I recently began planning for my upgrade to Windows 7. I usually buy a new system whenever upgrading my OS,  however I did research on new systems and didn’t see the cost benefit of doing this even after having owned my current system for almost 2 years. The newer CPUs just don’t offer a large enough performance gain for me when compared tomy current Intel e6850 3GHz CPU.

Itching to at least get a few system enhancements I looked into where I could make some upgrade improvements. I started with my video card. I occasionally like to play games on my PC so this was a good place to start as I had an Nvidia Geforce 9800 GT with 512Mb of RAM which could use an upgrade now that I have a Samsung T240HD 24-Inch LCD HDTV Monitor capable of a 1920 x 1200 resolution. So I went to Tom’s Hardware which offers a great post every month that breaks down which video card is the best to buy at various price points. Here’s the post I read and my timing appears to have been pretty good.

As mentioned in the video there were 3 cards tied in the $150 price range. There were a few key reasons I chose the 5770 over the others. It’s a newer generation card and the only one of the 3 that supports Direct X 11. Secondly I it was the only one that supported 4 video outs. It has 2 x DVI 1 x HDMI and a DisplayPort. Lastly the card uses the newer 40-nm semiconductor process technology which uses less power and produces less heat. This makes this card the quitest of the bunch as well which is an issue for me. My last several cards were pretty loud when playing games.

So having decided which card to buy I now had to decide which company to get it from. There are quite a few of them that OEM the card and each offers small distinctions between them and in some cases they will vary in speed. I headed over to Newegg since the reviews on there usually provide some good guidance as to which computer hardware to buy and I found the Sapphire to be the highest rated of the 5770’s on there. I headed over to Amazon to see if they had the card which they did for $10 less than Newegg and no tax.

So I tested the card with Call of Duty 4 and it ran beautifully at 1920 x 1200 resolution giving me well over 60 FPS on average. It also ran very quiet the entire time. I’m very happy with this card.

corsair_ramI also decided to go from 4GB of RAM up to 8GB since I was moving to the 64 Bit version of Windows 7. This should offer me some more headroom to run multiple apps without worrying about gobbling up memory. For this I found a great deal on some Corsair 4 GB (2 X 2 GB) Memory Kits for $79.99 a pair. These were very cheap for some highly rated memory designed for over-clocking which I wasn’t planning on doing anyways but what the hell. They look pretty cool with their heat spreaders too. More sexiness for inside the case to go with the pretty Saphire girl which nobody will ever see.

I then decided to remove the 2 x 500GB Western Digital drives that were running in RAID 1 fashion to be replaced with a single 1TB drive. I figured I didn’t need the RAID 1 inside my machine anymore having recently built a RAID 1 NAS. I just need to make sure that I’m continually backing up to it. I chose the Seagate Barracuda ST31000528AS 1 TB SATA Version 12. I like that I’m removing one more moving part, hot and noisy item from my case.

Lastly I decided to replace my DVD Burner which was the only thing using the IDE interface. I wanted to replace it with a SATA version so I could remove that ghastly looking cable (which nobody will ever see) with a nice clean SATA version. I chose the Plextor PX-880SA 24X DVD Burner with LightScribe and 2MB Cache. This also was a high rated drive at Newegg and I purchased it there for a mere $39.