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Mobo/Proc/RAM upgrade recommendations -$250ish

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Last response: in Systems
September 7, 2006 1:07:36 AM

Hi all,
I'm looking to upgrade my rig. I got into overclocking back in 2000 but kind of fell out of it b/c I didn't have much $ to play w/. I'm now looking for an upgrade, but I really don't have the time to spend catching up on everything that's happened in the last 4 years (busy at work, family at home, etc). I've tried to catch up some and I feel I can start seriously looking now. What I have now is:

Abit KT7A-RAID
Athlon XP 1800+
512 M of PC133 RAM

As you can see, pretty weak. A bit of background: I do a lot of Photoshop work w/ huge files (from a 16 MP camera sometimes), a lot of ripping/editing/etc w/ DVDs and large video files, and a lot of audio conversion, with some occasional gaming. I pretty much can't watch a DVD w/out my system restarting at some point. Most of my issues have been related to the hodgepodge of 2nd hand memory sticks over the years that have failed or not worked properly.

I'm looking for a core upgrade with peripherals falling in as I have the extra cash.
Here's my priorities:
1. Needs to be about $250, or not much more.
2. Mobo is the most important, since I can easily add more RAM or swap proc down the line, but I'd like at least 1G of ram to start off w/
3. Stability. I'm tired of hardware that doesn't quite work well together
4. I have at least 2 PCI cards I want to keep using, not including my PCI sound card which I want to keep using if it's better than onboard (I do some recording as well)
5. I have an AGP card right now, only a 64Mb Radeon, but it does have Video in, which I use a LOT. If I have to get a new card in order to get a good mobo, I will (not including vid card in $250), but it would be nice to have an AGP slot. Also, I'd like your thoughts on how much better a PCI Express vid card is than an AGP. I also will do some reading on this though.
6. Always been a little biased towards AMD, so Intel is a hard sell for me, but I'm somewhat open

So that's about it, I know it's not working w/ much, but it can be done. I saw a recommendation for an Asrock 939 Dual SATA and an Athlon 64 3000+ in the "Upgrade path" thread, that looks like a great option, but I'm sure there are other equally good ones.

Thanks guys!

More about : mobo proc ram upgrade recommendations 250ish

September 7, 2006 2:28:42 AM

I would have suggested Intel to you, but given your budget I don't think it's really a viable option in this case. Here are my suggestions:

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3000+

Mobo: Asus A8N5X

RAM: G.Skill 1GB (2 x 512MB) DDR400

Even though there's not much of a performance increase over AGP, PCI Express is the way to go simply because that is the way manufacturers are going.

This configuration might be a bit more than $250, but for the sake of stability.... I would try to extend your budget. Trying to get anything lower would mean you will need to get parts from other, less well known manufacturers.
September 8, 2006 3:46:41 AM

Yeah that's why I put 250ish, I'm willing to go a little higher if I need to. What makes that Asus better than the Asrock? I keep seeing this Asrock pop up all over here and other forums, seems to be very popular right now.
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September 8, 2006 5:21:41 AM

The A8N5X uses an Nforce 4 chipset, whereas the Asrock you pointed out uses a ULI chipset..... The slot on the Asrock for the daughter card to upgrade to the AM2 CPU is totally pointless. If you want to go AM2, you might as well get an AM2 motherboard. The AM2 chips when installed into those daughter cards, I believe perform worse than their 939 equivalent.
September 8, 2006 5:35:37 AM

That's kind of what I was thinking, in a couple of years when I want to upgrade the Proc, if I go w/ AM2, I doubt I'll be using a card, I'll probably just upgrade the mobo

The thing is, I just bought a never-been-used AGP vid card from a guy tonight, I wasn't going to do it but he only wanted 30 bucks for a 256Mb GeForce 5200+, so I figured what the hell.

So the AGP slot is looking pretty attractive. The only Asus 939 board w/ AGP on newegg doesn't have any PCI-E slots, so the Asrock is looking better and better. Now I'm wondering what the difference between the Asrock 939 Dual-SATA and the Asrock 939 Dual-VSTA is.

Edit:

Just found this, any experience w/ this? Uses Nforce4, plus has more SATAII and USB connections...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...
September 8, 2006 6:12:03 AM

Congrats on wasting $30. That card sucks. A Geforce 6200 or 7300 could easily beat it. Those go for about $15 more if you shop around. Biostar isn't the greatest manufacturer, but If you're not going to turn around and sell the AGP card and take my suggestions above, then go for it.
September 8, 2006 6:21:33 AM

I did some searching around, and most listings were around 45-50 or so for cards w/ that chipset. I found only a couple listings for that cheap on ebay. Mind you, I didn't waste too much time looking really. Like I said I'm not a gamer, and I've been using a 64mb Radeon for the past 6 years or so, so I have a hard time believing this won't be a vast improvement worth 30 bucks, even if I just use it in my old setup. My thinking was I didn't want to stick that old card in a new setup, but didn't want to break the bank getting a new card w/ DVI.

I'm actually starting to change my mind a little though, I don't know a whole lot about the chipsets for the 939 but a lot of the stuff I have read has been in favor of the NForce4 chipset. Also even w/ the 30 dollar purchase I don't know that it's worth basing my motherboard around AGP compatibility.

I'll look further into the board you suggested. Thanks for the help.
September 8, 2006 7:01:42 AM

An agp card can cost more than $50 more than its pcie counterpart, so if you want a good motherboard, go for it. The extra cost on the motherboard will be outwayed by the saving on the video card. And yea you should like at least 1gb ram to start with.
September 8, 2006 7:08:47 AM

I'm actually starting to think I want to spring for 2G, but I don't want to go too shitty on the memory.

Suggestions? I'm thinking if I can get the mobo+proc in the 150 range, I can look for ram in the 150ish range.
September 8, 2006 7:11:47 AM

We are talking $US here right? $AU250 aint going to get you far so I guess we are.
September 8, 2006 1:15:56 PM

Yep, U.S. Man, catching up on 4 years of computer technology is exhausting. I was up till 4AM reading articles, reviews, and messageboards last night, and it just leaves me more undecided than before.