CPU and other upgrades on an Intel i945P? Help!

Hi everyone. Although this is my first post, I've been reading this forum for a few months now and you guys are a tremendous help! This is truly a great community.

About 3 years ago, I purchased a Dell Dimension 9100 with a Pentium D 830 3GHz CPU, 1 GB PC-4200 memory, 256 MB ATI Radeon X600, running on an Intel i945P (or at least CPU-Z tells me, if this is incorrect please inform me!). Now, I feel the time has come to make some upgrades (I plan to run Windows 7 in the near future, and would like to play recent PC games at respectable settings). I would like to keep the entire system intact and just upgrade my CPU, memory, and graphics card (if that's possible). So:

1) Keeping my Intel i945P mainboard, what are my CPU upgrade options? Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad? I'm looking to spend up to $200 (brief research shows I can get a Q9400 around here for $200), but less is better so I'd be willing to sacrifice a little performance for significant savings. Also, are there any additional variables that I should take into consideration? For example, I noticed that there's some sort of cooling duct placed over my current CPU, would I have to worry about that or power consumption or any other factors when upgrading to a new CPU? What do you guys recommend as the best overall performance for the money?

2) Crucial tells me that I'm limited to 4GB of memory. Although my current memory is PC-4200, Crucial is recommending PC2-6400 memory as an upgrade. Also, CPU-Z is telling me that my memory is dual-channel, but Crucial is telling me that my computer doesn't accept dual-channel. I want to buy 4x1GB memory sticks, what's the best memory available to me?

3) Can anyone recommend a video card that'll fit in my configuration? Again, performance is important, but cheaper is better.

Thanks so much to everyone in advance for your help!
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  1. The Dell Dimension 9100/XPS400 does have the i945P chipset. Unfortunately, the best processor you can get in on of the 9xx series Pentium D. That chipset does NOT support any of the Core 2 processors. I know....I had one of those machines!

    You can upgrade the memory, and a Geforce 7900 GT or GS would definately improve your system performance over the X600. Considering you can pick one of those up on Ebay for $25, or buy a new one for ~$60, it might be worth picking one up.

    Otherwise, save your money and buy/build a more upgradeable machine.
  2. So if I'm limited to the Pentium D series, I guess I'll keep my 830. Assuming I upgrade to 4 GB of memory and a high-end video card (I'd invest in a more expensive one if I'm not upgrading my CPU), how can I expect Windows 7 64-bit to fare on my system? Games? Thank you singingigo, your feedback is much appreciated.
  3. If it hurts less you can buy a new mobo with, say the p45 chipset, this chipset supports your cpu but not your ram (over ddr2-667 required) so you'd need to buy new ram too, to get you going. For about $150 you could get the mobo and 4 gigs of ram. Then you could move your cpu, gpu onto it and reuse your case and psu. Then as you get the money you could buy upgrades. I haven't swapped a dell mobo in some time so I do not know if you need an atx or uatx board (you could just buy a uatx to be safe). I also do not know how the dell psu's hold up but you could always get a new case and psu after you are happy with your system again.
  4. This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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