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Budget Upgrade Question

Last response: in CPUs
December 28, 2012 10:51:08 AM

I've been tinkering with PC's since the days of my dad's Commodore 64. My first build was about 14 years ago... I believe it was a Pentium II, 3DFX Voodoo 2, 1 GB ram, Creative Sounblaster and a 60GB HDD. In 2002 I built a Pentium 4 build with similar attributes, only slightly better. In 2005, I moved on to Dual Core CPU's and built my first AMD build. It consisted of a Athlon 64 X2 5000+ 2.4Ghz CPU, ATI Radeon 9800 XT, 2 GB RAM, 500GB HDD, Creative Soundblaster Audigy.

I still use that rig to this day, with the exception of an upgraded GPU (NVIDIA 9800 GT), 4 GB ram, and upgraded sound card for sound design(EMU 0404 PCIe). I have refreshed/replaced HDD's throughout the years, finding that if I rebuild the OS and keep the HDD's clean, it runs smooth enough to do what I do.

What I use my PC for is "once in a blue moon gaming" which means... I might find a game that catches my interest once in a blue moon and I want to be able to play that game, but usually lose interest (or time) very quickly. The majority of what I do is using the Adobe Creative Suite for Photo Editing, Sony Vegas 12 for Video Editing, and Sound Design/Mixing with Sony Acid Pro with massive VST (Omnisphere, Battery 3) and plugins that require a lot of processing power and memory.

Besides that, I just use it for internet purposes.

My question is, I have $185 budget. (I know it's extremely low, but it's kind of an experiment to see if I can only use my Amazon gift cards.) I am trying to do this without spending any of my own cash, basically, but if I have to spend a little, then no big deal.

I am looking to start a new build, that I can use right away, but I want something I can build upon over the next 5 years or so.

Right now, my rig is pretty much maxed out. I could upgrade to 8GB of RAM and get the fastest Athlon X2 and a faster GPU and the fastest HDD my motherboard can handle, but ultimately, I'm looking at how much that costs, versus, just buying a new MOBO/CPU/RAM to build on that.

So far, I've got it narrowed down to two different builds:

Build 1:

Corsair 8GB (1x8GB) DDR3 1333 MHz (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory

MSI Computer Corp. AMD 760G Micro ATX DDR3 1333 AM3+ Motherboard

AMD Phenom II X4 965 AM3 3.4Ghz

I have $185 Amazon Gift Card credit and this basic setup puts me at $6 over budget. The shipping will be free and I have Prime, so it'll get here quickly. I plan on just wiping one of my extra SATA HDD's, using an existing 500 watt PSU, and placing my EMU soundcard and NVIDIA 9800 GT into this build. I will upgrade GPU's later and likely get more RAM down the line, but right now is not the time.

Anyway, I am skeptical about this build, only because it's been so long since I built my last rig and technology changes every 6 months. I don't need the FASTEST computer, but rather, I just need something that is going to perform exponentially better than my current system. Is it worth it to upgrade? Will I see a difference?

Also, the other build was similarly priced, but it was an AMD A8-3870k CPU build. I don't know much about APU's, but it seems like a gimmick to me. Maybe I'm just behind on times, but I feel like the Phenom II X4 will perform better when paired with an actual GPU.

Anyway, after all this mumbo jumbo, I guess I just want to know if I'm selecting the best basic peripherals for the money. Will I see a performance difference? Will a 500watt PSU handle this build?

Again, I will eventually upgrade my RAM and GPU or other things I decide on later, so this isn't my final build, but considering my current dual core/4GB build I'm working on, it's an upgrade.

*I am running a dual boot OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit and Windows XP for certain things. I will likely only run W7 on the new build.
December 28, 2012 11:11:57 AM

i dont know much about the motherboard but ur memory and cpu is really good(phenom ii) just one thing it would be better if u could pay a little more and get a amd fx 4300 it has a better memory controller and its a litlle faster too
ur psu is more than enough for now but its good if u want to upgrade anything in future
from a pentium 2 u will see a hugee difference
December 28, 2012 11:18:29 AM

Thanks. I don't overclock or anything, so as long as the peripherals all go on the motherboard and it works, then to me, it's a "good mobo" and it serves it's purpose. I don't look too much into reviews, because I know that most reviews are from people that either don't know what they're doing or they got a DOA which says absolutely nothing about the performance of a working version.

Also, I am actually upgrading from an Athlon 64 X2 to the Phenom X4. I included a lot of info at the top, so not confuse anyone.

So, is going from Dual Core to Quad Core that much of a difference? I will likely max out the Memory to 32GB over the next year, but 8GB is fine to start for me.