World of Warcraft:Legion - Upgrading PC


My cousin has asked me for some help. He needs to upgrade his PC to be able to play WoW with a reliable frame rate at a reasonable video quality setting. With the release of Legion, Blizzard has changed the recommended specs to:

  • Intel® Core™ i5-3330,
    AMD™ FX-6300, or better
  • NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 750 Ti or
    AMD™ Radeon™ R7 260X or better

What he currently owns is a prebuilt machine, probably from around 2010-ish with the following specs:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-2320
  • GPU: Radeon HD 6700 series (don't know which one)
  • MOBO: GA-H67MA-USB3-B3 (mATX)
  • RAM: 12 GB, DDR3

I'm thinking that the GPU currently is the worst bottleneck. CPU benchmarks I've looked at suggest that the 2320 got about 97.1% of the performance of a 3330.

There are a few options that I can see, but I would like to get some more input from you guys/gals.

  • Buy a cheap second hand GTX 960 (seems to go for about $110, might be able to get it a bit cheaper if we're lucky)
  • Buy a CPU that is compatible with the MOBO, but above recommended specs. i7 - 2600 goes for about $94 and benchmarks about 145.2% of the 3330.
  • Buy a new GPU now, probably the GTX 1060, which is way overkill for WoW right now but more future proof. $259 is currently the cheapest one here in Sweden. CPU would bottleneck. Upgrade CPU, MOBO in the future.
  • Upgrade everything now, new CPU, MOBO and GPU. Will be able to game comfortably for another couple of years.
    Not quite sure which CPU I would pick though.
    The i5 - 6600K might be overkill for the GPU atm, but that seems somewhat reasonable. Would need new DDR4 sticks.
    New MOBO and CPU would probably mess with the Windows Licence. I haven't used Windows since Vista, so I wouldn't know.

I've suggested that he might want to get an SSD, won't do much for game performance but it's pretty awesome.

He specifically said that he only wants to play WoW.

Need to upgrade PC to play WoW. Upgrade GPU and/or CPU?

If I remember correctly WoW is heavier on the CPU than anything, In my opinion, I'd go for a CPU upgrade and then try to get a second hand 960 or 970 that should give you the medium settings with a decent FPS.

A nice thing with legion is they added a lot more in terms of settings so can play about with them.

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I'd personally go with the 480 over the 1060. The 1060 barely beats it now and if history is to be repeated for the upteenth time then the 480 will gain more performance as time goes by to the point it's beating the 1060. This happened with the past few generations of AMD products beating their Nvidia counterparts and even the card above them by EOL.

But if he only wants to play WoW, you should upgrade the CPU. iirc it uses more cpu than gpu. Personally, I'd recommend an AMD card because I hate what Nvidia does to it's consumers and the industry as a whole, and the fact that AMD generally gets better over time whereas Nvidia drops support for older cards the second the new ones come out... But that's just me.

Wow plays better on Nvidia cards. Always has.

OP: I concur with the post about the CPU. I have one of the 1070 laptops and with -all- the settings cranked up and 200% render scale I still barely get 30 FPS in most Legion zones. It's just not optimized for GPU. A 1060 will work, at 970 with work, a 780 will work all about the same.

So I agree with your post, OP:

i5 or i7 of whatever you can get for your board
Might want to look at the 1050 coming out, it -may- (doubtful though) compete with the 960.

Agreed on the Nvidia better performance bit I had an all AMD PC and WoW ran like crap on it thought it was just low spec at the time but found out later it just didn't like AMD. This was back in TBC days so I thought they would have improved it by now.

I did not know this. Though I don't play WoW at all either...

Im running a 5820K at 4.3 GHz...

At times it really bottlenecks on core 7 for me...I'll have 40 fps with only around 20-30% GPU usage...kinda annoying.

I probably posted on the beta forums every other day about it...but nothing...

Should be correct. In general most MMO's are more CPU bound, since typically they sacrifice graphical fidelity to cater to a broader range of hardware.

So, here's an update. We live in different cities but we finally got together this weekend and started working on the computer. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures. It was however not all smooth sailing.

To start with, we opened up the case. I've never seen so much dust in a computer in real life before. So it was basically: . But I kind of expected that so I brought some compressed air.

Then we started installing the GTX 960 we had found for about $107 but realised that the case was to small with the hard drive bays still attached. They were held together with rivets and we didn't have any tools to remove them, so we decided to buy a new case. He wanted something that looked clean and didn't draw to much attention so we went for a Corsair 400Q.

Now, the 400Q is a lovely case. But after we had installed everything this time I realised that the power supply only had a 6 pin PCIe power connector. The GTX 960 has an 8 pin port. So we bought a new power supply as well. I know I should have checked for compatibility but I didn't know which case or power supply he had.

We booted up the computer and WoW and got a stable 60 fps at max settings. So he was really pleased. We'll probably meet up again in a week or two and do a fresh install of Windows on a SSD.