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Advice on System, upgrade path, Cost effective, etc.

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June 4, 2010 4:41:23 PM

Problems, general sluggishness, slow to load pages. Slow, and poor (choppy, and stops, spits and sputters) video playback, even when I let it buffer first. I don't understand how it can have problems when it is already buffered? It has integrated graphics. I believe this was built in 2005 or 2006, not certain.

I was wanting to improve the performance of my computer. The problem I am having is that I cannot find the exact info on whether I have a processor worth upgrading, I feel that the weight of the information tells me that I do not have any options on just a CPU upgrade, as is. WOULD LOVE TO PUT A DUAL CORE IN IT!

I was considering upgrading the MSI 915GL LGA775 motherboard, if I cannot upgrade to a considerably better CPU or other components to have a great improvement in operation. I have already done all of the CCleaner, and defrag hard drive, uninstall programs not used, and such that I can. I would like to keep my system as it is and just improve hardware. (ie. I have a WD caviar black 320GB hard, drive new in box, and the software to copy my old hard drive straight over to it and change them out. No reloading anything!) This is preferred to me. I understand that everybody preaches clean install, but I am busy, and days of updating windows and reloading programs is not what I would prefer to do. In addition to redoing all of the personalized settings, and security settings... If there are better options, please tell me!

I would love to have a dual core processor, I have Intel on three of my computers, and I have had good luck . BUT, I just built my son a gigabyte us2h with Phenom-ii X 4 940 and it is awesome. It is probably more computer than I need, but it made him a good upgrade for a budget gamer. I am leery of going with AMD, because I believe if I change process suppliers, and maybe even mother boards, I will have to do a fresh install.
I have read that if you stay with the same maker of motherboard, and the same maker of CPU that you can copy the MB drivers to the Hard drive, then load them, and then make the change out, without a reload. Not sure of this?

Also, I would like this to be a quick, and cheap. Not ready, yet, to go I-7 or anything like that.

1. if possible recommend a CPU upgrade.
2. IF possible recommend any other system upgrade that would provide more performance.
3. If necessary please recommend an MB and CPU upgrade. If nec. I will upgrade ram, but prefer not to build a whole new computer.
4. Would just a Flash hard drive. SSD make enough difference? Would memory make the difference?
5. If I have to upgrade the MB and CPU, is their a good cheap case that would leave me open to going to a good intel chip later? I would like to skip the I-3 and I-5, when the I-7's are affordable, then I'll buy a new MB, RAM, and CPU.
6. Would a video card added to this help me out.
7. Any other advice. I would also like to add a DVD burner, is there one that is particularly good at reading scratched CD's or DVD's? If not a DVD burner, I could buy two, a burner, an another optical drive that is good at playing bad discs, have kids ya know, they never take care of movies or games. I hear that with the right software I can copy them onto a new cd or dvd. Not certain though what to us.
8. My case is probably ten or eleven years old. It is noisy with all the fans needed to keep the P-4 cool. If I need a newer case, I would love a quieter one. I think mine is mid tower, it is shorter than my son's. But not well built.

As you see, I need a lot of advice and would appreciate a knowledgeable person to give me direction in each question area. "Just rebuild your system" is not what I am looking for. I will do a fresh install if it will make an extreme difference, but prefer just MB, CPU update.

Here's the specs.

Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3 (build 2600)
Motherboard 915GL MICRO-STAR INTERNATIONAL CO., LTD MS-7131 REV:1.0 Bus Clock: 133 megahertz
BIOS: Phoenix Technologies, LTD 6.00 PG 02/18/2005
CPU 2.67 gigahertz Intel Pentium 4 16 kilobyte primary memory cache 1024 kilobyte secondary memory cache
64-bit ready Not hyper-threaded
2040 Megabytes Usable Installed Memory
Hard drive WDC WD800JD-00LSA0 NTFS
80.02 Gigabytes Usable Hard Drive Capacity
21.68 Gigabytes Hard Drive Free Space
Optical drives SONY CD-RW CRX320EE [CD-ROM drive]
YAMAHA CRW2200E [CD-ROM drive]
3.5" format removable media [Floppy drive]
Ram2040 Megabytes Usable Installed Memory Corsair VS1GB400C3 value select
Slot 'A0' has 1024 MB
Slot 'A1' is Empty
Slot 'A2' has 1024 MB
Slot 'A3' is Empty
PS: Thermal take pure power 430W

Sorry to ramble, please answer and provide feedback. More info is better, I need all the help I can get, pretty much built my son's computer from reading stuff on this forum, and the guides... This is a great forum, with great knowledgeable people, and I know that some of ya could help me get out of this quandary cheaply if possible.

Thanks, Hope I have given everything needed. Mostly used for Internet surfing, Microsoft office type things, watching you-tube, and trying to watch other online streaming video, and downloaded video(have netflix also, but it don't work). Have a good connection, just can't really use it! Didn't realize that it was my computer until I rebuild my son's. Then ya can't help but notice.

Dan.
If I have posted any information from Belarc, that I should remove, because it is sensitive or opens me up to security issues, please let me know and I'll remove it.
a b B Homebuilt system
June 4, 2010 4:53:50 PM

What is your budget for the upgrade? From the looks of it you will end up having to basically build a whole new system, a CPU upgrade requires a motherboard upgrade which requires new RAM, which basically puts you at the price of a whole new system so its likely best to start from scratch.
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Best solution

June 4, 2010 7:23:48 PM

If you need to upgrade the motherboard (which you will if you have a pre-LGA775 processor), best practices suggest a fresh OS install. While technology has gotten to the point that you should be able to boot to your old installation with new hardware, you'll still have a myriad of left-over drivers and a lot of space for issues. I would count the fresh install as part of the upgrade.

I can speak well for both AMD and Intel CPUs. I've built several systems with both in the last two years, and they all work well for what the person I built for had in mind. AMD is definitely more budget-oriented, and has a very good price to performance ratio. If what you're looking to do doesn't involve any more than web surfing, some word processing and such and media playback, I'd definitely suggest an AMD system with a motherboard that features integrated graphics to save a chunk of change on a discrete graphics card.

Example build:
$75, Free Shipping - AMD Athlon II X3 440 Rana 3.0GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor
$75, $3 Shipping - ASRock 880GM-LE AM3 AMD 880G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
$110, Free Shipping - G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1600
$60, $20 mail in rebate, Free Shipping - OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W PSU
$30, Free Shipping - Rosewill R220-P-BK Black SECC Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
$100, Free Shipping - Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit OEM

Grand Total - $452.93

Now, this is assuming that you'll be recycling some parts from your old machine. Hard drive & optical drive primarily. You may run into issues if they are both IDE (as I suspect they are) since most motherboards made at this time only have one PATA connector. You may want to look into purchasing either a new, higher capacity HDD for around $60 as well, or a DVD-RW for around $20 if you go for a new build.

If you're looking to slim your total amount down further, you can drop the memory down to 2gb (2x 1gb sticks) and you shouldn't see a huge difference in performance. That would bring your price, in this example, down to around $410.

After jotting all of this down, I did open my eyes and read what your concerns were a bit more closely. SORRY for not doing so earlier!

On your operating system clean install concern: Windows 7 is an imaged install, which means there are no cabinets to extract data from. It's essentially a straight copy from the DVD to your HDD. In all, I would say it takes 15 minutes to install the OS. I do IT for a living, and trust me I've searched for workarounds to going through installation prompts, and I found a pretty decent one. Check out http://www.ninite.com and see if your commonly used applications are included. Ninite offers an installer that will automatically download and install all specified applications without presenting you with a single prompt. The best thing about it is that it won't install a single toolbar.

In response to #4: Without a processor upgrade, I'm afraid you won't see much of an increase in performance. A discrete graphics card would most likely be your best bet if your main issue is streaming video. It looks like your board has an AGP slot, so you'll want to shop for a lower-end AGP graphics card.

In response to #6: A discrete GPU will always deliver more performance than an onboard chip, but current onboard video options deliver enough power for what you're looking to do. If you want to play newer games, I would suggest a new GPU, but the onboard video should be adequate.

I'm not sure which DVD drive would be best at reading scratched discs, I don't know that any really excels at that over the other. I have had good experiences with Samsung and Sony drives, and have heard good things about Lite-On and LG.

I added a case that I have personally used in the example build above. Rosewill is a decent budget company, at least in the case area, and I have no complaints with their cases. Ultimately, you get what you pay for, and there are definitely features that more expensive cases have that I wish Rosewill could incorporate at the sub $40 price point, but it's just not possible for them. This particular case is very quiet due to the single 120mm rear fan, and will provide enough cooling to keep your CPU at acceptable temps without additional fans.

Unfortunately, RAM will need to be upgraded with your build. From the specs I saw for your motherboard, it only accepts DDR, which is pretty far-gone from the memory game. If it utilized DDR2, we'd be able to get an AM2+ motherboard set up for you that would fit your bill, but since it doesn't DDR3 is the most logical choice with a socket AM3 motherboard. There really isn't much savings to buying DDR2 at this point, especially if you're looking to switch over to an i5/i7 build a few years down the road.

I feel like I've been typing for years. Hope I've helped to some degree.
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June 5, 2010 11:57:35 PM

I plan to purchase exactly your recommendations. I have a new in the box WD caviar black 320 gb, just waiting to be used, but didn't want to install it while I was unsure of upgrading the system or not.

I really apreciate you giving the reasoning behind the choices, so I don't start second guessing whether you really understood my problems or needs. And it also keeps me from second guessing myself. :0

Your links and specs sound like exactly the solution I needed, I am still floored by the specs of the components ( everything has good specs and really reasonable priced), and how cheap the system is. The NINITE is an incredible find! I use a lot of those programs! But maybe most people do. I was pleasantly surprised!

Thanks for your time, you did help me a great degree. I will probably find a burner drive, and then order it all. This upgrade or not issue has been bothering me for awhile. Did not want to waste money, if the old system was not worth it. Did not want to buy more PC than I needed, kinda wasting money ( like buying a Ferrari to drive to work, well my type of work anyway :) . I wanted to buy just what I needed, and thanks for you pointing out that path to me.

Now I know that I have the most cost effective upgrades, that make sense. I won't be throwing away money to save a dying antiquated system.

I hope that you have a good day, and continue to help others in a bind and indecisive like me!

Thanks, Dan.
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June 5, 2010 11:57:54 PM

Best answer selected by ntrlsmrt.
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June 6, 2010 12:07:54 AM

PS. I did not even know what kind of budget that I had. I could afford what I needed to, but did not want to spend more than necessary. It's kinda hard to explain, but this is definitely in the budget, I'm good to go!

That's a tricky question, It's like buying the car that's the most expensive that you can afford. I never do, last time bought a three year old accord and just enjoyed the saving each month, when I sent the note in! I bet that a lot of people are in the same boat. We really don't know what the computer that we need is, much less how much it will cost :)  Good thing that you all know!

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June 6, 2010 11:42:09 AM

No problem ;) . I'm definitely a budget guy, so I know what you're going through!
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