First of all, long time no post (Probably 4-5 years)
Second of all, I'm pondering a completely new system. My old one (2400+, 1GB ram, ATI 8500) serves me fairly well, but even for the occasional game I play, it's begging to show it's age. I'm afraid to spend much on a video card knowing that I'll have to replace it again when I do get a new board since it would be AGP. Plus, my current board doesn't have SATA either, so I'm playing with old tech already.
So, i'm wondering, am I better off getting a dual core CPU now, or waiting till the Socket M2 releases?
I'm not nessessarily looking top of the line, but looking at something fairly hefty and dual core that will last me a while (I have about a $1000 budget). Waiting for M2 seems like the right thing, since it will have room to be expanded upon later, but I'm not sure.
I have recently ordered and installed an opteron 170, dfi lanparty sli-d and 7800gt card. The opteron i got cheaper off ebay and made sure i got 0546XPMW stepping because I researched and many guys could reach 2.6-2.8 ghz on air using these (the new ones might be better even!).
The board was the lowest price I could find, and the 7800gt was on a silly special about £35 cheaper than anywhere else I looked or price compared in the UK (and trust me i was looking!).
The overall upgrade has cost me £550 which is about $1000 give or take some exchange rate! But I wanted to use my current PSU, case, drives and most importantly - Geil UltraX PC4400 memory.
I can run the rig at 2.6ghz comfortable (FX-60) and am going for 2.8 (2x FX-57s!). This should result in a fast gaming system NOW and a reasonable if not good system for 6-12 months. When it gets slow I'll invest in a second hand 7800GT and SLI it to increase 3D performance.
Socket M2 doesn't seem to promise any higher clock speeds or increased athlon performance at this time other than DDR2, and athlons don't respond massively to memory bandwidth increases (I've tried taking my memory from DDR400 2-2-2-5 to DDR520 2.5-4-4-7 and get virtually no better scores in most benchmarks - so DDR2 may yield similar.)
To this end I decided to save on memory, get something for nothing (opteron O/C), and weigh up the number of times I have changed processor in the last 10 years = NONE. My rigs last 2 years before major upgrades usually and that involves new processor/board/ram so wasting cash on new memory seemed a silly idea - specially since all this "end of life" Skt 939 stuff is so cheap before it vanishes!
Just my philosophy - did the same with skt 478 before this upgrade, got a P4 Northwood 2.6 and ran it at 3.25Ghz, but got it and an 875P board for next to nothing because LGA775 was around the corner...
Upto you, if you need new memory then it might be worth waiting - you'll have a few months grace whereby Socket939 chips and boards are around on the cheap and M2 stuff is coming in fresh - if it seems too expensive to go M2 at that point (DDR2 memory is more expensive than DDR, and can't imagine new kit being cheap at the beginning of its lifecycle).
Weigh up how desperate to have an upgrade against potential savings and performance I would!
Thats a tough call, as M2 w/ DDR2 is rumored to be delayed until summertime, but AMD has made no anouncements yet....
A 2500+ is not a bad processor (although even the socket A XP3200+ can not really keep up with an A64/2800+); maybe you can find a cheap stopgap 6600GT at $130 to hold you over in recent game titles for 6 or 8 months... (By then, M2 will be released, the bugs worked out, and the revision 1 boards out of circulation!) :-)
A 6600GT is a "Night and day" performance upgrade over a 9700Pro, and even moreso dramatic over a much older 8500 series...
Well, I'm not itching for an upgrade at the moment, and am willing to sit and wait. However, I've promised the entire old computer to my GF, so I won't be salvaging anything other than the case, and perhaps the power supply (though I'll probably replace that too just to get the right connectors for the SATA HDs).
The only game I play is Dungeon Siege II at the moment, and occasionaly the frame rates dip below 30, but not enough to make it bothersome or unplayable. I'm stuck at 1280x1024 resolution with my LCD (Hyundai L90D+), but that's not a big bother either.
I don't want a stop gap, because the only part of the comp that the GF won't get is the vid card, as she has an 8500DV all-in-wonder, while while is not as good at 3d, is functional and the extra features are nice, so a stop gap is throwing money away.
Mostly, I want a good value and performance for my $, and I was thinking the M2 upgrades might provide some extra value at the low/mid end dual core CPU line, as well as run cooler (so quieter).
As far as video cards, I prefer the ATI cards, and was looking. I saw the connect3D 3039B Radeon X1800XL for around $300, though it's listed memory speed is 500 MHZ, which worries me. I figure that on a decient Athlon dual core should last me for years to come.
And it's entirely possable that if I wait till the summer, I'll have more to spend anyway.
As some other poster suggested I bet if you were just to upgrade your video card to "cheap" 6600GT or Ati GTO card I bet you coould easly get away with not upgrading until next year this time.
Hell I'm running an old 2100+ AMD with only 1 gig of ram and a ati 850pro and I'm able to run COD2 it at 1048x768 (with meduim setting well no AA's ) and the damn thing has like no video lag I was really suprised since there lots of stuff going on at once in that game.
So if I was you I would upgrade your video card wait a year then realy upgrade by then new sockets, new video (well every few months a new family of cards come out heh) like the psyX cards maybe fleshed out better, Directx 10 should be out and maybe windows Vista requirements etc.