Upgrading the HP gaming PC into a custom-built gaming PC

In December 2020 (peak pandemic), I bought an HP Pavilion for $650 from Walmart to play AoE2 with friends. (You can read more about it here.) My plan was to get a good-enough PC that I could eventually upgrade into a custom-built gaming PC if I found enough use for the PC. The specs of the HP were:

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 3500
  • Memory: 8 GB DDR4-2666 SDRAM (1 x 8 GB)
  • Internal Storage: 256 GB NVMe M.2 Solid State Drive
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 1650 SUPER with 4 GB GDDR6
  • Mouse and keyboard: USB Black Wired keyboard and mouse combo
  • USB ports: 9 (4 USB Type-A 5Gbps, 4 USB 2.0 Type-A, 1 USB Type-C 5Gbps in the front)
  • Wireless: Realtek Wi-Fi 5 (1×1) and Bluetooth 4.2
  • Power Supply Unit: 400W
  • Form factor: micro-ATX mobo and case

This is what the PC looked on the inside:

Original HP Pavilion with GTX 1650S

The PC was great and my plan was to slowly upgrade the components as and when needed. I wasn’t sure how much I will use the PC and in peak pandemic everything was very expensive so dropping $1k on a PC just didn’t make sense to me. Last year, I made minor upgrades to the HP:

  1. Added 32 GB Corsair RAM (because I started streaming on Twitch)
  2. Upgraded SSD to 2 TB (for more games and software, 256 GB wasn’t enough) — watch my video on how to upgrade your primary SSD without re-installing Windows

With my Premiere Pro video editing, 4K Twitch streaming and desire to play more games, I started to look for a slightly more powerful GPU. With the market settling a little bit (crypto-mining moving away from GPUs, supply-chain stabilizing, and Nvidia expected to announce the 40xx series), I hoped to get a GPU without paying any premium. Last month, Best Buy had a Nvidia 3070 FE in stock at market price so I bought it.

Adding a GPU to the HP required me to upgrade my PSU (recommended PSU for the 3070 FE is 550W). HP’s motherboard and PSU are proprietary so either I upgraded the PSU, mobo, and case or bought the HP 500W. Unfortunately, HP was backordered till October for the 500W PSU and it was more expensive than usual PSUs (for reference, you can get a 600W PSU for $40). I paid $223 to buy from an eBay scalper. Everything worked great, some pics:

Inside the CPU with RGB (HP upgraded with 3070, 500W PSU, 32GB RAM, 2 TB SSD):

HP Pavilion 3070

Inside the CPU without RGB (HP upgraded with 3070, 500W PSU, 32GB RAM, 2 TB SSD):

custom-built gaming pc

However, I couldn’t shake off the feeling of getting scammed by a scalper into paying $223 for a 500W PSU. I did some research and realized that I could redo my whole PC to a pretty solid build with all the parts I had already bought and the Ryzen 5 3500 that came with the original HP. So I bought:

  1. be quite 500 DX – suggested by Reddit ($121 incl tax)
  2. Thermaltake heatsink since the HP heatsink was proprietary to the HP board ($20 incl tax)
  3. 600W Thermaltake PSU ($42 incl taxes)
  4. MAG B550 Tomahawk Max WiFi ($198 incl tax) — I splurged a bit on this and got this board instead of the B550M Pro-VDH because the Tomahawk looks cool and will let me upgrade to a solid CPU next year. I will do a separate post on what I learned about buying a motherboard.

So instead of $223, I ended up spending $381 for this glorious build (and I’m pretty happy with it because I built it myself and it damn works).

New PC is all its RGB glory:

custom-built gaming pc

Here’s the final spec: Final spec: Upgraded HP TG01-0023w by Fatalsceptic – AMD Ryzen 5 3500, GeForce RTX 3070, be quiet! Pure Base 500DX ATX Mid Tower – PCPartPicker. I plan on upgrading the CPU next year.

Watch a 45 minutes video of me building the PC:

Here are some comparison benchmarks:

Original HP with 1650 S:

1650S gaming pc benchmarks

HP with 3070 FE:

3070 HP benchmark

be quite with 3070:

custom-built gaming pc benchmarks