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Hi guys, I'd like some upgrade advice

  • CPUs
Last response: in CPUs
June 29, 2006 9:54:03 PM

I've had my current PC for just over 2 years and I've not really upgraded it since I bought it except for an additional hard drive, here's the current system:

AMD Athlon 64 3200+ (Winchester)
Zalman CNPS7700-CU Ultra-Quiet CPU Cooler
Gigabyte K8NXP-9
1Gb Crucial DDR400 RAM
Powercolor ATi x700 Pro 256Mb PCIe graphics card *crap*
2 36Gb Western Digital Raptors running in RAID 0 for games
250Gb Seagate Barracuda hard drive running as my main storage
Enermax Noisetaker 350W PSU *NO PCIe connector!*

I'm using on-board sound which I've been happy enough with so far. The audio is sent via SPDIF to an A/V receiver so there's no real loss of audio quality due to connections as it's digital to digital.

I'm happy with the pair of monitors I've been using, which are Iiyama Prolite 435S LCDs.

I'm just using a microsoft wireless multimedia keyboard and wireless comfort mouse which I'm pretty happy with.

I bought Half Life 2 Episode 1 on Steam and it crashed occasionally because my system just isn't up to running the latest games. I'm very much aware that my decision to go with an ATi x700 instead of an nVidia 6600 was a poor one to say the least. I don't want to run Episode 2 in anything less than the native resolution of my monitors, I don't think 1280*1024 is too much to ask for nowadays. I don't particularly want to play games on both monitors at once.

I'd like you guys to come up with a reasonable solution to make my PC suitable for some new games. I'd like to play F.E.A.R. and I'd like to have a pop at Oblivion. I own Doom 3, its add-on Resurrection of Evil and also Quake 4 but as I own an x700 they could have been so much more enjoyable in higher frame rates with visual goodies turned on.

I'd prefer to shop at, but if you feel there are better deals to be had elsewhere in the UK, please let me know.

I was thinking of the following pieces of hardware:

On a lower budget I think an nVidia 7600 of some kind. I'm not so keyed-up on which to go for - GS, GT or what have you. I would also consider upgrading the CPU on a lower budget, perhaps a lower-end Athlon 64 X2? I assume I should wait for Conroe and then perhaps all CPU prices might drop a little.

On a higher budget I think I'll definitely need to replace that PSU. I don't think I'll be in need of a dual graphics solution, I feel that's a little too high budget for me and I don't feel I spend enough time playing PC games for this to pay off. I think I could get some extra mileage out of that RAM, it seems to overclock happily enough to give that 20% extra that you should always be able to coax out of hardware, the same is true of the CPU, although it's looking a bit dated now, especially since it's only a Winchester class A64.
I would definitely be open to suggestions of upgrading to an nVidia 7900 of some sort. I view the 7900GT as a chip that's not going to be a worthwhile investment if I want to be able to play the most modern games at 1280*1024 with all the settings up on full for at least a year and a half. I believe that because nVidia have released the 7950 they're not in any hurry to quit productions of the 7900 chips just yet, but maybe it is a way of suggesting that just one on its own won't be able to cope in late 2007.

I'm not a fan of my motherboard but I know I want to upgrade that to the Asus K8N Premium motherboard if I want to stick with socket 939, but frankly I don't see myself switching sockets just yet. S939 has a long shelf life in it yet and there's going to be a time when it's as cheap as 754 is now. Just imagine being able to pick up something perhaps just a little less powerful than an FX60 for £50-60!

One last you think I'll need to upgrade that Zalman fan? It stops me from plugging in the daughterboard to my motherboard which supplies more stable 6-way power to the CPU.

More about : guys upgrade advice

June 29, 2006 10:32:39 PM

I recently replaced my obsolescent 9700 for a 7800GS as I was reluctant to spend money on a new motherboard and video-card.

Unfortunately, I dealt with Overclockers UK which advertised the GX-085-LT As a 20 pipes card (their staff even confirmed that information before I made the purchase), it was after the card was payed for and in the mail that they pulled a bait & switch and changed the description to 16 pipes !

They screwed me (and many other buyers) over without offering any apologies, just lame excuses about their false advertisement being a typo (yeah, right...), a refund implies that I would have to pay to send it back and wait for a month for them to "process" the chargeback.

My guess is they did that to bait people who were caught by their lies into sending the Leadtek back and buying the more expensive Gainward Bliss 7800GS Silent instead.

Sorry for venting but I would'nt thrust them if I were you...
June 29, 2006 11:53:09 PM

I'm sorry to hear that you got so royally screwed by overclockers but I've heard so many more bad reports about eBuyer than anyone else. I've heard that eBuyer are always getting orders wrong.

Is your 7800 really that bad? I'm assuming it's an AGP card because you were upgrading from a 9xxx card. I guess the issue isn't how good the card is, it's the lie you were sold, whether intentional or not and the resulting way in which Overclockers dealt with you.

Ok then... pick products from if you wish, they seem to offer good prices, are occasionally good on one or two items but overall are higher priced, I reckon.
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June 30, 2006 12:13:29 AM

It got nothing to do with AGP, its about the GPU "missing" 4 rendering pipes compared to what I belived I was getting.

As far as comparing it to the 9700, it is a day and night difference, especially after I OC the 7800 GS to 550/680, while it can't come close to a full blown 7800GT (with 20 pipes) it definetly is a good piece of hardware if I set aside my bad experience with Overclockers UK.

I'm sure that I could push it beyond my current OC if I bother with a voltmod.
June 30, 2006 12:26:01 AM

Have you ever wondered where OC get their own brand video cards from?I know they sell a lot of stock which makes them a serious market force, but they're just about the only shop I can think of that sell own brand graphics cards. Don't you think it's a bit weird. I bet they're the ones that don't make the selection process for Sapphire or BFG and as such are only suitable for sale running at stock speeds, so OC buy them instead...what do you think?