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Advice for very old system

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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July 12, 2009 1:50:07 AM

Hello, I'm just wanting advice on adding a graphics card into an old system and when I say old I mean old. It has a MSI MS-6524 motherboard and has had it's CPU upgraded to an Intel Pentium 4 Northwood 2.6GHz 400Mhz FSB. The RAM is stock at 512mb PC-133 SDRAM and the PSU is at 600w (don't laugh please at this computer). Now you guys are probably thinking "just buy a new computer or whatever" but I am already planning on purchasing a Macbook Pro 17" Unibody so this is where my money is going. The main reason I want to add a graphics card in is so that this old system doesn't go to waste and can atleast play games like Counter-Strike: Source and Battlefield 2.

The main options that I am looking at are the nVidia 7600 GT 512mb AGP and the ATI HD Radeon 3650 512mb AGP. I know the latter is a more recent card and supports dx10 but for dx10, that card is near useless as I can imagine. It also has HD support but I don't need this. I would first like some advice on whether these cards will run decently on this computer or not and if not, what are some other recommendations. I want to keep away from weak cards like the ATI Radeon 9200 even though they may be a good fit for this old system. If I HAVE to though then I may consider one of those older weaker cards.

I don't want to buy a new desktop as my main computer is a laptop which I will be upgrading instead. Seeing as these cards don't cost much, it shouldn't be a bad investment. I don't plan it to play games at the max settings but as long as it's playable, I'm happy. Also I'm not a hardcore gamer or anything, just casual, playing with friends and stuff.

Any advice would be great (apart from new computer although a "this will not work" will be accepted but give a recommendation if you can), thank you.

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July 12, 2009 2:05:36 AM

I would suggest a 2600XT AGP, It provides decent performance for older games. I do not suggest the 3850 because i believe there are still a lot of driver problems out there for it and I believe your CPU won't be able to keep up with the performance.
July 12, 2009 2:08:46 AM

Thank you for the reply. I have considered the 2600 XT as it's apparantly more powerful that the other 2 but it just isn't found anywhere. Also I was talking about the 3650 not 3850. The system would probably be a too big of a bottleneck to the 3850.
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a b U Graphics card
July 12, 2009 2:11:12 AM

Bear in mind ATI does NOT provide official drivers for these. The drivers are hotfixes they provide mostly as a nicety. AGP stopped being official a while ago.
July 12, 2009 2:21:48 AM

Thanks for the information, Ill keep that in mind.
a c 235 U Graphics card
July 12, 2009 3:39:50 AM

try to double your RAM to 1GB (or more), it will help out your gaming also
July 12, 2009 10:20:48 AM

Upgrading RAM has been considered but this RAM is hard to find. The only easy place is on eBay so I'm not too sure. Usually that place is full of useless high density RAM that are cheap counterfeits. Does it make a big difference? Will 512mb still be adequate? I don't really need the higher end graphics settings, low would be fine if it can achieve more than 30 fps on games that I have mentioned originally. If the games are too intensive, I will just switch to my laptop anyways.
July 12, 2009 11:20:03 AM

That RAM is easy to find, I just open my file cabinet and there sits 10+ sticks, unused and mostly unwanted, but viable if needed...no, I NEVER deal on eRipoff...
a c 177 U Graphics card
July 12, 2009 5:42:22 PM

@ Gunot12: Where are you? I'm in the UK and can point you to some good sites here if it'll be a help.
Again, if you're in the UK, take a look on the'net for computer fairs, they are a great place to source older parts.
July 13, 2009 2:10:37 AM

I agree not to get the MacBook, it's just not worth it for the money you can get a 1000$ laptop that will do a lot better then it.
July 13, 2009 2:11:26 AM

Thanks but I'm in Australia unfortunately :??:  I searched around a bit more and the prices are quite intriguing. Around $80-90AUD for a single 512mb stick. I guess this is what happens when you want to upgrade old hardware.

I know the Macbook Pros are quite overpriced but I'm not only after the OS (for iPhone developing) but also the quality of the materials that are used such as the glass and aluminum. I also know that I can build a cheap gaming computer for literally 1/3 of the price of that laptop but I have thought it over and decided to still go with it due to personal preference reasons.

I'm trying to keep the spendings for this computer to a minimum otherwise I might as well just buy a new motherboard and then get the cheaper parts.
a c 177 U Graphics card
July 13, 2009 11:53:26 AM

@ Gunot12: It's always a problem when upgrading an older system, parts can be so expensive it is sometimes cheaper to simply replace the CPU/MB and RAM rather than pay the heavy premium for the older components.

A few guidelines for a 'inexpensive' upgrade:

Use as many parts from the old setup as possible...obvious.

Do not look for the best motherboard, nor a full ATX one: MATX boards are cheaper and offer more than enough for a basic rebuild. Do n't bother with SLI/CF or 4 DIMM slots, a pair of memory slots can hold as much memory as a 32 bit operating system can use anyway.

Ignore flashy memory but stick to decent brands like Corsair, OCZ or Kingston, they all offer 'value' components which are perfectly suitable for a build which is not going to be overclocked or tweaked later and buy chips in matched pairs.

AMD seem to offer the best options for 'value' CPUs' and most games still prefer a fast dual core over a slower quad or triple core CPU. And do n't forget, any recent dual core will make the Northwood P4 look like a calculator in terms of power (and I hate to remember how much I paid for my 3.06 GHz chip!)

ATI currenty have the value end of the graphics market sewn up here and in the US but it is possible to find great deals on Nvidia, too if you look. Consider the HD4650 (DDR2 version) as minimum and HD4670 as absoloute maximum. See here:
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/radeon-geforce-graphics,r...

If you plan on overclocking expect to need better memory and a aftermarket CPU cooler, which will bump the price a bit but this can be done for a little over $200 US, not sure about Down Under prices, though.

Hope this helps.
!