Advice on upgrading 2006 AMD homebuild

Hi all,

First post... great forum!

I am thinking about upgrading my existing homebuilt system running XP Home SP3. The main reason for the upgrade is that performance has slowed of late (evidenced by slow boot and slow multitasking), and I am soon going to be dabbling in very light home video (in HD) editing (using Sony Vegas or equivalent software) and I hear that can really lag on a slow computer. Existing build is used for photoshop, word/excel, and internet, with a 1680x1050 monitor (no gaming at all).

About me… one successful home build, but I am by no means any sort of a computer scientist, and I know next to nothing about hardware, OS, or software architecture.

Question, is it worthwhile to upgrade any/all of the following: processor, video card, memory, hard drive? That is, after upgrading one or more parts can I expect to be able to effectively edit short (up to 5+ minutes) HD video files without completely crashing the confuser.

Here is my current build, circa March 2006…

Athenatech Case w/450W PS ATX

Asus A8N5X Socket 939 AMD MB

AMD Athelon 64 3200+ Venice (no overclocking, and I’m not comfortable with OC)

1 GB Crucial RAM in two 512MB SDRAM DDR 400

Seagate Baracuda 7200.7 SATA 120GB HD

EVGA 128-P2-N368-TX GeForce 6600GT 128MB

Also have installed a DVD drive, floppy (not sure why), and firewire card.

If I'm dreaming about any upgrade being worthwhile, where I should start for a new build for a non-gaming video & photo editing build (processor, motherboard, and video card, plus operating system)?

Much obliged!

14 answers Last reply
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  1. I'd say go with a 790GX mobo
    like these

    I'd personally go for the gigabyte one.
    These have the HD 3300 integrated graphics, which is the fastest integrated graphics there is. It's even up to some light gaming. It's about as fast as that 6600 GT, but with directx 10 support. This in and of itself should be good enough for your purposes.

    Then for a CPU either of the Athlon II x3's or the x4's. Any of these should do what you want for not much.

    If yo want to stick with XP, then get 2 gigs of 1333 DDR3 RAM, or 4 gigs for 64 bit windows 7.

    You could also upgrade you PSU and hard drive (which I recommend, esp the PSU) but the rest should be fine as is.
  2. Socket 939 is gone. DDR RAM is gone. Your HDD is less than half the speed of a new one.

    Minimally you are looking at a new motherboard, CPU, and RAM. Preferably a new Power Supply as they deteriorate with age. Preferably a new HDD which will be much larger and faster.

    If the 6600 is doing the job you can re-use it as it is still slightly better than onboard graphics.

    My thinking is something like
    Gigabyte MA770T-UD3 motherboard ($85)
    Athlon II x3 435 ($87) or Athlon II x4 630 ($113)
    4GB (2x2GB kit) DDR3-1333 cas7 RAM (~$100)
    Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB HDD ($55)
    Corsair 400W PSU ($55-$15MIR)
    Windows 7 64bit (~$105)

    If you want to get one of Dmitry's linked motherboards instead of the 770 and use onboard instead of the 6600 that should also work fine.
  3. It actually isn't better at all than the HD 3300. And has the disadvantage of DX9 which may be important in win7. But if those $15 are needed, not at all a bad modification.

    That's also the hard drive I would pick, and a good PSU. It doesn't leave much room to upgrade, but if your current stuff is any indication, it should do this build fine for a similar length of time.
  4. With integrated graphics on the Mobo then I wouldn't need a graphics card? (something tells me that is a super-noob question)

    Am I thus correct to assume that HD video processing is not really related to anything that goes on with a video card? Are video cards really only necessary for gaming?

    Thanks! John
  5. Looks like I'll just do a whole new build and keep the existing build for the Mrs. and her photoshop stuff.
  6. Ah then a new case and PSU are in order. Either what he put for the PSU or a rosewill green series one should do. For the case, pretty much just look at the cases section and turn on free shipping, find one that not too many people hate and suits your needs.

    And yeah it does mean you wouldn't need a graphics card. And yeah I guess it is. Same with all the integrated sound on motherboards now too along with all the other stuff. If you're gonna give what you have to her, doing that would prevent you from needing to buy one for yourself. I usually don't like to recommend integrated graphics, but AMD/ATI is hitting it out of the park relative to everyone else who does it. When gaming isn't a concern theirs do great. Honestly though, I'd tell people to get a cheap card if they were stuck with intel integrated.
  7. Correct, by and large, video cards are only necessary for gaming. Virtually all of the actual work in video/audio processing, photoshop, etc. is done with the processor.

    That being said, it is possible that you might see a benefit while displaying HD video with a graphics card, but far from certain. Some motherboards purport to do HD out (with HDMI), but don't necessarily display correctly with all sources.
  8. If I'm not multitasking does it really matter if I get a Athelon II tri-core vs. a quad core?
  9. You're probably not going to see a noticeable difference between 3 and 4 cores.

    However, basically every OS these days is multi-tasking from immediately after boot. All of the background stuff takes up some portion of processing power, so having more than just 1 core is a good thing. Luckily, only really intense programs are going to max out a 3 or 4-core system.
  10. Right I forgot to say that part about encoding. They're finally making way towards doing stuff on GPU's that really should be done there, but they aren't there yet.

    Some encoding stuff can use 4CPU's so you might see a boost there, but it's really up to you. Personally I'm running the phenom ii x3 which is similar in performance to those. (I bought it before those came out) But then my main concern is gaming, I'm willing to wait for everything else since I don't encode often.
  11. Ok, here's what I've spec'd... comes to ~ $670 including tax & shipping.

    Case - Rosewill DESTROYER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

    PS - Rosewill Green Series RG530-S12 530W Continuous


    CPU - AMD Athlon II X3 435 Rana 2.9GHz 3 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3

    RAM - G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333

    OS - Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM

    HD - SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5"

    Can anybody recommend a DVD drive? Should I just get whatever is well-rated?
  12. Yeah, pretty much any DVD drive. Might as well go with a SATA one.

    As far as the OS

    I'm not sure how digitalriver is pulling it off, but I used this on my Mom's computer along with my pro disc to install and it activated just fine. You'll just need to actually download and burn the disc.
  13. Rosewill contracts their PSUs out to other companies. Some are very good and some are potentially dangerous. Unfortuntely without googling for a professional review I couldnt tell you which that particular model is.

    I try to stick with Antec Earthwatts, Antec True Power and Corsair as I know those are all reliable, quality PSUs. OCZ Fatal1ty PSUs seem to be alright and have been on sale lately, you might check them.

    Right now at newegg the Sony Optiarc is on sale for $26
  14. The green series specifically seems to be some of the very good ones. I haven't personally used any other than the 530 watt specifically and it's in 3 different computers.
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