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Need some advice on upgrading my computer. Please help!

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October 20, 2009 9:05:45 PM

Hello. After researching for the best PC forums on google, I found that tomshardware is the best place to seek help and advice. I'm glad I joined!

This is quite a long post, but please bare with me.

I have an old computer which I bought 4 years ago. Instead of buying a new computer, I decided to upgrade it and I found some excellent deals where I can get a good processor and GPU for less than $80. My computer's current setup is as follows:

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MOTHERBOARD: K8S-LA (Salmon)
This link gives detailed information about it: http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c00257657&tmp_track_link=ot_recdoc/c00280662/en_ca/c00257657/loc:1&lc=en&dlc=en&cc=ca&product=447313
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PROCESSOR: AMD Sempron 3100+ (1.8Ghz with 256kb L2 cache) Socket 754
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RAM: 1.5GB
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POWER SUPPLY: 500W
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GRAPHICS CARD: Radeon 9550, but I recently purchased a Radeon HD 2600XT AGP for a dirt cheap price of $38
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I would like to upgrade my processor as well, but I'm having a hard deciding on which. The link I provided says the following about my motherboard:

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Maximum approved processor:
Socket 754
Supports the following processors:
AMD Athlon 64 3700 processor (Clawhammer, 2.4 GHz)
AMD Athlon 64 3400 processor (Newcastle, 2.4 GHz)
AMD Sempron
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I would really appreciate it if you can answer the following questions:

1) I "might" upgrade my Sempron to an Athlon 64 3400+ (ClawHammer, 2.2Ghz with 1MB L2 cache). This processor is not listed on the list, but it is a socket 754. Will I still be able to use it?

2) Will my motherboard take any processor as long as it's socket 754?

3) Will it take socket 754 laptop processors?

4) Which processor is more powerful: The Athlon 64 3400+ (2.2Ghz with 1MB L2 cache) or the Athlon 64 3400+ (2.4Ghz with 512kb L2 cache)?

5) Will I need to upgrade my current CPU fan and heatsink considering that my Sempron and all the Athlon 64 processors are made in 130Nm with the only difference being that the Sempron's voltage is 1.40 V and consumes only 62 W, while the Athlon 64's voltage is 1.50 V and consumes 89 W. Isn't that a pretty big difference? Wouldn't that make much more heat?

6) Are the Athlon 64 processors (mainly the 3400+ and 3700+) a big step up from the Sempron?

7) I'm not looking to play the newest and highest-end PC games. I only hope to be able to play Battlefield 2 and Half-Life 2 on MAX settings. With the new HD 2600XT I just purchase combined with either an Athlon 64 3400+ or a 3700+, will be able to do so?

Last but not least, thank you so much for reading this far. I hope you can answer all my questions!

Thanks!
October 20, 2009 9:37:40 PM

Honestly, there doesn't seem to be much that can be done as far as upgrading this particular setup.

Socket 754 was replaced roughly 3-4 years, and putting more money into "dead" technology isn't a wise use of your money most of the time.

Building a new PC from scratch might be the best way to go, especially since (and I'm just assuming, here) it was a pre-built Compaq. The Compaq you have now could still be useful as a HTPC, Linux box, home server, data storage, etc. but I wouldn't recommend sinking any more money into it.

To answer your questions (to the best of my knowledge):
1) I don't see why not unless your motherboard is really picky about that sort of thing. Pre-built machines with proprietary hardware sometimes are jerks like that...
2) (see above)
3) (see above)
4) Without actually doing any research I'm going to have to say the one with the higher base clock. (the second one)
5) Not unless you're going to overclock it. A good cleaning/dusting wouldn't hurt, though.
6) I can't say for certain. You'll probably notice an improvement, but these are all still single-core processors. Upgrading to a dual, tri, or quad core processor will definetely show noticable improvement.
7) Again, I can't say for certain. I'm pretty sure it could. I ran both those games with a P4 3.2GHz and a 6800GT without any hiccups.
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October 20, 2009 9:48:19 PM

kufan64 said:
Honestly, there doesn't seem to be much that can be done as far as upgrading this particular setup.

Socket 754 was replaced roughly 3-4 years, and putting more money into "dead" technology isn't a wise use of your money most of the time.


I completely agree with you. But then again, I only spent $38 on upgrades so far (The HD 2600XT graphics card), and I plan on spending another $35 at most for a processor and I will personally be set for another year or two
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October 21, 2009 4:00:45 PM

As long as your aware. :) 
I hope my answers to your questions helped you out then.

In case you were planning to buy some more RAM, be aware that your motherboard specifications state that it can only support a maximum of 2GB.

Good luck.
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