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Upgrading a 4-5 year old system

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September 12, 2008 5:03:44 PM

Alright guys, here's what I'm lookin at. I would like to upgrade the system I built a few years ago and would more than welcome the thoughts and advice of people much more experienced than myself. Here's my old rig:

Athlon 64 3000+
Asus A8N-Sli Deluxe (s939)
2x512mb mushkin PC3200
XFX 7600gt ----> bought a 9800gt to replace
Antec Neopower 500 watt PSU
Samsung 226BW 22" (1680x1050)
1x 120gb sata HD
1x 80gb IDE HD
DVDR-W, 3.5" floppy, etc.....
Windows XP sp2

So I couldn't resist the $109 XFX 9800gt with Call of Duty 4 deal, and that is now pushin the pixels in my box. I noticed a good improvement, but I think the 1gb of ram is killin me, and the proc isn't really helping. Here's what I was thinking of buying to finish out the upgrade:

ASUS P5Q Pro Motherboard- $139
2x2gb OCZ Reaper 1066 - $98 AR
C2D E8400 - $135 - ($170 - $35 off for combo deal with ASUS P5Q Pro MB)

Total $372 after the $30 rebate on the ram. ~$400 or less is about my target budget here. Less would always be better if it won't sacrifice performance or increase chances for stability/compatibility issues.

I don't plan to crossfire, but it's only $10 more for the pro version of the motherboard, so I figured why not. Maybe I'll want to use that option down the road.

I thought the 9800GT was a good deal, especially with the free game, so I went for it. I have a bit of an aversion to ATI hardware after encountering some persistent heat and driver issues in the past, but am open if anyone adamantly believes that I should return the 9800GT and pay the extra $50 for an HD4850. I don't think the PSU would handle crossfiring 2 of them, but I could always upgrade that later.

Should I get the reaper DDR2-800 kit because it's rated for 1.8v instead of 2.1v? The timings are better but
I'm not sure that the real world effect would be positive. Might be better for overclocking, which I like the option of despite not being a big overclocker. If the 1066 is just going to be overall faster though, I'll stick with it. I know that 32-bit XP won't use all 4 gigs, but this way I'll be ready to upgrade to 64-bit in the next year or so.

I figure I might snag a SATA DVD burner as well, since the MB only has one IDE port. A larger HDD might be good too...

My goal is to have a good mid- level rig, used of course for mainstream pc work but also for some graphics intensive games (looking forward to Fallout 3, Far Cry 2, and trying to get Clear Sky running as smoothly as bugs allow). I like to use my computer more than fiddle with troublesome things to get them to work, but am willing to put in the extra effort if it yields more performance or saves money. I'd like to have something that would have a good upgrade path a few years down the road, at least better than dumping a bunch of money into a socket that is abandoned within a year of coming out. I know that Nehalem is coming out at the end of the year, but I figure that support for socket 775 will continue long enough and processors will be much more available than socket 939 turned out to be.

Thanks for taking the time to read this long-winded post and put in your two cents!

More about : upgrading year system

September 12, 2008 5:32:14 PM

Drop the DDR2 1066, since the DDR2 800 has a better price for one. Just make sure you get low latency RAM (4-4-4-*). The 1066 is better for those like myself who have AMD (has an integrated memory controller). however better timings are best for the Core 2's.
September 12, 2008 5:59:36 PM

^ +1 to IH8U on the RAM. Great CPU/motherboard combo choice, but it is a crossfire board so it's a tough call about returning the 9800GT. I'm using a 8800GT in one of my systems and frankly don't see the point in changing to a 4850 even though i'd get better performance. It's good enough for what i do and the other cards that would markedly improve performance (4870/GTX260/9800GX2) are over my GPU budget. Tough call, personally i'd not return the 9800.

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September 12, 2008 6:15:52 PM

Yep +2. I have a P5Q -E, a E8400, and a 8800GT with a 22" monitor. I have no reason to upgrade my GPU just yet, although I do expect to need to do so by early next year.

The only place I have to compromise in DX 9 is a few medium settings in Crysis (at 1680x1050). I would expect a few DX10 titles might be a problem, but I haven't tried any in Vista 64 yet.
September 12, 2008 6:19:49 PM

The change up for the ram sounds good, and shaves $30 bucks off the price to boot. I don't think I would ever get two of the same video card (I typically upgrade every 3-5 years, as you can prob tell) so I doubt I would ever crossfire. The 9800GT seems to run things pretty well at 1680x1050, so if I can eliminate the cpu/ram bottleneck I think I'll be fine for awhile. I'm not sure the 4850 would be worth the extra time and money...

btw, thanks for your posts!
September 12, 2008 6:23:38 PM

+3 drop the ram get a cheaper DDR2 800 and OC it urself if u want. E8400 is a good choice, though how much did you get the 9800 GT for?

FYI 9800 GT is a rebadged 8800 GT. If you got it for $140 range, return it and get yourself an ATI 4850 which peform around the 9800 GTX+ > 9800 GTX > 9800 GTS > 9800 GT.
September 12, 2008 6:34:25 PM

Get DDR2-800 RAM that will run at its advertised timings on the JEDEC standard 1.8V.
+N on keeping your video card, unless you're sure you'll want to run two cards on that mobo. In that case, Crossfire is for ATI cards, so get a 4850.
September 12, 2008 6:53:12 PM

Thanks for all the input!

I got the 9800GT for $109AR, and if you consider the free copy of COD4, that comes out to $59 for the vid card. I've had a good experience with XFX's lifetime warranty program, so if I went for an HD4850, I'd get a Visiontek card as they are the only ATI vendor I can find that does something similar. That would run me ~$165 through Newegg. Not sure it would be worth the return. By the time I would crossfire, I could probably get a better single card anyway.

In case anyone is interested, the XFX 9800GT is exactly what wdgz described - a rebadged 8800GT. The model newegg is selling is 65nm, and does not support hybrid power or tri-sli. I spoke with a sales rep at XFX (after I bought the card....dyslexic I know), and based on his spec sheets, XFX has not released a 55nm 9800GT yet, though a few models do support hybrid power. Of the three serial numbers he gave me that did, none were listed on any U.S. retailers websites, they were all Australia, Japan, etc.

Going for the DDR2-800 seems like an overwhelming consensus, so I'll definitely go that route.
September 12, 2008 11:43:51 PM

Alright, I'm looking for a low latency, 1.8v, 2x2gb set of DDR2-800 memory. Any suggestions? Here are a few that I've been eyeballing...

$67 G.Skill - Never bought any of their stuff, but I keep seeing people talk about them...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$87 ($67 AR) Mushkin - Using their memory in my ancient rig right now, it's always been good to me
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$74 ($44 AR) OCZ - Heard good things about them too, this is essentially the DDR2-800 version of the 1066 I listed in my first post
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Any thoughts or advice are more than welcome. Thanks!
September 13, 2008 2:23:03 PM

All of those are fine. I prefer the Mushkin. I believe all three will work well in the board.
!