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Looking for a Little Help in Canada!

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August 28, 2006 6:49:59 PM

Hi all,
heck of a thing to look for advice as a first post, but the collective knowledge in the group far outways any advice I might be able to provide.

So here's the situation, keep in mind I'm in Canada, and therefore don't have access to newegg.com.

Need to upgrade the pc a bit, just enough to tide over for a year or so. PC is used exclusively for gaming and has served me well for the last 2 years.

I allready have some ideas, but don't want to bias your opinions by letting you know what I'm thinking so far.

Here's the current hardware I have: (just to be clear, this was all purchased 2 yrs ago, not what I'm looking at buying now)

Athlon 64 3000+ S754 NewCastle
Asus K8V-SE S754
1GB Samsung Generic (actually running C2.5)
ATI Radeon 9800 Pro
WD 80GB IDE
Antec Dragon Case
Ultra ATX 600W PSU
SB Audigy
Viewsonic VX922

Budget for upgrade 500.00CAN

Some sites to look at:
canadacomputers.com
pcvillagecanada.com
tigerdirect.ca
ncix.com
fanspc.ca
icct.ca

Thanks in advance, I know you've all done this a million times, but I'm looking for what you would do in my shoes.

Budget is not rigid, but would like to keep it cheaper, realize I won't be able to play Oblivion on max.

Thanks,

F1

More about : canada

August 28, 2006 7:17:48 PM

They are selling the X800XL at Canada computer for 129.99 AUsome price, not sure if they have any AGP version left though. SInce you have 500 dollars to play with, you could get a 7800GS and another gig of ram, that would add up to about 500 dollars and last you around 1-1.5 years. Good luck with your purchases!
August 28, 2006 11:56:10 PM

Thanks for the tip, although I can't find the x800xl AGP at canadacomputers. Any other suggestions guys?

F1
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August 29, 2006 12:31:28 AM

I live in Vancouver and i have found that ATIC (www.atic.ca) is often the cheapest place in Canada to buy parts. However, that being said, if it is at all possible, I would look into buying at least your video card from the US. Prices at most decent stores in the US for video cards are often 50%+ lower than in Canada. All other parts seem to be about the same, sometimes cheaper here.

x800xl PCIE - http://atic.ca/index.php?page=LongDesc&sku=12229
August 29, 2006 1:26:48 AM

Thanks again for the replies, any other suggestions?
August 29, 2006 2:10:28 AM

jonnili has a pretty good idea
if you can find a x800xl for 129 can it sounds good to me

anyway the two best upgrades seem to be mem and gpu
August 29, 2006 6:58:06 PM

Thanks again for all the Suggestions, any other upgrade paths anyone would like to suggest? All help is apperciated, still a little lost.

F1
August 30, 2006 6:15:20 AM

I'm not really sure upgrading from a Radeon 9800 Pro to an X800XL is really going to give you a huge boost in performance. Mostly it shows up only in the higher resolutions, and it's still fairly minor at that. Key would probably be switching your processor to something with a little more oomph, and possibly upgrading to DDR2 memory. The problem is, you might find yourself hard-pressed to do this for under $500.00. Unfortunately, if you're only going half-way, you're going to wind up buying into an obsolete platform. You could go to a Socket 939 platform or a lower-end Socket 775 Intel platform, and stick with DDR memory, but either way you'll still have to buy a new CPU and motherboard, and if you're going dual-core (as you should), this alone is going to put you out close to $500 if you want some decent power. Throw on 1GB DDR2 and this pushes it up another $100-$120.

As for the suggestion of getting another 1GB memory (to add onto your existing) - Don't bother. Almost no video game will be able to take advantage of that extra memory, especially when your system is going to be bottlenecking on HDD, CPU, and GPU performance as it is. Only people with top-end systems can really use that extra memory (higher resolutions run better with more system memory, provided the rest of your system can handle it).
August 30, 2006 7:58:07 AM

I realize you said you wanted to upgrade but, there is more than one way to upgrade a system.

Considering the system you have now and your budget, I'd say, sell all or part of your current system, add that money to your $500 and get a really worthwhile upgrade.

Some thougths about your situation with the system you have:

1. Upgrading the video card is a waste of money. PCI express has caught on, investing in AGP will not provide top performance and the card will not be transferable to whatever system you get in the future.

2. Similar as above for memory. Can't take it with you to the next system.

3. The motherboard, being a socket 754, it is a dead end.

If I were you, I'd see what I can get for the motherboard + CPU + memory + video card. If I could get around $400 CAN (which seems reasonable - ebay maybe ?), that would give you a total of $900 CAN. That should be enough to purchase a new motherboard, a decent CPU, a gig of memory and a decent video card; and that is a system you can upgrade later.

That's my $0.02
August 30, 2006 10:19:49 AM

Quote:
I realize you said you wanted to upgrade but, there is more than one way to upgrade a system.

Considering the system you have now and your budget, I'd say, sell all or part of your current system, add that money to your $500 and get a really worthwhile upgrade.

Some thougths about your situation with the system you have:

1. Upgrading the video card is a waste of money. PCI express has caught on, investing in AGP will not provide top performance and the card will not be transferable to whatever system you get in the future.

2. Similar as above for memory. Can't take it with you to the next system.

3. The motherboard, being a socket 754, it is a dead end.

If I were you, I'd see what I can get for the motherboard + CPU + memory + video card. If I could get around $400 CAN (which seems reasonable - ebay maybe ?), that would give you a total of $900 CAN. That should be enough to purchase a new motherboard, a decent CPU, a gig of memory and a decent video card; and that is a system you can upgrade later.

That's my $0.02


I would have to agree. Although I would give input on the upgrading portion, and on a new 'base' system.

First the upgrade:

Well, 500$ for an upgrade on, yes, an aging platform, and almost no one single upgrade will increase performance marginally. (seeing as you will hit a bottle neck). So I looked around and remembered that tigerdirect always has nice barebones and motherboard+cpu combos for cheap. So I checked em out. Dissapointed I found no deals that stood out. However what I was looking for, and had in mind, was a motherboard+cpu combo with THIS motherboard and THIS cpu. Wich save you about 170$ for a videocard... The best bang for your buck videocard, that I first thought was your bet, THIS one. Which could be softmoded to a x850xt wich gives fanominal performance for 230$... but that softmod isn't guaranteed and it is 60$ over budget. Then I looked up on the 7600gs. Identical to the 7600gt except lower clock, and slower gddr2 memory. So even with overclocking you probably wont surpess the 7600gt (wich is just ever so slightly trailing the x850xt in terms of performance), it's not exactly a slouch either. But then I found THIS sweet deal at tigerdirect, only 15$ more for the gt.

So we got an Asus board, nforce 4 platform. An AMD 3800+ dual core, keeping your same ram, and with a 7600gt. Definitely a huge performance gain, but your money can go farther...

Now, what alot of people will agree on... why spend money on an outdated system? Or buy another outdated base? Spend the extra money, get a new core system and you will be much more satisfied and you wont have to spend alot more either..

Motherboard & CPU $387.99

Memory $208.99

Video card $184.99

Now you have the latest and fastest cpu architecture (the conroe), 2gb of corsair ram and a 7600gt. All for under 800$. Ya, 300$ over what you were willing to spend, but let me explain why I picked what I did...

Core2Duo E6300 -
Easy, this cpu challanges the performance of the FX-60 and for just over 200$? There is no better cpu in price/performance. Some might argue the x2 3800+ AM2 is faster per dollar, but the 3800+ cannot guarentee an overclock to surpass the FX-62. The E6300 on the otherhand can almost guarantee an overclock to surpass the x6800. Hmm, now we have a 2**$ cpu beating the current 1300$ champ. I'd say you can't get better than that. But even if you don't overclock it is still a supreme performer, especially in gaming.

Sure the AMD series does perform well for the dolar, and dual core isn't a huge advantage in gaming, in terms of performance. But just general use of your computer will greatly improve and everything will be butter smooth. Also you can't get conroes in single core anyway. Again, might as well, especially considering how well they perform.

Gigabyte 965p-S3
A fairly easy choice to make again. Gigabyte's new boards have been given a thumbs up by the comunity for overclocking and stability with the new bios'. Although this motherboard doesn't have near the overclocking potential of some boards, it's very affordible compared to the others. It has all the features most people will ever need. And it uses Intel's latest chipset wich rivals the 975x in performance due to the 965p's improvements, especially in the new ICH8 southbridge.

Comparing to the upgrade option, it's pretty easy to see why this is a better choice. Supports all the new standard techs of today, good performer, nice and stable. I'm not saying the M2N-E doesn't offer that, but it doesn't support DDR2 or AM2 (in comparison to the older/newer AMD chipests), and next upgrade would be another new motherboard and another new cpu, and new memory. Your not really saving money buy not spending 300$ now.

Corsair DDR2 667 2x 1024mb
This one should be the most obvious of them all. Corsair is super compatible. This ram is extremely stable, and again sticking with the overclocking theme, a good overclocker as well. Although your motherboard wont be able to keep up with this ultra fast ram. Why not DDR2 800? You want to keep the FSB:RAM ratio 1:1 for best performance, and DDR 667 can give you better timings for alot cheaper than DDR2 800. 1:1 FSB:RAM ratio on default clocks is 533mhz, so you ram will/should be underclocked if your not overclocking. But the DDR2 667 gives you headroom when conroe goes 1333mhz FSB. (Then 1:1 would be 667mhz)

Even though DDR doesn't offer no extreme benefit, especially in terms of performance, it's the new standard, AMD and Intel will be using nothing but DDR2 until the next ram evolution comes along. Might as well hope on now. Besides you can't get any decent motherboards that support DDR + conroe anyways.

eVGA 7600gt oc
It's the 7600gt, what can I say. For the most part it keeps up with last gen high end cards, and supports SM 3.0, HDR, TrAA, gAA, and plenty of other goodies. A good card, a great price. Again, slightly slower than the x850xt but you can't find one of those for under 185$. And the x850xt doesn't support those new features I listed.


There you are, what I would do and why. I hope I helped in your buying decision. I will check back often if you got any questions.
August 30, 2006 6:50:45 PM

You might want to try www.memoryexpress.com and / or www.dangeo.com. Their both in Calgary and are very competitive, most of the time beating ncix and tigerdirect. I have had good luck with both. One small hiccup returning stuff to memoryexpress, but I have continued my patronage with excellent results.
August 30, 2006 7:33:49 PM

wow thats alot of opinions..

i would say save the money and wait a bit longer and save up a bit more. your system will still play most games.

dont worry about ram . the only thing more ram will do is reduce load times. and if you upgradeing in 2 years to a new system buyign more ram is a waste of money as its throw away when you build a new system.

buyign a new video card again is throw away money cause AGP is almost completly phased out.

and in order for you to get a new cpu/mobo , ram and video card your looking at over 500 ( cause you cant reuse yoru agp video card or ddr ram)

Id say sav eup 800 ish and get

AMD X2 3800+ 176.99
AM2 MoBo 110
1 gig DDR2 120
120 gig hdd 80
6800 GS 180

Total + tax = 767

or drop another 100 and get a 7900 GT or something
August 30, 2006 8:42:26 PM

I was in a similar situation. I picked up an Asrock 775Dual-VSTA motherboard and core 2 Duo e6300 for $354 CAD (tax in from NCIX).

I'm using the 1 GB of PC3200 DDR from my old system, as well as my AGP X800XL.
The board does have 2 DDR2 Slots in addition to the 2 DDR slots and has a PCIe 16 slot (although it doesn't run at full 16x speed) in addition to the AGP slot. It's about as good a transition board as you'll find.

That leaves you with 150 bucks you can save for a DX10 card and Vista, if you can hold out with your 9800 for a bit longer.
August 30, 2006 8:46:21 PM

A suggestion for you:

Buy out of province. You save the PST (or whatever provincial taxes are called in your province). I've bought from http://www.vibecomputers.com a couple of times to take advantage of that...the shipping costs are often less than taxes would be.
August 30, 2006 8:49:30 PM

I agree with F1nal_Omen as I pretty much suggested the same build to someone earlier though I recommended getting the MSI X1900XT from Newegg since it's $275 USD, which I guess is not an option for you.

If you don't plan on using your old computer, try and sell it as mentioned by 440bx to increase your budget.

From what little I was seeing, man, video cards sure are expensive up north. The 7600 gt oc sounds like a good card for the price.

Someone did suggest about buying the video card from the U.S. If you are able to, the X1800XT 256MB is a good card for around ~$200USD. I just did a currency exchange and this would be ~$222 Canadian. Not that much more than the 7600gt oc but a heck of a lot better.

If there is one thing you can skimp on, it's the memory. 1 GB will suffice at the moment and you can always get more in the future as memory is the easiest thing to upgrade.

What ever you do, buying a 7800GS is foolish as it will set you back ~$350 Canadian. For that kind of money, you can almost buy an E6300 and motherboard which will give you plenty of room to upgrade and keep your computer ticking for 3-5 years.
August 30, 2006 8:55:38 PM

I didn't know that a motherboard was available with both AGP/PCI-Express and DDR and DDR2 on it.

And I didn't know you can use DDR with the C2D CPU. Learn something everyday.

This definitely is the way to go to keep some of your components to keep the cost down but gives you future upgradability.

I know now what I can do to salvage my old computer.

Kudos to CannedTurkey.
August 30, 2006 11:14:31 PM

Actually, Anandtech has a 3-part article on this board comparing the performance differences between DDR and DDR2 , AGP and PCIe, as well as one of performance vs. the competition.

It's not a top performer... but it's respectable, and I don't mind giving up some performance for the compatability. It's also provides the best upgrade path I could find for those of us still using AGP and DDR Ram.
September 2, 2006 9:07:03 PM

First of all, thanks to all who posted suggestions and/or advice in this thread. I have since gone ahead and done a small upgrade which saved me some dough, and should provide a boost for the next year. Managed to find a used x800xl AIW for 100 can. (Thanks Scotty, glad to hear your problem got solved!) Turns out the card is actually an x800xt with reduced clock speeds. Same card, cooler, everything. So here we are with about a 2 to 2.5 times performance increase in all the usual benchies for a hundred bucks. Thanks again, and I'll try to help others out the way you all helped me.

F1
!