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best upgrades on $200 budget. PC mainly used for Browsing/IM/Music

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June 19, 2008 9:36:24 PM

A good friend of mine is looking to upgrade his machine. His budget is $200. He is currently running a 2.8 ghz pentium 4 with 512mb of DDR RAM. He asked me for advice as to what upgrades he should make to improve the performance enough so that he can make it through his last 2 years of college. I recommended that he upgrade his RAM to 2 Gig. My question is, would it be beneficial for him to purchase a low end dedicated graphics card? He mainly uses his PC for browsing the internet/IM, writing papers, and burning music. He does not play computer games. If this plan does not seem smart, then what would be the best upgrades to make for under $200? I appreciate any advice/ comments.
June 19, 2008 9:46:19 PM

Faster cpu would help burning disks but thats about all. If thats all he's doing he would be better off just holding on to the money.
June 19, 2008 10:15:05 PM

adding another 512 would smooth it out if he has xp, but no the graphics card would not help if he is not gaming.
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June 19, 2008 10:23:56 PM

I agree with RC...the memory increase will help XP. Otherwise leave it alone. On the bright side...it shouldn't cost $200 to upgrade the RAM.....so PARTY with the rest.
June 19, 2008 10:32:48 PM

go out and grab a 1GB stick of DDR. should cost $40 at most. for your friend's needs, dual channel won't do much so just buy the chepest ram you can find.
June 19, 2008 11:48:55 PM

Is there any other upgrade that might significantly increase the performance? He claims that he needs a new HD bc his old one is starting to fill up. Would it be wise to purchase another one and put the OS on it and all of his other programs and documents could be left on the old one. I have heard of people doing this before but are the performance increases really worth the time and money? Thanks.
June 19, 2008 11:53:12 PM

Oh I forgot to ask, Would a gigabyte Ethernet card help out? Im not sure what his network is like at school but I know that some people at my school needed to take upgrade to a gigabit card in order to take full advantage of the internet speeds Sorry for the double post:( 
June 19, 2008 11:59:36 PM

If he needs more space, but he's not wanting to get rid of anything, then a new hard drive could be added for cheap, that and the RAM.....you could still have some money left over for a case of beer!
June 20, 2008 3:10:21 AM

So the best investment of his money would be to put 1GB of RAM in his PC. Would it be worth it to spend the extra money and get 2 GB? DDR is pretty cheap and if it is even a slight performance increase over the 1 GB then it would be worth it.
June 20, 2008 1:56:56 PM

For what he uses his computer for the 2GB wouldn't really increase his experience any, it'd be more for 'bragging rights' (... yeah, DDR bragging rights).

Add some RAM and throw in another hard drive.

About the Gigabyte Ethernet card... does his mobo not have a built in Ethernet port? If not, then he'll definitely need an ethernet card. If so, make sure he gets a card that supports 100Mbps, depending on his school's connection, he can take full advantage of the 'speedy' connection. As a bonus PCI LAN cards are cheeeap http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833166004

kman - if you get a chance, post up some more detailed specs of his computer and we'll know what to recommend.
June 21, 2008 5:08:35 PM

He is satisfied with the amount of HD space he has so I dont think a second HD would be an option. He currently is running 512mb of DDR and he has a built in Ethernet port on his mobo. But I know it is not 100mb/s capable. Like other memebers have recommended, I thiink a RAM upgrad would give him a good performance increase for his budget. Would it be best to purchase a 1GB DIMM and replace his 512 DIMM with it? Or just purchase a 512 DIMM and add it to his current 512 DIMM?
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