My next upgrade move, looking for opinions (yes another one)

Hey guys. Ya I know there are a lot of these threads but I'm bored at work and thought I would get some other people's opinions. I've always loved building my own rig and upgrading it from a young age. I sometimes like the process of researching, picking components, and assembling more than actually using the damn thing haha. Anyway, I seems to have less and less funds availably to spend on it and my last upgrade was Xmas ’04, she’s been a good rig but starting to show her age in new games. Here are the specs:

Antec 450w
Athlon64 2800+ Newcastle (stock cooling)
Chaintech VNF3-250 s754 (nforce3 250)
XFX 6600GT 128mb AGP
1GB (2x512mb) Corsair ValueSelect PC3200

The rest of the peripheral stuff isn’t that important since I’m looking for just a core upgrade and can upgrade storage/optical/sound/case later.

Anyway, I know I’m going to have to upgrade at least 3 components to be able to make the switch to PCIe, which has been the discouraging factor money wise. What I’m looking for is the cheapest upgrade that is still “worth” it, meaning I will see a big enough performance increase to justify it. Or if I should hang on a bit longer to see if the new stuff (AM2/Conroe) cause some price drops. So if you’re bored like I am let me know what you think. Thanks.
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More about upgrade move opinions
  1. You could get a Socket 939/PCIe motherboard for $65-$80, get a Venice 3000+ for about $115, and then get a 7600GT for maybe ~$155. So for about $335 you should see a decent performance improvement. Plus you will have PCIe for the future. And you should be able to take advantage of falling prices on 939 cpus when the new stuff comes out.

    Also, a recent check on eBay says you can probably get $80 for your old video card. Probably could sell your old motherboard/CPU combo for some change too.
  2. If you want to upgrade, but spend as little as possible, I'd start with your RAM. 2x1024 helps in a lot of situations. You're video card could use help, but I'd switch to PCIe before getting a new AGP card. If you can use a revision E processor on that motherboard, you could get either a 3000 venice, 3200 venice, or 4000 athlon mobile (make sure to get the msi mobile lid for this one). All of them OC far better than their 130nm counterparts, and will handle just about anything you throw at them, whicih would leave the GPU as the weak link.
  3. I couldn't disagree more with a RAM upgrade. Of all the pieces in your computer, I would say that 1GB of PC3200 RAM is probably the best. I seriously doubt that you would see any performance improvement from an additional GB of memory.

    Incidentally, I was in a similar situation a few months ago with a 6600GT AGP. I decided to get a 6800GS as a final upgrade for my current system and overclock my CPU from 3000+ to 3200+ levels. Sometime after Vista is reasonably stable, I'll build a completely new system.
  4. I appreciate the input. I agree that upgrading to 2GB of ram would have little impact on my current system. It's a "safe" upgrade since I can transfer it over but there's not much point until I can get some hardware that can actually run the games at high settings to actually take advantage of it. I'd rather use that money to upgrade mobo/cpu/vid, then upgrade to 2GB ram after.

    How's the 6800GS working out for you Steckman? I've thought about that card but I don't think I can bring myself to buy another AGP card since my upgrades are so few and far between. It basically looks like I just need to do the 3 part upgrade and get the cheap 3000+ venice to get it up and running, then hopefully later AM2 drives some of the 939 A64 prices down.
  5. I have a friend who worked on the graphics for Oblivion, and I really wanted to check it out at a reasonable detail level. So the 6800GS is working out great for me. I think I got almost triple my score in 3DMark06 as well.
    I bought the BFG version of the card from NewEgg for $200 and I was able to offload my 6600GT for $100. So I think it was well worth it for a $100 upgrade.
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