Options to Upgrade a 2012 PC

It looks as though my old PC is on its way out. The graphics card is anyway. The computer still boots up, but no signal is going to the monitor. Tried the two different monitors and two different cables. Sometimes it finds a signal and sometimes not. The computer isn't used too much, but I need it for WFH on occasion and the better half plays Age of Empires 3 and similar. Found my original purchase info from way back (2012) and as below:

1 Antec ATX TruePower 750W
1 G Skill 8G(2x4G) DDR3 1600MHZ PC3-12800 CL9(8GBXL) - I may have another 8GB in there but i'm not sure.
1 OCZ Agility 3 120G SATA3 SSD
1 Lian Li Black PC-C60 Domus Series Desktop & HTPC Chassis (USB3)
1 Sapphire HD7850 2G.2G 256Bit GDDR5 PCIE3.0 DVI HDMI 2*Mi
1 Asrock Z77-EXTREME4 Z77/4 x DDR3/2 x PCI-E3.0/4 x SATA3/6 x USB3.0/HDM
1 Intel Core i5 3570K LGA1155 CPU 3.4Ghz 6Mb Cache Ivy Bridge

Question is, is it worthwhile upgrading just the graphics card, or upgrade the important trio of MB, CPU and Graphics card.

Alternative would be to look on gumtree or facebook marketplace for a used PC which would probably still have better specs than this.

Thoughts? don't have a budget in mind, but highly doubt the wife would let me spend much more than $500.



    or upgrade the important trio of MB, CPU and Graphics card.

    Upgrading the CPU and motherboard (and also RAM, since you're moving to DDR4 memory now) would cost you very close to $500, leaving you with almost no budget left for a graphics card.

    If you're 100% sure the problem lies with the graphics card, then it's actually a fairly easy (and cheap) fix, you'd just replace it with a low-end option like a GT1030 ($110 with free delivery @ Mwave) and it's powerful enough to run old games like Age of EmpiresIII.

    This is of course, a GPU downgrade, because there's no way you can get an upgrade to your AMD card without blowing your budget. An upgrade might be something like GTX 1650 Super, which is around $450 in today's market. Which isn't really worthwhile if the only game being played is AOE3.


      As you can see, haven't looked up PC parts for a long time. It amazes me that I could actually downgrade the graphic card 12 years later tho.

      I did find a GTX1050 for a reasonable $320, and would imagine that the bottleneck would then be the MB and CPU.

      Wouldn't mind paying a few games on it, as I have the MS game pass so can play some PC games from that.


        GTX1050 for a reasonable $320, and would imagine that the bottleneck would then be the MB and CPU.

        OMG! $320 for GTX1050 :O anyway, there won't be a much bottleneck. I play few years old games (can't afford new games, so I only get games from deals) GTX1060 3GB with a i5-2400 without noticing any bottleneck (your CPU is better), may be there will be some bottleneck with GTX1070 or higher.


          Well.. reasonable compared to the $1300 prices for the higher end models!

          Only benefit from a higher spec card would be more games on the game pass for PC would work i think. But i still have the Xbox One and one of those Razer Kishi controllers from this deal (https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/628596) to play games with.

  • +1 vote

    Could try pulling out the graphics card and connecting the monitor to the integrated graphics on the motherboard.

    • +1 vote

      Even though the specs say the CPU/MB support three video outputs which they do , they may only support two video stream outputs (aka hook up only two monitors).

      The M/B backplane has HDMI, VGA and DVI.

      Install then Intel graphics driver before removing the existing graphics card. Then swap the cables over and boot windows and hopefully you will now be using the integrated GPU. If not in the bios change the graphics to boot the integrated before add in or disable the graphics card or just remove it.

      Once you are using the integrated graphics try the game and see if it is playable or not in order to see if you need to buy a cheap equivalent video card. Check the following for a comparison between the GT710 cheap card now days against your HD7850 so you can see that you need to be careful when selecting a replacement card:

      More equivalent card would be:


        didn't get a chance to try the integrated graphics. couldn't stick head around the case far enough this morning.
        Will have another look this evening and see how its going.

        that website comparison is crazy tho. Would expect newer cards to be a lot better, even if it was 2-3 years.


          TL;DR - I wouldn't upgrade your system. Sell it as is. And build a new system, either through parts or through a pre-built. It's difficult time with the pandemic, chip shortage, and third boom wave of crypto.

          The ~2011 build has been pretty solid for many people:
          i7-2600k, HD7950-2GB, 8GB DDR3, 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD.
          (especially great for crypto mining in the early days)

          Many people later (~2015) did a light upgrade to:
          16GB RAM, R9 290X-4GB, 4TB HDD.
          (again good profits for crypto mining)

          …I wouldn't really upgrade the system beyond that. Maybe to a GTX 980Ti/GTX 1070/GTX 1660/RX 590/RX 5600. If thrifty you could upgrade from i7-2600 to the 3770k for cheap. Adding extra RAM won't help much since it's DDR3 slow. And nVme SSDs won't be worth the price to performance uplift. So the 2015 system is roughly what it would be, and then I would think about building a new system (in maybe 2018) from scratch.

          Possible 2018 system:
          X470, r5-1600, GTX 1070Ti, 16GB RAM, 512GB nVme.
          (some okay scenarios for mining if interested)

          And then you could later upgrade to:
          r7-5800x, 32GB RAM, 1TB Sata-SSD media storage.
          (not much available for GPU upgrade, the good value 5700xt is mostly equal, and whilst the RX6800-16GB is the best upgrade path it's basically non-existent in the market)


    I'd definitely do as skid suggested above and pull the graphics card and try the system off the iGPU before you spend any money.

    When you said you tried two different monitors and cables - what cables were you trying exactly?

    From what I can see that card has one DVI port, one HDMI, and two "mi", which I assume with Google's help is 2x mini display port ports - so what cable are you using now/have you tried, and do your monitors support a different option?

    eg: if on DVI, try HDMI or DP - if on HDMI, try DVI or DP etc - you might need to buy a cable to do this permanently, but between the two monitors hopefully you'll be able to plug one of the other options in just to test. HDMI and DP do audio too, so if the monitor has built in speakers it would be likely you'd use one of those to need less cables, but back then DP was pretty new so HDMI is most likely.

    I suggest this as the "sometimes displaying, sometimes not" sounds like a signal fault, and as you've tried two cables and two monitors (I assume the same cable type by your wording not mentioning different types) you've ruled those out, so the connector on the card is the likely culprit - so I'd try using the other connectors before you spend any money.

    Hell, $10-20 on full size to mini display port cable or adaptor from full size to mini is cheaper than a GPU, but just for testing if there is a DVI cable laying around with those monitors, give it a go!


      I have two monitors, both have HDMI and DVI in so i tried HDMI to HDMI and HDMI to DVI on them both. I might have a DVI to DVI in an old box somewhere but will have a look into that.


        The HDMI to DVI - was the DVI on the monitor or GPU end? Cause if you tried the GPU end and it didn't help then yeah, likely the card.

        If so I'd switch to the Intel integrated temporarily so you can use it till you find something. Second hand GPUs through FB marketplace is the best chance of not being ripped as most people selling them don't realise how much money they can make at the moment with the crazy market, but you have the risks of being a cash in hand no refunds transaction so seeing it working in a video of a game with a paper sign with today's date is a good idea. (my mining mad brother has bought a few this way)

        Edit: if you want new then GT1030 (gddr5 only, avoid DDR4 like the plague!) is likely your best cheap option that you are less likely to be ripped off on, though a 1650 super would be better if you can find one for under $300 like they are supposed to be (generally $450-600! atm :( - I bought two at different points last year for around $250 each)

        • +1 vote

          That was my thought. to update via facebook/GT and see how things go.

          did the HDMI out from the PC both times. I might try the DVI to HDMI this evening and see if there is any more success.

          But will definitely give the onboards graphics a crack and go from there.

          • +1 vote

            @Zeph101: specifically checking the DVI on the card end is what I think you need to do to get more life out of the card.

            Does the monitor have integrated speakers or you using something else for audio anyway? If no speakers then there is no down side to DVI at all so if it works I'd leave it like that.


              @smashman42: One of the Monitors has some crappy speakers built in but sound usually comes from a USB soundbar. so that's not an issue in the slightest.

              yeah no downsides to using the DVI port out. i;ll give the cable a go in the reverse and see how it goes. might get a bit more life out of the computer if it works. :)


            @Zeph101: Did you remove the graphics card and/or set the bios to use the internal graphics before your testing? It's been a while, but I think that might be required.


              @trongy: Only had a quick chance this morning to figure out what the problem might have been. so didn't have a chance to open the case up and all that stuff. I'll look at the previous options to swap cables first and then if needed, open it up and go from there.

              it has been a while since i have been inside the case so i doubt it will look pretty.


                @Zeph101: Check your BIOS settings. My old 2012 vintage motherboard used to have a setting like this one to select the graphics source.


    500 doesnt get you anything these days…
    start surfin ebay/gumtree for a good used machine for your 500


      yeah i did have a quick look on FB and GT. issue is trying to figure out if the combo i'd get is "better" than what I have etc.


        fair call.. prices of components are insane at moment..


          I know right.. you would think it would be easy to find an "equivalent" card thats pretty cheap to something that came out about 9 years ago!


        A 1050ti is a bit better than the HD7850 you currently have - maybe see whats available second hand.
        Ebay has seen a few sold for $150ish.

        In 2017 i bought one new for $210. They are now selling for $350!


          I looked up some cards on the website that AndyC1 shared above and will probably use that to compare side by side. it doesn't have to be a great jump ahead of what I have. Just something that's relatively similar.


    did you remove the GPU and tested it with onboard GPU for testing ? did you get monitor signal then ?
    I think you can only buy a good GPU and use the PC for some more time, then upgrade the system and use newly bought GPU on that.
    May be you can get a used 8 GB DDR3 from a friend. I got 2*4GB used DDR3 from Ebay for $36 shipped back then.
    I still use a i5-2400/16GB RAM/GTX1060 3GB, I can play games and do other things without an issue.

    • +1 vote

      I haven't done any further testing other than the swapping cables and monitors as i was in a rush this morning. I will try a few other options before taking the system apart either tomorrow or the day after. Absolute worst case I have is to use an old laptop with smashed screen and connect to a monitor if i need to WFH before sorting it out.


        clear the CMOS, and clean and reseat the RAM as well

  • +1 vote

    I had the same 3570k and asrock z77 mobo and bought a new 1080ti and it was getting bottlenecked by the cpu very badly. Now I have a 8700k, it now lets the 1080ti perform at maximum performance at 1440p. I got almost double the FPS after I upgraded to 8700k. So I reckon you should upgrade both cpu and gpu at the same time.