Need Advice: upgrading my old gaming rig while I save for a new one.

My current machine is a mixture of parts circa 2004-2006. I'm finally at a point where I can start saving up for a beastly new rig but in the interim I'd like to give my machine a little pep while I (impatiently) wait.

Main games I play are WoW and various Source stuff. I'd like to be able to play L4D2 smoothly but I don't know if that's possible.

Current system specs (apologies I'm at work so I don't have a lot of specifics):
CPU: AMD 64 3400+
Mobo: Gigabyte (Don't know model#!!! important thing is I have no pcie slots :()
RAM: 2gb Corsair XMS DDR2
GPU: Nvidia 6800
HDD: WD 7200RPM 160gb
PSU: 500W Generic (Yeaaaa... sorry I don't know. Upgrading this maybe?)

BUDGET RANGE: ~$200-300
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Web Development/Design (hobby level), general internet use.
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: CPU, Mobo, HDD, PSU, Sound Card, RAM (?), Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Speakers, OS
PARTS PREFERENCES: Nvidia fanboy considering ATI
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1440 x 900 current limit, widescreen monitor supports higher

Here's what I'm considering:

SAPPHIRE 100228L Radeon HD 3850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 AGP 4X/8X HDCP Ready Video Card - Retail


XFX HD-465X-ZPF2 Radeon HD 4650 1GB 128-bit DDR2 AGP 8X HDCP Ready Video Card - Retail

I'm stuck with AGP. These two seem to be my best options but if I missed something I'm open to any suggestions! I'm leaning towards the Sapphire 3850 because of the GDDR3 and memory bus.

The video card is really the main thing I'm considering. My CPU heatsink fan died so I'm buying the following replacement (unless someone has a compelling argument to upgrade my proc):

ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 64 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler - Retail
(This is actually what I've been using for years now and I'm not miffed by the dead fan, I've gotten years of use out of the thing.)

Arctic Silver 5 / Arctic Silver Thermal Material remover and surface purifier (Been too long since I've reseated my CPU / cleaned up the compound .. I'm afraid of what I will find!)

I'm fairly certain my current PSU will support either of these video cards, but if someone has a nice budget upgrade option I'm certainly for it.

I'm happy with my RAM and my mobo won't support 4gigs (And I'm still using XP anywyay, until the new system) Again, if there is a nice budget upgrade option I'd appreciate the suggestion. I guess the suggestion would be hard to make considering I don't know the model of my current sticks!

Thank you all for any suggestions, tips or ideas!
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  1. Best answer
    I had more or less the exact same machine for my last desktop, I threw a 3850 in there and was able to play Crysis on low, for source games reference, I got about 150fps in the counterstrike bench. From what I have read, the 3850 AGP is actually faster than the 4650 AGP.,2383.html
  2. You might be able to get a replacement fan and some thermal goo and not replace the old arctic freezer.
  3. Best answer selected by pebkac.
  4. zach538467: Thanks for the link, made my decision (3850) much easier.

    dndhatcher: You are awesome, I looked all over for a replacement fan but apparently my google-fu was lacking today.

    In an ironic twist of events I was just offered a mobo, proc and vid card for free from a friend. I'm going to be making a new post for it rather than cluttering this one. I am going to buy the fan and the 3850 however and try to sell this system!
  5. The 3850 doesn't matter if it is faster. That's a single core and that will hold it back. The 4650 is plenty enough.
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