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The time to upgrade for the budget user is ... when?

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May 25, 2006 1:55:51 AM

Right now I am running a Socket A Sempron 2200 with 512MB of RAM (no clue what brand, don't really care all that much) and a 32MB AGP Graphics card. Obviously an upgrade for me does not take much. I use this computer for everyday tasks, video encoding/decoding, and watching movies mainly. For weeks I have been hearing on the forums "wait till AM2/Conroe is released to upgrade since prices will drop."

1. Now that AM2 is here, is this the best time to upgrade, or should I wait a few days or weeks, or should I wait until Conroe is released?

2. Am I right to assume that for a budge user that something like an AMD socket 939 with a Athlon 64 3000+ would be a good choice?

3. I should be able to upgrade to a dual core chip for a moderate price in a year or two, right? Or will 939 chips not be being sold anymore?

4. I would like to be able to upgrade my in a year or two whatever I buy now (or soon). Is 939 the way to go for a budget user or would 940 being newer make the price difference worth investing in for the upgradeability?

An answer to this would probably help out a lot of budget users out there.
May 25, 2006 2:16:40 AM

Since your machine is quite old, I assume you do not "upgrade" often.

By upgrade I assume you mean you will buy a new comp, as you will most probably not be able to use the old hardware.

Current CPU, RAM prices are already dropping and will continue to drop especially after the AM2 and Conroe becomes mainstream.

You have two choices

1. New AM2 940 socket and Conroe with new chipset
Future upgrades will not be a problem as the new sockets and RAM should work on the new hardware. However, the technology is new, and there will be bugs in new MB etc. As for price, high end CPUs are always expensive, but AMD are manufacturing a full range of CPUs so you will still get the some low and mid range 940 CPUs.
2. stick with current AMD 939 and Intel with 945 Chipset.
Prices for these will drop soon (dropping now) and will continue to drop as both AMD and Intel will try to get rid of stock. You will see good prices for these CPUs soon. The technology is mature and most new boards will support things like SATA II - NCQ Hard disks etc. "upgrades" for CPU should be OK in 1 or 2 but after that you may not be able to get them, same for RAM.

I would suggest that, if you don't plan to upgrade your new machine (change CPU etc in future) stick with current tech (and buy a new machine in 3-4 years). If you do like changing CPU, etc, the new tech should be a better option.

Old DDR may increase in price as stocks get low in future (2 years). Of course I cannot predict prices, but you see how much the 128MB PC133 SDRAM costs now? (4 times more than 512MB DDR PC3200).

For MB all new boards will support PCIe, avoid the boards with optional AGP as this will fade out (but you will need a new graphics card). You can still use your old HD, but they are slow, you can get a new SATA-II 80G HD for about $50

Hope it helps
May 25, 2006 2:48:10 AM

Quote:
Since your machine is quite old, I assume you do not "upgrade" often.


Actually, I built this PC a year ago. The mobo and processor were < $100 together.

Quote:

By upgrade I assume you mean you will buy a new comp, as you will most probably not be able to use the old hardware.


My RAM is DDR and my hard discs will still work in a new system. Also, my PSU is only a few months old. I will probably reuse everything I can and just get a new mobo and processor. Over time when I upgrade the new mobo and processor with newer equipement (RAM, videocard, ect.) I will then filter my old hardware and eventually have reassembled the pc I have now.

Long story short, all I am really concerned with is a new mobo and processor, and I do plan to upgrade evey 1 - 2 years from now on. If I upgrade to AM2, then I may have to worry about more hardware.
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May 25, 2006 3:10:24 AM

For you I would suggest taking the Intel socket 775 route. On the 28th of this month you will be able to purchase one of the new Celeron D models starting out at $79 (single core, 3.2 GHz, 512kb L2 cache), or for a little more you could purchase the Pentium D 805: Dual core, 2.66 GHz 1MB L2 cache per core($129). These cpus are currently the best intel socket 775 bang/buck cpus out there. Couple one of these with a low priced board like an ECS-branded unit that allows you to reuse your AGP card and DDR ram (price ~$45-$55 shipped), and you have yourself one hell of an upgrade for little money up front. Then, once prices drop and Conroe-compatable motherboards become mainstream, you can upgrade to an entery level Conroe-based motherboard/cpu (or just the motherboard for a while). If you're not going to be playing games, then there is no reason to upgrade your video card or to go to PCI express at this time. This setup would considerably speed up your encodings.

Of course, if you don't mind buying a dead platform, the Celeron D 310/socket 478 motherboard combo is hands-down the best bang/buck deal, bar none. Just purchase any socket 478 mobo that supports the 800 fsb (I used a super-cheap ECS PM800-M2 mobo) and pin mod the processor to the 800 bus, giving you a 3.2 GHz Celeron D that performs on par with a 2.6-2.8 GHz hyperthreading P4 in most tasks, and will be as good as a 3.0 GHz P4 when it comes to MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 encoding, all on stock voltage and using the stock cooler. The boxed Celeron D cpu/cooler combo can be had on Newegg for the paltry sum of $42, and a compatable socket 478 mobo for even less (esp. if you buy used). total cost of ~$75, allowing you to reuse your DDR ram, hard drive, and AGP card.
May 25, 2006 4:31:38 AM

You might keep your eyes open for manufacturers selling their 939 stock. I prefer to build my own, but if your not using the cutting edge components sometimes its almost cheaper and less hassle to just to buy one.
I saw a compaq at best buy 3200+ sempron, 1gig of ram, with 17" monitor for 389.00. You will definately have better components if you build it yourself but thats pretty cheap for an entire computer.
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