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newb needs help

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October 30, 2007 2:34:15 AM

I would like some help with an upgrade decision. i would like to max out my current computer, or just get a new one. It is an amd 2600+ with 512 mb DDR 2700 ram upgradeable ot 2 gig, 128 mb ati radeon 9600 SE, and 250w PSU. I know I will need to go to the full 2 gigs ram, which will be about $100-$150. I would like the best graphics card I can get for $100-$150 and possibly more $200 if it would help, how big of a card can I go with this system? and a beefy PSU $50-$75 how big should I go? I guess i am looking at between $250-$425. What do you guys think I should do. I would like any help that I can get. What is my potential for a gaming computer for the future, and how long can I expect to get out of it? I know there are a lot of questions here, but I know very little. thank you guys alot in advance for all your help

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October 30, 2007 4:11:55 AM

Im assuming you have a AGP slot for video cards.

There is an article from back in januay in the Graphic & Display secton called "AGP Platform Analysis, Part 1: New Cards, Old System" you should find helpful. http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/01/10/agp-platform-ana...

Unless your upgrading items that would be transferable to a new build later (like a sound card or Serial-ATA hard drives), I would try to keep the budget of the upgrade closer to the 250 mark.
November 2, 2007 4:11:21 AM

thank you for the reply. Yes i do have an AGP slot. I read the article and got a lot of info from it. a few questions for you guys. can i overclock my system, it is untouched now at 2.13 ghz,(is this closer to part 2 of the review?) and get an X1950 PRO and get a couple of years out of it? how high should i upgrade my RAM to. i would like to have some suggestions for what you guys would do for the upgrade, like which graphics card to get and the PSU and amount of RAM. is there a difference in PC2700 vs. PC3200? i think both will run in my system.
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November 2, 2007 4:24:14 AM

Go to Walmart. Get a brand new PC.
November 2, 2007 4:45:11 AM

That Walmart comment is the reason people looking for help do not come back here. I am very sorry for the comment Hemi. Hope your upgrade comes out fine.
November 2, 2007 4:45:37 AM

Don't waste your time with such a low performance PC. Winter is coming, earn money by shoveling snow and ask for hardware for Christmas. If you have a mid size tower you can go with a BTX motherboard. A really cheap Core 2 Duo. EVGA 8800 GT graphics card is less than $300.00 The 8800 GT has excellent firepower for the little amount of money that is paid. About a 500W power supply. Forget about AGP. All it does is bypass the memory and goes straight to the CPU. I/O modes and DMA is too slow. All new motherboards now don't have AGP. Bus mastering is used. As far as your new PC lasting, you can keep it for as long as you want. No rules stating a PC must be upgraded whenever new hardware arrives. Even reputable brand name companies have hardware that simply stops working. Playing current games will require a fairly powerful graphics card, unless you prefer to play them with all the settings low or off. If you open your budget more you can get more bang for your buck. I have used ATI and nVidia graphics cards and have great success with them both.
November 2, 2007 4:47:23 AM

There is nothing wrong with buying a PC at Walmart.
November 2, 2007 4:56:12 AM

so if i upgrage the ram to 2 ghz and get a 450W power supply. will the X1950 pro be overkill, or will i get what it can dish out? and Xunicronx, i can spend $300 for the total upgrade, you are proposing i spend 300 on a card alone on top of all new components! that is a pretty obvious upgrade path that i am considering, but if this will hold me over for a year or so then i'll wait to spend the big money for a killer system.
November 2, 2007 5:04:04 AM

The 1950 pro might be over kill, but would make all the difference in certain games.

A couple of questions.
how many ram slots does your mother board have?
does your board suppord dual channel?
is you 512 mb of ram 1 stick or 2?
November 2, 2007 5:09:13 AM

Well, no, you don't have spend that much for a graphics card. Also, if you are having trouble choosing a medium priced CPU and medium priced graphics card, go for the graphics card.
November 2, 2007 5:12:59 AM

Go the motherboard manufacturers website to determine exactly how much RAM your motherboard can handle and at what speed. If your board can handle 2 GB at 333MHz, then go for that. Only install the amount and speed of RAM your board can handle. Any more and any faster can lead to a dead board and or RAM, or issues with your operating system.
November 2, 2007 5:15:21 AM

Part 2 of the article had a athlon 3500 with a really bad motherboard that supported agp and pci-e. Part 1 applies to you a bit more.

The morale of the story in part 2 was that the pci-e and agp 7600gt's performed nearly identically.
November 2, 2007 5:15:58 AM

i have 2 ram slots currently with 2 sticks of 256 mb and can go to 2 ghz. no i don't think i can support dual channel
November 2, 2007 5:17:02 AM

Power Supply: After you figure out everything your going to install in your new build, then you can determine the amount of power you need. A high power CPU can use up to 130W, harddrives and optical drives about 30W each, RAM uses about 15W per 256MB, floppies I think use about 10W. These are just estimates.
November 2, 2007 5:18:17 AM

i have been to crucial already, so i know what kind of ram to get. will getting 2 ghz be necessay to maximize speed?
November 2, 2007 5:20:10 AM

Ok, 2 GB of RAM. These are Slot 0 and Slot 1 for RAM. You can install 1GB per channel, or to save money you could go 512MB and 512 MB.
November 2, 2007 5:21:04 AM

RAM is only one part that contributes to the total speed of a computer.
November 2, 2007 5:21:48 AM

Well, yes if you maximize your RAM, then as far as RAM speed goes in the big picture, you set.
November 2, 2007 5:27:16 AM

so if X1950 pro is overkill, then which card is recommended?
November 2, 2007 5:29:10 AM

with only 2 slots and possibly no dual channel mode, I'd replace the 2 256's with a gig stick of pc3200 and leave the other on open for a second stick later.

the performance difference between pc3200 and pc2700 shouldnt be huge but you might as well go with the pc3200 as they are usually priced the same.
November 2, 2007 5:34:13 AM

The 7600 gt should be a safe bet. On some games in the article the 1950 pro was capped at the 7600gt/7800gs performance level.
November 2, 2007 5:36:03 AM

will i see a performance difference with going straight to 2 ghz ram? what card is recomended with my final system specs? it will be 2.13ghz AMD Athlon 2 ghz ram,
November 2, 2007 5:36:25 AM

If you can afford it go with the
2GB of PC3200 RAM and a x1950
a PSU @ ~500W should be more then enough
November 2, 2007 5:38:22 AM

or you can get the 7600GT that is really a preference between NVidia and ATI either is fine

and YES 2GB of RAM Vs. 1GB is a huge difference never mind 2GB Vs. 512MB
(not to pick on you or anything just to help educate GHz is reference to how fast the RAM is where GB is the amount of ram)
GB=Gigabyte = size
GHz=Gigahertz = speed
November 2, 2007 5:38:43 AM

$200 graphics card: If you want to tri ATI again, a X1900 series (AGP)should be ok. If you want to try nVidia PCI-E x 16 (if you decide to upgrade the board) an 8600Gt or 8600GTS would be fine.
November 2, 2007 5:41:16 AM

I really do recommend the new build route.
November 2, 2007 5:42:45 AM

you would deffinetly notice a difference with 2 gb of ram.(ghz is a measure of speed,gb is a measure of capacity)
November 2, 2007 5:46:25 AM

don't do a new build right now... the AM2+ is about to be released and I don't see in wasting money on something that is going to be obsolete tomorrow
November 2, 2007 5:48:49 AM

okay i'll get it right with the ghz and gb sorry for the confusion. okay so what will i accomplish with switching out the board?? can i get a faster processor too? will i be able to use my current hard drive and OS or will i have to start over?
November 2, 2007 5:50:47 AM

yup, you can re-use the hard drive and os
November 2, 2007 5:52:10 AM

With a new board, you can get faster everything. You can still your harddrive and OS even if the harddrive is ancient or new.
November 2, 2007 5:53:31 AM

I mean, a new board that can support faster RAM, CPU, etc.
November 2, 2007 5:55:45 AM

okay so i can get a new board, processor (which hell_spawn says to wait for, and i take it that i can), and get a high end PCIe card instead of AGP and the new board will accept better RAM and more of it? and using my other components, i won't have to lose all my programs and settings on windows XP?
November 2, 2007 5:59:25 AM

you may have to re-install windows with a motherboard upgrade. and I agree with Hell_spawn, next year would be the time to start over.
November 2, 2007 6:04:07 AM

with a new mobo you can/will have to get a faster CPU RAM PSU(power supply unit) and Video card your current RAM/CPU/PSU/Video card will not work in a new system

IF you are lucky you will be able to use your same XP but there are steps you have to take to ensure the best stability and ensure there are no driver conflicts. it's doable :)  but I'm assuming you have an IDE Hard drive (a hard drive with a big flat ribbon cable) so make sure your new mobo supports IDE some of the new ones wont because that is outdated technology that is rarely being used now-a-days

cheers!
November 2, 2007 6:06:40 AM

this is sounding better all the time, so a couple hundred dollars more and i am out of the stone age!!??
plan 1: same system, 2.13 ghz AMD, 2 gb DDR ram about $125ish, new GPU $120-175, new PSU 450w $65 minimum. total of about $325
plan 2: new motherboard cost???, new processor cost?? more of better ram?? new PSU $65, GPU with PCIe about $200 total cost of about???
November 2, 2007 6:07:51 AM

Yes, a better board will allow you to install more RAM and faster RAM. Your new PCIe will be mid range in price and performance if your still going for a ~$200 card. Be sure to get a board that supports AMD processors.
November 2, 2007 6:09:43 AM

See, didn't I tell you to open your budget a little more? :) 
November 2, 2007 6:14:50 AM

i am getting confused again. this is a lot to digest. thanks for all the input guys but a new system and all the troubles that go with them, from what hell_spawn says, are too much for me to handle right now. will plan 1 buy me some time or is it too outdated? if it is a better solution to go with a new build , then i will. i like the advice i am getting so far, i have learned alot
November 2, 2007 6:16:27 AM

You might as well spend an extra $150 and get a new CPU if your next build or upgrad isn't going to be for another year.
November 2, 2007 6:22:43 AM

Go for the new build. All of these parts are midrange so its easy on the checkbook. Yes, you could run into headaches in the rebuild, but you could also have a smooth rebuild, too. Rebuilding a PC once or twice a year is good enough because you can still get your monies worth from your old PC. Actually, with your new build, you would not have to replace everything in the future, just a part or two.
November 2, 2007 6:27:56 AM

will a new CPU just plug in to my current mobo, plug and play.
November 2, 2007 6:29:37 AM

Your initial investment in a new rebuild will be somewhat high. But in the future (say 6 months or a year from now), you would only need to replace a few components (CPU, or RAM, or graphics card, or power supply, etc or a combo of the hardwar ) or only one piece of hardware at a time. This would save you money. Spend the extra now and get a midrange PC, then you can add and/or replace parts periodically.
November 2, 2007 6:35:35 AM

sorry for the confusion. There are many views on what the best way to go is. In the end it is your needs and budget that determine wich is the best route to go.

I agree that new computers can be had for cheap. But now it is not the time to build a new system as there are far too many new and cool things coming out in the near future to jump into a new build today.

Edit: The 8800 gt is only the begining
November 2, 2007 6:35:44 AM

If you want AMD, your new board has be to a board that supports your new AMD processor. If you want Intel, your new board has to support your new Intel processor.
November 2, 2007 6:35:47 AM

what would you estimate the total cost of a new midrange build. i have a 108 GB hard drive, dvd rw cd rw combo, dvd rom drive, floppy. and i'm sure i can reuse some fans and the case?? ballpark?
November 2, 2007 6:37:51 AM

okay pc-cola then you recommend that i just do the temp. upgrades to get me into next year then do the rebuild when the cool stuff comes out?
November 2, 2007 6:38:10 AM

as hard as it is to do wait for the new build with the upgrades we suggested you will be able to play any game with very decent quality (except crysis lol my rig probably won't even play crysis that good :p )

just wait

I also find it hard to wait as I suffer from G.A.S (gear acquisition syndrome)
but I have to keep applying logic to my purchases.. for instance I was going through the same issue you are. I was going to get the 5000+BE a new mobo PSU and RAM and an aftermarket CPU heatsink. I already have a PCIe VGA [8800 GTS 640MB] so that saved me 500$.
total cost was going to be~850$ CAD
so then I thought to myself... "well self, the AM2+ motherboards are going to be released later on this month, or early next month, with quad-core to be released shortly after... why spend 800$ to only have to spen another 400$ in a few months?"
so what I am actually doing is buying the PSU I wanted and the Heatsink which cost me ~250$ so now I don't have to buy that stuff when I do my new build
then to hold me over I bought a new cpu for my current board (because that was my biggest bottleneck as I have a good VGA and lots of RAM) the CPU cost me ~50$
so now I will only have to buy a mobo cpu and ram which will cost me roughly 450$ which saved me ~400$

this way I will have a system that I am happy with and parts to carry me over to the next build

if you upgrade now you will be able to atleast carry over you PSU which will save you 100$ in the future

BTW if you plan to carry over your PSU make sure to get one with a good watt rating somewhere in the ~700-850W range (don't worry power supplies don't draw the full rating (eg if you have a 700W psu and your computer parts only pull 400W then 400W is coming from the wall) also it's good to leave some headroom on your PSU (eg if your system pulls 400W get at least a 600W PSU) using your PSUs at full load shortens their life produces a lot more heat and provides less stable voltages

wow sorry if I overloaded you with info, I know it can be a lot to take in.
November 2, 2007 6:40:26 AM

a midrage full system build will run you in to the ~1000$ ball park (if not a little more)
!