Sub $400 system overhaul


Oct 8, 2011
Hey all, first time posting here. I've been building and repairing computers for the better part of a decade, but i haven't been keeping up with the new platforms and dominant technologies for a year or two now, so I figured I'd ask for a bit of help on this.

I'm updating my desktop for the first time in a while. I plan to replace the mobo/cpu/ram and the GPU, all for under $400 if possible, but i'll spend what i need to to get the most value for my money in the long run.

for reference here's what im working with right now
Antec 900 case
Intel Q6600 @ 3.05Ghz
Tuniq tower-120 heat sink
Asus P5Q-E (a late-gen P45 board)
2 gigs DDR2 @ (some messy byproduct of OC'ing)
Nvidia Gforce 9800GT (512 mb, 900mhz memory, 1566mhz shaders, 625 mhz core)
1Tb samsung spinpoint HDD
creative X-Fi soundcard (PCI-E 4x version)
535w Enermax PSU
Windows Ultimate 64-bit (the 'special edition' version i got for free and wont need to buy a new license for when i upgrade)
dual monitors, one 1440X900 19" widescreen and a 1280X1024 19"

It rocked pretty hard when i put it together in like 2008, but the years are starting to show, i get the occasional BSOD or generic crash and it cant support most video games for an extended period.

anyways, I use the system for a mash-up of gaming, multi-media, and schoolwork, nothing special going on as far as system requirements are concerned, so a typical mid-range gaming build should do the trick.

I'm not sure if i plan to overclock this time round, it's a bit of a time sink, and my ADHD always gets the better of me and i end up not testing the setup enough. I'm definetly interested in unlocking the 4th core on a amd 3 core if i end up buying one, or any other quick and easy mods like that to squeeze out some extra power.

I typically buy from newegg or and sometimes my local microcenter though it's not often they can beat online prices.

I have quite a history designing and building computers so all i really need is some recomendations for what's good at the moment and i can figure the rest out myself, thanks in advance.


Hi there! Welcome to the forums.

So you have $400 to use as an upgrade?
well, first I would suggest the graphics. That's the weakest link, I think.
I would hold off on upgrading the CPU. The Q6600 is still quite potent when overclocked. You have a decent cooler, you should be able to get it up higher.

I think a ram upgrade is in order. 4GB is standard now, so it could be that's what's causing the BSOD (but I doubt it)

And finally, an SSD! This will make your computer feel blazing fast.

So, I suggest this (For gaming) $60 $240 $107

That comes to $407 :D Should make your PC a speed demon.



Oct 8, 2011
I appreciate the replies, but I really feel like i need to replace the mobo and cpu, this overhaul is being motivated by the reliability issues more than performance issues.

I'm planning on taking some time to reinstall windows and such to try and squeeze a bit more life out of what i have and figure out what components are actually breaking down and which ones are just being held back by the other's. the system does need a bit of maintenance, but that definitely isn't the underlying problem.

@FinneousPJ: you'd be right 9/10 times someone complained about crashes while gaming, but I know my way around the insides of a computer better than most, and i could kill a wild boar with the heat sink I'm using. cooling ain't the problem.



Apr 28, 2009
I'd probably go a different route. First I'd ditch the LGA 775 altogether and get a i5 2500K $219.00

An Asus Maximus IV Gene-Z motherboard $169.00

8 gbs Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600 2X4gb kit 48.99

Total of $438.97

Keep everything else. You can probably get by with your gpu and psu until you can afford to step up at a later date. I'm not sure if your cooler can mount to Z68 board but they can be had cheap. At least this will future proof you a bit and you have more of a upgrade path. Just look around you might be able to find a different Z68 board or ram you like better for cheaper.



Oct 21, 2009
You have a microcenter so get the 2500k for $180.
Asrock z68 extreme3 gen3 @ newegg $125
4gb ddr3 ram about $25-30
Then maybe 1 more 9800gt to sli till you can afford a better single card.
Go over budget a bit with a 6850/6870/gtx460

Also, You can get an i3-2100 instead for $99 but then it won't be as big of an increase compared to the 2500k. With that motherboard you can go cheap on the cpu now and then upgrade to ivybridge next year.




Sep 3, 2011

If your primary concern is gaming, this is the route to take. Your BSOD issues can be several things, and the first thing to do would be to run a proper hardware diagnostic before making ANY upgrades. I'll leave the diagnostics to you since you're so knowledgeable.