Xmas budget upgrade

Seeking input on a budget-but-not horrible upgrade for our 2nd PC. We have two systems, roughly ‘mine’ and the ‘kids’ (kids being 17-18, so not little ones) - I’m fine with moving parts between them if it makes sense to do so to get the best bang for buck. The goal is to get them to ‘close’ to parity without going crazy on cost (roughly $500 is the target).

System 1 (the better of the two - don’t laugh):
Intel i5-3570k @4.4GHz
8GB ram
Nvidia GTX 960 4GB
[email protected] (no intent to upgrade anytime soon)

System 2 (why yes, it does still work):
AMD Phenom II 720 x3
4GB ram
Nvidia GTX 660 2GB
[email protected] (again, will stay here)

Proposed parts:
AMD Ryzen 5 (1600?) w/motherboard - ~$260 (system 2)
8GB ram - ~$110 (system 2 - prices are freaking insane, so this alone jumps the budget a bit)
Nvidia GTX 1060 - ~$230 depending on 3gb/6gb (system 1)

The 960 would move to system 2.

The ryzen is being considered over the coffee lake chips due to price (comes with fan, cheaper motherboards, etc) while still being decent. As well, I’m guessing the 960 would still be the limiting part negating the need for a more powerful CPU. Might go in for another 1060 in the future, but not immediately.

GTX 1060 is a great card for [email protected]

This sounds fine, the 1060 is an excellent choice and I agree with your rationale on CPU, but get the 6gb version for longevity.

One suggestion though, you might do better with a cheap dual core / 4 thread Intel at higher clock speed, for the same price. More cores just doesn’t really get you much in games. Not a huge deal either way, only something to consider.

1050ti is a better choice for 1080p. 1060 is unnecessary.

I agree that a 4 core coffee lake i3-8100 would be better for straight-up gaming, unless you plan to overclock the Ryzen. That chip has a MSRP of $117 but currently costs around $140.

Thanks guys - exactly the options I was hoping to find. The i3-8100 does sound promising as a step in-between the dual core option wumpus mentioned and the ryzen, if I can find a decent motherboard deal.

The 1060 is intended more for the ‘primary’ system since for right now getting two new GPUs isn’t going to happen. I honestly never looked at the 1050ti. Looking at the benchmarks, 1050ti appears to be neck and neck with the 960. Moving up to the 1060 for ‘system 1’ gives it a bit of a boost, and the second system doesn’t waste too much potential with the 960.

The 1050ti is around 5-10% faster than the 960, and the 960 is a perfectly capable 1080p gaming card. If you want to run maxed-out quality locked to 60fps the 1060 is a better choice, but it’s literally twice the price.

I wouldn’t buy a dualcore system now that coffee lake i3s start at 4 cores. That i3-8100 is a ridiculous low-end value.

Hmm… you must be refering to the 6gb model. There is only a $60 difference between the 1050ti and the 1060 3gb card, far from 2x the price.

You’re right, I didn’t sort by price. 1050tis start at $155 and 1060 3GBs start at $200. At those prices I would get the 1060. Maybe a little bit of overkill for 1080p gaming, but the price/value is there.

I’m quite miffed that the i3-8100 exists with no budget motherboards. Despite it being a great low cost chip, the motherboard cost combined with the fact of limited upgrade path for that socket is annoying. A Ryzen 1500x w/motherboard ends up cheaper than 8100/motherboard, and will take a Ryzen 2 chip in the future (assuming I upgrade it again soon enough to be worth while, of course).

Of course ryzen suffers without high speed ram which tacks some of that cost back on. Hate building PCs sometimes :P

EDIT: I may have been misled about the impact of ram speeds. Apparently the difference between 2400 and 3200 ram does exist for Ryzen, but only when not bound by the GPU - which I would be with only a 960 or 1060.

Yeah but the coffee lake chips are selling at higher than MSRP eight? quad core is irrelevant to gaming, get the cheaper Kaby Lake i3 chips. At least until things sell for MSRP.

Plus cheaper motherboards.

Faster RAM is huge on Ryzen, yes. If Ryzen+mobo+RAM is cheaper than the i3, get Ryzen for sure.

I definitely wouldn’t buy a dualcore kaby over a Ryzen. Yes it will probably be faster in most games, but c’mon.

Yeah it will absolutely be faster in every game. You could make a reasonable case for quad core if you plan to use the computer for a lot of other stuff outside games. Bear in mind intel hyper threading is pretty darn good by now as well, so it is more like 2.8 cores.

The main issue for me is you will pay an early adopter premium for coffee lake because there are so many doofuses who think moar cores = infinity speed and it is new.

That should subside by the time the thing after coffee lake is released.

Anyway consider your options!

Looks like a good plan to me. With a new MB and CPU, will you will need to budget for Windows as well?

Are both systems on SSD for all programs?

Ugh - I forgot about Win10 stupidity.

Both systems do indeed have SSDs (phew!).

Windows keys are $30 on kinguin. No biggie.

Even better (though that’s good to know too):


If you link to a MS account, you use your account to reactivate rather than some mystery mix of hardware IDs.

Are those MS keys legit in that one needn’t worry about them being revoked sometime down the line?

Yeah, they’re fine. I’ve used one for 2 years now. I actually bought a windows 7 key because it was much cheaper back then, but now you only save five bucks.

Aren’t these stolen or misappropriated volume license keys, or keys meant for countries with much lower incomes? Maybe we’ve had this discussion a million times…

They aren’t volume license keys, but are probably grey market yes.