Help with 2008 rig upgrade/fix

9 replies [Last post]
Joined: 10/31/2012
Posts: 5

I have an old rig built in 2008 and would like suggestions on what to upgrade.

The computer feels really slow, and I get a bluescreen followed by shutdown/restart when running demanding 3D-games over time, so I'm mostly running older games and watching movies instead.

My theories are:
1. The mobo might be damaged somehow, perhaps after moving the case to LAN-parties without removing the heavy CPU-cooler, which has no support. There might be a crack or somthing somwhere on the mobo, which I haven't found.
2. The PSU is too weak and the graphics card together with too many drives is eating too much power and eventually making my rig shut down.

I think one SSD, or perhaps two in RAID0 would solve the speed problem, and perhaps also some high end DDR3 memory. The problem is that I won't be able to use all of the speed from SATA3, since this is a SATA2 rig. The mobo I have is also picky about which, and how big memory-modules it will swallow.

The solution to the problem above would be to upgrade the mobo, which pretty much equals that I have to upgrade everything, which would make less sense than just making a new rig.

The noisiest part of the computer is the graphics-card even though it has a good custom cooler. I'm not sure if the best soluton would be water cooling or a bigger case with bigger, more quiet fans and a huge passive graphics card cooler. The noise is currently measured to be around 30db around the case and around 40db from the graphics card.

By the way, I love 3d-games and would love to run games like BF3 on high settings as well as being able to do more multitasking (eg. lots of phanes in the browser together with powerful GIS-software) in general without bottling up my computer.

Case: Lian Li PC-A6010
Noise Absorption Material: Nexus Damptek
PSU: MIST 600W (HQ modular, jap condensators)
Mobo: MSI X48C Platinum (eats either DDR2 or DDR3 and has XMP)
PCI Express x1 RAID-card with two extra SATA2-slots
CPU: Intel Core2 Duo E8500 3.16Ghz
CPU-cooler: Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme (unfortunately it has to be unmounted before pulling out the MB-tray)
Memory: Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 4GB(2*2GB) SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit
HDDs: 4 WD Green 640Gb, 1 WD Green 1tb
Graphics: ASUS EAH4890/HTDI/1GD5 (upgraded from HD4870 512MB in 2009)
DVD: Optiarc DVD RW AD-7200S
Screen: Samsung SyncMaster 2253BW
Card-reader: Lian Li CR-36
Fan-controller: Lian Li TR-5B

Thank you in advance,

Joined: 03/23/2012
Posts: 53

Firstly, is that list your current system or what you want to upgrade to? I'll assume the former for the rest of this post.

List of your potential bottlenecks:
PSU being old and only 600W means it likely only puts out 400-500 watts at 100% load. This isn't enough for a 4890 with that many HDD's imo. Or it's dangerously close.
Your CPU being a dual core.
Your Mobo being weird about the RAM.

What I suggest:
Firstly, build a new rig. If you don't want to, continue down the list.
Upgrade your PSU to 650W, preferably Gold+ certified. Your current one being old is part of the problem I would think as that affects efficiency.
Reinstall Windows (or "insert OS here"). A reinstall can help get rid of any sluggishness accrued since you first installed it.
Upgrade your CPU to a Quad Core which will likely have a higher clock speed/better overclock ability.
Upgrade your Mother Board to a newer model. You don't need to build a whole new rig for this as long as it can accommodate your CPU assuming you don't upgrade that as well (I would do both personally). Everything else will likely be compatible as long as that is.
Your Motherboard being SATA 2 won't matter at all unless you do get SSD's. Even then, it won't slow you down that much, if at all. It will still be much faster than any HDD's. So get SSD's if you want. I just don't think you need them as that isn't likely the reason your computer is going slowly to you considering you have two HDD's in RAID 0. Even if they are indeed Green HDD's.

spawnkiller's picture
Joined: 05/06/2012
Posts: 315

In order:

A new PSU for sure i'd say at least 650w or more and a good quality one (you would surely keep it in your next rig)
A SSD for the boot drive (keep your raid array for the games) and reinstall your OS and don't raid SSD on sata2 you already saturate the sata2 bus so no gain here and you'll lose the TRIM support

I would test your ram as in my experience random BSOD are most often a not stable ram issue (Board specs is Max ddr2-800 and you have 1066...) Also make sure it run at it's rated voltage (1066mhz tend to be 2.0V+ mine is 2.3V and i personnally says that 0.1V more than the specified value to test if it's stable is ok)

IF ok then put 2 more stick to have 8 gb (as new games tends to pick more than 2-3gb now and the win is 1.5-2gb)
If test fail, try with other ram sticks and then if it's ok, buy some ddr3 as it's cheaper and pick a 8gb set as your board max is 8gb (if that didn't pass, the CPU/Mobo is surely dead or you don't have enough voltage) You can also directly upgrade to DDR3 as it's cheaper than a new 4gb set of DDR2 and you can keep it for your next rig...

Overclock you CPU to the max !! you should easily go to 4.0ghz and even more. Max voltage of intel specs: 1.3625v Also make sure you CPU cooler isn't full of dust (that's making overheat problem even at stock speed and cause BSOD/random restart)

Also a 4890 isn't faster than a 7770 or a GTX560 non-ti so you can upgrade this to gain Dx11 for new games... (i suggest a 7850 or a 560ti or faster to make sure that you can play BF3 at some high detail and to avoid bottlenecks, don't pick a 680 or a 7970, your cpu will block their performance (don't expect to maxed out the detail as your CPU isn't even strong enough to not bottleneck the newer higher end cards. You'll need a 670 or 7950 to maxed out all at a decent resolution and be still playable)

In last resort, try to find a Quad but a dual @ 4.0ghz is fine for most games (plays all but can't do all maxed out details of new games)
They don't make LGA775 anymore, only board that is still on the market is some cheap G41 board so if your board is dead, don't buy crap like this, change the whole hardware for a I3 or a I5 with a Z77 and DDR3...
A I3 is as fast as a core 2 quad at same frequencies, my 4.05ghz Q6600 (2.4ghz stock) is as fast as a new I5 @ 3.00ghz so the core 2 line are in the end of their good services times... (don't buy a quad for 200$ when you can have the new tech CPU/RAM/Mobo for 3-400$)

PS: You really need to overclock this CPU to gain some power and benefit from a newer video card...

Gaming PC: MSI Z77A-G45 ::: Intel Core I7 3770k @ 4.83Ghz ::: Zotac GTX970 Amped about 1500mhz Boost (OC) ::: 32GB 4*4gb G.Skill 2240mhz CL10 ::: Soundblaster XZ and ASUS Xonar DX ::: Crucial M4 128gb (windows) + Intel 330 180gb (Steam games) + 4X1TB Caviar Black (storage in raid 10) ::: Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold M1000 ::: Antec P280 ::: BeQuiet Dark Rock Pro 2 ::: Triple BenQ XL2430T ans Asus VG248QE on top ::: Logitech G510 ::: Logitech G502 ::: Logitech Z906 ::: Steelseries Siberia V-2 Black & gold edition

98% Of people under 30 surround their minds with rap music, if you're part of the 2% that stayed with rock, put this in your signature, ROCK IS BETTER!

Joined: 10/31/2012
Posts: 5

Thanks a lot for your detailed reply Vitalius, and you're right in assuming that this is my current system.

Do you think the current PSU would do if i threw out all of the HDDs and put in a single SSD instead?

Let me clear out something. Let's say the upgrade SSD is a SSD with speeds higher than 500 in both directions, wouldn't the mobo cut it off at 300? Would one notice this difference in speed remarkably? Wouldn't the trick to get higher speeds without changing the mobo then be to put two cheaper/slower SSDs with speed around 300 in RAID0, which would make the speed peak over 300? Anyways this is no problem if i upgrade the motherboard, which anyways has all of it's SATA-ports occupied (5HDDs and 1DVD-burner).

So your suggestions would in my words be that either i upgrade:
- the PSU w/650W+ and Gold+ certified
- the CPU to one of the old "Core 2 quad"-processors (eg. Q9650 @ 3.0Ghz, 95W max TDP)
One comment to this CPU-series is that it is out of the market, and if you get it it's more expensive than some of the best/newest CPU's right now, so this might not be an option anymore.

- the PSU
- the mobo (Z77 socket1155 w/SATA3 + VIP with lots of SATA-ports)
--> new DDR3 RAM (1600Mhz?)
--> the CPU (I5 2500K OR I5 3570K OR I7 2700K OR I7 3770K)
- system SSD
- old setup with WD green in RAID0 for games
The comment to this is that i think that ^this^ is a new setup except for the case, but it looks brilliant. Personally i think i would put both the system (W7HP) and demanding games (eg. BF3, Skyrim, Crysis2) and applications (eg. Adobe CS5, GIS-software) on the SSD and perhaps convert all of the greens into a safe RAID5 array for safe storage (Videos, pictures, files etc.) and less demanding applications.

Ah.. lots of thoughts here. I'm waiting eagerly for your response.

Joined: 10/31/2012
Posts: 5

Thanks a lot spawnkiller. Good tip about the SSD. I'll do that, so I won't lose the TRIM support.

I just downloaded the "Memtest86+"-iso and burned it onto a DVD, so it'll be interesting to see.

I can't add more DDR2 sticks, but I can throw out the ones I have and insert some DDR3 sticks instead. It would be great if you could help finding a kit that would fit the MSI X48C.

Before overclocking I want to make sure that my mobo is OK and add some fans, but I really think that I'll do it, since the reason i bought E8500 and not E8600 was that E8500 clocks higher.

Perhaps I should upgrade to a 7850, so that I can have a lot of displays, but I suppose the 660ti would do better in games like BF3. I know 670 can run BF3 on high settings with full HD res.

Actually I think my CPU is the bottleneck in my computer and is already bottlenecking the HD4890. I actually thought that HD4890 still is a pretty decent graphics card and that I should prioritice upgrading the other parts first, and then upgrade the GPU later on. I'm not really sure and I don't think I have enough knowledge about this in order to know what's the best solution, so I'm relying on you guys. :)

Again, thanks for advice.

spawnkiller's picture
Joined: 05/06/2012
Posts: 315

Yeah, i have myself a 560 non-ti but overclock to 950mhz (on par with stock non overclocked version of the 560ti but i'm on the maxed out side...) and i run BF3 but at medium in 1080P to have some decent multiplayer framerate...

Just to make sure: Don't insert DDR2 and DDR3 at the same times... NEVER, it'll burn down your mobo/ram as DDR3 as lower voltage operation range than DDR2... For DDR3, any 1600mhz 8gb kit of 2 dimm will be ok (as you only have 2 ddr3 slots and your mobo is maxed out at 8gb)

I'll replace the PSU before overclocking too as i already had some trouble with not strong enough psu and random BSOD/Reboot and it was caused by a faulty PSU that run on his limit for some years in my Pentium 4 prescott and survive to my Pentium dual-core but it can't deliver enough power to run a graphic card in the last years because of the tear down after all the time that it used to power an (overkill for him) machine in that time... (buy one that will be suiting your next rig too)

Make sure all your fans/heatsinks are free of dust and (for better results on your tests) get new thermal paste on all to make sure that's not just a mobo heatsink that not making contact properly that cause all your problem (i'm pretty sure that your build is no more on warranty so...) Also make sure to be "able" to do this so watch some tutorial, it's not complicated so just take your time and it'll be ok...

For the GPU, i agree that the GPU is often the last thing as they change too quickly and upgrade very fast... Your 4890 should be enough to play BF3, but i don't know the resolution and the detail you'll be able to play this game... (anyway, give it a try, IT'S FREE !!!!)

If you have some money, i suggest, for now: I5 3570K (to overclock it)-220$, any Z77 mobo maybe 150-200$ and some DDR3 8 or 16GB from 30$ to maybe 60-70$ in 1600mhz and cas 9 as it'll be better than any upgrade you'll do on your old machine (mine had is last upgrade for a 560 in 2011 and i'll change as the 560 is bottleneck by the C2Q @ 4.05ghz so I5 and Mobo ram, you'll be happy for sure !!!

Joined: 10/31/2012
Posts: 5

I ran "Memtest86+" one time with the memory at 2.1V and one time 2.2V. Standard voltage is 2.0-2.1V. Both tests succeeded, so everything looks OK. I suppose the PSU is the weak part of the system..

Anyway, the rig you suggest looks awesome.

spawnkiller's picture
Joined: 05/06/2012
Posts: 315

If the ram is ok, i suggest that you up the vcore a little (1-2 steps in your bios) to see if that corrects the problem, sometimes CPU needs more and more voltage as they degrade over times (really a rare thing at stock speed but...) also Motherboard vrm will degrade too and be less efficient so maybe the real vcore isn't the specified value ex: 1.4V in bios but 1.24 real so not enough but if you adjust the vcore higher, maybe that will be enough to compensate that problem... You should also reinstall windows to ensure that isn't just a software problem/conflict...

Joined: 10/31/2012
Posts: 5

I have figured out that the worst issue was the RAID0 which caused the system to be unstable and cause crashes, hickups and shutdowns. After a removal of the RAID0 array and Vista 64bit, I reinstalled it with Win7HP 64bit (no RAID) and it was a completely new world, although a bit slower. The system became incredibly much more stable, and actually BF3 (got a really good deal on black friday) runs pretty well with all settings on high with 1680x1050-resolution (which anyways is the max res on my 22" screen).

Also, since the ram is a bit incompatible it might crash due to that sometimes. What I do then is to take out the RAM and blow som air to remove the dust and put them back in. It's a bit strange that I have this problem since the mobo has XMP, which should mean that the mobo could take even faster ram than what's said to be compatible.

The PSU seems not to be the problem. I got an UPM Power meter which measures around 150W on idle and around 250-300W when loaded and the 600W PSU has an efficiency on about 75-85%.

TheRealMan's picture
Joined: 05/25/2007
Posts: 46

First off, If you are going to test the PSU, test the voltage its producing, not the wattage its drawing. A normal and happy PSU will make about 12.2-12.6 volts (Aprox) on the 12v rail(s) 5.4V+/- on 5 Volt rail 3.3+/- volts On the 3.3v Rail. be sure to check these at start up, at idle, and under load. ALSO, if you have a PSU with more then one 12 volt rail, you will NEED to check them ALL (Some have rails dedicated for the cpu, the video cards, and/or the hard drives)

Also, as a personal rule when overclocking, if you want to make your computers CPU last for more then 2-3 years, NEVER EVER go past what intel says when it comes to voltage! YOU WILL kill it! With that little of voltage, the amps will slowly murder the cpu!

BTW, Green drives are STUPIDLY slow, that's just the nature of the beast!

Do me a favor and type "DXDIAG" in the search bar and hit enter. You will get a window, at the bottom, you will see "Run 64-bit DxDiag" hit that and then when it loads, hit "Save all information" (By default, it will save to your desktop) upload it and link it here


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