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upgrade options

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August 25, 2006 10:53:55 AM

My eyes are getting bad as I age closer to 50, so went from 17inch crt to 23 LCD HP L2335 a few months ago, and now want to upgrade my computer to help drive the bigger monitor. I am good with computers, but not up to date on the newest stuff, so any and all help is appreciated. I play Counter Strike Source, Half Life2, Quake, Doom, Call of Duty2, etc..

Current system:

Athlon64 3400 socket 754
MSI 6702 K8T NEO Motherboard
PC400 512x2 = 1gig memory
Radeon 9800 Pro128 Video AGP
Sata 80GB x 2 in Raid 1
Alienware type case with many fans sound activated lights
500 watt Aspire ATX AS-500W
HP L2335 Monitor DVI connected
Plextor CD burner
DVD Player (cheapo)

What is the cheapest way to upgrade this system?
What is the best way?

More about : upgrade options

August 25, 2006 7:18:47 PM

Thank you very much for your help. My budget is approximately $1000 right now. However, I do like the way you found affordable upgrade options, and I may choose that direction and do a new system later on.

Question, If I switch to PCI-e Mother Board, will I still be able to use the same Athon64 Processor and PC400 memory, it appears that way?

Would X1900XTX video card be out of the question for this MB you are recommending?[/code]
August 26, 2006 1:30:22 AM

My understand is that PC400 is the old name for PC3200 DDR, they just renamed it to keep the memory naming sequence relative to the other memory speeds available at the time.

Dumb question, about socket 939 MB, means my Athlon 64 3400 socket 754 will not plug in / workl? If that is the case, then what CPU / MB do you recommend?
Related resources
August 26, 2006 2:33:52 AM

Indeed, a 754 CPU won't fit into a MB that's not 754. If you want to keep your RAM you could go with a Socket 939 CPU like say, an Athlon X2 4200+ which according to THG has a very nice price/performace ratio. If so, I really like DFI NForce4 motherboards. Can't provide a link right now but if you google it you'll se there's a DFI for almost any budget. Hope this helps!
August 26, 2006 3:09:16 AM

Quote:
I guess I need to understand this socket 939 and 754 better. When I am looking at MotherBoards, I see some 939 that indicate they take Athlon64. That is why I am confused right now. Can someone please explain this to me. Here is an example:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16813131540


What is your question? A socket 754 CPU wont fit on a 939 board. "754" and "939" refer to how many pins are on the underside of the CPU...
August 26, 2006 3:10:35 AM

Oh ok! That's because Athlon 64's have come out in three different sockets: 754, 939 and now AM2. As their name implies, 754 is a 754 pin socket, 939 has 939 pins, and AM2 has 940 pins (well that one wasn't implied). If you google or get in amd's website you can find more info on each, but basically the most important thing is that they cannot be mixed and matched, even though they are still Athlon 64 CPU and motherboards. Only 754 and 939 will let you keep your RAM, that's why we didn't mention socket AM2 since that one only works with DDR2. Hope this helps!
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
a b α HP
August 26, 2006 3:16:30 AM

Buying just an AGP replacement video card now means its nearly certain the video card cant be transferred over to your new system.

Buying a 754 motherboard ($50) with PCI-E slot with a PCI-E video card in the $125 class (Radeon X1600PRO or Geforce 7600GS) or $199 class (Radeon X1900GT) allows you to move the video card into your next system - what ever that is. Allows you to keep your current CPU but without a clear CPU upgrade path.

You could look at the new video card as your first (early) purchase of your next system. So it's OK to spend a bit more now. And that means you've only spend $50 that won't go to your next system. You'll make back that $50 in another 2 or 3 months as the prices on CPUs & motherboards drops from the current prices.

If you do the MB/GPU upgrade now - when do you expect to start shopping for your new system? The smart alternative might be to just go ahead with your new system build. Your $1000 budget is probably 80% of what you'd want to get a good, all-around gaming system right now.
August 26, 2006 3:30:58 AM

Quote:
Your cheapest opption that will give you much better perfomance then what you currently have would be this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...


X1600Pro is NOT better than a 9800Pro. I'd just go all out and upgrade to socket 939 along with an Athlon X2 3800+ and THIS X1900XT. It will blow away what you have now; you'll be amazed with the increase in performance.

I have just one question: What are the amps on your PSU's 12V rail? That X1900XT will require at least 25 amps.
August 26, 2006 3:39:22 AM

Thank you folks for clarifying that socket issue for me. Now back to the drawing board. Basically, I have these options for now.

1. Cheapest approach, upgrade Video card to X1600Pro, but that will not really help as much I would like. As recommended cost $94.99

2. Second cheapest is, upgrade to socket 754 MB that has PCI-e slot and get a Video Card that is PCI-e such as, X1600XT. This will allow me to keep existing memory and CPU. As recommended cost $158.94

3. Better, upgrade to socket 939 MB, CPU, Vid Card, keep existing memory. Cost $

4. Best, New MB, CPU, Memory, Video Card. Cost $



Any suggestions for for numbers 3 and 4?
August 26, 2006 3:54:14 AM

Quote:
Thank you folks for clarifying that socket issue for me. Now back to the drawing board. Basically, I have these options for now.

1. Cheapest approach, upgrade Video card to X1600Pro, but that will not really help as much I would like. As recommended cost $94.99

2. Second cheapest is, upgrade to socket 754 MB that has PCI-e slot and get a Video Card that is PCI-e such as, X1600XT. This will allow me to keep existing memory and CPU. As recommended cost $158.94

3. Better, upgrade to socket 939 MB, CPU, Vid Card, keep existing memory. Cost $

4. Best, New MB, CPU, Memory, Video Card. Cost $



Any suggestions for for numbers 3 and 4?


Look at the AsRock Dual939 motherboard. I have one. IT is around 66 dollars. It has AGP and PCI-E, so you can use your current vid card now and update to a new one later. Its Socket 939, but for $32 you can upgrade it to support AM2. Pretty sweet deal really.
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
a b α HP
August 26, 2006 5:40:57 AM

Quote:
Now back to the drawing board.
Any suggestions for for numbers 3 and 4?
If you havent already found it you want to visit NewEgg.com. They have a really handy shopping cart and you can save the cart to a WishList. That lets you build and compare multiple options quicky. Plus they are good at pointing out rebates and have great prices to boot.



Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 Conroe $193
Gigabyte GA-945GM-S2 Micro ATX MB $95
CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR2 675 (PC2 5400) $187
eVGA Geforce 7600GT KO 256MB GDDR3 PCI-E x16 $179.99
WD Caviar WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA $77.99
LITE-ON 16X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE $29.99
ASPIRE Black/Silver MicroATX Case 420W Power Supply $84.99
Microsoft Windows XP Home With SP2 $89.99

$1,131.94 (before tax (if applicable) and shipping costs to your locale)
and thats before $70 worth of mail-in rebates.
August 26, 2006 7:05:44 AM

Not to change the subject but, I read from another area you mentioned to someone else about DX10 cards coming in Dec/Jan. What is that all about, should I wait to buy my Video card until then? Should I wait to upgrade MB, CPU, till then as well?
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
a b α HP
August 26, 2006 2:07:37 PM

It's pretty much your topic, so you can take it any where you want too.

As for waiting for a DX10 card you'll probably be surprised to know that your current ATI 9800 is on the list of GPUs that support Vista Aero Graphics.

Since the Vista rollout in Dec/Jan will be the corporate version with the consumer version following in the spring thats a long time to wait. The first DX10 hardware will start to roll out this fall (i.e., nVidia G80 GPUs).

More importantly - what games will you be playing that actually NEED DirectX 10 hardware support? Its likely that any DX10 game will also run on DX9 hardware, or there will be a DX9 version.

http://www.ati.com/technology/WindowsVista/Products.html

http://www.nvidia.com/page/technology_vista_gpu.html
August 26, 2006 6:36:00 PM

What are you saying, that if my hardware is on the Vista list, then it is going to run DX10? I am considering X1900XTX Video card and see that it is on the list. What about MB, do I need to verify that as well?
August 26, 2006 8:54:12 PM

Im lost, is there a system builder on Newegg.com? Or, are you just using the shopping cart?

So much to consider. Itel Quad Core coming this Fall as well. Maybe I should just wait until Quad Core comes out? If I build system now using AMD 3800 x2 with X1900XT, then it will become bottom of the pile system in 4 months?

I am currently considering:

1. Athlon 4800 x2, 939 MB, keeping old memory PC400, X1900XT or XTX

2. Dual Core E6600, MB, new memory, X1900XT or XTX

3. Waiting, and deciding what to do with old MB, Memory, CPU, Vid Card
August 26, 2006 10:15:22 PM

Quote:
Im lost, is there a system builder on Newegg.com? Or, are you just using the shopping cart?

So much to consider. Itel Quad Core coming this Fall as well. Maybe I should just wait until Quad Core comes out? If I build system now using AMD 3800 x2 with X1900XT, then it will become bottom of the pile system in 4 months?

I am currently considering:

1. Athlon 4800 x2, 939 MB, keeping old memory PC400, X1900XT or XTX

2. Dual Core E6600, MB, new memory, X1900XT or XTX

3. Waiting, and deciding what to do with old MB, Memory, CPU, Vid Card


The Intel quad core isn't really a "quadcore" system. It 2 dual cores on the same die. There has been on confirmation that current Core2 boards will even support the chip.

AMD system 3800+ is not a bad system, and you can upgrade it to a quad core AMD system in 2007. AMD has already said all AM2 motherboards will accept 65nm and quad core CPUs. AMD's CPU will be a true quad core.

Either way, the 4800+ is not a very good value with the much better 65nm chips coming so soon. If you go AMD, go botton of the line for now.
August 26, 2006 10:37:06 PM

Quote:
My eyes are getting bad as I age closer to 50, so went from 17inch crt to 23 LCD HP L2335 a few months ago, and now want to upgrade my computer to help drive the bigger monitor. I am good with computers, but not up to date on the newest stuff, so any and all help is appreciated. I play Counter Strike Source, Half Life2, Quake, Doom, Call of Duty2, etc..

Current system:

Athlon64 3400 socket 754
MSI 6702 K8T NEO Motherboard
PC400 512x2 = 1gig memory
Radeon 9800 Pro128 Video AGP
Sata 80GB x 2 in Raid 1
Alienware type case with many fans sound activated lights
500 watt Aspire ATX AS-500W
HP L2335 Monitor DVI connected
Plextor CD burner
DVD Player (cheapo)

What is the cheapest way to upgrade this system?
What is the best way?

Im lost, is there a system builder on Newegg.com? Or, are you just using the shopping cart?

So much to consider. Itel Quad Core coming this Fall as well. Maybe I should just wait until Quad Core comes out? If I build system now using AMD 3800 x2 with X1900XT, then it will become bottom of the pile system in 4 months?

I am currently considering:

1. Athlon 4800 x2, 939 MB, keeping old memory PC400, X1900XT or XTX

2. Dual Core E6600, MB, new memory, X1900XT or XTX

3. Waiting, and deciding what to do with old MB, Memory, CPU, Vid Card
IMO the current issue you have is not with "driving" a bigger monitor, but with playing games that tax the AGP videocard you have. The cheapest way to fix this is with a $300 AGP card. DO NOT DO THIS!
Choice #1 will work, but to do this just to keep $80 worth of memory may also be a bad investment. Adding 2 more sticks of DDR400 to this choice will likely slow the memory down. A 2T command rate at DDR333. This means that you will be kinda stuck with 1GB after the upgrade.
Choice #1 1/2 is AM2. You seem to have enough cash to move on.
Choice #2 would be the way to go IF you have the cash, and do not want to wait for the next generation DX10 cards to go with Microsoft Vista. Once you buy an X1900XT or XTX you will be unlikely to want to throw it away for a DX10 card, although you could sell it and get some cash back.
Being "retired" and an avid gamer 8) , I would put together a E6600 with single videocard system using a motherboard such as:
MSI P965 Neo-F LGA775 965 ATX Conroe $110+6 8/18/06
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16813130052
http://www.msicomputer.com/product/p_spec.asp?model=P965_Neo-F&class=mb
OR
Asus P5N-SLI nForce570 Conroe $130+0 8/26/06
http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?ProductCode=247091 (Newegg is cheaper but out-of-stock)
Pick out your motherboard and then visit your favorite memory OEM website and ask it for 2GB (2x1MB) of compatible ram.
Do not worry about overclocking or buying expensive gamer's ram. You get your speed from the Conroe and especially the videocard.
With an E6600 you should be good to go for quite some time. Eventually your next upgrade will be forced due to the exact same problem you have now- an outdated videocard. Hopefully the fastest gaming cards will still be using PCI-E slots when that happens! :) 
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
a b α HP
August 26, 2006 11:27:44 PM

Quote:
What are you saying, that if my hardware is on the Vista list, then it is going to run DX10? I am considering X1900XTX Video card and see that it is on the list. What about MB, do I need to verify that as well?
Actually I said that if your video card is on that list it will run Vista's highest graphics settings Aero.

DirectX 10 will only run under Vista and requires DX10 hardware (nVidia G80 GPU for example) to run DX10 games with the highest "eye-candy" mode.

But if you have DX9 hardware on a WinXP system the DX10 game will play nicely - just not in top eye-candy mode. Its much the same as when you run a DX9 game (like COD2) on your ATI 9800 DX 8.1 hardware.

There is not an actual "system builder" on NewEgg like there is at places like http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/ and other similar VAR builders and places like Dell or HP. But you can use the shopping cart AND the ability to move stuff to the Wish Lists and save multiple wishlists so that is pretty close to a system builder type arrangement. You can even use CyberPowerPC's builder and then go price the same items on NewEgg to see the cost differences.
An example of a saved NewEgg wish list: http://secure.newegg.com/NewVersion/wishlist/PublicWishDetail.asp?WishListNumber=3172372

Quad-core systems will be like SLI / Crossfire systems. You pay 100% more for (maybe) a 15-50% performance gain in games. If you game at resolutions at or above 1920x1600 you may need/want that extra performance.

Im with Newf. Ditch the 939 in favor of AM2.
Carefully compare the 1920x1600 gaming results of the video cards on your short list.

Are we still talking about the $1000 budget at this point?
August 27, 2006 5:22:39 AM

Updating a computer never seems to have an easy answer. You folks are a blessing to me, thank you everyone for so much help. Please have patience, as I am still considering as much as possible while staying opened minded.

Would it be a reasonable option to buy this Foxconn MB that "mpilchfamily" recommended in the first reply, and also X1950XTX PCI-e video card. This way I could use socket 754 AMD64 3400 processor that I already own, and the PC400 memory. Foxconn MB has the PCI-e for faster video card. Will it work?

My thinking is, that I could spend for good video card now + 50 for Foxconn MB, then do upgrade to quad core cpu + MB + memory later on in 2007. Something tells me this idea will not work, just a bad gut feeling, so tell me what am i missing, why?

Time and money; I can stretch my budget higher if needed, and I can wait longer as well. Games are playable now but with lowest video settings. Seems to be a catch 22 when you throw in the DX10, Vista, 65nm chips, and quad cores coming soon. I overheard someone say, they would not buy anything until DX10 comes out. Geez... go ahead worry me. Will I really want to toss a X1950XTX video card when DX10 comes out? Seriously, should I just wait until DX10 comes out, then do major upgrade? Could be a long wait eh..
August 27, 2006 12:11:03 PM

Quote:
...Im with Newf. Ditch the 939 in favor of AM2.

Newf said to get a Conroe.
August 27, 2006 1:13:04 PM

Quote:
...Would it be a reasonable option to buy this Foxconn MB that "mpilchfamily" recommended in the first reply, and also X1950XTX PCI-e video card. This way I could use socket 754 AMD64 3400 processor that I already own, and the PC400 memory. Foxconn MB has the PCI-e for faster video card. Will it work?
Yes. You would be changing from a 20 pin supply main to a 24 pin. Normally one would just get an adapter to handle this, but... I would also consider looking at the power supply you have. I am not familiar with Aspire as a brand, but it is not a lot of $ to replace with an FSP that would definitely handle the power requirements of the XTX card and have a 20+4 main connector.
FSP AX450-PN 450watt 12v:2x18a PSU 20+4pin $52+8 8/18/06
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817104954
Quote:
My thinking is, that I could spend for good video card now + 50 for Foxconn MB, then do upgrade to quad core cpu + MB + memory later on in 2007. Something tells me this idea will not work, just a bad gut feeling, so tell me what am i missing, why?
The issue for you seems to be a need for better video to handle gaming. Buying a $350 XTX will do this. The only thing you are missing I can see is that I prefer to see "balanced" systems, where all components are more evenly matched. This is why I recommended the Conroe upgrade, but what you suggest here will run. A 6600 Conroe upgrade will last you a long time- except for the videocard because you want to play the best games. You cannot get around this. Quad-core systems and such are just not the issue for you. Indeed, this is exactly why you can get by with a Foxconn/XTX switch today.
Quote:
Time and money; I can stretch my budget higher if needed, and I can wait longer as well. Games are playable now but with lowest video settings. Seems to be a catch 22 when you throw in the DX10, Vista, 65nm chips, and quad cores coming soon. I overheard someone say, they would not buy anything until DX10 comes out. Geez... go ahead worry me. Will I really want to toss a X1950XTX video card when DX10 comes out? Seriously, should I just wait until DX10 comes out, then do major upgrade? Could be a long wait eh..
Once DX10 cards come out, the value of an XTX will plummet. How important is this to you? Vista will run fine with any DX9 capable card, but you will not get the benefit of DX10 features. Eventually, games (which will also run on DX9) will use DX10 features and I guarantee you will want a DX10 card by then (when? who knows). Once again, its the videocard that's the issue for you. Gaming constantly pushes the 3D envelope and requires regular feeding. As to the person who won't buy anything until DX10 comes out, I'd bet their needs are not the same as yours.
August 27, 2006 1:52:07 PM

get a Core 2 Duo system ,possibly a Core 2 Duo e6300 with a P965 motherboard and couple it with a x1900XT 256 MB which was released just a few days ago. with such a setup you can upgrade to a DirectX 10 graphics card when they come out.
get a big hard drive ,one of those with 500GB or more.
August 27, 2006 7:05:04 PM

I would hate to get rid of this power supply it is really cool looking 500watt. Everything is glowing in my see thru case, as I have special build system with sound activated light, LED fans, colored cabling. There is a 4pin 12 volt connector for MB. Is that what you are referring too? Here is the link again, check it out please.

http://www.systemcooling.com/aspire_550w_psu-01.html

You can see connectors are shown on page 2.


I guess bottom line on my system, I need a faster video card. No mater what I buy when DX10 comes out, I will still need a new video card. Seems foolish to pay 350 for a video card only to get rid of it in 6 months, but then again seems foolish to be barely playing with my current set up. Do you think Vista will be offered cheaper if bought with a new system build?

Please let me know about this power supply before I decide on anything. Thank you.
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
a b α HP
August 27, 2006 8:20:02 PM

It looks like you have a better than average power supply. Its always good to know it recieved good reviews (I googled a couple extra review articles and all were positive). It's also good to know that the company is still around and still putting out quality products (even if they have changed names to APEVIA) http://www.apevia.com
New 20 pin PSU on sale at NewEgg for $50 the newer 24 pin PSU is $60.
The new 24 pin PSUs are usually the ones to say "SLI ready".
You may need a PSU adapter to get power to the big GPU. I dont know if they put one in the box. Your PSU does meet the x1900XTX 30 Amps on 12 volt rail recommendation. I think you can give your PSU a chance to carry on.


Have you checked the price difference between XTXx and XTs? Usually there is a very small frame rate difference (ie, 3-5 fps). X1900 XT/XTX comparison

I don't think that a DX10 GPU falls into the "must have" category any time soon - say the next year to 18 months. For one thing it will only run DX10 with Vista and the consumer version of Vista is due out Spring 07 (at the earliest). And how many games will really need to DX10 card to be enjoyable? WinXP and DX9 cards will be in the majority for the next couple years and the game makes will not ignore the biggest part of the market.

Same for Quad Core. Unless you're a server guy it's not likely 4 cores will do much for the average gamer. According to AMD, K8L includes a quad-core design for servers, workstations and high-end desktops, and a dual-core design intended for mainstream desktop markets.
So Quad cores will need Socket F motherboards (1207 pins). The 65nm dual core design will use AM2 or AM3 motherboards (940 pin). It will probably be a year before they're on the street in numbers and at prices that are under $1000+. Then again - how much more will a quad core give in performance over dual core in games? Hopefully the newer games will better utilize SMP and SLI/Crossfire. Software always laggs hardware's abilities.

Personally, Im interested more in the 65nm dual core K8Ls. Will be interesting to see if they can match the Conroes.
August 27, 2006 10:53:14 PM

If new video card will last a year, then spending the money now for decent Video card is okay with me.

So basically i have narrowed down to these options.

1. Intel e6600, X1900XT overclock it, MB, memory. Hopefully in a year, I can just upgrade video card again as a suitable upgrade.

2. Foxconn MB, X1900XT, keep existing CPU and memory. In a year, do a complete system. For 50 dollar MB, and video card that I buy anyway, why not try it?

MSI p965 Neo-F mb seems to be sold out everywhere.
August 27, 2006 11:07:40 PM

MRetired wrote:
Please let me know about this power supply before I decide on anything. Thank you.

It looks OK, but it does only have a 20 pin main connector. If you use it with a motherboard upgrade you will need an adapter. The square 4 pin plug is not related to this and must be used with both old and new mobos.
August 27, 2006 11:19:07 PM

Thanks for clearing that up about the square 4 pin connector, I was thinking it could be used. Add one adapter to shopping list.

By the way, I see ASUS MB with Dual-channel DDR2 667/533. This might be dumb question, but isnt DDR2 800 faster?
August 28, 2006 7:17:10 PM

Okay, I have been reading up on computers, and testing results and the like. I think this is what I want, and yes my budget has been increase to 1500 if needed, thanks to my wife.

1. Definetely want the Intel E6600 CPU
2. Motherboard need help with this. SLI or no SLI?
3. Memory need help with this, but seems DDR2 800 is right?
4. X1950XTX I think I need the Crossfire? I read this review of it and sounds really awesome. Has quieter cooling than X1900XT

http://www.behardware.com/articles/637-17/ati-radeon-x1...

Keep in mind I have 23 inch LCD display, and play HL2, CSS, Doom3, etc..
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
a b α HP
August 29, 2006 3:24:53 PM

It looks like ATI will be pricing the X1950XTX and X1950 Crossfire at the same price. For that reason it just makes sense to buy the Crossfire edition.
You can easily hold off on the decision to get a 2nd video card till you have had a chance to run your new system and check its actual performance.
Another good review of X1950 Crossfire

If you want to look at SLI instead of Crossfire the options are a bit more limited at the moment. In another couple of weeks a lot more nVidia 590/570 motherboards will start showing up in retail channels.

You will need to revisit your power suppy capability for SLI/Crossfire to make sure its adequate.

Check out this article for help on motherboard and RAM decisions.
Conroe Buying Guide: Feeding the Monster
!