Right now I have an AMD FX-6350 but I'm a dumbass and slightly caught my motherboard on fire. It's gotten slowly worse over the last two years, and now I can barely play any games less than 10 years old without constant crashes. Even Netflix crashes every episode or two. Onboard LAN is dead, some USB ports don't work, and the Firewire header port is fried (the original source of the issues).

I really need my computer for next semester since I'll be doing a lot of programming and don't want to lose data constantly. I'd also like to do some gaming on the weekends when I have some free time (I can't even play WoW on low settings for more than 10-20 minutes right now).

When I (hopefully) get a nice job in the spring after I get my degree, I'll be able to upgrade, and it would be nice to consider that in the recommendation.

I don't care about overclocking and haven't run SLI since the Voodoo 2 cards I had in '99-ish. I currently have 4 HDDs (1 + 3 raided) and will probably get a BluRay drive at some point as well. I have an ATI R7-260X GPU which does well enough on everything I'm playing right now, but it will get upgraded next year.

So the options I'm looking at right now.

  1. Buy a new AMD motherboard.

    The problem here is two years of running on a bad motherboard may have damaged the processor, in which case I'd have to buy another processor. The good side is if the processor is fine, a single motherboard is cheaper than a new motherboard and processor.

    Will any MB I buy for the 6350 work for a newer CPU later, like an 8350 or the 9000+ CPUs? Or will I need to buy a special MB now that's likely a lot more expensive?

    I can pick up an ASUS M5A78L-M/USB3 for $50, down to $30 with a mail-in rebate. It's nothing super-fancy, but should get me through. For a little more money I can get some features like a second PCIE x16 slot, but I don't think it's worth it.

  2. Buy a new Intel CPU+MB.

    This is obviously more expensive if my current processor is fine. But I'm guaranteed a good combo. Also, my understanding is that Intel is generally better for gaming, but I'm getting conflicting reports here. My 6-core should hypothetically work better than a 2-core Intel, but some reports show the I3 dominating the FX-8300 in some places.

    In the spring, I'll be able to upgrade to an I5 or something. I'm guessing this upgrade path will ultimately be better than a new AMD MB now and upgrading everything later, but I'm not sure.

    Looking on Newegg right now, there seem to be two choices for processor, the I3-4170 and the G3460 (lower isn't fast enough, higher gets expensive quickly). The I3-4170 is technically better, but costs $105, while the G3460 only costs $70. I can't find any direct comparison testing, but CPU-Boss and similar sites show it being competitive with the I3. About the same (maybe a bit better) for single-core, and 5-20% worse for multicore. Both processors are supposedly a bit worse than my 6350 for gaming, although 6 months ago the I3 was supposed to spank my 6350. Yay for benchmark testing.

    I was able to find a GIGABYTE GA-Z87-DS3H LGA for $45 refurbished with a 1-year warranty. My understanding is the Z87 is as good as the Z97 except for eSATA and M.2 and I don't use either of those.

$30 vs $135 seems like a no-brainer. But I'm really not sure my processor isn't part of the crashing, and I'm not convinced an AMD upgrade path is best. Thoughts?

  • What games will you play? – timuzhti Nov 26 '15 at 11:49
  • So what component are you asking for a recommendation of? It's not clear at the moment. – ArtOfCode Nov 26 '15 at 14:24
  • @Alpha3031, I'm playing several MMOs off and on, TOR, WoW, ESO, a smattering of others. I enjoy Skyrim and its older siblings and will probably pick up Fallout 4 at some point when I can afford it. Considering I was playing Skyrim on way worse hardware than I have right now, I doubt I'd have much issue with Fallout 4 with any of the stated hardware as long as I turned the graphics down a bit, and I know the MMOs will run ok. – MichaelS Nov 26 '15 at 20:04
  • @ArtOfCode, The question is whether I should pick up a $30 AMD motherboard and hope my CPU is good, or a $45 Intel MB plus a $70-105 CPU. And if Intel is the way to go, is the I3 really that much better than the G-series that the extra $35 would make my life a lot nicer? Because I'm hoping to upgrade in about 7-8 months, I'd also like to consider buying parts now that are good for said upgrade. Any good/bad information related to the specific models I picked out would also be helpful, along with alternate recommendations you may have. – MichaelS Nov 26 '15 at 20:13
  • @MichaelS That doesn't sound like something we can effectively answer - this site was set up to provide specific recommendations, given that you've already figured out what you need. You could drop into Hardware Recommendations Chat, or maybe Super User could help (though read their help center first). – ArtOfCode Nov 26 '15 at 22:37