Best way to upgrade PC?
June 26, 2015 12:38 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to upgrade my PC for the next few years?

I want to be able to play the upcoming round of fancy graphics titles (Deus Ex, Fallout 4 and Mass Effect) as well as a couple of recent titles that my PC can't handle (Alien: Isolation and Shadows of Mordor)

I'd like to make 1 or 2 large purchases and would like to future proof my computer for the next few years. I keep seeing on Mefi that you can build a rig comparable to an xbone or ps4 for about 400 bucks but I'm not a PC person and don't know what exactly where to start. I'm assuming a new graphics card? Do I need a new CPU?

AMD FX 6300 3.5 Ghz
AMD Radeon R9 200
24 gigs ram but it only uses 16
Windows 7

an ssd
a big HDD
posted by kittensofthenight to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Building a $400 gaming PC from scratch is probably a bit optimistic, but it sounds like you already have a decent foundation, so the ~$400 range may be doable.

Hmm, what to upgrade... You have plenty of RAM, don't worry about that. The biggest thing to upgrade for gaming is your video card. If you want to get a video card now that will be powerful enough to play those (all yet unreleased) games, you're going to want to get a medium-to-high end card. From what I hear, the NVidia GTX 760, 780, 960, and 970 are some of the better cards in this range when it comes to getting bang for your buck, although they're not cheap ($200+) and you may have to upgrade your power core, which could add another ~$100 to the total. I love my GTX 970, but it's the most expensive of the bunch ~$400) and might be a more powerful card than you need... However, if you want to be able to play games with high settings a year or two from now it might be worth shelling out for a nicer card.

And I imagine you'd also want to upgrade your processor, though without knowing what you have currently it's hard to say for sure.

I'm not any expert, though, and there are plenty of people who know far more about the topic than I could ever tell you. There are plenty of good guides online if you google 'budget gaming pc'. This one looked reasonably promising:

And one specifically about processors:,3106-2.html
posted by Green Winnebago at 1:12 AM on June 26, 2015

Response by poster: I think the amd fx 6300 is the pricessor, right?
posted by kittensofthenight at 2:21 AM on June 26, 2015

Do you know what kind of slots are available on your motherboard? That's generally going to dictate what's feasible graphics card wise.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 2:57 AM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

The advice here looks pretty good.
posted by exogenous at 4:50 AM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Tom's Hardware publishes a gamer-focused monthly list of best graphics cards for a given budget. Here's the one for June 2015, published a week ago. I usually buy in the $200-250 range, but it's your budget.

They also do a monthly list of CPUs, again gamer-focused: June 2015 Best Gaming CPUs Shopping for CPUs is a little trickier, because there's basically one socket (PCIe) for graphics cards, and half a dozen sockets out there for CPUs, and it sounds like you're not looking for replace your motherboard, so you can only get CPUs that use the AM3+ socket or AM3 socket.

I'd suggest you put your money in your graphics card, and if you need it, a roomier SSD. I bought a 256GB SSD For about $100 last week, a Samsung. I was replacing a boot drive, but you don't have to-- just make sure the games are running off the SSD.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:51 AM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Once you get a sense of the hardware you need, check out PCPartPicker. You can enter the hardware you already have and the upgrades you're considering and it will check for compatibility. It's also good (though not foolproof) for comparing specs and prices, and you can set up price drop alerts.

/r/BuildAPC has a lot of good advice if you search and /r/BuildAPCSales is great when you're on a budget.
posted by yeahlikethat at 8:41 AM on June 26, 2015

You want to go to Logical Increments. I've used it. It is the best advice I have found out there for building a computer to meet your budget, well laid out, and easy to use.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:50 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

What r9 200 series card do you have? that's a pretty big range, from the r9 270(fairly wimpy, barely more powerful than a PS4) to the 290x(monster mega beast machine card that's as powerful as the 970 mentioned upthread).

I, personally, would just buy a new motherboard, a new CPU, and a new GPU. I'd want to know what GPU you had first though before i made any specific recommendations of how to move forward.
posted by emptythought at 9:44 PM on June 26, 2015

I would also advise waiting a little bit to do this. The two cheaper versions of the new AMD r9 fury card havent launched(the fury, and the r9 nano, only the super fancy and very expensive fury X is out right now).

Nvidia is likely to drop their prices in response to that, and the air cooled fury or the nano might be a really super kickass deal. The 290/290x are also being discontinued to be replaced by the identical but with more VRAM 390/390x which are exactly the same chips, and there's likely some awesome sales on those.

You can already grab a 290 for $240~, and they've been even lower. If you wait a month or so you might be able to get a 290x for $200 or something bonkers.

Similarly, intel is lauching new chips really soon and there's likely to be great sales on quality motherboards and mild sales on CPUs.
posted by emptythought at 9:52 PM on June 26, 2015

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