Question Help with making first-time upgrades on a prebuilt ?

May 1, 2021
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Hey, I'm a beginner in PCs and have never attempted an upgrade yet. In 2018 I bought a prebuilt ASUS M32CD Desktop and I think maybe now it's time for an upgrade but it's a little scary to me. I'm just worried and a little overwhelmed when it comes to compatibility issues and all the kinds of variables that have to match. What kinds of upgrades would you suggest first? Is this computer upgradeable and if so should I start with changing the motherboard for more flexible options? Thank you

Current Specs
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700
Memory: 12GB DDR4
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 2GB
Storage: 1TB HDD and a 500GB Samsung SSD
Power supply: HBA008-ZA1GT (350 Watts)
Motherboard: Asus M32CD4-K Rev 2.0 Intel CPU LGA 1151 DDR4 PD01J0-B02
 

dorsai

Distinguished
Hey, I'm a beginner in PCs and have never attempted an upgrade yet. In 2018 I bought a prebuilt ASUS M32CD Desktop and I think maybe now it's time for an upgrade but it's a little scary to me. I'm just worried and a little overwhelmed when it comes to compatibility issues and all the kinds of variables that have to match. What kinds of upgrades would you suggest first? Is this computer upgradeable and if so should I start with changing the motherboard for more flexible options? Thank you

Current Specs
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700
Memory: 12GB DDR4
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 2GB
Storage: 1TB HDD and a 500GB Samsung SSD
Power supply: HBA008-ZA1GT (350 Watts)
Motherboard: Asus M32CD4-K Rev 2.0 Intel CPU LGA 1151 DDR4 PD01J0-B02
You can likely get away with upgrading the PSU to a 600-700w model (I recommend a Gold rated one if possible) and a new GPU if you can find one. Unfortunately right now the GPU market is terribly overpriced with even last gen mid level cards costing 2 to 3 times what they should. The GPU price and availability situation won't likely resolve itself until later this year or even into next year.

Do you really have 12gig of ram ? That seems unlikely with 2 memory slots.

The one thing I will warn you about is to not try overclocking the i7-7700 as your motherboard will not handle it.
 
May 1, 2021
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You can likely get away with upgrading the PSU to a 600-700w model (I recommend a Gold rated one if possible) and a new GPU if you can find one. Unfortunately right now the GPU market is terribly overpriced with even last gen mid level cards costing 2 to 3 times what they should. The GPU price and availability situation won't likely resolve itself until later this year or even into next year.

The one thing I will warn you about is to not try overclocking the i7-7700 as your motherboard will not handle it.
Oh okay, I was looking at GPUs earlier and I was thinking "Are these what they normally cost?" so that's comforting to hear it's overpriced right now I wouldn't mind waiting on that upgrade. I'll definitely look for a 600-700w power supply, for a graphics card upgrade when the time comes are there only certain cards that will work with my current motherboard I have? Sorry if the question sounds super basic and yes this system came with 12GB of RAM with only 2 slots on the motherboard. I opened it up, one stick is 8gb and the other is 4.
 
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Hey, I'm a beginner in PCs and have never attempted an upgrade yet. In 2018 I bought a prebuilt ASUS M32CD Desktop and I think maybe now it's time for an upgrade but it's a little scary to me. I'm just worried and a little overwhelmed when it comes to compatibility issues and all the kinds of variables that have to match. What kinds of upgrades would you suggest first? Is this computer upgradeable and if so should I start with changing the motherboard for more flexible options? Thank you

Current Specs
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700
Memory: 12GB DDR4
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 2GB
Storage: 1TB HDD and a 500GB Samsung SSD
Power supply: HBA008-ZA1GT (350 Watts)
Motherboard: Asus M32CD4-K Rev 2.0 Intel CPU LGA 1151 DDR4 PD01J0-B02
First things first. Can you take a picture of the internals? Just because prebuilts have a habit of using proprietary motherboards and PSUs making upgrades impossible. Also budget?
 
May 1, 2021
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First things first. Can you take a picture of the internals? Just because prebuilts have a habit of using proprietary motherboards and PSUs making upgrades impossible. Also budget?
Here you go, if you need any more angles let me know. My budget is about 500 at the moment, I'm just looking for one upgrade and not trying to do a makeover. Maybe a power supply upgrade or RAM upgrade or GPU if that's possible?
 
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The Idiot

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Apr 4, 2013
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You would need a new psu to even make use of a new gpu, so that would probably be the first thing to get, though it won't really be a fun upgrade. I kind of feel like you might need to scrap the build and start going off on the idea of only the cpu and maybe the case being the only parts that wouldn't need replaced. I'm not sure what all you want to do with your pictures, but from what I have read you will need a good amount of ram as well as a good gpu.
 
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May 1, 2021
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You would need a new psu to even use a new gpu, so that would probably be the first thing to get, though it won't really be a fun upgrade.
That's okay, it'll get me one step closer to a fun upgrade. Is there a watt range you would suggest? Someone else suggested a 600-700, I don't know if having more wattage than you need is a bad thing.
 
May 1, 2021
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Around that range is good, just be sure to read reviews and check around before buying a psu since extremely cheap ones usually last about six months.
Okay thank you, I'll make sure it's a high rated power supply. Say I scrap the build like you say, do you think this is a good motherboard to start fresh from? Found it from another forum with the same processor:
https://spcpshop.com/products/asus-prime-b250m-plus-lga1151-ddr4-hdmi-dvi-vga-m-2-usb-3-1-b250-matx-motherboard?currency=USD&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=Google Shopping&cmp_id=1767655096&adg_id=68476782426&kwd=&device=m
 
Issue for me is the GPU clearance. Doesn't look like there's a lot though the PSU is standard ATX which is good so you could put a solid 500W+ unit in there (With the GPU clearnace you're looking at a mini card which don't go much above mid range)
 
May 1, 2021
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Issue for me is the GPU clearance. Doesn't look like there's a lot though the PSU is standard ATX which is good so you could put a solid 500W+ unit in there (With the GPU clearnace you're looking at a mini card which don't go much above mid range)
If I swapped to a bigger PC case like an ATX would that solve the GPU clearance issue?
 
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In what way is the current pc not doing the job?

I might suggest that for photo processing, more ram is good.
With only two ram slots, you will need to replace what you have with a 2 x 8gb or 2 x 16gb ram kit.
Going from 12gb to 16gb does not seem like a worthwhile thing to do.

For fast action gaming, something better than a GTX1050 would be a good upgrade, but such cards are hard to buy, let alone at less than 2x msrp.
You would also need to change out the power supply.

Strong graphics usually needs decent ventilation.
Pre builts are only designed for what you originally bought.
A photo of the case and cooling setup would help to determine if a new case is in order.

If you need a faster processor, there is no significant upgrade available on your motherboard.

Hard drives are slow compared to ssd devices.
Consider replacing the 1tb HDD with a ssd and reusing the hdd as an external backup device.
About $100.

If you do not have two monitors, consider adding a second monitor which is most useful for desktop work.

Any more, and you are looking at essentially a new build.
You might reuse the GTX1050, and perhaps the case which I think is MATX, but not much else.

A i5-11400 will be about $200, a lga1200 matx motherboard with a 500 series chipset might be $100, and 16gb of ram bout $85.
 
May 1, 2021
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In what way is the current pc not doing the job?

I might suggest that for photo processing, more ram is good.
With only two ram slots, you will need to replace what you have with a 2 x 8gb or 2 x 16gb ram kit.
Going from 12gb to 16gb does not seem like a worthwhile thing to do.

For fast action gaming, something better than a GTX1050 would be a good upgrade, but such cards are hard to buy, let alone at less than 2x msrp.
You would also need to change out the power supply.

Strong graphics usually needs decent ventilation.
Pre builts are only designed for what you originally bought.
A photo of the case and cooling setup would help to determine if a new case is in order.

If you need a faster processor, there is no significant upgrade available on your motherboard.

Hard drives are slow compared to ssd devices.
Consider replacing the 1tb HDD with a ssd and reusing the hdd as an external backup device.
About $100.

If you do not have two monitors, consider adding a second monitor which is most useful for desktop work.

Any more, and you are looking at essentially a new build.
You might reuse the GTX1050, and perhaps the case which I think is MATX, but not much else.

A i5-11400 will be about $200, a lga1200 matx motherboard with a 500 series chipset might be $100, and 16gb of ram bout $85.
Oh it's doing the job I've just had it for 3 years now and figured upgrading it for something fresh feeling. I tried getting pictures of the vents for you, it doesn't really have much so maybe a PC case change would help for better airflow. Any case size recommendations if I'm going to be looking for a good graphics upgrade? Also for a motherboard change what could be compatible with what I have in terms of the i7-7700 and GTX 1050?

 

dorsai

Distinguished
There's nothing wrong with the motherboard you have as long as all you're planning on doing is photo work and some light gaming. Replacing you're motherboard wont improve anything unless it adds a feature you need like USB 3.2 or something else. Your processor is locked so moving to a more expensive board is pointless. It may be a cheap board...but that's not a bad thing as long as it's doing what you need it to. Like I posted earlier if all you're interested in is photo work and some light gaming just upgrade the GPU which will also require a new PSU. Some new ram would help you a little bit also but 16gig is more than enough for your needs. A new case with better airflow is a better buy than replacing the motherboard at this point.
 
May 1, 2021
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There's nothing wrong with the motherboard you have as long as all you're planning on doing is photo work and some light gaming. Replacing you're motherboard wont improve anything unless it adds a feature you need like USB 3.2 or something else. Your processor is locked so moving to a more expensive board is pointless. It may be a cheap board...but that's not a bad thing as long as it's doing what you need it to. Like I posted earlier if all you're interested in is photo work and some light gaming just upgrade the GPU which will also require a new PSU. Some new ram would help you a little bit also but 16gig is more than enough for your needs. A new case with better airflow is a better buy than replacing the motherboard at this point.
Okay that makes sense, so just the GPU and power supply to focus on and also PC case. Thank you for the help I really appreciate it
 
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At that point you’re better off starting from scratch with a compatible MB and keeping the RAM
I'll keep this in mind then, someone else on this forum said that since my CPU is locked it's not that worth a motherboard change. If I do change it though do I just need to find a motherboard that works with the i7-7700 and swap it in? I don't know much about how the BIOS works and such with a motherboard switch and the process generally.
 
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There is no performance to be gained by changing out the motherboard unless you also change out the processor.

You might want to read this article on photoshop recommended hardware:
https://www.pugetsystems.com/recommended/Recommended-Systems-for-Adobe-Photoshop-139/Hardware-Recommendations

A few things to note:
The amount of ram can be an important factor, depending on the image sizes.

The number of threads past 8 does not seem to be a factor.
Your i7-7700 has 8 but the single thread passmark performance rating is 2483; actually quite decent.
By comparison, the 11400 processor I mentioned before has 12 threads and a single thread rating of 3091.

The difference in performance between a ssd, any ssd and a HDD is huge.
A ssd may be 3-6x faster sequentially than a hdd, but the real benefit comes from negligible latency in random access which will be some 40x that of a hdd.
Most of what we do will be small random i/o.

Your current psu may not be the best, but it is adequate to power your current cpu and graphics card.
The Power required for a i7-7700 and a i5-11400 is the same.

If you want to buy a graphics upgrade, look at a GTX1650 that does not need aux 6 pin power and will run with your current psu. It will have 4gb of vram which can be useful for photoshop.
They are overpriced, now about $400.

If you want to upgrade your psu, look first for quality.
Consider it a long term investment.
Something like 550/650w with a 7 to 10 year warranty.



If you do not have a heat issue, and I see no evidence of that, you do not need to fix it with a better case.
 
May 1, 2021
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There is no performance to be gained by changing out the motherboard unless you also change out the processor.

You might want to read this article on photoshop recommended hardware:
https://www.pugetsystems.com/recommended/Recommended-Systems-for-Adobe-Photoshop-139/Hardware-Recommendations

A few things to note:
The amount of ram can be an important factor, depending on the image sizes.

The number of threads past 8 does not seem to be a factor.
Your i7-7700 has 8 but the single thread passmark performance rating is 2483; actually quite decent.
By comparison, the 11400 processor I mentioned before has 12 threads and a single thread rating of 3091.

The difference in performance between a ssd, any ssd and a HDD is huge.
A ssd may be 3-6x faster sequentially than a hdd, but the real benefit comes from negligible latency in random access which will be some 40x that of a hdd.
Most of what we do will be small random i/o.

Your current psu may not be the best, but it is adequate to power your current cpu and graphics card.
The Power required for a i7-7700 and a i5-11400 is the same.

If you want to buy a graphics upgrade, look at a GTX1650 that does not need aux 6 pin power and will run with your current psu. It will have 4gb of vram which can be useful for photoshop.
They are overpriced, now about $400.

If you want to upgrade your psu, look first for quality.
Consider it a long term investment.
Something like 550/650w with a 7 to 10 year warranty.



If you do not have a heat issue, and I see no evidence of that, you do not need to fix it with a better case.
Just want to start by saying the amount of help from you and everyone else in this forum has been amazing with details, thank you so much for the depth here. With stats like that the 11400 processor definitely sounds attractive to me, when it comes to changing CPUs is it as simple as swapping the current one out and putting the new one in? Not sure what the process is like with cpu upgrades either. I actually do have an SSD installed on this system already and you are right the performance difference was such a game changer. I'll keep my eyes on that GTX 1650 too, maybe when the market isn't so expensive. Also about the CPU, everything about the 11400 seems better than the 7700 but the 7700 has a higher base frequency. (https://cpu.userbenchmark.com/Compare/Intel-Core-i7-7700-vs-Intel-Core-i5-11400/3887vs4112)
Does that mean anything?
 
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Not so simple, 11th gen processors require an entirely different motherboard from your 7th gen processor.
Comparing base frequency is also not so simple.
First, the 11th gen processors(and ryzen 5000 series) have improved performance per clock
Perhaps 20%

Next, modern processors have implemented better turbo management.
That boosts the performance of a couple of favored cores when conditions permit.
What conditions?? The workload must not be using all of the other cores.
And case and cpu cooling must be adequate to support the higher temperatures that running faster will generate.

I think your current motherboard is a standard MATX size.
Here are the differences:
https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fd/ATX_ITX_AT_Motherboard_Compatible_Dimensions.svg/220px-ATX_ITX_AT_Motherboard_Compatible_Dimensions.svg.png&imgrefurl=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATX&tbnid=2YUJVZRi8022_M&vet=12ahUKEwiH3cOhk6nwAhUJVFMKHTXWBvQQMygBegUIARC2AQ..i&docid=U3q7oBSMruxTuM&w=220&h=220&q=micro atx dimensions&ved=2ahUKEwiH3cOhk6nwAhUJVFMKHTXWBvQQMygBegUIARC2AQ
Check the motherboard hole mounting patterns.
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator
The base frequency is nothing more than the lowest frequency the CPU will work at if the minimum possible power and cooling. Slap the CPU on a decent board with a decent aftermarket HSF, it'll boost to 3.6GHz or more all day long. Some boards even allow you to ignore power limits and boost to 4+GHz indefinitely.

The 11400 also has two extra cores that will come in handy in newer games or if you do some multi-tasking on top.

If I had to build a new PC today, I'd go with i5-11400(F), Gigabyte Z590 UD / MSI Z590 Pro-A / Asus B560 TUF (they are all priced within $20 where I can get them, I wouldn't bother with z590 otherwise) and 32GB of DDR4-3200-16-18-18 or equivalent.
 
Wait a few weeks for the i5 11400F to come back in stock ($175) or you can grab a i5 10400F right now for $150.

https://www.newegg.com/super-flower-leadex-iii-bronze-sf-550r14he-550w/p/1HU-024C-00016
Super Flower Leadex III Bronze PRO 550W 80+ Bronze, 5 Years Warranty, Patent Super Connectors, Ultra Flexible Flat Ribbon Cables, ECO Mode, Silent & Cooling Mode, FDB Fan, Full Modular Power Supply $79.99

https://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/B560 Pro4/index.asp

http://www.allstarshop.com/shop/Asrock-B560M-Pro4_80_56904.html
ASRock B560M Pro4 B560 $110.50

https://www.newegg.com/ballistix-16gb-288-pin-ddr4-sdram/p/N82E16820164188
Crucial Ballistix DDR4 3200 16GB (8GBx2) CL16 $87.99 (+ 10% off w/ promo code 4SPRGCLR257 limited offer)

https://elitehubs.com/antec-a40-pro/
ANTEC A40 PRO 92MM CPU AIR COOLER $24.55
 
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Bob.B

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Feb 8, 2021
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Just want to start by saying the amount of help from you and everyone else in this forum has been amazing with details, thank you so much for the depth here. With stats like that the 11400 processor definitely sounds attractive to me, when it comes to changing CPUs is it as simple as swapping the current one out and putting the new one in? Not sure what the process is like with cpu upgrades either. I actually do have an SSD installed on this system already and you are right the performance difference was such a game changer. I'll keep my eyes on that GTX 1650 too, maybe when the market isn't so expensive. Also about the CPU, everything about the 11400 seems better than the 7700 but the 7700 has a higher base frequency. (https://cpu.userbenchmark.com/Compare/Intel-Core-i7-7700-vs-Intel-Core-i5-11400/3887vs4112)
Does that mean anything?
Run this and post a link to the results.
PC Benchmark
 

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