upgrading pre-built

Games, Gaming and Hardware
I bought my current desktop a couple moths ago because I needed to upgrade and didn't have the time to build my own due to school starting. That being said, I just went into best buy and picked out what seemed to be a good system and bought it.

Here's the system: http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/Document.jsp?lang=en&cc=us&taskId=120&prodSeriesId=5187028&prodTypeId=12454&objectID=c03349236

The holly2 board supports an fm2 socket processor, upon further research the best fm2 socket processor ATM is the amd a8-3870k unlocked. I plan on buying this and over clocking it to 3.5 GHz ( once I have proper cooling support).

Now these CPU actually include onboard graphics which aren't too bad, but put a dampen on the processor. That being said I'd like to upgrade to an actual graphics card...but I'm not to familiar with what the current standards are.

My board allows for one x16 PCI express port, and I'm looking to stay around the 150 dollar range.

I'm not trying to make a killer gaming rig at the moment, just to max out my pre-built unit for all its worth and run wow at the highest setting while maintaining above 30 fps.

I'm considering the HD 7770 , but with my 300w power supply, will I need to upgrade it?
Actually, the best FM2 processor is the A10-5800K. It's quite a bit better than the A8. I know the motherboard says it doesn't, but it may just not be listed. It SHOULD work.

As for video cards, you have two choices. You can get an HD6670, which is capable of crossfiring with the onboard graphics to give respectable performance (almost to the level of the HD7850). But keep in mind that the usual crossfire caveats come with that (ie, not all games support it well).

Or you could get the HD7770. It is capable of running on a very weak power supply, so it should work. Anything better than the 7770 would need a better power supply though.

Unforunately the Trinity parts are not yet integrating southern islands (HD7000 series) graphics (they are still using northern islands which is HD6000 series), that's why the 6670 is the best it can crossfire with. The good news here is that the next generation will be going to 7000 series, so they should be able to crossfire with 7000 series cards.
That's *not* an FM2 board, it's FM1. OP, you're right that the A8-3870K is the top of that line, along with the Athlon II X4 651K, which is the same 3ghz clock but has no integrated video.

The integrated video in the 3870K is roughly comparable to a Geforce 440 or 630 (same card), or even slightly better at times. You should be able to run a Radeon 6570/6670 in conjunction with the integrated video.

The best stand-alone video card you should consider without changing the power supply is a Radeon 7750 or a Geforce 650. A Radeon 7770 or 650ti may work fine with that 300w psu, but you may run into stability issues when you fire up a game. Still, Newegg routinely has deals on psus for $20-$30 that are 80+ certified. Currently the Corsair 430w is $20 after rebate, subject to change at any time.

If you decide to upgrade the power supply, I'd go for at least a 650ti video card, or if you can, reach to a Radeon 7850.
yes, fm1. Typo :(

With the a8-3870k, by running a standalone video card, it should take load off the CPU thus increasing the performance, correct?

As far as video cards, Ill spring for the raedon 7850. But with wow being nvidia centric, should I spring for the nvidia equivalent?

Also, with the 7850, what wattage PSU would you recommend?
Also, upon curiosity I found this 6870 on my local craigslist for 120.

Thoughts on that card?
With the a8-3870k, by running a standalone video card, it should take load off the CPU thus increasing the performance, correct?

Well, if you run a Radeon 7750 or better, you won't be using the integrated graphics on the cpu at all, which is why the Athlon 651K is a decent choice if you can find it cheaper than the 3870K, though the integrated video is nice as a backup. The performance will be better with a stand alone card because the card itself is better, and the dual graphics mode with a 6670 doesn't always increase performance, depending on game coding and drivers.

As far as the 7850 goes, it sort of stands alone in its price-point. It's a good card, especially if you can score a rebate deal for ~$150. Don't pay more than 170. As long as your psu is rated 4X0w or more and is 80+ or 80+ Bronze certified, the 7850 will be fine.

Here are a couple psu deals:

$40 - a $20 rebate = $20: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139026

$30 after rebate: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371030

The 6870 (as well as a Geforce 560 (non-se, non-ti)), either ties or edges out a Geforce 650ti due to the greater memory bandwidth, but it's older tech now and isn't as strong in DX11 titles. The 650ti also uses much less power. The 7850 will outperform all of those, though.

One other thing to note is that you probably won't be able to overclock with that motherboard. I imagine the bios is quite limited. Although it's possible that the AMD overdrive software will do it. I haven't actually tried it.

Also for convenience, here is a sort of FM1 cpus. The 651K is $88; the 3870K is $98. http://pcpartpicker.com/parts/cpu/#xcx=0&k=20&sort=a7

Note that, for those prices...you're *almost* to the point that you might want to do a new board and cpu instead of upgrade. Wait, here ya go, 3870K for $75 on Ebay, new in box: http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Sealed-in-Box-AMD-A8-3870K-Socket-FM1-Black-Edition-3-0Ghz-Free-Shipping-/281056804499?pt=CPUs&hash=item41704a7e93
Thank you! That's all insanely helpful!

A couple more questions just to ease my mind!

Obviously the a10 trinty's and the Intel i5/i7 processors are superior to the a8, and since you mentioned I'm almost at the point of a new mobo anyways... Would it be better/ is it possible to buy an Intel or fm2 socket board to house one of those processors?

Ideally I'd really like to keep the prebuilt case just for the ease of it. But if I'm already around that price point...
Yeah, you could do a board + cpu. I looked again at your computer's specs. You have 8gb of ddr3-1600 which you could carry forward. The thing is, at whatever point you do a new board, it's usually easiest to get an aftermarket case as well, and the reason is that the connection from the case's front panel to the motherboard are often proprietary. If you open your case and see that the front panel connectors attach to the board in one big plug, that can be an issue if you swap boards. I mean, you can haxxor your way around it, but an aftermarket case offers better cooling, non-proprietary connections, and then you'd have a case to carry forward into the future through several board/cpu upgrades. You can find a decent case as cheap as $30. Various Thermaltake and Coolermaster models are routinely on sale for that, as well as NZXT, at times BitFenix or Zalman, and rarely the Corsair 200R.

It's going to come down to cost though. Here are some rough estimates:

Intel I3 - $120 ($180 for I5)
B75 board - $60
Radeon 7850 - $155 (current deal at Newegg as long as you don't have to pay tax there)
Case - $30
PSU - $30
Use your dvdrw, hard drive, and ram
Total - $395 for I3, $455 for I5

The AMD A10-5800K can be done for essentially the same price as the I3, though the I3 will give better performance with the Radeon 7850. To match the I3 with an AMD chip, you have to go socket AM3+ and get an FX-4300/6300, then mildly overclock it. To approach an I5, you have to get the FX-8320/8350, then aggressively overclock it.

AMD has some exciting chips in the pipeline though. The Richland core FM2 chip is due this spring, offering a bit more cpu performance and a solid integrated video bump, while the Kaveri (Steamroller) chip is due hopefully in time for Christmas, which should yield a solid cpu performance gain and yet another igp boost. Steamroller should arrive for socket AM3+ in Q1 2014.

Originally, it seems like you were thinking cpu + video card, which would be:

A8-3870K - $75 (if you jump on the Ebay deal)
Radeon 7850 - $155
PSU - $20-30
Total - $250-260

You could also throw your old cpu on Ebay to make up a few bucks.

Your cpu is a quad core Llano at 2.6ghz. What you gain with the 3870K is 400mhz, which you should notice, and an unlocked chip, which you may not be able to take advantage of with that motherboard. I'm unsure; like I said I haven't explored the AMD Overdrive software. It looks like it may be possible. I'd say that it would be an ok idea to max out your platform for $75. The cpu and 7850 should give you the performance you want at the moment, and you can wait and see how Intel's Haswell/Broadwell and AMD's Steamroller shape up before deciding on a future course of action.

If you're feeling like you might want to upgrade everything, perhaps start with just the video card and the power supply, using your current cpu. That may give you good enough performance for now while you plan a cpu/board/case upgrade. You could carry the new psu and video card, as well as your drives and ram, forward into a new case/board/cpu upgrade.

Sorry for being long-winded.
Thank you so much!

So with an 3870k, a Radeon 7850, and a better psu... Would that setup be able to max wow?
Yes or pretty close, because of the 7850. The cpu would still bottleneck the video card, but you'd get there. You'd want to maybe run shadows on high instead of ultra and not max out AA/AF. To give you a ballpark idea, my FX-6300 and Radeon 7850 is able to max WoW, with fps between ~37 and 110. Anand puts my cpu about 10fps ahead of the 3870 in WoW, so if you figure you might occasionally dip into the upper 20's, that's still ok, because it happens only fleetingly, except for on the sha. :P

Here's the Anand comparison between the 5800K and 3850 - 4fps difference in WoW, call it maybe only 2-3 since you're looking at the 3870: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/675?vs=399

That benchmark is taken at 1680x1050 with max details and I believe a Radeon 5870.
My mobo supports a PCI express 2.0 socket, but the 7850 is a 3.0. Does this matter?

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