I have the deluxe version of that MB and running a 2400+. My budget won't allow for a new computer until the end of next year or beginning of 2008. If the XP 3200+ were dirt cheap, I'd say get it. But since you can get a new AM2 motherboard and a 3800+ for cheaper, it'd be foolish to get a 3200+ which is exactly why I haven't upgraded. Depending on the 3GHz CPU, the XP3200 might be better but I highly doubt it.
You'd be able to salvage the memory is you went S939 but I'd go for at least an AM2 system or save a little more money and get a C2D E6300.
Price on DDR2 memory has currently gone through the roof which is another reason to wait.
Btw, what video card does your wife have? You might be able to have the fastest graphics system if you get a different video card. Take a look here and notice that the worse card reviewed is a 9600XT which is better than your 9600Pro. I have the 6600GT and notice how much it smokes even the 9800Pro.
If you can find a cheap 6600GT or other AGP video card with the same or equal performance, this would be your best single cheap upgrade to your computer.
Overclock that 2500 barton. Change the fsb to a 400 (200) instead of the 333 (166) and you have an instant 3200+. Some boards will even read it as such.
If the guy knew how to do that, do you really think he'd be posting here? OCing is more likely to screw this guy's computer up, not improve it. Of course, if he overclocks it and breaks it, he'd need to buy a new computer anyway, then he could buy something faster than what his wife has. Maybe that is good advice then.
Hey hey... lets use our brains here. You want a better computers than your wife... its very simple. All you need is a screwdriver, and about an hours worth of time. Next time your wifes asleep or gone, go to her computer, open it, and take out all the parts. Replace them with your computer parts, except for the hdd. Cover up your tracks as well as you can, make sure the computer boots correctly with the correct drivers.
Bam, instant win for you.
Otherwise, wait till you get some more money, and instead of getting a computer better than hers, get one twice as good as hers...
Is my suggestion.
Then throw in a DX 10 video card in a year from now.
Includes old ATA interface your your old drives and pci if you have any cards you still want to use.
Knowing her video card would be useful but this will do everything with ease.
I suppose the question is "better" at what... gaming? encoding? video editing? The distribution of the $500 could be modified to focus on a task. Although, it probably wouldn't be difficult to upgrade for $500 that is better at everything if the specs of the Compaq were known.
If you want UBER-cheap, newegg is giving away free motherboards with AMD 3400+ CPU's (socket 754 unfortunately, but better than socket A!) @ $99. Pair that with a newer video card and you could easily whip your wife's Compaq.
Or, like one of the posters above suggested, crack open her case and steal all of her RAM and replace it with a single 128MB stick. :wink:
Don't bother for that unless your going for budget only.
Such as an auxillary computer.
If $500 is really the budget, it would be very easy to go s939, AM2, or C2D. It's too bad RAM prices are approaching RAPE levels. RAM now adds $150-$200 to a DRR-to-DDR2 MoBo upgrade. A 7600GT would be a nice upgrade while you're at it.