CPU, RAM and GPU upgrade questions

Hi guys,

I’m looking to upgrade my main components, such as mobo, RAM, CPU and GPU, but I have a few questions. I am mostly looking for parts that will be able to handle more intensive scenes (poly count wise) and bake smoke/fluid sims faster. For CPU, should I look into something like the Intel 9700k, or go with maybe a 3rd gen Ryzen? My budget for CPU is around $300-400. For RAM, is there an advantage going with 3600mhz over 3200mhz? and should I go with 16gb or 32gb? Lastly, GPU. How does the 2070 perform? Is it a good card for rendering?

Thanks for reading. Any advice is greatly appreciated!


I’m using a Ryzen 7 2700 and I like it very much. I’ve heard that RAM speed (mt/s) is important with AMD builds but not as important with Intel builds, but other than that I’m not sure about the differences between 3600 and 3200. I’m using 3200. Given your concerns, I’d start with a minimum of 32GB - two sticks of 16GB 3200 will run you about $150.

I have a 2060RTX and it performs fine for me for both viewport performance and rendering, but I’m not pushing smoke and millions of polys, so grain of salt. If you’re using Cycles, and depending on your power supply and cooling layout, you may want to look into a dual-card setup.

Okay, cool! I’m leaning towards AMD, so that’s good to hear that you like yours! As far as RAM goes, I’ll probably go with 3200 since it’s a bit cheaper than 3600. 32gb sounds good then.

I don’t have a very good power supply. I have a bronze 750 watt, so the quality isn’t ideal for a dual cards. I don’t mind upgrading the PSU though, so I’ll definitely look into going with two cards. Thanks so much for the response! You’ve been really helpful.

With AMD ryzen/AM4 platform, 3200mhz memory is certainly better than 2400, but beyond 3200 you will start seeing diminishing returns, still better but depending on the price of the memory kit, might not be worth it. Even then though, only some select tasks are going to really benefit from the faster and lower latency memory.

TL;DR would be: If the kits are priced similarly, then going with the faster is the right choice, if the faster kit comes at a fairly significant difference, probably not worth it.

And as it stands going beyond 3600 is completely worthless.


That’s still fine, perhaps only barely, but fine. So long as it’s a good quality brand and it isn’t too old.

Good to know about the RAM. Thanks!

I have a Corsair PSU and it’s about 4 years old now.

What line of corsair, their vs or value series products are made by no-names, but the more expensive stuff is made by Seasonic, a good manufacturer.

The product designation is Corsair CX750. I wish I had a Seasonic, but I didn’t really know a whole lot about good products when I first put my PC together. :confused:

The CX750 isn’t a bad PSU, but not the best. It’s an idea to eventually change it, but it’s not a big priority.

You say you’re baking, so large quantities of ram is a must. I’d suggest 32gb is a good start point. Also, a cpu with good multithread performance will help speed things up a bit. But if you need to budget, consider a processor with a good balance of single and multithread performance. Not the cheapest budget cpu, because you’ll soon find yourself wanting to replace it. And not the biggest, baddest 64 core cpu because you don’t have that budget. A balance of high clock speeds and core count will do wonders.
Look at benchmarks and prices. Notice I’m not recommending a specific processor or brand. That’s something you need to decide through thorough research.
And don’t try to go “future-proofing.” Always expect you’re going to upgrade again at some point especially if you’re budgeting.

As for GPUs, high poly obviously needs high vram. An RTX 2070 with 8gb should suffice for some good sized scenes.

The board should be a place you emphasize a little more than others. You want a good quality board with good expandability. Not future-proofing per-say, but just leaving a little room for inevitable upgrades as you see fit. And cheapo boards, well let’s just say some cheap boards aren’t going to take the stresses of rendering over a long, continuous period of time.

And cooling, can’t stress this enough. Pushing high poly complex scenes is going to generate a lot of heat over a whole lot of time. Don’t skimp there.

So in general, think of how your hardware handles your scenes.Then look at the hardware you’re considering, and think of how much it would improve. Plan it all out and look for sales. A good idea is incrementally upgrading, and not a massive overnight upgrade. Maybe get a new board and processor, but keep your existing gpu. If you’ve got compatible DDR4 ram, maybe carry that over and add a little more. It’ll allow you to save more money to buy better hardware a few months from now as costs go down.

Me, I’m still cooking with two e5-2697V2s, 64GB ram, a titan x, and a GPU carrier with 4 mxm cards. It’s old, but does its job quickly and cheaply and is comparable to some render srvices. Aside from drawing over a kilowatt and a half.

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Could you mention your budget in total? Also, it’s good for us to know your current rig. Ex. ssd, hdd, chassis, cpu cooler, and of course the parts you are willing to change.
You’re given some good pieces of advice here so far. But let’s see your system as a whole.

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People these days seem to have a bit of a confused understanding of what future proofing means. With AMD it’s always been about choosing a good motherboard so you can upgrade cpus without having to also get a new mobo for it.

As cool as an x570 might be, if you have chosen to go for a reasonably good x3/470 or even just good enough of a b3/450 board you can be fairly confident that with an updated bios it will work fine for the newer cpus fitting the socket.

That is to say, if you “future-proof” early on in the platforms life, as you finally reach the end stage of the platforms life you could easily end up getting a cheap cpu upgrade on the used market without having to switch out anything else.

In this case, I’ll use my own example, I purchased the ASUS prime x370 pro back in 2017 and went for a ryzen 5 1600, in a year or two I can very cheaply upgrade to ryzen 9 3900 with little issue or financial burden, since I’m “future-proof”.

However it is true that for someone who is buying into a platform mid-life it’s probably not as worthwhile to “future-proof”. Which is to say, I do agree with what you are recommending, just felt like clearing out what future proofing properly means, or perhaps rather how it properly should be looked at.

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Thank you all for your insight! It’s extremely helpful.

My budget is around $1000 for CPU, RAM, GPU and mobo. Here are my current specs:
CPU: AMD FX-8370
Mobo: Asus m5a99fx Pro R2.0
RAM: 16gb DDR3 G.Skill 1866mhz
GPU: GTX 970
Cooling: Cooler Master Liquid Cooling 240 Lite
PSU: Corsair CX750
SSD: WD 500gb SATA
HDD: 1tb WD 7200rpm x2
Case: Rosewill Mid Tower (Can’t find exact model)

Two alternatives, if you can stretch the budget a bit. One from Intel:
PCPartPicker Part List
And one from AMD:
PCPartPicker Part List

RAM is cheap these days. Don’t go below 32gb imo.
And, the 2060 Super is almost on par with the 2070, while costing a bit less. I didn’t have much time to do a research about their actual differences, but I think it’s worth it.

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Cool! Thanks! As far as I read, the 2070 performs a little bit better in particle simulations, but for the most part the 2060 Super is identical to the 2070. I’ll definitely consider the 2060 Super.

One more question. If I buy the parts in phases, should I start with the RAM, CPU and mobo, then change the GPU and possibly PSU later?

Looking at birdnams pcpartpicker lists, once the r7 3700 non-x becomes available you should be able to get essentially the same build a bit cheaper still.

Yes. But the CPU, MOBO and RAM are needed all at once.


Yes, exactly. Start with cpu/motherboard/RAM, and when your budget allows, go for the best gpu your money can buy. The gtx 970 is decent for starters.
You don’t necessary need a new psu. If it works without issues, keep it. It’s not top-notch, but not rubbish either. It should be OK with the new system.

Cool. I will look for sales on the CPU, RAM and mobo then. Thanks!