Computer upgrade help needed please



I’ve posted regarding this before and got some good advice - but we’re no further forward with actually doing the deed!

My brother was wanting to upgrade his desktop and at the time I asked, he wasn’t too sure what exactly he wanted to do with it - his knowledge of computers is less than mine!

We’ve now established though - he wants to be able to play games, like FSX, to their full potential - as well as have a decent running computer - it’s so slow at doing anything, it’s criminal.

Currently, he has the following:

Gigabyte Technology motherboard - GA-8S661GXMP (site says it

  1. Supports Intel® Pentium® 4 processor with HT technology
  2. Supports high efficiency DDR400 memory
  3. Supports AGP 8X interface for higher graphics performance
  4. Integrated MirageTM Graphics engine
  5. Integrated 10/100Mb Ethernet controller
  6. Integrated high quality 6-channel AC’97 audio )

512mb DDrPC2700 Memory

Intel Celeron ® 2.93GHz Model 4 Stepping 1 processor

I can do basics with the internals of a desktop, but we’re getting into the realms of me not having a clue. I’m assuming with that setup, it’s onboard graphics?

Anyway, he also has an Acer Aspire 5735 laptop.

My question is - which would be the better computer to upgrade (can you even upgrade a laptop??) and what kind of thing should we be looking to upgrade/change?

He’s been looking at graphics cards and asked me to mention the XFX ATi Radeon 5770HD - is it any good? Anyone got better recommendations?

I take it that nearly all the internals are gonna need to be changed - would he actually be better off buying a new tower?

Sorry for all the questions - and even more sorry if any of them are really dumb. As I said, I can do the basics, but he’s going way beyong my knowledge now.

Many thanks



Yes, you’ll need to change about everything except the case itself. You can still use HDDs and ODDs but they’re so old by now so I wouldn’t recommend it.
The Radeon 5770 is a good choice but I would recommend you to look at Powercolors cards instead that are a few pounds more expensive but much more quiet.

A “brand new” computer for FS X (and new games) would be around 520£

PSU: 380w Seasonic S12II-380 PSU, 12Cm fan, active PFC RoHS +80%
HDD: 640 GB Western Digital WD6400AAKS Caviar Blue, SATA 3Gb/s, 7200rpm, 16MB Cache, 8.9 ms
Memory: 2GB Corsair Value Select, DDR3 PC3-10600 (1333) Non-ECC Unbuffered, CAS 9-9-9-24 (2X)
CPU: Intel Core i3 530 Dual Core Clarkdale 32nm, 2.93GHz, 4MB Cache, 73W, Integrated GPU @ 733MHz, Retail
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H, Intel H55, 1156, PCI-E 2.0 (x16), DDR3 1600/1800/2133, SATA 3Gb/s, VGA, uATX
Video card: 1GB Power Color HD 5770, PCI-E 2.1(x16), 4800MHz GDDR5, GPU 850MHz, 800 Cores, DL DVI-I/ HDMI/ D-Sub
Case: Asus TA-9L1, Black Midi Tower, Case w/o psu
ODD: Samsung SH-S223C/BEWE 22x DVD±R, 12x DVD±R, DVD+RW x8/-RW x6, SATA,BEIGE with black Bezel

Total 514.37 excl shipping over @
You need at least 100£ more if you want a branded / prebuilt computer with similar specs.

When it comes to laptops all you can do (that will affect overall performance) is expanding memory and installing a new HDD.



Laptops, unless expensive modles with mudular graphics, cannot be upggraded much - usually the only practical laptop upogrades are adding more RAM or replacing a hard disk with a higher capacity.

For the desktop, a good software cleanup may help, as would another 512MB RAM (maybe a tiny bit more performance from upgrading to DDR400/PC3200), and graphics could be upgraded with an AGP card, but watch the power requirements, if it only has a cheap & cheerful case PSU - won’t make a super-gaming machine that way, but a midrange AGP card would probably run things ok at lower settings, that wouldn’t go at all with the onboard.

So for the cheap kit upgrade:

  1. CCleaner (free/donation - you don’t HAVE to pay)
  2. (£14.08)
  3. (but check PSU wattage and 12V rating)
    The choice of cards in AGP is now very limited, and the card you mentioned is PCI-E only and would not fit as an upgrade.

Yes, the other option is to start from scratch - a halfway house between full “build yourself” and pre-built, is the “barebones” - at the most basic, it’s the motherboard pre-mounted in the case, saving aggravation and possible scrapes while lining up the fixings - you may find barebones setups with more items included.


Putting even 1$ in that old desktop would be a total waste.

Alison556, how much are you looking to spend for the whole PC? and what country are you in? so that we can pick from the best online retailer.


Okay from scan, this includes everything except the OS.


Thanks everyone for your replies. We’re in Scotland. I’m not sure how much he wants to spend to be honest - he’s one of these guys that just tells me to “sort it out” but I’m imagining that he wouldn’t have wanted to spend too much on it. He’s been trying to research a bit and seems to be under the impression that a graphics card and a processor will do the trick??? This is where he’s lost me completely.

He normally uses consoles and there isn’t much he doesn’t know about them - PCs is a different thing for him - he’s not sure what he needs there - but he bought a PC game and wants to play it to the best quality he can - so now we gotta work out what improvements we can make - but if buying a new PC is the answer, then that’s what he’ll do.


There’s no way that old PC will play any modern games, so spending money on it would be a total waste. But to build a new PC just to play one game? is a little crazy too. :doh:


I would imagine that you use a computer for more than just games though…


Yeah, sorry that sounded a bit daft to say he wanted to upgrade it to play one game. He’s been complaining about the lack of performance on that computer for ages and wanted to upgrade it - if it was worth it - or whether to buy a new one and then he’s got a couple of PC games and realised that the computer just isn’t doing it with the games so at least we had a starting point of what he was wanting.

It’s beginning to sound like he should get a new desktop? And the hunt begins…


He needs to get a new computer that’s for sure…
If he needs a new monitor I can tell you for sure that a poor monitor will in the long run may not be a pleasant experience at all. Bad viewing angles, poor contrast, poor response time (ghosting) which will most likely cause a high strain on eyes and headaches. (also available at eBuyer for about the same price).
Some type of IPS panel (monitor) should be highly considered.