The best CPU that you're likely to be able to use without a motherboard change, is something from the Phenom II range - probably X4, possibly the X6. It would be sensible to get the exact model of your motherboard and check compatible CPU's on the Asus website. Phenom's aren't available to buy now apart from used, so check Ebay etc. They're not going to be near the "recommended" spec chips in your post, but will at least be faster than your existing processor, and they can be found quite cheap. If you go this route you will likely need to upgrade the cooler as they generate more heat than the dual core in your system currently.
Again for a GPU your best bet might be to find something used. For one graphics card prices are really, really high at the moment. And I really wouldn't recommend spending a lot of money on a high end GPU for a system as old as that. Browsing Ebay I've seen things like GTX 770's, which were good powerful cards of a few years ago, going for like £50 (in the UK). Something like that would need a larger PSU (a 500w+, and preferably 600w, high quality branded PSU recommended). I think 4 Gb Quadro's from your "recommended" list may be expensive however.
For RAM it's best (but not required) to get matching modules. This gives the best chance of compatibility. Depending on what motherboard you've got and the free slots available, the easiest thing to do may be to just replace the RAM with newer, larger modules. If you have no free slots then that decision is made for you as the only option then is to replace.
Just checked and the motherboard says M4A78LT-M/CM1730/DP_MB. as for the RAM any suggestion on modules? appears theres one ASint 4gb 1600, with 3 open slots. so in terms of graphic cards are there any limitations or requirements to check for or as long as it meets the price range as specs i need?
Would I see a big difference if I were to switch out the cpu? I hadn't originally intended to but if the price isn't horrible and it's a decent upgrade i'd be willing to. I do not really intend to sink a lot of money into this as i figured it was limited due to the motherboard as you pointed out, but it would be significantly cheaper to just upgrade to what I need right now as opposed to starting a new computer even if it means having to get something else down the road if I do want something nicer at that point due to my current limited budget.
What is a realistic price range for me to do all those things? I had originally figured around $300 but I could be completely off on that number
As for the "recommended specs" I think that is for if I were to fully utilize the software but as i'm using more towards the basic side of things for learning purposes I think it should be fine, as this is a more detailed description from the website
CNC Software continues to review the operating system (OS) requirements for Mastercam with a goal of providing the best possible user experience for our customers.
We recommend using Windows 10 64-bit Professional editions. While Mastercam may run on other Windows editions (such as Home Edition) or virtual environments (such as Parallels for Mac), it has not been tested on these configurations and is therefore not supported.
Mastercam X7 MU2 was the last release to support Windows 7 32-bit OS.
The processor speed will impact how fast the software will calculate and complete tasks. With each release, more and more aspects of Mastercam are becoming multi-core processor aware. Toolpath calculation and Simulation will generally run faster with a multi-core processor. We typically see a 50% reduction in toolpath calculation time with the latest Intel i7 or Xeon processors.
When Mastercam uses all available RAM it switches to using virtual memory space, which is stored on the hard drive, and will dramatically slow the system down. We recommend a minimum of 8GB memory. For large toolpath generation and simulation we recommend 32 GB of RAM.
When purchasing a new computer for Mastercam, one of the most important areas is the video card.
We recommend an NVIDIA Quadro card with 4 GB or more of memory. Other graphics cards can be used, but they must offer full OpenGL 3.2 support (typically manufactured by AMD/ATI). We have seen some issues using AMD/ATI Radeon™ graphics cards.
We do not recommend or support the use of onboard graphics found with some PC configurations. These do not generally have the capability to drive graphics intensive applications such as Mastercam.
Make sure you are using up-to-date drivers from your card manufacturer. We often see issues that are resolved with updated video drivers. The driver version can have a great impact on how the card performs.
The latest drivers for NVIDIA and ATI/AMD can be found at the online links. We recommend using the automatic detect feature to detect which video card is installed. Registered Mastercam customers can find more information on configuring the graphics card in the Mastercam knowledge base article.
We have found that one of the best computer upgrades is to invest in a Solid State Drive (SSD). These drives are now priced at a point which makes them a good investment. Many of our test systems employ a smaller primary SSD for the OS and installed applications with a second large capacity conventional drive for data.
Edited by Fastfox57, 07 March 2018 - 05:01 PM.