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PC upgrade advice

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October 11, 2007 11:07:26 PM

Hey everybody! :) 

Ok i have an older computer and i want to breathe some new life into it with some upgrades. the specs are as follows:

Dell Dimension 4600

Pentium 4 2.6Ghz w/ HT
FSB 800Mhz
512MB DDR400 RAM
120GB SATA HDD
Nvidia Geforce FX5200

obviously my specs aren't impressive, and my upgrade options are limited by my motherboard as it only supports DDR1 ram and AGP graphics cards. My budget would be around $300 Canadian, (which is actually equal to $300 US these days :p ). My 2 top priorities would have to be firstly a new video card, i've been looking at the EVGA 7800GS CO, and also upgrading the ram to at least 1GB as well as a new power supply to accomodate the new gpu. anybody have any suggestions other than just going out and buying a new pc? by the way, my main priority is to play crysis on this pc. clearly not on max graphics but enough to play it at around 30fps.

More about : upgrade advice

October 12, 2007 8:51:30 AM

Your P4 2.6 will bottleneck 7800GS
October 12, 2007 5:43:54 PM

Hello!

I have a system similar to yours that I upgraded last year. So naturally I keep up with the newer and better options that have become available since.

His P4 will do just fine with the 7800 GS or even a 1950 pro. The 800MHz 2.6 P4's beat 533 Mhz 3.0 P4's in gaming so no worries there. Obviously if he had a faster chip he would gain more performance.

Here is an article that should help you evaluate new cards for your system.
http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/02/01/agp-platform-ana...

My 2 cents for your $300 Cdn today would be a gig of ram, a 1950 pro and a new power supply to match.(Our dollar may be the same but prices are not :(  )

Some older Dell's used proprietary connections on their power supplys and motherboards. You should find out if this is the case for you system as it would limit selection of a replacement.

About Crysis. Nobody is completly sure how well it will scale on older systems.

My advice would be to wait until the game and benchmarks are availabe so as to be sure its money well spent on Crysis.

Plus who knows... There may be a DX10 AGP card released by then that is worth buying. :D 
Related resources
October 12, 2007 7:21:09 PM

pc-cola said:
Hello!

I have a system similar to yours that I upgraded last year. So naturally I keep up with the newer and better options that have become available since.

His P4 will do just fine with the 7800 GS or even a 1950 pro. The 800MHz 2.6 P4's beat 533 Mhz 3.0 P4's in gaming so no worries there. Obviously if he had a faster chip he would gain more performance.

Here is an article that should help you evaluate new cards for your system.
http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/02/01/agp-platform-ana...

My 2 cents for your $300 Cdn today would be a gig of ram, a 1950 pro and a new power supply to match.(Our dollar may be the same but prices are not :(  )

Some older Dell's used proprietary connections on their power supplys and motherboards. You should find out if this is the case for you system as it would limit selection of a replacement.

About Crysis. Nobody is completly sure how well it will scale on older systems.

My advice would be to wait until the game and benchmarks are availabe so as to be sure its money well spent on Crysis.

Plus who knows... There may be a DX10 AGP card released by then that is worth buying. :D 



well thanks for the advice and yeah i'm going to wait until around december since crysis will be out and by then if a DX10 agp card does exist it would be out by then. and probably my biggest concern whether or not the 7800 would be bottlenecked by my cpu. if not i'll look into the 7600GT. and i'm pretty sure my mobo uses a standard power connector. (it uses this http://www.pcguide.com/byop/diagrams/figure9.jpg). my last point would be to ask whether the 1950pro is much better than the 7800GS because the cheapest i've been able to find it for was $200 while the 7800 goes for $150. and still on the topic of graphics cards, how many amps on the 12V rail would i need to run either of these cards? i know EVGA says minimum 18A for their 7800, but is that too low?
a b B Homebuilt system
October 12, 2007 8:27:11 PM

My opinion would be to just save that $300 and save another $300 and another $300. Then just start over. Older systems are money pits to upgrade with small returns. AGP is old tech and so are P4's. A low end Core2 with midrange card could run maybe $600+. No Sense in keeping it alive. Save for a new system then reformat it and sell to an elderly person to surf the internet for $100.
October 12, 2007 8:40:47 PM

jay2tall said:
My opinion would be to just save that $300 and save another $300 and another $300. Then just start over. Older systems are money pits to upgrade with small returns. AGP is old tech and so are P4's. A low end Core2 with midrange card could run maybe $600+. No Sense in keeping it alive. Save for a new system then reformat it and sell to an elderly person to surf the internet for $100.



that is a good idea quite obviously, but i really wanna play crysis. well unless it turns out to be a complete flop of course :) 
October 12, 2007 9:01:02 PM

I've run an overclocked 7950GT on a P4 3.0 with no trouble at all. Did need a better PSU though.

I'd recommend 2GB RAM to start, nothing fancy, and then a 7600GT. You won't need a new PSU for that. See a comparison here.

The RAM will be a huge help. If you want more graphics than the 7600 you'll need a PSU, and that will probably blow your budget. If you're hoping to run a brand new game at a reasonable graphics level you'll need a new system.
October 12, 2007 9:08:35 PM

nhobo said:
I've run an overclocked 7950GT on a P4 3.0 with no trouble at all. Did need a better PSU though.

I'd recommend 2GB RAM to start, nothing fancy, and then a 7600GT. You won't need a new PSU for that. See a comparison here.

The RAM will be a huge help. If you want more graphics than the 7600 you'll need a PSU, and that will probably blow your budget. If you're hoping to run a brand new game at a reasonable graphics level you'll need a new system.



i would really be able to run a 7600GT on a 250watt psu?
October 14, 2007 12:41:50 PM

another thought i had, would be to buy a cheap ~$300 barebones system with a pentium D or athlon 64 X2 just as a kind of temporary pc to use until i can afford a new one. would the performance of either of those cpu's and DDR2 RAM and of course a PCI-E slot be enough to make it worth it?
October 14, 2007 5:54:22 PM

My thoughts on the barebones replacement. Depending on how bare bones you go (and $300 is pretty bare) you may end up with the gaming performance similar to your existing PC and still be in need of a new video card and power supply.

That said, you would be in a happier place afterwards due to the having the expandability of PCI-E and a motherboard that is still supported with new CPU's.

So what to do? top off your existing PC? or start a new one?

The Crysis Demo is due out on oct 26th, I'll post back after with how well it runs on my system so you will have a better idea as to weather it is worth keeping the old computer alive or not.
October 14, 2007 8:07:37 PM

pc-cola said:
My thoughts on the barebones replacement. Depending on how bare bones you go (and $300 is pretty bare) you may end up with the gaming performance similar to your existing PC and still be in need of a new video card and power supply.

That said, you would be in a happier place afterwards due to the having the expandability of PCI-E and a motherboard that is still supported with new CPU's.

So what to do? top off your existing PC? or start a new one?

The Crysis Demo is due out on oct 26th, I'll post back after with how well it runs on my system so you will have a better idea as to weather it is worth keeping the old computer alive or not.


alright that sounds good. i guess that's the best way to find out if it's worth upgrading just for 1 game.
October 14, 2007 8:46:33 PM

I doubt they will make good DX10 AGP cards... you should just save up and do a new build. I have a p4 2.4 800fsb, and it is going on 5 years+ I am in the process of building a new computer. Crysis will most likely not run well on your computer, even if they come out with a dx 10 AGP card.
October 15, 2007 12:55:27 AM

well im running xp anyway so DX10 doesn't really matter much to me at this point in time.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 15, 2007 5:22:11 PM

I think you would be much happier starting a new system, even if it is entry level and you upgrade later. You can get an Athlon 64 x2 pretty cheap now and toss in a x1950 Pro with 2GB of memory. I put a few things together below and for $400 you can get all the major items. I'm not sure if it will fit in your current case of if you can reuse your cd/dvd drive, floppy, and what not. Also I did not take into consideration your Xp license, I wasn't sure if you had a retail version or what not but just hardware wouldn't be much to get started.

$60.99 ASUS M2N-X AM2 NVIDIA nForce 520 MCP ATX AMD Motherboard
$134.99 SAPPHIRE 100176L Radeon X1950PRO 256MB
$49.99 XCLIO GOODPOWER 500W ATX 500W Power Supply
$65.99 G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800
$89.99 AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ Windsor 2.4GHz Socket AM2 65W Processor
------------------------------------------------------------------
$401.95
October 16, 2007 7:26:32 PM

that is a really good price actually considering what's included. is the athlon x2 better than the pentium D?
October 16, 2007 7:30:20 PM

yes
October 16, 2007 8:56:56 PM

alright. sounds good :) 

also i have an OEM copy of xp that came with the computer. from what i've experienced, there's no activation needed. my dad installed the same copy on his laptop and it never asked him to activate.
October 16, 2007 10:17:58 PM

Rock, I love the old versions of the OEM without the need to activate. Anyway, I would suggest some price cuts like this:

A-DATA Value Series 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model VDQVE1A16K - $55
http://secure.newegg.com/Newversion/Shopping/AddToCart....

and

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Brisbane 2.2GHz Socket AM2 65W Processor Model ADO4200DDBOX - $74
http://secure.newegg.com/Newversion/Shopping/AddToCart....

(and everything else Jay said) and that brings it to $375. Enjoy.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 17, 2007 6:47:32 PM

Nik_I said:
that is a really good price actually considering what's included. is the athlon x2 better than the pentium D?

Infinitely better. That 4600+ is around the core 2 e6400 range I believe.


KyleSTL said:
Rock, I love the old versions of the OEM without the need to activate. Anyway, I would suggest some price cuts like this:

A-DATA Value Series 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model VDQVE1A16K - $55
http://secure.newegg.com/Newversion/Shopping/AddToCart....

and

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Brisbane 2.2GHz Socket AM2 65W Processor Model ADO4200DDBOX - $74
http://secure.newegg.com/Newversion/Shopping/AddToCart....

(and everything else Jay said) and that brings it to $375. Enjoy.

Obviously you can still fine tune things a little. I haven't heard any bad things from A-data but I do like G.Skill. And the 4600+ was at a nice sweet spot to buy. You can always throttle your spending on these items. I think we opened his eyes to see he can get a MUCH better system for little money.


October 17, 2007 7:04:59 PM

not a bad price at all, and thanks to everyone who gave me some advice. i just wish i could buy stuff from newegg :( . great website, but they dont ship to canada...
October 29, 2007 4:59:18 AM

Here is my how Crysis SP Demo played on my system.

My specs: P4 2.6 ghz w/ht 800 mhz FSB on a Asus P4P-800 mobo. 1.5 gig Kingston value ram pc3200 ram (4 sticks) in dual channel mode. All In Wonder X800 XT. Sound Blaster X-fi Fatal1ty. 2 Seagate 320 gb 16mb cach HDD's in RAID 0. WIth 2 DVD burners, All inclosed in my Antec Sonata case with the True 380 power supply.

I used 1280 X 1024 resolution to match my LCD and played switching between low and medium settings. I used Fraps to observe my frame rate.

I started off on all low but quickly cranked it up to medium when I saw my frame counter at 41.

On all medium I was cruisin along fine with frames typically in the mid twenty's to low thirty's. That is untill I ran into a bunch of dudes up a hill who chased me into a shack. As I was running through the gun fire my frames dropped to 16 then 14. I was hiding out in the shack watching my frame rate when a grenade flew in the window and blew the place apart. As I ran from the debris and gun fire my frames were between 8 and 9.

I immediately lowered my settings to all low and my frames went up to the high teens, then back up to the 30 range when the action died down. My lowest framerate was then 17 in a big gun fight with lots of enemies.

The best playable settings for my system were Textures on high, Shaders on medium, Water on medium , Sound on high and the rest of the settings on low. Walking around my frames stay close to thirty. During light gun fights my frames stay above twenty. I can kill my frame rate down to 13 during big fights. It was kinda fun running around not killing people just to get lots of enemy AI working at once to kill my performance.

For Comparison I had a chance to play a bit of Crysis on my friends system with a 8800 GTS 640mb with a Core 2 Duo E4500 and 2 gigs of pc6400 ram running XP.(E6850 on the way)

In the brief time I had to play with all settings on high @ 1440 X 900. I was blown away by how much nicer it looked. I was even more stunned to see the frame rates nearly identical to mine. It's a good feeling to know people with vastly superior systems will likley play with similar frame rates in order to keep all the eye candy and physics turned up. But who could blame them? Crysis is a beautiful game.

Crysis would definetly be playable on your system after a much needed upgrade. The X800 XT I have is comparable in performance to the 7600 GT and the 7800 GS, trading blows back and forth depending on the game and settings used. I will buy Crysis when it comes out as it is a fun game no matter how low the settings are.

Best of luck with your pursuit of Crysis.

P.S. In Canada you can find good prices online at NCIX.com (click the weekly special banner to see sale prices), Tigerdirect.ca, Canadacomputers.com and Future Shop ocaisionally has good deals when they're on sale.
November 1, 2007 10:08:07 PM

pc-cola said:
Here is my how Crysis SP Demo played on my system.

My specs: P4 2.6 ghz w/ht 800 mhz FSB on a Asus P4P-800 mobo. 1.5 gig Kingston value ram pc3200 ram (4 sticks) in dual channel mode. All In Wonder X800 XT. Sound Blaster X-fi Fatal1ty. 2 Seagate 320 gb 16mb cach HDD's in RAID 0. WIth 2 DVD burners, All inclosed in my Antec Sonata case with the True 380 power supply.

I used 1280 X 1024 resolution to match my LCD and played switching between low and medium settings. I used Fraps to observe my frame rate.

I started off on all low but quickly cranked it up to medium when I saw my frame counter at 41.

On all medium I was cruisin along fine with frames typically in the mid twenty's to low thirty's. That is untill I ran into a bunch of dudes up a hill who chased me into a shack. As I was running through the gun fire my frames dropped to 16 then 14. I was hiding out in the shack watching my frame rate when a grenade flew in the window and blew the place apart. As I ran from the debris and gun fire my frames were between 8 and 9.

I immediately lowered my settings to all low and my frames went up to the high teens, then back up to the 30 range when the action died down. My lowest framerate was then 17 in a big gun fight with lots of enemies.

The best playable settings for my system were Textures on high, Shaders on medium, Water on medium , Sound on high and the rest of the settings on low. Walking around my frames stay close to thirty. During light gun fights my frames stay above twenty. I can kill my frame rate down to 13 during big fights. It was kinda fun running around not killing people just to get lots of enemy AI working at once to kill my performance.

For Comparison I had a chance to play a bit of Crysis on my friends system with a 8800 GTS 640mb with a Core 2 Duo E4500 and 2 gigs of pc6400 ram running XP.(E6850 on the way)

In the brief time I had to play with all settings on high @ 1440 X 900. I was blown away by how much nicer it looked. I was even more stunned to see the frame rates nearly identical to mine. It's a good feeling to know people with vastly superior systems will likley play with similar frame rates in order to keep all the eye candy and physics turned up. But who could blame them? Crysis is a beautiful game.

Crysis would definetly be playable on your system after a much needed upgrade. The X800 XT I have is comparable in performance to the 7600 GT and the 7800 GS, trading blows back and forth depending on the game and settings used. I will buy Crysis when it comes out as it is a fun game no matter how low the settings are.

Best of luck with your pursuit of Crysis.

P.S. In Canada you can find good prices online at NCIX.com (click the weekly special banner to see sale prices), Tigerdirect.ca, Canadacomputers.com and Future Shop ocaisionally has good deals when they're on sale.



thanks for that post! it was very helpful, and i think i will go ahead and upgrade. even if crysis won't be that impressive, at least all my other games will be! and i think im gonna get the 7600GT instead of the 7800GS. it seems to have better performance from what i've read. well the XFX 7600GT which has a core speed of 580mhz over the standard 560 :-)
November 2, 2007 12:30:50 AM

Don't pay for a GPU overclock, it's way too easy to do on your own. Some manufacturers' warantees cover overclocking so long as the card is not physically altered in any way (like eVGA). Please don't waste the money.
November 2, 2007 3:41:59 AM

If you haven't orderd yet, Future Shop has the "EVGA e-GeForce 7600GT AGP8X Superclocked 512MB Video Card" on sale for $130.
November 2, 2007 3:53:22 AM

I didn't notice, it has much slower ddr2 that would kill the performance. avoid at all costs
November 2, 2007 6:47:43 PM

KyleSTL said:
Don't pay for a GPU overclock, it's way too easy to do on your own. Some manufacturers' warantees cover overclocking so long as the card is not physically altered in any way (like eVGA). Please don't waste the money.



they cost the same price so it doesn't really matter. and the XFX has DDR3 memory so i'd say it's quite good :-).
November 10, 2007 12:13:25 AM

another card i came across in another thread was the ATI HD2600XT. now that card goes for about $200. (which is B$ seeing how it goes for $120 US). So would the XFX 7600GT be faster than the HD2600 Pro?
November 10, 2007 6:55:14 AM

The 7600 GT would beat the 2400 pro in gaming. The 2600XT is a nice card,better than the 7600 GT but not for the price up here.

You should check out the graphics card hierarchy chart in the monthly "The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money:". I refer to it like holy scripture. http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/11/06/best_graphics_ca...

There is supposed to be a new DX 10.1 HD 3850 AGP coming Nov 19th.(not the most reliable source but...)
http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2007/11/06/...

Id love to see a review of it with a sliding scale of old cpu's.

Maybe if we get lucky the 2600 XT will drop to the U.S price after the 3850 hits shelves with the familiar Canadian markup :sarcastic:  .
November 10, 2007 11:30:04 AM

yeah that's a good point. seeing how i won't be buying anything until at least xmas, i can afford to wait to see what might be coming out in the next two months
November 10, 2007 3:46:44 PM

just one more thing i'd like to ask, i got a power supply from my friend, and i'm kind of paranoid as i've never changed one before. can this thing fry my computer? obviously i know that i have to set the voltage properly, but is there any other way that it can damage the computer?
November 10, 2007 6:04:21 PM

Quote:
can this thing fry my computer?

If it it functioning properly and has enough amperage you should be safe. Otherwise...

Could you list the brand and spec's of the power supply?(particually the amps on the 12 volt rail(s)). How old it is would matter as well.
November 10, 2007 10:11:47 PM

it's a delta power brand. (my friend got it free with a new pc case).
500W total with 24A on the +12V rail. the specs are good, but im not so sure about the brand. and if something goes wrong, i have nowhere to turn because that company doesn't even have a website. as for the age, well he just got it yesterday and it's never been used. another problem is that the cables don't seem to actually be long enough to reach the parts of my computer. i know the dell psu has some sort of an extension cable where most of the connectors plug in to. i think i may be stuck without the possibility of a psu upgrade :( 
November 11, 2007 3:25:12 AM

Delta is a pretty respected brand, usually come in OEMs (I think Sony Vaio uses them exclusively now). 500 should be fine for you. I think jonny guru reviewed a Delta and gave it good marks. Delta also make a vast range of fans that extreme overclockers swear by (primarily because of the extreme high output models - i.e. >200CFM 120mm).
November 11, 2007 12:51:20 PM

KyleSTL said:
Delta is a pretty respected brand, usually come in OEMs (I think Sony Vaio uses them exclusively now). 500 should be fine for you. I think jonny guru reviewed a Delta and gave it good marks. Delta also make a vast range of fans that extreme overclockers swear by (primarily because of the extreme high output models - i.e. >200CFM 120mm).


well after reading that i got the urge to take a chance and see if it works. probably not the best thing to do, but hey it's working great! it's a little bit noisier than the dell psu, but it works at least.
November 14, 2007 10:35:51 PM

in terms of ram, what would you guys suggest? is 1 gig enough? or should i go for a bit more?
November 14, 2007 11:23:31 PM

1GB is usually enough for XP, 2GB may make a difference in you game experience. DDR memory is pretty expensive right now (compared to DDR2) I would try 1GB for now and if it's not good enough, buy more.
November 15, 2007 7:23:03 PM

ok i'll go with that. and does anybody know why DDR1 costs like 3 times more than DDR2?
November 15, 2007 8:47:09 PM

manufacturing tech, obsolete (by modern standards) parts, low supply, moderate demand
November 25, 2007 8:55:22 PM

another upgrade i'd like to make would be upgrading my monitor. (a 15" just doesn't quite cut it!) i'm planning on getting a 20" but i'd also like to keep the one i have now to run dual monitors. if i plug both of them into the same graphics card, will i lose performance? enough to make it worth buying a second PCI graphics card?
a b B Homebuilt system
November 25, 2007 9:23:59 PM

I wouldn't worry much about losing performance, but you'd hit some driver bugs. nVidia actually recommends avoiding dual monitor setups on XP Media Center, for example, it's in the readme of their drivers.
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