I have an old HP a220n sitting in a box (AMD XP 2600+, 512 RAM, 1GB max!). Would like to upgrade it but really do not know very much about swapping motherboards, processors etc. Very comfortable with software installs, BIOS stuff etc. Wondering if any of you out there have any suggestions as to what I should do. Should I just plunk down 350-400 for a cheapo dual core system from Fry's or should I attempt to use the old case, power supply etc and try to mash a system together myself. How difficult would it be to do this?Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks
I recommend build versus upgrading your HP. Here is a build I would recommend for you that should fall just under $400.
CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor Model ADX620WFGIBOX - Retail
MOBO: ASUS M4A785-M AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
RAM: G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-8500CL5D-2GBPK - Retail
HSF: None Required - The stock HSF will work for your needs.
HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
PSU: Antec earthwatts EA430 430W Continuous Power ATX12V v2.0 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail
GPU: None Required - This system will use on the onboard video.
DVD: SAMSUNG DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223L LightScribe Support - OEM
Case: COOLER MASTER Elite RC-331-KKN1-GP Black SECC ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
This build gives you a Quad-Core CPU, which will benefit you most for your task over a dual-core.
I realize it's a bit heretic given the purpose of this forum, but I'll say it anyway: I'd recommend buying a new system. Upgrading doesn't sound like an option for you; except for maybe the case and the case fans, you'd probably have to throw everything else out. Unless you're looking at a high-end machine, you save very little money, if any, by building a new one rather than buying an affordable off-the-shelf PC. What building generally does is give you a system that's more tailored to your needs and that offers more performance than an off-the-shelf box. Given the apps you say you're running, though, you're not going to experience enough of a difference to make building preferable over buying. That is, unless you enjoy the process of building your own thing.
I just tossed an old Intel E2200 box and built a new AMD Phenom II X4 955-based one instead. It was fun and some apps run considerably faster now, but when working in Photoshop, I can't say I'm seeing a world of difference. And that's with a change in system performance that's bigger than yours might be.
(Just so I don't get a lot of hate mail: Yes, folks, PS is notably faster on my new machine. But most of the stuff I do, such as cloning or smearing or painting layer masks or [insert your favorite activity here] doesn't depend very much on your CPU speed but rather on how fast your brain works and your fingers move. I'm not a gamer, and it seems cmb41 also isn't one. The biggest improvement I saw is in encoding video, where waiting for under five minutes instead of over 15 (on the old machine) for a short take is great. But cmb41 isn't doing that either.)
Thanks to both of you for your opinions. I would like to run at least 4GB of RAM as my render speeds with Photoshop seem to be very RAM dependent. Tecmo34, am I correct in assuming that I can run 4GB as opposed to 2GB with list you provided? As for LOK, thanks for chiming in. As you noted , I am not a gamer (PC gamer anyway) I'm really concerned about improving performance with photoshop, illustrator, and coreldraw. I figured that I could get more "bang for the buck" building it myself but I also don't want to spend an entire weekend testing either. I wish that I had the time but I just don't. Thanks. Chris
So here's the latest update. Picked up a new gateway dx4200-09 for $300 yesterday.
Processor AMD Phenom™ X4 9100e 64-bit Quad-Core Processor (1.80GHz, 2MB L2 Cache) with AMD64 Technology8
Operating System Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium (64-bit) with SP11
Memory 4096MB 800MHz Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM (2-2048MB modules)
Hard Drive 640GB 7200rpm Serial ATA II/300 hard drive with 16MB Cache4
Video Integrated ATI® Radeon™ HD 3200 Hybrid Graphics with up to 256MB of Shared Video Memory
Audio 8-Channel (7.1) High Definition Audio
Available Expansion Slots Available: 1 - PCI-E x16, 1 - PCI-E x1 & 1 - PCI
Dimensions (Box) 22.05" (L) x 17.72" (W) x 11.22" (D) or 560mm (L) x 450mm (W) x 285mm (D)
Dimensions (System) 16.34" (H) x 7.09" (W) x 17.32" (D) or 415mm (H) x 180mm (W) x 440mm (D)
External Ports (6) USB 2.0 ports (2 Front, 4 Rear), (2) IEEE 1394a Ports (1 Front, 1Rear), VGA, (2) PS/2 Ports, HDMI
Media Card Reader Gateway® 15-in-1 media card reader with copy button5
Memory Capacity Expandable to 8GB9
Modem 56k ITU v.92 ready Fax/Modem (RJ-11 port)
Motherboard Systemboard with AMD® 780G Chipset
Network 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN (RJ-45 port)
Optical Drive 18X DVD+/-R/RW SuperMulti Drive featuring Labelflash™ Technology7
Power Supply 300W Power Supply
Too cheap to pass up. Now I have a little cash left over and would like to add a video card that supports dual monitors, big help with photoshop and Adobe Premier. Will add a wireless NIC card as well. I guess I can swap out the power supply if I need to. Any additional thoughts would be most appreciated. Thanks again