minimum worthwhile upgrade?

So... I had been planning to gimp along on my system that I had until money improves for us... at which point i'd replace it with something current-generation. However, a month or so back, mainboard crapped out, taking 1/2 my RAM with it. Decided at that point to go ahead and spend a lil $ to get it running again; and not 2 weeks after I put a new MB in and got that working, my video (6800 GT) died, so all i could do was swap in the next best thing i had laying around... my trusty ol' 4200 TI.

So ... money won't be looking up anytime soon, and here i sit looking at the handful of my games that will run on the GF4. I'm thinking I'd like to try and scrap together a few hundred bucks to upgrade a lil bit; just for something to get by on til i can afford current generation machine.

Here's what i'm running now after all my hardware problems:

A64 3200 (754)
Biostar Nforce 3 MB (not sure of the model offhand)
GF4200 TI 64MB
onboard sound
all IDE drives

I guess the question is, what would you guys say is probably the minimum level i'd need to upgrade to, in order to get something worthwhile to tide me over for another year or so? Not lookin' to play anything too demanding... certainly none of the new DX10 hotness... but i would like to get titan quest and Civ 4 running again, and a couple other games of approximately that age.
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More about minimum worthwhile upgrade
  1. What is your budget?
    What is your [desired] display resolution?
    What version of Windows are you running?
    What is the brand/model of your PSU? Does it have a 6-pin PCI-E power connector on it? 20-pin or 24-pin mobo power connector?
  2. budget: likely no more than $300-$400
    display resolution: 1024x768 or 1280x1024 (that's my usual minimum, and the max my monitor will do, respectively)
    windows: XP Pro (sorry; forgot that wasn't necessarily obvious with my hardware age)
    power supply: Antec NEO somethingorother... 480W i think. would have to get home and check for the PCIE connection; It'll do either a 20 or 24 pin mainboard connection
  3. Ok. The PSU should be adequate. With that budget, I think I can come up with a decent AM2 parts list. I'll post back shortly.
  4. For that much money, you can easily buy a new mobo, CPU, RAM, and a GPU. I mean, I just picked up an E2200 and an Asus P5LD2 for around $200 (love the mobo for it has 3 PATA ports). You're looking at about $50 for 2GB of decent RAM. That would leave you $150 for a new GPU.
  5. Here's a quick list. Explanations are at the bottom. There are some obvious compromises, but I didn't bust your stated budget.

    BIOSTAR TF560 A2+ AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA nForce 560 MCP ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
    Model #: TF560 A2+
    Item #: N82E16813138081
    $79.99 $79.99

    SAPPHIRE 100208L Radeon HD 2600XT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
    Model #: 100208L
    Item #: N82E16814102700
    $92.99 $92.99

    AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ Brisbane 2.1GHz Socket AM2 65W Dual-Core Processor Model ADO4000DDBOX - Retail
    Model #: ADO4000DDBOX
    Item #: N82E16819103774
    $59.99 $59.99

    A-DATA 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model ADQVE1A16K - Retail
    Model #: ADQVE1A16K
    Item #: N82E16820211066
    $45.99 $45.99

    Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250310AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
    Model #: ST3250310AS
    Item #: N82E16822148261
    $66.99 $66.99

    Subtotal: $345.95

    Ok. The 2600XT is a weak for gaming, but a $199 HD3850 would have busted your budget. If you have wiggle room, here's where it should go.
    The RAM is only 5-5-5-18 at stock, but again the focus was on cheap. I'm not sure how much real difference you'd see here. As a quick pick, I'm sure someone else can find better.
    You'll need a new SATA hard drive, because most modern mobos support only a pair of IDE devices. A good option would be to build this system, then cycle through your existing IDE hard drives one at a time, copying what you need off of them onto the drive in this PC.
    A 320GB drive isn't much more, but again I was trying to minimize the cost.
    Good luck with your upgrade.
  6. I mainly agree with jtt283, you can overclock those X2 processors a lot just on stock cooling. I would throw in artic silver 5 thermal paste, and I would recommend G.Skill for ram but many suggest Crucial for stability, I have G.Skill with no problems, plus they have a life time warranty.

    4-4-4-12 @ 2.2 volts
    Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
    $74.99 - Rebate (If you qualify) + Free shipping

    The RAM I use and would suggest but some people have had it die on them, but I have not had this occur to me.

    4-4-3-5 @ 2.0-2.1 volts
    G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
    Price: $69.99 + Shipping
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