What can I do to improve my PC?

I built this PC back in October of 2008.

E8400 @ 3.0 Ghz
EVGA GTX 260 Core 216 SSC @ 648 core 1134 memory
G.Skill 4 GB Dual Channel DDR2 1000
GIGABYTE GA-EP35-DS3L Motherboard
Corsair 650 TX Power Supply
21" LG Flatron W2252TQ @ 1680x1050
Windows XP 32

My original plan was to overclock the E8400 so I could run the RAM at 1:1 ratio, but after receiving the motherboard I wasn't able to flash it for some reason. I have tried numerous times and it never worked. Tried every way I could possibly think of. In any case, I decided to just leave it alone and not worry about overclocking the CPU. So a couple months back one of my sticks of RAM went bad and I have never got around to replacing it. I am trying to decide what I should do to improve my PC at this point. I want to get the most bang for my buck.

I was considering grabbing Windows 7 (a 64 bit version - not sure which version is going to be best for me though), and another 4 GB dual channel kit. If I buy another dual channel kit the 2 GB I have now goes to waste though. That brings me to my first question. Would it be better to run 6 GB of RAM and just forget about the dual channel or is 4 GB dual channel going to outperform 6 GB standard? If the 6 Gigs is better I may even just go up to 8 since my MB supports it and DDR2 is still cheap right now. Next question, which version of Windows 7 is going to be the best for mostly just gaming? Is there any reason to buy anything more than Windows 7 Home?

Would it be worth it to get a new motherboard simply because I can't get my E8400 overclocked because the Bios will not flash? Is it worth upgrading to a new graphics card that supports DX 10 or 11? Pretty much all games I play use 9.0c, but I am looking at one that uses the Unreal 3 Engine (All Points Bulletins) and comes out in a couple months so I am assuming it uses DX 10.

What do you guys think my best options are? How can I get the most out of my current setup without spending a load of cash?
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  1. Best answer
    -Don't worry about 1:1 ratio
    -If you want to overclock, of course a new motherboard would be worth it if you can't get your current one to work (though I am surprised the non-updated bios doesn't have the settings you need)
    -You won't need more than windows 7 home
    -you could get 1 dual channel 2x2GB kit and one 2x1GB kit and have 6 GB and not be giving up dual channel. But if you want to save money, 4GB is still the current "sweet spot"
    -The nvidia GTX260 supports up to DX10.0 DX10 is old. even the old radeon 2xxx series supported it. For DX11, it would not be worth it yet. By the time games are using it as much as they are using DX10 now, you'd be looking to upgrade anyway.
    -Good luck.
  2. Hey, thanks for the reply. You helped with a lot of my questions. It did raise a new question for me though. (I wasn't aware you could run dual channel in 4 slots) I could buy another 6 GB of RAM, for a total of 8 GB but it wouldn't be dual channel unless I purchased 2 new dual channel sets. Is there going to be a huge difference between 8GB dual channel and 8GB standard? Or even 6 GB dual channel and 8 GB standard? What would you do in my situation? I can probably spare the extra money to get 2 4 GB sets if you think it is worth it for my system. Have any brands you recommend that are reasonably priced at the moment? I am not sure if I would buy G.Skill again, maybe I just had bad luck, but a lot of people seem to complain that these sticks are going bad within 6-12 months.

    I must have forgot that the GTX 260 supports DX 10. Probably because I never really play any DX 10 games and a lot of the cards I was looking at before I decided on the 260 didn't support 10. Thanks for the reminder. :D I guess it would be worth it to wait a while on buying a new graphics card. Might even be able to wait until I build a new system. Glad to hear I will be fine with Windows 7 Home, that saves me a bit of money.

    The problem with the current Bios on my motherboard is it becomes unstable when you try to overclock it past a certain point. I can't remember exactly what it was, but it was well below 3.6 Ghz, where I wanted to clock it to. I read about the motherboard on a website and users seemed to indicate the only way to fix that problem was by flashing the bios. I don't know, maybe I should try flashing again. It has probably been about a year since I tried. Thanks again for the help.
  3. No problem.

    For the ram, there are 4 slots. 2 are one colour, and 2 are a second colour. A pair of dual channel can go together in the first colour and a second set can go in the second coloured slots. I hesitate to recommend 8GB because some reviews I have read have noted a performance drop with the increase. Not significant, just a slight drop in framerates. I personally think 6GB would work well, but then if you ever needed to go to 8GB in the future, it would be more difficult. So I recommend 2x2GB now and a second set of 2x2GB down the road. As for brand, I've had good experience with Mushkin, I know someone who's had corsair for a while and my friend just got some OCZ and hasn't had any problems.

    If you can lower the multiplier on the CPU to see if the CPU is the problem or not, this could help. But I don't think intel chips are unlocked downwards.
  4. Best answer selected by benjaminm580.
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