Cheap Bare Minimum Upgrade Advice...

I was in a car wreck and fractured a few vertebrae, so I am not working at the moment. I have no income, to speak of, but I have around $220 USD to spend for an upgrade. I know it's not much to work with, but I am sure there must be a few acceptable options for my situation. I use my computer for everything, but gaming is the most resource intensive.

I have been able to play Oblivion, DOOM3, M2TW, CIV IV, EQ 2, DDO, DODS, etc., without any problems. However, the newer games, as you can imagine, are well beyond my means. With that in mind, I absolutely have to upgrade to, at least bare minimum, to run the newer games. I don't expect my financial situation to change for a while, so I have to make due with the cards that are dealt to me.'s my situation.....

Current specifications:
(Very Old, I know.)
Motherboard: PCChip M811LU vs 3.1
CPU: AMD Athalon XP 2200+
RAM: 1GB PC2100 184-Pin DDR 266 SDRAM
Power Supply: Thermaltake 430W
Video Card: GeForce FX 5200 128MB

I do have 2 sticks of 512MB PC3200 RAM in my other computer, if that helps in decision making. That computer has the same motherboard/CPU specs and the video card is an ATI Radeon 9200. Both computers are pitiful, I know.

I need to upgrade my motherboard/CPU, in one of the following ways:
* Upgrade MB/CPU AND video card, as well, but still be able to use my old RAM, at least temporarily, until I can muster the funds for that upgrade.
* Just upgrade the MB/CPU, but still be able to use my old video card and RAM, until I can muster the funds for those upgrades.

I have read about 20 pages of this forum and all of the budget builds are too high for my situation. I searched Ebay (might get lucky) and NewEgg, as well. Since, my budget seems to be much lower, I thought it would be ok to post another thread. If anyone would like to help brainstorm, I sure would appreciate it.

*** Begin Edit ***
Forgot to mention, I will not have any peripherals hooked up to this computer (ie., no scanners, printers,etc.), so my current power supply should be sufficient.
*** End Edit ***


12 answers Last reply
More about cheap bare minimum upgrade advice
  1. Best upgrade you can do with your current system will be a new vid card. For gaming, your vid card is probably your most important piece. $220 should get you a nice upgrade.
    Bad thing is, your mobo only supports AGP 4X.

    Here's my recommendation:
    PC CHIPS M848A (V5.0) Socket A (Socket 462)
    SAPPHIRE 100131VIVOL Radeon X800GTO 256MB

    Grand total of $182.22 shipped.

    Think I got an email the other day about free shipping at newegg for up to $20. Will save you a few more dollars.
  2. Thanks a lot for the quick reply, AMDThunder!

    That video card would be very nice, if it wasn't for the fact that my CPU is so lacking. Even a game like NWN2 requires a minimum 2.4GHZ processor, but recommends 3.0 GHZ. Also, many of the new games demand instruction sets of SSE2 or above, of which my CPU does not support.

    I wonder if there is a Motherboard/CPU combo with built in video(I know i hate built in anything, but maybe it might work out), that I could use temporarily, until I can upgrade the video card. A combo that would allow me to use my old RAM would be necessary. Then maybe I could get into an AMD Athalon 64 which would cover my needs, at least, for a little while.
  3. What AMDthunder said, looks good.
    OH by the way, hope you get a full recovery man :wink:
  4. * ASUS A8R-MX/SI Socket 939 ATI Radeon Xpress 200 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - OEM
    * AMD Athlon 64 3400+ Venice 2.2GHz Socket 939 Processor Model ADA3400DAA4BY - OEM
    * Kingston ValueRAM 512MB 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Desktop Memory Model KVR400/512R - Retail
    combo Deal $140.99 at Newegg

    Newegg also sells video cards in the $75 - $80 range from the ATI X700, Geforce 6800, 7300 (all fairly capable budget gaming cards)

    so you get a new socket 939 with PCI express outta the deal, re-use yur old memory and an additional 512mb stick (not to shabby for the price)

    Edit: you need a heatsink and fan for the CPU to - but there has to be somethin in yur budget out there for a hsf
  5. Motherboard


    -20 for cpu + motherboard combo

    113.99 after $30.00 MIR

    Total is ~250$. If you can't muster the extra 30$ then I recommend getting the x800gto for 86.99. And that puts your total at 223$. You should be able to play all games at med-high quality at 1024x768.
  6. Quote:


    -20 for cpu + motherboard combo

    113.99 after $30.00 MIR

    Total is ~250$. If you can't muster the extra 30$ then I recommend getting the x800gto for 86.99. And that puts your total at 223$. You should be able to play all games at med-high quality at 1024x768.

    Can get the combo deal Final Omen mentioned with this card:

    Or do this and get a 2.4 CPU which you said NWN2 requires:
    ASUS A8V-VM Socket 939 VIA K8M890 ATX AMD Motherboard
    AMD Athlon 64 3800+ Venice 2.4GHz

    A tad over budget, but that mobo has on board vid, so it can get you by till you can upgrade.
  7. Thanks to each of you, for taking the time to give some fantastic advice! This is a huge help, I can actually see the light, now! hehe

    I think I will take, F1nal_0men's advice for the hardware, because it seems like I will be further ahead for the amount of money. The combo deal certainly makes a difference, that's for sure. I'll have to go for the cheaper video card at this time and hope I don't regret it, later.

    One thing that IR_Efrem mentioned, is the heatsink/fan purchase, which completely slipped my mind. I just assumed it was included, because other combo deals, that I have purchased, did include those items. Add to that, thermal paste and it will cost another $38.98 USD, for the build. It seems I will have to wait and hope for a cash gift for the holiday (No Sweaters, just cash please! LOL) Hopefully, I can order this stuff before the end of the month.

    Thermaltake CL-P0257 Blue orb II CPU Cooler for LGA775 & K8 - Retail ($39.99 - $6.00 Instant) $33.99 USD

    Arctic Silver Ceramique Thermal Compound - OEM $4.99 USD

    POWERCOLOR X800GTO256MBDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail $86.99 USD

    DFI LanParty UT RDX200 CF-DR Socket 939 ATI Radeon XPRESS 200 CrossFire ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail $74.99 USD

    AMD Athlon 64 3500+ Venice 2.2GHz Socket 939 Processor Model ADA3500BPBOX - Retail
    $79.99 USD

    Motherboard / CPU combo: $154.98 - $20.00 Combo = $134.98 USD

    Grand Total: $260.95 USD with FREE Shipping

    With much gratitude, I thank each of you for sharing your wisdom. I can't tell you how much you helped me. I thought it would be impossible and now I have some hope! If I can manage a $40.00 cash gift for the holiday, I'll be in business! hehe


  8. You don't need to spend $40 on a cooler. If you planned to do some heavy OCing, then it's a good idea. This one will work and save you some cash.
    COOLER MASTER CK8-8JD2B-0L CPU Cooler - Retail

    My rig is OCd about 50%, and temps are fine with stock HSF.
  9. Wow! Really?! That would be sweet! Thanks a lot, AMDThunder! I can probably scrounge up that much in change that's laying around or turn in some cans and bottles for the 10c refund (hehe)! I can hold off on overclocking if it means obtaining the prize.

    New Grand Total: $233.95 USD

    Awesome, I appreciate the insight.

  10. Hold up on that cooler, it won't fit your cpu. Look around newegg thoush, you'll find one that will fit it for close to the same price.
  11. Ok, thanks for getting back to me. I'll look around for one that fits the Socket 939.



    *** Begin Edit ***
    ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 64 Pro with PWM fan control - Retail Original Price: $29.99 - $13.00 Instant = $16.99 USD

    This one has many great reviews and it's a lot cheaper than the higher end ones. It's not as cheap as the one you posted earlier, but I feel confident that this will do the job and stand the test of time. I looked at the cheaper ones and there were some scary reviews, so I decided it was important enough to spend a few extra on this one. I cannot afford to buy a new CPU a few months down the road. Better safe than sorry. hehe

    New Grand Total: $243.95 USD

    *** End Edit ***
  12. why dont u keep your mb, cpu and just add a x850 xt or pro in agp for the 90 bucks or so (keep in mind x850 doent support sm3.0).

    since u can play oblivion now with your fx5200 and oblivion is a relitively new game, i would recommend just upgrading to a geforce 6800 gs oc w/sm3.0 capable. Dont mistake the 6800xtreme for the 6800 gs oc though.

    since your not on your feet, dont spend money yet for pci e, at least not until u can TRUELY afford it. AGP mbs, video cards cant still keep pace with pci e cards and are in some cases better, the only time i can see pci e out pacing agp is when there in sli mode.

    also, if your gonna upgrade why would u not upgrade to a dualcore? p4 D805s go for 95 bucks. asrock duelvsta goes for 55, and the duelvsta has both agp and pci e 4x slot, ddr / ddr2 capable, hd audio and the user satisfaction is excellent.

    google them yourself or go to newegg, tigerdirect for the 6800 gs oc.

    their is no need to upgrade to pci e yet, the games now cant benefit from the tech. agp can still keep pace.
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