Feasible upgrade?

Our Public Forum. Discuss anything with Old Fogies here

Feasible upgrade?

Postby Wolfgang » Mon Apr 08, 2013 11:56 pm

My current computer has done alright for the time I've had it, but it seems a bit underwhelming these days. I figure if I'm going to upgrade, I should get some input from some experienced and trusted sources.

It is a habit now to disable shadows, FFAA and dynamic lighting in any modern game, and often I have to turn down the window air conditioner to combat the heat output. I assembled a system four or five years ago, and switched out a part here or there since as opportunity provides. A major component has been cost - I've been doing local jack-of-all-trades work in town, while sending out resumes and taking care of my father, so I only have about 350 USD at my disposal.
The current build:
Gigabyte MA785GM-US2H AM3 motherboard
AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor (2.8GHz)
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31000333AS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
My ram is a terrible mix, probably hurting my performance more than helping, consisting of two 1gb sticks of and two 2gb sticks G.Skill DDR2 800 ram, the latencies for the latter are far lower than the former.
I got a Radeon HD4850 (1gb vram for $25 last year, and I've been using it, though it does seem to up the heat output.
This is all running on the original 700w psu, a thermaltake, and in a case listed as mid-atx but an extremely tight fitting one.

Part of the reason for the neglect toward the system has been a gradual slowdown of my gaming tendencies and a shift toward single-player/ jrpgs, often console variants. That said, I'm averaging 30fps in NS2 or PS2, with everything on the lowest settings or thereabouts, and I wouldn't mind a bit of an upgrade. In addition, loading times can be rather long.
Given the financial constraints, I imagine an intel build to be rather hard to pull off - at least at the moment. I've looked around newegg and found some combo deals with a motherboard and cpu for about 200 USD, leaving 150 for ram and a video card, but I am unsure of the performance increase they offer. I know an SSD would greatly help the loading times issue, but they still seem a bit pricey.

The combo I was looking at: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDeal ... bo.1246810
MSI 970A-G43 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
AMD FX-8120 Zambezi 3.1GHz Socket AM3+ 125W Eight-Core or AMD FX-4100 Zambezi 3.6GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ 95W Quad-Core (difference of about 31 USD)
or alternatively
AMD A10-5800K Trinity 3.8GHz (4.2GHz Turbo) Socket FM2 100W Quad-Core AMD Radeon HD 7660D and
GIGABYTE GA-F2A75M-D3H FM2 AMD A75 (Hudson D3) SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
at http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDeal ... bo.1247037
If the APU would work, there is a combo about 80 USD cheaper with a weaker APU (AMD A4-5300 Trinity 3.4GHz (3.6GHz Turbo) Socket FM2 Dual Core 65W AMD Radeon HD 7480D)
I read up on the technical side of the AMD APUs a couple of years ago but I've not seen any in action and have always trusted people over benchmarks, especially in bargain builds. Likewise, I've read a little bit about the benefits of multi-core processors, but have never used anything beyond a dual core, and have heard of many games underutilising anything past the first two cores.

So what do you guys think? I'm not locked into newegg, either, if there is another trustworthy retailer with good deals. Alternatively, I can hold off and put away a bit more money toward this and maybe aim for mid-year or end-of-year sales, when things might be nicer.
Edit: Usb pins don't matter much (the case has two front-end usb 1.0 ports, one of which has ceased to function),
Wolfgang
Fogey
Fogey
 
Posts: 174
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:09 pm
Location: Hickory, North Carolina

Re: Feasible upgrade?

Postby Faust » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:20 am

Your hardware's definitely getting on with age. Much of it is definitely ready for retirement. I'd like to give you some feedback, but I haven't been following AMD processors as of late.

We should seek the divine insight of pr0phetik_dreamz.

Image
User avatar
Faust
Fogey
Fogey
 
Posts: 1780
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2004 11:17 am
Location: BC, Canada

Re: Feasible upgrade?

Postby pr0phetik_dreamz » Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:58 am

Personally I would wait until I had about USD $500-600 and buy a totally new budget computer. My reasoning for this over upgrading is that most of your parts are quite old, and when you have a smaller budget to work with unfortunately there is just not much wiggle room.

I'd baseline a budget system on at least these parts (or similar):

http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx?WishListNumber=22796546

  1. Intel Core i3-3220
  2. ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP
  3. CORSAIR XMS3 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
  4. PowerColor AX7850 2GBD5-DH Radeon HD 7850 2GB
  5. Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003 1TB 7200 RPM
  6. Corsair Carbide Series 200R
  7. CORSAIR CX430M 430W

That ^^ comes out to $696.42 as of today, with about another $80 in rebates. You possibly can save another $70-100 by buying a cheaper case (though that case is already pretty darn cheap) and a slower video card. I don't recommend getting a bad quality PSU though, I had a computer literally blow up before... and low quality PSUs seem to be affected by bad power lines more (?) at least for me.

A system like this will last you a while, though it's on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of gaming performance ... it'll do just fine though, and is quick due to i3's typically being higher clocked since they don't have as many cores as the i5's and i7's.

The problem with upgrading an ancient machine like the on you currently have, is that as time goes on parts that are compatible with older rigs are more expensive.. for example DDR2 memory is pretty ludicrously expensive compared to DDR3 which is cheap as chips.

On the topic of graphics, NS2 isn't a particularly graphics intensive game (apparently, learned this from Nikon and FG), but that doesn't mean that once you get a new rig you won't want to play other new games that are ... or maybe go back and play all those games the last few years you couldn't play due to your rigs' ancientness :D the Radeon HD7850 is one of the "sweet spot" cards, as beyond $250 video cards, their performance per dollar starts to taper off. I guess the HD7850 isn't the "cheapest" sweet spot card nor the quickest, but the gaming community has been buzzing for months now while nVidia and AMD were having their $150-200 price point war. FYI, the 7850 is seriously underpriced for its value ;)

Hmm what else, typical budget systems have to compromise on the motherboard as I did here and the CPU so you won't be able to overclock later even if you pop in a i5/i7 K series CPU. But not everyone overclocks so I'm aware of that :D

I'd say that even though this setup costs nearly $700, if you catch online sales you should be able to get down to $600 +/- and perhaps you'll even get some rebates too.

Ah.. and the heat with your comp. The CPU wasn't known to be particularly toasty, the GPU maybe a smidge... but I'm willing to bet a tenfer that it's actually due to your system needing to be cleaned + I'm guessing you have a case where the thermal design isn't that great. The 200R Corsair case is cheap and has great thermals for the price ;)
Image
An Original American Pai
User avatar
pr0phetik_dreamz
the Chivalrous Cybernetics Lover
the Chivalrous Cybernetics Lover
 
Posts: 2030
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 1:25 am
Location: Huntington Beach, California

Re: Feasible upgrade?

Postby Wolfgang » Tue Apr 09, 2013 1:06 pm

Ah, thanks for the input. Yeah, I imagine the heat is largely a result of poor case design and the video card - I think I have overdrive enabled. At ~600$ I'll probably be waiting at least until mid-year, so I'll keep and eye out for sales with the suggested parts as a baseline.
Wolfgang
Fogey
Fogey
 
Posts: 174
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:09 pm
Location: Hickory, North Carolina

Re: Feasible upgrade?

Postby pr0phetik_dreamz » Tue Apr 09, 2013 1:51 pm

You know what to do....

Image
Image
An Original American Pai
User avatar
pr0phetik_dreamz
the Chivalrous Cybernetics Lover
the Chivalrous Cybernetics Lover
 
Posts: 2030
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 1:25 am
Location: Huntington Beach, California

Re: Feasible upgrade?

Postby Wolfgang » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:58 pm

I just looked back over the suggested system, and if I were to postpone the hdd and video card and find a case within the same price range (as that very nice looking corsair case is unfortunately out of stock) and only buy one of the suggested PSU's, it comes to ~381$. I might be able to pull that off sooner, and make do until I get a new video card and hard drive (maybe even ssd by then). I know I'd probably be robbing myself of the more obvious, sudden increase in performance, as well as the bioshock infinite newegg card that comes with the graphics card, but I might end up doing it anyway. I am somewhat afraid of the windows 7 key issue (I've had to talk for thirty or fourty five minutes before with microsoft about re-authentication after changing parts), but I'll worry about that after re-installing.
Wolfgang
Fogey
Fogey
 
Posts: 174
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:09 pm
Location: Hickory, North Carolina

Re: Feasible upgrade?

Postby pr0phetik_dreamz » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:05 pm

Yes that can probably work too Wolfy. If all you're doing is wanting to play NS2 better now, you should be "ok" with the HD4850 for now as NS2 isn't that graphics intensive. The CPU and RAM will give you a substantial boost though for NS2 as apparently it's CPU-limited, and also speed up your general computer usage too.

I'd recommend waiting for that Corsair case to come back into stock. I don't have one myself but my brother eyesense does and I highly recommend it. I'm probably going to buy one as I need to build a new computer for virtual machines soonish. Usually they come back into stock in a few days or a week. Newegg moves a lot of stuff daily of course, so I'd expect them to get a product that's relatively new (and very popular) back in stock quickly :)
Image
An Original American Pai
User avatar
pr0phetik_dreamz
the Chivalrous Cybernetics Lover
the Chivalrous Cybernetics Lover
 
Posts: 2030
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 1:25 am
Location: Huntington Beach, California

Re: Feasible upgrade?

Postby Wolfgang » Thu Apr 11, 2013 12:49 am

Well, I started encountering runtime errors in NS2 a couple of hours ago, and then while commanding aliens a few minutes ago, noticed some smoke coming from my computer. I quickly apologized and unplugged and isolated the thing, fearing the worst. The only part I could find any obvious signs of damage from was the video card, which has some minor scorching along the edges and some warping of the plastic heatsink cover. So, as it turns out, I might be sticking to whatever my integrated video card can handle for a while, which is a good bit below NS2. I'm rather hoping the corsair case comes back in stock soon - that or I might splurge for the 300R version. I'd still be using the integrated intel video, but I'm worried of what might happen next when the video card suddenly starts smoking.
Wolfgang
Fogey
Fogey
 
Posts: 174
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:09 pm
Location: Hickory, North Carolina

Re: Feasible upgrade?

Postby Faust » Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:25 am

Uh oh, your system's leaking the magic blue smoke. I'd definitely agree that the video card needs permanent retirement. This Zalmon case a buddy of mine just bought seems to be a decent investment for the price:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... alParent=1

It's reviewed fairly well too. My friend quite likes it. Though honestly I think he'd like anything considering he was upgrading from a featureless beige box from the bronze age. It had a freaking spider living in it.
User avatar
Faust
Fogey
Fogey
 
Posts: 1780
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2004 11:17 am
Location: BC, Canada

Re: Feasible upgrade?

Postby Wolfgang » Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:52 pm

Ah, thanks Faust! I wound up purchasing that case after some debate - amazon has a few carbides left, but wants twenty dollars more plus shipping. Thanks to both of you, Faust and Pr0ph for helping me figure out these new fangled electronics.
Wolfgang
Fogey
Fogey
 
Posts: 174
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:09 pm
Location: Hickory, North Carolina

Re: Feasible upgrade?

Postby pr0phetik_dreamz » Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:02 pm

I just noticed the Carbide 200Rs are back in stock at Newegg. Just was at my local computer store (Fry's Electronics) too and they had them there as well :(

So you're getting everything except for the video card? Good deal... speaking of smoking video cards my old nVidia 8800GT also started smoking as well a few years ago, and I had a friend whose ATI HD5970 literally caught on fire haha.
Image
An Original American Pai
User avatar
pr0phetik_dreamz
the Chivalrous Cybernetics Lover
the Chivalrous Cybernetics Lover
 
Posts: 2030
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 1:25 am
Location: Huntington Beach, California

Re: Feasible upgrade?

Postby Faust » Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:50 pm

You're welcome! Thanks to proph for the video card recommendation. I happened to have a friend who's been doing some upgrades as of late. He wanted a quick suggestion, and I trust Proph's insight I just passed along the recommendation.
User avatar
Faust
Fogey
Fogey
 
Posts: 1780
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2004 11:17 am
Location: BC, Canada

Re: Feasible upgrade?

Postby Wolfgang » Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:14 pm

Well, I also didn't get the hard drive, and for memory I went with http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820145346, still the low latency corsair ram, but the promo code isn't limited to one per customer - I'm not sure how great the impact of dual channeling is, or how great the risk of mismatched chips in a single order. Additionally, I've been looking at an Asus board with the same chipset: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813131964 . One of my friends uses Asus frequently and it seems to do well, and it does support some higher frequencies of ram. I've not actually placed the order yet, but I'm trying to get it decided on so I can start getting the rebate details sorted and work out if there are any other trustworthy digital retailers with some different/better discounts. As a side not: interestingly, amazon has the 200R for ten dollars more plus shipping (unless you're prime, which I'm not) and the Zalman for ten dollars less.
Wolfgang
Fogey
Fogey
 
Posts: 174
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:09 pm
Location: Hickory, North Carolina

Re: Feasible upgrade?

Postby pr0phetik_dreamz » Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:51 pm

As long as you get the same make and model you shouldn't have too many issues with dual channel memory, as they would be using the same PCB and DDR3 chips and your frequencies and timings will be the same by default.

The Zalman case is a bit flashy for me... it reminds me of the days with many LED fans I guess lol.

Yeah the 7850 is a great card and seriously underpriced to combat nVidia which couldn't release a decent competitor in the price range until very recently (the GTX 650 Ti, which is still slower, btw). The 7850 1GB was a "better value" but those are being phased out now due to AMD releasing the HD7790... the 7790 doesn't perform as well but I think AMD was losing too much money on those 7850 1GB's. The 2GB version that I suggested is the same of course except with more GDDR5, which is well worth the extra $15-30 over the 1GB version since then you can enable higher AA/AF in newer games :)
Image
An Original American Pai
User avatar
pr0phetik_dreamz
the Chivalrous Cybernetics Lover
the Chivalrous Cybernetics Lover
 
Posts: 2030
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 1:25 am
Location: Huntington Beach, California

Re: Feasible upgrade?

Postby Wolfgang » Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:31 am

I looked into the specs and benchmarks comparing 7790s to 7850s and saw a pretty decent improvement in most areas, so I will likely get it later. The difference in cases seems mostly aesthetic - the corsair comes with only two fans and the zalman four, and the corsair has a second side fan mount, but I can use one of the 120mm fans from my current computer I would think. After removing the video card and changing up the airflow, my system is idling at 25C, which is a nice improvement of almost 10C. I've had issues matching G.skill memory modules purchased from a local circuit city into a dual channel pairs, but that could just have been the store or operator error, I tried different dimms for them, but gave up early on when I read that DDR2 gains were rather small. Thanks again for the help guys. I've got the rebate papers printed and I think I'm about ready to order.
Wolfgang
Fogey
Fogey
 
Posts: 174
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:09 pm
Location: Hickory, North Carolina

Next

Return to General

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron