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  1. #1
    Network Hub corbain's Avatar
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    Need upgrade advice for poor parents

    My mother is an avid PC gamer, but is as poor as a churchmouse who's had its benefits cut.

    She's currently got my old PC featuring an AMD X2 4800+ and an ATI 1950XTX on an Asus A8N-E motherboard. All these were cracking parts in their day ,but lack the necessary muscle to run games like Skyrim and Dayz/ARMA

    I've offered to upgrade her PC, but it needs to be as cheap as chips.

    We can recycle the case, PSU and storage Hard disk , and i've offered to donate my AMD 5850 GFX card, as i'll be upgrading to a 7850 or possibly 7950

    What i'll need to get is a Motherboard, CPU, Memory and an SSD

    I've put together this little bundle and would appreciate any comments (using Novatech as there's a branch nearby, and I like having someone I can go and shout at if a part doesn't work!)

    Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-970A-DS3 AMD 970

    CPU : Phenom XII

    SSD : Samsung 830 64GB

    Memory Corsair 2x4GB

    Total cost will be 240ish which I think is pretty reasonable .

    Would appreciate any suggestions or feeback. Cheers!
    Last edited by corbain; 21-08-2012 at 12:21 PM. Reason: updated to reflect increased RAM

  2. #2
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    It has to be PC?

    I heard theres billion of "free" games on iOS. Why a SSD? its not that a luxury item, or that is cheap nowdays?

    Good luck with this! :D

  3. #3
    Network Hub corbain's Avatar
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    Not quite sure what you're trying to say there Tei.

    Yes, it has to be a PC - the games I mentioned she likes, Skyrim and DayZ, aren't on IOS.

    The reason for an SSD, is that it gives such a massive overall performance boost to the PC, many people say (including myself) that for it's the best upgrade you can make. And nowdays, they are certainly a lot cheaper than they used to be.
    Last edited by corbain; 20-08-2012 at 09:07 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by corbain View Post
    The reason for an SSD, is that it gives such a massive overall performance boost to the PC, many people say (including myself)
    Didn't your mother tell you not to tell lies?

    SSD only improves loading times, bootup time, and overall Windows performance. It does nothing for your FPS in-game. It is a luxury item even in a normal gaming PC.

    Check http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...lock,3106.html for the CPU. For 90 pounds you can have i3-2120, a very good Little CPU That Could, and if you drop the SSD you'll easily have enough cash for i5-2310 which is pretty much the final stop for all gaming builds. Going with Sandy Bridge will also give you a much greater selection of motherboards. Speaking of which, micro ATX boards are usually cheaper and only thing you're missing is a bunch of extra slots you'll never use anyway.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus bonkers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mohorovicic View Post
    SSD only improves loading times, bootup time, and overall Windows performance. It does nothing for your FPS in-game. It is a luxury item even in a normal gaming PC.
    Maybe it does not affect FPS directly but (at least in some games) it can reduce loading stutters and the like. And overall reduced loading times improve your gaming performance, just not FPS-wise ;)

    But if you really want to keep costs of the setup low I would put the money into something else. 8GB of Ram for example as games like DayZ and Skyrim are some of the few games that actually benefit from more Ram. And to double your Ram it's only about 10 pounds more. So that's really not something you should save on.
    Last edited by bonkers; 21-08-2012 at 11:16 AM.

  6. #6
    Activated Node Wayward's Avatar
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    I'll third Tei and Moho. The 55 you are spending on an SSD could be spent on either doubling your Ram or getting a more powerful CPU. Either way the performance improvements would be far more useful and noticeable than an SSD. They are nice to have, but they are not something you want in a 'budget' build.

    As very few games come even close to taxing even a fairly basic CPU, I'd go with an increase in RAM which will affect games beyond their load screens.

  7. #7
    Network Hub corbain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mohorovicic View Post
    Didn't your mother tell you not to tell lies?

    SSD only improves loading times, bootup time, and overall Windows performance. It does nothing for your FPS in-game. It is a luxury item even in a normal gaming PC.
    Where did I say anything about FPS.. the boost from the SSD will be more about the overall experience - fast boot times, fast loading applications. Perhaps in the odd game (as Bonkers mentions above) there will be a reduction in loading times. ARMA 2 (and therefore DayZ) will benefit a lot from being on an SSD due to the massive open world constantly loading textures. However, I know she is always saying how her PC feels sluggish compared to the Ipad she has to use at work - an SSD would give the PC that feeling of responsiveness.

    I won't be talked out of going for an SSD- at current prices it's within the budget for this upgrade ~250

    I can see the value in doubling up on the RAM, it's something I will definitely bear in mind.

    As far as Intel CPUs go, the i3 2100 vs the Phenon II x4 is a pretty close race, but even the cheapest intel combo would come in more expensive than the Phenom II and the motherboard i've selected.

    What I DO like about the i3, is that coupled with the 1155 chipeset, it offers a much easier, cheaper and higher performance upgrade path than the AM3 socket.

  8. #8
    Network Hub corbain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayward View Post
    I'll third Tei and Moho. The 55 you are spending on an SSD could be spent on either doubling your Ram or getting a more powerful CPU. Either way the performance improvements would be far more useful and noticeable than an SSD. They are nice to have, but they are not something you want in a 'budget' build.

    As very few games come even close to taxing even a fairly basic CPU, I'd go with an increase in RAM which will affect games beyond their load screens.
    For an extra 10 I can double the RAM, which won't break the bank, so i'll go with that instead

    http://www.novatech.co.uk/products/c...m2a1333c9.html

  9. #9
    Vector Jams O'Donnell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by corbain View Post
    I won't be talked out of going for an SSD- at current prices it's within the budget for this upgrade ~250
    That's a shame, because if you dropped that you could get an i5 2500k for the processor (~160). Seems like a no-brainer to me.

  10. #10
    Network Hub corbain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jams O'Donnell View Post
    That's a shame, because if you dropped that you could get an i5 2500k for the processor (~160). Seems like a no-brainer to me.
    Well I seem to be in a minority here- I was under the impression that most games were far more limited by your GFX card than your CPU these days.

    Also, this isn't just about getting the most FPS - it's about making the PC as much of a joy to use as her IPAD. Fast response times, quick boot cycles and applications that pop open the moment you double click are all part of that.

    I'm with Alec on this that putting in an SSD was "the single most immediately noticeable system upgrade I think I’ve ever done"
    Last edited by corbain; 21-08-2012 at 12:35 PM.

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Wolfenswan's Avatar
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    That's a shame, because if you dropped that you could get an i5 2500k for the processor (~160). Seems like a no-brainer to me.
    Or the i5 2550k. It's slightly better than the 2500k and I've seen it cheaper at a couple of stores here in Germany. The only thing you loose is the integrated GPU which you don't need on a dedicated gaming rig anyway.

    Well I seem to be in a minority here- I was under the impression that most games were far more limited by your GFX card than your CPU these days.
    You want the best CPU you can afford if she's going to play Arma2/DayZ. GPU is secondary in that case, a decent mid-range card is enough.


    On SSD:
    With only 64GB this might be full fast, even with only Win7 + Arma2 residing on it. If your mum's a bit tech-savvy/computer-literate this isn't much of an issue but if she isn't it could get irritating.

    Also what's the case you're recycling? If it's ancienct you might consider one of the nice and cheap cases on the market, like the Bitfenix Shinobi, Fractal Designe Core 3000 or Midgard II.

    PSU is nothing you want to skimp on either. It would be shame if it dies from age and takes out any components with it.
    Last edited by Wolfenswan; 21-08-2012 at 12:38 PM.

  12. #12
    Vector Jams O'Donnell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfenswan View Post
    You want the best CPU you can afford if she's going to play Arma2/DayZ. GPU is secondary in that case, a decent mid-range card is enough.
    That's exactly the approach I took when I upgraded last year, and it has worked out well. A good CPU and a Radeon 6770 seem to be able to handle pretty much anything I throw at them.

  13. #13
    Activated Node Wayward's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by corbain View Post
    But all that article really says regarding GAMING is 'It makes them load faster' - which we're not contesting. I think, for gamers with a bit of money, they make perfect sense. You're not talking about a straight upgrade from an old hard drive like Alec was, you're talking about sacrificing your CPU and RAM to get slightly quicker load times.

    Personally, I'd rather have a better gaming experience with longer load times, then a worse experience that starts quicker. How often do you really sit there staring at a loading screen these days, even on a regular drive?

    Not to mention with a 64GB drive, assuming the OS is installed on it, you'll likely not get more than 4-5 games on there at once. Is your mother going to want to keep uninstalling / reinstalling / moving files around to accomodate that?
    Last edited by Wayward; 21-08-2012 at 01:10 PM.

  14. #14
    Network Hub corbain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfenswan View Post

    On SSD:
    With only 64GB this might be full fast, even with only Win7 + Arma2 residing on it. If your mum's a bit tech-savvy/computer-literate this isn't much of an issue but if she isn't it could get irritating.

    Also what's the case you're recycling? If it's ancienct you might consider one of the nice and cheap cases on the market, like the Bitfenix Shinobi, Fractal Designe Core 3000 or Midgard II.

    PSU is nothing you want to skimp on either. It would be shame if it dies from age and takes out any components with it.
    The small size of the SSD is certainly something i'd have to bear in mind when setting it up. With some judicious use of mklink it should be fairly easy to stop it filling up. To my mind though, you've hit upon what is the weak part of this build - the SSD size not the CPU.

    The PSU is a Seasonic 650W IIRC and the case is an Antec p182, both of which i'm more than happy to recycle.

    Wayward- the reason for the SSD isn't to improve loading times in games. If DayZ loads a bit faster and stutters a bit less, that's a side benefit. The main reason is the make the PC feel fast, zippy and responsive on the desktop and on startup - like an Ipad. So when my mum want's to send a quick email, browse the web - she'll go to her PC and not her Apple device.

    I think ultimately what i'll have to do is present both sides of this argument to her and she can decide for herself, after all it's her money. Obviously i'm slightly biased, but I think I can be objective about the arguments both ways.

    I can't very well come here and ask for advice, and then ignore it when I disagree!
    Last edited by corbain; 21-08-2012 at 01:21 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by corbain View Post
    Where did I say anything about FPS.. the boost from the SSD will be more about the overall experience - fast boot times, fast loading applications.
    Well, I'm on a pretty standard 7200RPM 1GB HDD(admittely I am short-stroking it) and it takes me six seconds to open a Word file, which is about the most demanding non-game application I have.

    I wouldn't pay 50GBP just to knock several seconds off of that time.

    And boot time, well... you turn it on in the morning, turn it off in the evening. That's even more of a non-issue.

  16. #16
    Network Hub corbain's Avatar
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    SSD + AMD processor

    Pros

    - Faster boot up times, responsive desktop and applications which appear to load instantly
    - Games may load quicker if installed to the SSD and may also stutter less

    Cons

    - Small SSD may fill up quickly and become an annoyance
    - AMD3 socket has no real obvious upgrade path
    - AMD CPU not as fast as intel, will potentially result in lower FPS in games

    Regular hard drive + Intel processor


    Pros

    - CPU has better performance in games, potentially better FPS in CPU bound games
    - Much better/cheaper upgrade path, no need to change Motherboard to put a substantially better CPU in the future
    - greater disk space, no need to micromanage where applications are installed

    cons

    - slower load/boot times, PC overall less responsive.

  17. #17
    Network Hub corbain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mohorovicic View Post
    I wouldn't pay 50GBP just to knock several seconds off of that time.
    It wouldn't be a case of spending 50 to knock seconds off loading/boot time.

    Whichever hard drive we opt for will cost approx 50 - the question is do you value speed or space more

    edit - I should mention that her current OS drive is on a 8 year old drive, and i'm not keen to recycle it, hence the need to buy a new one
    Last edited by corbain; 21-08-2012 at 01:36 PM.

  18. #18
    Network Hub corbain's Avatar
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    An alternative set up without the SSD

    I3 2120 89.99

    MSI Z77A-G41 Intel Z77 (Socket 1155) 69.98

    Crucial 2*4GB Ram 39.98

    Seagate Barracuda 500 49.98

    Total : 249.93

  19. #19
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    An SSD , in cheap as chips budget build, for PC GAMING? Are you kidding me? Now I've seen everything, talked about messed up priorities...

    Cheap am3 mobo
    8GB DDR3 (4GB will be just fine if you want to shave off another 20 euros)
    Phenom II 955BE
    Arctic freezer pro/64/II or whatever cooler, they are cheap as chips, very quiet and allow you to OC a lot.
    500GB spinpoint f3

    DONE.

    edit: oh wow you'd use the SSD as only storage too?
    The majority of that 64GB will after a while be taken up by windows alone (install, updates, page file) and SSD performance tanks if it is full.
    You'd only have room to install 1 large game at a time, hell I'd bet you wouldn't be able to install some of the larger ones at all since you simply wouldn't have the space alongside windows and your program files.

    It's an extremely simple equation:
    -Price per GB is 10 times higher for SSDs than HDDs
    -performance difference in games is zero, zilch, nothing, nada, games run from within the ram, not from your HDD. Texture streaming console textures does not saturate a modern HDD...
    -a regular HDD already loads all modern games in seconds
    -in the build I listed there are no bottlenecks, no inconveniences, no downsides


    I can't be the only one baffled by the irony that you would spend tons of time reinstalling/redownloading games and managing disk space so you could save 10 seconds on a once a day boot up sequence and 1 second when you load up your browser, right?(chrome already loads up in 3seconds with a bunch of tabs saved here)

    It's just too silly for words.
    Last edited by Finicky; 21-08-2012 at 06:42 PM.

  20. #20
    Network Hub corbain's Avatar
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    Finicky, I'm well aware that SSDs cost more per GB than a regular hard disk, but as i've stated many times already in this thread the SSD isn't there to boost games performance, that would be a side benefit.

    The SSD would give the PC that zippy quick feeling like an Ipad, where applications open instantly. The OS would be installed on the SSD, and most desktop applications. If there's any room, then steam mover can be used to put a couple of games on as well.

    My mum has kind of fallen out of love with her PC a little, and now uses her Ipad as the go-to device for browsing, surfing etc. I'm trying to make her PC feel as responsive and quick as her Ipad.

    By your argument Finicky, it would seem that SSDs are a waste of money, whatever your budget.

    When I upgraded to an SSD, i can honestly say it was the best upgrade i've ever done. I put this link up earlier, but Alec really says it better.

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011...year%E2%80%A6/
    Last edited by corbain; 22-08-2012 at 08:08 AM.

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