How to: Revitalise an old gaming rig
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Posted: 11/04/2012 10:04 PM
Its impossible to ignore it, lagging in the newest titles on low settings. Hard-drives groaning under countless rewrites. The ram has melted from overuse. But what can you do? Money isn't something that you have handy, the most you would have to put aside on a new PC is $50.
But alas! All hope is not lost, I too am facing this dilemma right now. I'm a student, and a broke one at that! But I love my games, making them and playing them is a great escape. But how can I play my games if my PC cannot run them! I always thought that saving up $750 and building an alright gaming rig was the way to go but it's not! Why build an alright rig when you could have the full on gaming monster? How you ask, upgrades!
PC's are meant for upgrades they are at heart modular devices. Unfortunately as new components come so do the standard specifications. How is it possible to upgrade to a new graphics card when there isn't a single PCI-E power connector in the rig! To address this problem a complete overhaul is required. But we won't go about it as most do! This will be a stage by stage upgrade, carried out over months. The PC will be fully functioning throughout and by the end every component will be brand new! This is my idea anyway, but first a plan is required. I've set it out in 6 stages all viewable on PC Case Gear (Links will be posted later). Here is a synopsis
Stage 1: Case, the case is the biggest upgrade possible as far as a noticeable effect is considered. When playing games a new graphics card might make it less laggy but the case is the object that will make your PC at least look brand new. Its important to upgrade the case if your old one doesn't have some of the new features such as tooless entry. Even better still most companies are coming out with budget oriented lines for under $120 or even $80! Improving the cooling is also a big reason for upgrading, after all that is one of their main purposes!
Stage 2: Power Supply, this one is for old rigs only! If your power supply is under 500 watts and doesn't have at least 2 PCI-E 6 pin power connectors then its time to upgrade! Luckily 550 watts is ample for a budget system, make sure to go modular though. It makes life a lot easier.
Stage 3: Graphics Card, this is (for some) the final stage. If you already have 4gb of Ram, a dual core processor and a large HDD then you can stop here. The graphics card is the single largest factor in gaming performance. It's this component that gets taxed and hence; it's the most expensive SINGLE component of the build.
Stage 4: Motherboard and CPU, If you are running an older single core design then this will be a big impactor on system responsiveness. Also all of the new standards since the days of yore will mean that you can get the most out of the rest of your components. Of course, this is the most expensive stage. There is no point buying a new motherboard without getting a new CPU and vice versa.
Stage 5: RAM, I'll admit it I'm still running DDR ram. But my motherboard doesn't support any new standards so I'll have to stick with it until stage 4 is finished. Seeing how cheap RAM prices are today even gaming ram with cool heatspreaders is within reach!
Stage 6: Closed loop water cooling kit, seems pointless doesn't it? And if you don't have the money it is! But I'm looking to overclock my cheap processor or at least keep it cool. They are also incredibly cheap right now so its actually not too bad picking one up looking at the temp, noise difference. $60 models are already available that run rings around any stock cooler.
Any extra cooling can be a Stage 7 if you want. Upgrading the case fans is always a good idea, and a better fan controller is nice. But not needed, most cases include one anyway.
Anyway after selling my PSP and its games I have enough to complete Stage 1! I also found out I have enough money to just about get to Stage 2 so I'll be ordering those parts ASAP.
That's all for now folks, stay tuned for next post where I put up my current system and photos, PC Case gear upgrade list and more! Plus I'll also go into depth on which components to pick for stages 1, 2 and 3. Help out with any of the Acronyms that are in advertising, and answer any questions you guys might have! Feel free to start some discussion on this thread, post your build and ask around. Thanks for reading!
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