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Upgrade rig vs Build new

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Last response: in Systems
August 5, 2012 2:06:02 AM

Hi all,

Have gone down the 3d gaming route and because of the performance hit i have been thinking whether i would be able to upgrade my current rig any further to squeeze any more life out of it versus sinking that money into a fresh build. Current specs are as follows:

Athlon ii x3 445 @ 3.1
AMD 5830 OC 840 and 1125
6gb DDR3 1333mhz
320gb HDD

Am running full HD res, most games are fine and still look nice but the performance for some games is just not what i want, any suggestions???

PS pretty sure i know the answer to this but wanted to get some answers from the more knowledgeable :) 

Thanks in advance

More about : upgrade rig build

a b B Homebuilt system
August 5, 2012 2:21:05 AM

curent motherboard ?
August 5, 2012 11:36:58 AM

Its an asus m4a88t-m i picked up cheap whilst i was on a budget
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August 5, 2012 12:37:33 PM

Upgrade it because the motherboard is just fine to support a really good processor and graphics card.
August 5, 2012 1:57:27 PM

what would your upgrade suggestions be?
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 5, 2012 2:12:19 PM

For most games, the graphics card is the limiting factor, more so than the cpu.

I think you have a relatively well balanced pc, and it is not clear where the upgrade should come from.

To help clarify your options, run these two tests:

a) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics configuration.

b) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 50%.

Go to control panel/power options/change plan settings/change advanced power settings/processor power management/maximum processor state/
set to 50% and see how you do.


If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.
August 5, 2012 2:22:49 PM

Suggestions depend a lot on budget.

To me I see a bunch of weakness in your first build.

1. I don't really care for your graphics card. It was when new 2 years ago an afterthought product of bad production and to fill a price gap in the gpu line-up.

2. You have a huge amount of room to upgrade your processor provided your power-supply can handle it. For about $100 you can get a phenom II 965 black http://pcpartpicker.com/mr/newegg/amd-cpu-hdz965fbgmbox It an extra core an l3 chache and more clock cycles, whats not to love?

I have no real idea if your hard drive is a problem for you, I like a bit more space because I keep stuff forever, is your HDD 3 or 6 gig sata, and how are your chache sizes and read speeds? based on everything else in it you build looks like you built or purchased this computer in mid to late 2010 maybe early last year. So it was either just before hard drive prices skyrocketed and you were budget hunting in extreme, or just afterwords and you took something that wasn't a budget breaker on your system.
August 5, 2012 2:31:32 PM

Thanks for the reply, i was on a strict budget when i first built the system so the hard drive space wasn't in my priorities and the gpu i picked up from ebuyer for about £75 when they were trying to get rid of them. The psu is a corsair tx650w so I'm good for a phenom ii. So a pII x4 965 and a new gpu would give me a drastic increase in FPS and keep me going for say at least another year versus rebuilding? Budget for example £350
August 5, 2012 2:33:46 PM

geofelt said:
If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.


Thanks i will try this and see what happens :) 
August 5, 2012 3:42:19 PM

Hi geofelt tried it and findings are as follows

1920x1080, very high, no dx11, no ambient occlusion, fxaa med, 100% max processor state

min 28
max 106
avg 64

Same settings but with 50% max processor state

min 1
max 33
avg 15

1440x900, medium, no dx11, fxaa low

min 30
max 118
avg 73

Any thoughts???
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 5, 2012 4:01:11 PM

faithleo said:
Hi geofelt tried it and findings are as follows

1920x1080, very high, no dx11, no ambient occlusion, fxaa med, 100% max processor state

min 28
max 106
avg 64

Same settings but with 50% max processor state

min 1
max 33
avg 15

1440x900, medium, no dx11, fxaa low

min 30
max 118
avg 73

Any thoughts???


When you reduce the cpu capability, the stats drop significantly.

When you reduce the graphics load, your stats do not increase much.

My conclusion is that for your games, the cpu is holding you back.

You could upgrade to a X4 965, perhaps you can buy a cheap one on e-bay.
Past that, I am not so certain that I would invest much money in a new amd based cpu gaming pc.

Here is one analysis of <$200 gaming cpu's:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-gaming-cpu-cor...
At any price point, there is a superior Intel chip.
August 5, 2012 5:11:34 PM

geofelt said:
When you reduce the cpu capability, the stats drop significantly.

When you reduce the graphics load, your stats do not increase much.

My conclusion is that for your games, the cpu is holding you back.

You could upgrade to a X4 965, perhaps you can buy a cheap one on e-bay.
Past that, I am not so certain that I would invest much money in a new amd based cpu gaming pc.

Here is one analysis of <$200 gaming cpu's:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-gaming-cpu-cor...
At any price point, there is a superior Intel chip.


Thanks for your analysis

Would you suggest then looking at building a more capable sandy/ivy bridge based system rather than sink money into my existing one? i have been thinking about switching to sandy/ivy bridge as the performance increase would be significant over what i have anyway, just wondered if there would be anyway to significantly increase the life of my current system first
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 5, 2012 7:06:56 PM

I am a bit surprised at your results since usually, the graphics card is the weak component.
What games are you playing?
Perhaps the 3D games are more cpu intensive.

What is your budget?

How good do you need to be?

In principle, I don't like interim steps where you will later have to abandon something.
If a good X4 cpu will do the job for a good time, then fine, do it. But if you ultimately want to be better than that, then find a way to upgrade to ivy bridge. That will require a Z77 based motherboard, and perhaps different DDR3 ram(you will need ram <1.65v)

The 5850 is no longer a top card, like it used to be, and I can't help feeling that a graphics card change might be in order too.
August 5, 2012 10:16:38 PM

geofelt said:
I am a bit surprised at your results since usually, the graphics card is the weak component.
What games are you playing?
Perhaps the 3D games are more cpu intensive.

What is your budget?

How good do you need to be?

In principle, I don't like interim steps where you will later have to abandon something.
If a good X4 cpu will do the job for a good time, then fine, do it. But if you ultimately want to be better than that, then find a way to upgrade to ivy bridge. That will require a Z77 based motherboard, and perhaps different DDR3 ram(you will need ram <1.65v)

The 5850 is no longer a top card, like it used to be, and I can't help feeling that a graphics card change might be in order too.


Well the batman arkham city benchmark i used wasnt in 3d, i will have a look at some of the other games i play and get back to you with the results.

I cant help feeling that this build will not be enough for much longer to be honest, i have got 6gb of kingston hyperX 1333mhz which if i remember correctly run @ 1.5v but i will check and let you know.

Im looking to have a pc that is still fairly relevant 2 years from now and i just dont think i can do that with an X4, i think an ivy bridge cpu and 7000 series amd card would set me up well for the future, what do you think??

A far as budget is concerned i will reuse alot from my current system so it will just be the cpu, gpu, mobo and windows 7 to get to be honest, so if we say £500 (or equivalent)
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 5, 2012 10:58:24 PM

In round numbers, using us prices, a 3570K will be $220, a GTX670 will be $400, 8gb of ram will be $50, a Z77 motherboard will be $130, and Windows 7 will be $100.

Totals $900 , perhaps $100 over your budget.
August 6, 2012 3:34:51 AM

I'm sorry for the late reply I was busy most of the day.

As for earlier and your experiment with geo, I sort of disagree with his methods but a few things do jump out. 1. you were at a 100% cpu usage processor state to start with. That isn't that big of a surprise since you have a tri core processor and Arkham City is set-up for up to 4 threads. Your cpu is holding you back no real amazement there.

2. With his test above on most GPU's if you are getting borderline acceptable frame-rates with graphics settings maxed out (30 to 35 is generally considered playable) you are lessening load 10 to 15% on your card, and possibly taking out effects your card may or may-not be optimized for. What you are doing with the cpu is essentially cutting its possible processing speed per thread by 50%, and this isn't going to be a linear decrease.

As for the above thoughts and recommendations, Your processor is a problem, swapping to the one recommended above by me will cost you around 75 pounds give or take a pound. For that money you increase your computing ability by about half of what you have now by the benchmarks, http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/102?vs=189&i=2.5... (the listed processor the anthon II x3 550 is actually about 100MHz faster but other than that identical and should have a very small difference.).

I am not in the least knocking his Intel Ivybridge suggestion or even a 2500K Sandybridge, those are the top chips right now for gaming, If you were building from scratch I would say go for it. As it is I am fairly certain you can upgrade your cpu and see a 15 to 20 frames per second increase in the games you are currently bogging down on, I would repeat the above cpu test with something more reasonable like 80%. Chopping your processor state in half with the chip you have puts you into the range of a pentium 3 or early athalon. Spending 650 to 700 pounds will make you able to run everything top of the line for the next 24 months and right next to it for the next year after that. Spending 75 pounds will keep you in high quality settings for the next year or so, and you can then likely rebuild from scratch with a whole new gpu, cpu, motherboard, harddrive, solidstate boot drive, ram.

I guess I'm saying spending 75 pounds for 12 to 18 months versus 700 pounds for 36 to 40..... Your call.
August 6, 2012 4:02:00 AM

from researching pc's from feb till now like crazy, i gotta say i wish i bought that mobo when i had the chance in October or the USB3 ver.

please consider the following:

- Phenom II x4 965/ Phenom II x6 1045 (its hard to find better remaining processors for sale)
- Dual channel 8gb = 2x 4GB DDR3 1333mhz ram (if you want to bother with the ram OC then go for 1600 or 1866mhz ram)
- 1TB Western Digital HDD or 720GB Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid Drive
- 60/90/120 GB SATA 2 or 3 Solid State Drive (boot drive for OS)

optional

- Radeon HD 6870 or 6950/6970 (Brand Special Models: Asus Direct CU II, MSI Frozr II, HIS IceQ, etc)
- MSI 890GXM - GD65 motherboard (last highest spec micro atx mobo + 2 pci-e 2.0 x 16 slots for x8/x8 crossfire
- CPU Fan/Heat sink that fits in your case
- PCI or PCI-E x1 7.1 Soundcard
- 800w 80 plus bronze - platnium ATX PSU

you can consider doing some of those upgrades, much cheaper than intel based pc and will play all today's games without much problems

i put the psu in to help you save on your energy bill and reduce heat

just one more question; what case, power supply, and cpu cooler are you using?
i can help with better case cooling if you want to add or change your case features
August 6, 2012 8:28:41 PM

Maxor1 said:
I'm sorry for the late reply I was busy most of the day.

As for earlier and your experiment with geo, I sort of disagree with his methods but a few things do jump out. 1. you were at a 100% cpu usage processor state to start with. That isn't that big of a surprise since you have a tri core processor and Arkham City is set-up for up to 4 threads. Your cpu is holding you back no real amazement there.

2. With his test above on most GPU's if you are getting borderline acceptable frame-rates with graphics settings maxed out (30 to 35 is generally considered playable) you are lessening load 10 to 15% on your card, and possibly taking out effects your card may or may-not be optimized for. What you are doing with the cpu is essentially cutting its possible processing speed per thread by 50%, and this isn't going to be a linear decrease.

As for the above thoughts and recommendations, Your processor is a problem, swapping to the one recommended above by me will cost you around 75 pounds give or take a pound. For that money you increase your computing ability by about half of what you have now by the benchmarks, http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/102?vs=189&i=2.5... (the listed processor the anthon II x3 550 is actually about 100MHz faster but other than that identical and should have a very small difference.).

I am not in the least knocking his Intel Ivybridge suggestion or even a 2500K Sandybridge, those are the top chips right now for gaming, If you were building from scratch I would say go for it. As it is I am fairly certain you can upgrade your cpu and see a 15 to 20 frames per second increase in the games you are currently bogging down on, I would repeat the above cpu test with something more reasonable like 80%. Chopping your processor state in half with the chip you have puts you into the range of a pentium 3 or early athalon. Spending 650 to 700 pounds will make you able to run everything top of the line for the next 24 months and right next to it for the next year after that. Spending 75 pounds will keep you in high quality settings for the next year or so, and you can then likely rebuild from scratch with a whole new gpu, cpu, motherboard, harddrive, solidstate boot drive, ram.

I guess I'm saying spending 75 pounds for 12 to 18 months versus 700 pounds for 36 to 40..... Your call.


Thanks for your reply

Would a gpu upgrade with the 965 not extend the life further still, or would i be in a similar situation to what i am now?
August 6, 2012 8:36:46 PM

kishagi said:
from researching pc's from feb till now like crazy, i gotta say i wish i bought that mobo when i had the chance in October or the USB3 ver.

please consider the following:

- Phenom II x4 965/ Phenom II x6 1045 (its hard to find better remaining processors for sale)
- Dual channel 8gb = 2x 4GB DDR3 1333mhz ram (if you want to bother with the ram OC then go for 1600 or 1866mhz ram)
- 1TB Western Digital HDD or 720GB Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid Drive
- 60/90/120 GB SATA 2 or 3 Solid State Drive (boot drive for OS)

optional

- Radeon HD 6870 or 6950/6970 (Brand Special Models: Asus Direct CU II, MSI Frozr II, HIS IceQ, etc)
- MSI 890GXM - GD65 motherboard (last highest spec micro atx mobo + 2 pci-e 2.0 x 16 slots for x8/x8 crossfire
- CPU Fan/Heat sink that fits in your case
- PCI or PCI-E x1 7.1 Soundcard
- 800w 80 plus bronze - platnium ATX PSU

you can consider doing some of those upgrades, much cheaper than intel based pc and will play all today's games without much problems

i put the psu in to help you save on your energy bill and reduce heat

just one more question; what case, power supply, and cpu cooler are you using?
i can help with better case cooling if you want to add or change your case features


Thanks for your suggestions

My power supply is fine to be honest and my cpu cooler is a hyper212+ which keeps my current cpu under 40°c at all times, as far as the case is concerned its a coolermaster elite 430, nice budget case but may swap out for something more deluxe when i feel like it but it houses my system and keeps it cool and i like its looks so its good for the moment. I like the suggestion for the ssd boot drive as i have been thinking about that for a little while but im interested in your suggestion of moving from 6gb to 8gb, i dont seem to be using more than 4gb so im curious as to what gain i could get from moving to 8gb???

The optional gpu upgrade would be after moving to a 965 and not after yeah?
August 7, 2012 12:23:15 AM

faithleo said:
Thanks for your reply

Would a gpu upgrade with the 965 not extend the life further still, or would i be in a similar situation to what i am now?

You would likely see a bit of life with a gpu upgrade but you are also at a point of diminishing returns.

In my opinion at least the when it comes to gpu up-grades you get extremely nice bang for your money from around $100 to $200 US, and that varies a bit based on generation, manufacturer and chip essentially though with a bit of reading and research your money shows a nice improvement for dollar spent. After that point in my feelings at least I experience much less satisfaction, On resolutions that make sense for me to use, and or with my screen size of 22 inches I don't experience much noticeable improvement in frame-rates, or detail. I'm not saying there is no such advantage or improvement, but for me at least I don't really much care if I'm at 55 fps or at 60 fps when belly crawling through foliage if its smooth I'm good to me I don't notice or care about those 5 frames unless I'm looking specifically for that. Most 1080p television is broadcast at around 24 fps and looks clean and smooth even during high action sports events 50 frames per second is considered future proof for the foreseeable future.

Upgrading your card in the near frame future isn't likely to make a big difference in most games unless you game on a truly huge screen, or have decided to try and hit some sort of uncanny valley with the rendered details of things in game. I don't foresee a new directX leap like that between 9 and 10 in the near future, and your card supports pretty much every implemented feature of direct X 11.

In summary for all near future releases and almost all current games with almost all monitors up to about 30 inches you should be getting nice frame-rates with either max or near max settings.

I'm not saying someone might not release the equivalent of a new crysis for today's computing hardware what that was in 2007, but 99% of releases would have thing turned almost all the way up and you might just want to tweak a setting down slightly here and there. If you have a frame rate monitor you won't be winning forum postings of "Oh I get 137 fps" but you will be getting a fairly pretty and playable 50+ and likely a bit higher in most areas.

In massive RTS games where the AI might be controlling huge numbers of units you probably want to watch your background programs as well, but that has always been true and thats CPU issues no GPU issues.

You are also not really looking at upgrading with your current hardware much beyond the 18 month range, most likely as I seriously expect cpu supply for the AM3 to be getting fairly non existent for enthusiast class CPUs by then and things should have moved on.

Your GPU then will likely have been overtaken by higher end mainstream GPU's at right around the $175 US price point and putting that in a whole new system is likely to be a better penny to penny upgrade. At the moment the suggested cpu tops out everything and your current gpu is capable of running pretty much everything released at a point where while playing any differences aren't perceivable to most humans on common hardware.

I can't predict with much certainty what will happen beyond a year to 18 months however I can say it is unlikely that a publisher will release a major game that won't be playable on higher end hardware today on at least medium high settings by then. I can tell you that the i-5 is a better cpu, just like I can tell you a McLaren F1 is a better performance machine than a corvette grand sport. I can also tell you that 99.9% of the time 99% of the population can't maximize the performance out of either one, so unless you are planing on doing it just for the status of waving I've got the top end, may as well just save the money.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 7, 2012 2:48:23 AM


CPU AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black 3.2GHz Quad-Core $119.98
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws Series 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 $21.99
Video Card EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti 1GB $189.99

331.96$
August 8, 2012 7:52:47 PM

Thanks everyone for all of your suggestions, have been doing some benchmarking in 3d and looking at some benchmarks online and it looks like i wont get the desired improvements i want by just adding in a pII 965 so im gonna hold out for a bit, sell my current system to a friend and rebuild from scratch after that, thanks again for everyones contributions :) 
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 8, 2012 7:58:45 PM

faithleo said:
Thanks everyone for all of your suggestions, have been doing some benchmarking in 3d and looking at some benchmarks online and it looks like i wont get the desired improvements i want by just adding in a pII 965 so im gonna hold out for a bit, sell my current system to a friend and rebuild from scratch after that, thanks again for everyones contributions :) 


Probably a good idea.

For what it is worth, selling a complete system does not fetch as much as selling the parts you can no longer use on e-bay.
Be prepared for less than you might expect for a full pc.

You can probably reuse the os, case, psu, ram, dvd.
The graphics card will sell, as will the cpu. The motherboard, not so much.

If you want to see what parts are worth, go to e-bay and check completed listings for your parts as used.
August 8, 2012 10:47:33 PM

geofelt said:
Probably a good idea.

For what it is worth, selling a complete system does not fetch as much as selling the parts you can no longer use on e-bay.
Be prepared for less than you might expect for a full pc.

You can probably reuse the os, case, psu, ram, dvd.
The graphics card will sell, as will the cpu. The motherboard, not so much.

If you want to see what parts are worth, go to e-bay and check completed listings for your parts as used.


Thanks Geofelt. Was gonna keep the stuff i wanted from this one and sell the other bits to my friend, then tell him what he needs to get in order to get it working. Will check on ebay to see if i can make any more than what he is offering but tbh if they are fairly similar will just go with the friend, less hassle and will get them into pc gaming also :) 
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 8, 2012 10:53:06 PM

faithleo said:
Thanks Geofelt. Was gonna keep the stuff i wanted from this one and sell the other bits to my friend, then tell him what he needs to get in order to get it working. Will check on ebay to see if i can make any more than what he is offering but tbh if they are fairly similar will just go with the friend, less hassle and will get them into pc gaming also :) 


Yes, use the ebay completed listings, shown in green to see what the parts actually go for. Less, of course, comissions and shipping.