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Hardware Upgrade

TorvalTorval Member LegendaryPosts: 20,161

After waffling about for the last 6 months with hardware upgrades I'm ready to move forward.

My current system is an HP Pavillion HP-E9290F.  It's an early core i7 system that has been pretty solid and stable.

Brief Specs:

CPU: i7/920 @ 2.67GHz

P/S: 460W generic

MOTHERBOARD: IPMTB-TK (Truckee) / X58 Express chipset

RAM: 9GB PC3-8500 trichannel

VIDEO: Nvidia GTX-260/1.8G

STORAGE: 1TB 7200RPM SATA

 

Games I play: Tera, GW2, Neverwinter, TSW, STO, LotRO, EQ2, GW, and Rift.  I would like to play current releases at nice settings with some sort of AA.

There are two main bottlenecks and one minor that I can see in the system.  The two main are the video card and the hard drive and the minor one is the low end i7 CPU.

Some MMO engines, to put it very crudely, like a higher clock speed from the CPU than what mine can deliver.  I don't think I would get a huge performance bump from upgrading the CPU.

It seems the video card would be the best bang for the money and then an SSD for faster load times.  After reading the recent review of the Sapphire 7870 I did some searching and came up with the 7870 being a good card for the money and performance.  The other cards I looked at are a GTX-550ti, a GTX-650ti, and a 7950.  The 7950 is more than I want to spend really so unless there is a very compelling reason to go with that I'm excluding it.

This is the Sapphire I found at Newegg: Sapphire 7870 for $239.  There is another for $20 more, but I don't understand the difference between the two.  One says it's the OC edition and the other the "FLEX".

When I look at comparisons of the 650ti and 660ti to this card I find that the 650ti is a cheaper way to go but doesn't match up.  The 660ti performs better or worse depending on the application and seems to be the competitive peer to the 7870, but is more expensive by about $40.  I've always had good results with Nvidia so I'm a little leery of switching brands (the last ATI card I had was just as PCIx was coming out).

I need help with the power supply upgrade.  I get lost in all of the numbers and stuff.  I came up with this 600W FSP (80+ Gold).  My concern there is the reviews said the cables were a little short.  My desktop is standard sized, not a small form factor.

So for about $350 it seems I could upgrade reasonably well and squeeze another year or so out of this desktop.

Fedora - A modern, free, and open source Operating System. https://getfedora.org/

traveller, interloper, anomaly, iteration


Comments

  • xdflamesxdflames Member Posts: 6

    460W PSU should probably be upgraded first, then go with the GPU. As long as you have good airflow in your case, you can overclock even some low end GPUs to be able to play games on high graphic settings without much more added noise and heat. Your i7 should be fine, like you said.

    For the PSU, I always recommend splurging because for any system, a good quality power supply is needed. Regardless of if you're going to be overclocking or not. I would recommend this Rosewill PSU over the one you linked. I haven't used it before, and there seems to be a couple DOA reviews, but that shouldn't be an issue.

    The sapphire 7870 you linked seems to be good as well. I would run with that.

     

    Now on to your HDD/SSD question. I wouldn't really recommend getting an SSD. Yes they do go faster, but only when initially loading the game. You won't see any change when you're actually playing the game. Your boot times would be faster too, but that would only be if you move your OS over to the new SSD. This could cause problems with OEM software and etc. I just say right off that the SSD isn't worth the hassle unless you're building an entirely new rig and can install the OS and everything onto it immediately, as well as the games you feel are important. Then put everything else on the HDD for storage.

  • RidelynnRidelynn Member EpicPosts: 7,076

    Not sure exactly how you have 9G of RAM, but I'll roll with it. A triple 2G and a triple 1G set I guess? I don't know that mismatching them like that is doing you any favors, but I doubt it's really hurting that much.

    Upgrade your power supply (a nice 550 or 600W is plenty).
    Upgrade your video card - depending on your budget
    Get an SSD - 120G or so is plenty.

    And possibly - think about upgrading the CPU heat sink.

    That system still has a lot of life left in it, the 920 was a nice CPU in it's day and still is. I'm not sure how capable that particular motherboard will be, but a little overclock goes a long way with a 920. Most all of them can easily handle 3.2G without any sweat, and some of them can be pushed to well over 4G (if you have the power and motherboard that can handle it) - but you'll need a good power supply, a decent heat sink, and a motherboard that can keep everything stable to get really high with it.

    SSD will make a huge impact as well - you won't get more FPS out of it, but it'll feel like a brand new computer. Everything will be very snappy.

    Your going to need a new power supply, and you want an SSD (or at least, you will once you've seen what they can do to a system). That costs what it costs, and drop the rest of your budget on the video card.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139028 - $60, not a bad deal on a basic Corsair 600W power supply there, for example. A 120G SSD will run you around $110 or so. That totals to around $170, leaving you around $180 for video budget, which puts you in the 650TiBoost/7790/7850 bracket.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,234

    Sapphire's FLEX cards are built to handle three monitors without needing any external adapters.  While most recent AMD cards and many Nvidia cards can handle three monitors, this usually requires one of the three monitors to be DisplayPort or Mini DisplayPort, or else for you to get an expensive adapter.  Sapphire's FLEX cards probably have the adapter or some such internal to the card so that you can plug in three DVI monitors directly and it will work.

    While a Core i7-920 usually overclocks pretty well, it looks like you've got a typical OEM cheap junk motherboard that I wouldn't trust with much of an overclock.  In case anyone wants to see the motherboard:

    http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?cc=us&lc=en&dlc=en&docname=c01901210

    Micro ATX, only 4 rear USB ports, a 4-pin CPU power connector, and no heatsink on the power circuitry.  I didn't know that they even made Micro ATX motherboards for LGA 1366, but it doesn't surprise me that an OEM like HP would order them that way.  Having only 4 rear USB ports is really pathetic, though; it's not like they needed to free up space for monitor ports.

    An SSD is certainly a worthy upgrade, but otherwise, your system is pretty balanced.  If you're looking for something better, I'd think about replacing it outright rather than trying to upgrade some things piecemeal.  That would let you keep the old computer intact, and it should still be worth something.

  • TorvalTorval Member LegendaryPosts: 20,161
    Thanks again everyone.  I appreciate it and learned a lot.  I went with Toshiba 128GB SSD, the nice power supply, and a 660ti.  I really wanted to try the AMD card, but I think I will wait and try to build around an AMD core system.
    Fedora - A modern, free, and open source Operating System. https://getfedora.org/

    traveller, interloper, anomaly, iteration


  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,234
    Originally posted by Torvaldr
    Thanks again everyone.  I appreciate it and learned a lot.  I went with Toshiba 128GB SSD, the nice power supply, and a 660ti.  I really wanted to try the AMD card, but I think I will wait and try to build around an AMD core system.

    May I suggest that asking for advice and then buying something random that wasn't even on the radar until you announced that you had bought it constitutes doing it wrong?

    I'm not sure which Toshiba SSD you went with.  Last I checked, Toshiba SSDs are OEM-only--and among the worst SSDs on the market.  Their only redeeming quality is that they're low power, even by SSD standards, but performance was underwhelming three years ago, let alone today.

    The GeForce GTX 660 Ti is usually absurdly overpriced.  Today seems to be a rare exception, as this one is actually decent today:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814133466

    As for the "good" power supply, the only power supply linked in this thread which is all that good is the one that xdflames linked.  The power supply that Ridelynn linked is very much a budget model, and the FSP Aurum Gold that you linked at the start isn't very good, but at least probably isn't a danger to your system.  A review on TechPowerUp had the voltage regulation running out of spec on the +3.3 V rail.

  • TorvalTorval Member LegendaryPosts: 20,161
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by Torvaldr
    Thanks again everyone.  I appreciate it and learned a lot.  I went with Toshiba 128GB SSD, the nice power supply, and a 660ti.  I really wanted to try the AMD card, but I think I will wait and try to build around an AMD core system.

    May I suggest that asking for advice and then buying something random that wasn't even on the radar until you announced that you had bought it constitutes doing it wrong?

    I'm not sure which Toshiba SSD you went with.  Last I checked, Toshiba SSDs are OEM-only--and among the worst SSDs on the market.  Their only redeeming quality is that they're low power, even by SSD standards, but performance was underwhelming three years ago, let alone today.

    The GeForce GTX 660 Ti is usually absurdly overpriced.  Today seems to be a rare exception, as this one is actually decent today:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814133466

    As for the "good" power supply, the only power supply linked in this thread which is all that good is the one that xdflames linked.  The power supply that Ridelynn linked is very much a budget model, and the FSP Aurum Gold that you linked at the start isn't very good, but at least probably isn't a danger to your system.  A review on TechPowerUp had the voltage regulation running out of spec on the +3.3 V rail.

    Try and go easy on me.  I'm not trying to be stupid here.  It's much easier when you have a working knowledge of the current hardware landscape (which is a shifting sand to me) and are used to searching given outlets.

    I didn't randomly grab buy stuff.  When looking for advice and perspective there are a bunch of conflicting opinions.  I've been comparing the 7870 to the 650ti and the 660ti.  It's also hard to sort stuff out when I ask questions here and then get to a site or to the store in town and end up with a billion other questions because the details shift ever so slightly.

    What you said about the current system stability and leaving it intact weighed on me last night so I returned the video card and powersupply (which you were right was total shit and ended up being doa out of the box).  The SSD was on sale and may not be the best, but again every time I talk to someone or read through a post on the forums I get a different opinion.  It's easy to get overwhelmed.  Sorry, I didn't mean to offend.

    Fedora - A modern, free, and open source Operating System. https://getfedora.org/

    traveller, interloper, anomaly, iteration


  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,234

    At least you didn't do the "I just bought this and can't return it; is it any good?" bit that some people do:  first asking for advice after it's too late for the advice to be heeded.

    Toshiba SSDs aren't complete junk like the early JMicron ones.  They'll still be a lot faster than any hard drive you can get.  For a cheap enough price tag (e.g., $70 for 128 GB or $120 for 256 GB), I might even recommend one.  But if it's near the same price as the modern good SSDs (as it nearly always will be), then you want something better.  As most of the price of building an SSD is in the NAND flash, it doesn't cost much more to build a good SSD than a bad one of the same capacity, so the only way to make SSDs with a mediocre controller into a decent value is to sell them at a loss.

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