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What should i upgrade first?

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July 26, 2012 10:29:15 PM

Good evening chaps,

Been thinking of upgrading my pc and just looking for any areas i should look to upgrade first, it's not a slow computer but just trying to give it a bit of a boost in some games i play and for general media/surfing, it's a 2-3 year old Dell XPS 420 and the main specs are as follows.

Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 @ 2.33ghz
4GB DDR2 800mhz RAM
AMD Radeon HD 4890 1GB

According to CPU-Z my mobo is a Dell 0TP406, Intel Chipset X38.

Just wondering which would be best to upgrade first? I thought about going to 8GB RAM but wasn't convinced i'd see a huge improvement, i got the graphics card about a year and a half ago as i upgrade from a HD 3870 and always thought that maybe my processor was holding it back.

Appreciate your thoughts. :) 

More about : upgrade

July 26, 2012 10:37:15 PM

Hey,

What is your budget?

In my opinion the best upgrade for you would be a new graphic card.
If you get 8GB of ram you will not see a big difference as most games don't use that much ram.
If you decide to replace your processor then you will also have to replace your motherboard and that can get quite expensive.

Your main bottleneck would be your graphic card.

What power supply do you have?
You should be able to get a hd6870 for under $150 and that would be a great performance boost.

As for your processor holding things back, when you play a game does it go to 100% usage?
You could buy a better cooler and overclock it, but as its a stock dell computer that might not go to well, so the best upgrade would be a new GPU.

hope this helps!
July 26, 2012 11:31:56 PM

Hi :) 

Graphics card....

All the best Brett :) 
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 27, 2012 12:20:08 AM

Ditto for the graphics card. Frame rate is mainly about the card.
July 27, 2012 12:29:33 AM

For a boost in game performance definitely upgrade the graphics card. For overall system responsiveness/load time/boot time/surfing etc. consider an SSD.
July 27, 2012 6:57:05 AM

Thanks for the responses guys.

I think my PSU is 375w, i remember when i got my 4890 card i was worried my psu wouldn't be enough, but i heard that dell psu's are different in some way? so they are better than '375watt' suggests?

I've had no problems running the 4890 since i got it so do you think if i got a 6870 i'd have no problems also? I'd be happy to spend £100 - £200 on a card, the 6870 seems good and at a good price. Is this the best my system could handle?
a b B Homebuilt system
July 27, 2012 3:33:09 PM

giggsy11 said:
Thanks for the responses guys.

I think my PSU is 375w, i remember when i got my 4890 card i was worried my psu wouldn't be enough, but i heard that dell psu's are different in some way? so they are better than '375watt' suggests?

I've had no problems running the 4890 since i got it so do you think if i got a 6870 i'd have no problems also? I'd be happy to spend £100 - £200 on a card, the 6870 seems good and at a good price. Is this the best my system could handle?

At max TDP, the HD 4890 requires 190W. That relates to 15.8A on the +12V rail(s). The HD 6870 on the otherhand, only requires 151W relating to 12.6A on the +12V rail(s). So, if the old card gave you no problems, an HD 6870 should be even less strain on the PSU.
http://www.hwcompare.com/6039/radeon-hd-4890-1gb-vs-rad...
July 28, 2012 10:51:11 PM

Thanks for the information clutchc, however before i invest in a new gpu i was looking at a SSD, i saw the Samsung 830 and heard all the good reviews about it but my worry is that my mobo is only SATA II and thus i wont get the full performance from the SSD but is it still worth the upgrade?

I'm also worried that i won't be able to turn on AHCI (i've checked my bios and can't see an option for it, only to turn RAID on) my motherboard specs are here

http://www.findlaptopdriver.com/dell-0tp406-specs/

Is it worth getting a SSD if i can't enable AHCI and it's SATA II performance?
July 28, 2012 10:58:10 PM

the Q8200 is a bit of an bottleneck in some games. I don't think there is really a weak link in your system as even with a 6870, many games would be limited by such a cpu.

You might want to save up to jump to a new platform eventually but as of now the gpu will probably give you the most performance.

Sata II SSD performance is still very good and definate would be a nice upgrade to a standard HDD. Sata III benifits are generally not even that much except in some benchmarks.
July 29, 2012 12:32:40 AM

As others stated, upgrade the video card first. Dell generally underrates their power supplies a little so their 375W PSU probably can provide 400w of power in total. Also, their PSUs are manufactured by Fortron Source which have an above average reputation for quality.

I'm not really a big proponent on SSD. Yes, they can make your PC boot faster and programs can load faster making your overall PC operate a bit more smoothly, but if you are specifically looking for gaming performance increase (meaning frames per second), then there is little improvements unless you play games that load bits and pieces of the map you are playing on (i.e. less stutter).

The Q8300 will likely bottleneck your graphic card, but you will still see an improvement in performance. Once you scrape up enough money for a new CPU (faster) and motherboard, the graphic card will run at it's full potential. As it is right now, there will likely be about a 10% bottleneck for a Radeon HD 6870.
a b B Homebuilt system
July 29, 2012 1:23:38 AM

Yes, I doubt ACHI mode would have been available back in the X38 board days.The SSD will still provide improved response times. But as stated above, it isn't much of an improvement when gaming... if any.
July 29, 2012 7:53:47 AM

If you are focusing on gaming and you want to be able to play more games/at higher settings/fps then as i said before upgrading your GPU is your best bet. The ssd won't give you better framerates, your games will load faster and your pc will be more responsive, but overall consider getting a graphic card like the hd6870 or save up to upgrade to a newer system, if you want we can help you out with that too.

Hope this helped!
July 29, 2012 2:51:55 PM

This topic has been moved from the section CPU & Components to section Systems by Mousemonkey
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