Upgrades


Since I got back for working two months straight, I wanted to commit to buying some new parts for my aging PC. It’s not a luxurious upgrade but enough to keep it running games for the time being.

The last “upgrade” was a Asus GTX 950 to replace my Zotac 750 which replaced a PNY 9800 graphics card which I first bought with my first custom built PC. For ten years I ran with the following:

  • Intel Core 2 Quad CPU
  • ASUS P5N-D Motherboard
  • 4GB of Kingston ValueRam
  • 500 GB Seagate hard drive
  • LG 16x DVD Drive

Over the years I added 1 TB, refitted the Thermaltake Soprano case with a variable speed fan in the front and an Arctic F12 Pro fan in the rear. I don’t remember if the case came with its own power supply so I’m guessing my Thermaltake Toughpower 750W from 2009 isn’t a stock supply unit.

This was my first time I’ve ever purchased from Amazon. With stores shutdown at the time, I couldn’t necessarily buy local. In hindsight, it might have been a bad idea to buy electronics during the pandemic. At the same time, I still think I got a pretty good deal. If I needed to bring my PC to the next decade, I had to pull the circuits out. Everything on the motherboard had to go, which sadly is the most expensive part of any computer.

The CPU is always the highest expense. At the time AMD was still behind on Intel in processing power. Now the Ryzen 5 3600 is my first AMD CPU I’ve purchased and used. Along with a new CPU, I stuck with the same brands for all my products if not different models:

  • ASUS B450M-A/CSM Motherboard
  • Thermaltake 150W CPU cooler
  • Kingston HyperX Fury 16GB RAM

I don’t have a big budget but with a short budget, it’s all I can do. Though if I ever manage to get working again or receive emergency relief from the government, I might try and get a couple solid state drives to boost boot and cache speeds. Since this board comes with a SSD slot, I might as well use it.

The IDE interface is now deprecated, so my DVD drive still have to find a home. Also I never used my USB expansion port and 3.0 is a bit better than 2.0 so it immediately had to go. Sadly not everything can be salvaged. On the upside, I’ve managed to cable managed a bit. The case was never designed for cable management. All I need is a modded side panel so I can store the rest of my unused cables behind the motherboard. For not, have a bird’s net inside my drive bay will do.

A few things I learned along the way if anyone wants to swap parts. First, back up all your data! I lost a lot of personal files on my Windows 7 operating system so when I thought I could just upgrade my hardware then software, I would be able to keep all my files. Pulling an all nighter to install all my programs and a fresh Windows 10 operating system is a big consequence to lost all my files. I was a bit worried about installing the cooler onto the CPU, it was my first time applying thermal paste. By writing this, I guess it means my system is fairly stable and I didn’t screw it up. However I feel the instructions from the manufacturer did not match what I had so I had to improvise. Rather than using all the included parts, I installed it by slowly screwing down the cooler to the bracket. I felt a bit uneasy going off the rails with the instructions, but I think that’s what they were trying to convey.

Lastly, I’m surprised how quiet it is running at the moment. The loudest thing is the variable fan I’ve kept in the case. On high, there is a bit of buffeting (that whirring or whooshing sound made by the turbulence of the fan) but when I dial it down, it becomes almost silent when my drives aren’t pushing too hard to load programs.

Next step I think is to increase storage. With a PCI slot available out of the 2 (my GPU covers two slots, making one unusable), I could install SSD’s, a sound card, or a wireless card. At the same time, I would like to remove this tiny dial and hook the fan control up to the motherboard itself.

I’m going to try and play around with my new(-ish) PC build. I’ll let you know how it turns out in the future.

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