Hello. I've got an older homebuilt gaming rig that I'm thinking about upgrading one last time since I don't have the money to build a new one but I'd still like to enjoy some of the latest games. I last upgraded this system in 2007 and I haven't kept up on all the latest and greatest stuff, so I'm sorta out of the loop now. Here are the current specs:
MSI K8N Neo 2 Platinum mobo (nForce3 Ultra)
AMD 64 Dual Core 4200+
1 GB (2 x 512) DDR 400 RAM (2-2-2-5 timing)
Radeon x1950 Pro 512MB AGP video
2 x 74GB WD Raptor SATA HDD in RAID 0
500 watt PS
Windows XP Pro
I'm not willing to put much cash into this, but I'm hoping to keep it going for another 1-2 years before I save up some money and build a new monster. A major setback is my AGP interface... I'm thinking around $200 max for upgrades. Also, I've never tried any overclocking. Maybe I could breath a little new fire into this thing by OC the hardware I already have? Any suggestions would be appreciated! I'm open to just about anything... Thanks!
You could overclock your CPU that should help, but it won't be much. You should also check if you can still buy an ati 3850/3870 agp card, I think those were the last agp cards made, but I don't think you'll be able to pull another 2 years of gaming unless you're playing at 1280x1024. If you have any cash over I'd recommend adding another 1 or 2 gb's of cheap DDR memory! Try find some with the same timings as you current memory! Hope this helps.
If I was trying to upgrade an old AGP rig right now I would check out craigslist or ebay for used cards and parts. There are lots of people in your situation scrapping old AGP pcs-- you should be able to find parts for cheap.
I wouldnt do this for new parts... but if its just $20 used stuff I think the risk is worthwhile.
Thanks for the advice guys. Looks like I may be going for the video card upgrade very soon since I believe I just toasted my x1950pro by trying to overclock it... It crashed while I was messing around with the clock speeds using ray adams ati tray tools, and the system now fails to post at all with the card. I get a long beep followed by two short ones. I've got my old 6800GT in there now, but I know that won't cut it. Any ideas on my possibly damaged video card?
Overclocking would certainly help, but honestly you will likely be limited by the chipset in that regard. Even though the VIA chipsets did better than the nForce 3 for Athlon 64s, AMD did a crazy and chose nVidia as their launch partner for the AMD 64. Oh well.
Anyway for upgrades go with at least 2GB of RAM (2 1GB sticks). If you can get 4GB go for it. If you're shopping for used parts you may be able to get some low latency Mushkin Black or Kingston Hyper-X sticks. As for a video card upgrade a Radeon 4670 AGP or 3850 AGP would be the way to go. The 3850 uses more power though so be sure you have a decent PSU before getting one. The 4670 is a bit more miserly and uses less power than the 1950 Pro currently in your system.