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Question In what order should I upgrade my desktop?

Jun 26, 2020
Approximate Purchase Date: Ready to start ordering parts, though if a sale is coming up in the next month or two I can wait for a better price

Budget Range: ~500 but willing to spend a bit more if it is a significant upgrade or futureproofs better

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, streaming, large excel files for work

Are you buying a monitor: Not now

Parts to Upgrade: Eventually probably everything, but I'd like advice on which parts will give the most bang for buck first

Do you need to buy OS: I don't believe so, I'm hoping I can keep my existing Windows

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Whatever has the best deals

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Parts Preferences: NA

Overclocking: I haven't before, but I'm open to it

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Your Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080, dual monitors

Additional Comments: I'd like to futureproof where possible for around the next 4 years

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: My 8 year old desktop was built for gaming, but can no longer support most games. It takes about 15 minutes to boot up and has bad enough slow-downs that I haven't used it in over a year. I don't have a lot of money, but I'd like to start the process of upgrading it back to being functional. I'm not sure if any of it can be salvaged, but some idea of priority on replacing which parts first would be nice!

Processor – Intel Core i5 3570K Quad-Core 3.4GHz
Motherboard – Biostar TZ77B
RAM – Corsair 8GB DDR3
Graphics Card – Radeon HD 7850 2GB
Hard Drive –SamSung Spinpoint F3 1TB
Optical Drive – Sony
Power Supply –Antec 550W
Case – Cooler Master HAF 912


Jul 10, 2014
I would say the first 3 things to do are:-

Get a SATA SSD for running Windows and some games, maybe a 500 GB one or thereabouts. With a fresh copy of Windows installed it should boot up in seconds instead of 15 minutes. Games will also load much faster.
Double the RAM to 16GB (depending on if you have slots available, if you have 2x 4GB sticks with 2 empty slots get the same speed RAM and fill em). Modern games can easily use more than 8 GB but 16 GB seems to be the sweet spot just now
Upgrade the GPU to something more modern. A GTX 1060 or similar would get good frame rates and quality settings in current games.

The 3570k is still a goodCPU. I recently sold mine to a friend and he's running 1080p games no problem. If you add in streaming it might start to struggle a bit. You should be able to overclock it a bit without too much hassle, there'll be plenty guides online. Something like a 212 Evo cooler for £25 will open it up to run all cores well over 4.0Ghz. I had mine stable at 4.4 Ghz all core for years and its still running at that.

With an SSD and a fresh install of Windows it'll feel like a new PC and the extra RAM and new GPU will get it gaming on modern titles. After that you're into full system upgrade territory so the cost shoots up.


Even with a system as old (not really that old) as yours, it shouldn't take that long to boot up. I think you would be well served with a clean installation of Windows. If you really want a boost, and as @johnofo suggests, get an SSD for your Windows install and a few apps/games.

I would then take your system out for a test drive and see if it performs well enough for you or not. If so, you're good to go. If not, then you have some decisions to make.

Option 1 is you could extend the life of your current system by just adding some more RAM and upgrading your graphics card.
Option 2 is you could start fresh with a new system build, but $500 isn't going to get you all the way there.

I'd just head over to the St. Louis Park Microcenter and start with the SSD and fresh Windows install. See how things are at that point. Regardless of which way you go after that, the SSD is still an excellent upgrade.

-Wolf sends
If you want to game better, I think your graphics card is likely the first upgrade.
Try this simple test:
Run YOUR games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
This makes the graphics card loaf a bit.
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 more cpu limited.
A good graphics card update can be carried forward to a future cpu upgrade .

If you think you need more cpu power, you could overclock your 3570K and gain perhaps 20% more capability.
Past that, it would be better to look at a new gen processor.
That will also require a new motherboard and ddr4 ram.
I do not think I would try to hold on with your current setup by upgrading to I7 or by buying more ddr3 ram.

A SSD of whatever type will make your pc feel much quicker.
You can do this now, and relatively easily.
Buy a 1tb samsung 860 evo for about $140.
Use the samsung ssd migration app to move your windows C drive to the new ssd and boot.
Such a drive can also be carried forward.