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seeking advice about future upgrades

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May 23, 2006 3:11:25 PM

My current system:

CPU: Athlon XP 2500 OC to 3200
RAM: 2x512mb Corsair Value Select in dual channel
MB: Abit NF7-S
SOUND: onboard
HDD: Western Digital 80GB 7200rpm
HDD: Western Digital 15GB? slave drive (using as swap drive)
GPU: MSI Radeon 9800 Pro 128mb
CASE: Lanboy aluminum? has a couple big fans
PSU: 450W i think Thermaltake or something
OS: Windows XP Pro
Display: 19" Viewsonic UltraBrite A91f+

I want to either build a new system all together or just upgrade this one if that's recommended. I want something good for gaming. I want good fps in games. I've been having to use pretty low settings with about avg fps in newer titles. I want to keep under $1000.

I think I listed everything...any recommendations?

Thanks for looking!
May 23, 2006 4:00:07 PM

I suggest waiting just a little longer. Socket AM2 Athlon 64 just became available today and will probably be sold at retail to regular people next month. It will future proof your build because the next general AMD CPU coming next year will be for socket AM2.

Socket 939 Athlon 64s are near the end of their lives since production will end this year. However if you want to build now and you are not going upgrade for at least 2 years then the S939 is a consideration. That's because after 2 or 3 years you might want to build an entirely new PC.

So what's your decision? Build now or build next month?
May 23, 2006 4:09:10 PM

Quote:
I want to either build a new system all together or just upgrade this one if that's recommended. I want something good for gaming. I want good fps in games. I've been having to use pretty low settings with about avg fps in newer titles. I want to keep under $1000.

^Have to agree - since it is not the best time for a system purchase, I vote for upgrading the GPU for a cost-effective FPS boost in your games, so 7800gs or X850XT will max out your rig (I would probably take the 7800gs)

EVGA Geforce 7800GS CO 256MB $277 shipped
ATi RADEON X850 XT 256MB $308 shipped
EVGA Geforce 7800GS CO Superclocked $315 shipped

Unless you *really* want to retask your current system, you can get a decent rig w/ a 7900gt and dual-core for under $1k

COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 $57 shipped
FSP Group (Fortron Source) AX450-PN 450W $58 shipped
Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Manchester $297 shipped
ASRock 939Dual-SATA2 Socket 939 ULi M1695 $70 shipped
G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR 400 CL2.5 $162 shipped
EVGA Geforce 7900 GT KO $280 shipped
$924

newegg shipping really sucks nowadays... geez
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May 23, 2006 4:13:52 PM

Well, you are definitely due for an upgrade, and i agree Jaguarskx you will probably be better off waiting till the new AM2 stuff is comercially availabe. For under $1000 you should be able to build and whole new system and keep your current one intact to use as a file server or something...
a b B Homebuilt system
May 23, 2006 5:23:53 PM

I would say a two-step process. First, upgrade the GPU in this machine. This may give you a lot of time to decide how you want to build a new PC. If you're satisfied with the performance of the GPU upgrade, you can even wait for Conroe or AM2, otherwise build a dual-core socket 939 PC based around an X2 or Opteron. Your current machine then becomes an adequate backup for most things, and the new machine is your gamer.
May 23, 2006 6:33:17 PM

Quote:
So what's your decision? Build now or build next month?


Well I actually don't have to upgrade now. I really was just curious if my current system was worth upgrading or if I should be thinking about building a new system. If you all thought a new system was a better option, I wanted an idea of my options in hardware for a good gaming pc under $1000. So if I get some specs now, by the time I'm ready to buy it may be a bit cheaper. I don't mind waiting for the Conroe or AM2 ( although I don't really know anything about those ) if that is the best option for cpu. I'll probably actually do the upgrade after summer.

I guess I could just upgrade the video card but my only worry with that is I would have to get AGP and that would make upgrading the rest later pretty limited. So I'm thinking I'm gonna have to upgrade the MB too which most likely will mean the CPU as well.

If I go for a new system I really don't need to keep my old pc since I wouldn't have anywhere to set it up. So, if there are any parts I can use in the new setup I'll do that. I know I can make use of the case and possibly the psu but I know some of the newer motherboards use a different type of psu so it might not work. Not sure if the ram will work or if it's even recommended for a game system since it's cheap value select. I could probably use another HDD since 80gb isnt much these days. I just want good fps in newer games and future games. I don't mind mild OC'ing but I don't wanna do any extreme OC since I can't afford to burn anything up.

Anymore thoughts or recommendations?
May 23, 2006 7:06:32 PM

Quote:
I would say a two-step process. First, upgrade the GPU in this machine. This may give you a lot of time to decide how you want to build a new PC. If you're satisfied with the performance of the GPU upgrade, you can even wait for Conroe or AM2, otherwise build a dual-core socket 939 PC based around an X2 or Opteron. Your current machine then becomes an adequate backup for most things, and the new machine is your gamer.


Good plan. And if you were I, you could expand the budget by delaying the remainder of the purchase. So, for example, go beyond what a $1000 plan might suggest for a graphics card, enjoy it now and continue to save bucks while you plan for the core system overhaul. I rationalize overspending this way often and I can assure you it works.

Do you like eating macaroni and cheese?
May 23, 2006 8:26:26 PM

Quote:
I would say a two-step process. First, upgrade the GPU in this machine. This may give you a lot of time to decide how you want to build a new PC. If you're satisfied with the performance of the GPU upgrade, you can even wait for Conroe or AM2, otherwise build a dual-core socket 939 PC based around an X2 or Opteron. Your current machine then becomes an adequate backup for most things, and the new machine is your gamer.


Good plan. And if you were I, you could expand the budget by delaying the remainder of the purchase. So, for example, go beyond what a $1000 plan might suggest for a graphics card, enjoy it now and continue to save bucks while you plan for the core system overhaul. I rationalize overspending this way often and I can assure you it works.

Do you like eating macaroni and cheese?

You gotta be kidding. You're saying to spend $150 - $300 for a new AGP video card, and then turn around a build a PC around Conroe or the AM2 Athlon 64?

That would be fine if you intend on posting a new rig for another year or more, but anything less than that is a waste of money since Conroe & AM2 will be PCI-e only.
a b B Homebuilt system
May 23, 2006 9:05:12 PM

Quote:
I would say a two-step process. First, upgrade the GPU in this machine. This may give you a lot of time to decide how you want to build a new PC. If you're satisfied with the performance of the GPU upgrade, you can even wait for Conroe or AM2, otherwise build a dual-core socket 939 PC based around an X2 or Opteron. Your current machine then becomes an adequate backup for most things, and the new machine is your gamer.


Good plan. And if you were I, you could expand the budget by delaying the remainder of the purchase. So, for example, go beyond what a $1000 plan might suggest for a graphics card, enjoy it now and continue to save bucks while you plan for the core system overhaul. I rationalize overspending this way often and I can assure you it works.

Do you like eating macaroni and cheese?

You gotta be kidding. You're saying to spend $150 - $300 for a new AGP video card, and then turn around a build a PC around Conroe or the AM2 Athlon 64?

That would be fine if you intend on posting a new rig for another year or more, but anything less than that is a waste of money since Conroe & AM2 will be PCI-e only.

I think that's exactly what we're saying. He may be satisfied with the performance increase of a new AGP card enough to wait until prices drop on Conroe or AM2. In 6-12 months, a lot can change. If he still has no room for, or doesn't want, a backup PC, then he probably has a kid sister, nephew, or someone who would get good use out of his old PC and would consider it a wonderful gift. Prices may well have dropped enough in that time that $1K might buy a lot more rig.

Otherwise, to build something right now that would barely handle the newest and most demanding games, you'd end up spending $800-$1000 on a dual-core CPU, socket 939 mobo, minimum of 1GB quality RAM, GPU (at least a 7600GT) and PSU. To handle them well you'd want a lot better than the 7600GT, for likely $200 more, and another GB of RAM.
May 24, 2006 2:48:05 PM

Well I only do an upgrade every 2 or 3 years depending how my system is holding up. So I need something that will hold up well for at least 2 years so here is what I'm looking at so far.

SAPPHIRE 100134L Radeon X1800XT 512MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail
Model #: 100134L
Item #: N82E16814102697
In Stock $289.99

Antec SmartPower 2.0 SP-500 ATX12V 500W Power Supply - Retail
Model #: SP-500
Item #: N82E16817103937
In Stock $68.99
Mail-in Rebate $15.00

CORSAIR XMS 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Unbuffered Dual Channel Kit System Memory Model Twinx2048-3200c2pt - Retail
Model #: Twinx2048-3200c2pt
Item #: N82E16820145575

In Stock $189.00
Mail-in Rebate $50.00



So I'll need a motherboard and cpu. About how much are those new processors supposed to run on the low end? Hoping in 4 or 5 months these prices will be even lower. I'm not sure if those are compatible RAM and PSU for the new cpu/motherboard.

I also looked at the 7900GT but the X1800XT-512 was cheaper and had more RAM. Since I don't plan to go SLI I thought the extra ram was better? The 7900 had more pipelines but I dunno if that matters. The benchmarks didn't seem to indicate any bonus with those.
May 24, 2006 5:11:58 PM

Quote:
So I'll need a motherboard and cpu. About how much are those new processors supposed to run on the low end? Hoping in 4 or 5 months these prices will be even lower. I'm not sure if those are compatible RAM and PSU for the new cpu/motherboard.

I also looked at the 7900GT but the X1800XT-512 was cheaper and had more RAM. Since I don't plan to go SLI I thought the extra ram was better? The 7900 had more pipelines but I dunno if that matters. The benchmarks didn't seem to indicate any bonus with those.


So it sounds like you're willing to wait a few months but I have not seen you specify if you're thinking Intel or AMD? If AMD, I don't really know when their 65nm CPUs will hit the market and have no idea how they will compete with Conroe. If you're thinking of AM2 with the currently available CPUs, then the stuff I'm reading points only towards the top CPUs like the FX. The lower priced AM2 CPUs actually perform worse than their 939 counterparts. I personally can't recommend spending that much on a CPU, especially when the 65nm units may have a significant performance advantage. If I was headed towards AM2, I'd wait to see how the 65nm launch goes and would be looking at a DFI mobo. If Conroe, I dunno, the Asus reviews I've seen are pretty strong but I also have high expectations from DFI there. Great forum support, great tech people.

If you're thinking Conroe or current AM2 CPUs, then waiting 4-5 months may be long enough to get a decent price break. Maybe not a price drop from AMD or Intel, but perhaps a combo deal on Newegg or some similar discount and/or shipping break. Put it this way - if I was willing to wait 4-5 months, then I'd keep all of my options open, including my attitude about brand.

WRT GPU, there are plenty of benchmarks published with the 7900 and 1800 series boards. Having been through GPU hell over the last month (I just shipped my last ever 7900 back to evga and will probably never shop there again) I can't advise anyone to buy nvidia right now. Go to evga's forum and look for the threads that discuss problems with 7900 boards. These are not isolated problems as far as I can tell. There seems to be a serious problem and although it may be isolated to specific batches, I have not yet found a means to determine which batches are bad. One contact I have in the RAM business has told me to stay away till the dust clears and a fix is incorporated that really works. At this point in time, all three of the gaming boxes in our house have ATI cards. They were a breeze to install and set up and are running super.
May 24, 2006 6:23:47 PM

I have used AMD for my last few builds but I don't really have a preference. Right now it really just comes down to best price/ performance. As for a mb I don't really have a preference there either. I don't really need SLI since I doubt I'll be able to afford to make use of it. From what I've heard it seems that when new gen cards come out the single card setup consistently outperforms the last generation in SLI. I'm not sure if that makes much difference in price to have a non-SLI board though, I'll have to look into it.

As for the video card. I've heard good things about EVGA. That sucks that they are having so many issues with the 7900s. I guess I made a good choice with the X1800XT for now. I've never owned a Sapphire but heard they are reliable. I hope it's true. :) 

I really need to read up on these Conroe and AM2 CPUs. I keep seeing people say to wait for them but I don't really know if it fits my budget or not. I saw that article about pentium D 805 OC'ing well but I dunno if that is a good alternative. I really need the best price/performance that fits my budget. I just need to figure out what that will be. I have plenty of time but I want to be ready when the time comes. Last few times I just did all my research at the last minute and probably ended up with not the best options.
May 24, 2006 8:40:32 PM

Quote:
I really need to read up on these Conroe and AM2 CPUs. I keep seeing people say to wait for them but I don't really know if it fits my budget or not. I saw that article about pentium D 805 OC'ing well but I dunno if that is a good alternative. I really need the best price/performance that fits my budget. I just need to figure out what that will be. I have plenty of time but I want to be ready when the time comes. Last few times I just did all my research at the last minute and probably ended up with not the best options.


I had to face similar decisions lately on two builds. Ultimately, I went with socket 939 and Opterons. After seeing the Toms and other AM2 articles, I'm glad I did. There's no way I'm spending a grand on a CPU right now so AM2 at present doesn't offer much. Besides, who wants to buy a CPU that's already clocked to the gills? I didn't have much time to spare although I could have gone with AM2 on the second box. Again, glad I didn't. If all goes as planned, I'm going to do another system later in the year or early '07 and it very well could be Conroe. I'll wait a while and see how it all shakes out. Thing is, I'm pretty amazed at how the current systems perform, so from here on out, all improvements are a huge bonus!
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