personally, i'd ditch vista, first and foremost. go for windows 7 64 bit. your graphics card is good enough to run BF3 on low-mid settings getting low (but steady) FPS (i had one in a stock machine quite a while back, it seemed to be OK).
your biggest bottleneck will be your CPU from what I can see, so you would most likely be looking at a new MoBo/CPU combo (new ram also). even a budget one will help massively. what's your price range and i will see what i can find for you when i have a moment.
No, his video card. I run on my e6750 3.4Ghz a 5770 witch is notably faster than the 4850 and i can play the game with 2Gb of RAM. Well the CPU is also a part of the problem. Try to think of a new motherboard, RAM and CPU. Find a budget and get back to us with some numbers. Or upgrade the video card first. I did that back when i had the 2600xt and the core i cpu's ware out.
I also recommend to forget about vista and move to windows 7. First of all that operating system is slowing down your PC. Win 7 is less buggy and uses less resources. After installing windows 7 try to run the game again and let us know if there is any improvement.
EDIT: it appears that the "motherboard" word is linked. That is not what i recommend!
You could upgrade part by part until you have a new motherboard. I would overclock your CPU first. Like ionut19 side, go with Windows 7x64 (you need it to run more than 4GB of memory). Then you could get a new gpu and see how it runs. Last, you could upgrade the cpu/motherboard/memory. It all depends on your budget.
Test your rig with GPUZ, FRAPS and task manager to see how things are running while you game.
Yeah, I would recommend getting a secondhand GTX 480 on the cheap. I got mine for £90 and can easily run Battlefield 3 on ultra settings with everything max. Windows Vista is an inefficient OS and I would make it my top priority to upgrade it, either buying it or someplace else. Ram sticks are simple to install anyway, you don't have to upgrade all at once.
I'm unsure about my budget. If I have to get a new CPU, I'd most likely have to get a new motherboard. It'll probably be hard to find one that'll fit in my cabinet. So that's already one reason to buy a new machine instead.
I think getting Win 7 might be an option. Task manager shows that almost 50% of my RAM is being used, and that's while I'm not doing anything on the computer. I'm guessing it's Vista that takes up most of it.
It doesn't look like I'll be able to upgrade online, but will have to buy a hardcopy of Win 7. Which isn't exactly cheap either.
I know it might not be very realistic, but my upgrade budget would be around 3-400$.
If I'm going over that, I guess I might as well wait for some time, and throw a thousand more, into getting a whole new machine instead.
But again, I'm a complete noob, so I'm just guessing.
well grandfishy, the installation of a new motherboard demands a new installation of Windows, so unless you have the vista disc, it's something you have to account for either way.
if you can spring for it... http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?I...
doesn't include an OS, but it is an entirely new build that will bring you well up to scratch (including putting your existing graphics card in there. people that are saying that is the bottleneck, don't say that unless you have owned one. they are better than you think)
so that system, plus your existing hard drive and graphics card... maybe you know a guy who can help you out with setting it all up and the OS.
Since you gave us the numbers my recommendation is to wait and buy a hole new PC from scratch.
What PSU do you have and what case?
Based on that you could start with a new video card. A 7950 from AMD or 660ti from Nvidia can be purchased for 300$. A new PSU should cost you around 100$.
For example CORSAIR Professional Series HX650 650W is 120$, but that is just an example. You don't need such a good PSU, something like 500-600w for around 80$ would suffice for your new build for a single video card, but as always, better is better.
Overclocking that CPU might give you a little advantage until you get the rest of the components.
I wrote this presuming you can buy the rest of your PC soon, not after the summer is gone.
If not, get a win7 copy with those money and upgrade to a new PC when you have the rest of the money.