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Basic upgrading help for a beginner

By JDex09 · 11 replies
Jun 25, 2012
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  1. Hiya guys!

    I've been learning a little bit about computers and am finally looking to put it to some use. After a long history of messing up laptops/computers and passing them on to more computer savvy friends or relatives (or having them stolen), I am deciding after some reading and learning to finally crack open my comp and attempt to upgrade a little bit.

    Here are some of the vitals; it’s pretty much the baseline model I bought from PC World a while back:

    1. Motherboard - Acer Aspire M3910
    2. Graphic interface - PCI-Express 16x
    3. Memory - DDR3 3072MB
    4. CPU - Intel Core i5 650
    5. CPU Speed - 3324MHz
    6. Power Supply Make/Model -
    7. Watt output/Amperage - 300W

    Current card NVIDIA GeForce 315 (GT216) 512MB.

    Bear in mind that this will be a gradual thing, so if I say I have a budget of £80-100 or so, I don't mind spending that on one thing and saving up for the next, although obviously I'd like to spend as little as possible as a rule :cool:

    As well as a learning experience, I'd just like a general performance upgrade really, for example any games now that I would play in low quality I could play in medium, and medium maybe stretch for high etc. I have done a bit of searching on websites and in shops but there is just so much that needs to be taken into account and so much choice and inside information that I feel I could do with some help from you wonderful peeps!

    Any advice on reasonable general upgrades to my computer that I could make? Any help would be greatly appreciated. If I've left any important info out let me know and I'll try to find it!

    Thanks in advance.
  2. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    Best upgrade for gaming would be the GPU, you can get a Radeon 6850 or 7770 in that price range. If you're willing to buy used you can get more powerful cards on gumtree, ebay etc.
  3. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,408   +3,418

    If you do upgrade the GPU, you will probably need a power supply upgrade to go with it.
  4. JDex09

    JDex09 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the replies and the suggestions.

    I do know enough (just about!) to understand that my power supply won't be good enough to run a decent level GPU. Could either of you suggest a good upgrade in power supply from a reliable brand? And could my motherboard handle this (reaching the limits of my knowledge now) :p
  5. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,408   +3,418

    I was like you a few years back, looking at purchasing a graphics card to support gaming. I choose the GTS 450, at the time it was listed as the bare minimum for playing games. I can vouch for the card be a great GPU but the card is limited to the standard resolution (no AA/AF usage) of a single monitor. My current resolution is 1600x900 and I have noticed a few lagging moments during the few game titles I play.

    I'm currently using a GTS 450 with a 600W PSU. I only really need 400W to power my GPU. I'm waiting for the GTX 660 to be released for my next GPU upgrade. While the GTX will probably only need 450W, the 600W will give more than 100W head rooom.

    It would probably be best if you purchased a PSU first, unless you want to shelve the GPU waiting for the PSU you need to power it. One other thing I would like to mention, just because I'm using and planning on purchasing nVidia doesn't mean I wouldn't recommend AMD. I think both companies have great products, both of which have positive and negative aspects.

    As far as which PSU companies to use, I'm still trying to wrap my head around that one. It appears that many PSU vendors are selling PSU from both good and bad PSU makers. Before purchasing any model please ask someone to verify the quality value of the model. It would seem that the vendor alone doesn't always sell quality products.
  6. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    Well I guess thats the problem with buying a prebuilt system from PC World... you get absolute crap PSUs. This Antec HCG 520W will handle any graphics card you decide to throw at it. Given that you're only running a dual core Clarkdale CPU with probably a mid range GPU the 400W version of the Antec HCG might be enough but I'd recommend spending the extra £10 to get the 520W one to leave room for future upgrades.

    Buying a PSU won't leave much budget for the GPU, if I were you I'd save up another £50 and get a decent £100 GPU.

    Assuming your motherboard is PCI-E 2.0 then any £100 modern GPU will work fine.
  7. JDex09

    JDex09 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks a lot guys, I'll definitely take your opinions into account considering the GPU and PSU choices.

    Yeah I know as much now, before of course I hadn't even considered the possibility of actually getting components myself, so I went for the safer pre-built options every time.

    I might go for the 520W first and it shouldn't take me too long to get a half decent card from the selection that you two mentioned. One last thing though - are there any particular GPUs I should avoid? It's easy to get caught up in the 'but this number is higher than this number' sort of thing for a newbie I expect..

    And OT but nice avatar slh28, I used to have a 40" vertical myself when my knees functioned properly :p
  8. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    Well generally the higher the number the better, but only in the same series: e.g. the Radeon 7870 is better than the 7850 and 7770, but the 7770 is not better than the 6970 because the 7770 is the current generation mid range card whereas the 6970 is the previous generation high end card. Same goes for Nvidia cards.
  9. JDex09

    JDex09 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok so I went 'thrifty' and decided to get a used GPU from eBay. Everything in the box seems ok except for the power cable. Now obviously I'm not an expert so this could all be fine and I'm making a fool of myself but better safe than sorry I guess!

    Is this the awful pic I took from my phone (camera memory card acting up)

    Is one of the wires meant to fold back in one itself like that? Is it a DIY job or is it just the type of power cable that I now own?

  10. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,262

    If the other end of that cable is a single molex (4 pin peripheral) then it looks "normal". Molex connectors have a nominal 75w capacity, as does the 6 pin PCI-E.
  11. JDex09

    JDex09 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Alrighty then, thanks a lot, it appears that everything is as it should be!
  12. JDex09

    JDex09 TS Rookie Topic Starter


    I seemed to have figured this prob out.

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