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Upgrading My PC - Need Some Help

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#1 Robsy128

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 06:31 PM

Hey guys :)

I'm thinking about upgrading my PC but I really have no idea what to go for or whether the big shiny stuff is compatible. My PC runs fine at the moment and can handle most things at a steady 30+ frames per second on max graphics (aside from GW2 and a few other new games). It's no essential that I upgrade it, but I fancy doing it as a project. Plus, I also use programs like Unity, Unreal Developer Kit, Adobe Photoshop and Sony Vegas, so hopefully more power would make those work better.

So far I have:

4GB RAM
AMD Phenom 9450e Quad Core Processor 2.00GHz
NVidia GeForce GTX 460 SE

I bought a motherboard kit last year and basically built this new PC from scratch (more or less). I also bought the Nvidia graphics card last year as well as Nvidia 3D Vision for an awesome gaming experience (whenever I feel like it).

I'm fairly sure the first thing I need to upgrade is my processor, although I don't know what's compatible and what isn't. I don't want to spend £200 on a processor that isn't going to fit! I know you need to know the motherboard set-up, although I'm not really sure how to check that.

So my two questions are:
What should I upgrade (and to what)?
And, how do you know if it's compatible? I.E DDR2 or DDR3 RAM, the processor, etc. I know that the graphics card needs to be PCI Express 2.0 or something along those lines.

#2 dhatcher1

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 06:46 PM

Your CPU is definitely a much bigger problem than your graphics card.

You need to know your motherboard model and bios revision to know what CPUs it can handle.  Its possible there is no upgrade without a new motherboard.  A Phenom II x4 955/965 is probably the best CPU upgrade your motherboard can handle if its newer.

If you are getting a new motherboard, intel makes the most sense right now for both price/performance and raw performance.

4GB RAM is plenty for gaming.  You can use windows task manager to check RAM usage when using your other applications to see if you need more or not.

Without a budget and motherboard model I cant give a specific recommendation.

Edited by dhatcher1, 02 January 2013 - 06:49 PM.


#3 Quaker

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 04:48 PM

That CPU is socket AM2/AM2+. It's most likely, therefore, that you motherboard is, at best an AM2+ model, which limits your upgrade path.
Realistically speaking, you are going to want to upgrade both the CPU and the motherboard (and possibly the RAM) to a newer AM3+ model or Intel socket1155.

As Dhatcher says, it would help to know your current motherboard model and your budget. (Your power supply wattage may be useful as well)

#4 Straegen

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 05:21 PM

If $300 is in your budget a new mid range i5, MB and RAM can be found with the right deal. Would be a decent upgrade and probably see 30% bump in overall performance.

Dropping $200 on an older gtx 660 would net 200% FPS in most games but won't help the speed much. Adding another 4GB on a 64bit OS would help as well and that is pretty cheap just make sure you are on 64bit.

Lastly and often overlooked is an SSD upgrade. Picking one up breathes a lot of life into a PC since the HD is the slowest component in a computer. It generally won't bump the FPS but it helps booting, starting apps/games, file copies, etc.

#5 typographie

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 05:33 PM

View PostRobsy128, on 02 January 2013 - 06:31 PM, said:

And, how do you know if it's compatible? I.E DDR2 or DDR3 RAM, the processor, etc. I know that the graphics card needs to be PCI Express 2.0 or something along those lines.

The RAM and processor depend on your motherboard. Its probably an AM2+ socket, thus limiting you to AMD's older designs. That information is very easy to find if you know the make and model of the board, or if you have the manual handy.

All graphics cards are PCI Express. The version doesn't matter for your purposes, PCI-E, like USB, is forward and backward compatible. A PCI-E 3.0 card will plug into a PCI-E 2.0 motherboard and work fine. Today's video cards aren't limited by interface bandwidth anyway.

#6 Robsy128

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 08:32 PM

Thanks for the replies so far guys!

Yeah, I figured that the CPU would be the very first thing I would need to upgrade. I really don't fancy upgrading my motherboard as I just did that last year and ended up pretty much buying a whole new PC to get it working. I simply can't afford to do that again as I'm a student.

I'm basically looking to get max graphics with a smooth frame rate (if possible). I mean, I already have that, but I'd like max graphics on games like GW2, Skyrim (with mods), minecraft with shaders mods, etc.

The motherboard is an MSI 1996 if that helps at all? Thanks goodness for windows in cases nowadays :D

Budget wise, I can afford to upgrade one thing every few months, I think. Like every 2 months. The maximum I would spend is about £150 on a part. Maybe £200 if it was worthwhile. Since I spent about £200 last year on the graphics card, I'm a bit reluctant to replace it so soon. I would like the parts I buy to last a while before I need to upgrade them again.

I'm also not interested in a solid state drive. They may be awesome and save loading times, but I'm not bothered about loading times in all honesty. I have an internal and external hard drive of 1TB each which I'm happy with :)

#7 Quaker

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 04:01 PM

View PostRobsy128, on 03 January 2013 - 08:32 PM, said:

The motherboard is an MSI 1996 if that helps at all? Thanks goodness for windows in cases nowadays :D
No, that doesn't help. The only MSI reference to "1996" I can find is "n1996", which is an Intel board with socket 478 for Celeron or P4 - in other words, very old and wrong processor.
You'll need to actually open up the machine and get the model number off the board itself.

It's an MS-7309.

But, in any case, there probably isn't any meaningful processor upgrade you can do with your current motherboard. You are basically stuck with replacing the motherboard processor and RAM.
(Your RAM is probably DDR2 which would need to be replaced with DDR3)

The good news is that almost any of the newer socket1155 or AM3+ CPUs (+ motherboard and RAM) would outperform the old 9450e, so you could start with a cheap, low-end processor and upgrade it later.

For reference, check this performance chart and note where the 9450e is placed.
http://www.tomshardw...ock,3106-5.html

Edited by Quaker, 06 January 2013 - 04:34 PM.


#8 Robsy128

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 07:50 PM

I didn't need to open the machine. I remembered that I had some software that came with the motherboard to update the BIOS and it tells me that it's an MSI MS-7309 motherboard. I hope that helps?

So I think I need to upgrade my CPU first. Is it worth upgrading the RAM? There's a good deal at the moment from overclockers.co.uk. They're selling 8GB of RAM for about £40 including postage and packaging. It's DDR3, so I'm guessing that's what I need?

Do I also need to upgrade my Nvidia graphics card? I paid £300 for it last year believing that it would last a few years. It's just that I don't seem to be getting a smooth frame rate in Guild Wars 2 and Skyrim (with mods, so I don't know whether that's an issue or not). Would more RAM or a better CPU help with the frame rate?

#9 Zerk2012

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 12:34 AM

View PostRobsy128, on 05 January 2013 - 07:50 PM, said:

I didn't need to open the machine. I remembered that I had some software that came with the motherboard to update the BIOS and it tells me that it's an MSI MS-7309 motherboard. I hope that helps?

So I think I need to upgrade my CPU first. Is it worth upgrading the RAM? There's a good deal at the moment from overclockers.co.uk. They're selling 8GB of RAM for about £40 including postage and packaging. It's DDR3, so I'm guessing that's what I need?

Do I also need to upgrade my Nvidia graphics card? I paid £300 for it last year believing that it would last a few years. It's just that I don't seem to be getting a smooth frame rate in Guild Wars 2 and Skyrim (with mods, so I don't know whether that's an issue or not). Would more RAM or a better CPU help with the frame rate?
Their really nothing to upgrade to  with your mother board their about 6 different model numbers of the ms7309 only suporting 95 watt or less processors and if I'm not mistaken DDR2 memory you might could use this but you would need to look at the MSI website for CPU charts. http://www.overclock...1967&subcat=803
If you bought that motherboard last year you got totaly screwed and on the price of the video card also.

#10 Robsy128

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 01:19 AM

View PostZerk2012, on 06 January 2013 - 12:34 AM, said:

Their really nothing to upgrade to  with your mother board their about 6 different model numbers of the ms7309 only suporting 95 watt or less processors and if I'm not mistaken DDR2 memory you might could use this but you would need to look at the MSI website for CPU charts. http://www.overclock...1967&subcat=803
If you bought that motherboard last year you got totaly screwed and on the price of the video card also.

Eh, so I need to upgrade the motherboard first then before even thinking about doing anything else?
I already have DDR2 RAM, so I was thinking maybe I should upgrade to DDR3.
I bought the motherboard last year as a bundle. It came with the RAM and processor and cost about £150, which I didn't think was too bad for what it had. It would have cost me a lot more to buy the board separately along with the processor and RAM by themselves as well. I also checked everywhere in April 2011 and the Nvidia 460 SE was £300. Now we're in 2013, so it's all lasted 2 years and is still going strong :)

#11 Zerk2012

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 06:10 AM

View PostRobsy128, on 06 January 2013 - 01:19 AM, said:

Eh, so I need to upgrade the motherboard first then before even thinking about doing anything else?
I already have DDR2 RAM, so I was thinking maybe I should upgrade to DDR3.
I bought the motherboard last year as a bundle. It came with the RAM and processor and cost about £150, which I didn't think was too bad for what it had. It would have cost me a lot more to buy the board separately along with the processor and RAM by themselves as well. I also checked everywhere in April 2011 and the Nvidia 460 SE was £300. Now we're in 2013, so it's all lasted 2 years and is still going strong :)
No you need to buy the motherboard, processor, and ram all at one time their nothing to upgrade on that end.

#12 Quaker

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 04:32 PM

The MSI MS-7309 is an AM2+ motherboard which is only rated up to a 95watt processor and uses DDR2 RAM.

That just confirms what I said in my last post - you are going to need a new CPU + motherboard + DDR3 RAM. This could even be a relatively low-end IB i3 or FX processor and still be a performance gain.

#13 typographie

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 06:11 PM

View PostRobsy128, on 06 January 2013 - 01:19 AM, said:

I already have DDR2 RAM, so I was thinking maybe I should upgrade to DDR3.

To be clear, you have to use the RAM your motherboard and processor support. Your current hardware requires DDR2 RAM, pretty much anything new you buy will require DDR3. So new motherboard means new processor and new RAM. It is all or nothing in this case.

#14 Robsy128

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:05 PM

Ahh okay. So is it worth buying a bundle, or should I just spend months saving up money and then buy everything in one go?

#15 Elder III

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 04:13 AM

If you find a good deal on a bundle you could buy it now, just make sure that it supports DDR3 RAM and the best CPU your budget can afford....

#16 Robsy128

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 06:26 AM

I was thinking about this:

http://www.amazon.co...57539933&sr=8-1

#17 dhatcher1

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 09:53 AM

http://www.cpu-upgra..._(MS-7309).html

There are a bunch of Athlon II and Phenom II CPUs that should be compatible, up to a Phenom II x4 940 and 955 that only run 95W TDP.  The only problem is making sure you get the uncommon 95W version, but you might find one cheap and it would be a quick 20-30% boost that might suffice until you are ready to buy a new machine.

Here is a newegg link for the 95W Phenom II 955.  Its out of stock but you might find the same model # somewhere used.
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819113007

Just an FYI, I saw a post that someone ran a standard 125W Phenom IIx4 945 on one of these motherboards a year before it fried the motherboard.

Edited by dhatcher1, 07 January 2013 - 09:59 AM.


#18 Quaker

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 04:09 PM

View PostRobsy128, on 07 January 2013 - 06:26 AM, said:

I was thinking about this:

http://www.amazon.co...57539933&sr=8-1
No, you're looking for an upgrade, not a lateral shift. :)
It would be better than what you have now, but an FX-4170 would actually be even better, for about the same price.

Edited by Quaker, 07 January 2013 - 04:16 PM.


#19 Robsy128

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 07:37 PM

View PostQuaker, on 07 January 2013 - 04:09 PM, said:

No, you're looking for an upgrade, not a lateral shift. :)
It would be better than what you have now, but an FX-4170 would actually be even better, for about the same price.

I thought that would be an upgrade?  I'm looking to buy something that will last at least another 2 years with max graphics/high graphics at 60fps.

I mean, that seems like a much better motherboard, it has 8GB of RAM (which is double what I have now) and the processor has 6 cores that run at 3.3GHz. The FX-4170 looks good, but it's an AM3+ socket, which I don't have on my current motherboard, so I'd still have to buy a new motherboard anyway. I figured it'd be better in a bundle, to be honest.

Edited by Robsy128, 07 January 2013 - 07:48 PM.


#20 simon2508

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:16 PM

Hey, will this work for GW2 ?

CPU:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819113283
or
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819113282

Motherboard:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813131884

Memory:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820104362

Hard drive:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16822136769

Graphic card:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16814121652
or
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16814121663

please respond.

#21 Quaker

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 04:03 PM

I meant a bundle with an FX-4170 of course. :huh:

For example: http://www.amazon.co...7660868&sr=1-16

And, if you could swing the extra cost you'd be much happier with
http://www.amazon.co...7660978&sr=1-11

or

http://www.amazon.co...57661058&sr=1-9

Edited by Quaker, 08 January 2013 - 04:04 PM.


#22 Robsy128

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 06:20 PM

That's good. I've been looking into it all day whilst studying and I hear Intel is by far the better cpu. It's also far better to get an i5 3750K quad Core CPU if you're buying anything at this time. That's what I hear, anyway. I came across this and thought it was worth the money... maybe:

http://www.ebuyer.co...-gamerbundle-v2

Thoughts?

I'm hoping that will be enough, along with my Nvidia card I currently have, to boost the fps in GW2 and various other games like Crysis and my modded Skyrim. As I said before, they run fairly smoothly on my current set-up, but I would like something that I can upgrade over the next year to get an awesome gaming set-up without spending too much in one go.

Edited by Robsy128, 08 January 2013 - 06:22 PM.


#23 dhatcher1

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 10:32 PM

View PostRobsy128, on 08 January 2013 - 06:20 PM, said:

http://www.ebuyer.co...-gamerbundle-v2

Thoughts?

I'm hoping that will be enough, along with my Nvidia card I currently have, to boost the fps in GW2 and various other games like Crysis and my modded Skyrim. As I said before, they run fairly smoothly on my current set-up, but I would like something that I can upgrade over the next year to get an awesome gaming set-up without spending too much in one go.
That would give you a top of the line CPU and a mid range GPU.   It should be very good now and will benefit from a graphics card upgrade in the future.  Your current CPU would probably not get much improvement from a stronger graphics card.  I think its a good step forward.

Edited by dhatcher1, 08 January 2013 - 10:32 PM.


#24 chado2011

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 11:17 PM

For $350 you could get an I5 3570k, mobo and ram.

Definitely worth a few extra bucks. First non AMD I've ever owned and my god, the difference.

#25 Zerk2012

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 12:42 AM

View PostRobsy128, on 08 January 2013 - 06:20 PM, said:

That's good. I've been looking into it all day whilst studying and I hear Intel is by far the better cpu. It's also far better to get an i5 3750K quad Core CPU if you're buying anything at this time. That's what I hear, anyway. I came across this and thought it was worth the money... maybe:

http://www.ebuyer.co...-gamerbundle-v2

Thoughts?

I'm hoping that will be enough, along with my Nvidia card I currently have, to boost the fps in GW2 and various other games like Crysis and my modded Skyrim. As I said before, they run fairly smoothly on my current set-up, but I would like something that I can upgrade over the next year to get an awesome gaming set-up without spending too much in one go.
H61 motherboard 1333 memory no CPU cooler not something I would buy but this I would pre overclocked to 4.0 http://www.overclock...rodid=BU-080-OE

#26 Robsy128

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 07:17 AM

View PostZerk2012, on 09 January 2013 - 12:42 AM, said:

H61 motherboard 1333 memory no CPU cooler not something I would buy but this I would pre overclocked to 4.0 http://www.overclock...rodid=BU-080-OE

That's a 2500K processor, though, and I hear that the I5 3750 is worth the extra cash. Besides, the bundle I posted did say that it comes with a heatsink fan so it should be fine. I'm not planning to overclock it. Not unless I really have to, anyway. That's when I'll buy a better cpu cooler.

As for a graphics card upgrade... the 460 SE should be okay for a few more months, shouldn't it? I hear that a 700 Nvidia card series is going to be released later this year, so I think I might just wait for that to come out and then buy one of those.

The only other question I have is about DDR4 RAM, which is scheduled to release this year sometime. Would this new motherboard support it? Or would I have to buy a whole new motherboard in the future once again?

#27 dhatcher1

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 10:39 PM

Dont worry about DDR4 RAM.  RAM speed is only a few percent of your PC's gaming performance equation.

Edited by dhatcher1, 09 January 2013 - 10:40 PM.


#28 Robsy128

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 12:06 AM

That's fair enough. My friend desperately needed a new graphics card, so I sold him my 460 SE and bought a GTX 670 today. I'm hoping I can plug it into my current motherboard (as I understand that a 3.0 card can fit into a 2.0 slot). Then I'll just wait a month, save up some more money and buy the bundle (the i5 3750k overclocked bundle. I found one on overclockers.co.uk and it seemed to be already overclocked and ready to just plug in and play).

Also, do manufacturers ever post the size of the motherboard? I can't seem to find the information anywhere. I'm afraid I may have to buy another case, even though I already have a working one.

#29 Elder III

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 02:13 AM

Your current mobo is a MicroATX, but your case could be big enough for a standard ATX motherboard... chances are that if a GTX 670 fits in it it will likely take an ATX motherboard.  If you could let us know what case it is, or take a picture of it with the side panel off then we would know for certain.

#30 typographie

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 06:30 AM

View PostRobsy128, on 09 January 2013 - 07:17 AM, said:

The only other question I have is about DDR4 RAM, which is scheduled to release this year sometime. Would this new motherboard support it? Or would I have to buy a whole new motherboard in the future once again?

Each processor architecture is designed to use only a certain type of RAM. While you need to be familiar with your PC's compatibility, RAM is not something you need to worry much about since you really don't have any meaningful choices between products. Practical RAM decisions usually boil down to which have a warranty and the prettiest heatsinks.

All platforms of the last few years are inextricably paired to DDR3 and nothing available for purchase today can be upgraded to use DDR4 later. I'm not even sure if Intel's next CPU generation will support DDR4, so at best we're talking about your next-next PC.

Edited by typographie, 10 January 2013 - 06:31 AM.






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