I have the opportunity to trade a laptop of mine (Acer 5920-6864, T5450, 3GB RAM, 15.4" screen, integrated GMA X3100 graphics) which I hardly ever use for a desktop with the following configuration:
AMD Phenom X4 9500 processor
ECS A770M-A motherboard (AM2+, gigabit ethernet, 6usb, sata, 7.1 audio, no onboard video, slots:1 2.0x16, 2 x1, 3 plain PCI)
2GB DDR2 667 memory
250GB hard drive
nVidia 8500GT video card
Antec Two Hundred case with 2 120mm fans rear and top
XP Pro SP3
unknown power supply thus far
This is certainly better than my eMachines EL1200 box and I can give that to the kids to replace a P4 1.8 and use this thing. I'll even bump it to 4GB of memory. So consider that done.
So I wanted to ask, since obviously some of these bits are old (770 motherboard, 8500gt graphics), what would YOU do if you had a given budget of $200 to spend on the computer. My goals are increased productivity, application switching speed, and I'd like to be able to play GTA4 on low settings if possible. I was thinking a GTS250 and a 500-550w Antec power supply.
I'd definitely spend a bit on upgrading the graphics cards. The GTS250 doesn't sound like a bad deal, but if you could find a 260 series for cheap, go for that. If the power supply that comes with it is adequate and the motherboard supports it, look into 2-4GB DDR2-6400 (800Mhz) memory. That should speed things up.
The motherboard isn't actually that old technologically. AM2+ socket is still pretty common.
I'd go for the radeon 4870 myself. A little more $ but with appreciable performance gains. Then again, I like my high frames per second. The nvidia GTX 260 is comparable to the 4870 and the 4850 is comparable to the GTS 250. Anything 4850 and better will do fine in GTAIV.
The 4850 seems less expensive on newegg but the GTS 250 has mail in rebates that take it down to less than the 4850 in price.
The graphics card won't increase productivity, just gaming- especially with xp since you don't have the vista or 7 graphics to deal with but the extra ram will. Currently, beyond 4GB is pointless. Especially in xp. If you are interested in overclocking, you could get some performance gains from your Phenom though.
Friday is the day, we'll see how it runs. I'm tempted to bring my copy of GTA IV but I won't. He just says it has a 450 watt ATV power supply so I'll assume it's a generic POS PSU until I see a name brand on it I like. 8500GT's can consume 160-180w at load so that's in line with say, a GTS250.
Anyone have anything against an MSI card? $129 less a $10 rebate...leaves me $80 for a power supply which should be enough for a 450-550w Antec or Corsair?