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Help me upgrade my computer!

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August 11, 2012 9:59:46 PM

I have a desktop that is in big need of upgrading. It's a ASUS Essentio CM1730-01, I can give you basic details: Graphics: ATI Radeon 3000, CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 220 2.8GHz, PSU: 300W, RAM: 4GB. If you need more, be sure to ask. I wanted to get a prebuilt desktop and just upgrade it when I have the money, and so here I am. I know it's stupid to buy prebuilt, rather than DIY, but I'm no expert. That's why I'm here too. My budget is $300, so any experts and professionals care to suggest new components that will be good for gaming? I'll be happy to provide as much information possible.

More about : upgrade computer

August 12, 2012 4:21:35 AM

Not a bad start.

Based on these specs you have a "350 W Power adaptor" and a mid tower case. But you say 300w PSU. Do you know which it is? http://www.asus.com/Desktop/Entertainment/Essentio_CM17...

Assume you want a gaming build, not something else.

With a $300 budget you cannot upgrade CPU, MB and Video. So leave the CPU and MB alone and just upgrade video.

Two big options for upgrading video. (1) Keep the 300/350W power supply and buy a video card that fits in that power window or (2) install a new power supply along with your new video.

For me, given the rest of the system, I'd spend $135 on an HD7770 and keep the rest of your money for when you upgrade the CPU and MB in the future. HD7770 (80W, 100W max on OC) will work fine with the X2 220 on a 300W PSU.

You will see a huge improvement over your current gaming with integrated adapter.

If you want to upgrade PSU and then install a new card then a power supply like this Antec $40 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... can be coupled with any card in this article no problem. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...

If your $300 budget was MUST SPEND money, then look at $40 for power supply, $250 HD 7850 for rest.


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August 12, 2012 7:53:31 AM

tsnor said:
Not a bad start.

Based on these specs you have a "350 W Power adaptor" and a mid tower case. But you say 300w PSU. Do you know which it is? http://www.asus.com/Desktop/Entertainment/Essentio_CM17...

Assume you want a gaming build, not something else.

With a $300 budget you cannot upgrade CPU, MB and Video. So leave the CPU and MB alone and just upgrade video.

Two big options for upgrading video. (1) Keep the 300/350W power supply and buy a video card that fits in that power window or (2) install a new power supply along with your new video.

For me, given the rest of the system, I'd spend $135 on an HD7770 and keep the rest of your money for when you upgrade the CPU and MB in the future. HD7770 (80W, 100W max on OC) will work fine with the X2 220 on a 300W PSU.

You will see a huge improvement over your current gaming with integrated adapter.

If you want to upgrade PSU and then install a new card then a power supply like this Antec $40 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... can be coupled with any card in this article no problem. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...

If your $300 budget was MUST SPEND money, then look at $40 for power supply, $250 HD 7850 for rest.


Thanks tsnor, but I'm not looking into an epic build. I just want to put in $300 into this rig that will allow it to play most games med/max, such as Skyrim.
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August 12, 2012 8:12:18 AM

The problem is that with a rig with such old and inadequate parts is that the second you upgrade something, the rest of it has to follow. Since you don't have enough money for a full platform upgrade, you will have to do with a GPU and PSU upgrade until you can afford the rest. It may not, but im pretty sure that the processor will bottleneck the GPU.

PSU: Corsair 650W Enthusiast. $90
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU: GTX560ti. $225
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: $315. Bit over budget, but not by much.

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August 12, 2012 8:19:17 AM

Thanks manofchalk, I understand $300 is a low budget, but I'm not looking into an epic gaming rig. I want to upgrade my computer, away from integrated graphics. Use the $300 to list all components compatible with each other to achieve atleast med-high settings on most games. This is probably unachievable, but how about the people who built their computers for $300 and were able to achieve it? And some budget GPUs that perform nicely as well. Again, I don't need an epic rig. Oh and out of curiosity, if I were to achieve this amount of money. What would you suggest for under $500 if my funds don't get acquainted? But still, proceed with the $300 mark.
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August 12, 2012 8:41:49 AM

People who claim maximum settings on modern games for $300 are outright liars, I will say that right now. Quite simply its impossible.

Are you asking to upgrade the pre-built or a whole new PC? Because for $300, the upgrade I recommended is about the max you can do without getting a low quality PSU. $300 isn't enough to even build a PC, let alone one that will play games.

For a $500 upgrade, keep the upgrades I mentioned before, and change the processor to an AMD Phenom II X4 965 and mobo to an AsRock 970 Extreme3 AM3+ board. That will get you a respectable gaming machine.

AMD Phenom II X4 965. $110
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AsRock 970 Extreme3 AM3+. $85
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total+ other upgrades: $510
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August 12, 2012 1:38:14 PM

Dj510O said:
Thanks tsnor, but I'm not looking into an epic build. I just want to put in $300 into this rig that will allow it to play most games med/max, such as Skyrim.


Good, then stuff in an Hd7770 for $135 and game on. That's all you need to do.
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August 12, 2012 4:00:31 PM

tsnor said:
Good, then stuff in an Hd7770 for $135 and game on. That's all you need to do.


I was actually looking forward to getting an HD 7770 since it was cheap and only needed 80W, but others stated that I would need to upgrade my PSU. Even AMD's website stated I needed atleast 500W. There was also the 7750 which required no power but did worse.
I've been thinking of some items to buy for under $400, what do you think?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - XFX CORE Edition FX-777A-ZNF4 Radeon HD 7770
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - CORSAIR 8GB (2x4GB) RAM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - CORSAIR 600W Power Supply

Do you suggest anything better?
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August 12, 2012 4:41:17 PM

tsnor said:
LOL, people tell you that card won't run @ 300w, but they never try them or research them.

Here's a HD7770 running with a 300W PSU. http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/344850-31-requirement...

It will be a sweet upgrade.


But will it play most demanding games on med-max settings? He was looking for something for Diablo 3 and you suggested a 7770. And will it pair nicely with my current CPU?
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August 12, 2012 10:07:14 PM

Dj510O said:
But will it play most demanding games on med-max settings? He was looking for something for Diablo 3 and you suggested a 7770. And will it pair nicely with my current CPU?


Diablo 3: http://www.techspot.com/review/532-diablo-3-performance... High quality, 1080p resolution, 53 FPS.

IS the Hd7770 the best card on the planet -- nope. Buts its a huge step up from integrated graphics and is the strongest card you can deploy without a $40 power supply swap. Install is pretty simple. The system with Athlon II X2 2.8GHz and Hd7770 seems reasonably balanced -- the CPU is probably running out of gas first for some games, the video card for others.




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August 12, 2012 10:17:07 PM

Dj510O said:
Oh and I prefer to keep my system all ASUS, so which model should I choose since their prices and specs differ?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...


The stock HD7770 config seems to run cool and quiet as well as perform well. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-7770-7750...

This Asus card had nasty reviews, I'd think twice before getting it. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-7770-7750...

This Asus card is a factory overclock . I usually skip those because it's easy to OC a video card and sometimes the OC cards do not goto sleep nicely, etc. However this got better (though fewer) reviews. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I'd be tempted to get this card that looks like stock config, comes with many good reviews and is cheaper. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


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August 13, 2012 12:19:32 AM

Thanks a lot man! So, I get a Radeon HD 7770 (What brand do you recommend if you dislike ASUS? :(  Wanted to keep the ASUS memento) that will pair nicely with my 300W PSU. And when I have enough cash saved, I get a new CPU (AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz) and a new PSU (CORSAIR 600W), oh and additional CORSAIR Vengeance 2x4GB RAM. I don't suppose I need a new mo-bo correct? I don't know much about motherboards, but they don't increase performance but allow more usage of slots? Correct me if I'm wrong, so I know what motherboard to get if I need to. And if you have any suggestions for other components rather than the ones listed above for the same price, let me know. Thanks!
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August 13, 2012 12:33:40 PM

Dj510O said:
..(What brand do you recommend if you dislike ASUS?...And when I have enough cash saved, I get a new CPU (AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz) and a new PSU (CORSAIR 600W), oh and additional CORSAIR Vengeance 2x4GB RAM. I don't suppose I need a new mo-bo correct?


Asus is a strong brand, most of my MBs are Asus (or Asus OEM). Just the particular Asus card seemed to have really bad reviews. When video cards are made there is a reference design/manufacture created by the company that designs the chips. For the HD7770 the chips are designed by AMD. AMD then sells a completely built card to companies who put their logo on them. There cards are all the same. AMD also sells the chips to companies who innovate by designing better cards than the reference design (smaller or lower power, or better for overclocking, or quieter or better cooling). It looks like Asus built a better HD7770 card that didn't work in some PCs with some drivers. A 50% bad review rate at Newegg is rare, and I don't buy parts with that bad a review rate without understanding why. At a guess Asus has a design problem in their Hd7770 card.

For selecting a card that appears to be stock, and is just a logo put on the same card everyone else is selling I jsut go with a card with a high number of good reviews that is price competitive. I've bought EVGA, HIS, Saphire, Asus, etc. You also look at what comes with the card (free game, adapters you might need for power.) For example, an Hd777o that comes with a Molex to PCIe power adapter cable will save you $5 compared to buying your own if you need one).

Yes re saving to improve rest of system. You have a good collection of parts. Re Motherboards -- PC CPUs sometimes need new sockets. That means if you want the new CPU you need the new MB. New MBs also bring new capabilities like eSata and USB3 so that you can connect high performance external disk drives. When you want to do a substantial rebuild of your system post in the NEWBUILD forum (or here) say what parts you have and how you use a PC (e.g. mainly gaming, mainly video edit, just for web browsing) and people will suggest builds. Some will kepp you old MB and probably end up using the Phenom II X4 you ref'd. Others might switch to an intel CPU and also call out an intel socket MB.)

Good luck. Post what video card you picked and how it worked out when you installed it so anyone googling threads can see what you ended up doing and how you liked it.
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August 13, 2012 10:26:09 PM

tsnor said:
Asus is a strong brand, most of my MBs are Asus (or Asus OEM). Just the particular Asus card seemed to have really bad reviews. When video cards are made there is a reference design/manufacture created by the company that designs the chips. For the HD7770 the chips are designed by AMD. AMD then sells a completely built card to companies who put their logo on them. There cards are all the same. AMD also sells the chips to companies who innovate by designing better cards than the reference design (smaller or lower power, or better for overclocking, or quieter or better cooling). It looks like Asus built a better HD7770 card that didn't work in some PCs with some drivers. A 50% bad review rate at Newegg is rare, and I don't buy parts with that bad a review rate without understanding why. At a guess Asus has a design problem in their Hd7770 card.

For selecting a card that appears to be stock, and is just a logo put on the same card everyone else is selling I jsut go with a card with a high number of good reviews that is price competitive. I've bought EVGA, HIS, Saphire, Asus, etc. You also look at what comes with the card (free game, adapters you might need for power.) For example, an Hd777o that comes with a Molex to PCIe power adapter cable will save you $5 compared to buying your own if you need one).

Yes re saving to improve rest of system. You have a good collection of parts. Re Motherboards -- PC CPUs sometimes need new sockets. That means if you want the new CPU you need the new MB. New MBs also bring new capabilities like eSata and USB3 so that you can connect high performance external disk drives. When you want to do a substantial rebuild of your system post in the NEWBUILD forum (or here) say what parts you have and how you use a PC (e.g. mainly gaming, mainly video edit, just for web browsing) and people will suggest builds. Some will kepp you old MB and probably end up using the Phenom II X4 you ref'd. Others might switch to an intel CPU and also call out an intel socket MB.)

Good luck. Post what video card you picked and how it worked out when you installed it so anyone googling threads can see what you ended up doing and how you liked it.


I'm sticking with an ASUS GPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... I really want to have an all ASUS setup. But doesn't this power supply provide a 6-pin connector http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... or is it for use for other things? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not just going to settle for another brand just because of a missing wire, I'll buy one. I'm definitely buying this, but not right now. I've been spending most of my money on games that my ATI Radeon 3000 can still play. I'll let everyone know what will happen ASAP when I get my components. Help me out on the 6-pin connector please! But thanks for helping me throughout this project!
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August 13, 2012 11:01:31 PM

Dj510O said:
I'm sticking with an ASUS GPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... I really want to have an all ASUS setup. But doesn't this power supply provide a 6-pin connector http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... or is it for use for other things? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not just going to settle for another brand just because of a missing wire, I'll buy one. I'm definitely buying this, but not right now. I've been spending most of my money on games that my ATI Radeon 3000 can still play. I'll let everyone know what will happen ASAP when I get my components. Help me out on the 6-pin connector please! But thanks for helping me throughout this project!


Total confusion.

If you are staying with your stock 300W PSU then get the HD7770. It will work with the PSU already in your PC. You might need an adapter to get the 6 pin you need for the HD7770 if your current PSU doesn't have the connector.

If you are throwing in a new 600W PSU (massive overkill -- but you did pick a good one!) than definitely get a card like the 6850 or 6870 that uses more power but is a stronger card with better price/performance just uses more juice than a hd7770. For example this ASUS Hd6850 is $150. http://www.amazon.com/EAH6850-DC-2DIS-1GD5-V2/dp/B004IM... Compare to the HD7770 you are considering.

http://www.hwcompare.com/11925/radeon-hd-6850-vs-radeon... compare of HD7770 to HD6850. 6850 wins.

(you linked the 600w PSU twcie, did you mean the first one to be an ASUS video card?)




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August 14, 2012 10:12:59 PM

tsnor said:
Total confusion.

If you are staying with your stock 300W PSU then get the HD7770. It will work with the PSU already in your PC. You might need an adapter to get the 6 pin you need for the HD7770 if your current PSU doesn't have the connector.

If you are throwing in a new 600W PSU (massive overkill -- but you did pick a good one!) than definitely get a card like the 6850 or 6870 that uses more power but is a stronger card with better price/performance just uses more juice than a hd7770. For example this ASUS Hd6850 is $150. http://www.amazon.com/EAH6850-DC-2DIS-1GD5-V2/dp/B004IM... Compare to the HD7770 you are considering.

http://www.hwcompare.com/11925/radeon-hd-6850-vs-radeon... compare of HD7770 to HD6850. 6850 wins.

(you linked the 600w PSU twcie, did you mean the first one to be an ASUS video card?)


But will the 300W PSU handle the other upgrades? I don't even know about the 6-pin connector, if it's available on my PSU and it has a vacant slot that I just need to buy an addition cable for it. Should I open up my computer to see? That's my current issue, and I need to know.
The 6850 consumes more power and approximately costs the same as a 7770, but the 7770 has a little better FPS. For example, see this benchmark: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-7770-7750... So I'd stick with the 7770 and the PSU (unless I can fix the 6-pin connector dilemma).
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August 18, 2012 1:48:11 AM

tsnor said:
Total confusion.

If you are staying with your stock 300W PSU then get the HD7770. It will work with the PSU already in your PC. You might need an adapter to get the 6 pin you need for the HD7770 if your current PSU doesn't have the connector.

If you are throwing in a new 600W PSU (massive overkill -- but you did pick a good one!) than definitely get a card like the 6850 or 6870 that uses more power but is a stronger card with better price/performance just uses more juice than a hd7770. For example this ASUS Hd6850 is $150. http://www.amazon.com/EAH6850-DC-2DIS-1GD5-V2/dp/B004IM... Compare to the HD7770 you are considering.

http://www.hwcompare.com/11925/radeon-hd-6850-vs-radeon... compare of HD7770 to HD6850. 6850 wins.

(you linked the 600w PSU twcie, did you mean the first one to be an ASUS video card?)


Since you didn't answer my last reply, I'll try once again. So, will my 300W PSU handle the additional RAM, CPU, and GPU? No troubles with performance or even damaging them? And I don't understand the 6-pin part. Since obviously the ASUS Radeon HD 7770 doesn't come with a connector, do I need to buy one?
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August 18, 2012 2:06:21 AM

Yes, I believe a 300w PSU can handle RAM, CPU, MB, USB devices and GPU. I think I pointed you to one example of a person running that configuration. It's what I would do rather than putting in a new PSU. However it's your decision, use the evidence you have and make it.

Unplug and open your PC. Look at where you'll be adding the video card. Watch a few videos of people installing graphics cards on youtube. Get comfortable. Then look at your current power connectors coming from the power supply. I suspect you do not have a six pin PCIe connector. If you do not have a six pin connector then you will need to buy an adapter that will convert some of the power wires you do have to a 6 pin. Most people have spare MOLEX (LP4) connectors. Look at the picture of this adapter. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Do you have two free of the white four pin adapters? Then you can convert molex to 6 pin PCIe using this adapter.

If you have a sata connector free you could also convert that to 6pin using a sata to 6 pin convertor. there's one on Amazon. you would use this adapter instead of the molex-to-pcie adapter.
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August 18, 2012 2:50:34 AM

tsnor said:
Yes, I believe a 300w PSU can handle RAM, CPU, MB, USB devices and GPU. I think I pointed you to one example of a person running that configuration. It's what I would do rather than putting in a new PSU. However it's your decision, use the evidence you have and make it.

Unplug and open your PC. Look at where you'll be adding the video card. Watch a few videos of people installing graphics cards on youtube. Get comfortable. Then look at your current power connectors coming from the power supply. I suspect you do not have a six pin PCIe connector. If you do not have a six pin connector then you will need to buy an adapter that will convert some of the power wires you do have to a 6 pin. Most people have spare MOLEX (LP4) connectors. Look at the picture of this adapter. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Do you have two free of the white four pin adapters? Then you can convert molex to 6 pin PCIe using this adapter.

If you have a sata connector free you could also convert that to 6pin using a sata to 6 pin convertor. there's one on Amazon. you would use this adapter instead of the molex-to-pcie adapter.


After I sent in my last post. I straightaway thought of opening up my desktop. So I did, I found some new details. First, the PSU was a AcBel HBA008-ZA1GT 350, but the total wattage was 286.4. This brand is unreliable. So, what PSU would you recommend that would work perfectly with no troubles whatsoever, and a REALLY reliable brand that has the 6-pin connector?
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August 19, 2012 9:46:31 PM

Dj510O said:
...This brand is unreliable. So, what PSU would you recommend that would work perfectly with no troubles whatsoever, and a REALLY reliable brand that has the 6-pin connector?...


This is a good one. CORSAIR Builder Series CX430 V2 (CMPSU-430CXV2) 430W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply -- $24.99 after $20.00 rebate(s) (if you believe in rabates or $45 if you are like me). http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This is another good one with good reviews. Antec VP-450 450W ATX 12V v2.3 Power Supply $40 shipped. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

p.s. I'm very glad you posted "...The 6850 consumes more power and approximately costs the same as a 7770, but the 7770 has a little better FPS. For example, see this benchmark: http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] 135-6.html So I'd stick with the 7770..." in my mind the HD7770 was comparable to 6770, and the 6850 was substantially stronger. However this benchmark says that's not true. I was surprised.



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August 20, 2012 6:02:58 AM

I was actually planning on getting that CORSAIR PSU. Well, everything is planned and so I'll try to get everything ASAP. May I suggest that you sum everything up in a single reply so I may select it as the best answer. This will help others who are in the same situation.
Thanks for helping me on everything! I'll probably come back to this post in the future and leave a short review and how it performs.
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