Currently I have:
(2X) 512MB PC2700 DDR RAM 333mhz
AMD AthlonXP 2400+
I need to get a new computer for the wife, so I am most likely going to spend around $500 bux for her at Walmart or something. This means no new gaming rig for me . I have had my falcon-nw since 2003, and the only thing that I have upgraded is the Graphics Card. So, needless to say, I need to upgrade my system big time.
I am wondering how fast a processor I can plug into the current mobo, and what RAM is compatible?
hmm..., throw the guts away and go with the cpu + DDR2 ram + mb for best results, but your OS might complain and require a reinstall and/or new licence, activation, etc. so allow $$ for that as well.
If you stay with the current board, get the processor and maybe one more 512 DDR 333MHz stick. This would be the cheapest way to go for some gain, but it wouldn't be my choice. Don't bother tossing out the existing 512 sticks and replacing them with 400MHz sticks because you won't notice the difference (is the board limited to DDR 333 or 400? don't know, but doesn't matter, stay with 333MHz).
The A7N8X is AGP (booo) while the board IHU8 is PCI-E (yay!) and on-board video HD3200, but do you already have a decent AGP graphics card from the existing system? Hopefully not, so later you can get a 8800GT512 or something.
with 2GB DDR2-800 ram for about $40 and a PCI-E video card. If you're on a really tight budget, the Geforce 8600 GT can be found for about $75. You might also be able to find a good bargain on a card like the 7900 GS or Radeon X1950 Pro but they're quite hard to find these days. The Radeon 3850 and Geforce 9600 GT are both ~$150 but are much better performers. The CPU will overclock to ~3GHz on the the included heatsink/fan if you're into OCing.
For ~$350 you'd have a system that can run games like Crysis quite nicely and you'd have tons of room for upgrades in the future. That board can take all the latest 45nm quad core and dual core processors for a later upgrade, and upgrading to 4GB ram would be dead easy as well.