What can I upgrade?
I just finished upgrading my PSU and graphics card to a Corsair 430 W and a Radeon 6850 from this original pre-build:http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?cc=us&lc=en&dlc=en&docname=c03154290 I want to know what I can upgrade now to make games such as Skyrim, Diablo 3, Crysis 2, BF3, and other newer games on maxed settings. I know how to do the actual upgrading, but I am unsure on which parts will work well together. I would like to keep the budget reasonable, by getting a good value, but other than that I am open to suggestions!
Video = hd6850 = good
Cpu = fx6100 = not great for gaming but OK
MB = AMD 970 chipset
Mem = 10GB
Disk = 5400 rpm 1.5TB
Not much you can really upgrade here. The Max cpu upgrade on that MB currently supported by BIOS is FX-8150. That will give you a bump, but not a huge bump.
Swapping out both the processor and MB would let you get to a faster intel i5 processor, but that upgrade essentially throws away your current computer. You'd be better off selling the current rig and building a new one based on your new PSU and video plus new MB and CPU.
You have plenty of memory. 4GB is minimum for gaming. You have 10gb. adding more would not change performance.
Your disk is large and SLOW. But slow disk doesn;t hurt gaming, it hurts boot times. Going to an SSD for boot is doable and will make a difference for boot times. A 240GB SSD drive is around $160. You'd use it in addition to your current drive. Note ssds fail often, get a good backup strategy.
Your video is an excellent card, better than my gtx260. However spending more money in video would have been the most obvious path to getting higher game frame rates. Not sure the hd6850 can pull max settings on the games listed. Have you tried a mild overclock of the 6850 ?
Not sure how to overclock but I heard it can ruin your CPU. Is that correct? Sadly I can't max out settings on skyrim without getting under 20 fps so I am playing on custom medium-high settings at around 50. Another weird thing was that Binding of Isaac doesn't even run well and it is a flash game. Thanks for help by the way!
You will not be able to overclock your CPU. The HP bios will not support a processor overclock. The video card, the 6850, can be overclocked fairly safely by the AMD overdrive tool. You installed overdrive when you installed the 6850's video driver.
If you suspect you are not getting full performance from your PC then run the windows experience index and compare with other hd6850s / fx6100s. If those numbers look bad then post. (google will find you sites that post results)
Overclocking is not totally safe, nor is running your card at all.
Electronics have a failure rate that is a function of how long the part is used and the temp and voltage used to operate it.
The failure rate of things like video cards is very high for the first few hours of operation, then settles down to a nice low rate for the next 50K hours or so then start to rise again. Some electronics (e.g. the network card in a mainframe) are rated at 100K plus hours before the failure rate starts to rise again.
By overclocking (upping the frequency) you can get more work out of the video card but you also get higher temps and sometimes higher voltages. Both reduce the number of hours before the probability of failure rises.
Even though an overclock increases the risk that the part will fail, the risk of failure is always there. Many video cards run the fan slowly to minimize noise. The fan speed is adjustable on most cards. I set the fan speed higher than factory on my video card to keep the card under 70C when its overclocked. Other people in a hot case with default fan speeds could run over 70C without the overclock.
Read wikipedia on overclocking although its not one of the better wiki articles IMO. Read the help on AMD overdrive. Overclocking is one way to see if you are video limited or CPU limited.
Note: Some of the games you reference look to be 2D games. 2D (vs. 3D) is generally not more accelerated by an expensive card video card like 6850 than a cheap card.