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I have some questions about how powerful a machine to get if I upgrade my current PC which seems to be bogging down.

I have current mid range desktop for SL - Dell X51 R2
CPU: i7 4770 @ 3.4GHZ    
GPU: NV GTX 760 Ti
OS:   Win 7 Home Prem 64 bit

While it still works well, it now approaching 5 years old, and there are a few issues:
- boot and re-boot times are incredibly slow (it can take MANY minutes to log off, overall re-boot time is around 5 - 10 minutes) - Dells system analysis tells me all is well but I am wondering about hard drive or RAM health (SMART stats suggest all is good, but...)
- Im lazy and often have multiple applications open while in SL.   In particular Firefox is a memory hog, also Lightroom.  It would be nice to not have to close everything down for SL (which I sometimes do when Im concerned about performance for sailing but its a drag).   Note Im not wanting to work in other apps (except maybe Firefox) while in SL, I just want to leave the sessions open.
- every so often, especially in SL I hear the disc thrashing, my guess is that there's a lot paging going on
- MS support for Win 7 ends next year; I'm guessing that Win 10 has a heavier footprint

The machine copes fairly well with SL under most conditions when I have it freshly booted and nothing else really running, (except for the disc thrashing I mentioned).  I guess my main concern at this point is age of the machine.

Aside from SL I do some work (MS office) and also photography (Lightroom).  Multiple USB drives for things like music library, photo archives, backup etc.
No other gaming (currently).

Given the age of the machine and the factors listed Im contemplating getting a new machine.    Price range (for basically just the tower unit) ideally under $2000 (Can) before tax, support etc or at least not much over

It would seem to be a no brainer to go for 16 GB RAM (I dont think the budget goes to 32 GB).   But Im less sure about CPU and GPU vs my current machine.

For various reasons Im likely to stick with Dell (I have had their machines both laptop and dektops for a number of years and been happy with performance and especially their service; they may not be the cheapest around but have been good value.

So here are the questions:

- CPU: Is i7 worthe extra $ vs i5 - specifically i7 8700 vs  i5 8400? 

- I should get 256 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD rather than just the HDD alone?  (and so Put SL cache (and some of the OS etc ) on SSD.)   Is 256GB SSD enough (vs 512 GB)

- GPU - There are distinct price jumps between NV 1050 4 GB / 1060 6 GB / 1070 8 GB about $200 each step.  (I do like to sail with a reasonable DD ideally 300m)   Am I right that the sweet spot is probably the 1060, the 1050 may not be a lot better than what I have?  the 1070 is overkill? 

I tend to believe in a balanced system but if I needed to econmise, whats the best way to do that - i5 CPU (vs i7), drop the SSD or GTX 1050 (rather than 1060).






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For the box you have I'd up the ram to 16GB, drop in an SSD and upgrade to Win10 (install fresh using the OEM win 7 key you already have), would be night and day different and pretty cheap *$200 ish .. 

Do not buy Dell or Alienware. You do not get the same kind of value for money you would if you just built from off the shelf parts, I've spent a lot of time helping friends and family with dells lately and for the price, they all got robbed .. the support is good.. but that's a pretty low bar.

For something new, I would recommend something about 4Ghz (i7 or Ryzen 5/7) and a 1060(min) probably best to hold on for the 1660, 16gb min ram ... pretty case, some RGB and a nice boutique mechanical keyboard (Ducky FTW). If in doubt .. wander into your local microcenter and tell them you have 2K to spend and want components, you want to play games and work on photos and see what they come up with.. building a PC is easy

For SL you need raw CPU speed, not core count. plenty of system ram, an SSD is mandatory (go and buy one right now, you don't know what you're missing) .. you can probably go under powered on the GPU as its unlikely you will ever max it out running just SL

Edited by CoffeeDujour
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I love the Alienware x51 specifically because of the story behind the 760ti that came with them. (It's actually a GTX 670 but Alienware was too slow to launch the X51 before the 700 series came out and they didn't want to ship a last gen card, so they made Nvidia provide a card bios flash and new SKU stickers to turn several thousand 670's into 760ti's)

CPU wise you're maxed, it doesn't support the k series processors to allow for overclocking, and even a bios update for haswell refresh processors would only jump you to the i7 4790 tops which is a very small performance increase over the 4770

You have 2 DIMM slots, so you're going to need a 2x8gb kit of 1600mhz ddr3, it may or may not support xmp for 1866mhz but even if you got a higher speed it's most likely going to run at 1600mhz tops. It can support 32gb but it requires a bios flash and 16gb dimms of ddr3 are extremely expensive still and it's really not worth the cost.

The gpu is another matter, it has a dual 6 pin connection and the cables are not 6+2, there are no current gen cards that use dual 6 pins anymore so you're limited to using cards with only a single 6 pin requirement.

Which basically means the GTX 1060, 1070 has an 8 pin, RTX 2060 has an 8 pin, 1660ti has an 8 pin.

You could potentially use an adapter of 6 to 8 and use a card like a GTX 1070 without hitting power limitation issues but splitting grounds can result in dead hardware if there was a power problem. A 1060 would pair well and they're pretty cheap now, 6gb optimally. 

For the drive just back up everything important, take the current one out and introduce it to a hammer or however you like to dispatch drives, replace it with a decent 2.5" sata ssd. You don't have nvme and you don't have room or the connectors for a second drive in that machine. Install windows 10 or really whatever you personally prefer as a fresh install.

I personally still use windows 7 as my main OS because I just really hate the UI of windows 10 and even classicshell has been unable to make it comfortable for me. End of support just means no more updates, doesn't mean it's not gonna work. Potentially swap to an enterprise windows 7 version to get EOL support updates if you really care about windows defender updating every single day.

Thats all just if you wanted to upgrade that machine, it's not worth sinking a lot of money into a haswell system, but I would expect a 6gb 1060, 16gb of ddr3 and a decent ssd to run around 400$ in upgrades.

If you're looking to buy an entirely new system, and don't want to build your own, Dell has the Inspiron gaming series which are well priced prebuilts with a lot of part choices and they're just standard matx systems inside so they're easy to service and upgrade. If you wanted to build your own, wait for the next processor launches. Right now Intel is on a refresh cycle and AMD is dragging their butts with Ryzen 3000 processors.

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