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Upgrading old Phenom 955 system to Ryzen 1600x Vega56/1070ti, its been a while


Hey all. I’ve been building pc’s for 20ish years now, but its been a while.

My current system is a AMD Phenom X4 955 (OC’d to ~4ghz), gtx 960 (originally a 560ti), 16g G.Skill ripjaw (2x8g), 2x2TB WD Blue HDDs (yeah, no SSD, I know, they were expensive 6-7 years ago!) and her rust is finally showing (though even with the 560ti, she’d run GTAV @ 1080 on med @ 30fps, which is playable and at least as good as a Xbox).

I’m a jack of all trades, sometimes gamer, sometimes music production, relearning my programming and linux skills (trying to improve the employment situation), video editing and graphic design dabbler. I pretty much live in Windows, using my Raspberry Pi to explore linux, but if my setup or a few substitutions could allow the gaming on Linux w/ GPU IOMMU Pass-through, I’d be willing to make those changes.

I’m aiming for a budget around $1500 hopefully including a nice 27" 1440 monitor (the best image quality and something that can do ~100-120hz, something that I won’t outgrow for a few years). I have a 15+ yo 20" 1680x1050 viewsonic and a dumpster saved 21" 1080 emachines currently, my desk is only 30" across. I am an overclocking enthusiast, but I don’t go to crazy extremes. I basically like to squeeze every ounce of performance out of a “budget” setup rather than try to have the craziest fastest system at any cost, so mobos/GPUs/RAM that are OC friendly are important. I also like to future-proof my rigs, one of the biggest problems with my current rig was buying a CPU at the end of its life so there were no upgrades w/o replacing CPU + MOBO + RAM. I don’t think thats the case with Ryzen seeing as its a brand new platform, but if there is rumbling in the distant future about a new socket, I’d rather wait 6 more months.

Anyway, here is the system:


  • Ryzen 1600x
  • 2x8gb G.Skillz Trident Z DDR4 3200 (I went with 14 timings vs the 16, memory now comes in a bazillion variations from the same manufacturer, G.Sklillz alone has about 7 SKU’s for Trident Z in 3200 alone. I hope I made a wise choice. I heard 3200 was the “sweetspot” in timing/cost as most systems can’t push much farther than 3200 if they even get that fast)
  • ASRock Fatal1ty AB350 Gaming K4 mobo (From what I gather, AB350 is essentially x370 but w/o the SLI functionality. Not deadset on this, when it comes time to order, basically see which AB350 mobo is cheapest w/ the extras I want)
  • Samsung 960 Pro 250gb M.2 ssd (if you go all this time without an SSD, get the fastest one on the market!)
  • 2TB WD HDD (I have a brand new one in a box waiting to go into my current system but it can wait, plus I have 1 2TB HDD that I use as storage in this system I can just move over)
  • Gigabyte Vega 56 - I’m torn between the Vega56 and the 1070ti. Benchmark wise they seem to be neck and neck, with maybe a tiny hair advantage to the 1070ti, but the 1070ti is also $50-100+ more than the Vega56’s are going currently. I’m not opposed to just using my 960 for another 6 months or so until the GPU market returns to normal
  • FractalDesigns Define S - Haven’t spent too much time looking at cases, thats an endless rabbithole. I might even keep my current case (its a Lian-li brand… K60 or something) and move my current system into an ancient case that has a AMD Athlon barton era system in it. This is a place holder, but 50-70 bucks is my budget.
  • SeaSonic Focus Plus Gold 650w PSU - Current specs have me at ~400w, I could probably swap out for a 500-550w PSU instead and save $20

Current estimated price - ~$1280

I’ll probably wait at least until Black Friday/Cyber Monday, I’d prefer to use Amazon as my CC gives me 5% bonus there.
If anyone sees anything I’m missing, has any help with the RAM or GPU (I spent several hours looking at reviews/benchmarks, games give them 1-5 fps difference and some games go to one some to the other, and the Vega56 is $50+ cheaper. Is there any architectural differences that might play out long term? The 1070ti is basically a tweaked 1080 from 18 months ago, but the Vega56 had a ~year delayed release.)

Thanks guys


It looks fine but I would change the 2TB WD for Seagate or HGST. I had many friends tell me their western digital drives failed. I have seen brand new one playing up right out of the box.

Regarding the graphic cards, if they are neck to neck in performance I would go with Vega 56. Paying 50+ dollars is not worth the extra 3 FPS. You won’t even notice it. However I would never buy GPU with stock cooler. They are shit on both AMD and nVidia. Wait for after-market cooler.

The monitor will be your most expensive part. Try if you can find this one.


A few comments:

  1. I would skip the 1600X and go with the 1600 since you’re already planning on overclocking. The stock cooler will do a decent job until you decide you want more performance, and since XFR boost is useless under an OC, there’s not a lot of point. This opens your budget up a bit for other components that can do a better job with that OC too, and coolers are easy to replace.

  2. Unlike @Grim_Reaper I have had zero problems using WD, and every Seagate I’ve ever used has died on me. But that’s irrelevant anecdotal evidence, and something like this is what you should be looking at:

  3. If an OC is important to you (which you say it is) you will want the best power delivery for the money, and as far as I’ve seen (especially outside the mITX form factor boards) none of the B350’s are high quality. However, given good airflow over the VRM heat sinks it may be adequate. I would look for in-depth reviews of any board before buying. On top of that, the X370 chipset boards tend to have better and more robust BIOS options for overclocking, more in-depth RAM timings, load line calibration settings (this is a requirement for any board IMO - I would not do without it period). Right now the board that meets all of those requirements best from what I’ve seen is the Asrock X370 Taichi. The board you have specifies a 9-phase design, while even just looking at the X370 K4 lists a 12-phase. How they designed this is important because it may not be entirely truthful (using doublers for instance) but it is notable that the higher end boards get better power design, period.

  4. Stick with the 650w PSU. I love my Vega 56 card, but BIOS flashing and power draw settings achieved through that will push the wattage, and headroom and optimal load characteristics are good to have. I don’t think the stock cooler is shit, but it’ll be a bit louder in a case with good airflow vs aftermarket solutions. I put mine under water, but was running it quite well on the stock cooler beforehand flashed with a 64 BIOS and the fan curve set to ~3000 max, all in an S340 Elite case (not known for great airflow characteristics). I would go with the Vega (actually did, I replaced an EVGA 1070 FTW with it), but I’m probably a fanboy. Tinkering with AMD cards is so much more fun.

  5. Case: probably just keep the one you have. Moving an air-cooled system isn’t a big deal if you want to in the future. If you really have to have a new one, I’d look at the Meshify C. Yeah it has a glass panel, but for $80 it has very nice cable management and great airflow characteristics.

  6. Can’t speak to monitor, I’m an ultrawide fanboy but currently only running a 2560x1080 75Hz Freesync LG IPS job that does great for me. Next one will be 3440x1440.


Just curious… How does the board hold up? Been looking for a board for my 955 (I fucking love that chip) and I’m between a 760G board and just finding a cheap enough 970 board.


for me I’ve had my Seagate SSD and HDD for 4 years and they’re still working great, seems both Companies just have a 50/50 chance of working or failing. ¯_(ツ)_/¯


I’d go with a Vega, because I believe that it will be the faster card in the long run (just like the 8350 is faster now than a 2500k). The only problem for me would be the reference cooler, but if I had to choose between these two cards right now I’d pick Vega.


CPU looks good

Make sure the cooler includes the AM4 mounting kit, else you are in for a bad day.
Also: The cooler includes thermal paste, no need to buy more.

I would not get any GPU with stock cooler. They are just to noisy.

Harddrives is personal preference.


I’ve had no problems running this mobo at overclocked CPU (I think the ram is stock 1600 speed but I tightened the timings up a notch or two… I remember that being the toughest part about OC’ing this architecture back in the day) 24/7 since I bought it.

Granted I have a sample size of 1.


That HDD is already purchased and sitting in a box 1’ away from me right now. Bought it about a year ago because full drives, but ended up reformating when picking up the free Win10 and haven’t needed it. So its just been sitting.


I’ve used 70% WD for 20 years, and only had 1 HDD failure in that time, the drive was 10 years old at the time of failure.

I can’t remember the data center that posts HDD failure rates, but the numbers are like single % points over 5 years at data center usage rates.


RE: 1600 x 1600x - Is’t the 1600x the “better” chip for like $20 difference? I was already planning on getting a 120mm/140mm tower cooler (like the Noctura in my PCPartPicker, whichever fits in my case). If I wasn’t going to replace the cooler, I’d go with 1600 since it comes with one. I can see the argument that the 1600 and the 1600x are the “same” CPU, but I don’t see how the 1600 could be “better” than the 1600x.

RE: Mobo - This isn’t the B350 chipset mobo, its the AB350. Supposedly there is a differerence, L1T did a review of a [Gigabyte?] one like a month ago, Wendell mentions that it does something cool with its NVME/PCIE slots that makes IOMMU in Linux easier. Also in the review it was mentioned that the AB350 boards were more robust than the x370. In the end, I think its a price difference of ~$20-30.

If I could fit a 32" ultrawide + keep one of my current monitors in Portrait mode, I’d consider it. The physical dimensions of a 27" + 21" 1080 portrait > 32" UWD too. My desk is a glass desk with a built-on 3-tier shelf on the left side. The main table of the desk sits about 10" offset from the built in shelves. I have an aquarium, printer etc on the shelving so can’t just go at it with an angle grinder.


Well that’s sort of my point, anecdotal evidence is not reliable. :grimacing:

I didn’t say better, but if you’re planning on overclocking, the 1600 could be a better choice in terms of value, at least in the short run on a budget as the included cooler can be used until a steeper overclock is desired. That said, if you want to go all out right out of the gate, the 1600X might net a higher OC because binning could be a thing.

Not sure what you mean here. The motherboard may be different, but there is no AB350 chipset. I do not believe that the B350 chipset boards are better than the X370 by anyone, although some are equal in power configuration (like the upcoming ASUS ROG STRIX mITX boards). That doesn’t mean you won’t have good results, just something to think about, especially since even Asrock says the X370 has more phases. I find it hard to believe any features in the B350 board wouldn’t be available in the X370 as well.,Fatal1ty%20X370%20Gaming%20K4

Maybe @MisteryAngel or @wendell can weigh in here? Thoughts?


Thats correct, in terms of vrm implementations i have not seen any B350 board,
with a better vrm implementation then a moderate X370 board.

The Asrock AB350 Gaming K4 is a 3+3 phase design comming from an ISL95712 pwm.
If you look clooser to the board itself then it looks like a 6+3 phase design.
But that isnt the case.
They have doubled up the components on each Vcore phase to make it look like a 6+3 phase design.
Mosfets used on this particular board are Sinopower SM4336 and SM4337 which are significantlly less in quallity then say the Texas Instruments CSD87350Q5D 40A Nexfets which you find on boards like the Asrock X370 Taichi, Professional Gaming and Asus Crosshair VI Hero.


It’s actually 3+3… Double 3 looks like 6+3, but in truth it’s 3 phases…
Gaming K4 is electrically identical to my B350 Pro4… The componentry could be different, but the board is double 3 plus 3…

Sadly it’s one of the worst B350 VRM implementations on the market.


Yeah thats correct i just edited my post just before you posted it. :slight_smile:


RE: “AB350” sorry, the “AB350” SKU’s from ASRock & Gigabyte were throwing me off. I’ve spent the past week cramming current GPU, CPU & mobo architecture from scratch into by brain. Thought the “A” indicated buffed up hardware.

Looks like x370 is the way to go.

Looking into NVME a little further, it looks like going Samsung 960 EVO/PRO might be a waste of money vs SSD like 850 EVO because 90% of my usage won’t come close to taking advantage of the ton of extra bandwidth (this was the conclusion of several buyers guides I’ve read). This PC will likely be used for gaming 50% of the time (I am a fan of realistic flight sims like Xplane and FSX/P3D with 100’s of gb of global Ortho textures, etc), music production/recording 25%, and the rest a mix of learning to use Inkscape, occasional video editing, brushing up on my programming, learning web development and getting familiar with Linux/running virtual machines/possibly getting IOMMU passthrough working.

If having a blazing fast NVME is something that’s “cool, and nice to have” but “realistically won’t notice it over a quick SSD”, I might go for a larger capacity instead (on my phone, don’t have the price difference handy).

I haven’t started really digging into monitors yet. I know back before the “big split” a year+ ago, 27" 1440 Korean monitors were the rage. I’m hoping to find something that size/resolution, 75-100+Hz, great image quality, freesync would be cool. Dollar for dollar, I’d side with image quality over 100+hz or freesync. My last monitor was purchased 15 years ago, if I’m going to spend that much of my existence looking at it, it could at least look good (I’d go so far as try to borrow a color calibrator)


Make sure you sort out a way to back up your data if you have anything important as well. :slight_smile:


I have a small little file server here, plus the super critical stuff goes to several “cloud” services too.


The Msi B350 gaming pro carbon and Msi B350 krait gaming,
do have a reasonable vrm for overclocking R5 cpu’s.
But the quallity of the used mosfets on those particular boards arent really great either.
So yeah, decent X370 boards are really better then any B350 board on the market right now.
Atleast from what i have seen till now.

My recommendation, if you really want a decent board,
Then something like the Asrock X370 Taichi will be a great choice.
Especially with an eye on the future of the upcomming new Ryzen sku´s.
Investing a littlebit more towards a decent board is never a bad investment imo.
Because the motherboard is one of the most important parts of the system.
And of course with an eye on eventually upgrade plans, if you ever want an Ryzen 8 core cpu.

Of course there are also other X370 board options.
I think that @wendell had some succes with the Aorus X370 Gaming 5,
wenn it comes to iommu, and pci-e passtrough.
But i guess with those latest Aggeesa patches, it should “kinda” work on most X370 boards.


I just setup a Strix X370-f Gaming… nice board, 3.9 overclock at 1.35(i went to 1.3625 for a bit of extra security) on my 1700.

For cases i love my Silverstone RL06 Pro… 4 fans, 3 intake, 1 exhaust and great thermals.