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New build/upgrades suggestions

By DKulzer ยท 12 replies
Sep 2, 2012
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  1. Hey everyone. I just joined the forums but have been reading the site for a while now. I am planning to do some upgrading to my current PC. Here's some details.

    I mostly game, maybe a few hours a week or just browse the internet. I also burn DVDs, stream HD movies to my XBox, or convert one media format to another so I can stream it. I might start gaming a little more so that is the main reason for wanting to upgrade.

    My current PC is this:
    Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 OCd to 4ghz
    4 gb gSkill RAM
    HIS HD 4870
    750watt PSU
    Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P mobo - no USB 3 and no PCI 3
    Antec 900 case
    WD Velociraptor 300gb - windows, games, programs
    WD Caviar Black 1tb - storage and media

    First off, my PC works fine and is usually ok for everything I do. I can't crank up the graphics in anything like I used to be able to and burning a HD movie to a DVD takes about an hour. My problem is everything is so old I can't upgrade just one part and I am on a super tight budget.

    My thoughts were to upgrade to a 660Ti or 7870ghz Edition. Some sites say one is better and other sites say the other, the 7870 is up to $100 cheaper though. My mobo doesn't support PCI 3 so I am unclear if that means a new graphics card wouldn't work at all or just work slower? If I have to build a whole new PC I'm leaning towards an ASRock Extreme 4 or 6, i5 3570k or i7 3770k, gSkill sniper RAM and the above graphics card.

    Any input would be appreciated. I have looked at the PC builds and most of my selections are the same things. I'm wondering if it's worth the extra $ to step it up one notch in certain areas.
  2. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,840   +1,267

    As an upgrade, you still have a few options using the core components.
    Firstly, a PCI-E3.0 motherboard isn't necessary- you're only going to notice a difference between 2.0 and 3.0 using a heavily bandwidth constrained card -likely a dual GPU (GTX 690, HD 6990, HD 7990). What might be of more interest is SATA 6GB or USB 3.0 depending on what kind of upgraded storage options you're looking at, if any.
    For a budget upgrade I'd maybe recommend swapping out the C2D for a C2Quad (QX9450/Q9500/Q9505/Q9550/Q or QX9650), adding the HD 7870 -a solid choice, and maybe an SSD if you use any productivity apps. The quad (esp. a 12MB cache version) will still give you a reasonable performance lift -more so if you can OC to the 3.6-3.8GHz range.

    If you're looking at transitioning to Ivy Bridge, then work out a budget all the core components (CPU, board and RAM), graphics card. You can reuse the CPU cooler, storage, chassis, PSU and peripherals, so they become only a secondary consideration.
  3. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,703   +171

    Unless you're buying used the C2Q's will cost the same as a 3570K or even more. Considering the motherboard and RAM won't cost that much more, I think you're better off going the Ivy Bridge route which will last you a good 3-4 years and will give you performance 3 generations ahead of the C2Q.

    As for the GPU it depends on what games you play and at what resolution.
  4. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,840   +1,267

    True. I should have included that sourcing a C2Q should be done through the resell market- preferably from an outlet that specialize is breaking down workstation PC's- since may OEM's used the Q9550 and Q9650 extensively in their product lineups (noteably Dell and HP). Find a reliable seller on eBay or similar, and maybe steer clear of private sales unless the person is honest about overclocking the CPU. Workstation CPU's are BIOS locked with minimal/no front side bus clock frequency adjustments- which makes them a better bet.
  5. DKulzer

    DKulzer TS Rookie Topic Starter

    If I go with a mostly new build where should I cut costs and where should I add a few bucks? Is it worth it to spend the extra $100 on the i7 versus the i5, or the extra $45 to go from an ASRock Extreme 4 to the 6?

    I figured I could spend $500 and get the mobo, cpu, and ram and just hold off on the video card for a while since I still get decent frame rates with the settings turned down a little. Or I could leave my PC as is and just spend $300 on a 660ti or $250 on the 7870. I think the upgrade on the mobo to get the sata 6gb/s would be a nice all around upgrade. The only games I've played lately are Warcraft, Skyrim, and Mass Effect 3. I play on a 28 inch at 1920 x 1200.
  6. Ritwik7

    Ritwik7 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,657   +9

    Looking at the kind of usage you mention on your PC I would stick with the i5. Video decoding/encoding performance is definitely better with the i7 but only if you're doing it professionally. The ASRock Extreme 4 is a good motherboard. Slightly smaller than standard ATX though. Supposed to be a good board for OCing. I have the i5 3570K + ASRock Extreme 4 in my new rig. Excellent performance at stock settings thus far.
  7. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,703   +171

    Yeah I agree with the 3570K and Extreme 4 suggestion, the $145 saved is much better off being invested in the GPU. The games you play aren't that graphically intense so the 7870 should run them very nicely.
  8. DKulzer

    DKulzer TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the input. So far I am leaning towards getting the ASRock Extreme 4 with the i5 3570k. I'm still unclear on the RAM to get. Half of the GSkill's look the same to me. I don't know whether to go with 1600 or something faster, or the reasons to choose one or the other.

    I can hold off on the GPU for another month and prices will likely drop more by then. I saw a 7870 ICE Q ghz edition for $200 a few days ago but it sold out before I could get one. Maybe by then it will be easier to choose between the 7870 or 660ti.

    I figured with the new core component setup it will give me better performance everywhere, especially the sata 6gb/s vs the 3gb/s I have now.
  9. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,703   +171

    RAM speed doesn't bring any real world benefits to Ivy Bridge systems, so just get any 1600Mhz RAM (1600 and 1333 are pretty much the same price), just make sure it's rated for 1.5V or lower and don't go for the ones with the huge useless heatsinks which will give you clearance issues with your CPU cooler.

    $200 is a very good price for a 7870 so I'd get that if it comes back in stock. The 660Ti is a very good card but not worth 50% more. AMD have just cut their prices and Nvidia have just released the 660Ti so you might be waiting a while for the next price cut in that range.
  10. DKulzer

    DKulzer TS Rookie Topic Starter

    HIS Ice Q is the GPU I was talking about. I have the notification set if they get any more in stock.

    For RAM I am thinking of one of these 4. I'm not 100% but I think only the red X series is compatible with the mobo.
  11. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,703   +171

    They're all compatible, but do you really need 16GB of RAM? 8GB is more than enough for most people. I'd focus your budget on the GPU upgrade first, you can always get a 2x4GB kit first then get another 2x4GB set if you find you're really running out of RAM.
  12. DKulzer

    DKulzer TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I would probably be fine with 8 gigs I just figured for an extra $40 bucks, what the hell. For some reason I thought you had to get all your RAM at once in one kit. Right now I have Warcraft, Chrome and Windows Live Mail open with the typical background stuff running (AVG and the Razer Config things). I'm using 3.58gb of my 4gb right now. Sometimes I have 3 instances or Warcraft open at once and I thought the extra RAM would be helpful.
  13. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,703   +171

    Well it's up to you really, RAM is pretty cheap nowadays. If you decide to get 16GB now it's a better idea to get a 2x8GB kit instead of 4x4GB.

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