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Need help building a cheap gaming computer

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March 31, 2006 9:16:58 PM

It appears that my old computer doesn't hold up anymore. After chugging through FEAR, I know am looking at Oblivion, and well, I've had enough of putting everything on low. My old build was a P4 2.4GHz, 1GB RAM, and a Radeon 9600XT. I'd upgrade just the video card, but my mobo doesn't have a PCI-E slot, and I've had the comp for a couple years.

So I'm looking to do a bit of an overhaul, but still use some old parts of my computer. I do want to be able to game, but I can't be spending thousands of dollars on a new pc. Also, I'm planning on using this comp for at least another 2 years, so I want to be able to upgrade a little later on.

So right now, I'm looking at:
MOBO:
ASUS A8N-E Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

Processor:
AMD Athlon 64 3700+ San Diego 1GHz HT Socket 939 Processor Model ADA3700BNBOX - Retail

RAM:
CORSAIR XMS 1GB (2 x 512MB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Unbuffered Dual Channel Kit System Memory Model TWINX1024-3200C2PT - Retail

Vid Card:
SAPPHIRE 100106L Radeon X850XT 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail

First off, all this is compatible, right? Been a couple years since I built my comp, and I've been trying to get up to date on things.
I have a case, Antec with a 500W PS, though a new one would be nice since this case is pretty big.
Also have a monitor, don't need a new one, same with speakers, mouse and keyboard, and a DVD drive.
I've got a SoundBlaster Audigy 1 for a soundcard, would an upgrade to an Audigy 2 be worth it?

Do have a question about a hard drive... would I be able to reuse the one I have now without reformatting? Or should I look into buying another drive, and making the one I have now Secondary to just pull data off of.

This all comes to about 560.. which is close to where I want to be. I could see spending 600, but that's pushing it... so should I fork out some more cash and get a better video card? Or should I wait a few months until Summer, and build one then? Also, am I going to see a decent increase in performance with these components (worth the 600 bucks)?

Any help is appreciated.
March 31, 2006 9:49:15 PM

Quote:
It appears that my old computer doesn't hold up anymore. After chugging through FEAR, I know am looking at Oblivion, and well, I've had enough of putting everything on low. My old build was a P4 2.4GHz, 1GB RAM, and a Radeon 9600XT. I'd upgrade just the video card, but my mobo doesn't have a PCI-E slot, and I've had the comp for a couple years.

So I'm looking to do a bit of an overhaul, but still use some old parts of my computer. I do want to be able to game, but I can't be spending thousands of dollars on a new pc. Also, I'm planning on using this comp for at least another 2 years, so I want to be able to upgrade a little later on.

So right now, I'm looking at:
MOBO:
ASUS A8N-E Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

Processor:
AMD Athlon 64 3700+ San Diego 1GHz HT Socket 939 Processor Model ADA3700BNBOX - Retail

RAM:
CORSAIR XMS 1GB (2 x 512MB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Unbuffered Dual Channel Kit System Memory Model TWINX1024-3200C2PT - Retail

Vid Card:
SAPPHIRE 100106L Radeon X850XT 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail

First off, all this is compatible, right? Been a couple years since I built my comp, and I've been trying to get up to date on things.
I have a case, Antec with a 500W PS, though a new one would be nice since this case is pretty big.
Also have a monitor, don't need a new one, same with speakers, mouse and keyboard, and a DVD drive.
I've got a SoundBlaster Audigy 1 for a soundcard, would an upgrade to an Audigy 2 be worth it?

Do have a question about a hard drive... would I be able to reuse the one I have now without reformatting? Or should I look into buying another drive, and making the one I have now Secondary to just pull data off of.

This all comes to about 560.. which is close to where I want to be. I could see spending 600, but that's pushing it... so should I fork out some more cash and get a better video card? Or should I wait a few months until Summer, and build one then? Also, am I going to see a decent increase in performance with these components (worth the 600 bucks)?

Any help is appreciated.


Keep your SoundBlaster; I doubt you'll be able to tell the difference between that and an Audigy 2. If your current RAM is DDR400, you can keep that, and get the new RAM to have 2GB. Or you could keep what you have right now, and spend the money that you saved to upgrade that video card to an x1800gto, which will overclock high, and unlock to 16 pipes.
March 31, 2006 9:58:07 PM

I agree w/ making it 2GB of ram...tests show that 2GB of ram prevent frame drops comparible to only 1GB of ram. I also agree to save up and go w/ the X1000 series ATI (if you are buying ATI again) because, someone please correct me if i'm wrong, the X850 series does not support pixel shader 3.0, whereas the x1000 series does :D  . All in all, it seems like a good setup and i like that you keep it under $600 bux for an overhaul...that is usually my rule of thumb.
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March 31, 2006 10:45:49 PM

What capacity and speed is your current HDD ?

You might get a nice kick in speed going to a 160 GB, 7200 rpm, 8+ MB cache SATA HDD with NCQ [Native Command Queuing], when compared to your current HDD, whatever that may be.
March 31, 2006 11:25:55 PM

The current HDD I have is a 160GB 7200 8MB cache, so I guess I won't really need to get a new drive.

Also, I can't 'just buy' a new graphics card, becaue my current mobo has no PCI-E Slot, and it looks like PCI-E is the way to go for the better cards. Also, the RAM is not DDR 400, so I was planning on getting 1GB in a 512 pair now, and then after the summer job, pick up another gig.

What's a better choice for the video card... would I be fine with something from the X1600? the x1800s seem to be a bit to expensive.

Edit: Was looking around and saw that there is a ATI X1600 Pro that is an AGP card... would I be able to bump up some settings on Oblivion and Fear just by picking up this card for $150?
March 31, 2006 11:41:54 PM

that looks like a good computer, i have a X850XT and i have it on full settings for CS:Source and it will still get 60fps which makes me happy. so i really see no point in wasting the money on a more expensive card. i will eventually upgrade, but not now, its too soon and it still works perfectly fine, so go with a X850XT, you'll love it... i hope.
April 1, 2006 6:55:24 AM

No stick with the x850 over the x1600.

The x850xt is still a nice card and is excellent value at the moment.

2gb would be better just get something like corsair value line.

Reusing the old hard drive will mean a re-install as windows will not like the fact that you have new chipsets.
April 1, 2006 4:31:10 PM

Quote:


Reusing the old hard drive will mean a re-install as windows will not like the fact that you have new chipsets.


Not always, you can apease Windows by starting up the system in Safe Mode (before switching or just after changing equipment) and deleting the ENUM folder in the Registry. HKEY Current Config --> System --> Current Control Set--> ENUM. The blows out the device manager and forces Windows to redetect all the devices just like an install also.

If this does not work, you can also repair the install using an XP CD. But using blowing out ENUM does the trick nicely.
April 2, 2006 6:21:04 PM

So just a Windows reinstall would be needed... just pop in the CD and boot from it to reinstall?

Thanks for the help. The plan is to buy a decent mobo and CPU that can stick around for a year or two, then upgrade the vid card every so often. Do you guys think I'd be good to go with this system then?
April 2, 2006 7:10:43 PM

ASUS A8N-E Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
$92.99

AMD Athlon 64 3700+ San Diego 1GHz HT Socket 939 Processor Model ADA3700BNBOX - Retail
$212.00

Crucial Technology 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM Dual Channel Kit System Memory - OEM
$169.00

eVGA 256-P2-N553-AX Geforce 7600GT 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail
$189.00
-or-
SAPPHIRE 100155 Radeon X1800GTO 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - OEM
$231.00

I would definitely get a card that can support SM 3.0, it's just not worth buying a card you have to replace soon to support all the fancy features of games. Infact alot of new games are have already HDR and it's worth every penny. This is a little more than you said you were willing to spend so you could drop the cpu back to a 3200+. You have 2gb of ram, and a sm3.0 videocard means no need to upgrade in near future. If you are hardcore ATI then you will be spending 42$ more on videocard, and both of those videocards perform the same. Or better yet, get an sli motherboard and buy a second 7600gt down the road. This is again what I would do because you wouldn't need to upgrade to replace and parts. Also the 7600gt is only 10$ more than the x850xt. And if you absolutely can't spend anymore, I recommend just getting one stick of crucial/corsair value ram 1gb, instead of 2x 512mb. Because if you do buy a second stick, DDR performs better with 2 sticks than 4, And then you have the option to add more ram beyond 2gb. Hope I helped
April 2, 2006 7:30:47 PM

yes u can "just buy" a new video card. ever heard of agp? thats wat ur system has, isnt it?
!