Upgrading 5 y/o box for better WoW perf. at min. expense

Hi everyone,

Thanks in advance for taking a look at this. My computer is approaching 5 years old. I mostly use it for playing World of Warcraft, web-browsing and MS Office apps. It does 90% of what I want it to do perfectly fine, but ever since the expansion for WoW I've been having some serious framerate/lag issues in 25-man raids and in Dalaran. It handles everything else in WoW just fine. I am not sure whether the issues are being caused by my GPU or my CPU, but given the age of my machine I suspect it's a combination of both.

I want to upgrade the system cheaply and efficiently with the goal of being able to do 25-man raids without any performance loss. I don't plan on picking up any new games anytime soon, and when I do find a new game (Starcraft 2, Diablo 3?) I'll probably just build myself a new box, so I have no problem buying parts that can play WoW fine but would fail miserably at, say, Crysis.

Here's my current setup:
CPU: Athlon 64 2800+
Mobo: MSI K8N Neo Platinum
RAM: DDR400 2x512MB
Case & P/S: Antec SLK3700-BQE w/ 350w SmartPower
Hard drive: 200GB 7200RPM Ultra IDE
Video card: GeForce 6800 GT 256MB
O/S: Windows XP Pro
Display: 19" CRT (I know!)
and miscellaneous drives/accessories

I'd like to reuse as many of the parts as possible.

Here's what I was thinking:
CPU: AMD Athlon 64X2 5200+
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-MA78G-DS3HP
RAM: Corsair XMS2 DDR800 2x1GB
Video card: MSI N9600GT OC 512MB

I selected parts based on availability at NewEgg. Not really interested in shopping with another retailer. Had to compromise a bit on the motherboard, as I don't think my case accepts microATX (correct me if I'm wrong, please). After mail in rebates the price of the above comes in around $235 (before tax & shipping).

Any comments on part selection, given my goal? Did I get too much of anything? Too little? Would my current power supply be able to handle it?

Also, my current drives are Ultra IDE and everything seems to be SATA now. It appears there are UIDE->SATA adapters. Does anyone have any experience with those? Would I be able to notice the performance improvement associated with upgrading to a similar size/RPM SATA hard drive? And if I'm able to keep my old drives, do I need to do a clean reinstall anyways given the upgrades I'm making?

Thanks again for your help. Really appreciated.
3 answers Last reply
More about upgrading perf expense
  1. I think you will need a PSU upgrade. Nothing crazy like 800 watts, but something in the 500 watt range.

    This Antec PSU would cover it no problems and its on sale with free shipping.

    When I upgraded my old machine I switched over to SATA drives, for easy and compatibility. Plus I like to replace the HD about every 5 years. They are mechanical and moving parts eventually wear out.

    Whatever path you take make sure to do a clean install of XP because you are replacing so many key components.
  2. I'm assuming you're playing on very low resolution if you expect no framerate loss with a 9600gs.

    If you really want another computer that'll last you a little while, you'll have to spend a bit more though :P
  3. Your case will accept a mATX board if you want to go even cheaper.
    Hard drive performance gains will also mean bigger drives.
    Put your HD and Optical on the same IDE channel for now.
    What you really need for gaming is better video. Put money there first.
    There are ways of getting around a clean Windows install, but if you have a Retail version, then do the clean sweep. Otherwise google windows install tips.
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