1. #1
    Keyboard Turner
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    Looking to upgrade my PC

    Hey Champs. Veeeery long time lurker, first time poster.

    I'm planning to upgrade my pc in very near future. Now I'm not very experienced with computer building but I have replaced PSU and GPU before. So not a complete stranger to insides of a computer case.

    So getting to the upgrading part: My budget wiggles around 550-700 euros and I have some preferences. I'd rather not upgrade my PSU and GPU but depending on the performance the upgrades within that budget can provide, I'm willing to bend abit. Also I've heard great things about SSD's so I'm definitely going for one, atleast a 128GB one.

    About my current build. First off I'd like to point out that this PC was bought as package atleast 5 years ago(Fujitsu Siemens SCALEO P) and was upgraded from that. Since I can't post links and I expect you guys know alot more about computer parts than I do, I'm just gonna list parts I have at the moment:

    CPU: AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 5000+, with heatsink other than the default fan.
    MOBO: ASUS M2N68-AM PLUS, This one was a replacement for an old mobo that got busted and I got it replaced at a repairshop.
    RAM: Some ancient 3072MB in 2 sticks. I assume that's not relevant since I'm definitely getting that upgraded.
    GPU: ATI Radeon HD 5770. An item I'd like to stick with but am able to switch, just looking for the best setup available to my budget range.
    PSU: SeaSonic M12II 520 Bronze 520W ATX12V v2.3. Another piece I'd like to to stick with but see above.
    Case: To be upgraded, old one not relevant I assume since it's determined by motherboard specs(?)
    Optical drive: TSSTcorp CDDVDW TS-H653B SCSI CdRom Device - was the only thing I managed to gather from dxdiag. Sticking with it etc.
    OS: Windows 7 Home Premium

    Now my hard drives is something I'm not familiar with at all. Dxdiag provides this information:

    Drive: C:
    Free Space: 180.7 GB
    Total Space: 311.1 GB
    File System: NTFS
    Model: WDC WD50 00AAKS-07YGA SCSI Disk Device

    Drive: D:
    Free Space: 50.4 GB
    Total Space: 476.9 GB
    File System: NTFS
    Model: WDC WD50 00AAKS-07YGA SCSI Disk Device

    Drive: E:
    Free Space: 3.6 GB
    Total Space: 12.3 GB
    File System: NTFS
    Model: WDC WD50 00AAKS-07YGA SCSI Disk Device

    Drive: F:
    Free Space: 122.5 GB
    Total Space: 153.5 GB
    File System: NTFS
    Model: WDC WD50 00AAKS-07YGA SCSI Disk Device
    Now I think "E" is some kind of partition but I'm not sure. What I know I have 3 different hard drives which of the smallest one I'd like to replace with a SSD and use it for OS and games I'd play(WoW, D3, LoL. Very restricted choice in games since my current pc can't really handle much more. Interested in the FPS games like BF3, CoD etc). Other hard drives just for storage, not so important for me.

    Oh and my main monitor is ViewSonic’s 19" VA1916w LCD, 1440 x 900 resolution. I also have another monitor in use at the moment but it's the most ancient one you'd ever imagine, works for a screen for browsing etc while playing games. Not really looking for a new one necessarily but taking suggestions if I'd manage to scratch some extra cash together.

    Any kind of suggestions and guidance is welcome and really appreciated! Looking foward to your replies and thanks in advance.

    -Happy xmas from Finland

  2. #2
    Fluffy Kitten Marest's Avatar
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    CPU + Motherboard + RAM upgrade seems very relevant. Add an SSD and a new HDD if you feel space issues or just simply want a new, up-to-date, fresh drive. A 3570k with a Z77 motherboard, 2x4GB 1600MHz RAM and a 128GB SSD (Samsung 830/840 e.g.), or similar. Add a cooler if you want to attempt some overclocking.

    Case is dependant on motherboard size but also user preference and cooling (and space) needs.

    The above would cost you around $450-550. Use the rest of your budget on either a new monitor or a new GPU. The 5770 isn't terribly old but not exactly the fastest card on the market. A 7870 would make for a significant upgrade.

  3. #3
    Keyboard Turner
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marest View Post
    ...Add an SSD and a new HDD if you feel space issues or just simply want a new, up-to-date, fresh drive.
    Yeah getting a "fresh" one was the idea, my current drives came with the package PC and are really old.

    Looking for those mobos with the z77 chipset, they're micro ATX models, is this the only thing that matters in terms of compatibility with the computer case?

    Also say I'm gonna get the cpu, mobo, ram, and a 128gb ssd, how tight is gonna my psu wattage is gonna be if I get similiar GPU to what you have suggested? Feels like my whole computer is gonna get replaced

    One more thing: if I want to stick with the optical drive I have and 2 of the largest hdd's I already have + the new SSD, what do I have to look for in the computer case in the compatibility department other than it's a mATX compatible? Any item suggestions with a good price/quality ratio that a sizable gpu and the mobo would fit in? I'm not necessarily going for OC so any superultramegagood air flow isn't probably required(?)

  4. #4
    Brewmaster Biernot's Avatar
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    Relating to the hard drives:
    You actually have two hdds, and both are "Western Digital WD5000AAKS" (500GB 7200rpm Sata-2). C/E/F are partitions on one drive, and D is the other one. Partition E is most likely a recovery partition with the factory pre-install.

    When you upgrade, you should definitively do a fresh install. Normally i would suggest to keep the recovery partition in case you can't download all required drivers. But with all the new things you are getting, the factory install probably won't even boot on the new hardware, and you get all the required drivers anyway with the new parts.
    During the install process, i would recommend to get all important stuff from C/E/F onto another hard drive and delete these partitions, then create a single new one.
    When you do a fresh install of Windows after upgrading, make sure you install the 64bit version of Windows, else you couldn't use half of that tasty 8GB RAM.

    If you don't need additional storage space, then stick with your current hdds, they are fine.

    As for other upgrade parts:

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
    Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($119.99 @ Amazon)
    Memory: G.Skill Sniper 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($41.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($93.99 @ Mac Mall)
    Case: Lian-Li PC-7HX ATX Mid Tower Case ($108.99 @ SuperBiiz)
    Total: $554.95
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-12-24 09:53 EST-0500)

    The case is more or less a place holder, as this incorporates a lot of personal taste. Roughly $100 is a figure you should be prepared to spend for a decent case.

  5. #5
    Keyboard Turner
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    While you were writing an amazing and informative response, like Marest's, I was taking a look inside of my case again and found out that there actually was just 2 hdd's, as you said. I also took under the cpu heatsink and found out that the thermal paste was not in great shape. Does CPU's come with thermal paste or should I order it with the upgrades when time comes?

    Again about compatibility: What should I look for in a case other than 2 3.5" slots for my old hdd's and one 2.5" for the new ssd? What's physical difference between Mid tower and Full tower?

    How about when it comes to motherboard: I see two identical mobos, one is micro ATX (I assume smaller) and one is ATX. ATX one has 4 of SATA 6 gb/s and 4 SATA 3gb/s, this is the hard drive connector if I'm not mistaken. Micro ATX only has 2 of the SATA 6gb/s. Now the price between these two motherboards is noticable so do I really need 4 of the 6gb/s ones if I'm going to use 2 500gb hdd's and 1 128gb ssd. Also more expensive one has "eSata 6gb/s", what is that?

    The two motherboards in question:
    MSI Z77MA-G45 Micro ATX LGA1155 - the cheaper one
    ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 - the more expensive one

    Can't apologize for my curiousity but thanks in advance!

    Edit: Also about the PSU, assuming in getting the 3750k, a Z77, one of the popular 128gb ssd's and the new ram AND possibly a new GPU - will my current 520w be able to handle all those upgrades
    Last edited by Nslf; 2012-12-24 at 04:05 PM.

  6. #6
    Brewmaster Biernot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nslf View Post
    While you were writing an amazing and informative response, like Marest's, I was taking a look inside of my case again and found out that there actually was just 2 hdd's, as you said. I also took under the cpu heatsink and found out that the thermal paste was not in great shape. Does CPU's come with thermal paste or should I order it with the upgrades when time comes?

    Again about compatibility: What should I look for in a case other than 2 3.5" slots for my old hdd's and one 2.5" for the new ssd? What's physical difference between Mid tower and Full tower?

    How about when it comes to motherboard: I see two identical mobos, one is micro ATX (I assume smaller) and one is ATX. ATX one has 4 of SATA 6 gb/s and 4 SATA 3gb/s, this is the hard drive connector if I'm not mistaken. Micro ATX only has 2 of the SATA 6gb/s. Now the price between these two motherboards is noticable so do I really need 4 of the 6gb/s ones if I'm going to use 2 500gb hdd's and 1 128gb ssd. Also more expensive one has "eSata 6gb/s", what is that?

    The two motherboards in question:
    MSI Z77MA-G45 Micro ATX LGA1155 - the cheaper one
    ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 - the more expensive one

    Can't apologize for my curiousity but thanks in advance!

    Edit: Also about the PSU, assuming in getting the 3750k, a Z77, one of the popular 128gb ssd's and the new ram AND possibly a new GPU - will my current 520w be able to handle all those upgrades
    Thermal Paste: Yes, a new cpu comes with thermal paste. Or to be more specific: the heatsink does.

    Case: Mid Tower is the standard size that most cases are. A full Tower is just bigger. Usually that bigger size comes with more room for more hard drives, liquid cooling, etc. A Mid Tower is all you need.
    What case you get in the end, is really dependent on your taste. For your parts, a case the $50-100+ range is appropriate. Decent ventilation is desired, maybe look for noise dampening features (rubber mounted hard drives, foam padding, etc.). The following manufacturers have mostly good cases: Cooler Master, Corsair, NZXT, Fractal Design, Lian Li, Silverstone.

    Motherboards: As you already found out: MicroATX just means that the board is smaller. As a side effect of that, they usually have less features (because of space constrains).
    As for the SATA ports: You only really need a SATA 6gb/s port for your SSD. Normal hard drives are so slow, that they don't even reach SATA 3gb/s speeds. The Z77 chipset has a standard of 2x SATA 6gb/s and 4x SATA 3gb/s. If you see more than that on a board, then the manufacturer has added an additional SATA controller. Usually those are wasted and even preferably switched off in the BIOS when not used (because they increase boot times etc.)

    PSU: Yes, your psu is strong enough. Look at my computer (see signature): I have a very similar system to what you will be getting and my 480W psu is more than enough.

  7. #7
    Keyboard Turner
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    Alright, thanks for the really specific answers.

    So far I'm planning to go with Intel Core i5-3570K CPU, MSI Z77A-G45 ATX LGA1155 MOBO, My old Seasonic M12II 520w PSU, Old 2 500mb 3.5" hdd's, Fractal Design Arc Midi ATX case and probably Corsair Vengeance ram. I'm still doing some research on which 128gb is most reliable, I'm not looking for so much speed as for stability and reliability. The samsung 830 suggested seems to have great reviews but so does crucial m4. What do you think?

    Another thing I'm trying to figure out is which GPU I'm going for. They seem to be really expensive when it comes to high-end. Marest suggested the 7870 which only seems to have 1 DVI slot; I have 2 screens with only VGA cables but I use VGA-DVI adapters for my HD 5770. Also does using an adapter from VGA to DVI reduce performance? That might be one thing to look for in a new GPU.

    So I'm probably going to go with the new cpu, mobo and the case. Left to figure out is SSD brand and weither or not I have need or money to upgrade my GPU. I realise that with this CPU my old GPU is going to be a huge bottleneck.

  8. #8
    Brewmaster Biernot's Avatar
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    RAM: If you use the stock heatsink (the one that comes with the cpu), it does not matter, but as soon as you go for a bigger after market heatsink, you can get into trouble with high-profile ram like the corsair vengeance. To be on the safe side, get low profile ram, e.g. Corsair Vengeance LP, G.Skill Ares, Kingston HyperX

    SSD: Currently the most reliable models are probably Samsung 830 and Crucial m4. Intel should also be in that boat, but i don't know for certain.

    GPU: The connectors on the card really depend on the manufacturer and can be different from model to model. Currently standard for the better cards (>$150) is DVI/HDMI/DP, often also with a second DVI. Just look at the specific models you want to buy.
    DVI->VGA adapters don't reduce performance/fps (they are purely passive), but your image quality will be worse, because VGA is analog and not digital.
    If your current GPU will bottleneck your cpu depends on the game. In WoW you will only have slight bottlenecking, but other games are most likely more gpu-heavy, so there the impact will be more severe.

  9. #9
    Keyboard Turner
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    Thank you guys so much for the help. I'll run my final purchase decision by you guys when the time comes to order.

    Edit: Alright so I got the 3570k, z77 MSI mobo, 8gb of 1600 ram but still waiting on the case. My next step is replacing my other monitor (I have 2 VGA-only screens atm) and upgrading my gpu.

    Now assuming I'm going to get a monitor with DVI or HDMI connection, which GPU do you think would be suitable for my setup with about 250€ budget. I have to say I've been having big issues with amazon.co.uk billing so taking that into count, most finnish vendors charge about 20€ more compared to amazon. Keeping in mind my Seasonic 520w M12II, I've been looking at the gtx660(non-ti) and AMD's 7850s.
    Last edited by Nslf; 2013-01-04 at 01:11 PM.

  10. #10
    Keyboard Turner
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    Locked my eyes on Asus NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 DirectCu II, it offers:
    - 1 x Dual-Link DVI-I
    - 1 x Dual-Link DVI-D
    - 1 x HDMI.

    Now I already have VGA to DVI adapter but that only works for DVI-I, right?

    Any other GPU suggestions are greatly appreciated!

  11. #11
    The samsung 830 will give you reliability and speed for a low price since they are being discontinued. Take a look at tomshardware.com at the SSD hierarchy chart if you are uncertain about SSD's. Intel is extremely stable but it costs more. In my country(Norway) they are selling 180GB intel 330 for around 120 dollars atm. That's a steal for an SSD of that quality and size. I hear rumors the 330 is being sold at discount all over atm so I would consider that one as well.

    Crucial M4 is awfully stable and extremely reliable. It's cheap too Unfortunately it is a bit slower than similary priced Samsung 830 and Intel 330. But you can't go wrong with any of these. Also consider OCZ agility 3 if available cheap.

    edit:

    GTX660 is imo the best value for money card on the market atm as it is similary priced to 7850 (in my country) and 3-10% better. I even got it myself for my steam box. Works awesome, maxes all the games I have downloaded so far.

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