Intel Core i5-3570 Gaming Upgrade

A customer wanted an old gaming machine upgraded. It was running a core 2 duo and Windows XP with 2GB RAM. The Tower was an Antec NSK 4 series which was in good condition and is a pretty good tower so we decided to reuse it. The DVD writer was also working fine and we kept the existing 1TB hard drive as a secondary drive as it had all the customers data and meant there was no need to start transferring all the files.

I recommended the 2GB XFX Radeon HD 7850 Graphics Card as, in my experience, they tend to perform better for gaming at this price point than the Nvidia cards. It is quite a long card but it fitted in safely without having to remove any drive bays.

I also upgraded the PSU as, although the existing PSU was working fine, it fell below the recommended specification for the graphics card. The Coolermaster PSU’s are pretty reliable and offer good value for money.

The full spec;


  • XFX Radeon HD 7850 Graphics Card 2GB (FX-785A-CNJC)
  • Coolermaster Elite 500W PSU
  • 8GB (Kit) DDR3 PC3-12800 / 8-8-8-24 /Unbuffered / NON-ECC / DDR3-1600 / 1.5V
  • Asus P8H77-M LE MATX Desktop Motherboard – Intel H77 Express Chipset
  • Intel Core i5-3570 3.40 GHz Processor
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 SATA600 – 7200rpm 1TB
  • Microsoft Windows 8 (64-bit)

Check out Tom’s Hardware for a full Windows 8 review here.

Alesis Masterlink ML-9600 Hard Drive Upgrade

A mastering studio needed the hard drive upgrading in their Alesis Masterlink. Unfortunately, as these units are quite old now, the maximum hard disk size they will accept is 32GB, and it proved impossible to source a drive with a capacity lower than 40GB. This is not a major issue, however, as a number of drives will allow you to limit their capacity to 32GB with a jumper setting. The only problem was that the lowest capacity drive that we could source that supported this feature was a 160GB Seagate Barracuda. Disassembling the unit is pretty straight forward, firstly removing the rack ears then the screws that hold the cover in place. There is a post on this procedure here.

The only thing to note is that the drive needs to have a jumper set to ‘Master’ as well as the ‘limit to 32GB capacity’ jumper, so if anyone is attempting this themselves you may need an extra jumper as drives are often only shipped with one.


Intel Pentium G2120 Workstations

This build was for 5 workstations for a community organisation. They would be used for a number of projects including some video and audio production. The budget was restricted so we needed to balance the cost of the components carefully to make sure we got the most performance for the money. A 250GB hard drive, Asus H61 chipset board and the Foxconn tower allowed us to use 4GB of RAM with the Intel Pentium G2120 CPU keeping the performance of the machines reasonably fast. The drive size would not be too much of an issue as the machines would be connected to a server and external hard drives were available for big video projects.

The full spec…

  • Asus P8H61-M LX3 PLUS R2.0
  • Intel Pentium G2120 (3M Cache, 3.10 GHz)
  • Seagate Barracuda ST250DM000 250GB 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive
  • 4GB kit (2GBx2) 240-pin DIMM DDR3 PC3-12800
  • Optiarc AD-7280S-0B SATA DVD+-R/RW/DL