I built my own system about 4 years ago. The system is still a decent system (I think), but I am unable to play some games that I would like to play. I currently have an Aopen AK77-8xn mobo with 1 GB ram (PC2700) and an Athlon XP 2600+. I don't have the money to buy a new system right now, so my question is, should I spend the money to upgrade my graphics card (thinking of the Radeon 3650) or save up my money for a new computer in the future? This mobo only accepts AGP cards, so if I buy a new card for this computer, it will be incompatible with any newer computers that use PCIExpress. I have also heard from a few people that computer prices will be going down 20-30%, so I am not sure what would be the best thing to do.
Would a computer with an Athlon xp 2600+, 1 GB Pc 2700 Ram, and a Radeon 3650 be capable of playing some of the newer games on the market (such as Spore) and allow me to not have to buy a new computer for another year or so? If I do end up upgrading the graphics card, I will likely add an addition GB of ram, as it is so inexpensive now.
In my personal opinion, it's not going to be worth putting any more money into that system. You would be MUCH better served by saving that money and adding to it until you can do a complete overhaul of that system. Yes, prices on decent performing, mid range hardware are falling every day. Since you already have a monitor and peripherals, you'll only need about $500-600 for an acceptably performing gaming box. (+/- depending on OS purchase, etc)
EDIT: Depending on what parts you are able to cannibalize, your situation concerning OS availability, and exactly how much GPU power you need, you can possibly narrow that budget to around $400
First thing I would do is to upgrade to 2 gig of PC3200 ram. That should help a lot with games, as your computer wouldn't be pausing so often to use page filing to write and retrieve files from the hard drive. Computer prices using the latest hardware may or may not come down a lot, so don't bank on that. But, as the new CPUs and motherboards come out, computers using the present day "older" hardware, which will be much better than what you presently have, should get cheaper. Thus either a present quad from AMD or Intel with some DDR2 ram should drop in price during the next few months. If you can save up a thousand dollars or so, buying or building a new computer based on the "older" hardware shortly after Christmas should therefore save you some money.
AGP cards are about at the end of the line now, with the 3850 being the last I've read about, though something else might be out that's faster. You didn't mention your present graphics card, but personally, I wouldn't invest too much money in an older setup such as yours. Your present computer will handle basic tasks fine, but for the latest games, you need a more modern computer.
Disagreed on the 2gb of RAM upgrade. That is a great upgrade if you are able to run games that utilize that much RAM. The games that system is capable of playing won't benefit much from the RAM. I wouldn't but a dime into the system, it is pretty dang old.
I upgraded my aging Athlon s939 X2 4800+ from a 7800gt to a GTX 260 Core 216 and have been extremely happy. But my dual core processor at 2.4ghz is still showing its age.
You can get a GREAT system for not that much $$. I just built my friend:
$100 Gigabyte Mobo (excellent for the price, or even for a higher price)
$35 4gb OCZ Reaper RAM (high quality, fast)
$190 Q6600 Intel Quad Core 2.4ghz
$140 Sapphire 4850 512mb
$100 Windows Vista 64-bit Home Premium
All for under $600. Look for deals on newegg. You can get a good case from Coolermaster for about $50 and a nice 600w PSU on sale for around $30 if you look for deals. HDDs are cheap nowadays as well.
All I am saying is, you can get a LOT of bang for your buck nowadays. I would personally save up and build a decent system that will last you a long time. It is unlikely you'll be very happy with an upgrade to your current system.
Honestly dude, I was helping someone on here come up with a system the other day, and if you've got an OS, I think the price was down to under 300 with a 4670 video card. Not counting a hard drive and optical drive though.
My drives are good. all I would need to upgrade would be the mobo, processor, memory, power supply and video card. Will a mobo with integrated video be any good or should I just stick with a separate card?
Right now, it's looking at around $260s without a video card and $330s with after MIRs. The build is supposedly good enough to run games like CS:Source and possibly Spore without the addition of a separate graphics card but since I haven't actually built the thing yet, it's all based on reviews and research. I'm 99% sure it'll handle these games well but if it doesn't, then a nice $50 Black Friday/Post Christmas day Graphics Card can easily make this system a moderate powerhouse. My best advice is to wait till next Friday to make a final decision.