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Upgrading AMD Athlon XP 2000+

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April 4, 2006 7:44:51 PM

I'm planning on upgrading my gaming computer.

I currently have the following setup:

AMD Athlon XP 2000+
ASUS Mainboard
768mb DDR (PC 2700)
6600GT AGP
160gb 7200 rpm IDE Western Digital
480 watt Antec

Since I only use the computer to play games on a 30" widescreen HDTV monitor with DVI PC input @ 1280x768 resolution, I'd like to find a processor that will significantly improve my performance in games while still using my AGP card and current power supply.

I have a budget of 300$ USD and I am currently considering purchasing the following components:

AMD Athlon 64 Venice 3000+
Gigabyte GA-K8U-939 Socket 939 ULi M1689 ATX
Kingston ValueRAM 512MB SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200)
ZALMAN CNPS7000B-ALCU 92mm 2 Ball Cooling Fan

Are these components a viable option for my upgrade path and will the improve my performance in games?
April 4, 2006 8:46:16 PM

I think your video card will hold you back here. Depending on the games you plan on playing, I wouldn't expect much eye candy from the 6600GT at that resolution.

However, since you do not want to change your video card, I would suggest maybe looking at the Asrock Dual Board. It's about $10.00 more but will give you a PCI-E slot for when you do (and you will) upgrade your graphics.

Unless you plan to overclock, I would stick with the stock cooler for the processor and put the money into at least 1GB of RAM instead of 512MB. You should still be within your $300.00 budget.

EDIT: Even if yo do plan on overclocking, get the 1GB now and upgrade the HSF later would still be a better option.
April 4, 2006 9:40:38 PM

Its doubtful that you'll see much of a increase with that setup. I've got a computer with basically the same setup:

Athlon Xp 2000+ OC@1800
GeForce 6600 Agp OC@450
2x512 DDR 500

And I've compared it to the wife's computer:

Athlon64 3000+
2x512 PC 3200
GeForce 6200 PCI-E

I know they're quite different setup but the xp beats her comp in almost everything (FEAR/BFME1&2/FarCry...) despite the slower cpu. I think you'd be better off either upgrading the video card to a 6800 Ultra or a X850/X800. You also have some head room for overclocking.
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April 4, 2006 9:45:45 PM

Awwwee... give the wifey a 7900GT. Then compare it..

:oops:  <(J/K!!)
April 4, 2006 10:31:11 PM

Quote:
I think your video card will hold you back here. Depending on the games you plan on playing, I wouldn't expect much eye candy from the 6600GT at that resolution.

However, since you do not want to change your video card, I would suggest maybe looking at the Asrock Dual Board. It's about $10.00 more but will give you a PCI-E slot for when you do (and you will) upgrade your graphics.

Unless you plan to overclock, I would stick with the stock cooler for the processor and put the money into at least 1GB of RAM instead of 512MB. You should still be within your $300.00 budget.

EDIT: Even if yo do plan on overclocking, get the 1GB now and upgrade the HSF later would still be a better option.


I forgot to mention that I do not plan on overclocking in any way. I also wanted the Zalman because it will be quieter than the stock fan.

Is there any disadvantge to having a board like the Asrock since it has both the PCI-E and AGP slot does performance suffer on either as a result?
April 4, 2006 10:34:41 PM

Quote:
Its doubtful that you'll see much of a increase with that setup. I've got a computer with basically the same setup:

Athlon Xp 2000+ OC@1800
GeForce 6600 Agp OC@450
2x512 DDR 500

And I've compared it to the wife's computer:

Athlon64 3000+
2x512 PC 3200
GeForce 6200 PCI-E

I know they're quite different setup but the xp beats her comp in almost everything (FEAR/BFME1&2/FarCry...) despite the slower cpu. I think you'd be better off either upgrading the video card to a 6800 Ultra or a X850/X800. You also have some head room for overclocking.


I have another setup that consists of the following:

Athlon 64 3000+
1gb PC 3200
9800 Pro AGP

I don't run games on it but when I tried the synthetic benchmark 3dmark it scores much higher than the Athlon XP system even though the videocard is much older. What is the reason for this?
April 4, 2006 11:03:08 PM

System throughput is higher, faster memory, bus speed, yada yada. Throw your video card in that system.
April 4, 2006 11:03:46 PM

The reviews on the Asrock have been very favorable and I haven't heard any performance issues regarding the PCI-E and AGP slots. I believe Tom's even gave it a a good review. Just do some snooping around on Tom's and you'll find it.

I'm not an expert on 3DMark so I will let someone else help you on that although I've heard people on the forums say that "Synthetic" benchmarks don't add up to real-world performance. Honestly, the fact that your other system has 1GB of RAM gives it a huge advantage.

The way I see it, you have two choices. Buy the newer system (using the Asrock board) you spec'd and hold out for a better video card later on.

Or, or get your RAM up to 1 GB PC3200 on the old system and buy a new video card. You should be able to get into a 6800GS or X800GTO plus 1 GB of NEW RAM for about $300.00. Your Asus board may even support dual channel, which coupled with 1GB (2 sticks) might help out a little more.

Either way you'll have fuN with it.
April 5, 2006 12:57:26 AM

Quote:
Its doubtful that you'll see much of a increase with that setup. I've got a computer with basically the same setup:

Athlon Xp 2000+ OC@1800
GeForce 6600 Agp OC@450
2x512 DDR 500

And I've compared it to the wife's computer:

Athlon64 3000+
2x512 PC 3200
GeForce 6200 PCI-E

I know they're quite different setup but the xp beats her comp in almost everything (FEAR/BFME1&2/FarCry...) despite the slower cpu. I think you'd be better off either upgrading the video card to a 6800 Ultra or a X850/X800. You also have some head room for overclocking.


I have another setup that consists of the following:

Athlon 64 3000+
1gb PC 3200
9800 Pro AGP

I don't run games on it but when I tried the synthetic benchmark 3dmark it scores much higher than the Athlon XP system even though the videocard is much older. What is the reason for this?

In game, the GPU is much more important than the CPU, to a certain point.

If you could put 2 identical high end video card in each system, the 3000+ would be able to maximise the video card much more than your poor XP. And the 3000+ would score way better too.

Now, since the 6600 is much more superior than the crappy 6200, even the 3000+ can do nothing to help there. The 6600, while being a rather weak video card for the 3000+, is sufficient enough for the XP

It is not how old a video card is, it is how performant it is, no matter the age.

The 9800 was not a weak GPU, way superior to the 6600 and 6200 despite being older.
April 5, 2006 1:37:34 AM

Agreed, the 9800 PRO was a nice card. The 6600 is probably only as good as that card. The real question is how scalable to card is with the CPU. My 6600 in the OC Athlon Xp, gets 2208 OC and 1889 at stock. Compared to the VGA charts of 1986 on a Athlon 64 4000+. FYI the 6600 GT got 3281 and the 9800 Pro got 2590 (but does the same as 6600 (not GT) in doom3).

Since your other setup is almost exactly the same as the your proposed upgrade, why don't you swap in the 6600 GT and see what you'll get for it. Otherwise I'd go with something that has PCI-E like the ASrock.

Grimmy: 7900GT for a woman who mostly plays sims2 and empire earth2, talk about overkill. Now if I can just convince her that she needs one.. :D 
April 5, 2006 2:28:18 AM

The ASRock 939 mainboard certainly looks like a better choice than the Gigabyte and worth serious consideration. I would have the ability to use my 6600GT AGP and then upgrade to a PCI-E card later.

The only problem I can find with the ASRock is that it is not listed on the Zalman website as being compatible (or incompatible) with the quiet ZALMAN CNPS7000B-ALCU. So I may need to find an alternative quiet cooling solution if I want to use the ASRock board.

The only other option I would consider is possibly purchasing a eVGA Geforce 6800GS AGP (225$) or even a eVGA Geforce 7800GS CO 256MB GDDR3 AGP (299$) to replace my 6600GT and upgrade the RAM to 1GB.

Which of the options would give better performance in gaming, the old setup with a new 6800GS AGP/7800GS or a new system with a much faster CPU and RAM and 6600GT?
April 5, 2006 2:32:04 AM

Quote:
Agreed, the 9800 PRO was a nice card. The 6600 is probably only as good as that card. The real question is how scalable to card is with the CPU. My 6600 in the OC Athlon Xp, gets 2208 OC and 1889 at stock. Compared to the VGA charts of 1986 on a Athlon 64 4000+. FYI the 6600 GT got 3281 and the 9800 Pro got 2590 (but does the same as 6600 (not GT) in doom3).

Since your other setup is almost exactly the same as the your proposed upgrade, why don't you swap in the 6600 GT and see what you'll get for it. Otherwise I'd go with something that has PCI-E like the ASrock.

Grimmy: 7900GT for a woman who mostly plays sims2 and empire earth2, talk about overkill. Now if I can just convince her that she needs one.. :D 

The 6600Gt is a lot faster than the plain 6600. the 6600is at maximun, a nice all around video card for casual gaming..

About the Asrock, I have one currently and everything is good so far. AGP performance is up to par, because it is real AGP (not mutant like in some motherboard) and the PCIe performance is good to. I did run it for a while with an x600xt PCI-e, then an AIW9600 for video capture(crappy at gaming thou) and now, with a real nice Asus x1600xt silent VIVO(yup, fanless) .. This, combined with the fanless motherboard and the quiet A64 make an extremly quiet syste, with nice performance.
April 5, 2006 5:27:07 AM

Just as a matter of my own personal interest. What mobo are you using in the 2000+ box, and what are you getting as far as 3dmark05 scores? (or 03).
April 5, 2006 11:44:51 AM

Quote:
Just as a matter of my own personal interest. What mobo are you using in the 2000+ box, and what are you getting as far as 3dmark05 scores? (or 03).


I'm using an Asus A7V8X-X mainboard with the XP 2000+/6600GT system and here are the 3dmark results:

3dmark03 score = 6845
3dmark05 score = 2995
!