GeForce3 system getting old [Edit 7-2-08]

Edit: 7-12-08

I'm glad to see the positive feedback on the ASUS EAH4850/HTDI/512M Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 $194.99 as a GPU for this system. Would saving up a bit more for something in the 4870 bracket like the VisionTek 900244 Radeon HD 4870 512MB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 - $309.99 be worth the extra investment? It's about $100-$125 dollar difference, but I'm wondering if the need for a larger PSU, possibly different mobo, cooling system, and the increased energy consumption warrents the increased performance. From what I have read so far, the 4850 will do me fine, but the 4870 seems so far above it for only $100 more. Perhaps I am missing something. What are your thoughts for this system?

Tentatively swapped out Microsoft Windows XP Home With SP2B for System Builders 1 Pack - $84.99 for Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit English for System Builders 1pk DSP OEI DVD - OEM - $99.99 at efx92's suggestion for a 64-bit OS, direct X 10, and the use of up to 8 GB of Ram.

Dropped the Creative Sound Blaster SB0570 Audigy SE 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card $29.99 entirely at multiple suggestions. If I have some trouble I can always grab a card later.

Changed Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound $5.99 for ARCTIC COOLING MX-2 Thermal Compound - $6.99 at efx92's suggestion. I have no particular preference and appreciate the feedback.

Added XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler - $36.99 and XIGMATEK ACK-I7751 Retention Bracket - $6.99 from effel's wish list (I didn't know they had a bracket for that) and at multiple suggestions to get an after market heatsink/fan for the CPU. I am not sure if it will entirely fit in the case, though, so I may use a smaller one. With fans I'm used to the "open it up and squirt some more lubricant on the squeaking ball bearings" approach, so getting something good the first time around will be a new idea. For a lower profile, would a ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler - $26.99 be a better idea, or would something cheaper like an COOLER MASTER RR-LIE-L9E1-GP 95mm Rifle CPU Cooler - $14.99 be a better idea for my sort of setup?

Yes, I completely forgot a PSU. efx92 recommended a 550W while zipz0p recommended more along the lines of 400W. I've tentatively added CORSAIR CMPSU-450VX 450W ATX12V V2.2 Power Supply - $74.99 as something between the two wattages.

Also, I forgot an optical drive, so I have added SAMSUNG 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model SH-S203N - $29.99 to the list.

Regarding mother board, efx92 recommended getting a P35, while flyin15sec suggested upgraded to a P45 from the P43 I currently have listed. What are the relative advantages to each of these boards?

Many folks suggested downgrading the ram to standard PC2-6400 as the PC2-8500 was considered a bit overkill. I only see about a $5.00 price difference between the two at this point, but am I looking at the wrong brands? G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) - $83.99 vs. G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) - $89.99. Does the PC2-6400 function better in a non OC'd system compared to the PC2-8500?

Is the airflow improvement of the Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $119.99 that flyin15sec recommended as a possible upgrade worth the extra $50, or is there another feature I may have missed in upgrading from an Antec Three Hundred Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $69.95.

Thus, things are now lying at

SAMSUNG 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model SH-S203N - $29.99

Antec Three Hundred Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $69.95

Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3500320AS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - $84.99

ASUS EAH4850/HTDI/512M Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 - $199.99

CORSAIR CMPSU-450VX 450W ATX12V V2.2 Power Supply - $74.99

ARCTIC COOLING MX-2 Thermal Compound - $6.99

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) - $89.99

GIGABYTE GA-EP43-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P43 ATX Intel Motherboard - $99.99

Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz LGA 775 - $189.99

Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit English - $99.99

XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler - $36.99

XIGMATEK ACK-I7751 Retention Bracket - $6.99

Subtotal: $990.84

It's up a bit since I've included a PSU, aftermarket cooling system, and an optical drive. Also, I am not sure on the mobo, ram, psu, cooling system, and case at this time. What are your thoughts?

Again, thank you for your earlier time and feedback on this build and your time reading over it.

************************

Edit: Below is older information, but a good background.

You can scroll down past the first few paragraphs for a TLDR version. Thank you.

Greetings Tom's Hardware forums. I have been lurking around for the last two months to bring myself more up to date with the parts market. I have an older system I would like to replace from the ground up and am running into some difficulty finding the budget "sweet" spot of getting a working system that is not so old as to need replacing again soon, or can be replaced for a relatively cheap amount in a few years if parts cannot be replaced.

I mostly use the system for WoW and Sibelius at the moment, and upgraded my GeForce 3 for a cheap GeForce 6200 (with 256 mb of ram... oooo, shiney) to bring my framerate up from 2-3 in some areas to 10-15. While it is much more playable, the system has gained a harsh edge of instability. I have been playing around with the drivers, psu, and mobo a bit to try and iron things out, but I figured it might be time upgrade the entire system, since it is a "the cheapest thing I can get to replace this or that broken part or oozing capacitor" system by this point. I have wanted to someday place HalfLife2 and some of the other games that have come out in the last few years (I'm usually quite a ways behind the curve, I have a copy of Tribes 1 and Alien Vs. Predator 2: Primal Hunt around somewhere and haven't really played Halo yet, much less Crysis, which seems to be the new benchmark). I like Elderscrolls: Oblivion, as well, but it has a screamingly difficult time running, even without much of a clipping plane and low settings. I am not trying to get anything up to the bleeding edge, by any means, but reading around on these forums most other people live at 60+ fps while ~30 is considered pretty jagged. Imagine! In addition, some of the new MMO's seem to thrive on putting a system, particularly the GPU, through the meat grinder, and I'd like to look towards the future.

My current system:

ASUSTeK A7V8X-X mobo - Socket A, 166 mhz fsb
AMD Sempron 2400+ CPU (1.6 Ghz)
GeForce 6200 256 mb (AGP) - The system runs stabler with the old GeForce 3 64 mb (AGP)
512MB x 2 for 1GB of ram. I'm pretty sure it's PC2700
SAMSUNG SV2046D 20GB Harddrive, though I got an additional 160 GB internal drive to take the weight off some external drives.
I used up one PCI slot for some USB 2.0 (again, to help the external drives) but I guess USB 2.0 is standard on mobo's these days.
Some sort of SB Audigy.

What I have been able to put together as a tentative shopping list is as follows. I have included a brief summary in case I did not share the list correctly.

https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.aspx?ID=10011468

Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80570E8400 $189.99

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound $5.99

Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3500320AS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive $84.99

Microsoft Windows XP Home With SP2B for System Builders 1 Pack - Instant $84.99

Creative Sound Blaster SB0570 Audigy SE 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card $29.99

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) $89.99

GIGABYTE GA-EP43-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P43 ATX Intel Motherboard$99.99

Antec Three Hundred Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case $69.95

ASUS EAH4850/HTDI/512M Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 $194.99

Subtotal: $850.87

At this moment, I am looking at ~$850 before tax/shipping. While it looks solid, I am wondering if I am overshooting any particular areas (perhaps could do just 2 GB of ram and maybe not oc'd, smaller HD, cheaper GPU, cheaper MB, slower processor, etc.). I am also not sure if this will need an aftermarket heat sink to get by. I don't plan on doing any overclocking at the moment as the thought of going "oops" and burning something out does not appeal to me, and I tend to use systems for many years past their prime. I would love to get this up and running for as little as possible, of course, but you get what you pay for and I have no problem continuing to slowely save up and modify things as needed. I'll need the new OS as I want to give the old system to the folks (they're currently running some sort of windows ME e-machine critter that only boots up once every 5 or 6 tries) after it's cleaned up. I've chosen windows XP for the moment as I am terribly not sold on Vista. I also have a monitor and misc. keyboards and mice to salvage and reuse around here.

Thank you very much for your time, and any feedback on the build is appreciated.
8 answers Last reply
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  1. For the thermal compound, I like to use Arctic Cooling MX-2 but you can get whatever you prefer.

    I would get Vista 64bit, I've had it for awhile now and have had no problems with it and you can get up to 8GB of RAM and it supports DX10 while windows XP does not.

    The sound card is not necessary, on board sound will suffice unless you have very expensive speakers.

    For the RAM, you can get DDR2 800 and save yourself some money there, although it wont be much it's still saves you a little bit and 800 works fine.

    For the mobo, I would get a P35 but you picked a good brand, I like Gigabyte.

    If you can afford it, get an after market CPU cooler, stock CPU fans usually don't last very long.

    Everything else looks good to me, that should run WoW on highest setting easily. Good choice on the video card and good luck with your build!
  2. I would drop the sound card, as Audigy is 1 generation behind already, and most onboard sound can perform just fine for gaming.

    Use the saved money on either improving your motherboard to a P45 or improving your case to the Antec 900.
  3. Just noticed you didn't list a Power Supply, you may want to budget that in.
  4. scratch the soundcard and buy a good PSU newer CPU's and grsphic card's
    need powerfull and stable PSU's...
  5. Oh yeah, for the PSU, look at either a Corsair or PC Power & Cooling, I'd say 550W+.
  6. 550W is overkill for that build. You could easily get by with 400W of a quality brand (like those you named).

    Definitely drop the sound card.

    Drop the memory down to PC2-6400 also. That memory is nice (I have it), but it's overkill.... I probably should have just gotten some PC2-6400 as well.
  7. http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx?WishListNumber=12119107

    A lot like what you have, let me know what you think. I'll extend the post later, but I'm going to an advanced showing of Hancock in 5 minutes. Good Luck.
  8. Bump for edit on original post, 7-2-08. Thank you for your feedback
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