Upgrade suggestions

Hi all, After a few years out of PC gaming (I am 50+) , I am starting to get back into it. As an old timer, I will start with "back in the day" well, back in the day, PC gaming was frustrating... too many freeze ups...and at that time I couldn't afford very good gear, so I set it aside and went with an original XBOX... Well things have changed and I want to give it another go.

Today, I have a dedicated home theater. A couple of years back I built a home theater PC, which as it turns out, is a pretty decent gaming PC... I am thinking about upgrading maybe the CPU and GPU.. (BTW, I have over 30 years experience in IT, so you can talk tech as much as needed)

The current PC has...

asus m88 evo usb3 motherboard

Corsair 750 watt PS with dedicated 60 amp rail

AMD Phenom II 1090T (oc'ed to 3.6)

16gb ddr3 ram (I forget the brand, but better than average)

Samsung SSD 512mb primary disk (with 1tb mirror data drive) SATA 3

Gigabyte GEForce 660ti (slightly OC'ed)

Couple of Bluray writers (but that is mot important)

ok, So I want to upgrade, but don't want to have to get into a lot of exotic cooling and such. I forget what I built into this system, but it is very adequate in most cases (no pun intended)

If I upgrade I want to get the best balance I can to eliminate bottle necks....

my original thought was to upgrade the GPU to a MSI 780 ti gaming... but then I thought it would be top heavy with the processor I have... I want to stick to budget, so I started thinking for about the same price I can get an AMD 8350 Black and a MSI 780 Gaming (non-ti)

But now I worry that my motherboard may come into play....

Can you guys advise on if this would be a worthwhile upgrade over what I currently have? And if the MB would be an issue?


Thanks in advance

P,S, I know there are a lot of intel fans out there, and understandably so, but this system is what it is, and I don't want to go changing out motherboards.



I recently did a bunch of research regarding the 8320/8350 CPUs, so I'll share what recommendations I was given.

With those processors, your safest bet is to get a motherboard with a 990 chipset. Everything else will either bottleneck the CPU or leave you vulnerable to damage because the power delivery can't handle it.

Oops, sorry. Premature post-ulation. I got a little excited.

Anyway, if you're dead set on keeping your motherboard, I don't have the expertise to recommend a CPU that would do you well.

I can say that my research and the recommendations given to me point to an ASUS M5A99X EVO R2.0 with an FX-8320, and a Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo to cool the CPU. That is about $350 depending on sales and rebates. You'll want the Hyper 212 Evo because the stock cooler is garbage. More specifically, loud and ineffective.

Thanks for the recommendation... it looks like I may need a new motherboard anyway. when I went back to review my specs, mine is not an AM3+ ;-( I could have sworn it was... So I will have to re think this whole idea while trying to stay with a reasonable budget. If I have to replace the MB , That bring Intel into the conversation... so .... back to the search engines :-) 

Yeah, I don't know why I didn't say anything about the socket type. I guess I was thinking you would be able to use an APU, but I know next to nothing about those and the chipsets they utilize. From everything I've read and been told, a good board with the 990 chipset and an FX-8320 or 8350 will be the best price to performance ratio. As I mentioned before, I'd recommend an aftermarket cooler just because the stock one is pathetic. I'm sure someone else can make some recommendations. In terms of keeping it cheap, you might be able to go with a Xeon and a B85 chipset, but I don't know much about that route. Those are probably the best price to performance options that will show you a big performance increase from your current setup.

I'm an idiot. For some reason I was thinking the 880 chipset was an FM2 or FM2+ socket, not AM3. In any case, a new motherboard is probably your best option.

Grabbing an Asus M5A99FX Pro/Evo would be a good option with an FX-8320. 

Also consider an Asus M5A97 R 2.0 and an FX-6300. That is a very capable CPU. OCs very well and is cheaper. That, along with the cheaper motherboard, will give you more cash for a new GPU.

That all being said, the 6 core you already have is still a fairly decent gaming CPU. A 780 Ti would bottleneck but some slightly lower tier GPUs won't and still give adequate performance. 

Let's start with the basics... so you want to game on your couple year old PC... make it a beast for gaming.... you doing anything else on it or you just basically building an overpowered Steam machine, correct?

Keep in mind a 780ti runs about $670-770 and the 780 $490-700... I prefer the Asus and EVGA models personally... I own the EVGA 780 Classified, which is the fastest stock clock on a 780 ($560)... The 770 should do everything you need at 1080p, however, if that's all you plan on using it for... (unless you get into the Crysis 3 argument, but that game is just ridiculous)... the 770's run about $330+ and it might not be bottlenecked so much by your current processor

for the FX 8320 / Asus M5A99FX PRO, you'll run about $260... add $30 for the 8350 and it's extra stock .5GHz...

for the E3 Xeon 1240 / Asus H87M-PRO... H87 chipset will give you all the features of the Z87 chipset without overclockability... (you can't overclock a Xeon) that'll run about $380... you could get a cheap B85-board and save $20-30, but the Xeon is a nice processor and I don't recommend it...

a Haswell i5 / Asus Z87 PRO to overclock it on is about $400.. if you're just gaming it's a great option, since gaming won't use the hyperthreading from a Xeon or i7 and you can overclock it to 4.5 GHz easily... the i7's a beast but it doesn't sound like you'll use it...

Figure out your budget and what you're looking to do with it... the 1090t is a good chip, but yea it'll likely bottleneck a 780ti... most likely a 780 as well... an 8350/i5/Xeon and 780/780ti are all good pairs... if you just want a good 1080p gaming experience and don't want to dump $900 into your setup, the 770 isn't an awful option.... get the 2GB version

well, there is another thing I forgot to mention.... my case is uATX... so my options are limited.... after researching, here is what I am going with.... MSI z87m-gaming MB, Intel i5 4670k and MSI 780 gaming GPU... shopping around, I can get the MB from Newegg for $159, the Processor from Tiger Direct for $209, and the GPU from Amazon for $499.... so the whole kit would be $867.... $365 for the MB and Processor I think is pretty reasonable for what I am getting..

the other thing to mention, is that I won't be going beyond 1080p.... I am playing in my new home theater on a projector... (150" screen in 3D...woo-hoo!!) but 1080p is high as it goes... and the next step (4k) is way down the road financially. So given this, I think the setup I have above will be about right for me. any thoughts?

Sounds pretty good.

Anything smaller than ATX pretty much means you're going with Intel as there are no good AM3+ m-ATX boards.  Not gonna count fm2 as its more of a weaker platform compared to 1150 and AM3+

That's a nice setup! Have fun! Tech Noob is right, mATX and mITX pretty much dictate that Intel is the way to go. Good Luck!

Thanks everyone for the advice!! Should have the new setup by Friday.. 

pictures, sir... always nice to have build pictures... hope my long-winded response gave you a little incite...

Yes, pictures will be coming... I am just getting the CPU cooler today and the GPU tomorrow... planning this upgrade, I didn't intend on building for looks, But I have to admit, it is going to look pretty good and be everything I need.

Well, guys I have been delayed, but Pics will be forthcoming, soon as some parts arrive. The CPU cooler I had in mind won't work... it is too big for a Micro ATX case... too bad, because although it only got average reviews, the looks made up for it IMHO. This is is... http://www.coolermaster-usa.com/product.php?product_id=10068

I installed it, and realized it covers one of my PCI slots, which is ok because I only want one GPU, but the other slot would put the GPU fan less than an inch from the divider that covers the PS.... and that won't do... But here is what it would have looked like


So, rethinking everything, I am sending this back, and going with a Antec Kuehler 950 A.L.C

The case I have is an Antec... so thought I would stick with the brand


Hope to be done later in the week and will post pics.. thanks again for everyone's advice

You may need a new power supply due to Haswell's C7 sleep state.

This link has more info http://techreport.com/review/24897/the-big-haswell-psu-compatibility-list

If you do want a new PSU, then I recommend getting one that's fully modular to conserve space in small cases.

Just go into the BIOS and disable the C7 state.

Thanks for the heads up on the PSU... it's funny, I know a lot of power supplies look the same, but the picture on this link looks EXACTLY like mine... I have never had the cover off so I can't tell there... I originally thought I had a Corsair, but that was in another PC I used to have... here is what I have now...http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817703009

I turn off the PC when not being used, so not sure how much it will affect me anyway... I will turn it off like Some Tech Noob suggests if it becomes a problem... this newegg website says core I7 ready. but not sure if that means Haswell.. Can't find any info on the MFG website.

Well once I saw the following:


This item is currently out of stock and it may or may not be restocked.

I'm pretty sure it won't support Haswell's C7 sleep state.

Well, after overcoming a few issues (the CPU cooler install was painful) The PC is ready.... Because it is in a MicroATX case, I nicknamed it "MicroBeast" :-)

Here is some info, and links to the pics.... 

Stuff I already had…

Antec P180 MicroATX silent case

GSkill 1333 4gb memory x4 (they match the MB perfectly)

PC Power and cooling 750 PSU with 60amp 12v rail

Samsung 840 SSD 500gb-Sata III

Seagate 7200rpm 2tb disks Mirrored (data storage) Sata-III

2 x blu-ray readers/burners

Multi-card reader…

IR receiver ( can turn on remotely with my IR remote)

Gearhead Wireless 2.4 ghz keyboard with touchpad (works great)

Microsoft XBOX 360 wireless receiver (can use my 360 controller for games)



 New stuff…

I replaced the stock case fans even though they worked…. They were already about 3 years old.

 Bitfenix 200mm fan with red LEDs

Enermax T.B. Vegas 120mm fans x2

Intel 5i 4670k Haswell processor (overclocked from 3.4mhz to 4.4mhz)

MSI Z87m-Gaming motherboard

MSI Nvidia GEForce 780ti G GPU (OC’ed to 1051mhz)

Antec H 2 O Kuehler 950 CPU liquid cooler (painted the blades red from white)


link to pics ....be sure to watch the video.


My 3D Benchmark Score..... http://www.3dmark.com/fs/1940899

Temps stay at 60c or less for both the MB and GPU, but there is a bit of fan noise. (just have to turn up the sound ;-)

For anyone who has seen my home theater, know it is Dragon themed.. coincidentally the new MSI stuff is also, I didn’t know this until I unpacked it… it’s like it was meant to be! LOL

I guess good things do come in small packages…..


Thanks for everyone's advice!!