Teaching a Old Computer New Tricks

Hey everyone,

I built my first gaming rig in August, 2006. My computer is starting to show it age now and I’m looking to upgrade in the most economical way by starting with the components that I can change or modify which will maximize benefit.

My system:

Mainboard : Gigabyte 965P-DS3
Chipset : Intel P965
Processor : Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2400 MHz
Physical Memory : Corsair XMS2 DDR2-SDRAM PC2-6400 (399 MHz) with timings 5-5-5-12@400 Mhz, I believe. 2048 MB (2 x 1024 DDR2-SDRAM )
Video Card : Nvidia Corp GeForce 7900 GT (256 MB), the one made by EVGA
Hard Disk : Seagate 300GB Internal Sata 7200 RPM 16MB 3.5IN 3GB/S
DVD-Rom Drive : HP DVD Writer 740b SCSI CdRom Device
Monitor Type : Samsung SyncMaster - 19 inchs, 931 BF
Network Card : Marvell Semiconductor (Was: Galileo Technology Ltd) Yukon 88E8053 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (Copper)
Operating System : Microsoft Windows XP Professionnal 5.01.2600 Service Pack 3
DirectX : Version 9.0c (July 2007)

Question is: What do you guys see as something that must be upgraded? Is anything I have on my system now causing any bottlenecks? My budget is flexible; however, I would like to keep it around $400.(btw, I have never over clocked anything on my computer, although I may consider doing it). Thank you for all your help and attention.
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  1. I would start with adding a new GPU, like a hd4850. But that depends on how good you PSU is.

    You could also try overclocking your cpu, but you need a new cpu cooler, and i dont know how good you MB is for overclocking.
  2. Thanks rasmusp, my PSU is 550 W. Is there any comparable NVIDIA GPU that you would recommend I upgrade since I've had a good experience with mine? Does anyone else know if my MB is good for overclocking?
  3. The GA-965P-DS3 is a pretty good overclocker. I have that same board and have been running my E6420 at 3.2GHz on it for a year an a half without any problems. That board will run your E6600 at between 3.2GHz and 3.6GHz.

    The new ATI GPU's offer great performance. I would also highly recommend the HD 4850 GPU. Don't disregard a great GPU just because you've "had a good experience" with your current Nvidia card.

    What brand and model is your PSU? 550W doesn't say much since a cheap 550W PSU might as well be 300W.

    The XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 with retention bracket would also be a great upgrade that will allow you to safely overclock your E6600.

    Here's a list of upgrade parts that falls into your budget of $400:

    HIS Hightech H485F512P Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161235 $164.99 -$30.00 MIR

    XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835233003 $36.99

    XIGMATEK ACK-I7751 Retention Bracket - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835233019 $6.99

    ARCTIC COOLING MX-2 Thermal Compound - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835186020 $6.99

    mushkin 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146731 $69.99 -$20.00 MIR

    (You could also pick up another 2GB kit like the one you have, but 4x1GB is a lot harder on the motherboard. I know because I recently upgraded my 965P-DS3 to 4GB by adding 2 1GB sticks. I had to loosen the timings and raise the voltage to get the system stable. I would recommend just adding this 2x2GB kit to save the trouble).

    Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit English for System Builders 1pk DSP OEI DVD - OEM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116488 $99.99

    You will want a 64-bit OS to take advantage of all 4GB of RAM.

    This comes to a total of $385.61 - $50 MIR = $335.61

    This list assumes you have a decent PSU. If you don't, you might also have to upgrade that.
  4. gpu psu and gigabyte mobo + more ram and a E8400
  5. Alright,

    So my PSU is made by Athena, http://www.athenapower.com/

    ...if that helps, now at 550W, should I look at upgrading that if I plan to make the changes to overclock CPU, up the GPU, perhaps more RAM?
  6. Athena Power PSU's are on the Tier 5 list (not recommended) here:


    You can chance it if you want, but I would try to fit a quality PSU into the budget so that PSU doesn't blow up and take your system with it.

    If you consider the rebates in the price, you could fit in a Corsair 450VX.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139003&Tpk=450vx $69.99 - $15 MIR

    I know there are other cheaper options also, but I've had great luck with Corsair. Look for a high quality unit from Corsair, PC Power & Cooling, Seasonic, Zalman, OCZ, Antec, etc...
  7. Hey shortstuff,

    Thanks for you help, after looking at that PSU list more closely, I noticed in the old list that the Athena Space Shuttle Series (not an ordinary Athena PSU), the one I actaully have is rated as a tier 3 PSU.

    Btw, do you think you might have any idea about a problem I'm getting on my computer that I might think could be GPU related, I posted in the graphics card section. Thanks a lot.
  8. If your PSU is the Space Shuttle Series, you'll probably be OK. I'll have to check out the GPU thing in a while. I'm at work now.
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