*Considering* upgrading my computer...

Microman's picture

So I have a bit of cash, and I’m trying to think of how best to spend it… I will save some for Uni, and I’m keen to upgrade the computer as it’s getting slower as technology progresses…

I have a budget of about $400NZD.

Here’s my current machine:
|CPU|AMD Phenom II X2 555 CPU, 3.2GHz, Socket AM3, 32/64-Bit, Retail pack with fan, Black Edition|$163.23|“Ascent”:http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=384938|
|Motherboard|Gigabyte GA-870A-UD3 Motherboard|$217.38|“Ascent”:http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=387759|
|GPU|Gigabyte GV-N220TC-1GI Video Card, GeForce GT 220, 1024MB, DDR3, PCIe-16, DVI, HDMI|$129.67|“Ascent”:http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=390325|
|GPU|Gigabyte Nvidea GT250|||
|Memory|A-RAM ECO Series ARTW4GB1333D3E, 2×2GB, DDR3-1333, PC3-10600, CL9, DIMM|$152.55|“Ascent”:http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=386451|
|Hard Drive|Western Digital Caviar Green WD5000AADS Hard Disk Drive, 500GB, 5400-7200rpm, 32MB Cache, SATA-2|$76.66|“Ascent”:http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=377880|
|Optical Drive|LG Electronics GH22NS50 DVD Writer, DVD 16R/22W/8RW, CD 48R/48W/32RW, Internal, SATA, Black, OEM|$51.35|“Ascent”:http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=379922|
|Case|Aerocool Aquilo ATX Mid Tower Case, 500W PSU, Black|$101.21|“Ascent”:http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=389804|
*Prices are not longer valid, so just ignore them.

Now, I figure I could add a new HDD, and get good quality RAM to replace the existing RAM like this:
HDD: Caviar Black WD1002FAEX Hard Drive PB Tech
RAM: 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 DIMM (Kit of 2) XMP PB Tech

Total: $273.70

Or, I could get a top of the line CPU that fits in my socket:
CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition Six-Core PB Tech

Total: $286.35

Lastly, a new graphics card. These are expensive!
GPU: Gigabyte GV-N560OC-1GI, GeForce GTX 560 Ti Video Card Ascent

Total: $391.89

The final option would be to create a combination of lower end parts. Such as getting a lesser graphics card like the GTX460 @ $312. Help?




for $450


If thats all your going to upgrade, go for the GFX card. The 250 will bottle neck any thing you uprade any way. Better off buy that, then upgrading the rest later. This way your sinking money into some thing you can put into a later system.

Microman's picture

Gaming vs Using

In all seriousness, good graphics isn’t everything to me. I’d be more keen to have the computer running smoother during normal use. I am sure the GT250 is a pretty old average card, however I wouldn’t mind going for a 400 or low end 500 series card, as long as it will make a noticable difference. If it doesn’t, then I can always buy a better card later.

This is why I suggested the new HDD. The one I have is slow I’m sure… WD makes carviar green, blue, and black. The green and black have the higher cache, however the green spins the slowest. A carviar black is the best 7200rpm from WD.

The 4GB I RAM I have currently never gets to 100%. This suggests to me that only faster RAM would be an improvement. However, RAM is cheap, and I have the cheapest 4GB pack I could find at the moment.

As for the CPU. In windows, I often saw it running 3200MHz and 100% on both cores. Not wanting to get a new motherboard, I figure 4x or 6x cores at the same speed would result in a noticeable difference.

However, I’m fairly new to this stuff, and would be interested to know where the bottleneck does lie. Having an awesome computer would be cool, but I understand I don’t have the largest budget. $450 would the absolute most I would be willing to spend, and I’d rather leave my budget at $400.



Hmmm ok hows this

Well you do have a good building block to push off from… let say ultra budget with nothing in mind of future upgrade, just a straight up here and now boost.

Get 2 more sticks of the same ram, its slow ram but then you will have 8gig and 2 dual channels up and running.
$38.35 (http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=394212)

CPU, grab the Phenom II X6 3.2GHz, the extra couple of dollars over the 2.8 will be well worth it. It will give you a straight up boost with so much extra through put.
$288.51 (http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=9387684)

Get yourself the new HDD, this one will get you more speed and space. WD Cav Black 1TB.
$129.79 (http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=385460)

Total cost $456.65
This should cover all the bases your looking for. Though you will still get staggered horrible FPS with the GFX you have, your system over all will be so much faster. The next time you can, grab any card you can GTX460 and above.

Hope this helps.

Oh and PS… I would say the reason your ram is never at 100% usage is due to your CPU. If its maxed out, then its not going to ever use any more ram then it already is… it just cant do it captain :P. But with new CPU, that will be a different story.

Microman's picture


Firstly, the RAM. How important is it to get the same sticks? Is mixing and matching a bad thing? Also, I can get 2× 4GB sticks for $10 more then 2× 2GB sticks. Is it better to have four sticks or two?

Totally agree about the HDD. Most of the time spent waiting is when copying files, loading something, or anything else involving the HDD. I’m sure this will make a good difference.

As for the CPU, this is where I could keep inside the budget. Is buying the best in this catagory necessary? Would an X4 cope fine, or am I better off with the X6? If the X6 is the better choice, I’ll have to go cheap on the HDD or the RAM to keep in budget.

Either that, or save less for Uni :-P



Out at a party...

Quick answer, same sticks are important. You can not mix. Very rare they will work. Will give further details soon, I just don’t know how long it will be till I’m right minded lol. Give me till Monday for an answer :). Dual 30’s party tonight.

Microman's picture

Not buying in a hurry

I’m not in a hurry to spend my money :-) I’m figuring out how I can best spend it…

It’s either this, or a second hand sound system I reckon. However, this computer feels a little sluggish, so I think a new HDD and processor would do nicely.

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