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DTMark

Desktop Pc Upgrade

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One for the techs - I know we have some here.

I'm out of my depth here. How, you may wonder, since I'm in IT: while I know how these things work inside to a fair degree, I only know what I need to do, to do my job.

I have an HP desktop. This one:

http://support.hp.com/us-en/product/HP-G5000-Desktop-PC-series/5035310/model/5095549/document/c02773766/

.. although it has 4GB RAM not the 3GB stated. Actually I'd thought it more than that.. anyway, looking at Performance Monitor I can see that I need some extra memory and a faster drive.

The chipset cannot cope with any more memory, it has a 4GB limitation. So I can either replace the board/chipset and memory, or buy a new PC.

Working on the assumption that the former is cheaper, and the requirement for 8GB+ of RAM (I can deal with the disk drive e.g. a new SSD one), I then begin looking at board bundles with processor and memory.

And comparing the price of those with the price of a new desktop. Yes, it's cheaper to upgrade, it seems, but I really have no idea about boards and chipsets. I should say I've replaced one before so I feel comfortable in doing that.

PC is used for e.g. Photoshop, Visual Studio so development work. It is not used for gaming.

Here's the current one:

Form factor: microATX - 24.4 cm (9.6 inches) x 24.4 cm (9.6 inches)

Chipset: Intel G41 Express

Memory sockets: 2 x DDR3

Front side bus speeds: 1333/1066/800 MHz

Intel E5800 dual core @ 3.20GHz

I also have an NVIDIA GeForce GT610 which I'd want to keep (dual monitors).

.. and here's an example of what I saw:

Intel i3 3220 Dual Core 3.3GHz, Gigabyte GA-H61MA-D2V, 8GB DDR3 1333MHz Bundle - £199

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Intel-3-3GHz-Gigabyte-GA-H61MA-D2V-1333MHz/dp/B00B4XE70Q

So, is that better than what I have now? What are the "metrics"? Is that the best £200 buys? (I'll only buy new for this, and not from eBay, actually I wouldn't buy that one as it's from an 'Amazon seller' - would either buy directly from e.g. Maplin or Amazon but as an example..)

I feel like someone much older who has never had a computer before with little to go on as regards decisions.

Fine with the current case, does what it needs to do, all the fans still work silently. But. it's for work, and this is an exercise which "cannot go wrong".

Basically, if you had £200 (arbitrary number) to spend to get more out of it, what would you buy?

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stupid question but have you tried the usual things first (cleaning up the registry, defrag, spybot etc) or just installing a fresh build of your OS?

If none of that works,a motherboard and 4GB of ram is probably on the cusp of becoming a false economy vs buying a pre-built rig. I've always built my own but the manufacture subsidies on pre-built rigs have become astonishing in the last 5 years, I'm guessing due to all the naff 30 day software they load on them.

If you do go pre-built, always format and install a fresh build of whatever OS you want.

If you're intent on self-build, I use https://www.overclockers.co.uk/as they seem pretty competitive on prices (though I haven't had any need to use them for 3 years)

Oh and if you keep your old CPU, dental floss is your best friend

http://www.wikihow.com/Remove-a-Processor-Fused-to-a-Heatsink

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No expert, but with the rise of Apple, and the 2008 crash, PCs have crashed in price. With bust companies, and companies upgrading you might want to look at bargainhardware.co.uk (I used them about 3 years ago) and they refurbish corporate PCs. If you're not looking to spend too much and want to upgrade within that "generation" that you've got.

I had a play at the set up on that site, and for about £300 you can get a HPXW6400 with 16GB RAM, Xeon dual 3GHz quad cores (no graphics card).

Alternatively you could spend the best part of £1000 for a flagship HP Z800, and for something like that brand new, that would have cost £15,000+ However there are drawbacks. They run on slower DDR2 RAM memory which is 2 generations down from the current DDR4 memory. I also believe you cannot run more that one graphics card, and those HP's have no overclock options on their CPUs. So you could upgrade your memory massively but run at slightly slower speeds DDR3 to DDR2.

----

I think my next PC will be new... something on the lines of this I7 5820K + SSD 16gb DDR4 GTX 980 4gb

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Intel-X99-I7-5820K-2tb-SSD-16gb-DDR4-GTX-980-4gb-Corsair-780T-Windows-8-PC-/141599153322?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item20f7f79caa£1,700 ouch!

Or with a better I7 chip i7 5960x 16gb DDR4 GTX 980 SLI

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Vibox-Fracas-17-Fast-Windows-7-i7-5960x-Gaming-Desktop-PC-16GB-3TB-980-SLI-/361103421716?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item541370f114£2785 double ouch!

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Just wait until one of those 17 inch Dell laptops with a 2GB GPU and a big disk drive are on special on hotukdeals - they turn up about once a month and probably will be one this coming week.

Just attach your keyboard, mouse and monitor to it and use it as your desktop.

Don't faff around with actual 'desktops' anymore.

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I had this about a year ago and concluded that pre-built was actually the same value as self build and with the added protection of a warranty.

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Ive built a couple of hundred in my time.

not any more...prebuilt with upgrades is way more economic.

As for upgrading the motherboard, well, you have all the hassle of taking the gear out, which disturbs things which have never moved. risky.

Then modern RAM and processors are all different to old ones..so your your old RAM and Processor(s) might not work, inspite of the socket similarities.

Then if you change the board and its chipset, then you have issues with the windows drivers.

It can become a nightmare.

Then you find your PSU , which worked fine for the last 4 years, didnt like the way the new kit works...smartly and quickly, it "got used" to quirky and slow........and that doesnt work.

I know it shouldnt happen in theory, but parts just feel as if they "bed down" with each other over time.

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Ive built a couple of hundred in my time.

not any more...prebuilt with upgrades is way more economic.

As for upgrading the motherboard, well, you have all the hassle of taking the gear out, which disturbs things which have never moved. risky.

Then modern RAM and processors are all different to old ones..so your your old RAM and Processor(s) might not work, inspite of the socket similarities.

Then if you change the board and its chipset, then you have issues with the windows drivers.

It can become a nightmare.

Then you find your PSU , which worked fine for the last 4 years, didnt like the way the new kit works...smartly and quickly, it "got used" to quirky and slow........and that doesnt work.

I know it shouldnt happen in theory, but parts just feel as if they "bed down" with each other over time.

I've "built" a couple barebones machines in the past...All you need to supply, is the CPU and the HDD...You also know that the drivers should all generally work with each other too..

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Ive built a couple of hundred in my time.

not any more...prebuilt with upgrades is way more economic.

As for upgrading the motherboard, well, you have all the hassle of taking the gear out, which disturbs things which have never moved. risky.

Then modern RAM and processors are all different to old ones..so your your old RAM and Processor(s) might not work, inspite of the socket similarities.

Then if you change the board and its chipset, then you have issues with the windows drivers.

It can become a nightmare.

Then you find your PSU , which worked fine for the last 4 years, didnt like the way the new kit works...smartly and quickly, it "got used" to quirky and slow........and that doesnt work.

I know it shouldnt happen in theory, but parts just feel as if they "bed down" with each other over time.

All of that.

The only reason I would build a PC today is for the issue of silence - I like silent PCs.

But, as I said above, you can get pretty much all the power and capacity and speed you need in a laptop nowadays and simply attach a monitor and keyboard to one.

Unless you are a massive gamer wanting the latest graphics cards... or involved in loads of video/animation rendering... then why go down the desktop route. It is pretty outdated.

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All of that.

The only reason I would build a PC today is for the issue of silence - I like silent PCs.

But, as I said above, you can get pretty much all the power and capacity and speed you need in a laptop nowadays and simply attach a monitor and keyboard to one.

Unless you are a massive gamer wanting the latest graphics cards... or involved in loads of video/animation rendering... then why go down the desktop route. It is pretty outdated.

I suppose the good thing about the majority of desktops, is that they are easier to upgrade...Cheap Laptops esp. (and Desktops for that matter) typically have everything soldered on to the board, so if a component goes bang, you may have to throw the lot out...

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I've "built" a couple barebones machines in the past...All you need to supply, is the CPU and the HDD...You also know that the drivers should all generally work with each other too..

Bare bones is different...its modern and you add modern bits. And some bare bones are barer than others.

There was a time when I built quite a few Barebones for clients, cant think of the name, but they were very small and quite nice, popular too.

The issue was upgrading them, as the OP is looking at.

You cant...much.

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The easiest option is to buy something new, but if I was in this position and I was determined to spend as little as possible (seems reasonable) I'd:

1) - I'm not sure that the board has a 4gb limit. The HP docs themselves suggest this, but this is so often a manufacturer thing which means "we've tested it at 4gb", written at a time when only 2gb sticks were available. Lots of stories of people getting 8gb on G41 as well. So I'd buy a 4gb stick and try it out. If it works I'd buy another (to get 8gb) and a SSD (120gb). Total spend £90 or so.

2) - If the ram didn't work I'd to the full upgrade. Buy a cheapish socket-1150 mobo (Doesn't particularly matter which one. Best if 4x memory slots. Can get H81 for £35). Pentium g3258 (£40) (3258 has better performance than i3-3220 other than graphics, and you're using a graphics card anyway). Buy another 4gb to add to the 4gb already bought. Total spend £125.

I'd probably get a SSD while I was doing it - probably the best way to improve a flagging system. Another £40 (for 120gb).

You might be able to use you current 4gb as well, which could give you a 12gb machine.

If you cared about such things, you could get a mobo that supported overclocking the 3258 (not necessarily any more money, but you'd have to do the research). I wouldn't bother.

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Thanks for all the replies..

I do have a bootable Windows 8.1 DVD so I can do a fresh install.

I did also buy an SSD drive with the intention of doing the above, with this machine, just putting in more memory.

A rebuild will make it faster, but Photoshop is a memory hog. That, with IE in debugging mode, and Visual Studio open, are what use up the physical RAM.

It's there that I thought I'd come unstuck. This is the manufacturer's page for the chipset:

http://www.intel.co.uk/content/www/uk/en/chipsets/mainstream-chipsets/g41-express-chipset.html

Dual-Channel DDR3 memory support Delivers up to 17 GB/s (DDR3 1066 dual 8.5 GB/s) of bandwidth and 4 GB maximum supported memory size for faster system responsiveness and support of 64-bit computing.

I wondered whether 4GB was per slot or total, it does read as total which is what sent me down the route of swapping that out too.

Which then made me wonder about buying new. Quicker, easier, better.. cheaper? I do need dual monitor support. I did buy a laptop recently which is reasonable and could use that, but the dual monitor requirement kills that idea. I think.

I reckon I should go off and explore links to new desktops. A barebones no OS one would seem to suit and I now have an SSD drive to add to it.

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Dont be misled by RAM speeds...its the chipset that decides on the ultimate performance...so faster ram in a slot than the chipset can handle makes no difference.

slower RAM can make things a little slower, but again, this isnt always the case as quite often, most of the time in normal use, the memory is doing little refreshing.

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After some brief research I seem to be looking at around £500. I don't know why but for some reason I'd assumed that improving on this one would be closer to £300.

I'll have to come back and read a bit more later on. The one I have now was hastily purchased in PC World one workday after the old one blew up and I didn't have the luxury of time to make any kind of considered purchase.

Assuming that I can use my existing graphics card (NVIDIA GeForce GT610) and looking for 8GB+ then I guess a decision really comes down mostly to the processor it's fitted with.

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After some brief research I seem to be looking at around £500. I don't know why but for some reason I'd assumed that improving on this one would be closer to £300.

I'll have to come back and read a bit more later on. The one I have now was hastily purchased in PC World one workday after the old one blew up and I didn't have the luxury of time to make any kind of considered purchase.

Assuming that I can use my existing graphics card (NVIDIA GeForce GT610) and looking for 8GB+ then I guess a decision really comes down mostly to the processor it's fitted with.

check the interface on your Nvidia, and ensure the new PC has one the same.

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Just do yourself a favour and buy something modern with better specs.

This.

Spend around 700-1200, it's only going to fund HPI otherwise!

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One for the techs - I know we have some here.

I'm out of my depth here. How, you may wonder, since I'm in IT: while I know how these things work inside to a fair degree, I only know what I need to do, to do my job.

I have an HP desktop. This one:

http://support.hp.com/us-en/product/HP-G5000-Desktop-PC-series/5035310/model/5095549/document/c02773766/

.. although it has 4GB RAM not the 3GB stated. Actually I'd thought it more than that.. anyway, looking at Performance Monitor I can see that I need some extra memory and a faster drive.

The chipset cannot cope with any more memory, it has a 4GB limitation. So I can either replace the board/chipset and memory, or buy a new PC.

Working on the assumption that the former is cheaper, and the requirement for 8GB+ of RAM (I can deal with the disk drive e.g. a new SSD one), I then begin looking at board bundles with processor and memory.

And comparing the price of those with the price of a new desktop. Yes, it's cheaper to upgrade, it seems, but I really have no idea about boards and chipsets. I should say I've replaced one before so I feel comfortable in doing that.

PC is used for e.g. Photoshop, Visual Studio so development work. It is not used for gaming.

Here's the current one:

Form factor: microATX - 24.4 cm (9.6 inches) x 24.4 cm (9.6 inches)

Chipset: Intel G41 Express

Memory sockets: 2 x DDR3

Front side bus speeds: 1333/1066/800 MHz

Intel E5800 dual core @ 3.20GHz

I also have an NVIDIA GeForce GT610 which I'd want to keep (dual monitors).

.. and here's an example of what I saw:

Intel i3 3220 Dual Core 3.3GHz, Gigabyte GA-H61MA-D2V, 8GB DDR3 1333MHz Bundle - £199

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Intel-3-3GHz-Gigabyte-GA-H61MA-D2V-1333MHz/dp/B00B4XE70Q

So, is that better than what I have now? What are the "metrics"? Is that the best £200 buys? (I'll only buy new for this, and not from eBay, actually I wouldn't buy that one as it's from an 'Amazon seller' - would either buy directly from e.g. Maplin or Amazon but as an example..)

I feel like someone much older who has never had a computer before with little to go on as regards decisions.

Fine with the current case, does what it needs to do, all the fans still work silently. But. it's for work, and this is an exercise which "cannot go wrong".

Basically, if you had £200 (arbitrary number) to spend to get more out of it, what would you buy?

buy an ex business machine and a port replicator

you can pickup a nice small lenovo xseries or t series core i5 machine for £100 or so port replicator £20 buy an ssd and 8gb of ram and away you go dump the old machine on ebay.

these business lenovo`s do not go wrong

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buy an ex business machine and a port replicator

you can pickup a nice small lenovo xseries or t series core i5 machine for £100 or so port replicator £20 buy an ssd and 8gb of ram and away you go dump the old machine on ebay.

these business lenovo`s do not go wrong

Any sites with ex-business laptops?

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To the guys who favour "off the shelf" over self build..

I have always self built for the simple reason that you know what you are getting.

I always presumed that off the shelf PCs give you a great spec in headline items, CPU, RAM size, HDD size etc

Then I always imagine they cut corners on everything else.. motherboard, fans, PSU, GPU (something that sounds flash but isn't), RAM speed, SSD, Sound card etc.

Is that no longer the case? Are they generally trust worthy these days?

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To the guys who favour "off the shelf" over self build..

I have always self built for the simple reason that you know what you are getting.

I always presumed that off the shelf PCs give you a great spec in headline items, CPU, RAM size, HDD size etc

Then I always imagine they cut corners on everything else.. motherboard, fans, PSU, GPU (something that sounds flash but isn't), RAM speed, SSD, Sound card etc.

Is that no longer the case? Are they generally trust worthy these days?

there is mileage in this argument.

I bought a ready built, on instructions, a branded PC that was really a homebuilt but built for you by the mail order vendor.

As feared by Libspero and my self, the construction was cheap, cheap cheap...noisy fan, integrated networking failed intermittently causing all manner of diagnostic issues. I tend to sell now the big brands HP and Toshiba, they have a rep to keep up and if you pick a suitable model, you have plenty of choice for upgrade.

HP servers are bare bones really, and very economic to upgrade, along with special packages of lower cost software too.

There are some specialists out there for gamers, but really, for 99% of computing, all that flash and nth degree of speed is for the ego and those that boast of the money they have spent.

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Mark,

as a very rough guide, I use http://www.cpubenchmark.net/to compare and contrast cpus and gpus. At the end of the day, it's just a number, but the bigger numbers are generally better ;).

Looking at your current PC specs, I would be tempted to say that the processor has probably had its day and it would be a good idea to replace it, which would mean a new mobo bundle. Fwiw, I used to have a couple of dual core laptops that I used for years, but by the beginning of last year they were just getting too slow to do anything really useful with in a browser.

Personally, I find it a right chore to fit motherboards, so I'd look for a bare bones system as a replacement and then drop the bits in. There's a load of firms that specialise in bare-bones, my favourite is Novatech (http://www.novatech.co.uk/barebonebundles/) and they seem to do a number of systems at different price points.

Alternatively, it may be worth having a look on ebay for a decent quad core processor to stick in your current PC, if you can get the memory upgrade that you want into the mobo. Something like a Q9550 will give similar performance to the i3 you mentioned, but is likely to be about £40 on ebay.

Another alternative to consider is getting a laptop and port replicator, which I did last year. I got one of these laptops

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/DELL-E6320-CORE-i5-LAPTOP-WINDOWS-7-64-BIT-128-GB-SSD-4GB-RAM-HDMI-WEBCAM-/111659399977?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item19ff6b3b29#viTabs_0

and one of these port replicators

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dell-Latitude-E6320-E6220-E5250-E7250-Advanced-Docking-Station-Port-Replicator-/271109371735?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item3f1f60b757

This lets me run the computer with two external monitors, which is nice, and it will take 2x4Gb of ram and a second hard-drive if that's your bag. Like you, I use my laptop a lot for programming in Visual Studio and it tends to work fine.

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All of that.

The only reason I would build a PC today is for the issue of silence - I like silent PCs.

But, as I said above, you can get pretty much all the power and capacity and speed you need in a laptop nowadays and simply attach a monitor and keyboard to one.

Unless you are a massive gamer wanting the latest graphics cards... or involved in loads of video/animation rendering... then why go down the desktop route. It is pretty outdated.

Self built for my Music studio pc. Where noise and stability are issues. Fractal Audio make good cases for quiet running.

The main reason i did it, is that unless you go to a specialist builder, you will likely have issues with pcie firewire and any amount of associated grief unique to the intended use.

To keep a DAW running well, it helps to have boned up on the subject, and be comfortable with a bit of self diagnosis, so what better way than to build it yourself?

Especially when specialist built machines can cost a fair bit more. I think self building a machine for a specific purpose can often be a sensible way to go.

Theres always the Mac route for music too, but again the costs can be double for similar spec in PC land.

And Apple seem a bit too keen on milking their customers as far as i can see.

Scan is a decent place to get prebuilt combos. Bought stuff from DABS before but not sure i would do again.

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