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Upgrading a 2.2 GHz 478 AGP based system

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December 14, 2006 6:14:21 PM

Hello,

I think I quite hit the brick wall with my system, regarding updates.

Intel P4 Northwood 2.2 GHz @ FSB 150 @ 2.55 GHz
ASUS P4B533-E
2 GB RAM
GeForce 6600 GT (4xAGP), it suffers only very little OCing before giving up
PATA Disks
Soundblaster X-Fi
Watercooling
and assorted non-critical periphery.

The system is rock-stable, very cool and quiet, ... but alas, not quite up to the most modern games. I'm playing mostly MMORPGs. DDO runs very well, EQ2 churns down to 2 fps in some places with "medium" settings, demos of modern games are a pain.

My goal is to have a PC which can play modern games at moderate resolutions (1152 is quite fine for me, don't need 1200 or higher). AA/AF and related settings can be off as far as I'm concerned, but I would like to set the graphics details to something else than "rock floor". :)  The next target game is Vanguard, so my time table is relaxed (don't need to buy now, but want to have a plan for sometime in the winter). Or in other words, EQ2 should play >= 20 FPS in all but the most dire situations at at least medium graphics quality with AA/AF off in the 1152 resolution. If I could look into the future, I'd be happy if the same would be true for Vanguard, but nobody of us knows yet what that will take.

I did a bit of googling and thinking, and came up with these alternatives:

1) Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 + ASUS P5B + 2 GB GEIL RAM + GF 7600 GT + New PSU + a new case for the fun of it ( total ~ 1100 €, which includes the necessary goodies for the watercooling). I'd take a quite low level graphics card because I'm happy to wait another year or half for Vista and until the DirectX 10 cards get less expensiv, and upgrade the card later while keeping the CPU for quite a long time.

2) Intel P4 Northwood 3 GHz + the fastest "reasonable" AGP card I can get (total ~ 270,- €). Unsure whether the board really handles 3 GHz; I'm loath to get a really expensive AGP card.

I'm pretty sure that I'd be happy with 1), except for the price. What do you think - how long does it take until prices plumet enough so that combo 1) comes in at, say, 750,- € or even 500,- €? End of 2007? Or rather in 2008?

Would 2) make any sense at all, i.e., can a FSB 133 @ 150 AGP setup with maxed CPU and video card serve my needs, or will the difference not be so big to my current setup?

Thanks for any comments, including new options!
December 14, 2006 7:26:18 PM

The 6600 is overkill. 6300/6400 will be fine for gaming and most other tasks. If you're going to OC again, you'll want something other than the vanilla PB5. If you don't need SLI, try the Gigabyte 965P-S3 or DS3. Both of those options will save you some cash too. The 7600GT may get you by till you upgrade to a dx10 card. Would also recommend the 7900GS or the X1950Pro.

How many hard drives/cd drives do you plan to use from the old system? The new boards use mostly sata, and only have one connection for IDE drives. That means only 2 devices. ie. One HDD and one cd.
December 14, 2006 7:58:22 PM

Ah, thanks for the advice on the CPU. I feel hopelessly out of my depth judging modern CPUs - frequencys don't mean a thing anymore, not even when comparing single core CPUs.

I only chose the ASUS since I have used ASUS boards as long as I can remember, and had never had a single problem...

I'm not really strongly into OC, but seeing as I have the watercooling, and it just works, I simply increased the FSB a bit, but didn't fiddle around with voltages. No stress though if it doesn't happen.

I now have 2 HDDs (not RAID), and 2 optical drives.

One of those HDDs is not vital (the boot HDD is the big one), so I guess I could get by if I take over the primary HDD and the DVD burner, and remove the secondary HDD and the DVD reader.

With the E6300 and Gigabyte board, it's down to 950,- €, not bad for starters.
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December 14, 2006 8:02:04 PM

Please post a link to the PSU and ram you've selected. The Geil is good ram, but may can save you some more on each piece.
December 14, 2006 8:04:51 PM

Quote:

2) Intel P4 Northwood 3 GHz + the fastest "reasonable" AGP card I can get (total ~ 270,- €). Unsure whether the board really handles 3 GHz; I'm loath to get a really expensive AGP card.


I wouldn't do this. It may be cheap, however, without knowing your Mobo very well and since your are running a 2.2ghz Northwood - I'm going to assume your motherboard does not support Hyperthreading, which you could see a performance boost. So upgrading to the rare 3.0ghz Northwood with HT is pointless.

Start from scratch. I run a somewhat similar system to what you have now and the only thing I'm salvaging for my January build is Case, HD's, optical drives, and sound card.
December 14, 2006 9:16:50 PM

Quote:
Please post a link to the PSU and ram you've selected. The Geil is good ram, but may can save you some more on each piece.


Thought of DIMM 2 GB DDR2-667 Kit, GX22GB5300LDC
(no particular reason, just found it recommended in some review), and Silverstone SST-ST50EF Plus (quietness is important to me).
!