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Advice on upgrading please!

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  • Advice on upgrading please!

    I'm looking for some advice on a possible upgrade, and mainly whether to bite the bullet on new technology, or upgrade my existing system to see what is left of it. I don't have a huge budget at the moment, but later in the summer I could most likely have a bit more.

    My current setup is this:

    AOpen AX4SPE Max motherboard (865PE, 800Mhz FSB, Socket 478)
    Intel Pentium 4 2.40Ghz Northwood 'c' core (800Mhz FSB, 512kb cache)
    3Gb RAM (2x Dane Elec 512Mb PC3200, 2x Corsair 1Gb PC3200)
    2x Seagate Barracuda 120Gb 7200rpm SATA HDD
    Hercules Radeon 9700 Pro AGP
    Creative Labs Soundblaster 2ZX

    I bought and built the system just over 2 and a half years ago, and it is starting to show signs of struggling with the newer games. Battlefield 2 has always run fine on medium quality, but it would be nice to have it looking a litle better alongside better performance from GRAW and all the other cool games looking to be released. Basically a nearly 3 year old system is starting to show it's age a bit.

    Now technologically there are obviously 2 main limiting factors, AGP over PCI-Express, and Socket 478 over 775/AMD. If I were to keep the motherboard (which has run perfectly without a single error ever, and is a great quality board) then I could upgrade the CPU to around 3Ghz - 3.4Ghz (preferably a Northwood, but Prescotts also work on it), and I could still put in a good graphics card, such as a Radeon X850. This would cost me around 110 for the CPU and 140 for the graphics card at the best prices I have found. So 250 would extend the computer life by maybe another year or two.

    The alternative is to bite the bullet and get a new motherboard. However to make it really worthwhile I should be looking to fit the possibility of newer technologies, which not only means PCI-express and a better socket, but also DDR2 memory. Some things are likely to be ported over (for example my SATA hard drives and the soundcard), but for the money am I really gaining that much of an advantage? I would need to buy a motherboard and RAM in addition to the CPU and GFX card, but in doing so I can get a better CPU and GFX card with it. Overall this might work out cheaper when considered as rent (250 for one year or say 500 for 3 years).

    Anyone got any thoughts, ideas or bargains? If I were to go for an upgrade what sort of setup would be worthwhile?

  • #2
    Re: Advice on upgrading please!

    Biting the bullet and getting a new motherboard will allow you to start running Pentium D (64 Bit dual core) processors. I just built a system based off the 2.6GHz dual core CPU ($130 US) that blows the crap out of my 3.4 C that I had.

    It does suck having to replace the motherboard, CPU and video card all at the same time. But if you're careful with the core components you buy, you should have a platform that can be upgraded over the next few years without much trouble.

    What is your budget like for the upgrade?
    Diplomacy is the art of saying "good doggie" while looking for a bigger stick.


    • #3
      Re: Advice on upgrading please!

      If you want new tech i suggest you wait till the end of the summer when the new stuff comes out. Your current rig looks fine except for the 9700 which was good for its time. Maybe a Nvidia 6800GS or 7800GS would hold you over. What are the PSU specs? You may be able to overclock that cpu to 3.0Ghz. Are you using stock cooling?

      |TG-12th| Troublesome4u


      • #4
        Re: Advice on upgrading please!

        For a new AGP gfx card I was looking at either a 7800 or a X850xt. Both seem good cards, and I agree the 9700pro was a great card for it's time but is a bit dated now. I'm not a fanboy of either Intel/AMD or NVidea/ATI so I'm happy to pick at what looks the better option for now. I'm using stock cooling +2 extra fans (the mobo has a Silent-tek facility which turns them off when I am not playing games, and I don't notice the sound when I am playing agmes). I tried overclocking the cpu but I was not one of the lucky ones and only got it up to 2.53 before it got upset, and I wasn't brave enough to ramp the voltage up ;) PSU is a 500.

        Looking at a good uk retailer ( I saw a few possibilities:

        AOpen i945Pa-PLF (i945P, s775, PCI-E(x16), DDR2 667) - £88
        Intel Pentium D 940 2x3.2GHz (Presler, s775, 4Mb Cache) - £157
        Gigabyte Nvidea 7900GT 256Mb 470/1320 x24 - £193

        That comes to £440 including VAT, which isn't too bad, but I haven't fully checked it out tech-wise. Can the 7900GT with 24 pipes work on a PCI-E x16? Does it just disable 8 pipes, and if so how does this affect performance? I'm also assuming a 940 core processor fits on a 954P chipset mobo (my work internet doesn't seem to like the intel site). Seems a lot more expensive than the US as well - after all $130 is around £70 and I doubt I could buy any CPU for that price.

        All that remains is memory. That site has some Corsair value ram, but it lists a rather unssettling CL5! Another site has some crucial memory at CL3 for £84 a stick. I'd say my budget was around £500 for a lump sum so realistically this would mean going back to 1Gb in the initial purchase for financial reasons, but this might be okay for PC5300.

        On the good side I can prob still get some money back from the old components on ebay!


        • #5
          Re: Advice on upgrading please!

          If your PSU doesn't have 24 pins natively, it is recommended that you replace it. While 20 -> 24 pin converters do exist, many report problems with them.

          I would recommend the AMD 3800+ over the Intel D 940, but you're really not looking at a major performance difference either way. I'd make that decision based on price. If you can fit the 3800+ in, go for it. If not, stick with the 940. Inevitably someone in this thread will suggest getting a faster single-core chip. It may perform slightly faster with todays games, but most likely will perform much slower with the multi-threaded games on the horizon. It's been two years since your last build, so I'm betting you're taking the long view.

          Your choice of video card is good. Another good video card is the X1800XT by ATi. ATi's current cards have some image quality advantages, equal performance at similar prices, but run hotter, take up two slots, and are noisier. If the X1800XT is cheaper than the 7900GT, I'd go with it. Either way, you'll be happy.

          If you're not in a rush, Intel has a new lineup on the way. It's supposedly going to be very fast. AMD is rumored to have something up their sleeve in response, but their claims are far more ethereal than Intel's. In any event, most believe some new and significantly faster tech will be readily available by the end of summer (someone will inevitably mention that Intel's Conroe is due in July. Well it is - if you're an OEM. Plus, the motherboards won't have their kinks worked out yet.).

          Finally, exchange rates do not determine consumer prices.
          A policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy. -F.A. Hayek

          "$250,000 a year won't get me to Central Park West."


          • #6
            Re: Advice on upgrading please!

            Originally posted by Wulfyn

            AOpen i945Pa-PLF (i945P, s775, PCI-E(x16), DDR2 667) - 88
            Intel Pentium D 940 2x3.2GHz (Presler, s775, 4Mb Cache) - 157
            Gigabyte Nvidea 7900GT 256Mb 470/1320 x24 - 193
            My experience with AOpen hasn't been that great, but it's been a few years since I've last touched them, so things may have gotten better. I've been going with ASUS boards for a few rebuilds lately with great results, but your mileage my vary.

            Good choice on the CPU. I would highly recommend it. If you want to save a little money you may be able to do the same thing I did and get the Pentium 805D and crank up your FSB. I made the jump to 3.8GHz on a 2.6GHz 805D and my machine is as stable as a rock.

            Not sure on the video card. I made a shift over to ATI when I bought my X850XT (I was on an nVidia 6600GT) and then stayed with ATI with the recent purchase of my X1800XT. Both nVidia and ATI make great cards, and since you're not a fanboy of either, you'll be free to get the best bang for your buck regardless of the manufacturer.
            Diplomacy is the art of saying "good doggie" while looking for a bigger stick.


            • #7
              Re: Advice on upgrading please!

              If you go with Intel, you may want to wait till July 23 for these price cuts: (bulk prices). Also, you might want to consider a MB with a Conroe compatible chipset.
              Last edited by sordavie; 06-02-2006, 12:27 PM.


              • #8
                Re: Advice on upgrading please!

                Is the release of Vista going to bring any hardware standards that you might want to wait for?
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                • #9
                  Re: Advice on upgrading please!

                  Originally posted by CingularDuality
                  Is the release of Vista going to bring any hardware standards that you might want to wait for?
                  I think waiting for Vista hardware is going to be a long wait. DX10 cards haven't been announced yet. For an AMD system, an upgrade in about a month to an AM2 platform would be good. Waiting until the end of July would work for an Intel Conroe system. Vista doesn't seem like it'll be ready until mid-2007 and I wouldn't want to upgrade to it immediately. XP is still a good OS and I don't expect DX10 cards to come out until at least the end of 2006.

                  - It's who you game with.


                  • #10
                    Re: Advice on upgrading please!

                    I have been eyeing this card for quite some time:


                    ATI Radeon X1800XT for $339 US

                    You want a mobo that you will be able to work with in the future, so definatly an AMD or Dual Core Intel. 64 bit is the future.


                    • #11
                      Re: Advice on upgrading please!

                      tto be honest.. the only things that i see need replacing is the mobo.. cpu.. and gfx card
                      powered by Windows 7

                      . . . .


                      • #12
                        Re: Advice on upgrading please!

                        Upgrade cpu + graphix.
                        I have 3.4 800XL 1gb ram. It works for me.
                        I used this teak guide and everything works great. It shows that medium and high settings are not that much diffrent.

                        Unless a really great game comes along that needs it, I'm not going to build a new pc till 6 months after Vista comes out.




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