xthekidx'es post on his Dell Dimension 4600 rebuild inspired me to join and ask the comunity for their advice.
I recently "woke up" and realized that, like with my car, I can make my computer better. Something I always new, but conveniently forgot.
When it was brand new, my wife and I bit the bullet and bought a Dell Dimension 4600 on account, through the worst caller service company ever. Because of our budget we got a fairly basic package. The only thing that I insisted on was the Pentium 4 cpu. I have been slowly bringing it up to par over the years (it's been a long process) and yes, I fully realise that it is now a dinosaur.
Shortly after we got it, I discovered Splinter Cell (love me some SC, or Sneaky Guy as my girls call it) which precipitated the purchase of an upgraded video card. Then SCDA came out and I had to get another, bigger, better card, which led to needing a larger psu and more ram.
Long story short, a couple of weeks ago it started crashing. We were freaked out. It just couldn't happen at the worst time. It was a thermal fault error and we traced the problem to the ATI x1650. The sucker was blistering hot. So I ordered a Zalman gpu cooler from newegg. There is no way of telling at what temp the card was running but it is now much cooler to the touch than it was and virtually silent (that stock fan sounded like a harrier taking off). In the process of installing the cooler I discovered that the stock fan and heat sink on the ATI card were packed with dust. It was as I was installing the new fan that I remembered that Tuning is always best. Which then led to me ordering an Arctic Cooler for the cpu. What we have is just the passive orange heat sink and green-plastic-boot-to-the-case fan that I have never liked. Perhaps I'm wrong but it seems pretty counter intuative to pull the entire hot case air through a small green tube over the cpu heat sink.
What I would like to know, is what are the best utillities for indepth system monitoring (cpu temp, and all that) and where is the best place to get them? I would like to get before and after "snaps" of the comp before I install the new cpu cooler.
I am also interested in overclocking. I want to understand it better. I no longer use the system for gaming (as I bit the big one and bought a PS3) but my wife is on the staff of a magazine and uses Pagemaker and photoshop, as well as having a thousand IE windows opened and tabbed to the max all at once (women). I want to get every last ounce of performance from this nag before I upgrade.
My current system config is:
Antec TruePower 650
Pentium 4 2.8gig
2 gig ram (I plan on adding two more sticks of patriot to top out at 3.5 gig)
(anything else I should note?)
One other question:
Last summer I was seriously considering building a new system to handle my gaming desires and my wifes computing needs, but as I said above I got a PS3 instead. I am still interested in building a new system to take advantage of the new tech but not for another six months or longer (especially if I get this current system up where it should have been four years ago, ha ha).
Can I build a new i7 for less than I could buy from dell? (they're great, if you don't mind paying full msrp and you never have to call them). Dell current price for tower alone and max ram is $1200. Of course I want top qual prod, not crap-shoot knock offs. And if I build it myself, I will get it one piece at a time. That is my other concern: if it takes me six months to get everything together, will it still be cutting edge current prod?
In need of his wise butlers insisght. (and please ingnore the computer programming degree buried unter the carpenter's tool bags)