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Upcoming build, looking for opinions or thoughts.

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December 14, 2012 4:49:09 PM

Hey everyone, I won't be buying anything else until next year but just wanted to see if anyone had some knowledge to share or opinions.

Parts are arriving soon, this will be my first build from the ground up. I have replaced everything before except the motherboard and the hard drive. Any advice is welcome for how to build, I have read a few tutorials and plan to use the ones posted on this website.

Short history: I bought this computer about 4 years ago from a local computer shop and they built it as a budget gaming machine. I had some input on the parts and they did the assembly. 2 years ago I decided I could do "stage" upgrades each year and incrementally have a "newer" machine each year. My goal is each year to spend about ~200 bucks on upgrades.
So, I upgraded the power supply two years ago to either a 750 or 900w I am not home right now so the details are lacking there.

Last year I bought the current cpu, heat sink, and some fans for my ram (they were on sale and I am considering oc'ing stuff). This year are the big upgrades, I am changing out the mobo and adding a ssd hard drive, and a "new" gpu.
Details:
Current setup:

750-900W power supply (will update this later)
mobo being replaced -Asus M3N78VM specifications
CPU - AMD Phenom II X4 925 Deneb 2.8GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor HDX925WFK4DGM - OEM
Heatsink - ZALMAN CNPS9900MAX-B 135mm Long life bearing CPU Cooler Blue LED
RAM fan - Kingston HyperX KHX-FAN-B Fans
RAM being replaced - 2 x 2 gb sticks of ram ddr2
HDD being replaced but possibly a slave? - Western Digital 500GB 5400RPM 16MB CACHE SATA/300 (best guess, the rpm might be different, but not 7200)
DVD/CD that is good enough for me, can't remember its specs. My needs on this are met as long as it works, lol.
Network card bought it for fun to see if it was better than my mobo connection - Intel EXPI9301CTBLK 10/ 100/ 1000Mbps PCI-Express Network Adapter
GeForce 9800 GT 512MB DDR3 256-bit 600 MHz PCI-E 2.0 SLI DirectX 10 Video Card (unsure of manufacture, can update later)

Ok, out with the old and in with the new.
Upcoming build:
I am replacing the mobo and ram, adding a ssd, and a new gpu

New mobo - GIGABYTE GA-970A-UD3 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
New RAM - (got it for buying the mobo from newegg) - G.SKILL Sniper 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBSR
New SSD - Crucial M4 CT128M4SSD1 2.5" 128GB SATA III MLC 7mm Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
New GPU - EVGA 01G-P3-N988-TR GeForce 9800 GT HDMI 1GB 256-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

I need any advice on whether I can tie the new gpu with the old gpu. I was not sure if having a 1GB would make a difference from the 512mb original, but that original card is old and I have already taken it apart to grease the bearings last year.

I am planning to use my old 500 gb hard drive as extra storage since I have a lot of games...any tips on how to do this? I have found some articles already but if you feel like answering then I will definitely read what you have to say.

Any thoughts on this build? Next year I am buying a new gpu, so it will probably be whatever is popular right now. What would you buy if money were no issue and it would work with this set up. Is the 2.0 pci slot a limiting factor on my mobo?

How would you plan to incrementally upgrade this build, or would you abandon ship and save for 2-3 years and buy all brand new? Feel free to give rough criticism if it is constructive, I tend to buy based on newegg sales with minimal research to just check if the parts are compatible.

--
Jason

"I'm glad I did it, partly because it was worth it, but mostly because I shall never have to do it again." -- Mark Twain
a b B Homebuilt system
December 14, 2012 5:08:12 PM

I'm not sure what you're wanting to accomplish with this upgrade. It looks like you're spending a lot of money that will not readily translate into increased performance (except for the SSD; that you will definitely notice).
With a new mobo, you will likely also need to buy a new copy of Windows. You do want Windows 7 if you'll be installing a SSD, to get TRIM support.
The biggest place you're wasting money is by getting another 9800GT. That is not a strong card by today's standards. Get a single HD7770, GTX560, or GTX650Ti; they should at least equal the performance of a pair of 9800GT cards in SLI, and likely exceed it.
I'm not really sure what the new mobo does for you either, particularly when compared to other choices. A Pentium G860 on a H77 mobo will outperform your current CPU in games. If you really want to OC at some point, get a Z77 mobo; you still can't really OC the Pentium, but it opens the door on a "K" series chip as a future upgrade.

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December 14, 2012 5:21:30 PM

Onus said:
I'm not sure what you're wanting to accomplish with this upgrade. It looks like you're spending a lot of money that will not readily translate into increased performance (except for the SSD; that you will definitely notice).
With a new mobo, you will likely also need to buy a new copy of Windows. You do want Windows 7 if you'll be installing a SSD, to get TRIM support.
The biggest place you're wasting money is by getting another 9800GT. That is not a strong card by today's standards. Get a single HD7770, GTX560, or GTX650Ti; they should at least equal the performance of a pair of 9800GT cards in SLI, and likely exceed it.
I'm not really sure what the new mobo does for you either, particularly when compared to other choices. A Pentium G860 on a H77 mobo will outperform your current CPU in games. If you really want to OC at some point, get a Z77 mobo; you still can't really OC the Pentium, but it opens the door on a "K" series chip as a future upgrade.


Onus, thank you for the quick response. I agree with you, kind of a random upgrade. I bought the motherboard because I saw it would go with the cpu I already have and it was 90 bucks and included the ram. My guess was I could buy an AM3+ cpu next year along with a legitimate graphics card. I do have a new copy of windows 7 ultimate via my school so no worries there with the new ssd, will be in school for a few more years so the license will be good.

On the gpu, my thought process was, I had 50 bucks left and that card was new and slightly improved from my original. I thought it might be fun to experiment with the sli linking and worst case scenario I was thinking about using it along with my old old parts to have a second "experiemental" computer. I kept the cpu and other parts from last years upgrades.

So if I bought a new gpu/cpu combo with this setup, what do you think would give the best performance if money were no factor? Those you mentioned? The HD7770, GTX560, or GTX650Ti?

Thank you again for taking the time to answer, I know this is kind of a learning conversation for me.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 14, 2012 5:29:07 PM

A lot would depend on price. Any of those are much stronger than a single 9800GT. I've been generally happy with the HD7770 in my backup rig, but the GTX560 should be a little stronger. As a student, will you be using any applications that benefit from GPGPU processing? If so, avoid the GTX650Ti, which has crippled compute performance (even though it is stronger than the HD7770 in games); choose either of the other two.
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December 14, 2012 5:37:31 PM

Onus said:
A lot would depend on price. Any of those are much stronger than a single 9800GT. I've been generally happy with the HD7770 in my backup rig, but the GTX560 should be a little stronger. As a student, will you be using any applications that benefit from GPGPU processing? If so, avoid the GTX650Ti, which has crippled compute performance (even though it is stronger than the HD7770 in games); choose either of the other two.


Right now, I think I am stuck with the 50 bucks I spent on the 9800GT. I really don't want to give up the ssd, would I have been better off staying with the old mobo/ram and getting a better gpu instead?

I use this computer pretty much just for games and web browsing/youtube. I run some budget software and office software probably 10% of the time with 25% on the web and 65% gaming lotro, swtor, & steam games.

Any thoughts on connecting the two drives? I don't want to format my original just yet, once the ssd is running fine I plan to get data off the old drive then re-format it. I have a device that I can use to connect the drive to usb, should I just leave it like that and not mess with slaving it internally?
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 14, 2012 5:54:50 PM

Since you are getting a new mobo, you will need to re-install Windows. While it can sometimes be possible (especially with Windows 7 compared to XP) to get a drive with another system's drivers on it to boot, there's generally a messy cleanup process, and it may never be right. A fresh installation onto the SSD is really the best way to go. You do not need to format your HDD. Just remove it temporarily. Perform your fresh install onto the SSD, then add the HDD back to be a data drive. Make sure the Hard Drive and/or boot priority in your BIOS selects the SSD ahead of the HDD.
Especially since it came with 8GB of RAM, the new mobo isn't such a bad idea. It does give you at least a few upgrade options (it may take a Vishera CPU), and it should have SATA 6Gb/s and USB3.0 ports on it.
If your games are mostly older and you've been happy with the 9800GT, continue to enjoy it. You'll be able to upgrade your graphics card later.
Edit: What brand and model (not just wattage) is your PSU?
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December 14, 2012 6:07:10 PM

Onus said:
Since you are getting a new mobo, you will need to re-install Windows. While it can sometimes be possible (especially with Windows 7 compared to XP) to get a drive with another system's drivers on it to boot, there's generally a messy cleanup process, and it may never be right. A fresh installation onto the SSD is really the best way to go. You do not need to format your HDD. Just remove it temporarily. Perform your fresh install onto the SSD, then add the HDD back to be a data drive. Make sure the Hard Drive and/or boot priority in your BIOS selects the SSD ahead of the HDD.
Especially since it came with 8GB of RAM, the new mobo isn't such a bad idea. It does give you at least a few upgrade options (it may take a Vishera CPU), and it should have SATA 6Gb/s and USB3.0 ports on it.
If your games are mostly older and you've been happy with the 9800GT, continue to enjoy it. You'll be able to upgrade your graphics card later.
Edit: What brand and model (not just wattage) is your PSU?


That is good news on my HDD, I had trouble getting a straight answer for that one. The sources I read were saying the original hdd would need a re-format. I will install the ssd like you suggest and then add the hdd after everything is running well, definitely making sure the boot priority is correct.

You have me thinking though, my b'day is around the corner. I might just send the 9800 gt back and see if I can scrounge another 100 bucks for one of those cards you suggest. I am not familiar with Vishera CPU, will check that out.

I want to say my psu is an ocz? I will get the stats on it tonight when I get home and edit my post. I do remember when I bought it, I went overboard knowing I would do future upgrades.

Edit: Ok, I was looking at that partspicker site (wow wish I had found this earlier)... Anyways, saw my PSU it is the OCZ Fatal1ty 750W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply

Put my build into parts picker
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 14, 2012 7:47:18 PM

Ok, I just wanted to make sure it wasn't a Diablotek or some other Chokemax brand that would die under load and kill your system. It's fine.
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