Upgrade or start afresh?

neil1066

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May 3, 2009
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18,510
hi all,pretty much noob to computers so go easy on me,ill try to give all the information i can ,got £200 to spend now and i wanted some opinions weather it was worth upgrading current pc or starting a fresh build ,current pc specs pentium D CPU 2.80 GHz, 2gb ram(upgrade),palit 8600gt 512mb(upgrade),black gold tuner card(upgrade) ,x power atx 400td(upgrade),seagate barracuda 7200 250g,asus p55d2-fm/5 motherboard,lg external dvd rw g5a e6on,nec dvd rw nd4551a,windows xp mce 2005,hitachi 37"lcd 1920x1080
.i mainly use it for gaming and a few films , i can run most games on med settings(il sturmovick,cod4,battlefield 2,arma 20-40 fps all low settings!) but what i want is to start seeing some of the eye candy in these games,in my limited knowledge i think i might be bottlenecked at the mobo or cpu,any comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated,thanks in advance
 
You are bottlenecked by the graphics card, not by the cpu. The motherboard is definitely not a bottleneck either.

You can't start a fresh build on 200 pounds, let's be serious.

What you need to do is get the best graphics card you can afford, and then upgrade the PSU too because the one you have is too weak for a decent modern gaming card.

Later, when you have more money, start a new build and reuse the new PSU and the new graphics card.

 
I suggest you do your upgrades in these steps:

1. GPU and PSU

Silverstone 650W 67 pounds
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/650W-Silverstone-ST65ZF-GM-SLi-Dual-PCI-E-EPS12v-ATX12v-v201-PSU

Asus HD 4870 143 pounds
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/512M...R5-GPU-750MHz-800-Cores-2x-DL-DVI-I-HDTV-HDCP

If you make these two upgrades, your CPU and RAM will become the new bottlenecks instead of the graphics card. However, I think your fps will be several times better than they are now.

2. Your next step is to add two more GB of RAM. I hope you can do it soon.

3. The step after that is a new CPU+MB.

4. After that, get a newer and faster hard drive.
 

neil1066

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May 3, 2009
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thanks for the help,what graphics card and power supply would you recommend for £200 then,this is good news for me as i wasnt looking forward to fitting mobo and cpu,and i meant starting a fresh build with £200 as that, just spend money on case and mobo or whatever
 
^
+1 for a new PSU and Video card.

My opinion is the ATI cards seem to work better with older systems because they are more driver intensive and the Nvidia cards are more CPU intensive. A 4850 or 4870 will be your best buy. A solid 500 or 600W PSU is also needed.
 

neil1066

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May 3, 2009
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thanks for seconding the motion,got update,bought 4870 on ebay last night for £125,today rebooting pc 250g barracuda 7200.10 hard drive died! pri master status bad back up and replace error.just picked a like for like replacement up for £30,lasted over 2 yrs of intense load so cant complain,and with other new hardware arriving i dont mind the fresh install.besides picking up the psu this week any suggestions in further improvements,cooling,ram,audio? can probably put another £100-£150 towards it not including psu
 
Definitely more RAM. 4GB is way better than 2GB in lots of recent games.

Audio - as in a sound card? That's only worth it if you've got good speakers and good ears and listen to lots of music. Are you unhappy with your current onboard audio?

Cooling - download CoreTemp and see what kind of temperatures you're getting for the CPU. Also check the GPU temps in Catalyst. If you're getting very high temps add some fans or crank up the speed of the GPU fan or even buy a new case. But anyway, check the temps first. You might be just fine already.
 

neil1066

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May 3, 2009
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realtech onboard audio has been good in truth but yeah i do listen to a fair bit of music and the pc is connected to over a grands worth of surround sound via spdf so think i will go with better audio.when new drive,psu and card arrive will check temps.regarding RAM done some research and think my mobo is gimped to only 2g limit,if this is the case would buying replacement 2g of high quality ram to replace the 2g i bought from pc world 18months ago for £60 be worth it,thanks
 
No, I don't think replacing the RAM with a similar amount of better RAM is worth it. The performance improvement would be negligible.

OK, you should get a sound card indeed. I'm using a Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic on XP MCE 2005 myself, with Z-5500 speakers. Not bad at all. However, if you're planning to move to Vista eventually, it's probably safer to go with something like this:

HT OMEGA CLARO Plus+ 7.1 Channels PCI $175
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829271003

or

HT OMEGA STRIKER 7.1 Channels PCI $90
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829271001
 

thedarkddangerousshade

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May 5, 2009
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Hey, heres a tip, I have that cpu, and it is incompatible with just about every motherboard these days, so whenever you switch mobos, get a new CPU too, I spent months tearing my hair out trying to figure out what was wrong. It gave me an excuse to upgrade to a Core 2 Quad 8200 tho, :D
 

neil1066

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May 3, 2009
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18,510
hi all ,thanks for all the help, fitted reccomended psu,graphics card and the new hard drive,going great guns doubled fps in arma and most other games,got myself hooked to this upgrading thing now and was wondering if someone could advice me some more.ive noticed watching task manager during games in windowed mode that the cpu is maxing out at %100 quite alot ,this leads me to think next investment being new cpu,motherboard and case,again about £200>£250 to spend,cheers in advance
 
Let's start with the RAM:

Corsair 4GB DDR2-800 £37
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/4GB-...800)-240-Pins-Non-ECC-Unbuffered-CAS-5-5-5-18

Now, what kind of CPU+MB can you buy with the other £213...

GA-EP45-UD3R £105
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Giga...20x16-DDR2-1066-667-800-SATA-II-SATA-RAID-ATX

E8400 £138
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Inte...30-GHz-1333MHz-6MB-Cache-9x-Multiplier-Retail
OK, it's 30 pounds over budget, but it's a very popular setup these days. (There's also the GA-EP45-DS3L or the E7400, but you lose lots of features and lots of speed so I don't like those much.)

Or:

X3 720 Black Edition tri-core £116
http://www.scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?WebProductId=965904

GA-MA790X-UD4P £94
http://www.scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?WebProductId=985386

In both cases you get a high-quality MB and a CPU way better than what you have now. They should behave pretty much the same everywhere, except maybe if you compress a video or play Flight Simulator. There the X3 720 can use the third core too and will do visibly better.
 
Oops, you said "cpu,motherboard and case" and I did "cpu,motherboard and RAM". Still, you need to have DDR2 for the new MB, and 4 GB makes a big difference over 2.

I'd leave the case upgrade for later. It's not like a better case will do anything for your games, you know... If you've got the new graphics card and PSU in there and things are not overheating, then your case is already doing a good job anyway.