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Computer Upgrade

By depository ยท 23 replies
Feb 2, 2009
  1. Hey guys, I'm looking to make a small upgrade for my computer. So far it runs all of my games decently well, though it has a little trouble with more recent ones.

    I have a little extra money ($200-300) so I'm wanting to upgrade. The question is, what parts specifically should I upgrade? My current computer specs are:

    AMD Athlon 64 X2 5400+ 2.8GHz DuoCore


    OCZ Gold 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)

    HIS Hightech H195PRQT512DDN-R-V2 Radeon X1950PRO 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready Cro

    500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s

    RAIDMAX SMILODON ATX-612WBP Black 1.0mm SECC Steel ATX Mid Tower (500W PSU)

    This upgrade is mainly just for a nice gaming boost. I was thinking of, of course, a new video card, but I don't want to spend too much. I briefly looked over some and looked mostly at the HD4850 and an 8800GT/8800GTX. Also, I mainly looked at boosting my memory from 2 to 4GB (Two of my four slots don't work..), but wasn't sure what to go with. I'd prefer to do both upgrades, if it would be for the better.

    I'd even go for buying a whole new mobo + memory combo, as long as everything was still compatible.

    Keeping the price range in mind, what should I go with? Higher priced suggestions are very welcome, I'll just have to wait a while and I want to do this now (I'm very fond of newegg).
  2. tragicallyhip

    tragicallyhip TS Booster Posts: 90   +12

    Go with with graphics upgrade ,the 8800gt is your better choice even over the gtx.I read reviews before my gt purchase and all said this cheaper card performed better than the gtx Who knew!.
  3. rev_olie

    rev_olie TS Guru Posts: 560

    I would go with tragicallyhip. Upgrade the graphics card.
    Go for again the 8800GT. I used to have it and it performed well.
  4. depository

    depository TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    I think I've settled on the 8800GT, thanks guys. I was already eying it for its reliability and good reviews.

    I also want to upgrade my memory to 4GB. First of all is it even necessary? I do want to do it, though.

    The only dual-channel 4GB memory i can find on newegg that is compatible with my mobo are these guys ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148160 ) and I'm wondering if there's a better option.
  5. Dr. Vader

    Dr. Vader TS Rookie Posts: 98

    I have one question. Where did you find an 8800GT? I can't find them anywhere when they're not ~ $200 which is WAY overpriced.
  6. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,522   +2,312

    This depends on the OS you're using. If that OS is 32 bit XP, 2GB is as much as you really need. A max of 3.5 GB would register as "available" and some boards don't want to boot with the full 4GB on board. The improvement from 2 to 4 GB really wouldn't be that spectacular anyway. Other things affect performance, and at some point you run out of CPU clock cycles.
  7. depository

    depository TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

  8. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,223   +163

    the 4850 out performs the 8800 gt aby a wide margin
  9. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +36

    red1776 is correct, the HD 4850 is a better buy compared to the 8800GT, which is basically the same as a 9800GT. The name is the only difference. FYI, the HD 4850 is cheaper than and comparable to the 9800GTX in performance.

    Be warned that you will need a new PSU for any of these cards, especially if you have a garbage Raidmax PSU that came with the case.

    And lastly, for XP you will not see any benefit with more than 2GB of RAM.
  10. depository

    depository TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Hm.. What PSU would you recommend?
  11. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,223   +163

    by the looks of it a 500-550w should do you well, but here is a great tool for figuring your power needs http://www.antec.outervision.com/. Antec makes a great Psu, i favor OCZ myself. make sure your 12v rails are of sufficient amps for your needs. and look for a certified 80% efficiency psu. hopefully the gentleman who posted after me (Rage_3K_Moiz) will stop back, he is the real expert on Psu's and all things hardware..
  12. depository

    depository TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    I've read a good amount of other threads and I have indeed seen that Rage knows his stuff :]

    EDIT: I used that link, red, and it said I would only need 380W~ with the new card.. What say you, Rage? This PSU now hasn't failed me yet
  13. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,223   +163

    your going to want to add 20-30% to that number, you never want to be stressing your psu at 100%.also remember that psu's lose thier efficiency and maximum output with age,ie they degrade, particularly capacitors. also the quality of a psu is a huge factor. I thought i read that you were using a raidmax, those are not known for quality....remember, when a psu lets loose and goes out, its more plausible than possible its going to take out components with it, like roast your mobo and cpu. if you notice the makers of the $29 psu are glad to tell you about 'maximum peak output" and the producers of the $100 psu talk about 'continuous rated output' and 80% certified efficiency'.be leary of cheap wattage, its alway usaully BS and always unstable. its well worth the extra 30 bucks to get a good one...in my humble opinion :)
  14. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +36

    The Raidmax is really okay for basic stuff, but when it comes to gaming, stability is an absolute must, and Raidmax PSUs are notorious for simply dying out of the blue. Also, they do not usually have good fuses, so when they do blow, the resulting current spike travels to all the connected components, possibly damaging or killing some or all of them. Not worth it IMO.

    A good, affordable PSU would be the OCZ StealthXStream 500W. It's for around $45 on ZipZoomFly I believe. A better choice would be the Corsair 450VX, if you can afford it. It's on Newegg for $60 or so after an MIR.
  15. depository

    depository TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Why is the 450 notably more expensive than the 500?
  16. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +36

    Due to the better build quality. The 450VX is underrated and is capable of putting out 500W without a sweat. The OCZ PSU also has high out-of-spec ripple issues when the load on the +12V rail exceeds 80% of its total capacity. But still, if you are getting the HD 4850, you will not be anywhere near loading the OCZ PSU to the extent that ripple is so high.

    FYI, the 450VX can handle an HD 4870 without problems, but its efficiency will start to drop since you will be loading it to near 90% of its total rated capacity. So a new PSU will be needed if and when you upgrade your video card, regardless of which PSU you go for. That is, unless you are okay with the lowered efficiency on the Corsair PSU if you go for it.
  17. depository

    depository TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    That's what I was wondering; I'd be running it at a higher constant wattage consumption percentage. Wouldn't it be safer to go with, say, a 600/650?
  18. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +36

    Whatever I have said in this part of my post quoted above pertains to a situation where you would be replacing the HD 4850 with a newer, more powerful card (like the HD 4870, which I have used as an example) that will likely draw more power.

    So if you are getting an HD 4850, you do not need to worry. You will need a new PSU if you want to upgrade from the latter though, which is what the paragraph quoted above refers to.
  19. depository

    depository TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Oh, oops; Read the 4870 comment as 4850, haha. Thanks for the clarification.

    Is there anything about the 4850 that I haven't caught? For example, heating problems (My case ventilation is pretty good I like to think, but just to be sure), or possibly conflicts with my mobo that I've overlooked..?
  20. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +36

    The HD 4850 does get hot, but only because the default fan speed is so slow. There is a small tweak available (Google for it) that will allow you to increase it though, so it is not really a reason to avoid it IMO.
  21. depository

    depository TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Ok, thanks a lot guys. I think I will be purchasing an HD 4850 and the Corsair PSU. I like my hardware to be reliable.

    Now if I could just get these blue screens to stop showing up on me.. pretty sure it's a driver error, too! I'm taking it to the OS dept. here to see what the hell is wrong here :)

    EDIT: 2 months later, I found that it was my AVG v8.0 that was causing the BSOD problems.
  22. depository

    depository TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Sorry for the double post, but I wanted to bump the thread to get some input..

    I put off the upgrade until I fixed some software details on my computer, and now that I've completed that, I'm going to look at my hardware upgrade again.

    I looked at the HD 4870 some more, and for $100 more than the HD 4850 it's okay, but I don't want to spend that money honestly.

    I'm more concerned about the PSU. I want the safest I can get, so as a result, I was looking at PSU's better than the previously suggested 450XV. I was thinking that I'd be willing to spend up to about $100 on the PSU, as the combined cost would cost as much as the 4870 card alone..

    I've made some personal favorites on PSU's, but does anyone have suggestions on a good specific PSU?

    And are there any flaws in my logic, i.e. issues with the HD 4850 with high wattage PSU's, etc..

  23. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +36

    IMO, you do not need a more powerful PSU at all. If you want the option to go Crossfire/SLI later on however, get something like the Corsair 650TX or PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Quad. The Corsair is for around $85 with a $20 rebate at Provantage, while the other one can be had at Amazon for $90 and free shipping. Take your pick, although I bet you will go for the PCP&C one. :)

    PC Power and Cooling S75CF Silencer 750W Quad Power Supply Ati Crossfire and 80+ Certified (Red)

    Corsair 650TX 650W Active PFC Power Supply

    And FYI, more power will not harm any components, the PSU will only deliver as much power as the components demand, nothing more.
  24. depository

    depository TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Quick reply! I am definitely leaning towards the PCP&C

    I am pretty sure I am know what I'm getting now!

    One thing: if I upgrade my OS to XP SP2 64-bit, would I be able to upgrade my RAM?

    BIG EDIT: ATI just cut the price on the HD 4850 and 4870, definitely changing my choice to the 4870 now that it's the same price that the 4850 just was. Small things keep making me change my mind on what parts I want to buy.
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