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Upgrade / New Build Advice

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New Member
Jan 29, 2021
Hello! New to the .com forum, but was active many years ago on the .co.uk forum. Since then I've moved across the Pond, hence the post here. OC UK was an invaluable resource for my first PC build, and I'm hoping to get some advice once again.

I picked up a Powercolor 5600XT card over the holidays, and am looking to update the heart of my PC from its dated Intel Sandybridge (2012) hardware. I'd like to hang onto my 600W gold PSU and drives (upgrading those later) and am interested in getting the following:
  • CPU (I'd be keen to overclock to keep it relevant for longer)
  • Motherboard (would need at least a couple of SATA 3 ports and built-in wifi; PCIe 4.0 and NVMe slot would be awesome depending on what it would cost)
  • RAM (16GB I suppose?)
  • CPU cooler
  • Case (ideally, but willing to use my current one to start to maximise bang for buck on the main hardware)

My budget is $500 and its primary use is for playing games on a 1080p high refresh rate monitor. I'm not in a hurry to get parts, so a recommendation for something that's not available right now would be fine.

Thanks in advance!
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So I would look at the Ryzen 5 or 7 3000 series and a B550 motherboard. Some decent 3600MHz RAM would fit in there, too.

You don't say whether OCing is in your future or not.

Ryzen 5 3500X (6-core, single-threaded) $177

Ryzen 5 3600 (not unlocked) $200

Ryzen 5 3600X (unlocked for OCing) $252

For motherboard, it comes down to features you need or MAY need in the future. Do you need built-in WiFi? What about SATA ports, do you want PCIe 4.0 for an NVMe drive later?
I'm a fan of ASUS and Gigabyte, Asrock and MSI round out the top manufacturers in this category for the most part, and all of them have decent boards in the $80-120 range.

ASUS PRIME B550M-K (open box) $94

ASRock B550M Phantom Gaming 4 $90

GIGABYTE B550M DS3H $95 (I built two machines last month with the WiFi version of this board)

If you move up to the X570 chipset, boards start at $125 or so and go up from there.

For RAM, I would do 3600 CL 16 or so, unless you're really running low on your budget and need to save $20-30 and drop down to CL18 or 19.

G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 3600 $95

That may be a start for you, hope that helps.
Thanks so much for the quick response! I'll dig into the links a little later. I updated my first post with comments on overclocking and motherboard features desired.

Any recommendations for a CPU cooler? I'd imagine there's a cheap and cheerful air cooling option that would let me balance the budget a bit more towards the CPU?
I believe the 3600 is in fact unlocked. All Ryzens are unlocked. "X" does not mean unlocked. It's not like the Intel "k" series.

A budget of $500 is going to be very difficult to work with for a gaming machine. A good video card is close to that amount by itself. Prices are higher right now on many build components because of COVID supply and demand issues and the surge in interest in bitcoin mining. Will you be carrying anything over from a current build?
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I already have a GPU :) I picked up a Powercolor 5600XT graphics card over the holidays. I plan to keep the drives and PSU (600W gold) from my current build.

I'd like to cover the CPU, an aftermarket CPU air cooler (unless the teeny weeny stock ones are really good now), motherboard, and RAM for $500. Including a case would be nice too, but I'd rather make the most of the budget on the core hardware.

For the CPU, after doing a little bit of reading, it looks like a Ryzen 5 should set me up well for gaming, ~$200 for the 3600, and ~$300 for the 5600X (when stocks return).

For the motherboard, tRidiot's B550 recommendations include a PCIe 4.0 slot I could put my GPU into, and a couple M.2 slots, which I could get drives for at a later date. What would the X570 chipset do that the B550 doesn't?
You're right trents, I was confused. From LTT:

"The 'X' in the Ryzen CPU parts indicate that the CPU has Extended Frequency Range (extra MHz on individual cores with the most load), and they have faster base and boost frequencies."

As for X570 vs B550, it's mostly the PCIe 4.0 on X570 with more focus on high-speed USB availability, and on the B550 it's PCIe 3.0 with more focus on SATA ports. Several boards utilize the greater number of PCIe 4.0 lanes for various numbers of slots for NVMe. While my board supports PCIe 4.0 for my GPU, and surprisingly my Lian Li vertical mount kit came with a 4.0 riser cable, the difference in performance is negligible and not usable, as even my 3090 doesn't saturate the bandwidth of PCIe 3.0 yet.

It seemed to me when I was shopping, those were the differences, and X570 boards were more focused on higher power provision for overclocking,
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Two questions:
1. What is the frequency of the RAM you have chosen? You gave the CL but not the frequency.
2. What is the video card you will be carrying over from your present build?
3600 MHz RAM, Powercolor Radeon RX 5600XT Red Dragon. My previous edited to include these details.
I agree, looks good.

- - - Auto-Merged Double Post - - -

Caveat to that is I don't know that you need an AIO for a 3600, if you want to push it, I might get a decent air cooler and spend the extra on the CPU.