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Upgrading a Dell -- 300$ Budget

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November 13, 2008 8:40:44 PM

Ok -- So, my friend is in love with Starcraft and can't wait for SC2 to come out. When I told him it was Dx10 only, he almost broke down on the spot. So basically.. I need to add on to his computer to make it game worthy for under 300$ (he mainly plays FSX when not playing starcraft)

It currently has 2 gigs of DDR2 533, capable of 4.
His motherboard supports 1 x16 PCI-E and has LGA 775.

So far I was thinking:

E7200 -- 120$
Recertified 8800 GTS 320MB -- 89$ (shows more FPS on FSX then GTX280 @ 1280x1024 Ultra Settings)

Would we need an upgraded PSU for this addition? If so how many watts? (Normally runs a Pentium IIII 524 + Onboard Video)

Another thing -- for whatever reason, the RAM in his computer is 667mhz when his motherboard's max speed is 533mhz. When running CPU-Z it shows the memory clocking @ 333mhz. What should he do?

Thanks for any help
a c 113 à CPUs
November 13, 2008 9:00:41 PM

His system currently has a Pentium IV 524. Did you check with Dell that it supports the E7200?
November 13, 2008 9:47:46 PM

His motherboard is a Dell WG864. I can't seem to find a compatibility list anywhere, dell's trying to charge me money to talk to them.

Anyone? I wanna try to get this done tonight
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November 13, 2008 9:57:05 PM

a 8800GTS 320 WILL NOT fit in that dell. It is a BTX mobo and you can only use ONE SLOT cards. A 8800GS should give you exactly the same power for about the same price.

Dell motherboards have very limited memory compatibility. I would assume one of the only safe bets is this:
The reason why it is running at 333 is most likely because of that pent 4.

As for a CPU. A used Pentium D will most certainly work, as will most early 65nm Core 2s. I belive that motherboard came with E6300 and E6400s in it, but not sure what else works. I would assume any 1066FSB 65nms will work, and very much doubt any of the new 45nms or quads will work. As always, remember to update the bios before doing these upgrades.

You should not need a new power supply, but you will need adapters. Granted, it may be a good idea just to get a new PSU as good ones can be found for so cheap now. Both a corsair 450 or a OCZ StealthxStream 600 watt should do fine, and for less than $50.

This is my personal opinion based on my work with many dell models, although i have never worked with an E520, i have worked with E510s and Dell i530s.

EDIT: The dell E520 (Dell WG864) sold with E6300, E6400, and E6600, E4300, Pent D 930, Pent D 915, Pent D 820, Pent 4s, and a celeron 346. Your best bet is to get a E4300 as it is cheap, much faster than what he has, and still available i believe. Unless you want to be risky and try a new model.
November 13, 2008 10:09:52 PM

i ran into a similar problem when trying to upgrade my buddies ~2001 Dell XPS couple months ago. i cant tell you any specific details but i found the simplest thing was to just upgrade the cpu/mobo/ram and match it with a cheap yet decent gpu.

i made this setup on a $400 budget (i believe it came out around $350), prices have more then likely went down since then...

CPU - Intel E5200
Mobo - Gigabyte GA-EG31M?S2
Ram - Corsair 2x2gb XMS2
GPU - 4670

thats reusing the case/psu/hdd

im not sure what the requirements will be for starcraft 2, but this should at least make it playable at low settings, as it handles crysis fairly well with low settings and no AA

hope this helps
November 13, 2008 10:17:43 PM

Drop the radeon, they are terrible with FSX. My 4870 is hardly better than my 7600GT in FSX.

EDIT: also, if you get a new motherboard you will need a new case. Remember he has BTX not ATX.
November 13, 2008 11:00:39 PM

Hmm.. There are more problems popping up..
I think were finishing with:

A new ATX case with included power supply -- $40
E7200 -- $120
EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB -- $90
Biostar Compatible MOBO ATX 945 chipset -- $48
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Total $298

anything else I should consider?
November 13, 2008 11:29:02 PM

I WOULD NEVER RUN A G80 (8800gts) on a power supply that comes with the case. Actually just drop the 8800GTS, those charts are not accurate representations of FSX. A 8800GS/9600GSO/9600GT would suit your much better.

By far you would get much better results with staying with his case and motherboard.

This is what i would get:

E4300 $100
$75

and one of the two PSUs i mentioned. This would only be $200 max and would give 80% of the speed that the other solution has.

!