If you wanna play new games, but you don’t want to spend much money for new PC, you maybe want to UPGRADE old desktop computer for GAMING. I can give you some tips you can do to upgrade your old PC. Unfortunately all old PC’s you can’t upgrade for modern games, but may be you have one great PC, which you can bring back to life!
Most essential part for gaming today is a good graphics card. If you have a old desktop computer with good processor and PCI-Express slot for graphics card, you can upgrade it for playing newest games with low resolutions like 1080 (1920×1080) or less at medium or even high settings. Also you may need a RAM upgrade, but it will be cheaper than graphics card costs.
Can my computer be upgradable for newest games?
To upgrade your computer for newest games in 2017 you need a good processor and PCI-Express card slot for graphics card. If processor isn’t good, better consider to buy at least 300 dollar PC desktop build. You can upgrade your PC for modern games if you have at least AMD Phenom Quad Core or Intel Q6600 quad core processor. I think any Phenom or Phenom 2 processors or Intel Core 2 Quad processors, also newer dual cores like Intel Core I3 at least 2 GHZ will be fine. Almost all Intel Core I5 and I7 also will be fine. You can check out your processor estimated performance at this page: cpubenchmark.net (High Mid Range CPUs). I think if you have one of these with score around 3000 or more and processor frequency at least 2 GHZ, you are good to go. If you doubt about it works with games you want to play, you can always check on YouTube or Google for your processor name + “gaming” and see if someone play games on it and how they perform.
Some games will not work with processor which have no instructions SSE 4.1 or SSE 4.2. Some games will work after applying patches. These problem can occur if you have AMD Phenom, Phenom 2 or older Intel processor. To check your CPU support instructions like SSE 4.1 or SSE 4.2, you need to do a simple Google search for your full processor name + “SSE” and find if it support these instructions SSE 4.1 and SSE 4.2. If it not support these instructions some games will not work.
You need also get RAM at least 6 GB, 8GB are preferably. 4GB may be fine for some games and may be too low for other. RAM frequency is not so essential. Any DDR3 RAM will be fine. DDR2 with 800MHZ or 677MHZ will be fine too. For gaming performance it’s no so important, especially if you are go on budget. Of course you can also upgrade newer computer and DDR4 will be best option.
One great example for old PC upgrade for newest games:
This is gaming computer from 2008. It was powerful for that time and one of most powerful PC’s in small a town. It could run almost all games in that time at high settings with great framerates even graphics card wasn’t the best on the market.
There is parameters of this 2008 build before upgrade:
AMD Phenom 9950 Quad-Core Black Edition 2.6 GHz 125W processor;
MSI K9A2 CF motherboard AMD® 790X+SB600 chipset with 2 PCI-Express slots;
2 GB ADATA 800 MHZ Ram (there was 2 modules (2X2GB, but one burned down);
500 GB Western Digital Blue HDD 7200 RPM;
550W Chieftec power supply;
Club 3D ATI Radeon HD3850 512 MB video card;
and LG 22″ LCD monitor 1650 x 1050 pixels.
It was really good gaming machine and about 3 years (2008-2011) can run almost any game in high settings. Of course there was exceptions. It was really good for GTA 4, Call Of Duty Modern Warfare (1-3), Call of Duty: Black Ops 1, Race Driver: Grid and other modern games in that time. It was really enjoyable.
And time will come and new games become more demanding and this video card couldn’t run them smoothly or couldn’t run at all. Last high end game successfully has run smoothly on this PC with Radeon HD3850 graphics card was Tomb Raider 2013 at medium settings. It was not so demanding like Rise Of Tomb Raider 2016. But now, when this PC was upgraded, It can run Rise Of Tomb Raider 2016 at High settings with 30-40 frames per second with no problem.
Old Phenom PC upgrades for games (You can also do it with your old computer):
- MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 950 2GB OCV1 garphics card,
- Corsair RAM DDR2-800 2GB X 4 (8 GB total),
- SAMSUNG 750 EVO SSD 250 GB,
1. MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 950 2GB OCV1 garphics card
Update: Today there are newer model: GTX 1050!
GTX 1050 have alternative: Radeon RX560!
What you need to upgrade?
To put run it, your motherboard needs a PCI-Express slot. This PC motherboard has two PCI-Express 2.0 slots. Most of new graphic cards is meant for PCI-E 3.0 slot, but they also will work fine on PCI-E 2.0, because it’s backwards compatible. Difference is only bandwidth and you hardly loose any performance.
This MSI GeForce GTX 950 needs one 6 pin power connector and it draws maximum 90W of electricity. There in market also are models of GTX 950, GTX 1050 and RX 460 graphics cards, which consumes only 75W and no 6 pin connector needed. You needed to check if your PSU comes with one. If not, you need to find GPU with no power connector needed or get a new PSU. There also are GPU’s what need 8pin power connector or multiple power connectors. You also need to check if your PSU is good enough for your GPU. If you have a prebuilt office PC with no dedicated graphics card, you may be also need to upgrade your PSU . If you have a old graphics card with power connector or PSU with 350W or more, you probably be fine. This PC 550 W PSU is good enough to power 2 of these video cards in same time, but in this case it’s not really needed. Also if PSU comes with no power connectors I suggest to not use adapters for power connectors, because that is a sign that power supply in not good enough to power your graphics card. Your computer case can be small, you need to check if new GPU fits in.
6 pin power connector:
How it performs?
GTX 950 was great choice for upgrade. In 2017 better go with GTX 1050. It’s newest model with almost the same or little bit better performance. If you have a similar PC, you can also check these graphics cards with similar performance: Radeon RX 460 (little bit slower, but cheaper comes with 2GB or 4 GB memory, but 4GB it’s not really necessary for this card, if 2GB is significally cheaper, get 2GB), GTX 1050TI (faster, comes with 4GB memory), GTX 960 (similar to GTX 1050TI 2GB or 4GB models).
Older models can be good too, if you can get them for good deal and you have a good power supply. Radeon R9 270 / R7 370, Radeon R9 285 / 380, GeForce GTX 760, GTX 760TI or GTX 770 (these older cards has more power consumption, but they are still good for gaming). There are more, if you want, you can check great graphics card benchmarks by searching on YouTube.
There is old and new graphics cards (new GTX 950 white and old HD3850 in red):
Despite on size new card is more powerful. MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 950 2GB OCV1 garphics card is shorter than old HD3850 and it’s good for smaller cases, but it’s little bit thicker and takes 2 places on case back. In this case there is no problem, because this full tower case can fit any graphic card without problem.
2. RAM DDR2-800 8 GB
Check RAM compatibility, before get one!
For this upgrade the biggest problem was a RAM. It was DDR2-800 and is not produced any more. This computer was only left one 2GB module of RAM, because second was burned down couple years ago. I searched the internet for gaming builds and comparisons and came across the fact – games not really are affected by slow memory clocks – if tested 800 MHz and 1600 MHz memory modules, difference is 1-2 frames per second and it is really insignificant if you are not some insane gamer with lots of money. I searched on the internet and can’t find a good deal for the new 4 x 2 GB RAM sticks in my local area. Because of that I get used 4 sticks of Corsair 2GB modules with exact same timings and speeds like my old ADATA memory. One module was defective, so I put 3 x Corsair RAMS and 1 x ADATA RAM modules together. But seller was honest and give me back my money for the broken module.
If you get a RAM you need to be careful and find out what RAM you really need for your motherboard and processor and if it can run together with you old RAM. If you get used RAM or other parts, there is bigger risk, to something not work or lack of warranties. You need to be careful of dishonest sellers. Better buy from sellers with best ratings and lot of sales. Don’t be afraid, but be smart about your decisions.
Don’t get some new and really cheap DDR2 RAM’s, because they may not work. Also some RAM’s are for server only and will not work with standard desktop PC’s. Best way to check, if it will work is find your motherboard specifications at manufacturers webpage and check compatibly. If RAM modules tested are listed OK, then you are good to goo, but if not some of them will work and some will not. If you are scared to do it your own, you can always ask some local IT person or go to your local PC hardware store. 95% of the time if frequency and timings are the same you will be fine.
Check RAM compatibility, before get one!
3. SAMSUNG 750 EVO SSD 250 GB
You can skip this if you have no money. But if you want to your games and other programs to load fast and computer feels smooth, I recommend to consider it. I think SSD is the best upgrade, If you want to feel your old computer faster. SSD’s has more expensive than mechanical HDD’s with same capacity. 250 GB SSD costs today around $70 to $100, but for that price you can easily get 2-3 TB standard HDD. WD (Western Digital) can be great alternative for Samsung SSD.
You need to be aware, you may not get the full speed of SSD if you have old computer. In this case SAMSUNG 750 EVO SSD maximum read and write speeds is rated above 500 MB/s. I benchmarked it and it speeds not exceed 200 MB/s, because this motherboard only have SATA2 controller with slower speeds than today’s most popular standard SATA3. But this is only benchmark, in real life computer feels really fast. Today you can get newer model of Samsung SSD: 850 EVO, but it’s costs more. If your motherboard have no SATA3 controller, also with cheaper and slower SSD you will be fine. If you go on budget, you can easily skip it and get only a new Graphics Card and RAM or PSU, if needed.
How it performs with games?
All works fine it can run the new DOOM 2016 at 40-50 fps average with some medium-high settings, Rise Of The Tomb Raider 2016 at 30-40 fps at high settings, Battlefield 1 around 40 fps with medium settings and GTA 5 at 35-45 fps at adapted med-high settings. For more GTA 5 settings check out this GTX 950 review. It also play older games like Call Of Duty Black Ops 2 maxed out with 60 fps. These results is made using 1650p x 1050p monitor (it’s little bit smaller than today’s standard – 1080p or Full HD – 1920p x 1080p) I think it will be able to play other current modern games at least 30+ fps with medium settings with 1080p resolution ar less. If you want to play only games like Counter Strike Global Offensive or Overwatch, it’s better than it’s needs to be.
Dark site of this upgrade
But there are dark side of this upgrade. Some games will not work, because this old processor not support instructions like SSE 4.1 and SSE 4.2. Some games will work after applying patches, if developers create them. And usually is needed to wait couple of months after the game release for developers to do it. Some patches will never come.
This computer is not upgradable any more. It exceeds it’s limits. And also it consumes more electricity like new one with the same performance.
Conclusion – Is it worth to make similar upgrade?
In my opinion – definitely, if you have not much money and you go on budget. This upgrade was at least 2 times cheaper than new computer with similar performance. But remember – you can do similar upgrade only if you have decent processor and PCI-Express slot. Also you need to check if PSU is good enough for your upgrade. If you have no good PC to upgrade, you can also keep the case and hard disk from your old PC, to make new PC build cheaper. I’m really happy with this upgrade, it brings a new life on this old PC.
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