Advice on Video Card Upgrade for Aging Machine

I have a Pentium 4 2.8ghtz Northwood CPU
Soyo P4 VGA Motherboard (AGP 4X Slot)
2 Gigs OCZ PC400 memory
450 Watt generic PSU with unknown amount of amps on 12 volt rails
and a Radeon 9800 Pro (AGP)

This will be the final upgrade for the aging beast, and I just wanted everyones opinion on upgrading from a 9800 Pro to a HD 2600XT or should I go with the 3850 (which I think is way overkill for my aging system) or should I bear with the system I have till end of year to first half of next year when I can finish building my new one?

I play Battlefield 2142, World of Warcraft, Dawn of War. And hopefully Fallout 3 and Starcraft 2 if I don't have my new PC by then.

Oh and I'm hoping to run my 22inch Dell E228WFP (I know I know, I bought it a year before the Ultrasharp 22" came out, how was I supposed to know :kaola: ) at its native 1680 x 1050 with medium preferably high settings.

All your insights will be very much appreciated knowledgeable TH forum

Oh and I won't want to overclock it. At least no overclocking involving hardware or GPU bios modifications. And any suggestions must be AGP.
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  1. I wouldn't waste the money. Save it so you can finish your new machine sooner :)

    And running at that resolution will be a stretch.
  2. AGP is dead, if you can build a new system. I'd get the HD2600xt to hold you over and then upgrade.
  3. Unknown 12v makes it hard to answer.

    Months ago I never would have recommended the HD3850 for your rig. The 2600XT and 2600 pro were/are so much better priced and a better match for your components. A single core P4 2.8 is below minimum spec for some games, so performance no matter what GPU will be limited to lower detail levels.

    But that said, the HD3850 pro AGP is not $200+ any more. At $135 AR, it is a really nice option too. I just think very often you would be cpu limited not gpu limited with either the 2600XT or 3850 pro. Native 16x10 may make this worth the extra month:

    Be prepared to upgrade the PSU if you have stability issues. An old 450W generic could have a single 17-18 amp 12v rail.
  4. I agree with pauldh. PSUs get less efficient as they age, so its likely that an old generic 450w might be a source of instability. You could always buy the power supply that you will use for your next build and use it with this system. I just wouldn't want to invest much money in that old system since you won't get it back. Its not a terrible system but you know how technology is.
  5. If you have a $400-500 budget you could upgrade to something better, you'd be surprised what you could get in that price range.

    CPU - $70 e2180 OC it to 2.8 - 3 gHz on stock cooler.
    Mobo - $97 Gigabyte DS3L Nice solid and easily OC'd p35 mobo.
    GPU - $140 (after $10 MIR) eVga 9600gt 512mb GPU!!! Best budget GPU right now.
    HD - $60 250gb WD or Seagate HD, SATA 3.0!!
    Memory - $31 (after 30 MIR) Crucial CAS4 DDR2 800mHz RAM!!! Hard to beat at that price!
    Case/PSU combo - $90 shipped! Antec New Solution NSK3480 Black, has 380w PSU w/27A on the 12v rails. Will be plenty for the power mizing 9600gt.
    DVD Burner - $35-40 depending on which one you get.

    Total ~$560 - $40 MIR-s = ~$520. You could drop down on the GPU to a 3650 or so, which would only cost about $60-75 (after MIR's) and that would drop your price down to about $450-475 or so. Either system would give a good platform to start with. If you get the eVga version of any GPU than you could upgrade it withing the first 90 days, by using the "Step Up" program, and only have to pay the difference in price. You can decide, but buying a basic budget gaming system right now is pretty cheap.
  6. Drop the GPU to an evga 8800GS superclock (650/1900). it will run with a 9600GT for $110 AR.
  7. I cracked open my case. Turns out I got 21 amps on a single +12 Volt rail. Does your recommendation still hold true with the power supply I have. Also though my rig is many years old, I recently replaced the stock 350 watt power supply with this 450 I had lying around, so if anything should go bad on my PC its unlikely it will be the power supply. (Old one was making grinding noises)

    Thanks everyones for the insights but were not done yet :D

    My new build is going to take a while to complete. Its a complete overhaul.

    So Far I got
    Cooler Master Stacker 830 SE Case
    Real Power 1000w PSU
    New G15 Keyboard
    G5 Gaming Mouse
    Logitech Z-5500 5.1
    Shure SE310 earphones (more for Ipod/traveling than PC component)
    X-Fi Platinum (From old build)
    and the Dell 22in I mentioned above and gonna grab 2nd one once build is almost done but this time an Ultrasharp.)

    Trying to buy all the things that I will keep for multiple builds now and once thats done by the core components one shot with the best I can afford.

    Its looking something like a X48 motherboard with a Q9450 and 2/4 gigs of DDR3-1600 (Depends on price when I buy), Seagate 7200.11 HD or WD Velociraptor (sp?) and some dvd burner, perhaps even blue ray player (again depending on price)

    Your wisdom is very much appreciated please responsd:-)
    Thanks again
  8. ^
    Dude no one needs a 1000W power supply anymore. The new Graphics cards take far less juice to run and that PSU would be a waste. Going all out I see though. I never recommend buying the best, it cost to much. Unless you have a wad of money to just burn. Build a Solid midrange PC it will cost you about $1000 w/o monitor. You need to dump your current system, it obsolete as far as gaming is concerned and upgrades are going to be at a premium.
  9. Your right, 1000w is crazy, but with the deal it was cheaper than what I was going to get so I thought it to be a good buy. I spend the money on the gear that I will use for mulitple builds, ie mouse, keyboard, monitor, speakers, PSU (As long as the connectors don't get obsolete or there are no adapters for it) etc. I build a new PC about once every 6 years, and at least with my current machine I didn't upgrade becuase apart from hand me downs. (Mostly because I was in high school and had no money.) Perhaps this will be different. And hopefully my expenditures on a rig of this caliber will be justified.
  10. Yeah a good mouse, keyboard, case, psu, etc will last you at least 2 builds. I guess if you got a good deal that was cheaper than getting a 700W ish PSU we won't pick on you to much. haha.

    I still wouldn't bother with an AGP card, you may as well save it to spend on your current build. Don't get DDR3 memory its expensive and not that much better performing. DDR2 is so cheap right now. When are you going to be able to spring for the rest of your system?
  11. Sound advice, I'll consider it.

    Thanks everyone for your help

    Im going to skip the upgrade and just concentrate on my new build.
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