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PC upgrade time...thoughts?

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  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    Alright, I actually have very little knowledge of PC hardware. I just go with whatever people tell me to buy (with of course some little research).

    What are your suggestions on upgrades (if I wanted to spend less than $800)? I'm looking at upgrading mainly memory, CPU (if needed), and GFX.

    These are my specs currently:

    AMD Athlon 64 3200+
    Asus A8N-SLI mobo
    1GB Corsair PC3200
    Gigabyte GeForce 6600GT (PCI-e)
    2 HDs, (40GB 10k and 300GB 7.2k)

    I'm wondering how important it is to upgrade the CPU because that would indicate a mobo change. I also don't know the benefits of DDR2. I will definitely bump up the memory to maybe 2GB.


    Thoughts?

  • User profile image
    SlackmasterK

    mVPstar wrote:
    Alright, I actually have very little knowledge of PC hardware. I just go with whatever people tell me to buy (with of course some little research).

    What are your suggestions on upgrades (if I wanted to spend less than $800)? I'm looking at upgrading mainly memory, CPU (if needed), and GFX.

    These are my specs currently:

    AMD Athlon 64 3200+
    Asus A8N-SLI mobo
    1GB Corsair PC3200
    Gigabyte GeForce 6600GT (PCI-e)
    2 HDs, (40GB 10k and 300GB 7.2k)

    I'm wondering how important it is to upgrade the CPU because that would indicate a mobo change. I also don't know the benefits of DDR2. I will definitely bump up the memory to maybe 2GB.


    Thoughts?

    Depends.  Which is more important: Cheapness, or buying from a manufacturer you've heard of? If the former, then I can find you a Foxconn LGA775 mobo for $33.

    Here's a thought: Go with a Core 2 Duo; or Pentium D if you wanna get really cheap. It's been a long time since AMD was cheaper or faster, and it took me a while to come to terms with that.

    You also have to decide how much "Upgrading" you want to do, and how much is "Good enough"; especially when working under a budget.  In this case I have assumed you don't like your existing case, PSU, etc; although these things are likely just fine.

    Other thoughts... Wow, it's hard to find a cheap, USB, Microsoft keyboard online these days that isn't ergonomic... Those things suck imh

    Core 2 Duo E4500; 2MB Shared L2; $120
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115031


    Asus P5VD2-VM; LGA775 MicroATX mobo: $47
    Not many slots though.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131199

    2GB Kingston DDR2 PC2-5300: $36
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820134632

    C: Maxtor 80GB, 7200RPM, SATA300; $38
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822144466

    D: Hitachi Deskstar 500GB, 7200RPM, SATA300; $90
    Freaking awesome deal IMHO.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822145137

    PSU: Thermaltake 430W; $40
    w/4-pin CPU connector for the mobo
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817153023

    Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 3870; 512MB GDDR4; PCI-Ex 2.0 x16; HDCP Ready; CrossFire: $170
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102719

    Cooler Master Mistique case; 4 5"; 6 3"; 7 slots; front USB, audio, FW: $80
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119129

    Lite-On 20X DVD+-RW burner w/LiteScribe; $33
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106072

    Audio: Onboard

    Microsoft generic wireless keyboard and mouse: $22
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823109022 


    Hmm... Don't think I missed anything; $676.  Now, if you want a good system, you'll have to lift the limit.

  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    SlackmasterK wrote:
    Depends.  Which is more important: Cheapness, or buying from a manufacturer you've heard of?


    Well, with GFX cards, I heard that it doesn't matter so much the company as it does the GPU that it comes with. For CPUs, there are only really two companies. For memory, I guess I'd go with something good and reliable.

    SlackmasterK wrote:

    You also have to decide how much "Upgrading" you want to do, and how much is "Good enough"; especially when working under a budget.  In this case I have assumed you don't like your existing case, PSU, etc; although these things are likely just fine.


    I'm not a gamer, really so it's not so important that I have the best high end card. But I do run Vista Ultimate, and it would be nice to be "current" in some way so that I don't find myself absolutely requiring an upgrade any time soon.

    I don't need a new case, and I just replaced my PSU (500W) cause the old one blew up and almost shocked me.

    SlackmasterK wrote:

    Hmm... Don't think I missed anything; $676.  Now, if you want a good system, you'll have to lift the limit.


    Well, I put $800 as the limit thinking I'll only upgrade a few components, not everything. I wasn't sure if I absolutely needed to upgrade the CPU (Athlon 64 3200+ works as fast as I can tell). If I needed to upgrade the CPU, for example, then I would need to upgrade the motherboard. If not, then a memory upgrade and a GFX card upgrade could very well work under $800.

  • User profile image
    JChung2006

    You've got a decent system already.  Like you said, add more RAM, but that's about it.  RAM's pretty cheap.

  • User profile image
    grassBlade

    Hi,

       I just bought a new machine from:

    http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/


    and while mine (E6850 3GHz, 4 gbytes, water-cooled, 8800 w/768mb, 2 hd 500 gig each, 2 dvd rw) ran close to $2300, they do have excellent Vista Ultimate ready systems for $1000 or less.  And they put it together for you.

  • User profile image
    Lloyd_Humph

    grassBlade wrote:
    Hi,

       I just bought a new machine from:

    http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/


    and while mine (E6850 3GHz, 4 gbytes, water-cooled, 8800 w/768mb, 2 hd 500 gig each, 2 dvd rw) ran close to $2300, they do have excellent Vista Ultimate ready systems for $1000 or less.  And they put it together for you.


    ++ They're excellent!

    If Blackberrys are addictive cellphones, Channel9 is the ultimate addictive website.
    Last modified
  • User profile image
    wisemx

    Indeed, http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/
    I'm running a water cooled Intel dual that I got from them.

    Look at this special:
    http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/system/Mega_Special_III/

  • User profile image
    Lloyd_Humph

    wisemx wrote:
    Indeed, http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/
    I'm running a water cooled Intel dual that I got from them.

    Look at this special:
    http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/system/Mega_Special_III/


    After just 3 minutes customisation; Lloyd had burned a hole worth $4000 in his pocket. He was annoyed that he would not possess such cash for many, many years.

    If Blackberrys are addictive cellphones, Channel9 is the ultimate addictive website.
    Last modified
  • User profile image
    wisemx

    If we all kick in a buck you'll be on your way in no time at all. Wink

  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    grassBlade wrote:
    Hi,

       I just bought a new machine from:

    http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/


    and while mine (E6850 3GHz, 4 gbytes, water-cooled, 8800 w/768mb, 2 hd 500 gig each, 2 dvd rw) ran close to $2300, they do have excellent Vista Ultimate ready systems for $1000 or less.  And they put it together for you.


    I don't need a new machine, though. I just want to upgrade my existing machine to make it somewhat current. Somewhere along the line, I'll completely replace it with something new, but atm, I'm looking at adding a couple more years to my current investment.

  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    wisemx wrote:
    If we all kick in a buck you'll be on your way in no time at all.


    Then, there is this alternative, which I feel works very well. Tongue Out

  • User profile image
    spivonious

    Replace everything but the hard drives.

    For processor, get something in the Core 2 family, motherboard something with the P35 chipset.

    At least 2GB of DDR2 memory.

    ATi HD 3870 or nVidia Geforce 9600GT.

    Make sure your power supply is up-to-date (i.e. PCI-e 6-pin plug, at least 450-500W) and you should be good to go.

    The parts above shouldn't run more than $500-$600.

  • User profile image
    grassBlade

    mVPstar wrote:
    

    I don't need a new machine, though. I just want to upgrade my existing machine to make it somewhat current. Somewhere along the line, I'll completely replace it with something new, but atm, I'm looking at adding a couple more years to my current investment.


    I understand.  However, think of it this way:

    1) within a few months, your upgrades will be obsolete;
    2) within a few years, your upgrades will be unable to run the newest version of Windows and its apps
    3) your current PC can be used to run your current programs and/or as part of your home theater/audio setup
    4) your new system (which will probably be better than the current system with upgrades, unless you are sure you know what you are doing) can be upgraded in the future (if you want) when you have more $$$ rolling in.

    If you are really into upgrading: 
    processor (E6850 min)
    2 gig Corsair RAM  (4 gig if you go Vista Ultimate)
    8800 nVidia (min)....within 2 or 3 years, though, expect to have to upgrade to SLI


  • User profile image
    Kanube

    first - one quick comment - you didn't mention which blend of O/S you'll be running and/or upgrading to - if running or upgrading to vista, I just found out that Vista 64 has some serious issues with memory utilization issues and not a lot of compatibility. There are some threads on MSDN that say it tops out at 3.7 or 3.9 G (even if more installed) or something like that.  I didn't read all of it I was searching for another vista issue, and hopefully that bug will be fixed soon. Smiley  also, read up on other boards on how to properly uninstall the drivers to your current board, or be prepared to do a full install again of your O/S - and as always - back up your data!

    Anyway, not to stray off topic - this is hardware -

    now, if I were to build a new box and had up to $800, I would start with the AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+($98), perhaps an MSI Platinum 790FX board($170), two Corsair XMS2-6400 DDR2 CAS5 memory modules($70), 150 GB WD Raptor SATA internal hard drive (10,000 rpm)($160), XFX GeForce 8600GT 512 MB DDR2 PCI Express grahics card ($70), a reasonable case ($50), mouse and keyboard ($30), and finally a 500W PSU - cool master ($50).

    This puts you about 700 (before taxes).

    Hopefully you can re-use your monitor since that is usually the most expensive of the set, if not a decent one for ~100 wouldn't be too bad and still put you at about 800. (Acer 17"?)

    These prices are from one of my favorites local places to shop - microcenter, but its just a starting point - you may find better prices at newegg and others online.

    just my 2 cents Smiley

    Good luck!
    p.s. - throw in a few bucks for a decent DVD/CD RW.

    best thing though - don't go all bargin basement - you'l regret it!

  • User profile image
    Kanube

    another thought - the more you can re-use that won't have a serious performance impact the better - e.g. case, monitor, PSU (but should be at least 500W) keyboard and mouse. However, the rest have a dramatic impact on performance.  Also, don't load the system down with junkware, but you probably knew that. Smiley

  • User profile image
    Isshou

    mVPstar wrote:
    I'm wondering how important it is to upgrade the CPU because that would indicate a mobo change. I also don't know the benefits of DDR2. I will definitely bump up the memory to maybe 2GB.


    Thoughts?


    Wiki wrote:
    Its primary benefit is the ability to operate the external data bus twice as fast as DDR SDRAM.


    If you're system is alright for yourself. I would recommend going up to 2 GBs (just replace your current memory with 2x1g pack).

    You might be able to get a bit more out of the mobo with replacing the CPU (the biggest restriction is the 939 socket instead of the current AM-2 socket) however there isn't a whole lot of 939 CPU's that would be much better than what you have (and work with your mobo for sure).

    Replacing the video card is another decent upgrade, you might want to look into a PCI-e 2.0 card (it's backwards compatible) so that if later you want to upgrade further you can and may not need to replace the video card.

  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    I might just have to replace the mobo, cpu, ram all in one move and then if I have enough money left over, the GPU.

    The rest of my hardware is fine..I have a 500W PSU, a decent case, decent k&m, good monitor/speakers.


    What I guess I really need help in is the CPU. There are so many Core 2 Duo models out there (seems that way to me at least) that I can't tell how much I'd benefit from one over the other.

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