I'm building a new pc. I use my computer for watching DVD, and playing Age of Empires 3 and Civilizations. I might play some BattleField 2 in the future. I don't have much of a choice on the major components (It's part of a promo kit):
1. Q6600 or 6700
2. Intel MicroATX DG33TL motherboard (1 PCIe x16, 1 PCI (to be used with Audigy sound card)
3. Windows Vista Home Premium
I'm not sure what to do about the GPU–I'm on a tight budget. I have a Geforce 6800 right now. Can I get a significant upgrade for $100? Or should I wait for another product cycle to push better cards into the $100 bracket? Oh, and any suggestions on a MicroATX case/PSU would be nice.
I did see a 7900gs for $99 after a $20 rebate on Newegg...I already own the nVidia PureVideo decoder, so that would be nice...I just don't know how much bang I would get out of that. I wonder: Could I bump the performance on the 6800 with NTune?
Just set the 6800 against the 7900GS and see what the differences are. I know for sure that you won't be bottlenecking the 7900 with your processor, so you will get a noticeable increase, but whether or not it's worth $100 is up to you.
If you're gonna be using any games released from this point on, you're better off getting on the DX10 bandwagon, and buying a GeForce 8-series, or it's ATI equivalent (whatever that may be). If you don't ever plan on buying any game ever made from this day forward, then stick with the 7900 you saw, because its one of the (if not THE) best pre-DX10 cards out there.
A Pentium D will bottleneck an 8800 series card, but probably not the 6 and 7 series cards. Each brand has an advantage to it. XFX and EVGA offer lifetime warranties on their cards, something to consider. XFX covers overclocking in their warranty, but EVGA offers the "step up" program that will allow you to upgrade to a better card and just pay the difference between the two.
Some of the reviews on newegg talk about upping the FSB on that board, but I don't see any outstanding results. Probably good enough if you just want a small OC to get a little more from your CPU though.