Upgrade 10 year old PC

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Upgrade 10 year old PC

Post by andow »

I've been working on a dedicated Win7 audio PC (no internet, games or other stuff...) that I built in 2011. While it's actually still working fine, I think it's about time for an upgrade. Obviously more processing power would be nice, since the CPU is struggling when using newer plugins. Also, I'm still using Cubase 6 but want to update to 11 which will not support Win7 anymore.

Instead of building a completely new computer, I was thinking of just upgrading the main components like mainboard, CPU and RAM and keep the rest. I have a very nice Lian Li case with Enermax power supply and of course I could also keep the harddisks, also the graphics card is not crucial for now (although it would be if I'll switch to an HD screen). Do you think that would make sense? If yes, any specific components you would recommend?

Here is what I have now:
- Lian Li case with BeSilent fans
- Enermax Modu87+ 500W power supply
- Gigabyte X58A-UD3R mainboard
- Intel Core i7 950 CPU
- Corsair 12GB DDR3 RAM
- Sapphire Radeon HD5450 graphics card
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Re: Upgrade 10 year old PC

Post by wireman »

One of the changes over recent years is the availability of M.2 NVMe SSDs, I would not build a new PC without using at least one.
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Re: Upgrade 10 year old PC

Post by andow »

wireman wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 9:58 am One of the changes over recent years is the availability of M.2 NVMe SSDs, I would not build a new PC without using at least one.

Thanks for your reply! I forgot to mention in my initial post that I got a new Samsung Evo SSD as system drive a few years ago.

So still my question is:
Can I change just the mainboard, processor and RAM in a 10 year old PC and expect it to be up to date or should I get a complete new system?
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Re: Upgrade 10 year old PC

Post by BWC »

There are a few websites out there to help figure out what's compatible with what. You load in the parts you have and can search and sort by compatibility, among other things. The one I like is: https://pcpartpicker.com/
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Re: Upgrade 10 year old PC

Post by ef37a »

+1 to an SSD system drive, in fact I have read that W10/11 expects an SSD and might not be as happy with a spinner?

But, (and "Hai know no...thing...") but if a 3G 4 core i7 is "struggling" might there be something taking resources you are not aware of?

Dave.
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Re: Upgrade 10 year old PC

Post by merlyn »

andow wrote: Wed Nov 17, 2021 8:50 pm Instead of building a completely new computer, I was thinking of just upgrading the main components like mainboard, CPU and RAM and keep the rest. I have a very nice Lian Li case with Enermax power supply and of course I could also keep the harddisks, also the graphics card is not crucial for now (although it would be if I'll switch to an HD screen).

If by HD you mean 1920x1080 your graphics card will do that. It has an HDMI output, which is 1920x1080. It is an old and not very powerful card, but 2D graphics is not much of a challenge for a graphics card.

Here is what I have now:
- Lian Li case with BeSilent fans

You can probably keep that. The size of the case determines what size of CPU cooler you can use.

- Enermax Modu87+ 500W power supply

If this is from 2011 it probably doesn't have the right connectors. I built a gaming machine for a friend recently and the CPU power connector had 12 pins. Older computers only had a 4 pin CPU power connector, and a computer I built last year had 8. It may be possible to get adapters, but you would have to look into it. Although it's called ATX and you would think it's a standard, it gets more and more pins as the years go by. The main multi pin ATX connector now has an extra 4 pins too.

- Gigabyte X58A-UD3R mainboard
- Intel Core i7 950 CPU
- Corsair 12GB DDR3 RAM

You're replacing all these parts. To me, this really is 'the computer'. You'll also need a CPU cooler, unless you use the stock cooler. e.g. Ryzen 5000 series don't come with a stock cooler. Stock coolers can be noisy, if that's something you want to take into account.
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Re: Upgrade 10 year old PC

Post by MaestroMikeT »

Beware of old graphic cards. Although it could in theory run Cubase 11 with no problems, system requirements state a compatible DirectX 11 card. Even if your system information states DirectX 11, if it’s not hardware supported means you’re just running DirectX 10, and it could - will - lead to trouble.

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Re: Upgrade 10 year old PC

Post by andow »

BWC wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 10:55 pm There are a few websites out there to help figure out what's compatible with what. You load in the parts you have and can search and sort by compatibility, among other things. The one I like is: https://pcpartpicker.com/

That's very helpful, thank you!

ef37a wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 8:41 am +1 to an SSD system drive, in fact I have read that W10/11 expects an SSD and might not be as happy with a spinner?

But, (and "Hai know no...thing...") but if a 3G 4 core i7 is "struggling" might there be something taking resources you are not aware of?

Dave.

As mentioned, I already have an SSD, so that's sorted...

CPU power is usually enough, but on bigger Cubase projects it's really maxed out so I have to freeze as much tracks as possible. I'm talking about 50+ tracks with lots of plugins and softsynths.

merlyn wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 3:09 pm
andow wrote: Wed Nov 17, 2021 8:50 pm Instead of building a completely new computer, I was thinking of just upgrading the main components like mainboard, CPU and RAM and keep the rest. I have a very nice Lian Li case with Enermax power supply and of course I could also keep the harddisks, also the graphics card is not crucial for now (although it would be if I'll switch to an HD screen).

If by HD you mean 1920x1080 your graphics card will do that. It has an HDMI output, which is 1920x1080. It is an old and not very powerful card, but 2D graphics is not much of a challenge for a graphics card.

Here is what I have now:
- Lian Li case with BeSilent fans

You can probably keep that. The size of the case determines what size of CPU cooler you can use.

- Enermax Modu87+ 500W power supply

If this is from 2011 it probably doesn't have the right connectors. I built a gaming machine for a friend recently and the CPU power connector had 12 pins. Older computers only had a 4 pin CPU power connector, and a computer I built last year had 8. It may be possible to get adapters, but you would have to look into it. Although it's called ATX and you would think it's a standard, it gets more and more pins as the years go by. The main multi pin ATX connector now has an extra 4 pins too.

- Gigabyte X58A-UD3R mainboard
- Intel Core i7 950 CPU
- Corsair 12GB DDR3 RAM

You're replacing all these parts. To me, this really is 'the computer'. You'll also need a CPU cooler, unless you use the stock cooler. e.g. Ryzen 5000 series don't come with a stock cooler. Stock coolers can be noisy, if that's something you want to take into account.

Sorry, of course I meant UHD. I have two HD screens now and might replace them with one widescreen in the future.
Maybe I can skip the graphics card altogether and just use the HDMI of the new mainboard?

Good point about the power supply connectors, I didn't know that. I'll read up on that, but I guess using an adapter should work. Although the PS is 10 years old now, it doesn't have that much hours of operation.

Yes, that was my initial plan actually. Replace mainboard, CPU (&cooler) and RAM and keep the rest. And that would be a very affordable option!
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Re: Upgrade 10 year old PC

Post by OneWorld »

MaestroMikeT wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 5:42 am Beware of old graphic cards. Although it could in theory run Cubase 11 with no problems, system requirements state a compatible DirectX 11 card. Even if your system information states DirectX 11, if it’s not hardware supported means you’re just running DirectX 10, and it could - will - lead to trouble.

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I agree, except for that I think, no not 100% sure, that WIn11 demands DirectX 12, or it won't install, but either way DX11 or DX12
, it's a good point worth checking on
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Re: Upgrade 10 year old PC

Post by merlyn »

andow wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:42 pm As mentioned, I already have an SSD, so that's sorted...

What wireman was talking about above is an M.2 NVMe drive, which is ten times faster than a SATA SSD. Motherboards have new slots that take these tiny and fast drives. They're recommended as a boot drive, in the same way SSD took over from HDD to speed things up.

Maybe I can skip the graphics card altogether and just use the HDMI of the new mainboard?

Yes, motherboards have HDMI out. But motherboards don't have graphics hardware built in any more. The HDMI out only works if the CPU has integrated graphics. AMD CPUs that have integrated graphics (or APUs as AMD call them) end in 'G', like a Ryzen 3400G. Most Intel CPUs have integrated graphics unless they end in 'F', like a 10900KF (if that exists) does not have integrated graphics.

A Radeon HD5450 is DirectX 11. We'd have to go back into the mists of pre-history to find a DirectX 10 card.

Good point about the power supply connectors, I didn't know that. I'll read up on that, but I guess using an adapter should work. Although the PS is 10 years old now, it doesn't have that much hours of operation.

I had a look at your power supply :
https://www.anandtech.com/show/2920/5
and it seems like one of the best PSUs available in 2011. It has a 24 pin ATX connector, so that's fine, compatible with any mainstream motherboard, and an 8 pin CPU power connector, which is compatible with some chipsets. I built a Ryzen 3900x system based on a B550 chipset. A B550 has an 8 pin CPU connector. I also built a system based on an X570 chipset, and that has a 12 pin CPU connector. You'd need an extra 4 pins for X570, which should be possible with an adapter.
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