Upgrading old PC - which parts first?


Nov 19, 2009
Hi guys Im *kind of* new here.
I was thinking about getting a new hard drive for some time now, so Im thinking I might as well upgrade a couple of other parts too.

I have to admit that I havent done any research and I havent been keeping myself updated, so maybe you guys can help me decide which parts I should look into upgrading so I can get started :)

I am not planning to replace the motherboard. OS is expensive.

I play games from time to time. I use my PC a lot and Ive been noticing that new programs are becoming more demanding. I use Photoshop for work as well as multi tasking (also running dual monitor).

If you guys can take a look at what I have and give a few suggestions it would be great. Here's my current build:

CPU: AMD Phenom II x4 940 BE 3.0GHz
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-MA790X-UD4P
Memory: G.Skill 4GB DDR2 1066MHz
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT 512MB w/ZALMAN VF1000 cooler
HD: Western Digital 320GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache
PSU: Corsair TX 650W

Thank you :)
You can overclock your CPU (it's common to get around 3.6Ghz out of it with a good cooler) and add more RAM to bring that up to 8gb specifically for photoshop. As for gaming upgrading to a single 6870 or 6950 would be a good match. Finally, for application performance you may want to consider using an SSD as your primary, boot drive while using your current drive for storage. You can use a live CD like Knoppix to make an image of your current drive, store it on an external drive, and then put that image on the new SSD.


Your motherboard is fairly out-dated but will support upgrades.

First off id say there's no point doing anything to the RAM at all, DDR2 can be fairly expensive these days.

Your motherboard has a PCIe x16 slot so graphics card would be your best option to upgrade in terms of gaming power. Your 650w PSU is more than enough to support even the highest end of cards (GTX 580/ATI 6970).

Your motherboard has plenty of SATA connections which would enable to you go out and buy a new SATA II HDD (7200rpm) at the size of your choice. Recommended 1TB HDD's include: Samsung SpinPoint F3, SeaGate Barracuda, Western Digital Caviar Black.

To gain more processing power in applications, your only real option is to over-clock your CPU. If we ramped up the budget id be recommending a new AM3+ motherboard with DDR3 RAM support which for applications such as photoshop, would give you much better performance.

As megamanx00 above me said, 6870 would be a nice GPU choice. Not too expensive, and really great performance.
By the way I'm assuming you have a 64-bit OS. Running multiple CS programs at once (Photoshop, fireworks, Dreamweaver, and Flash for example) will have you wanting for more RAM if you only have 4GB. Heck my work PC with CS4 slows down if I have more than two of those three open or two of those open and firefox. No they won't spring for the extra RAM around here (cheap *&%). Get more RAM first and overclock your CPU.


I don't know what your RAM timings are but for $70 you can get that 4GB G.Skill kit ^_^. You have a 940 BE so not overclocking it is wasting it :D. Don't use the stock cooler though -_-. A reasonably priced cooler is this sunbeam

Sunbeam CR-CCTF 120 mm Core-Contact Freezer $24.99

You can also go with the Cooler Master Hyper 212+ which you can find at your local CompUSA for easy exchange, and so you can see it, though the Sunbeam cools better.


No need to upgrade your PSU, that's fine as is.

I'd get a new video card - The GTX 8800 was excellent, but it's becoming very outdated very quickly.

I'd maybe add a couple of Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TBs - you can get those for $60 at Newegg.

Definitely look at getting a new GPU - I'd say at least a Radeon 6850 or GTX 560.