Upgrade CPU / Ram from AMD A8-6600K

Hi all.

Currenty I’m running a home built system, using an AMD A8-6600K CPU, with 16gb DDR3 ram, and an Nvidia GTX1660 GPU.

While it’s good enough, I think it’s time to research an upgrade, especially to get more cpu performance for applications which aren’t GPU accelerated (I’m looking at you, JWildfire, a fractal frame generator).

However it’s been a while since I’ve done an upgrade, but I realise I’ll need a new motherboard as well as new ram to go with whatever new CPU I go for.
Decisions, decisions!

Probably I’m looking to spend max of £500 all in for CPU, motherboard & memory :slight_smile:

  1. it’s a terrible time to buy new hardware

  2. almost everything is a major upgrade from that series (not meaning to sound harsh, just saying that you’ll see results from pretty much any core i5/core i7 or ryzen 3000/5000 series)

  3. new main board and ram are correct. Make sure that you don’t have any surprises with power connectors and ssd connectors, but this should be fine.

  4. memory speed matters these days. For the cpu you get, look up what the maximum supported ram speed is and get that. Do yourself a favor and look at the supported ram list for the main board you pick. Should be enough options on there, and it might save headache later. Stories of AMD ryzen being picky with ram and speeds are mostly aimed at the 1000 series. 2000 was already a non issue, never heard it again from 3000 upwards.

  5. do not think amd is superior, do not think Intel is superior. They are priced to be competitive with each other (well, supply issues not messing this up). From the 3000 series upwards the single-core speed from AMD is already nice up there, from the 5000 series its even competitive with Intel. Most of the time you get more cores from amd VS faster but less cores from Intel. In the graphics and media world, I think the extra cores will help.
    But you’ll be buying a fast and good platform no matter the brand of cpu, so let budget and supply be the leading factor here.

Remember that those AMD a8 cpus from the bulldozer era would label a quad-core as an eight core (well not really. And I actually understand AMD s take on this). But that a8 6600k actually has two floating point cores, so for heavy calculations it’s more of a dual core than a quad-core.

Any modern quad-core will be a major upgrade, so for the money something should be possible. Good luck hunting.


Thanks @jorismak, an informative reply.

  1. Although is any time good to buy new hardware, especially with something new and shiny always just over the horizon? I do recon prices are higher than they used to be, due to shortages due to Covid etc.

  2. I do think what ever I get will be a good upgrade. However I won’t waste my current cpu, motherboard etc, it’ll go to upgrading my old Core2 Duo machine which is now a HTPC / streaming system hooked up to the tv in the lounge.

  3. Good point about power connectors, I think I should be fine, as its a recent 750W power supply I have.

  4. Good point about ram speed. What i’m planning on doing is buying a CPU / Motherboard / Ram “Bundle” from a retailer, hopefully that should minimise any compatibility issues, even if it could be a bit more expensive than choosing and buying separately.

  5. I think for my use, the more cores, the merrier :slight_smile: But I’ll certainly do more research though.

Hi Brian …

I like that you are upgrading your HTPC with the hardware you are planning to replace. This is exactly what I did when I upgraded my A12 to a Ryzen (Ryzen-7 2700X with 32GB DDR4). Of course, this leaves the question - what do you do with the processor / motherboard / RAM from the old HTPC? I sold mine on eBay, but electronics recycling services here in Australia will take them without paying you anything, but without charging you either, and the gold and other metals are recycled. :recycle:

I agree with most of what @jorismak has to say. I cannot comment on UK prices.
A couple of observations:

  1. Since you are getting a new mobo, investigate what nvme SSD support is present. Some allow for 1 such device only, some for 2, and some for 2 only if you give us PCIX channels. nvme can be 3 times the speed of a SATA SDD, and it is certainly worth the upgrade at some point, if not now. So get the right mobo.
  2. I have consistently found more bang for buck via AMD than Intel. That said, I am still occasionally using an Intel Corei-7 laptop bought in January 2012 - it performs well enough (with an SSD and RAM upgrade) but it certainly had a much steeper entry price.
  3. I believe in having as much RAM as you can afford - while not all applications can directly use additional RAM, most can, and using some as a cache instead of main storage can help when you cannot justify that larger-capacity SSD storage. So whilst I wouldn’t presume to contradict @jorismak’s point 4, I would always prefer twice as much (e.g. 32GB) quite fast RAM to 16GB blazingly fast RAM. In my experience the sweet-spot in terms of bang-for-buck in RAM is the second-highest speed that works for your CPU/mobo combination, assuming that more than one such speed is possible.

The best of British, :uk: and let us know how you get on.


Thanks @martin.scharnke , For the old motherboard / cpu / ram from the HTPC, it’ll probably join the previous motherboard and cpu etc from the HTPC, and be stored up the loft :wink:

  1. Good point about NVME compatability, it’s something worth while considering, even if just for putting the OS on, leaving a spinning disc of rust for /home partition

  2. So far, I’ve priced a few bundles up, seems to be cheaper going AMD than Intel. While it’s probably a bit cheaper buying all the required parts individually, I’m going to go for a bundle, so that should hopefully minimise any compatibility issues.

  3. Probably cheaper to buy all the ram I need now, rather than upgrading at a future date.

Lol, still trying to decide!

Spend a bit more on the CPU, and get less ram for my budget, or spend a little less on the CPU, and get more ram…

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X Eight Core 4.4GHz, Gigabyte A320M-H Motherboard CPU Bundle with 32gb3600Mhz ram (2x16gb) £436.98


AMD Ryzen 9 3900 Twelve Core 4.3GHz, ASUS TUF GAMING B550-PLUS Motherboard CPU Bundle 16gb (2x8gb) 3600mhz ram £569


Now I’m not a gamer, so perhaps the best bang for buck would be the Ryzen 7, 3700X setup, with 32gb of ram?

I’d take the 32gb ram option.

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I agree completely. Whilst the 320 chipset is older it is stable and proven. More processor cores will not necessarily make a huge difference (at least not 8 vs 12).

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Yes, that is what I’m thinking, 32gb of ram, and a 8 core CPU would probably give more overall performance for my budget than a 12 core CPU with less memory.

Overall I think a 12 core CPU would be overkill for my main use which is photo editing. More memory would probably be better than more cores and less memory!

It’s very easy to get bogged down in looking at benchmarks, and ending up overspeccing a build at very high cost.

It’ll probably be a month or so before I get a chance to get the parts ordered. Hopefully prices may come down if AMD / Intel introduce new CPUs towards the end of the year?

I certainly think no matter what I end up with, will be a good step up from my current AMD A8 -6600k CPU!

I’ll probably stick with my Nvidia GTX 1660 though. :+1:

I am still in SSD world. Could someone provide a brief explanation of NVMe? What sorts of form factors and interfaces do they have? Seems like there is a variety. When I go to that section in the store, I don’t immediately know what I am looking for. I can look this up of course but it is easier to ask here.

A little warning, in that some motherboards with 3xx chipset were originally made in the ryzen 2xxx era. When the 3xxx series launched, most motherboards got a bios upgrade to support them.

If you’re building a new pc, you might need to install that bios update before the cpu works. Which means having an older cpu to do the update, or a bios with the function to update without a cpu installed.

If you buy it as a pre-configured upgrade bundle you’ll be fine I guess.

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Previous diskdrives were sata. A special connector AND protocol to talk to mechanical drives.

The first SSDs used this as well. But quickly they were becoming limited by the sata bus and by the protocol.

So, the m2 ‘format’ (connector and format in one) was borrowed from the laptop world, to plug an ssd directly into the pci-express bus. There is now less protocol conversion and the ssd doesn’t has to bother with pretending to be a mechanical harddrive, which speeds things up. Also massive more bandwidth available :).

The first m2 connectors were ‘a bit fake’, a crossover. They only supported sata SSDs but in a m2 form factor. So they were m2 cards but still talked the sata protocol. And so you also may encounter m2 slots that only support the sata protocol.

These days most m2 slots on a motherboard are directly linked to pci-express lanes on the cpu, providing a direct link to the cpu bandwidth.

Some motherboards have multiple m2 slots. Then one or two might be pci-express, the others still sata. So one for a quick (multiple GigaBYTES per second) boot or system drive, and maybe a cheaper ‘slower’ sata ssd (550mb/sec) for mass storage.

Ssd in m2 format that talks directly over a pci-express bus without sata being involved, is called NVMe. The m2 format (its a card, so format and connector in one) and a raw protocol to talk over the pci-express bus.

The m2 slot is a sort of pci-express slot but smaller, mostly meant for things like wifi and Bluetooth cards in laptops.

A m2 device can have a predefined length, and a motherboard may specify what the maximum length is that fits. The number you see next to m2 (2242, 2260, 2280…) is an indication of physical size. 22mm width, 80mm length for example.

There might be cases where a high speed drive has nand chips on both sides of the m2 device, and maybe even big heatsinks for cooling on one or two sides. You might run into compatibility issues here if that just won’t fit, but on normal motherboards this shouldn’t be an issue.

(in laptops you might encounter that you have a m2 2280 slot, but it’s so cramped only single sided cards are going to fit in there. Or you get weird small slots like m2 2232 or 2240). This is something to double check, but in the desktop world is hardly ever an issue.

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Yes, that’s one of the reasons I’m going for a motherboard / cpu / ram “bundle”. A bit more expensive than buying parts seperately, but less compatability issues hopefully.

@jorismak Thanks for answering. Doesn’t reduce my anxiety of the possibility of buying the wrong product. :dizzy_face:

Do you have a motherboard with nvme support? Buy a Samsung 970/980 Evo in the size you want / can afford.

Quick, reliable, no degradation. Not the quickest, not the most expensive, always a good buy. Every ssd that can do over a gigabyte per second in writing means it’s fast enough. Yes there are ssds that can do 5+ gigabytes per second. You’re not going to notice the difference in day to day use :).

I bet there are better ones out there, but it can be hit or miss and this is always a solid one for the price.

I didn’t talk about ‘pci express gen3 or gen4’, mlc / qlc, caching. It can be a mine field.

If you support nvme, get nvme. Make sure it has some sort of cache, get something that is in stock, within your budget and has some good reviews.

But like I said, the 970 Evo or 980 Evo are always near the top of their respective lists and most of the time for a reasonable price. In my opinion anyway.

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I bought a random-draw refurbished laptop a few months ago. It is at home (and I am at work) so I won’t be able to retrieve the make and model, but I recall not being sure of what would fit in there. Currently, the configuration has a slow HDD, not even a fast one, so although it is 5 years newer than my previous one, it is probably at least 100x slower.

Good chance there is not m2 slot in there, which means it only supports ‘regular’ 2.5" sata drives.

In which case you would need a 2.5" sata ssd, good candidates for laptops is the crucial mx500 line. The samsung 8xx Evo series is also good here, but I believe it draws a bit more power which you might not want in a laptop. It’s all small margins though.

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It does. I will take a photo when I find the time…

@afre, when I was motherboard shopping late 2019/early 2020, almost every board had provision for NVMe. I would imagine that there are very few now that do not. It is true that not all will have room or PCI-X channels for two devices, or that the physical space constraints mean one 2280 space but a second space that is shorter.

When it comes to laptops, every manufacturer seems to go their own way. My personal bugbear with Toshiba is how hard it is to get to the cooling. Swapping a 2.5 inch SATA HDD for an equivalent SATA SSD, or upgrading RAM (if you’re lucky enough to have slots rather than directly soldered components) is the limit of my experience in laptop upgrades. Though I haven’t researched it, I imagine the most recent laptops use M2 for their SSDs. If I were to buy a new laptop, I would certainly look for one with the components I want already on-board … compatibility is so much trickier than for ATX-family motherboards.

@afre if you give the laptop model, I’m happy to look up some specs and guide you along