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Old 12-20-2011, 11:58 AM   #1
Magus
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Upgrading a POS tiny pc.

Hey guys,

So I'm visiting relatives for Christmas, and can basically do nothing with there crappy pc. It's an emachines EL1850. Pretty much all I want to do is run SWTOR on the lowest graphics settings, but it can't even manage that. So I've decided to have a go at upgrading it.

As it's so fucking small size is an issue. By the looks of things I'll have to find a laptop sized graphics-card to fit it in there.

The other consideration is the power supply. Some web-searches seem to indicate that it has a 220w power supply, would that be enough to install something like a Sapphire ATI Radeon HD5450? If not, is there a similar card I could get that would fit, or a cheap alternative power supply I could swap in?

This is pretty much my first foray into the depths of a pc in quite a while (the last time was when I upgraded my home pc about 4 years ago), so I could really use some advice.

Thanks.
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Old 12-20-2011, 12:57 PM   #2
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What's your budget?

For £400 you could build a pretty decent computer from scratch:

Intel Core i3 2100 3.10GHz Socket 1155 3MB L3 Cache Retail Boxed Processor £90.18

Gigabyte GA-H61M-S2V-B3 H61 Socket 1155 VGA DVI Onboard 7.1 Channel Audio mATX Motherboard£48.70

Kingston 4GB DDR3 1066MHz Memory Non-ECC CL7 1.5V £17.99

Zotac GT 520 Synergy Edition 1GB DDR3 VGA DVI HDMI PCI-E Graphics Card £34.82

Seagate 500GB 3.5" SATA-III 6Gb/s Barracuda Hard Drive 7200RPM 16MB Cache £74.99

Samsung SH-222AB 22x DVD±RW DL & RAM SATA Optical Drive - OEM Black £13.98

Casecom MA-1199 Shiny Black MATX Tower Case - No PSU £16.98

Arctic Power 500W PSU£29.99

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium w/SP1 - Licence and media - 1 PC - OEM - DVD - 64-bit - English £70.71

If you're US, look those up on Newegg. US prices are better than UK. If you've got a bit more than £400 to throw around, get a better motherboard to increase upgradability (preferably full ATX) and a different case along with it.

If you want to stick to upgrading, you're going to be limited by your motherboard - not much being made for the 775 socket any more, and it's all low end stuff. If you're severely limited budget-wise, I'd say:

1. Put a budget graphics card in there, like the 520 above. Even a budget graphics card will give you a significant boost in gaming performance compared to on-board graphics, as it means the processor doesn't have to be doing all that work. £35.

2. EBay the best processor you can find for the 775 socket. Probably this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/INTEL-CORE-2...item4cfcc9ca6c £60.

3. Max out your RAM. For you, that means buying a single 2GB stick. £10.

That should give you a noticeable increase in performance for around £100. But in the long term, you'd probably save money by just abandoning this PC and building a new one like the build above.

On the matter of PSU, I'm not sure. 220W seems awfully low, but I don't imagine the E8400 would use all that much more power than the E5400 you have now. The 520 runs off motherboard power, rather than having its own power supply like higher end graphics cards, so you might be okay there. But upgrading the PSU might be worth it.

Last edited by Taure; 12-20-2011 at 01:10 PM.
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Old 12-20-2011, 02:27 PM   #3
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Pretty much going to reiterate what Taure said. There isn't a whole lot you can do with that computer. I've just recently upgraded a dozen or so eMachines, and they aren't easy to upgrade because of the case and PSU, so if you plan on ever upgrading this again, you'd be better off buying a whole new computer. $400 would do it, $500 would easily build a computer that can play modern games for 2-3 years.

For a budget upgrade with expandability, buy a new case and a larger PSU, that'll give you room for future upgrades and you can gradually fit new parts in. Otherwise, do what Taure said. If you're unsure about the PSU I'd recommend a PSU calculator.

And if you do end up doing a full upgrade, you can save some money by transferring the HDD and DVD drive over. You'll probably have to deactivate Windows first, and write down the CD key if you don't already have a textual copy somewhere.
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Old 12-22-2011, 08:24 AM   #4
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Thanks for the advice, but this is basically just a relatives computer that I'm looking to slap a graphics card in (and a bigger PSU if needed) to play Star Wars The Old Republic at more than 10fps. Otherwise the ram, hdd, processor etc is going to be left alone.

So basically what I'm after is some sort of cheap graphics card that will fit into the tiny case, preferably one that won't require me to upgrade the PSU (though I will if I have to). Any recommendations?
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Old 12-22-2011, 03:58 PM   #5
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GeForce 220, if you can get hold of one.
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