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Best way to spend my $800

Last response: in Systems
July 15, 2010 3:54:00 PM

OK, I have a decision to make and I'm in need of your educated opinions!

I am about to start grad school and I need to buy a laptop. At the same time, I am currently using a desktop PC from 2006 that I've been using for gaming but it's having trouble running Left 4 Dead 2 on anything above Low settings. Clearly, I need something better.

I have about $800 to spend and I'm looking at two options:

1. Buy a laptop capable of playing games and retire my desktop PC (maybe the ASUS U30JC-A1?)
2. Buy a budget laptop strictly for school use ($400?) and use the leftover $400 to upgrade my desktop for playing games.

If you were me, what would YOU do?

Here are the specs of my current (very lame) desktop PC for your reference:

- Pentium® D Processor 940 with Dual Core Technology (3.2GHz, 800FSB)
- 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz (4x512M)
- ATI All-in-Wonder X1900 (256 MB GDDR3)
- 480W Power Supply (purchased for the sake of the X1900)

Thanks for any advice - I've been going around in circles and would love some guidance on this!


More about : spend 800

July 15, 2010 4:01:00 PM

What's wrong with buying a $800 gaming rig you do your school work on as well?

Athlon II x3 $70
GA 790 or 890 mobo $120
4gb 1600 cas 7 RAM $95
antec 300 $60
XFX modxstream 550w $60
Optical $20
Spinpoint F3 500 gb HD $55
HD 5850 $290

That's $770 there. Good deal less once you combo stuff.
July 15, 2010 4:05:00 PM

That would be great BUT I am required to have a laptop to bring to class. And I don't currently own one, so a laptop purchase has to be in the picture.
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July 15, 2010 6:13:05 PM

Thanks, banthracis! You really know your stuff dude.

Here's a follow-up n00b question: If I wanted to upgrade the RAM to 4GB, am I limited to using a specific type of RAM due to my Motherboard?
July 15, 2010 7:27:10 PM

well you'd have to tell us what mobo you have first :D 

Issue is I dunno if you have any more RAm slots considering you're using 4 already. Regardless, socket 775 only supports ddr2.
July 15, 2010 8:22:15 PM

Well, after your reply I looked up my PC's documentation. It tells me that the computer supports:

400-MHz and 533-MHz DDR2 unbuffered SDRAM

So I guess that answers the question right there. I have 4 slots, each one can support up to 1GB according to the manual. So I guess I know what I'd shop for at least.

Trying to figure out now if it's worth it to keep my current PC and just upgrade the Processor and Video Card (and possibly RAM?), like in your latest recommended build.

Main considerations seem to be that my mobo is PCI-E 1.0 x16 (which I assume will bottleneck any PCI-E 2.0 video card I install) and that my hard drive is old (although it is SATA).
July 15, 2010 8:26:29 PM

Yea, PCIe 1.0 is an issue...I know PCIe 1.0 cards works in PCIe 2.0 slots, but not sure about the opposite.

Honestly, that rig is so old you really would be better off with starting from scratch.