[Upgrade] Advice for Upgrading


I'm interested in upgrading either my GPU or CPU (or both). I'd like to spend under $120. I'm buying no other parts.

What I have:

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 5400+ (2008)
GPU: Nividia GeForce 9400 GT (2008)

I'm looking to achieve better graphics for my games (like Black Mesa, Guild Wars 2, Skyrim).

I'm not sure if I should upgrade one or the other. There are waaaaaaaaaaaay too many choices and ups and downs to each item.

I think I need a new GPU, because my 9400 is from 2008; I also read that 9400 isn't a good gaming card and that it bottleneck's decent processors. When I run a game in low graphics, I gain frames - When I lower the resolution from 1600x900 to 1360x768 (in Guild Wars) I gain some frames.

I may have overclocked my CPU before; it's running at 3.0 Ghz, when it's default is 2.8 Ghz. I can run most anything rather quickly. Things like opening windows, browsers, load times, and movies all load fast.

I've done a lot of research to explore my possibilities, but it's hard to find a cookie-cutter answer.

I've read it said that if frames are gained when graphics are lowered, then it is a GPU issue. Then I read something about... another test to check to see if there is a CPU issue. Though, I cannot recall the facts.

Now, what I'm thinking... is that my CPU is alright, it's Dual Core @ 3.0Ghz - runs all my games well on low/med graphics, lags on high graphics. Moreover, my GPU used to be a good one - but from what I've gathered, it's not that compelling of a video card.

What I'm interested in is considering either upgrading the CPU or GPU.
I have some products in mind:

AMD Athlon II X2 270 Regor 3.4GHz
$55. Here is a cheap and decent CPU I found.

SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 6570 1GB
$50. This GPU is a good one. The non-sapphire and others that are 256/512 GB lack good scores over this 1.0 GB brother.

ZOTAC GeForce GT 240 512MB
$40. This GPU here is supposedly a good one (being GT 240) - it was ranked alongside Radeon 6570 in the Graphics Card Hierarchy Chart

Here is a theoretical test of both the Radeon 6570 1GB (probably non-sapphire) versus GeForce GT 240 512GB:
GeForce GT 240 GDDR5 vs Radeon HD 6570 (OEM) 1GB

I'll be continually checking this page for replies, so be thorough. Note that I'm not rolling in dough or able to buy high-end or "latest" products. For instance, if my 2008 Athlon 64 X2 processor model is working strong enough, then it's age isn't a major hindrance. Then again, picking up a video card from '09 or '10 that is a great improvement is well worth the effect.

Thank you.
14 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about upgrade advice upgrading
  1. Is your motherboard able to take AM3 processors? The 5400+ is an AM2.
  2. Yes it is, I believe it's special in that manner. I haven't saved that information, but I can find it again.


    My Motherboard. ASUS M3A78
    AMD® AM2/AM2+ CPU Support up to 140W

    From Wikipedia:
    AMD confirmed that there is an upgrade path from Socket AM2+ to AM3:
    AM3 processors work on AM2+ motherboards due to the presence of both the DDR2 and DDR3 memory controllers on the processor

    (Source: Wikipedia Socket AM2+)
  3. Perfect, I was hoping you had an AM2+. Love those boards.

    Yes, you would be able to run an AM3 then, but what games are you planning on running?
  4. Yes, I've grown fond of the thing.
    I'm interested in either needing to upgrade my GPU and/or my CPU.
    I said I'm looking to achieve better graphics for my games (like Black Mesa, Guild Wars 2, Skyrim).
  5. Right now running Guild Wars 2 in 1360x768, with medium shadows and medium shaders, medium textures, and Native rendering (as opposed to the lesser Subsample and the greater Supersample) I'm getting about 18-26 fps out in the open world. It drops to like 13-18, or so, in populated cities. I could run more tests.
  6. The first thing I would upgrade is the graphics. That Athlon is not going to give you much of an upgrade. You may as well just get a nicer GPU, like a Radeon HD7750. Then I would save for a nice GPU, like a AMD 965 Black Edition.

    Do you have any friends with older graphics cards, like 8800GT's?

    Man, I could just mail you my old 9800GTX if you want. It plays games great. I bought it for $50, but if you want, I will just send it to you for free if you are in the states.

    That being said, I have no idea how to send stuff.
  7. Wow, the 8800 is really good. But the 9800GTX is even greater.
    Wha-- why yes, I live in good ol' liberal California.
    Deemo such an offer is very surprising.


    Deemo, you're suggesting I go with a new GPU? The Radeon 7750 1GB? And then saving for a better CPU, the 965, in the later future?

    They are almost tied, but the 9800 renders texels at a faster rate. Which I read could be more beneficial then necessarily faster pixel rendering.
    GeForce 9800 GTX vs Radeon HD 7750
  8. You found a 9800 gtx for $50?
    Lucky... Any chance you could use your magical powers to find me an xfx 9800gt for that price?

    OP, it sounds like you don't need that much of an upgrade - a lower end modern card would suffice for you.
  9. If that be the case, then Deemo's 9800GTX would fill the order. What do you think of my CPU? It's a durable little guy, but I think it's my 9400 that is keeping me down.
  10. Advice for Upgrading.
  11. Best answer
    Well, you could upgrade the CPU to something nice, like a Phenom II 965.

    I actually mistyped my first post about the 9800GTX, its actually the 9800GTX+, the mechanical equivalent to the Nvidia GTS250.

    Awesome, I live in California too!

    EDIT: I think that a GPU upgrade would benefit more over a mediocre CPU and GPU upgrade. If you want this card, its yours. I will clean it of dust first. It was confirmed working yesterday on my test bench. Then you would be able to afford a nice CPU, like the 965.

    I have a 965 actually, it was the first processor I built with. Its gone through massive overheating, serious overclocking, and bent processor pins. It still runs to this day, and I love it. Runs alongside my 6950.

    What do I think of your CPU? Well, I have an Athlon x2 4600+, and that plays everything I've tried on it, but it is a bit old.

    The 965 is only $100. Do you have a decent power supply to run this all?
  12. The 965 is a very nice processor. My Athlon is still strong I think, but I will probably upgrade to the Phenom given the advice; I hear good things about the Phenom.

    Yes, the most recent upgrade to my rig was a new power supply. When my old one was being burned out by my Athlon processor and 9400 GPU.
  13. Well, if its at least a good 450-500W, you should be alright.
  14. Best answer selected by Bazel.
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