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Old 03-17-2011, 07:21 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Upgrading my HP

I have an HP that is a fairly good machine. I am studying game art at FSU which I use Adutdesk Maya, zBrush, Unreal and other such programs. I would like to upgrade my computer or I fear I will have to build one from the ground up to handle the workload. This is my computer as it sits: HP Pavilion a6700 Desktop PC series*-* HP Pavilion a6757c Desktop PC Product Specifications - c01643541 - HP Business Support Center
I would like to increase the RAM I am working with add a second hard drive and a good video card. Is any of that possible? Or will I be better off building a machine from the ground up? I am fairly a noob to building or upgrading computers so I am sorry in advance for any and all stupid questions I may ask.
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading my HP

Well, Assuming you have any open slots for your RAM left since those specs say you already have 6gb's of RAM which seems like it should be enough for anything you would need, but yes you can put in more RAM, and you can also ad a new graphics card since you have an open PCI-Express port, but if it is a higher end one you need, you might need to also buy a larger power supply because it will require atleast a 6-pin PCI-E power errr adapter thing. And you also can add a second harddrive, just make sure that you order a SATA cable with it as most don't seem to come with one. One thing to remember about that though is that it wont show up in windows right away, you have to go into administrative tools and format it and then create a new volume on it.
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Old 03-18-2011, 05:05 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading my HP

Thank you for the rapid reply.
So each slot can only handle 2GB of RAM? Will any graphics card fit and how would I judge if I need a larger power supply? Also do you have an opinion of after market cooling of my processor?
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Old 03-18-2011, 05:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading my HP

Well, i just looked again and it says you only have a 250w power supply, so you are definitely going to need a new one, a 600w one should be plenty, also yes each slot will only hold up to 2GB's of RAM, any graphics card should fit in that case since it is at ATX mid tower so you don't need to worry about that. As for an aftermarket cooler... unless you are overclocking you really don't need one at all and the stock one will be more than enough, but if you do decide to get one anyways, anything that says it will fit on an AM3 board will work.
Here is a PSU I just found on newegg that is one of the highest rated ones, so it should work just fine. Newegg.com - Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V Ver.2.2 / EPS12V version 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC "compatible with Core i7/Core i5" Power Supply
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Old 03-20-2011, 03:00 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading my HP

Thanks for the link! I figured I would have to upgrade that power supply. I am considering an HD 6870 graphics card. That with a 2 TB hard drive I think it would suffice to get me thought my last year of college. I would have really liked to of pushed the front end memory but that will have to wait, thank you for you help it has not gone unnoticed by me.
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Old 03-20-2011, 08:11 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading my HP

If you're using a 32 bit operating system, you will be limited to 4GB of RAM anyway.
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Old 03-20-2011, 06:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading my HP

It's Vista 64bit.
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Old 03-24-2011, 12:01 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading my HP

You can get a significant performance increase by upgrading the PSU and getting a good video card.

The Antec PSU recommended above is a good one - but you can get another good one for less - the Corsair Builder Series 500w for $40 AR
Newegg.com - CORSAIR Builder Series CX500 (CMPSU-500CX) 500W ATX12V v2.3 Active PFC Power Supply

For video cards you have a wide range to choose from. Note that you use programs like Maya that benefit from the CUDA feature of nVidia cards so I suggest sticking with them.
If you can afford $130 for a card, then I recommend the GTX 460 768MB card. It is a solid card that can be found at a discount right now because it is being replaced by the GTX 550 Ti, but the new card is slower. The 768MB version of the GTX 460 is only slightly slower than the 1GB version, but costs substantially less. See the slight performance difference in this article:

Nvidia GeForce GTX 460: The Fermi We Were Waiting For : GeForce GTX 460 At 1 GB And 768 MB

Note that on the THG Best Card for the Money article linked below, the GTX 460 1 GB is one of the cards recommended at the $200 price level. This card is almost as fast and as shown in the review above, and costs quite a bit less..

Best Graphics Cards For the Money: March 2011 : March Updates

For a specific card, I recommend the MSI Twin Frozr because of its effective but quiet heatsink/fan, factory overclock, and good price – only $130 after rebate.

Newegg.com - MSI N460GTX Twin Frozr II SOC GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 768MB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

If you want to spend less on a video card, then take a look at the different video card upgrades recommended at different budget levels at this site:

Best Video Card Uogrades for Non-gaming Use

I was curious about the speed of your CPU so I looked up its performance - its not as slow as I expected - but of course not as fast as the newer cards. FYI the chart below shows the performance of your CPU compared to a current favorite - the Phenom X4 955.

Compare , AMD Phenom X4 9150e (Agena 4c)
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Old 03-25-2011, 07:44 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading my HP

John thank you for all the information I was thinking of going with an HD6950 I can pick one up right now for $244. With an ACZ 700W power supply for $69. The problem I am having is once I get in to high polygon models and renders I get real slow and lag bad. I am still not decided if I would be better off building a machine from the ground up. Money is not the object but time is a premium for me. Any thoughts? I have a new MacBook Pro also and it gets it's lunch handed to it with high poly renders.
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