I am thinking about upgrading my old desktop pc. The basic specification is:

  • Core 2 duo
  • 3GB RAM
  • 1GB dedicated graphics (not sure of the model)
  • HDD

My monitor is an old LCD (that doesnt support HDMI). I learnt from the internet that even if we upgrade the graphics card, the performance may be limited by the other components - i.e. a bottleneck may occur at the other "out dated" components. How can I identify which components I need to upgrade? (I need a setup that can run games with medium end graphics like DotA, COD 4, Age of Empires Definitive Edition.

  • What are you trying to achieve? If you update your graphics card, your graphics will be better. That's all you need for that.
    – Ben
    Dec 21, 2018 at 4:58
  • 2
    @Ben So even if you have only 512 MB ram and 2GB of gtx1080 or some advanced graphics card like that, you can run all the games(supported by the graphics card) smoothly? I think it does not work like that.
    – Mohan
    Dec 21, 2018 at 6:12
  • 4
    Core 2 Duo, 3GB RAM? That's very old. 10+ years old. It isn't a matter of adding a RAM stick or swapping out the processor for a new one - I doubt they make the parts for them any more so you'll be scrounging eBay for old stock or second hand stuff, and for very little benefit/cost. Long term you'd be best looking at upgrading to a newer Processor + Motherboard & RAM too, because sockets and RAM have changed. Consider a previous gen i5 or i7 for example.
    – Robotnik
    Dec 21, 2018 at 9:47
  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about computer diagnosis, not gaming.
    – Frank
    Dec 21, 2018 at 12:20
  • 2
    @Ben That's not true in this case. The CPU and RAM can and will bottleneck the GPU, if it is far underpowered. A core 2 duo is so old, any graphics card above ~GTX 650 level will just be a waste
    – Dulkan
    Dec 21, 2018 at 12:23

2 Answers 2


I'd like to add a different perspective here. I don't think this machine is worth upgrading. The components are all well over a decade old. If you upgrade the GPU, the CPU and RAM will bottleneck. If you upgrade CPU and RAM, the GPU will bottleneck and this will be so expensive (as you need to replace everything but the GPU and HDD), you mgiht as well buy a new one. If you go for straight upgrades, i.e. keep your current motherboard you are limited to upgrading to more ancient parts, which won'T serve you well.

I recommend three options:

1) Look for a budget gaming PC, e.g. i3 or Ryzen 3 CPU, 8 GB RAM, 250 GB SSD, GTX 1050ti or RX 560. This should cost you around 500$ and is fine modern PC, which will be certainly enough for your usecase

2) Similar to 1), but the money saver option. Get a Ryzen 5 2400G and no GPU. This should save roughly 100-150$. The integrated GPU in that chip is quite decent and should be enough for your favorite games. You also, of course, always have the option of buying a GPU later, if it's needed.

3) Look for a used machine from ~2013-2014. an i5-2xxx or 3xxx with a GTX 760/770 is a decent machine and you should find those for 300$ or less. You mainly lose out on warranty and an SSD with this option.


Given the age of the Core 2 Duo and the motherboard it will be attached to, it won't be a case of what to upgrade, it's what you can upgrade.

To start with, open up your case, find out what motherboard you have and google the specifications. This will give you all the information you need for the type of components you can get to improve your performance. There's no point getting a PCI-E graphics card like a GTX1080 if your motherboard only supports AGP graphics cards.

Likewise, I believe motherboards of that generation are limited to 4GB but again, checking your motherboard specs will confirm this.

Don't expect to pick these parts up new. Second hand may be your only option.

All that said, I still have a Core 2 Quad as my back up / multiplayer PC which, if your motherboard takes a Core 2 Duo should also accept. It's a Q9550 with 4GB RAM and an NVidia GeForce GT 720 graphics card and there isn't a lot out today it can't run. I've even had it running GTAV at around 45fps on medium-high settings.

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