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Upgrading my circuit-boards and stuff.
Old 11-22-2011, 11:28 PM   #1
Dakota Tebaldi
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Default Upgrading my circuit-boards and stuff.

Okay so Jorus's "WHY AREN'T YOU PLAYING SKYRIM YET" thread got me thinking. I said I'd buy it after I upgraded my computer.

Actually, I may not need to upgrade my computer drastically to play Skyrim.

My computer (which has been packed away for about a year and a half, but which will once again see sunlight in January after I move) has an Abit AX78 motherboard. It's got an AM2+ socket, which kinda bothered me because I know the world has moved on to AM3+ already. But I just checked the specs and surprise! it can take a first-gen Phenom X4, which is true quad-core, and which I've found out I can order from like one place online for less than $100. And the thing can take up to 8GB of RAM (DDR2, so?), which although newer boards can do much better, will enough for a while yet I think. And yes I know that the world has also moved on to 6- and 8-core CPUs, but I think I can still get quite a bit of mileage out of a quad.

Right now it's got an Athlon 64 X2 of some kind or other, which is a dual, and IIRC has 2.something GHz. I can't remember if it's 2.1, 2.3, or 2.6. But it's one of those. I'll be replacing it with the quad - assuming I can still order one in January, cuz it's gonna have to wait until then at the earliest.

So...oh! Graphics card. The AX78 can fit two, but I just have one - a GeForce 8500 GT 1GB. Yeah, not top of the line by any means - but it's HD-ready and was more than enough for EVE in all but the most ridiculous fleets, more than enough for my FSX, and according to their forums, enough to play Skyrim with mid-level graphics, even with my dual-core.

...which is fine, I might add. Morrowind's graphics compared to today's standards are...well, awful. But it's the writing and atmosphere that make me like to play the game even now, so if Skyrim is as well-written and playable as Morrowind was, I can live without superultragraphics, until whenever I finally do upgrade my card.

...but nevermind. Question for the group: should I go ahead and just buy the quad-core that will fit my current motherboard in January, or should I wait and save up and get a new motherboard and CPU all at once, like a 6-core that may eventually become an 8-core or whatever? Am I unreasonable in thinking that a quad-core will do me fine for a while?

Of course, over the next year or so I'll be upgrading the remainder of my PC in other ways. Two things that seriously need to be replaced: my old 100GB hard drive which still uses...I forget what it's called but it's not SATA, even though my AX78 has SATA ports; and my case. The case is old. When it was first given to me by its original owner, there was a K6-2 in it and I wasn't even in middle school yet. Everything still fits of course, but the thing is huge and ugly and beige and really impossible to ventilate properly, which may not have been so much of a problem for a K6-2, but is not good nowadays. After those are replaced, I'll toss in a couple of new optical drives (OEM major-brand CD/DVD-everything-writers can be had for less than $20 over the internets).

I'm just thinking - new CPU for this machine, <$100. New hard drive, say 1TB (what am I going to do with all that space?) can be had for ~$100. A new case AND a couple of optical drives <$100 altogether. I should be able to manage around $100 once every couple of months without hardship.

At that point I'll have a decently modern well-functioning computer, and I can slowly start buying the expensive stuff over time. The expensive stuff being a good AM3+ motherboard, a decent CPU for it, a mid-range graphics card, and a power supply hot enough to run all these things.
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Old 09-13-2012, 08:49 PM   #2
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Well, forget what I said way back then about my upgrading strategy. In case you hadn't caught it, my computer didn't work anymore after I unpacked it when I moved 9 months ago, and I'm pretty sure it's a damaged motherboard because it wouldn't even POST when I turned the board on even though it had plenty of power and new DDR in it.

Well, for now I've found a temporary fix, which I ordered and should be here in a few days. It's as ASRock N68C-GS, and I got it intended to be temporary, for a couple of reasons.

Reason 1 is price - it was ~$50.

Reason 2 is compatibility - my old AM2 CPU, old IDE hard drive and DDR2 memory will work on it.

Reason 3 is that it supports AM2/AM2+/AM3/AM3+ CPUs, has 4 SATA headers, and 2 DDR3 slots alongside the 2 DDR2 slots. What does that mean? It means I can start building and using my dream system right now.

See before, I did not know that AM2 - AM3+ boards that supported both DDR2 and DDR3 even existed; I was under the impression that I would've had to buy an AM3/+ chip, DDR3 memory, SATA drives and a compatible motherboard all at the same time (expensive hit), or else buy the components one at a time and let them sit in their boxes where I could just stare at them and pine until I finally had them all (less all-at-once expensive but cruel and unusual). With this board, I can buy these components one at a time and actually install and use them while I'm waiting to buy all the rest of the parts. I can buy a SATA drive next month and install and use it, then buy DDR3 the next month and install that, and then an AM3+ CPU, and so on and noodles. Then once the rest of it's all gotten I can get the full-size motherboard I really want and voila! Red velvet.

That motherboard I really want is an ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R2 by the way.
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