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Thread: PC upgrade time

  1. #1
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    Question PC upgrade time

    So, I've been getting a little annoyed by how long it takes my big PC to switch on and get ready to do things. I think this windows install is a little trashed despite only being just over a year old. Plus, it's Vista and I'm quite keen to get everything onto windows 7, so now seems like a good time to think about buying new bits....

    I'm wondering if the biggest bang for my buck would be to just get an SSD and install my OS on there... If wanted to upgrade things I'd need a new mobo, CPU and RAM at least. I really don't do anything with the big PC other than web, torrents, and will be trying to sort out our (pretty large) media collection.

    Otherwise, what is out there that's a bit tasty, but good value? For some reason I think I want an i7.

    Currently I've got a AMDx2 3800, 4gig PC3200 RAM and an X1800GTO, (I'd keep the case, my HDDs, PSU if possible, monitor, KB/mouse).

    So, kids, what's hot?
    - On a mission to Funkotron, baby -

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    i7 is a good start compared with the AMD offerings, although not sure if you will need a quad core, could be fine with a dual core for what you want it for! SSD's are good for high speed transfer but just not big enough for most needs, SATA3 drives are almost up to the same speed and much bigger, they used to be cheaper but since Thailand flooded they probably cost the same. Get at least 4Gb RAM and 64bit version of Windows 7, RAM is really cheap these days and Windows 7 is memory hungry, not as bad as Vista but still needs plenty of breathing space. Blu-Ray drives have also come down in price a hell of a lot recently, less than 80 for a blu-ray re-writer is value for money to anybody!

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    The 2 processors to consider are the Intel i5 2500K or the i7 2600K. For the money the i5 2500K is the CPU that offers the greatest performance for your money. The K on the end of these new Sandy Bridge CPUs means they are unlocked so great for overclocking if you ever wished to, but even with standard settings they are the best to get at the moment. I wouldn't bother with anything from AMD at the moment as they just as not delivering the same sort of performance for the same money. As you are not going to be using the PC for heavy gaming I really don't think the i7 will be worth the extra money to you. The 2 CPUs are very similar, both being quad core, with automatic overclocking called turbo boost. The one major difference is that the i7 has hyperthreading so the system sees it as 8 cores, whereas the i5 doesn't, so it is just the actual 4 cores. But in real world use you really won't notice, especially when you consider the i5 2500K is about 160 and the i7 2600K is 240 you can see what a bargain the i5 is.

    For the i5 or i7, the new Intel CPUs use a new socket type called 1155, which is not compatible with the older Core2 and early i3 and i5 sockets which are 1156 (just one pin different). I still highly recommend Asus motherboards over any other for features, build quality and what you get with them. And it is worth spending a bit more and getting one with USB3 ports as this is slowly becoming a new standard, especially for external USB3 HDDs and internal USB3 drives for extra speed, and is useful to get the most out of SSD's if you were considering one for your boot drive. The actual motherboard you get really depends on how much you want to spend. There are loads of Asus boards ranging from under 50, right up to over 300. Make sure you get one with 4 ram slots though as many of the cheaper ones only have 2 which limits any further ram upgrades.

    With the CPU get a third party CPU cooler rather than using the standard Intel one as they are less noisy and will keep the CPU much cooler. I always use the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro rev 2. Great cooler for not much money (15).

    For ram I recommend getting Corsair XMS3 ram, and most new boards support the faster 1600MHz ram, which is also known as PC3-12800. You can get much more expensive ram that the Corsair XMS3 ram, but it isn't worth it. The Corsair XMS ram is reliable, has a lifetime guarantee, comes with nice low profile heat spreaders, and is stable in every motherboard I've ever setup. For the amount of ram, the minimum to get is 4GB as a 2x 2GB matched pair set. Corsair sell these for around 23, so a bargain. 4GB is perfectly more than enough for your needs and you shouldn't have any issues with that amount, but at this price it is worth getting a total of 8GB which would be great if you needed to ever do some video conversion. And it is actually now cheaper to buy Corsair's 4GBx2 XMS3 set for just 45. Just make sure you install 64bit Windows 7 to use all of it.

    Other than that, if your current setup is still using an IDE DVD-R drive considered changing this for a new SATA DVD-R drive as it gets rid of all the legacy drives in the system as well as the horrible IDE cables. Also consider a Blu-Ray writer as they are now coming down in price. Some are even around 60 now, although the blank discs are still pricey.

    For a boot drive, a 120GB SSD drive is a good option. Read/Write speeds are much faster than SATA and obviously silent and don't produce any heat. And you can now get a 120GB one for around 130. Still much more than a much larger SATA drive, but with read/write speeds as fast as 500MB/s it is worth it. And SSD's larger than this and the cost shoots up at the moment. A 160GB one for example is over 200, so not worth it. Better to use a smaller boot SSD and then some SATA Samsung F4 drives for storage. But the price of HDDs at the moment it is worth waiting to buy any of those. 2 months ago you could be a Samsung F4 2TB drive for about 60. Now the same drive is 270. Madness. Just shows how the cost of a piece of hardware all being made in one location can instantly get hit by natural disaster.

    I'm assuming you will be sticking with your current case? But if you are thinking of changing to a new one I highly recommend the Coolermaster range at the moment. I used to be a big fan of Thermaltake cases, and I think I remember you had the same as me (Tsunami?), but even these cases are a little small for current components.

    For graphics cards, if you are not gaming and you already have a PCI-E card then just keep what you have and it will be perfectly fine. If you do want a current gaming card then the AMD 6950 is a great card. Or the nVidia GTX 560.

    Hope that helps.

    Oh, and for PSU the minimum to get as a 600W PSU, but I would recommend 700W for a bit more overhead so you are not taxing the PSU too much. And for make get a Coolermaster Slient Pro 700W Modular PSU. Great range and the modular design means you only need to connect up the power cables you are actually using at the time to reduce case clutter. Alternately to save some money look at the Coolermaster GX range, which is also good. Other makes worth considering are OCZ and XFX. Whatever you get, make sure it is a single 12V rail design.
    Last edited by Harrison; 22nd November 2011 at 10:07.

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    This is (Probably, but i'm changing components everyday ) the configuration of the PC that i'm going to buy.

    Case Midi Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced PURE BLACK EDITION

    Thermaltake Toughpower XT 575W 80plus [or] Cooler Master Silent Pro M600 600W ATX 80Plus

    CPU Intel Core i5-2500K 3.30GHz Socket 1155 95W with GPU Sandy Bridge Boxed BX80623I52500K

    Asus P8P67 PRO Rev3.1 Socket 1155 Intel P67 DDR3 SATA3 USB3 ATX

    Ram DDR3 G.Skill Ripjaws-X F3-12800CL7D-4GBXM 1600MHz 4GB (2x2GB) CL7-8-7-24 1.5v [or] RAM DDR3 Corsair Classic XMS3 CMX4GX3M2A1600C9 1600Mhz 4GB (2x2GB) CL9

    VGA Gigabyte Radeon HD 6950 Core 870MHz Memory GDDR5 5000MHz 1GB DVI

    SSD Crucial RealSSD M4 128GB 2.5" Lettura 415MB/s Scrittura 175MB/s Sata3 CT128M4SSD2

    LiteOn IHAS124-19 24x DVD/CD SATA Nero Bulk
    [COLOR="red"]A1200D/NOS[/COLOR], KS 3.1, Bliz1230MkIV/64MB/FPU, 8GB CF, CWB FULL, WHDLoad Games, PCMCIA/4GB CF SanDisk

  5. #5
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    Tell me some more about SSDs... I think I will start there.

    I'm assuming that they aren't all equal, so (in general terms) which ones are good, and what should I look out for to avoid. I understand TRIM support is a must....
    - On a mission to Funkotron, baby -

  6. #6
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    Obviously get an SATA3 SSD is the first must.

    Samsung, Crucial, Corsair and OCZ seem to be the makers consistently getting the highest review scores. You will notice these are also all really good PC and memory card makers too. Kingston don't fair quite as well, which is also true for their memory cards to avoid them.

    Current SSD drives worth looking at for their best reviews are: OCZ Vertex 2, the OCZ Agility 2 and the Corsair Force

    TRIM support is essential. A standard SSD drive without this would make deleted data blocks but not do anything with them when they are marked. Once once you try to request some empty space on the drive would it then look for all the blocks marked as empty and move them all together to create enough empty space in a continuous block to write the request to the drive. With TRIM this does the moving around of the empty blocks in the background, so it speeds up the drive write speed a lot as the empty blocks are already together and ready to be used.

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


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    I really don't do anything with the big PC other than web, torrents, and will be trying to sort out our (pretty large) media collection.
    In your situation JT I'm not sure you need the power of an i5 or i7, but if money is no object then it makes sense to go Intel as they have the highest IPC (instructions done per clock). Not sure they are the best value however.

    Otherwise, what is out there that's a bit tasty, but good value?
    Another option is a Phenom II x4 black - I've seen the 3.2Ghz 955 versions going brand new for as little as 90, and the 1055T x6 going for 130. Ebay second user may even be cheaper. With the right motherboard, you can even overclock these to 4Ghz. AMD motherboards are cheaper too, plus with the dirt cheap price of DDR3 at the moment it's a great time to upgrade.

    A machine like that would be easily fast enough for your needs and good value. Phenom II's feel VERY snappy in windows - just make sure you go at least Quad core as that's the future.
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  8. #8
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    Yeah, I've been using the Phenom II X4 for a couple of years and have no complaints. The original Phenom X4 got a bad reputation for being a shoddy make which was basically two dual-cores jury-rigged together so people have been wary about the Phenom II. But this one is actually very good, a decent quad-core which is nothing like the original. Only thing is that the heatsink+fan is fairly noisy and isn't very effective at all, definitely get something else to cool the thing.

  9. #9
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    Most stock heatsink+fans are noisy and not very efficient.

    The one I always recommend everyone, the Arctic Freezer 7 Pro rev. 2 is compatible with both AMD and Intel and comes with all the required fittings for both makes, and at only 15 is is a great buy. Teho you should get one for your existing system. You would see a drop in temps and noise.

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


  10. #10
    Burn! Hot Blooded Rhythm Soul! Staff Moderator
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    I'm torn here, I thought I'd give myself a budget of around 300-400 bucks and try and get the most out of that - however when I go and look at things I think 'well, just 50 more...oh, that's got a bigger number and it's just another 30...oh, that one sounds neater for another 20...'

    The thing is, I've got the money to spend, but don't really want to 'waste' it on things that I don't really need, and at the moment the old PC (It must be well over 5 years) is still OK, just a little slow.
    - On a mission to Funkotron, baby -

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