I'm looking for a slight upgrade of PC, to something that has SATA for my HDD (which has been running on a PATA SATA adapter), has faster boot up time, improves multi-tasking (mainly to allow CD ripping and encoding (LAME mp3) and panorama stitching (hugin) to run behind media playback (mainly mp3 in WMP 10, but the odd video file/DVD in VLC) and web browsing (including odd bits of web video) and email, without having to jiggle thread priorities in task manager to maintain smooth playback), and which plays Sim City 4 and Half-Life 2 slightly better, but would like to make it quieter and more efficient at the same time. Hopefully this will also allow me to keep the same PSU. I plan to stick with my copy of XP home, assuming that it doesn't complain that too much hardware has changed.
(On a related, but secondary, and slightly less pinned down note, I also wonder if there are any low powered modern graphics cards that perform well against the ATI Radeon 9800 of quite a few years ago. Changing to a new motherboard would require this to be changed, as this is an AGP card. Answer if you like, but perhaps I should start another thread for that.)
They both suck, and you probably wouldnt notice a difference. Two systems back I had an athlon xp 2600+ OC'd a little with a 9600 ati card then a 6600 nvidia and one gig of ram. It played Half Life 2 ok.
The Athlon 64 2000+ is really designed to be used in an email station/word processor pretty much. For your plans, it will be a DOWNGRADE. If anything, look into something like the Athlon X2 4850e. It's a 45w dual-core WHICH will make a big difference in multitasking. Second, when you switch motherboards, plan on reinstalling the OS. It so much easier to start over when you make that big of a hardware change. Third, forget any performance increase when you plug your SATA drive into a SATA port. The hard drive is still the biggest bottleneck in any system. Finally, even a lowly Nvidia 8500GT is better than your 9800:
Seriously... there are plenty of low cost, low power dual cores out there. I'm thinking an Athlon X2 65nm and an AMD 780G chipset.
The integrated graphics in that should improve 3D performance over your 9800 and its probably the cheapest way to get there. If not you can tie a $40 3450 for crossfire graphics that will definitely help you out.
DDR 2 memory is cheap right now as well. So buy a lot.
forgot to add this... going off of what "runswindows95" said, DEFINITELY reinstall XP. You're going to have to upgrade the mobo and CPU; OS' don't take kindly to this type of upgrade. Its much easier to just bite the bullet and reinstall. You'll be happy you did...
standard sized ATX tower case (Carrera, who went bust not long after making my PC, but at least made a nice looking, easy to work with case) with front sockets for 2xUSB, 1xFirewire, 2x3.5mm audio, 4x5.25" bays, 3x3.5" bays, 5x3.5" hidden HDD bays, Fittings for 2 case fans (1 installed)
Asus Socket A Motherboard With 1x4xAGP & 5xPCI, several USB 1.1/2.0, 5.1 channel sound (Asus A7V333)
CPU & RAM
AMD Athlon XP 2200+ (1.8GHz)
512 MB RAM (Geil, it's got heat spreaders, but I don't think it's their fancy stuff - intended as upgrade to 1GB, but old memory faulty so ended up as just a potentially faster replacement)
ATI Radeon 9800 Graphics Card (128 MB, but not the SE version (but happily not the LE version either))
CMI8738 based 5.1 sound card (added because integrated sound card was missing socket plates for line in)
10/100 Ethernet Card (I want one of these for when I'm in charge of the network again, and get to put cables in)
56k Fax Modem (never used)
TV Card (never any good really, and gave up a while ago - plain composite/s-video in might be useful)
1x250GB SATA HDD - Hitachi HDT725025VLA380 (connected to PATA on motherboard via adapter - chosen because many newer motherboards only have 1 PATA controller, used for the optical drive)
1xsmaller PATA HDD (unused - potential future backup drive, or secondary PC drive. Also 1 more HDD that's broken but still in the case)
1xSony DVD+/-RW (SONY DVD RW DRU-700A)
1xNEC DVD ROM (_NEC DV-5800B)
1xCD/RW Drive (replaced by DVD RW drive, and out of case, but still have)
1x3.5" floppy disk
OScii keyboard with media buttons (play/pause, track skip etc. useful at times)
Belkin 54g USB wireless LAN "card" (no cat5e wire to where the PC is, so this is what I end up using).
Logitech QuickCam Express
Logitech wireless MX Laser mouse
Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 750SB monitor (17" CRT - wonderful bit of kit - no LCD here! - max res 1600x1200, but normally run at 1280x960)
NAD Amplifier & Wharfedale Speakers (Stereo - used all the time)
VideoLogic 5.1 speakers (use only the rear two speakers (with sub providing their bass) on occasions to provide a 4.0/1 (I think the front speakers provide more bass than the sub) system where the hifi does the front)
Oh, and a random microphone
Windows XP Home Edition (I think it's OEM, but I do at least have the CD and licence no. rather than restore disks - have re-installed in the past, but main concern with this is that it might fail to activate if reinstalling on a different motherboard and CPU. SATA isn't an issue, as I know how slipstream the drivers onto an install disk with nLite)
What I'm looking for
Ideally I'd get a motherboard that has Ethernet, USB 2 (with 2 internal USB 2 for the case), Firewire (with 1 internal for the case, although I can route a cable to the back for that one) and 5.1 sound (with 6 3.5mm jacks on the back so I can use line in and mic at the same time as having 4 or more channels of sound going out) - routing to the front doesn't matter, as I never use those sockets). This means I don't need to worry about the PCI cards. Most seem to do all of this, so pretty much drops out of the equation as a function of the chosen processor.
Graphics that are faster than what I presently have (I think I'd prefer a separate card with which has passive cooling to integrated motherboard graphics - don't want tv, but video in is maybe a nice bonus, but I'd probably rather get the rest right if I can't have my cake and eat it - low power usage, passive cooling and higher performance than at present matter more). Is this going to be a squeeze on a 350w PSU? I heard somewhere that you need vista to crossfire an motherboard integrated chip with a dedicated card - ie. in XP you have to use either one or the other for gaming. Is ATI 3450 still good on its own, or is there a better ATI choice? How's it compare to the nVidia 8500GT
CPU wise, a bit better at doing my background/foreground tasks together, and a bit better support for the games, but with the minimum of power use and if passive cooling works, great. Looking at the Athlon X2 4850e, I'm quite impressed that this only uses 45w, but then again I'm not sure what my XP 2200+ uses.
RAM wise, I suppose I get 2GB of whatever gives the best latency/bandwidth/power use/cost balance.
I gather that's probably all I'd need to change. The only other thing is whether I need to keep the case fan running.
Price wise, what would I get at about £300? Or do I need more for decent performance / not need as much for low power processors - I've not really bought the major core components for a while (as you can probably tell by my current processor)