Need help with upgrading a gaming comp...CHEAP


I need to upgrade my system and I really only have about $250-400 to spend. I currently have:

AMD Athlon XP 2700+
ASUS NForce 2 A7N8X Motherboard
Kingston DDR400 (2x512mb) PC 3200 RAM
NVidia 6600 AGP 256mb
Sound Blaster Audigy 2
Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 300GB HDD
450 Watt PSU in the Xion II XON-103 case:

My current problem is that since I got DSl (yes I've really been stuck on dial-up for all this time) when I try to play Everquest my CPU is heating up to about 66C and then I go linkdead. I want this upgrade to be the best possible for my price range since I use it for gaming and college and I really dont want to sink money into the computer now and have to do it again in a year. Could I get some input on the what processor/motherboard I should get? If I need to replace RAM as well, etc. I've got a total of five fans (3 that come in the case and 2 that I've added) and it is still getting really hot. Do I just need a new processor/motherboard or do I need to look at a better cooling system as well? Thanks in advance for the input!
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  1. You get DSL and the first thing you do is play Everquest? Oh well, I cannot account for taste, but I will give some advise that may help.
    First, nothing will make Everquest run smoothly, so throwing money at equipment won't gain you anything in that game. A basic recommendation would be:
    1. One tube of Artic Silver. $7
    2. Artic Cooling NV cooler for your video card. $30
    3. A new Antec, Seasonic or Enermax Powersupply $80 - $120
    4. A decent CPU cooler (hard to find for socket A) try to find an old Zalman for socket A. $30 - $40

    Alright now install the PSU. Take off the cooler for the 6600 and apply a smidgeon of Artic Silver and install the Artic Cooling heatsink. For definition of a smidgeon, try the smallest amount possible amount while still covering the chip. Repeat this with the CPU. Throw away all but two of your fans, one for the front of the case and one for the back. There is such a thing as having too many fans. Boot your system up and over-clock it to at least a 3200+. Do not raise the voltage. If it isn’t stable at the stock voltage or if the system just isn’t stable, buy a XP-M and over-clock it.

    Now, Everquest will stutter and sputter, but your system will run cool and quite.
  2. Check your case fan directions are correct (rear & PS exhaust, front & side intake) since I have had some cases & PS with the wrong direction & that can cause overheating. Something is definitly awry since you have a lot of fans and your CPU is heating up. Does your system temp match your CPU temp? A simple test would be a lan-gaming "Oscillating Fan" mod where you remove the side panel and put the fan next to the case and blow air in - if the problem goes away chances are it is the airflow is somehow not efficient enough...

    Another thing to check is the CPU fan itself. The sleeve-bearing fans (that were common on the cheaper heatsinks when you get a mobo/cpu combo) have a rather short lifetime, and it could just be shot bearings and the fan is not turning as fast and as a result not pushing enough air anymore. If that is the case, then a 60mm to 80mm adapter like this one can be had then any 80mm fan will be an upgrade in itself. For $3 it is one of the cheapest cooling mods around, if you take one of your case fans out for the cpu there is no extra cost.

    Finally, if you do want to upgrade your HW, this setup will allow you to use your current card, as well as upgrade to dual-core and PCI-E later this year. Have done this several times for folks who want a piecemeal upgrade, performance is much improved. Seems to be within your budget...

    ASRock 939Dual-SATA2 Socket 939 ULi M1695 is just over $72 (or refurbed for $41)

    A64-3200 939 for ~$155

    G.SKILL 1GB (2 x 512MB) DDR 400 for $85

    FSP/Fortron 450W for $57

    total: $369

    Then down the road, you can get a nice dual-core, pci-e gpu, case, hdd maybe a dvd-rw & put it all in there - then dust off your legacy parts and stick them in the old case. That's where the fun is...
  3. Upgrade the firmware on your DSL router.
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