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Upgrade or scrap? Homebuilt multi-use PC on $500 - $800

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September 27, 2012 6:32:22 AM

I am looking for some general feedback on whether I should upgrade the PC I built back in 2007 or simply scrap it and start over / buy a prebuilt machine. I'm definitely leaning pretty heavily towards the upgrade route, however, it almost seems that so much needs to be upgraded it might be better to just start fresh rather than fight with it.

I've done a good bit of research already, picked the majority of the upgrade parts, and I'm fairly confident in my parts matching / hardware installation skills. However I'm not as skilled in the software aspect of building and things like installing a new OS, configuring BIOS, and potentially re-jiggering my raid configuration tend to give me pause. I had a good bit of help with my original build from a friend who works in IT, and he pretty much handled that aspect of it.

Approximate Purchase Date: Within a month

Budget Range: $500 - $800

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Multitasking, Music, Movies, Surfing the internet, Being awesome.

Are you buying a monitor: No, or at least not right away. Will be sticking with my current one for a bit.

Parts to Upgrade: CPU, Mobo, RAM, GPU, 1 Optical drive, HDD (possibly, but maybe not)

Do you need to buy OS: Yes

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg.com / Amazon.com But I'm not terribly picky if I can save a few bucks!

Location: City, State/Region, Country: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU, Asus Mobo, Nvidia GPU

Overclocking: Most likely not, but it's a possibility.

SLI or Crossfire: Again, most likely not, but would be nice to have as an option in the future.

Your Monitor Resolution: 1440x900 with my current monitor. Obviously would be nice to have the capability to go higher in the future, when I upgrade the monitor.

Additional Comments: My PC is fairly quiet now, and it'd be nice to keep it that way. But basically I want my PC to be quick and efficient with everyday tasks, and still be able to run most current games very well. I like to do multiple tasks simultaneously, such as gaming, listening to music, and surfing the web. Also, obviously, I'd like the upgrades to last reasonably well for another 5 years. I don't need top of the line, but I don't want something that I won't be able to keep at least relatively current/competitive either.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: I'm upgrading primarily because, well, it's just time to do it. Almost 6 years is a pretty good run for a PC, I think, especially given the massive advancements in the past 5 years. My current processor is obviously hilariously underpowered and has trouble even performing basic daily tasks at times. My GPU also clearly can't handle most of today's games, not even Borderlands 2, which is not very graphically intense in comparison to a lot of other current titles. So upgrading the CPU and GPU means upgrading the Mobo and RAM, and might as well throw in a few extras while I'm at it, huh?


I figure it might be easier to get the whole picture if I just lay out everything in my original build, along with the proposed upgrades. Components marked with an asterisk are those I plan to upgrade, everything else will be reused for the new build.

Original 2007 Build
Case: Antec Performance One P180 Silver cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
*Motherboard: ASUS P5N-E SLI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard
*CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 Conroe 2.13GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor
*GPU: EVGA 512-P2-N635-AR GeForce 7950GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support KO HDCP Video Card
*RAM: Kingston HyperX 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model
PSU: Antec True Power Trio TP3-550 550W ATX12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply
*HDD: Seagate Barracuda 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive (x2 in raid0)
*Optical: Sony Optiarc Black IDE DVD-ROM Drive (Eject mechanism no longer functions)
Optical: SAMSUNG 18X DVD±R DVD Burner With 12X DVD-RAM Write Black E-IDE/ATAPI
Floppy: NEC Black 1.44MB 3.5" Internal Floppy Drive
Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card
Monitor: SAMSUNG 941BW Black 19" 4ms (GTG) Widescreen LCD Monitor
*OS: Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2b 1pk - OEM

Proposed Upgrades ( http://pcpartpicker.com/p/iFwc )
Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-V LK ATX LGA1155 Motherboard
CPU: Intel Core i5-3450 3.1GHz Quad-Core Processor
GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 560 1GB Video Card
RAM: Kingston HyperX 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory (x2)
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
Optical Drive: Asus DVDE818A7T/BLK/B/GEN CD Reader, DVD Writer
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit)

I should add that I'm also considering the idea of keeping my current HDD configuration and adding an SSD to handle the OS and act as a boot drive. Although that is something that I know absolutely nothing about haha!

If anyone sees anything wrong, or has any general thoughts, suggestions, or advice it would be greatly appreciated!
I do apologize for how long this became, but I always like to be as thorough as possible.
Thanks in advance for all your help, time, and consideration!
September 27, 2012 7:27:29 AM

Might wanna consider an i5-3550 since the 3450 will be pulled out in a few months.
The GPU is.. for the lack of words, horrible. There are cards out there in the same price range that are way better.
Some good examples would be among the 6870, 6950, or if you can spare a few more cash, a 7850.
The RAM is bad as well running at 1.65v, please find one that's at most 1.5v.
September 27, 2012 7:31:32 AM

All seem sensible choices. Only couple of things, I might consider. Although you have decent PSU, if it's 5 years old, perhaps change it. You don't want that dying a year into new components, and taking some of them, with it. Would be nice, if funds allow, to use latest generation graphics card, eg GTX 660, or Radeon HD7850/7870.
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September 28, 2012 7:12:51 AM

Thanks very much for the replies!

I was going largely with this month's "Best CPU for the Money" article from tom's in choosing the 3450, and it seemed like a pretty good budget deal. I've looked into it a bit, and it looks like I can get a 3570K for like $20 or so more with a combo from newegg.

Asus P8Z77-V LK/ Intel Core i5 3570K combo

Again, I was going with toms "best GPU for the money" article in the GTX 560. I guess I might be able to justify to myself the extra cost of a 660ti since it looks like I can get one for around $230 (only about double what I was originally thinking haha) after all rebates, including the $60 for Nvidia's free Borderlands 2 promotion, which I plan on buying anyway.

EVGA SuperClocked GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB

I'll be honest, I don't really know much about memory voltage, or why 1.65v vs 1.5v would be bad. But I did find some comparable stuff at 1.5v for pretty much the same price.

Kingston HyperX Blu 16GB (2 x 8GB) XMP

As for the power supply, I'm pretty sure I'll be alright, at least initially. It looks like my power usage should still be well under the 550W rating. Once I get everything set up and start paying for it, I'll probably start looking around for a new PSU then.

Thanks again for all your time and input. Anything more to be offered would once again be greatly appreciated!
September 28, 2012 9:42:33 AM

All seem reasonable choices. The 660Ti performance gives huge step up from 560. The twin fan ones are better than the EVGA (not that that's bad). MSI twin fanned OC version is particularly good, if at a sensible price. I've not used the HyperX RAM, so not sure how good it is. Corsair do LP RAM, or Crucial Ballistic Sport, or GSKill Ares. Ideally, you want to keep to 1.5v, or below, and Cas9, or below. If you use Amazon, it can be easier to fight your way through part numbers, and easy to see what you're getting.
September 28, 2012 9:45:52 AM

PS
Don't forget, if you are getting the "K" processor, and plan you overclock it, you will need aftermarket cooler (CoolerMaster Hyper 212Evo is good low cost choice), and you MUST use low profile RAM.
!