What can I keep and what should be upgraded

Oct 11, 2020
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Hi, A friend gave me an old computer he had used for gaming that I want to give my teenage son and want to know what I should upgrade. This is our first gaming PC and I'm getting confused in my research. Looking for a mid-level build. He plays COD, GTA, Fortnite..

Mobo: ASUS P9X79 LE (Socket 2011 not compatible with Win 10)
CPU: Intel Core i7-3820 (not compatible with Win 10)
RAM: HyperX Kingston FURY 16GB Kit
GPU: It has 2 Visiontek Radeon HD 7870 cards with 6 miniDP each (Crossfire ??)
Power: EVGA SuperNOVA 1000G2 80+Gold
Thermaltake Frio Extreme Universal CPU Cooler/Dual 140mm Fans
Antec 900 mid tower

Need: SSD
Need: Budget level monitor approx. 27"
OS??

Thanks.
 

Zoid

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Jan 13, 2020
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I think it's great that you want to give your son this gaming PC! Back in the day, this computer would have been absolutely top of the line.

You're right that you should get an SSD. I would recommend 1TB if you can. I'm not an expert on monitors so I don't have anything to recommend there. As for OS, I would go with Windows 10. You really don't want to be on an old OS if this is going to be used for modern games. It looks to me like your motherboard should support Windows 10 to WHQL standards. With older hardware there's never a guarantee that everything will work as expected, but I think it should in this case.

As for what to replace, you might want to see what kind of performance you get before deciding, but I'm going to guess that replacing the two Radeon HD 7870s with a single modern GPU will be your best bet. The i7-3820 is showing its age now, but it should be ok for casual gaming.

Let us know how it goes! I'm curious to hear how this old rig will hold up in your games.
 
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Oct 11, 2020
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Thanks Zoid. I'll get an SSD and set it up and let you know how it goes. What GPU would you recommend for COD, GTA, Fortnite...preferably 4K?
 

Zoid

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Jan 13, 2020
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Thanks Zoid. I'll get an SSD and set it up and let you know how it goes. What GPU would you recommend for COD, GTA, Fortnite...preferably 4K?
4K is a lofty goal. If that's what you're aiming for, I wouldn't upgrade the GPU for another month or so. The RTX 3070 is on track to deliver 2080Ti-like performance, which is to say it will probably get you into the vicinity of 4K 60FPS. It is scheduled to release at the end of the month, although availability may be scarce for a while. AMD will also be announcing new Big Navi cards at that time, so they might offer up a compelling alternative.
<1K but I still need a monitor, SSD, OS, keyboard, mouse
This is a healthy budget. If you were shooting for 1080p or maybe even 1440p I'd say you could get entirely new internals for that budget.
 
Oct 11, 2020
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I didn't know 4K was a stretch. The budget is split between my son and I so he'd like to save where he can. He'd prefer 4K, but 1080p is fine. I'm not familiar with 1440p. PC gaming is new to us and I'm not familiar on how long internals are relevant for the type of gaming he likes. I'm doing research on different internals, but there's just so much information out there and I want to build a machine that will not be obsolete in a couple of years. Thanks.
 
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Zoid

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I didn't know 4K was a stretch. The budget is split between my son and I so he'd like to save where he can. He'd prefer 4K, but 1080p is fine.
When I say 4K is a stretch, I mean playing modern, graphically demanding games at high settings and 4K resolution is difficult even for modern gaming hardware. Here you can see an RTX 2080 Ti (the fastest card in the outgoing generation) struggling to hit 60 FPS in GTA V at 4K. The new generation of graphics cards from NVIDIA and AMD are going to bring 4K closer to the mainstream, but at the moment it's still the purview of high-end machines.

Whether you should go for 4K or not I think really depends on your son's expectations. How important is it to play at the highest graphics settings? Is that more important than resolution to him? In order to reliably hit 4k 60FPS in graphically demanding games at max settings, you'll be looking at a $500+ GPU from the new generation of GPUs releasing over the next few months.

But of course lowering a game's settings can make higher resolutions more attainable. Fortnite, for example, is designed to run on everything, even phones, so you can tweak performance over a WIDE range. With a few settings tweaks, you will be able to play Fortnite at 1080p pretty well with the setup you have without upgrading anything. At low settings, even a modest Radeon RX 570 can hit 60 FPS at 4K.
I'm not familiar with 1440p.
1440p is "2K" resolution (2560 x 1440). It's a widely used standard in computer monitors and is the next step up from 1080p before getting to 4K (3840 x 2160). If your son wants to go for a higher resolution than 1080p, I would suggest 1440p. It will offer a noticeable improvement in detail over 1080p while being easier to run than 4K. For PC gaming especially, I would recommend an adaptive sync 1440p monitor rather than a 60Hz 4K one.
PC gaming is new to us and I'm not familiar on how long internals are relevant for the type of gaming he likes. I'm doing research on different internals, but there's just so much information out there and I want to build a machine that will not be obsolete in a couple of years. Thanks.
There's TONS of info out there and a lot of it is misleading or incomplete. That's why we're here to help!

The build your friend gave you would have been absolutely top of the line in 2012, but technology has marched on since then. Usually you'll see GPUs go obsolete before CPUs, which is why you'll probably have the best luck replacing your GPU first.

What hardware are you considering so far?
 
Oct 11, 2020
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Thanks for the education Zoid! Puts my mind at ease that you mentioned NVIDIA and AMD because that is what we're leaning towards. I've also read that a large investment is in the GPU and that's understandable. We decided on 1440p, and after doing independent research, came up with the same GPU.
As far as a motherboard and cpu, what do you think? I'm not familiar with brands, but my research tells me to choose an AM4 socket (cheaper than intel).

Mobo: Either MSI B550 Tomahawk Gen 2 or Amazon has a Gigabyte x570 Aorus Elite
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 3rd Gen
GPU: PNY - NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER 8GB

Anything I can substitute to bring the price down? Am I able to use my existing Mobo and CPU with this GPU?
 
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Oct 2, 2020
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your current old PC can run a new graphics card with no issues, once you add a drive and OS you're good to go, upgrade the gfx card and you can game a bit easier.

regading you upgrading the stuff above, then you ge into more money, you'll probably need new ram with the above as well.

i wouldn't waste money on a 2060 as the 3060 is just around the corner, a 1660 is about £150 cheaper and then there AMD with their new card coming later thi smonth, hopefully forcing the price of old cards down.

you need to decide if you want to use what you 've got ( with a new drive, OS & gfx card) or completly rebuild and go down that route.
 
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Zoid

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Thanks for the education Zoid! Puts my mind at ease that you mentioned NVIDIA and AMD because that is what we're leaning towards. I've also read that a large investment is in the GPU and that's understandable. We decided on 1440p, and after doing independent research, came up with the same GPU.
You're on the right track!

I think 1440p is the sweet spot right now for PC gaming. It's better than 1080p while still be attainable at sane price points.

Do look at an adaptive sync monitor. VESA Adaptive-Sync (branded as AMD Freesync) or NVIDIA G-Sync depending on the GPU you get. This will allow you much more flexibility with framerate without having to worry about screen tearing.
GPU: PNY - NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER 8GB
As for which GPU to buy, @Boon72's observation that we have a new generation of GPUs releasing over the new couple months (NVIDIA RTX 3000 series and AMD Big Navi) is correct, and they are set to offer a nice boost in performance. But while it's true that the RTX 2060 Super is going to be superseded soon, the RTX 3060 hasn't released yet, and will probably experience the same issues with supply that its big brothers have. The bottom line is - wait a couple months if you can, otherwise get the best deal you can now and start gaming :) before making your decision, do check out the Radeon 5700XT, which can offer 2060 Super or better performance for slightly cheaper.
As far as a motherboard and cpu, what do you think? I'm not familiar with brands, but my research tells me to choose an AM4 socket (cheaper than intel).

Mobo: Either MSI B550 Tomahawk Gen 2 or Amazon has a Gigabyte x570 Aorus Elite
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 3rd Gen

Anything I can substitute to bring the price down? Am I able to use my existing Mobo and CPU with this GPU?
In the interest of mitigating the initial expense, I'd say start with just the GPU. A new GPU will plug right into your old system and work just fine. The i7-3820 may be getting on in age but it can still throw some punches, so you might decide it's all you need for now.

If you do decide that the i7-3820 is holding you back, you will have waited long enough to get into Zen 3 CPUs (Ryzen 5000 series) which are set to offer a noticeable performance boost over Zen 2 (Ryzen 3000 series) and release next month. The Ryzen 5 5600X will be the one to watch for. Of course in addition to your new CPU and motherboard you'll also need new DDR4 RAM (DDR4-3200 or 3600 is the price / performance sweet spot for Ryzen) since your old DDR3 won't work on the newer platforms.

As for the AM4 platform vs Intel FCLGA1200, you're correct that the motherboards tend to be a little cheaper. It's also (in my opinion) the better platform. It supports PCIe 4.0 (unimportant currently but will be in the future) and enjoys broader compatibility. The AMD Zen processor architecture is also just more modern than Intel's current offerings. Don't get me wrong, Intel is keeping pace, but they've gone from being relatively uncontested for the last decade to being a bit on the back foot.

One more observation about your build - typically I would recommend replacing a power supply after 6+ years for peace of mind, but that EVGA SuperNOVA is a very good unit, and should have a 10-year warranty still in effect.
 
Oct 11, 2020
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Thank you Boon72 and Zoid! More helpful information that keeps me doing research. (y)

We've decided we're going to get the PC running with an OS and SSD first and see what the system can do until we choose a GPU. Although we'd like to start gaming now, we're going to take the advice to wait a couple months to see what is available then. We're going to start there and see what limitations we may have, depending on his level of play. That will dictate whether we upgrade the Mobo and CPU also.

Thanks for the monitor advice also, since we just decided on 1440p. Monitor research was going to be next on the list.

When I searched for Radeon RXT 5700, I see one from MSI and one from AMD. I tried doing a comparison but the specs looked the same to me. Is it just branding and price? Thanks.
 
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Zoid

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Jan 13, 2020
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Thank you Boon72 and Zoid! More helpful information that keeps me doing research. (y)

We've decided we're going to get the PC running with an OS and SSD first and see what the system can do until we choose a GPU. Although we'd like to start gaming now, we're going to take the advice to wait a couple months to see what is available then. We're going to start there and see what limitations we may have, depending on his level of play. That will dictate whether we upgrade the Mobo and CPU also.

Thanks for the monitor advice also, since we just decided on 1440p. Monitor research was going to be next on the list.

When I searched for Radeon RXT 5700, I see one from MSI and one from AMD. I tried doing a comparison but the specs looked the same to me. Is it just branding and price? Thanks.
Smart choice! It's easy for us on the forums to recommend waiting, but it's harder to wait when you're the one doing it and you'd rather just get to gaming ;) but give it a shot with your HD 7870s and see what you're dealing with. The GPU is such an expensive part of the computer that even if you don't end up buying any of the new generation of cards, you may find some good deals come Black Friday.

If you're not already familiar with it, check out PCPartPicker. It's a useful resource for comparison shopping for computer parts, and it is also a nice place to plan out your build if and when you eventually upgrade the CPU, Mobo, and RAM.

There aren't substantial differences between one RX 5700 XT and another (and btw, look for the 5700 XT, not the vanilla 5700. Better performance for almost equivalent price). With GPUs, AMD or NVIDIA will release an OEM GPU, often with a blower-style cooler, and then 3rd-party manufacturers (EVGA, Sapphire, ASUS, PowerColor, MSI, etc) will release their own versions of the GPU. Usually the biggest difference between these is the cooler and the aesthetics, but manufacturers will often try to put a slight overclock on for a small performance boost over their competitors.

If you're on a budget, buying the cheapest model of any given GPU is a perfectly valid strategy. Otherwise you can do some research to see which brand is reputed to make the best / quietest cooler or offer the best factory overclock.
 
Oct 11, 2020
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I'm not familiar with that site, but I'll check it out. Thanks again! We were also thinking of Black Friday sales and having our choices made by then (Monitor, GPU, and possibly Mobo and CPU).

When it comes to Keyboard and Mouse, what's a good entry level/mid level set for the type of games he'd play? That is one item I haven't looked into much yet except the price range lol.

Our plan this weekend is to install the OS and SSD. We have a lot on our plate right now, so it works out great that we're not rushing into anything.

I'll keep an eye out for a 5700 XT in case I find one less than what I see it for now. Thanks.
 
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Zoid

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I'm not familiar with that site, but I'll check it out. Thanks again! We were also thinking of Black Friday sales and having our choices made by then (Monitor, GPU, and possibly Mobo and CPU).

When it comes to Keyboard and Mouse, what's a good entry level/mid level set for the type of games he'd play? That is one item I haven't looked into much yet except the price range lol.

Our plan this weekend is to install the OS and SSD. We have a lot on our plate right now, so it works out great that we're not rushing into anything.

I'll keep an eye out for a 5700 XT in case I find one less than what I see it for now. Thanks.
Well I'm not going to be very helpful to you on the mouse and keyboard front, considering I am just about the least picky person you can imagine with that stuff. I am using a cheap wireless logitech keyboard and microsoft mouse that I've had for a decade now. I'll defer that recommendation to someone else :)

Let us know how things go with the OS and SSD! I would be genuinely curious to know what kind of framerates you get out of that rig before upgrades. It's always interesting to see how high-end hardware performs years on from its initial release.
 
Oct 11, 2020
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LOL...I'm good then. I have an older Logitech K750 and M705 already. I thought at minimum a better mouse was needed for customization and latency.

I'll be sure to post how it goes. Hopefully by Sunday. Thanks
 
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