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gaming on a 24 inch w socket 939 mobo?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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November 16, 2007 2:30:13 PM

Hi there. I'm planning on upgrading my display to a 24 inch Samsung SM245B, and wondered what I'm going to need to do to get my PC to behave itself at the higher resolutions I'll need to work at.

My pc's official job is running music software (thus, I am not an overclocker), so high res not a problem there, but I also like to do some gaming - FEAR multiplayer, Oblivion, Bioshock, HL2 to name a few reasonably demanding favourites.

My current rig is as follows :

Gigabyte GA-K8NF-9
Athlon 64 3500+/2.2GHz L2-512KB 939p
2 x Seagate 120GB SATA HD 8MB Cache
2 gigs Kingston DDR400 PC3200 RAM
XP Home
EZcool 550w ATX
Standard AMD64 CPU Fan
Coolermaster Centurion Black
ASUS 6600GT 128MB PCI-E DVI/TVO

Clearly, no recent games are going to run very well at higher resolutions (1400x or more is my target here, as the reviews of the Samsung I've read indicates it wil scale to 1400x nicely enough) under these circumstances - but do I have an upgrade path that will allow me playable framerates without shelling out for a new mobo/cpu/motherboard?

My ultra cheapo option would be to get an X1950 pro for £70 or so, but I suspect that's not going to cut the mustard for, say, Oblivion at 1400x with graphics at medium/high.

An 8800 GT sounds like a great card for the price, but my CPU seems sadly underpowered for it. Would a cpu upgrade to a dual core FX 4200+ or an Opteron 180 make this card a viable option?

Alternatively, am I simply screwed for gaming at 1400x with a socket 939 mobo?
November 16, 2007 3:05:05 PM

The 939 socket is fine for powering the Samsung 245 monitor. Its not the cpu that makes the difference, its the video card. A 8800GT should power this monitor well enough. As to the idea of a X1950Pro, I don't think it will do the job. The X1950 series was good when it came out, but its time has come and gone. An alternative card to the 8800GT would be the 3870 from ATI.

Moving to a X2 4200 CPU would help your gameplay and everything else, as this CPU can be overclocked up to 2880 on air with a good heatsink, which I have done with my X2 4400+. Cost here is a determining factor. If you can get the 4200+ cheap enough, its worthwhile. If not, then look for a more modern setup.

As to the video card, the nice thing here is that if you buy a 8800GT, for example, and then decide to get a a new CPU and motherboard, you can transfer the 8800GT to it with no need to get another video card. So I'd first suggest to get the 8800GT and see how it works. Then if you want, you can go to a new CPU and motherboard.
November 16, 2007 4:57:49 PM

Thanks for the advice. I'm pretty sure I can get hold of an oem 4200+ for about £50, which seems ok bearing in mind that cpu + mobo + memory will be 5 times as much. Retail versions of the chip and sensibly priced 4400 - 4800s seem to be out of the question.

The oem factor means I'll need a heatsink to go with it, though. Perhaps you could recommend a decent one. I don't know whether I'm interested in overclocking or not. My pc is rather essential to my earning a living, so I'd rather avoid anything that threatens to compromise stability.
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November 16, 2007 5:20:20 PM

If you are sticking to s939 and don't want to overclock, you are just going to have headaches with your system performance. If this PC is essential to earning a living, why don't you buy a new system? Overclocking is for those who like to save money, plus your motherboard and processor are both designed to be overclocked. My s939 Opteron which is stock 2.0ghz, runs a 3ghz 24/7.
November 16, 2007 5:27:58 PM

I use a Zalman 9500, though the design is a bit dated now. Scythe has a few good ones, as well as Thermaltake and Thermalright. Since you don't plan on overclocking, almost any heatsink would do the job. A Scythe SCSMZ- 1100 should do the job well enough, as well as similar designs from other companies. You don't need a tower design by any means. I'm not really sure what's available to you, so can't advise a specific heatsink. The Zalman 9500 and 9700 are very good as well. Compare prices and look for heatsinks that have heatpipes is the best I can say.
November 16, 2007 5:30:30 PM

i wouldnt recommend OCing if his computer contains important data, at the very least if hes going to OC, he should back up data pretty regularly to more than one location, just as if he was going to use raid 0 (and just as you would do when normally using a computer anyhow)... but, since both of those solutions are relatively volitile, as far as data integrity is concerned, backing up becomes even more essential.
November 16, 2007 5:36:12 PM

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Manchester 2.2GHz Socket 939 Processor Model ADA4200DAA5BV - $66 w/ free shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I think $66 is well worth the performance difference if you're not planning on upgrading anytime soon (also to go along with a 8800GT or 3850/70).
November 16, 2007 5:41:09 PM

I'm with choirbass when it comes to overclocking a business computer. I may overclock my gaming computer, but my business computers stay at stock speeds. First and foremost, I want stability and long term dependability on them. Overclocking risks that stability, and the data on the hard disc is too important to loose for the sake of a few extra mhz.
November 16, 2007 6:35:59 PM

I think you might be surprised what an X1950 PRO and a 3500+ could do in oblivion.

1400x res shouldn't be a problem at pretty high settings with that rig, I have one as a secondary computer and it's pretty good...
November 16, 2007 7:17:21 PM

Thanks for the replies.

Yes, as regards my pc's official job (it's a DAW), I'm going to feel a bit of a plonker if it I get a hardware failure in the middle of a project because I was trying to squeeze a few more fps out of Bioshock.

I'd prefer to keep my DAW away from non-music activities entirely, but I love a bit of pc gaming (consoles do not appeal) and can't really justify shelling out for a dedicated gaming pc. The compromise I've come to in the last couple of years is to keep my C drive and one data drive dedicated to music, and have the more frivolous applications and data installed on another drive (I've got an external drive doing this job at the moment).

A new system would be an option, but I'd really rather not at present. Music wise, more cpu power isn't going to do much for me. I'd get a much, much bigger boost out of buying a cheap pc and slaving it from my current DAW than getting a new DAW. Plus, I'd rather avoid the hassle of having to optimise all my software for a new setup - and there's no way I'm buying new mobo/cpu/memory AND an 8800 GT.

Thus, I'm looking for a solution which will enable my pc to keep on doing some gaming on the side, but merely at the higher resolutions my new screen will require. This isn't about running Crysis with medium settings or better. But it would be nice to be able to get Oblivion, FEAR, Bioshock and so forth to run nicely at 1400x or so.

There's not a chance in hell of my switching to Vista until my next PC, and I buy games only infrequently anyway, and then usually only when they've been out for a good long while. I'm not expecting to run any system killing DX10 games any time soon.

@ cleeve : That's encouraging to hear. I'm ok with a cpu upgrade to a dual core 4200+, as I reckon this offers enough extra muscle on the DAW side of things to justify £50 or so. I can justify an 8800GT or similar on the basis that it will still be a decent enough card when it's time to buy a new pc... and because it might finally let me have some sword fights in nicely rendered woodland without none of the choppiness I get now.
November 16, 2007 7:32:48 PM

Just following on from the cpu issue, what would I need to do to ensure a seamless transition to a new cpu? Would I need a bios update, as I'd be switching from single to dual core?

Again, in it's capacity as a DAW, my pc behaves itself very well. I replaced my PSU recently, and had a nasty hour or two when it refused to boot, and I crapped myself until I fixed it. Anything that might cause my pc to behave erratically is very bad news for my stress levels, so idiot proof guidelines would be much appreciated.
November 16, 2007 7:35:44 PM

Go for it :-)
November 16, 2007 8:28:52 PM

Eric Shatnerlord said:
Just following on from the cpu issue, what would I need to do to ensure a seamless transition to a new cpu? Would I need a bios update, as I'd be switching from single to dual core?

Again, in it's capacity as a DAW, my pc behaves itself very well. I replaced my PSU recently, and had a nasty hour or two when it refused to boot, and I crapped myself until I fixed it. Anything that might cause my pc to behave erratically is very bad news for my stress levels, so idiot proof guidelines would be much appreciated.


There's a patch from Microsoft for running a dual core cpu, though it may have been included in other updates. You might check with Gigabyte as well, to make sure that your BIOS is current. These things might already be present. Someone else made the switch from single to dual core recently and found that his computer was actually slower until he updated the BIOS, then it sped along nicely. I don't know of anything else that might be needed. I went from single to dual core a long time ago without any trouble at all. Just dropped in the chip, started up and it ran fine.
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