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Upgrade advice, please

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September 22, 2006 5:13:05 PM

I accidentally caused a little mobo fire on my Athlon 64 3000+ system. I have under $750 to spend on an upgrade keeping costs down is imperative. 600$ would be better. I use my system for gaming and light video work, mostly compression.

Here's what I had (Built ~2.5 years ago):

Athlon 64 3000+ Socket 754 (Newcastle 2GHz, 512K l2 cache)
MSI K8N Neo Mobo
Antec TruePower II 480W Power Supply
1 GB PC3200 DDR400 RAM (slow stuff 3-3-3-8)
Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB AGP
200 GB ATA/133 HD (can't remember exact brand WD or Hitachi probably)
SoundBlaster Live!
BTI Cheapy 8x DVD+/-RW (no DL)
Floppy Drive
Tower Case w/ 5 Fans

It was a good system. It was speedy and decent for most undemanding games. (Wife & I into WoW right now.)

Ok, so I'm replacing the CPU, RAM, Mobo, & GPU.
Here's what I picked out:

Gigabyte GA-965P-S3 $116.99
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13 GHz $225.00
GeIL 1GB 2x512 MB GX21GB6400DCK $129.99
Sapphire Radeon X1900XT 256 $249.99
Total $721.97
(Prices @ NewEgg)

So keeping everything else, how does this look? Is 480W enough of a PS? Does the Radeon require any extra power? How does this work? Molex connector on the mobo? Odd connector on the card itself? I don't know if my power supply has any pci-e power connections if such a thing exists.

I was also considering the Asus P5B ($146.99) and P5B Deluxe ($194.99). Of course I would like a faster processor but money is a concern. Also I was looking at the Radeon X1900GT 256MB ($199.99)

I wouldn't have minded a SLI or CrossFire setup either, but again the budget. For the price ($200-$250) it seems like the X1900 GT or XT 256 is the way to go vs. an nVidia based card. Am I crazy? (not a fanboy of either platform, but an appreciator of both.)

I picked that GeIL RAM because it was under 1.95 volts (is 1.8V) which I hear some mobos can't go over. Never heard of GeIL. Is it a good brand?

So advice? Any substiutions? Better ideas for more bang for the buck? Is it all moot because it'll be 2-3x the speed of my Athlon no matter which Core 2 Duo I get?

Thanks enthusiasts! :D 

B.

More about : upgrade advice

a b B Homebuilt system
September 22, 2006 6:35:25 PM

Did you make a typo with E6300? The E6400 is $225 on newegg but the E6300 is $183.

If that's the case, you could save yourself $40 by getting the E6300 (which is still one helluva CPU). Also, zipzoomfly.com has it for $183 <b>shipping included</b>.

You can also save some money by getting DDR2-667 RAM (which you can still run @ DDR2-800 speed if you get good RAM). I personally went with 2GB Patriot DDR2-667 CL4 1.8V and it runs fine and passes memtest86 running at DDR2-800 with no voltage increase. GeiL is a good brand though and the quoted price seems good for DDR2-800. You are on the right track going for 1.8V RAM. I see too many posts from people having problems with POSTing using high voltage RAM.

Definitely get a new PSU if you only have a 20-pin. There are adapters, but I've read that they don't really fix the problem of missing the 4 new ground wires and in some cases cause more problems.
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September 22, 2006 6:42:28 PM

I'm pretty sure it was a voltage regulator on the mobo that caught fire. I had oc'd just my cpu from 2000 MHz to 2450 MHz and it seemed stable but wouldn't boot at 2500 at stock voltages so I increased the voltage by 1 notch in the BIOS (+3.3%). I won't be doing that again. Though the voltage regulators have heatsinks, I think this was just too much and ka-pow.

I would like to OC my core 2 duo, but i will not do so until i get better coolers (in the future and definitely a maybe).

The PC did try to boot when it caught fire and the power supply is rather new. It seemed to be working wen the mobo blew. The original 350 watt i had died. I guess I could have the newer one tested.

I want good performance with gaming AND video compression.
September 22, 2006 6:49:02 PM

I meant the E6400, and the PSU has a 20pin with the 4 pins extra that sidle up to the 20 pin for compatibility with both. I don't think it has a 6 pin pci-e power connector if such a thing exists. The Sapphire X1900XT card seems to have a 6 pin connector on the back edge. Is that a power connector?

Thanks for all your input. I'm going to Fry's this afternoon to get a $180 Mobo+ E6300 combo for my wife. I'll see what they have for me. :D 

I might as well pick up a power supply too. We'll see.

And jaydeejohn, that seems to be the same PSU I have.
September 22, 2006 7:14:17 PM

I checked the PSU. It does have two 6-pin PCI-E connectors. The combined 12v rails is 33 amps.

When I buy the cheapy mobo+cpu, I could plug the current PSU into that mobo and see if it works, if not no biggy as replacing the mobo wouldn't be too expensive.

Whats the best way to test the PSU? A Voltmeter/Ammeter?

Here's what I plan to test.
Plug in PSU to surge protector alone and see if fans come on.
Connect to mobo and see if it beeps on post.
Add CPU and see if it beeps again.
Add RAM and GPU and see if boots to no boot disk.

Any problems with that? (Aside from being slightly risky?)
September 22, 2006 7:22:01 PM

If keeping cost down is an imperative, you should consider this :

Asrock 775Dual-VSTA $56

E6400 $227

That motherboard will allow you to migrate your memory and video card while giving you an upgrade path toward PCIe and DDR2 as your budget allows.
September 22, 2006 11:23:48 PM

Well I ended up spending a little extra than originally anticipated and bought the parts locally (Fry's Electronics & Central Computer).

I ended up getting:

* Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 (2.13 GHz)
* Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 (it seems a little better than the GA-965P-S3 and Fry's didn't have the S3)
* Patriot PC5300 2x512MB PSD21G667K CAS 5
* Asus EAX1900XT/2DHTV/256M Radeon X1900XT 256MB DDR3

I have yet to set it up but I appreciate all of the input and advice.

My wife gets a new Core 2 Duo E6300 as well thanks to a CPU + Mobo bundle that can use older DDR400 and AGP parts from my old system. That'll be a nice improvement from her Athlon XP 1800+.

If I had more money and had seen it the other day I might have got that SATA/300 400GB Hard Drive at Fry's for $120 with no rebate. D'oh!
a b B Homebuilt system
September 22, 2006 11:33:23 PM

If the RAM doesn't work, then you're no fool. Just take it back. At least you don't have to deal with mailing it to an online store. I'm sure it will work fine. My Patriot PC25300 has been a pleasant surprise, it takes everything I throw at it.

Post back here to let us know how it all went together when you're finished.
September 25, 2006 6:09:20 PM

Well both systems are up and running great. The graphics quality of the X1900XT is great. I downloaded the demos from ATI's web site. The Toy Store demo is amazing.

I'm gonna install Vista later and see how it does. I also have some video compression projects to do so it'll be nice to see how the upgraded systems handle them.

My wife appreciates the speed boost she's getting from her new processor and my old Radeon 9800 Pro as well as the improved quality and frame rate she gets in WoW.

Thanks everyone for your help!

SJB
!