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REBUILD: Upgrading HPa810n, CPU, MB, RAM, case? etc

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September 18, 2008 6:02:59 AM

Hello,

I'm in the process of plotting out my upgrade. I'm changing mostly all of the essential parts and this will be my first time. I've already made small upgrades over the years (DOP: Jan 2005).

Recently my system crashed due to a sick HDD, using the Ultimate BootCD I saved my data with DriveImage XML, replaced the HDD. and used my HP recovery disks to restore the system. This successful save lead me to wanting more. So I am now trying to build a system that will stand at least a successful upgrade to Windows Vista down the road, and perform somewhat above par (graphic designer and 3D gamer) for the next few years.

My blueprint is very flexible, where cost can be cut, or performance achieved with sub'ing parts and/or saving money, I'm all ears.

Thank you for reading, please help if you can :) 

BACKGROUND INFO:

UPGRADE BLUEPRINT:

PROCESSOR & MEMORY:
- 2.80GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 5400+ Brisbane Dual-Core Processor, Socket AM2 65W
link: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- 4GB Kingston SDRAM, (2x2GB) 240-pin DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel
link: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MOTHERBOARD:
- ASUS M2A-VM HDMI AM2 AMD 690G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard: $79.99
link: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
or
- ASUS M2N-SLI AM2 NVIDIA nForce 560 SLI MCP ATX AMD Motherboard: $86.99
link: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MISC items I may need: I'm mot positive if I need these and if I do, which type for a tight budget?
- CPU Fans and/or Heatsinks
- New Tower/Case/Power Supply ?

OS: After successful upgrade, eventually upgrade to Windows Vista

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

COMPLETED UPGRADES:

- WD Caviar SE EIDE 320GB, 7200 RPM, 8 MB Cache, (WD3200JBRTL)
- 1GB SDRAM, (2x512MB) PC3200 DDR
- NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500, 256MB
- Creative Audigy 2 (LS) Sound Card, PCI


FACTORY HP Pavilion a810n Desktop PC (Released Dec 2004):
link: http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?lc=en&dlc=e...

- 2.40GHz AMD Athlon 64 3300+ Processor, 256KB L2 cache, 1600MHz FSB
- 512MB SDRAM 184-pin DDR 400 (PC 3200) Memory, expandable to 2GB
- Samsung SpinPoint P80 SP1604N 160GB, 7200RPM Ultra DMA HDD
- Motherboard: Asus K8S-LA (Salmon), Micro-ATX form factor, Socket 754
(3 PCI, 1 AGP, 2 DDR DIMM, Audio, Video, LAN, IEEE-1394)
- Dbl-Layer 16X DVD+/-RW/CR-RW Drive (48x CD-RW)
- CD-ROM Drive, 48x
- Integrated SIS Mirage 2 graphics card with 128MB shared video memory
- Memory Slots: 2 DIMM, 184-pin, DDR 400 SDRAM, PC3200
- 9-in-1 front panel Memory card reader
- Sound: Integrated audio chipset
- (7) high-speed USB 2.0 ports
- (2) IEEE 1394 "FireWire" ports
- Integrated 10/100Base-T networking interface, PCI Ethernet, V.92 data/fax modem

- OS: Windows XP Home Edition SP2
a b B Homebuilt system
September 18, 2008 9:30:27 AM

I'd save myself some headaches and just get a new case. It doesn't sound like a full sized ATX motherboard would fit in there anyway (Micro-ATX form factor should be fine though).

Both motherboards you listed have PCI-Ex16 graphic card slots, but you have an AGP graphics card. You will need a new PCI-E graphics card.

A system that old may still be using IDE drives (hard drive and CD/DVD drives). You'll probably want to swap those out for SATA drives.

If you could post a budget, we might be able to set something up.

-Wolf sends
September 18, 2008 10:05:56 AM

You would be basically better off just building a whole new computer then trying to upgrade that one in stages. The motherboard is a socket 754 which is not compatible with the athlon64x2 CPU. So you'd be looking at motherboard, CPU, RAM and operating system.
Related resources
September 18, 2008 6:25:45 PM

Thanks for the advice you two. I appreciate you coming in to help.

Wolf, the budget is very tight, about $250 max possibly $300 for new parts if I hustle the next few days.

I'd really need to utilize the WD EIDE Harddrive, I just purchased it 2 weeks ago, installed it and re-installed most of my programs. I'm not to worried about the graphics card if the MOBO has an integrated one that's comparable or better. I got the NVIDIA 5500 & Audigy sound card in 2005 when I 1st purschased the PC, let me know if you think they're too outdated to include in the new build.

If I can maximize performance w/ different parts within budget w/ the current HP case, super :)  If not, I'm totally still interested in tackling the project with a cost effective tower, psu combo.

BUILD SUGGESTIONS/TIPS:
BUDGET: $250-300USD

Motherboard:
link:
Goal: SLI and/or HDMI, AM2+/AM2 comp., RAM expandable 8GB-16GB

CPU:
link:
Goal: 2.7+ GHz, Dual Core

RAM:
link:
Goal: 3GB-4GB

OS: XP?? (Vista Compatible system)
*Cost not included in budget*

HDD: WD Caviar SE 320GB EIDE HD 7200/8MB/ATA-100
link: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=6963565&t...
*Already PURCHASED*

Mid-Tower Case:
link:
Goal: economic, 350+ PSU, nicer looking*, black or silver

Other Parts Needed?

Again thank you, I admit I don't have much background in building. I'm a quick learner, and so far have at least saved myself from buying another store PC, thats usually what happens after a crash around here lol.

--------------------------------
(Please evaluate other parts I've looked at)
newegg.com
- BIOSTAR TForce TF8200 A2+ AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 8200 HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
$89.99

- Kingston HyperX 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Memory
$67.99 (after $25 rebate)

- AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+ Brisbane 2.7GHz Socket AM2 65W Dual-Core Processor, OEM
$59.00
--------------------------------

a b B Homebuilt system
September 18, 2008 10:48:58 PM

A couple of things about the parts you've looked at:

1) The motherboard - It's a full ATX form factor (12"x9.6"). You're going to need a case that can accept that as your current one will not. Also, on-board graphics just aren't going to cut it for 3D gaming. You could probably get away with an ATI HD 3650 for around $60.

2) The memory - For such a strict budget, you went a little pricey. Drop down to DDR2-800. I saw a 2x2GB set from PQI for $62.99 and no rebate involved or maybe even drop down to 2x1GB for about $32. With XP, you're good to go with just 2GB. When you upgrade to Vista, then you can add two more Gig.

3) The processor - OEM processors mean you only get the CPU; not the heatsink/fan assembly (which is required). Look for the retail version of the X2 5200+

Finally, I know you said you just finished reloading your new hard drive with XP and all your programs, but best practice when building a new system (new motherboard/old hard drive) is to wipe and reload. Put simply, when you boot up your system, it looks to your hard drive for drivers for all your components (i.e. the motherboard). Since upgrading, it's trying to load drivers for a motherboard that no longer exists in your system and it will generally fail.

Just my $.02

-Wolf sends
September 19, 2008 12:24:38 AM

Wolf that makes perfect sense. I really appreciate you helping me figure this out. I'm really learning as I go, and literally after each paragraph, I feel like... now why didn't I know that, LOL.

I guess the odd thing I'm trying to wrap my mind around is, how are these things going to know how to relate to each other, after I'm done hooking it all into a case before the OS. I'm guessing BIOS/CMOS or whatever it is, is a lot "smarter" than I'm giving it credit. Somehow the "new" HDD, MOBO, and PSU are going to meet and greet thru a series of on screen commands and/or CD-ROM boot configs to get the basic co-existing rules out the way, and after I install the OS. I can do more configuring from Windows with driver updates?

And then I install whatever add-on components like graphic, sound cards?

I hope I don't sound like a complete idiot, lol. I didn't get how my MOBO would detect an out of box empty HDD, but once I hoped for the best and hooked it up, it all started magically making sense.

Overall, if you don't mind keeping tabs on my little thread and helping me make smart decisions as far as parts etc. I honestly think I can put this thing together. If the new build goes as planned, I can chop shop the old one to cover the cost for the "new".

One more question before I go out for parts again, as far as SLI or Crossfire goes, I was interested for future upgrades, so I'm not stuck in the same new MOBO scenario when I learn more and my needs grow. Which route do you suggest. I know the CPU and MOBO have to be considered when deciding. Is it Intel/ATI/Crossfire and AMD/Nividia/SLI? I don't know the specifics, but I'm sure I can Google an article or find one somewhere on Toms site to enlighten myself.

But as far as getting the correct parts to start the build project, I'm interested. $300 budget to get the project started. Within the next 5-10 days I think I'll have about $200 more to tack on. I realize I'm longwinded, maybe cuz I'm a chick *shrugs*, these really are my short responses, I back edit out quite a bit to keep these books of mine shorter.


Lookout eBay here I come: my Wii Fit Board + Game and Super Mario Galaxy Wii + Prima Game Guide (both new unused)... Impulse buys, Wii Fit was the "last" in stock, I've played it all of twice, and Mario... I'm too initimated by how difficult the gameplay might be compared to the old NES days, LOL. I'm not sure if the Fit Board set is still in high demand because of poor offline availibility, we'll see ;) 
a b B Homebuilt system
September 19, 2008 11:25:18 PM

The first thing a computer does when it powers up is run a Power On Self Test (POST). Basically, it checks to see if all required components (memory, boot device, graphic interface) are available. It doesn't care what brand, make or model. The motherboard knows it has RAM slots, so it checks to see if anything compatible is plugged in there. It knows it has SATA/PATA(IDE) ports for hard drives/CD/DVD drives, so it checks to see if anything is plugged in there and so on. This is why motherboards have CPU Compatibility lists and RAM speed specifications. So long and the install components meets the motherboard's expectations, there's no problem.

Having found all the required components, it looks to see if there are any bootable devices attached. In BIOS is a boot order, listing the order in which you wish your computer to check for boot devices. Usually the hard drive is first (but sometimes, the CD/DVD Rom drive) so it checks there to see if it can load an OS from there. If not, it moves to the next device on the list. Eventually, it will find some sort of bootable device (on first power up, this will be your bootable OS CD/DVD) and starts to run that program. Computer components are built to meet specific standards. For instance (in most cases), you can plug in any PCI-Ex16 graphics card into a PCI-Ex16 graphics card slot and expect it to work using just the basic drivers included in the operating system. The components will (generally) run much better if you have component specific drivers installed after the OS is installed. So if you have an ATI HD 4870 installed in your computer as you install the operating system, it will run using the basic drivers included in the operating system. When you install the latest ATI HD 4870 drivers, the card will perform much better.

Concerning SLI and Crossfire. I'm not a serious gamer and do not need absolute top performance. I haven't come across a game that I cannot play well enough for me that requires a dual-GPU setup. Others may disagree, but again, I'm just not that serious about it. I, personally, do not have a problem lowering my graphic settings to get better performance out of my single graphics card system.

Crossfire/SLI generally gives you little in the way of performance gains when your monitor's resolution is below 1680x1050. You'll start to see significant gains at 1680x1050 and above. It's also important to note that not all games (in particular my game, City of Heroes/Villains) support Crossfire/SLI.

It is generally better to get a single better card than two lesser cards in Crossfire/SLI. For instance (note: the following is just supposition. I have not seen any benchmarks. It's just an example), a Single ATI HD 4870 will perform better than two ATI HD 4670s in Crossfire. I've seen many instances, here on these forums, where someone will have purchased an SLI/Crossfire capable board and a single high-end card with the intention of getting a second card when they can afford it. Of course, by the time they can afford it, a single better card has come out that out-performs two of their own cards in SLI/Crossfire.

Having said that, Crossfire is supported by AMD(ATI) and Intel Northbridge chipsets on the motherboard. SLI is supported by NVidia Northbridge chipsets. For now you cannot use an SLI setup on AMD/Intel chipsets and you cannot use Crossfire on NVidia chipsets. If you do decide to go this route, make sure you read the specs on the motherboard. You'll want a board that can offer x16 bandwidth on both slots. Some Crossfire/SLI motherboards cut the bandwidth in half (x8 and x8) when two graphic cards are installed.

One last thing. There are no "chicks" on these forums. There are "Technically Inclined Citizens of the Fairer Sex" :sol: 

-Wolf sends
September 20, 2008 2:00:36 AM

LOL, no chicks, noted :) 

I appreciate you taking the time to explain it all to me. Well the SLI/Crossfire discussion surely enlightened me, I had my mind stuck on getting what's "supposedly" better, without really knowing what I was getting, or if I'd ever use it.

As far as gameplay, I might as well get fruit thrown at me today and day, the only thing I really play on PC... is the Sims 2 *ducks* and soon will hopefully play Sims 3 when its released if it isn't already. I want to play it as fast, smooth, etc as i possibly can, which probably won't take near as much as the serious gamers would.

Also I do wen abd graphic design, and need to multitask and run all the various programs, Photoshop, various video editting, and sometimes use music production software, for various studio jobs.

Current PC usually starts lagging, etc when I hop in and out of various "hungry" apps. So a top performer for these reasons, and the ability to grow/upgrade when needed.

I will try to piece together a build, and hope I make you proud, before I start getting parts in to bring my mini-monster alive.

;) 
a b B Homebuilt system
September 21, 2008 2:41:16 PM

First off welcome to THF!

I agree with what wolf has said so far.

My recommendations:

Motherboard:
GIGABYTE GA-MA770-DS3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$80

Good board, I have used one of these in a budget build smiler to yours, works well. People who are having problems are prople who don't know how to change RAM voltage. lol.

CPU:
X2 4850e 45W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$67

A basic dual core. Should work fine for your needs.

RAM:
G.Skill 2*2GB DDR2 800 @1.8v
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$67

Won't need to mess with RAM voltage usually.

PSU:
SILVERSTONE ST400
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$38 after MIR

Review:
http://enthusiast.hardocp.com/article.html?art=MTQzNCwx...

**It is important to have a quality PSU. If you get a low quality PSU (ie ones that come with the case, or low quality PSUs like Rosewill, Sunbeam, Athena,etc) will give you problems down the road.

DVD RW: Re use from old PC

HDD: re use

GPU: **Not meant for high res gaming**
ASUS 3450
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$20 after MIR

Case:
COOLER MASTER Elite 330 RC
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$40
Basic case, good enough for a budget build, has enough space to work.

**Note: Don't get CoolerMaster PSUs, they are cr@p.

Total with MIR : $312

A bit over budget, but worth it esp. with 4GB RAM.

NOTE: You won't be able to install the XP provided by HP on this PC. It won't activate







September 21, 2008 5:16:02 PM

Shadow, thank you for your recommendations, I'll go check out the links and report back in.

I'm about to start my shopping list in order of importance. The budget has been pushed up to about $500 fellas.

I'm placing those items on eBay today (Wii stuff). What other tools do you suggest for this self-build Wolf and Shadow?

I have an anti-static wrist strap in my cart, because I'd just been doing the"budget" chassis ground and hoping for the best. Least expensive tool kit for this sort of thing?

Think my old Samsung HDD might be any good for selling? If I use the erase HDD tool, and re-test it?
a b B Homebuilt system
September 21, 2008 6:48:33 PM

Well if budget is $500 you might be able to do better in CPU + motherboard departments.
a b B Homebuilt system
September 21, 2008 8:41:50 PM

Your old Samsung hard drive might be useful to someone, but I'd probably hang onto it just in case.

I like Shadow's recommendations and with the additional budget, I'd probably go for your original CPU choice (x2-5200+) and up the graphics card to an HD 3650 (or 4650).

As for what tools to use, I've never owned an anti-static wrist strap. The only tools I've used are a small flashlight, a phillips and standard screwdriver set, and some tweezers/needlenose pliers for when I drop a screw.

-Wolf sends
!