Should I upgrade or replace?

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Should I upgrade or replace?

Postby KysenMurrin » Sat Jul 02, 2016 3:22 am

So I'm feeling like my PC is due a refresh so I can keep up with the few games I pick up*. The current one was mostly a pre-built Packard Bell I got about 5-6 years ago; three years ago I added a graphics card and moved it into a full size case with a better power supply, with the intention of eventually replacing the (micro-ATX) motherboard and processor, as I felt that'd be better than buying a whole new PC.

Now it's three years down the line and the imminent end of the free upgrade period on Windows 10 has got me thinking I need to decide if I'm going to upgrade the motherboard/CPU/RAM and keep everything else (and then probably upgrade to Windows 10 for free), or if I should just buy a whole new PC (which will probably come with Windows 10 preinstalled).

If I just upgrade, I'll be keeping:
- AMD Radeon HD 5700 graphics card (pretty old midrange thing)
- 500W power supply
- DVD-R
- 6+ year old HDD drive (is only half full and has not displayed any faults so far)

Since I'm replacing the motherboard I assume it'll need new RAM too. But it's probably still cheaper than a whole new PC.

Question is, is keeping that stuff and (possibly?) saving a little money worth it at all? I've got a bit of sunk cost fallacy going re: the PSU and case I bought, and I'm not sure if it'd just be superior all round to start fresh with a modern PC. For one thing I don't really know how much the CPU holds the system back vs needing a better graphics card also.

Note: I never buy top of the line, I tend to go for something like last year's best midrange.

What would you do?


*Most recent game I finished was Wolfenstein: The New Order, and while it ran, I had to keep settings low and the cutscenes were very laggy. It ran Tomb Raider 2014 fine, though...
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Re: Should I upgrade or replace?

Postby Grehn|Skipjack » Sat Jul 02, 2016 5:30 am

I'm not super clear on AMD GPUs but what I'm seeing is that a 5770 is roughly similar to NVidia's GTX 280 which I bought new about 6 years ago. Your GPU is definitely in need of an upgrade if so. That leaves you with a power supply and a hard drive. I'm gonna have to recommend you build a whole new PC and just jam your old HDD in there.
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Re: Should I upgrade or replace?

Postby KysenMurrin » Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:18 am

Yeah, that's about what I was thinking. I'm looking into replacing pretty much all the core hardware, now. One issue I have is I'm seeing conflicting reports on whether I can swap my HDD without having to get a fresh install of Windows. Some saying it's simple and easy, others saying it's impossible if you had a pre-installed copy.
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Re: Should I upgrade or replace?

Postby KysenMurrin » Thu Jul 07, 2016 1:19 am

Welp, I ordered some parts. Just the core stuff for now, not looked at graphics yet. I guess I got lazy, because I didn't really do the thorough looking through reviews etc that I usually do. Instead, I looked at the most recent MMO-Champion setup list, put the cheapest options in the basket, and then swapped out the motherboard for a similar but even cheaper one without really looking into it much. I also didn't look at prices for a full new build PC, which I really should have (particularly if keeping Windows might fail). Hope I don't regret this!

Turns out there aren't many motherboards with nVidia chipsets these days, so I had to get something else. I might have even more issues transferring Windows, there.
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Re: Should I upgrade or replace?

Postby Grehn|Skipjack » Thu Jul 07, 2016 12:51 pm

You will have to reinstall Windows.
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Re: Should I upgrade or replace?

Postby KysenMurrin » Thu Jul 07, 2016 1:32 pm

That's what I expect at this point, yes. But I want to at least give it a go first, I'm curious if the "out of box experience" tool I've read about that strips all the drivers and settings will work.

(If it doesn't, I assume I'll have to format the HDD, which I'll be able to do through either BIOS or from a Windows install disk menu?)

Edit: So my Windows version is OEM, which will almost certainly not transfer. But it looks like there are some places that still sell OEM Windows 7 product keys for less than £20, so I could possibly reactivate with a new key if it comes to that.
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Re: Should I upgrade or replace?

Postby KysenMurrin » Sun Jul 10, 2016 4:10 am

I did indeed have to reinstall Windows (spent a couple of hours trying to get the old one to boot, but no luck). Fortunately I remembered I had another HDD left over from the last PC I had, and I used that for the fresh install, which is making moving over stuff from the old install a lot easier.

Also fortunately, when I tried activating my Windows install it just worked immediately - didn't even have to phone Microsoft. It's not supposed to do that when you change mobo.

Unfortunately, after I installed the first few updates, Windows Update stopped working, and now just hangs on Checking for Updates forever. I googled and manually installed some updates that are said to fix the issue, but nothing's worked.
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Re: Should I upgrade or replace?

Postby Nooska » Mon Jul 11, 2016 9:46 am

They lowered the requirements for win7 activation a few years ago, and I would expect them to lower them even more soon™ with win10 being the new big deal.
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Re: Should I upgrade or replace?

Postby KysenMurrin » Mon Jul 11, 2016 9:54 am

Ordered a graphics card now too. Spent a bit more than I'd originally planned (I'd expected to spend £60-80) and got a GTX 960 (£145), since I figure the better I buy now the longer it'll last and less I'll have to worry about games not working. I don't mind lowering the settings to run games, but this'll let me use higher settings now and stretch it much longer.

I'm thinking I should've done the same with the processor (the one I got came out a few years back), but it's too late to rethink that, and it's still a big step up from my old one.
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Re: Should I upgrade or replace?

Postby KysenMurrin » Sat Jul 16, 2016 6:56 am

And now I have my graphics card. It was a pain in the ass to install, because it's huge and I had to move my HDDs into the bottom slots of the case to get them out of the way of it. I also managed to convince myself my system didn't have enough power after finding an old 380W PSU box in a cupboard, then I finally remembered I bought this case with a 500W supply included.

I'm having trouble remembering what happened to my old PC, the last one I upgraded with that 380W PSU and the other graphics card I also found in the cupboard (and which had the spare HDD I'm using). I must have given it to my parents.
As of today, the only things remaining from the prebuilt PC I replaced that last one with are the DVD drive and HDD. I'm actually considering buying a few more cheap parts and rebuilding it to sell or give away.
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