£300 upgrade/new build gaming computer


I am looking to spend £300 odd on a budget gaming pc whilst utilising some existing parts of my previous homebuilt system.

I want to provide some semblance of 'future-proofing' with a motherboard that provides USB3 ports, DDR3 memory and possibly SATA 600 on a CPU socket that will have some longevity (AM3?). I do not plan to use crossfire or that many PCI slots. Even so, I have spotted the ASRock 870 Extreme3 - it doesn’t look like it would be cramped over the Northbridge with a big graphics card and there is enough clearance from the CPU to the RAM for heatsinks.

Add to that 4Gb of paired and branded DDR3 memory. (I already own a pair of RAM heatsinks which are lying about unused that I would like to install if i get 1600mhz sticks - so is there any other board that has more space between the slots or should I just not use them?)

I have a Sapphire Radeon HD 3870 (512mb) that I want to squeeze out as much life from as possible, hopefully upgrading when Directx 11 becomes the norm, although I am open to suggestions if you think it will limit the system too much.

Here I figured that to maximise the lifespan I should get a higher-end CPU, so the ‘best for the money’ article points to the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition. Although, is it worth shelling out the extra £15 for the 965 Black Edition?

At the moment a key importance is to reduce the noise in my existing system and to improve airflow, so would it be possible to fashion or buy housing for my Zalman CNPS 7000C-cu heatsink for the AM3 socket? Or, would I need to buy a new one? If I can transfer it, I would instead purchase a small case and case fans to improve the airflow.

So, here is how it is shaping up:

ASRock 870 Extreme3 - £70
Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition - £110
4Gb (2x2Gb) Corsair XMS DDR3 1333mhz - £65
Corsair VX 450w psu (already have)
Sapphire Radeon HD 3870 (already have)
Zalman CNPS 7000C-cu (already have)
Case/fan/postage - £55

Thanks for taking a look at my problem; feel free to criticise and ridicule.
5 answers Last reply
More about 300 upgrade build gaming computer
  1. The AM2 and AM3 clips are the same. I think that cooler will work fine even for a mild overclock.

    3870 is getting a bit old and weak for a gaming machine. Its the next thing you should look at upgrading.

    Because your graphics card is weak, an AthlonII x3 would be much cheaper and probably just as fast, except maybe in BFBC2 and GTA4. If saving you that money lets you get a new graphics card sooner, it worth considering. An AthlonIIx3 matches well with any Graphics card up to like a 5770 or GT460 for most gaming purposes.
  2. If I were to get a new card in addition sooner rather than later, would it still make sense to go for the Athlon II x3 445 over the Phenom 955 Black Edition? The fact that it is just over half the price is very appealing, and I understand that few games have the ability to utilise all four cores. Would Asrock's 'unlock CPU core feature' make much difference to the Athlon's longevity, or is it just a gimmick?
  3. I don't see what's wrong with getting a strong future proof CPU now, and sticking with the same older GPU, especially if you have plans to replace it in the near/medium future.
  4. My athlonIIx3 435 (2.9GHz) runs overclocked at around 3.4GHz. I can unlock the 4th core and run it as an x4 at just around 3GHz. For the games I play, x3 at 3.4 gives better performance.
  5. Wait a few months for new motherboards and CPUs.
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