PC upgrade help needed!

Is it better to upgrade a laptop, a 5 year old desktop, or buy a new desktop. $500 would be pushing my budget. Im hoping for mid-high performance, as I am what you would call a "graphics whore".

Get a new PC or upgrade your existing one.

Would need to know more about your current PC though.

The only thing a laptop has over a PC is that you can carry it around with you.

If that's not something you particularly need, always get a PC, because they're a hell of a lot easier to upgrade and tend to be cheaper than a laptop of the same spec.

The odds of you being able to upgrade a laptop in any meaningful way are minimal, so that's out of the question. Whether or not you'd be better off buying a new computer or upgrading your old one all comes down to what the hardware is on your current one. Although I don't think you could build a computer for $500 that would be suitable for a "graphics whore".

Your best option would probably be to make a mostly new computer with salvaging as much as you can from the old one. You might be able to get away with using your old hard drive, disk drives, and maybe even case (among possible other stuff). Although how much you can salvage depends on what hardware you had to begin with. Still, it's a good way to save a significant amount of money on a new build.

How would you upgrade your laptop? If you can that would indicate you already have a high end gaming laptop, though they are limited in how far they can be upgraded due to your budget you might want to look into that. The five year old desktop you could also look into though in tech years 5 is pretty ancient, but again due to your limited budget you might want to check into that. A new desktop might be your best bet but two things alarm me "graphics whore" and $500 mean you are likely to have a bad time. Check into the bench marks of the graphics card and know the limits of the system you are getting, just to avoid any disappointment, though I have been stuck with laptops for 6 years now, as I required mobility and have been out of the desktop building for a long time, you might be able to get a decent rig for $500 now.

As an interesting side note, when I worked for Dell, what 7 or 8 years ago now they had just taken over Alienware and where getting into high end performance laptops. They called us into a meeting shortly after and asked us to stop calling notebooks "laptops", turns out a lot of the Dell customers going for the new Dell Alienware notebooks were roasting their chestnuts so to speak, and Dell was in a panic to avoid any lawsuits, as calling them laptops should indicate you can use them on your lap.

Sell the lap top and the old PC and use the money to increase your budget for a new PC.

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Total price is $517

Prices worked of Newegg as that is the only American pc site i know.

Best I could think of at that price if you can use your old case and hardrives upgrade the cpu/motherboard bundle to this : http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1198961

If you can paste the specs of your old pc it would help alot.

I need to connect the old pc up to see the specs, but I know it has very little RAM, and a bunch of viruses I need to clear. The HDD is probably crap, and it most likely has very little gpu or cpu power. I can probaly salvage the case, but will need new of everything else.

The biggest question is what CPU socket the motherboard of your existing desktop has.

So, long answer:
Being five years old (so, a 2008 model, then?), it's most likely either a socket T (intel P4 and CORE series circa 2004, which was getting its mud stomped by AMD at the time) or a socket AM2+ (AMD Athlon 64/X2/Phenom/II circa 2007). Either way, you're looking at a max of dual-core processors around 3Ghz with outdated architecture. My desktop is from that era (basically the best AMD system you could build in 2007), and can just barely run Far Cry 3 now. Not the sort of system for a "graphics whore".

Short answer:
Build a new system. If you're serious about your graphics whore status, put a ridiculously expensive i7 and a 690GTX in it.
Didn't see the $500 limit... the suggestion below this post is a good one... though I wouldn't fork out the cash for Windows 7 if you've got a copy of XP laying around (and 8GB of RAM is over the top... most games are still at the 32-bit limit and can't read more than 3GB anyway). Also, learn Linux.

Auzzie Taco:
Is it better to upgrade a laptop, a 5 year old desktop, or buy a new desktop. $500 would be pushing my budget. Im hoping for mid-high performance, as I am what you would call a "graphics whore".

I'd get new based on what you've said.

For $500 (assuming OS needs to be included in that), you're not getting mid-high performance unfortunately.

Here's a quick build for you based on Newegg (assuming you're US):

CPU - $105
Motherboard - $65
Memory - $47
PSU - $45
HDD - $60
Case - $40
DVD Drive - $18
Windows 7 64 Bit - $100

$480, and you'll hit $500 with shipping etc.

That's a very basic setup, definitely upgrade-able, the next thing you'll need to do from there is get a discrete graphics card instead of the integrated one in the CPU. I chose AMD for that reason, you get decent quad core performance (granted, not as good as Intel) but you also get the integrated Radeon graphics processor, which is far better than Intel's HD XXXX graphics processors.

If you want any one to one help, feel free to PM me.

I would go with a new PC and just make sure the power supply and slots will support your future needs. If you started a little lower end than you wanted to, you can always upgrade a few things later.

I was looking up laptops this weekend on Amazon, after a while I realised my budget shouldn't be any more than 500, so here's the best I could find for 500 (no idea what the dollar price of this stuff is):

Lenovo Ideapad series:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lenovo-Ideapad-Z580-15-6-inch-Laptop/dp/B009RGBD2M/ref=pd_cp_computers_2

Several different types of laptops come under the "Ideapad" name, a few of those are for 500 so you can nitpick the specs you want.
They are i5 - i7 processors, 6-8 gigs of RAM and generally a good NVIDIA card (the one I linked has a GT 630m, and a 1 terabyte hard drive, although it uses Windows 8)

ACER ASPIRE V3-571G series:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Acer-Aspire-V3-571G-15-6-inch-Laptop/dp/B009R15FCQ/ref=pd_sim_sbs_computers_5

Again there are several different models, some for 500 and they have the same general specs as the Lenovo, so again it's another chance to nitpick to try and find one with the specs you are happiest with.

Unfortunately I quickly discovered that trying to get a laptop with Windows 7 instead of 8 really stunts your choice, as they don't seem to be realising any new laptops with Windows 7, so they all tend to have an artificially inflated price (I suppose that's one way to force people to use Win. 8 that will work) I'm pretty sure the pound is weaker than the dollar, so these will be less than $500 and you could probably take a gander at the more expensive laptops in those ranges, but I hope this gives you a solid starting point for what you can get for your money.
Just Googled it and apparently the pound is stronger than the dollar (who knew) so $500 would be 319.35, which is a good deal less to play with, so basically everything I said was useless. Oh well, at least we had fun.

I could only find a model number for the old pc, a HP D530S. The specs are here (http://reviews.cnet.com/desktops/hp-evo-d530-pentium/4507-3118_7-30425493.html) I don't think it's salvageable. ( I'm in Australia if that helps)

yeah with a pre built there will be almost no room on your PSU or mobo for upgrades to keep to budget prebuilts go to the minimum
when building a new PC look at an AMD based build because the power to dollar ratio is far better than Intel Intel may be slightly better at the very top end but you will be paying massive amounts for it therefore for anything but wank factor i think AMD is the way to go
that is all the advice i can give you i am not use to working within a budget i just spend 5 times your budget on my latest rig and i was getting parts at fractionally more than cost

Five year old 185W HP psu? Wipe the HDD, remove it, peel off the Windows License sticker, and take out the optical drive. There isn't going to be anything else to salvage...unless the case can take a couple of 120mm fans (it won't). Don't re-install windows until your new build is ready.

I'd say check out some swap meets, gumtree, or even eBay. Look for an Intel 1156 socket mother board, a i5 750 CPU (I've seen them on the eBay for about $100) and buy 4 Gb of slow RAM from a reliable brand, a Hyper 212+ cooler, and a quality PSU new, maybe even buy an Antec case with PSU included if the wattage looks good. You might be able to build a similar PC around AMD parts of a similar value but I only know one CPU from a similar era the Phenom II 965 BE and it seems to be selling for twice the price of that i5.

How many pixels are you pushing BTW? I'd be looking at around an HD4870/gtx 260 or HD5770/HD6850/gtx 560 at least. Don't bother with new cards on that budget unless you are saddled with a really weak PSU.

Be sure and google "PSU calculator" when you consider your build to see if it will blow up your PSU or not.

EDIT: Looking for new parts? Try staticice, it is a searchable online price comparison, all the big retailers seem to be on there, certainly my favourites in Melbourne Centrecom, PCCG, and Scorptec. You can maybe save a dollar here and there by buying at CPL or MSY if you think you'll never need customer service or to try a claim on a warranty.

octafish:
Five year old 185W HP psu? Wipe the HDD, remove it, peel off the Windows License sticker, and take out the optical drive. There isn't going to be anything else to salvage...unless the case can take a couple of 120mm fans (it won't). Don't re-install windows until your new build is ready.

I'd say check out some swap meets, gumtree, or even eBay. Look for an Intel 1156 socket mother board, a i5 750 CPU (I've seen them on the eBay for about $100) and buy 4 Gb of slow RAM from a reliable brand, a Hyper 212+ cooler, and a quality PSU new, maybe even buy an Antec case with PSU included if the wattage looks good. You might be able to build a similar PC around AMD parts of a similar value but I only know one CPU from a similar era the Phenom II 965 BE and it seems to be selling for twice the price of that i5.

How many pixels are you pushing BTW? I'd be looking at around an HD4870/gtx 260 or HD5770/HD6850/gtx 560 at least. Don't bother with new cards on that budget unless you are saddled with a really weak PSU.

Be sure and google "PSU calculator" when you consider your build to see if it will blow up your PSU or not.

EDIT: Looking for new parts? Try staticice, it is a searchable online price comparison, all the big retailers seem to be on there, certainly my favourites in Melbourne Centrecom, PCCG, and Scorptec. You can maybe save a dollar here and there by buying at CPL or MSY if you think you'll never need customer service or to try a claim on a warranty.

My monitor is 1366x768, so my card doesn't need to be too high

Auzzie Taco:
My monitor is 1366x768, so my card doesn't need to be too high

Wow, you can probably get away with quite a low power card. Well you should try and get a quality CPU then as the GPU will be doing bugger all at that res and the CPU will be doing all the heavy lifting. After this build you should think about saving for a 1680x1050 or 1920x1080 monitor, though you'll probably be looking for a second hand 1050 as they don't seem to be made anymore.

Auzzie Taco:
Is it better to upgrade a laptop, a 5 year old desktop, or buy a new desktop. $500 would be pushing my budget. Im hoping for mid-high performance, as I am what you would call a "graphics whore".

Don't dream too big with a budget that low. The best you can do is to follow Griffolion's advice and go with a Trinity APU.

xTc212:
SNIP

You forgot windows....

Here's my recommendation. You might have to step down from a 7850 to a 7750 to allow for windows though. You'd still get good 1080p performance.

Strelok:
How would you upgrade your laptop? If you can that would indicate you already have a high end gaming laptop, though they are limited in how far they can be upgraded due to your budget you might want to look into that. The five year old desktop you could also look into though in tech years 5 is pretty ancient, but again due to your limited budget you might want to check into that. A new desktop might be your best bet but two things alarm me "graphics whore" and $500 mean you are likely to have a bad time. Check into the bench marks of the graphics card and know the limits of the system you are getting, just to avoid any disappointment, though I have been stuck with laptops for 6 years now, as I required mobility and have been out of the desktop building for a long time, you might be able to get a decent rig for $500 now.

As an interesting side note, when I worked for Dell, what 7 or 8 years ago now they had just taken over Alienware and where getting into high end performance laptops. They called us into a meeting shortly after and asked us to stop calling notebooks "laptops", turns out a lot of the Dell customers going for the new Dell Alienware notebooks were roasting their chestnuts so to speak, and Dell was in a panic to avoid any lawsuits, as calling them laptops should indicate you can use them on your lap.

Well the two things you can upgrade almost regardless of the laptop is the hard drive and the RAM. Honestly most laptops are pretty good at what they do as long as you don't install a bunch of bloatware. I mean I'm still using the laptop my brother handed down to me. Upgraded the hard drive and RAM and 4 years later still runes like a dream.

But to the OP, a 500 dollar budget really can't do anything with that. I mean yeah you can upgrade your laptop but you never really said what you want said laptop to do and I'm going to have to default for video games to which I would say that no amount of money is going to help you because the CPU is just that important and you can't upgrade that.

Can't build a desktop on a 500 dollar budget either. 1000 maybe, 1500 easy to get a top of the line but 500? No way in hades. Most people including myself when it comes to building a new PC take the slow and steady approach. You don't instantly buy all the parts at once but slowly buy them over time(assuming no gigantic shifts in technology) and take advantage of the best deals possible. Makes for a nice work in progress and you can be more precise in what you want your computer to do. Personally I am biased against desktops BUT you should think about the way you live your life because if you are very social or mobile then a laptop might suit you better. Unless your place is the HUB for all your friends then hey, go nuts on the desktop.

WaitWHAT:

xTc212:
SNIP

You forgot windows....

Here's my recommendation. You might have to step down from a 7850 to a 7750 to allow for windows though. You'd still get good 1080p performance.

I just presumed he had Windows a monitor, keyboard and mouse as he has a desktop already.
If he doesn't then that is defiantly going to eat into his budget.

Auzzie Taco:
I need to connect the old pc up to see the specs, but I know it has very little RAM, and a bunch of viruses I need to clear. The HDD is probably crap, and it most likely has very little gpu or cpu power. I can probaly salvage the case, but will need new of everything else.

As a user said below, Do you have windows? as that will change the specs to fit the 500 budget.
But those pc specs I posted will do you well. However also as the same user posted drop the hd7770 down to a 7750. that drop and an extra 50 and you can get an i5 2500k instead of that i3.

 

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