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Upgrade priority for a self built, 1 year old gaming PC?

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November 11, 2012 11:30:34 AM

Okay, so I built myself a(gaming) PC a year ago.
Specs:
CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 640(3.0ghz)
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-870A-USB3
GPU: ATI(AMD) Radeon HD 5770
RAM: 4 GB DDR3
Display: 19" 4:3 1280x1024
HDD: 1 Samsung HD103SJ 1TB, 1 old fujitsu 140gb drive I got for free
PSU: 550W, Chieftec

Problem is, most newer games are 20-40 FPS in medium-high, which means I probably want a new GPU. Or should i add a few fans and OC the GPU, or even get a HD 5870/HD 6870?
Or should I add more ram? Bigger display?
The possibilities are almost endless.
But as a middle school student I am low on funds, so what do you guys think would be the upgrades this PC needs most(or none at all)?
November 11, 2012 3:13:16 PM

I would say get a 6870 first of all, that should boost your performance the most right off the bat. After that, I would save for a newer CPU, and try to get one with at least 3.7ghz clock speed (sorry, don't know AMD cpu's other than they general need higher clocks for the same performance). If a new CPU is out of the question, grab a CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo CPU fan (it fits your socket type) and OC your CPU to around 3.5 if you can. There should be a nice bit of headroom if you put that cooler on (assuming the CPU multiplier is unlocked), since I was able to OC my i5 2500k from 3.7 to 4.5 easily and not ever go over 60* C. Overall, at your resolution (and almost any resolution really), 4gb of RAM is plenty as long as it is 1600 or better. If yours is only 1333, that might be something to look into after a 6870 and a CPU cooler to overclock.
November 11, 2012 3:19:28 PM

4:3 isn't great for gaming, either. Invest in something 16:10 and if you can't find one in your price range, 16:9. Games are designed to run in some sort of widescreen format nowadays, you're holding yourself back playing in a 4:3 setup.
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November 11, 2012 5:12:34 PM

nbelote said:
4:3 isn't great for gaming, either. Invest in something 16:10 and if you can't find one in your price range, 16:9. Games are designed to run in some sort of widescreen format nowadays, you're holding yourself back playing in a 4:3 setup.

And in theory, 1280x720 should run better than 1280x1024?
But anyways, what would be good size and model(low funds here)?
a c 83 B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
November 11, 2012 6:58:06 PM

I suspect that your most pressing need is a graphics card upgrade.

To help clarify your options, run these two tests:

a) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics configuration.
If your FPS stays the same, you are likely cpu limited.

b) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 50%.
This will simulate what a lack of cpu power will do.


Go to control panel/power options/change plan settings/change advanced power settings/processor power management/maximum processor state/
set to 50% and see how you do.


If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.
November 12, 2012 10:20:19 AM

geofelt said:
I suspect that your most pressing need is a graphics card upgrade.

To help clarify your options, run these two tests:

a) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics configuration.
If your FPS stays the same, you are likely cpu limited.

b) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 50%.
This will simulate what a lack of cpu power will do.


Go to control panel/power options/change plan settings/change advanced power settings/processor power management/maximum processor state/
set to 50% and see how you do.


If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.

But do you know, which game should i use?
(Some games are terribly unoptimised)
a c 83 B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
November 12, 2012 12:35:33 PM

AwesomeAssassin said:
But do you know, which game should i use?
(Some games are terribly unoptimised)


If you mostly play one, try that one first.
Otherwise, see what happens with a selection of different games.
I think that it will yield the same results across the board.
November 13, 2012 2:14:31 PM

geofelt said:
If you mostly play one, try that one first.
Otherwise, see what happens with a selection of different games.
I think that it will yield the same results across the board.

Okay, ive done the benchmark on Total War: Shogun 2.
Since the game needs to display 1000s of individuals on the battlefield, game allows you to set unit scale
I set it to low.
(On scale:low-medium):65 FPS
(On lowest possible): 123 FPS
so i think my CPU is not the bottleneck, am i right?
!