Monday, December 19, 2011

My PC just won't handle Star Wars: The Old Republic or Lord of the Rings: Online very well I get horrid frame rates even though my Video card is more than adequate.  Although I can defiantly play these games, the experience at times can be almost painful, there's nothing like being in the middle of combat and your already slow 20 frames per second drop to 2-3 frames per second.  I my case it became apparent that the weak link in my system was the CPU.


Lets work on a budget Build and see what kind of difference we get.

Partial Current System Spec.
Intel Pentium D 3.0ghz Dual Core
Window 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
3.0 GB of DDR2 RAM
Zotac GeForce GT 520 1GB of DDR3
700w Power Supply

Many of the parts of this system such as the Card Reader, DvD R/W, HDD's, Graphics Card, Sound Card and Power Supply I plan to keep as they have been added in the past year or two or are functionally equal to parts available today, in the case of the hard drives, having 320, and 250 GB internal as well as a 160GB external I don't feel the need to upgrade them.  Other parts I plan to ditch almost entirely.

New Build Plans.

AMD Black Edition Phenom II X4 965  3.4ghz Quad Core (over clocked to 4.0ghz)
Antec Kuhler H20 620 Water Cooler
16 GB of DDR3 1600

Now Granted it's obvious I'll need a few other parts, such as a new Motherboard since I'm swapping from Intel to AMD processors, but it's not nearly as expensive to do a major upgrade as most people think.  By watching for Sales, and doing careful price comparison my upgrade is costing under $400 and I should have as good a machine as some of those expensive "custom" build gaming rigs out there.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking at a budget build.

  1. What Parts can I retain
  2. What Parts must I replace
  3. What optional Parts can I add to my build
  4. Where can I get the most Bang for my Buck

1.  Often if you can keep on using your Media Drives, Hard Drives, and Optical and even in some cases your Video and Sound Cards are fine to retain.  This can save a ton of money when looking at a new build, don't spend what you don't need to.

2.  What Parts must I replace, in my case any upgrade would have required at the minimum replacing the Motherboard and Processor.  Since I was going have to replace those, I considered how to get the most out of the new parts I'll be ordering.  In my case it was adding a Water Cooler and a Case with better cable management and air flow

3.  What optional Parts can I add to my Build?  If your budget allows it then by all means throw in a SDD or a new high end video card or Two if you want to do Crossfire or SLI.

4.  Where can I get the most Bang for my Buck?  Well everyone knows about Newegg or Tigerdirect, they run some excellent sales and they are a good place to look.  But don't tie yourself to those dealers, there are others out there and sometimes you can find better deals on the parts you want.  Check out Microcenter if you live near one of their locations, their prices are very competitive, but be warned if you don't live near one of their stores, they won't ship many components such as CPU's and Motherboards.  Another tactic I used was to find parts I liked on Newegg or Tigerdirect then search for those parts on Google and check their shopping results.  I typically got a list of 20-30 different companies selling the part I wanted and I was able to price match them by price after shipping.  Remember not all Deals wind up being Deals after shipping costs.

Now on to the good stuff, I've gotten a few parts in already, and let's take a look.  I'm splitting up the order over time so as to not stress my budget anymore than I have too, so I'll be doing doing a few posts showing the build progression. 


NZXT Gamma Classic Series Case, Price?  $43.01 after shipping from Amazon.  It may seem cheap but this case is extremely well rated.

CPU Cooler

Antec KÜHLER H₂O 620 CPU Water Cooling system.  Price?  $49.99 with free shipping from Bestbuy. 

I went ahead and unboxed everything and started prepping the case for when the Motherboard arrives, I checked the fit of the CPU Cooler and checked for clearance for the extra top mounted fan slots the tower provides.  As it turns out the radiator on the cooler, blocks one of the fan mounts just enough to limit me to one top mounted fan.  

I also popped off the front bezel and re-routed those wires you see as well as front mounted the fan that came with the case.  This will save me time later when I go to install the Motherboard and gives me a chance to go ahead and get a little more familiar with the case itself.  Having a case where I can remove both side panels and with design for cable management in place is a big plus also notice the tubes for the water cooler, this case has a cut out on the Motherboard mounting panel for accessing the back of the CPU block on the motherboard for mounting a water coolers mounting bracket. 


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