Hi all. Please forgive my ignorance but I am very new to this sort of thing and really need some help - urgently if possible because I'd like to get things ordered today/tomorrow.
My current set-up is:
Abit IC7 mobo
512 RAM DDR 400
GeForce Ti4200 with AGP 8x
Q-Tec 650 Triple Fan PSU
I was about to buy 2Gig of additional DDR 400 and upgrade the GPU. Based on the reviews and very useful "Best Video Cards for the Money" thread I am stuck between the 7600GT and the X1950Pro. I want to make this 3.5 yr old system more up-to-date for gaming and general home use.
But now I realise that PCI Express components are often (it seems) cheaper so I'm wondering whether to upgrade motherboard/processor entirely? But on a budget!
Thing is, I know very little about these things so what do I do? Upgrade to entry-level Core 2 with appropriate mobo, RAM and GPU...
just stick with the original plan and save up for a full upgrade in 12-18 months (in which case, which card)?
Since you need to do it so soon, you are going to miss out on some great price breaks for intel CPU's.
Therefor, you need to consider 2 things: Does this computer do what you want and will it do what you want if you put a better video card in it?
Problem is, if you upgrade now, nothing with transfer over to a new build in a year. But that is no big deal if your machine does what it needs to do is it?
If your PSU can handle the x1950pro, and that video card is what you need to do what you want, the get it. There is a big difference between that card and the 7600, so dont waist money on the feeling of "better", because that is an expensive thought.
Secondly, memory. If you do not have Windows 64bit, more then 2gigs will be a waste. Keep that in mind.
The reason for the 2 Gig upgrade is that the 512 I have now is a 2 x 256 kit in Dual Channel. I wanted 2 Gig total but figured there's no point throwing out the old and I'm not likely to get much for it on Ebay. I've found I can get that for £80 near enough so I think I'm okay with that now.
The PC as it is seems fine for home (& very minor office use) other than it now seems slow - especially gaming obviously. Are you saying there is a big performance difference between the two cards - because the price seems to be only about £25? Also, how do I check if my PSU is up to the task? It says 650W but I read somewhere that you need to check other things as well - can't remember what!
New question now as well! Is it possible to slowly upgrade my system - i.e; a new mobo (with appropriate RAM) that will work with my current processor but will also work well with Core 2 Duo processors when I eventually upgrade that? Any suggestions? I will eventually have to take the inevitable stride towards Vista but don't want to go silly right now.
The X1950 pro is waaay better than the 7600 card. So get that if your psu can handle it.
Now the psu issue. You need to open your case and read the sticker on one side of the psu.
It will give you details about what the amp readings are on each rail (+5V rail, +12v rail etc)
We need the Amp readings on each rail (you may have more than one +12v rail).
let us know what that is, and we let you know if the psu will be good enough.
as for your second question...this is possible, but then you need to be prepared to change the mobo more than once. I use the asrock (775 dual vsta) mobo. Its about £35 and can take both DDR and DDR2 memory, plus it uses PCI-e (at 4X) and AGP (at 8X). This also uses core 2 duo processors. Soooo you can take this route. It wioll allow you to buy the x1950pro as pci-e (which is cheaper than the agp variant) without much of a hit on performance even though its 4X pxi-e.
Then when you ready to move onto faster cards and faster memory, just buy another mobo, as the 8800 cards seem to show a pretty big loss in performance with 4x pci-e, where as upto 1950XT on ATI shows less that 5% loss (only cod2 shows a bigger loss).
Is it worth waiting then for the "great price breaks for Intel CPUs" that comptia_rep mentioned?
And I presume that DDR2 is considerably faster is it? It seems to be more cost-effective judging by my very limited research so far (but I wasn't even considering upgrading the mobo at that stage as I thought that would work out to be very expensive in the short term - guess I'm wrong!)
Okay, your psu seems that it would be able to take a 1950pro (just dont plan on overclocking it). Its recomended that you have 30 or so amps on the +12V rail, howvere my psu has 22 and it runs fine. Plus if you try it and it doesnt work, just get another psu (which you will have to get eventually any way).
As for DDR2 and DDR. The difference in speed is definitely there, but personally i dont see that big a difference in game. maybe 5-10 fps give or take. Heck im still using DDR333 memory..not even DDR400, and my system runs without any problems and all my games run just great...for my use any way. Higher memory will howvere let you overclock your cpu more, and applications tend to take less time to open and do whatever it is they do.
Now days the DDR2 memory prices are pretty cheap, so you could just get some (since you plan on getting 2 gigs of ram any way)
Okay, looks like I need to give myself more time on this before making a decision then! All the reading I've tried to do on GPUs and it seems the best thing to do was just ask!!
Looks like (overall cost depending) that it may be better to pick up a new mobo and use the savings of a PCI-e GPU to help offset this - so I can upgrade the processor later. If we forget AGP altogether, is it possible to get such a mobo with PCI-e (16x) that will work well with my P4 processor and not need replacing later for Core 2 Duo?
I Have a p4 3ghz with hyper threading and a gig of ram. I originally had an fx 5700. I upraded to a geforce 7600gs and noticed a huge differance. If your looking for a cheap uprgrade I would get the 7600gs. If you with to spend about 30 bucks more I would go for the 7600gt. The 7600gs runs every game I want on high-highest settings. I wouldent spend over 150 upradeing an old agp system though, so anything higher then the 7600gt isnt reccomended by me. Just buy the 7600gs/gt and it should last you until dx10 takes over, thats when you would need a new system ether way.
I was originally just to get the 7600GT and some more RAM. However the X1950Pro isn't that much more, and is actually cheaper in it's PCI-e version. Seeing as I'll have to go to PCI-e at some point (and it sounds like the performance is generally better), I may as well do that now. This would allow me to also get DDR2 RAM now instead of DDR400. It just seems that if I can spend similar/marginally more money now and start to move towards Core 2 Duo now then I may as well because I'll only have to spend more later, whereas this way I can do it all step by step.