories; generally very small ticket items. I mean; stores sell DVI/VGA/HDMI/USB cables at $10-20USD a pop while you can get the same product on ebay for $2-4 USD with free shipping in most cases; too good a deal to pass up if you ask me; the only downside is the 5-15 work day shipping time but that's relatively fair trade-off if you ask me.

Source: Personal experience

~Coffee
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June 20, 2012 9:02:17 AM

Actually, considering that I have a SATA2 motherboard, should I just wait until I upgrade to a SATA3 motherboard to buy the SSD?
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June 20, 2012 4:58:30 PM

rzilla91 said:
Actually, considering that I have a SATA2 motherboard, should I just wait until I upgrade to a SATA3 motherboard to buy the SSD?


Right now; you should focus on getting the most out of your current hardware while spending the LEAST amount of money. A new motherboard may bring about a new range of features, however it won't help your cause because; if you get a new Sata 3 motherboard you'll need;

-New DDR3 Ram [You currently have DDR2 800Mhz ram]
-Lose out on having a SSD [Which gives blazing fast boot times and greatly improves overall system responsivness]
-Probably a new CPU [Yep that too]

If I were you, I would get a 90GB/128GB SSD and another 4GB ram stick to maximize your current hardware output while spending the least amount of money. While your current PC isn't "outdated"; it's dated to the point where you don't want to invest more than you need to due to diminishing returns in terms of performance.

Coffee~

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June 20, 2012 10:41:25 PM

Actually I do have DDR3, but still good advice - I also found this great article on Toms Hardware from awhile ago about whether to wait for SATA3 to get a SATA3 SSD, and it gave the same advice as you.

So, I'm going to just deal with the hole in my wallet and get a Crucial m4 (the Corsairs are out of stock and now I'm just convinced that if it isn't Crucial Intel or Samsung then I'm risking my money too much), another 4GB of RAM and while I'm at it another case fan for fun :p 

Thanks a lot for everyone's advice.
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June 20, 2012 10:41:42 PM

Best answer selected by rzilla91.
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