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Wanting to educate myself

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Last response: in Systems
January 24, 2006 6:19:00 AM

Hello all: I am an avid gamer but one who does not understand alot about the technology or the lingo being discussed these days. I try to read what I can but find I understand very little. I have a system that was built by a friend about 3 years ago and am looking to upgrade since the game I play is starting to lag considerably. Not having a clue where to begin or how best to spend my money I am looking for information so I can become knowledgable when asking question and making purchases. IE; is it better to upgrade this system or start from scratch. I do not want to be one of theose people that goes into a store to ask questions and ends up creating a 10 person line up behind him. what makes a good motherboard? what should I be looking for in a cpu? What is dualcore? If I do not understand the basics then I'm sunk. Any helpuful tips or links to basic info would be great before I start asking specific questions.

I lost the original sales receipt when all the peices were purchased but I did write down some info. Here are the specs on my current system

Motherboard - ECS L7S7A2 SIS786 8X
Memory - Samsung 512mb (1 is 3200DDR other is 3400DDR)
Vid Card - Nvidia GF4 5200 128mb
HardDrive - Maxtor 60gb
Power - Powermax 400w
CPU - AMD xp2500x
And I have Telus Highspeed
Its all in a basic case with no cooling fans and I have no sound card, its through the motherboard with a basic 3 speaker set up

The wife wants to upgrade instead of buying new since she feels it will cost less that way. As well as keeping all the data we have on this one already. Tons of family pictures. I'm not sure what is the best route to take. I play the game Planetside exclusively and have a hard time keeping up with the low FPS that I suffer from. The game is going to launch a major patch soon and I'm afraid I will be even worse off. All I do with the computer is e-mail and play that game. I'm in search of a better gaming experience. Will try reading more in these forums to get a better overall understanding of all this. Any other help would be appreciated. Thanks for your time

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January 24, 2006 6:59:32 AM

What are you upgrading from?

That system is really low end even for todays standards, try for atleast an Athlon 64 (socket939) 3000+, 1gb DDR400 (PC3200) ram, mobo with NF4/pcie, GeForce 6600GT pcie (im sure there are better deals now with ATi's), 80+ gb hdd (come on, its only a few $$$ more), In terms of gaming that system would be atleast 5 times better, those FX5200 video cards are really slow and newer games barly run on em (if at all).

While your at it, chuck in a DVD burner to backup important stuff.

Do not skimp out on the motherboard, get something nvidia nforce4 (with pcie) by a decent brand like ASUS, Gigabyte but definitly NOT ECS/EliteGroup/PCChips and other cheap ass shoddy brands, and dont get boards with crappy chipsets by SiS, VIA and ULI. People say the MSI boards are great but the forums are filled with people with issues with em and iv had non stop issues with em (boards not lasting more then a few months etc).

Onboard sound will work fine and will prolly be better then your current solution.
January 24, 2006 9:44:23 AM

Ignore Apache Lives, since he obviously misread your post and thought thats what you wanted to upgrade to.

A lot depends on your budget, but I would definately keep your old HD, even if you get another one. And your case doesn't matter as long as you get new fans for it. With that said, he ir my advice:

I would go with at least this processor: Athlon 64 3200+
Get a decent board in the seventy five to $150 range. Abit, Asus (sometimes), and gigabyte are good baords in that range. You want Nforce4 chipset if you are going to buy a PCI-Express graphics card. Asrock makes a decent board that has both AGP and PCI-e slots for a graphics card, though it can be a little hard for beginners to get running.
Video Card, get at LEAST an Geforce 6600GT or 6800 since you are a gamer. If its in your budget, get 256MB GDDR3 Memory on the card. ATI makes some nice cards as well.
If you need the space, get a SATA HD of 120 GB or more.
I would recommend getting updated RAM, though you can live with what you have. You can get a 1GB dual channel get for about $80.
Get a DVD-Burner as well.
You may need a new Power Supply, though I think you are fine for now on that.
Most boards today have decent onboard sound, so you are covered there.

I reccommend you check out for prices. They are an excellent online retailer with decent prices.
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January 24, 2006 1:39:33 PM

if you give us an idea of your budget we can help you better.

e wife wants to upgrade instead of buying new since she feels it will cost less that way.

if this is so i would get rid off the 2 different types of RAM and stick 2gig of 3200 Corsair or OCZ in there, then upgrade the graphics card to something around the 6600 or 6800 depending on your budget.

otherwise if you can spend the dosh i would upgrade the whole lot(apart from Drives)

and get atleast a 939 AMD board, as stated above a good make like ASUS.
atleast a 3000+ AMD
and a minimum of 1GB 3200 value RAM
and since your just using the computer for general use a 6600 should do fine(PCIe)

just make sure you back up all important stuff onto a cd or dvd cause after a new build its better to start afresh with the OS.
January 24, 2006 4:37:12 PM

As well as keeping all the data we have on this one already. Tons of family pictures.

please, tell me you have a backup of all those souvenirs and not only relying on the HDD for storage ...
January 24, 2006 6:41:11 PM

All I do with the computer is e-mail and play that game

The easiest way to upgrade that system would be to get a new AGP video card, and upgrade the memory.

Since you should probably run your memory at 333Mhz DDR (to be synchronous with your FSB), the mismatched pairs won't matter. You could do with another 512MB of RAM, which I would recommend, but make sure it's at least pc3200.

Look for a 6600GT AGP video card, as that will probably be the best performing AGP card you can find nowadays.

If you're happy with the speed of your system (a 2500+ Barton cored CPU - if that's what your's is - is plenty fast for email and most games), and just suffer performance issues in games, then a little more RAM and a better video card will help you immensely.
January 24, 2006 7:58:45 PM

If you only want to spend a little bit of money, upgrading is the way to go. Upgrading, reiterating previous posts, means getting more RAM (pc3200) and upgrading your video card to an AGP (NOT pcie with your current set up) card with 256mb of DDR3 RAM...those nvidia cards suggested are pretty good. Though I am a big fan of the ATi cards as well, take a look into those, like the x700, x800 AGP cards (can get pretty decent prices from reputable sellers on eBay, make sure they have a return policy).

Other than that, installing RAM and a video card is pretty easy, and if you have any trouble instructions are not hard to google, or ask here on Toms.

However, the way I think of things, if you are spending this much money already, might as well sell off this system and get a nice new sleek one. Thats just me. I don't think you want to do this, since building a computer isn't always user friendly even with guides, and requires a lot of research and learning a lot about computer stuff you don't need to know.

You asked about processors, well, for your needs, I guess what you have is fine, however, if you think you are up to installing a new CPU with a HSF (Heat Sink Fan) then get at least a an AMD Athlon 3000+. Unless you feel like shelling out a lot, you don't really need a dual core processor (as opposed to the single core processors most computers have today). They are more complex, and although they are better and faster and can do more--for most peoples uses they are not necessary so don't worry about that.

Also in upgrading--I would say your PSU, and HD are fine. If you decide to upgrade more than your RAM and Vid card, then you might want to back everything up and swipe it (since you cannot just plug in an old hard drive into completely new hardware and expect it to work)

Good luck, hope that helps and teaches you some of the 'lingo' etc.