Original post here: http://mindbendingpuzzles.blogspot.ie/2014/11/extending-life-of-my-gaming-pc.html
The parts I have ordered to extend the life of my gaming PC are beginning to come in. First up was the additional 4Gb memory. Although I bought these second hand to keep costs down they turned out to have almost identical specifications and timings to the memory already in place. This could be useful for over-clocking of which more later.
The second part to arrive was my Inno3D GTX 970. I haven't had much opportunity to play with it yet but I am very impressed so far. Shadows of Mordor on my HD5850 benched at 42fps average with medium settings. The GTX970 is hitting over 120 fps with the same settings a 3x improvement. It manages 100+ fps with ease in very high settings. In practise I always enable Vsync for gaming so the practical implication of this is that I can play modern games at 60fps again having gotten used to settling for 30fps on the HD5850. This uses a non reference 2 fan cooling design which keeps the card cool and quiet but also allows it to be remarkably compact. Winner all round.
I got an email from Amazon to say that my SSD is on the way only to discover that I had somehow ordered the wrong part. I wanted a 32Gb cache drive instead I ordered a 64Gb standard SSD. 64Gb is too small to be useful as a stand alone drive so I was resigned to returning it and sucking up the additional transport fees but then I discovered that it is possible to get caching software that works with a generic SSD. Romex Primocache and Elitebytes Velossd seem to be the most likely contenders. Both are non free programmes but they offer trial versions so I will try both to see if either meets my needs.
Did I mention over-clocking? Well as a rule I strongly recommend against it. The downsides in my experience almost always outweigh the upside. Unless you buy expensive high end components and cooling the small gains that are possible do not compensate for the reduced stability, higher power consumption, higher noise, reduced component life and all round extra hassle. However in this case I find myself with a machine that has a fast modern graphics card that is almost certainly going to be bottlenecked by an ageing processor: an ageing i5-760 processor that was widely noted for its over-clockability with increases of 40-50% over base speeds widely reported. I played around with my clock setting a bit and the CPU does indeed appear to have plenty of headroom. A 10% over-clock is as far as I am willing to go with the stock Intel cooler but it appears that a rock stable 20% overclock is within easy reach if I can keep the processor cool. Back to Amazon for a Zalman CPNS10 Optima. This was well reviewed and is selling at a good price. It will probably remain useful for my new Windows 10 build next year. A 20% over-clock will raise my I5 from its normal 2.9GHz up to 3.5GHz which should allow it to deliver acceptable levels of 2015 gaming performance.