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Upgrading homebuilt computer

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December 7, 2005 1:02:30 AM

Ok, let me open by saying that I know next to nothing about mobos and processors. In fact, I was just barely tech-savy enough to put my computer together in the first place.

Anyway, the harddrive went bad the other day, so I decided that now might be as good a time as any to upgrade so that I don't have to worry about reformatting the (new) harddrive later. Here's what I have right now:

- ABIT KR7A 133R motherboard
- AMD XP 2400+ CPU
- 350W PSU (came with case)
- Creative Soundblaster Live! soundcard
- 768 mb RAM
- 250 gb harddrive (hitachi)
- GeForce 6800GT 256 mb AGP
- generic case

I was looking to replace just the mobo and CPU, but a guy at the local computer parts store informed me that most modern boards don't accommodate AGP cards. Is this the truth, or is he just looking to get me to buy more stuff?

Anyway, my problem is the mobo/processor. I'm not sure which ones to get. I'm mainly using the computer for gaming (and some word processing and a little photoshop work; no video editing, website design, etc.) and I'm looking for a combination that will give me high-end performance. I can spend a good amount of money on this, but the closer it is to $1000, the better. Any suggestions, o tech gurus of the forums?
December 7, 2005 1:22:52 AM

Well a $1000 for jus a mobo and cpu is a lot....lol

you can get a 939mobo that has an AGP slot...Thats not a problem. they are more rare but they are around....

For a grand....you could get a SUPER good gaming computer.

let me know if you want to update or upgrade.
December 7, 2005 1:25:06 AM

There are still options for AGP boards, but the industry is definitely heading towards PCIe. The Epox 9NDA3+ Ultra is one of the best s939 boards with AGP. What type of RAM do you have installed - size and # of sticks? If it's less than DDR400, then you should probably replace that, too....

Kinda interesting that your generic PSU is lasting up to the beating that 6800GT must be giving it. Are you having any stability issues? How many amps on the 12V rail? I'd want at least 16A from a good PSU on the 12V for a new rig...
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December 7, 2005 1:37:47 AM

I had a 350 for a long time.....i worked well. the 6800GT is hungry but its not bad when coupled with his XP or my 2800+

I did upgrade slgihtly because i put in a 2nd optical and a 3rd HDD....so i needed a little more insurance and i got a super deal on it. $18.00 shipped....couldn't pass it up.
December 7, 2005 2:27:53 PM

I just threw $1000 out there because I saw that there were processors for over a thousand on newegg.

Anyway, I am interested in upgrading. There's a 10% off sale at Best Buy this weekend, so I'm hoping to find out whether I should replace my AGP video card with a PCI Express one soon.

For RAM, I've got three sticks of 256 mb. I can't remember if it's DDR or not, though, so I'll have to check that later on.

And yes, the PSU that came with the case has served me well these past 2.5 years. Of course, I had to turn the fan up to High so that the PC wouldn't overheat with the new 600GT, but other than that, no stability problems that I've noticed.
December 7, 2005 5:25:45 PM

Good to hear about the PSU. That's still a great vid card.

If you want to go s939, then you should upgrade your RAM to DDR400 - you can get a matched set of name-brand value RAM for $70. In your case, that is the route that I would take.

1. 3200+, Venice core OR 3700+ San Diego core
2. Epox board I linked earlier.
3. Patriot signature Series 2x512MB
December 7, 2005 5:52:08 PM

That's kind of a tough one. I mean that is still a good graphics card. But it's definately not the top, and more to the point, I doubt we'll ever see any new AGP cards. So if he builds a system with that mobo, then he'll likely never have a newer video card than that. (Which sucks. I'm in that situation too.)

But if he buys a mobo with PCIe, then he'll have to buy a whole new video card to replace one that's still quite good. :?

It's kind of a lose-lose situation.

I suppose there are always those goofy AGP/PCIe boards, but are those really any good? And then he'll never have SLI/Crossfire...

Either way though, I agree with getting new RAM. I don't think I'd even try to reuse the old RAM.
December 7, 2005 7:32:29 PM

It's definitely a debatable point...The Asrock 939Dual is the only board that I have seen with the full AGP/PCIe implementation. It's the lower end of Asus and not a lot of people like them as a mfr. A part of it will definitely depend on how often he upgrades. The 6800GT is still in the higher end of cards. Unless he upgrades GPUs on a 12-24 month basis, I think that this will be a good solution for him. By the time he needs to upgrade again he will want to make the shift to M2 and DDR2 or whatever has the best price/perf. On a personal basis, that rig would easily last me 3-4 years, therefore it would be a good upgrade path.

On a different note - I just made a minor purchase for upgrading my system. SonataII, round cables and a Lite-On 1635S DVDRW. My old CDRW went out :mad:  and I've been wanting to upgrade my PSU for some OCing...damn Palomino XP1500+ just doesn't have the juice I want. I'm replacing an old Enlight case/300W PSU that has done really well, but is beyond it's time. Only 10A on the 12V rail and it won't OC past 1600+ without becoming unstable. Even though the Smartpower isn't the best Antec PSU, it's way overrated for my rig and should have no issues with my usage...:wink:
December 7, 2005 8:11:46 PM

Correction: I mistakenly said that my PSU was 350w. I looked again when I was checking my RAM, and it is actually a 450w. I could have sworn it said 350w before. :) 

Anyway, I think the AGP board may be the way to go for me. When I bought the 6800GT, it was so that I wouldn't have to get a new video card for a while, and with a new processor and RAM, I should be able to get by for at least as long as I've had the current setup.

Speaking of which, I checked the RAM, and all three sticks are DDR266.

Also, Rugger, for your suggestion of stuff to get, what is the difference between the two chips you suggested?

Also also, The guy at the computer parts store that I mentioned earlier said that I may be able to still get stuff off my bad harddrive (I keep all my really important stuff on a second harddrive, but it'd be nice if I could get IE bookmarks and such off the old C: ) if I first installed the new drive by itself, got P on it, and then later put the bad one on as a slave. Is this true, or just dangerous bunk?

Edit: Alsoalsoalso, is it true that it's better to use two sticks of RAM than three or more (just getting all these questions out of the way at once)?
December 7, 2005 8:17:23 PM

Quote:
Also also, The guy at the computer parts store that I mentioned earlier said that I may be able to still get stuff off my bad harddrive (I keep all my really important stuff on a second harddrive, but it'd be nice if I could get IE bookmarks and such off the old C: ) if I first installed the new drive by itself, got P on it, and then later put the bad one on as a slave. Is this true, or just dangerous bunk?

If the drive is really broken (BIOS doesn't see it), then thats not true. If the drive is still accessible, though maybe not bootable (i.e., its not really the drive that's broke, but some of the data on it), then it is just as he said.

Mike.
December 8, 2005 12:23:51 AM

Definitely get the new RAM. The 3700+ is faster and has a larger cache. If you want to OC the 3200+, you should be able to easily reach 3700+ speeds. To be honest, you don't have to OC the chip - it will not bottlneck that 6800GT. If it were me, I would get the 3200+

IRT PSU - what are the specs for the 12V, 3.3V and 5V rails? Who is the mfr?
December 8, 2005 12:26:27 AM

RAM - You want to go with matched pairs with s939 in order to achieve dual channel mode for memory. Preferrably just two sticks....2x512MB or 2x1GB. For your purposes 2X512MB would be good.
December 8, 2005 2:18:14 AM

I doubt I'll be OCing the thing. I just need one that'll best fast without any OCing. A combination of ignorance of the subject and paranoia after seeing my friend's OC'ed computer and the unorthodox cooling methods he has to employ are definitely contributing factors.

To that end, can I go faster than the 3700+ San Diego? Is that the max that the mobo can take, or are the faster chips designed for more complex tasks like video editing, or what?


As for your PSU question, I wasn't sure what you meant about specs for rails, but if you're referring to the amperage listed for those three settings, here's what I found: 12V: 18A, 3.3V: 14A, 5V: 30A. Also, the PSU was made by Real PC Power (the Titanium series).
December 9, 2005 2:38:30 PM

Also, is it true that with dual processors, only one processor is used at a time?
December 9, 2005 2:51:58 PM

WinXP is multi-threaded, meaning it will try to utilize an additional processor for farming out tasks, if available.
More and more programs are multi-threaded also, which can utilize second proc.
Even if prog is not multi-threaded, but running XP, you still get benifit of 2nd proc by OS using it for virus scanner, print services, system processes running in the background etc, so you can devote one full proc to that non-multi-threaded app you have to run.
December 9, 2005 5:25:43 PM

Ah, I see.

So what's the final word on what processor I should get? I'm not looking to do any OCing, and not having to buy a whole new video card has given me a little extra money to work with, so should I go for a faster one, or stick with either the 3200+ or 3700+ for gaming?
!