My desktop (Gigabyte, 400MHz FSB, P4 1.6A, 512MB RAM, 32MB video) is getting way too slow and I need an upgrade badly. I have some old (but unused, still NIB) parts that I'm wondering if I should use. Should I try to purchase parts that will work with these that I already own, at the risk of possibly getting less bang for the buck because I was trying to save a few dollars by salvaging parts? Or do I just say forget the old parts, spend a little more now, and buy everything with newer technology so that the system has better longevity and potential for upgrade? In other words, which is better... spending a little now and then spending more to upgrade (possible new build) again in 2-3 years? Or just spending more now on a better build to last significantly longer? It has been 8 years since my last build and it's hard to make a decision without knowing a lot about the recent technology. As I said, I read the "Guide," but it's hard to judge which route is more cost-effective. That's where you experienced pros come in.
The primary goal is value. Straight up bang for the buck.
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: anytime between now and 3 months from now (Feb 2010?) Basically whenever the best deals are around in the next 3 months.
BUDGET RANGE: Prefer to keep it at < $500 After Rebates/Discounts for a complete build. Obviously less if I'm not buying everything by using the parts I already have.
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Windows 7 Pro, Basic stuff like e-mail/browsing/MS Office/playing music/watching dvds, some basic photo editing (Adobe Photoshop/Elements/Lightroom, Picasa), basic video editing (trimming and combining clips, maybe adding music track, transitions, slow-mo, possible "HD" vids from helmet-cam type camcorders), playing MS Flight Simulator w/ joystick to keep skills current, MAYBE some webcam use via Skype or similar program
5.) Dell 1905FP w/ DVI - willing to upgrade (but probably prefer not spend on it since this works fine now) for a steal of a deal on something like a 22" or 24" widescreen
6.) Keyboard, mouse, speakers, OS (more willing to upgrade these, but not necessary)
7.) Various HDDs (WD 1TB Raptor for automated backups, various PATA drives - 160GB, 200GB, 250GB). some being switched in and out of enclosures.
8.) DVD burner
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
PARTS PREFERENCES: I'll admit I was thinking something along the lines of a C2D CPU, but I've always been partial to Intel and Gigabyte/Asus/Abit based on my now-obsolete research. I am open to any ideas now though.
OVERCLOCKING: Maybe. Wasn't planning on it, but Proximon's "Guide" said it's worth it. If it squeezes out significant performance from the system while remaining stable for very little cost, I'm open to it. Basically, if the benefit-to-cost/effort ratio is good, I'm in.
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe. Same as above regarding benefit-to-cost/effort ratio. I want to stay open to ideas at this point.
So here are my questions. Again, as I said above, the summary of these questions is this - Which is better in the long run, spending less now and then having to spend again later to upgrade, or spending more now to last significantly longer:
1.) Is it worth putting these parts together with a slick deal (say, on a Dell bare bones system or any CPU/mobo combo deal) or should I just purchase a completely new system? I was thinking that I could buy a "pretty good" cpu/mobo to go with these now, and when the RAM & video card get too slow for me, I can just upgrade those in a couple of years while keeping the same cpu/mobo. Do you think I should get a CPU/mobo that works w/ the DDR2 and GeForce 7600GS now but can still handle DDR3 in the future? How many RAM slots do most mobos have now?
2.) If "yes," what are your suggestions on parts & specs? something like a Fry's deal on CPU/mobo combo? Dell bare bones? Which CPU? Is Intel really that much better than AMD for what I intend to do with this computer (remember, possible OCing if it's worth it)? Is it worth going to DDR3 RAM, or should I just go with larger quantity of DDR2?
3.) If "no," what are your suggestions for a complete system based on my intended uses?
4.) Best time to buy? Between Black Friday & Christmas? After Christmas?
5.) Any good ideas on what to do w/ my current, SLOW system? Torrent box? Anyone have any complaints using Ubuntu (or major software/driver compatibility issues)?
tecmo32, thanks for the suggestion on the build. So based on further research, it seems like AMD CPU is the way to go for a value/budget build, right?
I actually don't need to purchase OS, so that knocks $140 off that build right there. You suggested using my current RAM, GPU, and case, however, is there any reason why you didn't suggest using my current PSU, 1TB HDD, DVD drive? Do you have anything against using my current 600W PSU?
Also, which HDD were you attempting to suggest, because you've got a DVD drive link there?
In the future, if I want to increase RAM using that Jetway mobo, is it possible to either:
A.) Run a different pair of DDR2 in the other 2 slots w/ what I'd already have in there (example, 2x1GB of my OCZ + 2x1GB of another brand)? Or do mobos typically want 4 of the same exact kind?
B.)Run a pair of DDR3 in the other slots while I still have my pair of DDR2 RAM in there? I'd think that same mobos might not like that, but it would be nice if that's possible.
Last, I noticed that there's an onboard ATI Radeon HD 3300 GPU (w/ 128MB DDR3, HDMI) already on there, and you suggested using my current GeForce7600GS. In which scenarios would adding the GeForce be beneficial? Wouldn't the onboard vid handle pretty much everything w/ no problem?
I made an assumption that your DVD was an IDE, which with all new builds I would recommend upgrading to a SATA DVD burner for better cable management.
A.) You want to run the same make, timings, speed... etc when pairing your RAM. Having different RAM's will increase your risk of having BSOD related to your memory.
B.) I believe when you have DDR3 install, you can't install DDR2 on the same board.
C.) Your onboard video will work for majority of the things you do. In running the MS Flight Simulator, it will benefit a little more with the dedicated GPU.
Outside of the JetWay, there really isn't a DDR3/DDR2 motherboard. In light of that, I would recommend upgrading now to DDR3 and an AM3 motherboard. With that said... here is another build for $415.94- $54.99 if use your 1TB hard drive.
First, tecmo32 and Shadow70379, thank you both for your prompt continued support and suggestions. This is very helpful.
1.) PSU - Yes, mine isn't 80Plus. Box specs say Efficiency is 79% (max) @ typical load, 115/230Vac 60Hz/50Hz. 73% (max) at full load, 115/230Vac 60Hz/50Hz. Knowing this, do you think it is good enough to be reliable with your suggested build? Or why would you strongly recommend against using this? Are you more concerned with its reliability or do you think a new 80Plus PSU will just be that much more efficient to justify buying a new one? Just trying to understand your logic here (and yes, I do realize it is a critical component of the system)
2.) HDD - You are correct, it is 1TB Black (not sure why I was saying Raptor). Will probably just use this and purchase another 1TB or larger (simply for cost...$/GB ratio) to use in an enclosure for backups. 1TB drive deals are plentiful at $60-70.
3.) DVD - Correct assumption. It is IDE. I agree, and although it's only $30 for a new one, I'm thinking I might just use my old one since I rarely burn dvds anyway. Just hate the thought of "wasting" my current one. I burn maybe 1 DVD every 4 months.
4.) GPU - So w/ an onboard + additional GPU scenario, how does one normally set this up regarding wiring to monitor, selecting between the 2, and knowing when to use which one? any special settings/software needed?
5.) CPU & Mobo - These will certainly meet my needs, but are there any other CPUs or mobos you think I should take a look at? Just want to make sure I don't overlook any other good possibilities. Triple core does seem like a good compromise between the duals and quads.
Also, please let me know if you strongly disagree with any of my suggestions or intentions above. Thanks again.
This PSU definitely offers a lot of power, ironically it seems to only be willing to offer it up if evenly loaded. Due to it's crossload "issue" I wouldn't suggest video cards as high as x1900's unless the 3.3V and 5V rails are satisfied with hard drives, PCI cards and/or some USB devices. That's right: Feed the power supply with more stuff to power and the power supply will actually perform better.
Otherwise, you're only going to see the performance of a typical 450W PSU. So if you only plan on having one hard drive and an optical, you might want to keep your video card choices limited to a pair of Nvidia 6x cards or ATI x1800 cards.
If you're looking for something with power factor correction and decent efficiency, you're not going to find it here. But if you like the mirror finish of the X-Finity housing and the UV reactive FlexForce cables, this is probably the nicest lookng 600W power supply you're going to find.
4. Considering your budget, you may be able to get a 9600GSO ($45 after MIR @ Newegg), 4670/4830,5770, etc if you save a bit more ($50?) money. I'm assuming you will be playing some modern PC games?