Ultra cheap media PC or upgrade OLD system?

I'm looking to (possibly) build a new "living room" PC; pretty much for watching videos, iTunes, Hulu.

I've stubbornly extended the life of an ANCIENT Athlon XP 1500+ running XP on a Gigabyte GA-7N400L. 1GB SDRAM. For the most part I'm happy with it, but it does get choppy with HD video and is kind of unbearable with Hulu/youtube.

I recently installed what I believe is close to the best AGP video card still available, a HIS Radeon HD 4650. Trouble is, although the video quality (VLC) has greatly improved, flash video in both Hulu and YouTube has actually suffered and gotten choppier, more so in Firefox than in IE. Also, colors bleed in a pixelated pattern from time to time, though not so much to be a huge bother.

I try to extend the life of my systems as much as possible for environmental reasons but it has the effect of severely dating me each time I come to a new build point. Ultimately the question hinges on whether I should put another $70 into it to max out the mobo's memory capacity to 3GB (Knowing that that would be the absolute last improvement that can be made since there are no Socket A CPU's to be found), or save that $70, get my $90 back for the Radeon HD 4650, and put the $160 towards:

- A whole lot of free DDR2 533 2GB sticks laying around at work.
- Athlon II X2 245 Regor 2.9GHz
- ASRock A785GMH/128M AM3/AM2+/AM2
- ASRock A790GMH/128M AM3/AM2+/AM2
- Pick up a $45 320GB SATA HD and $20 SATA Optical Drive; reuse the case and 500W Power Supply (Only about 8 months old)

What would you guys say as to the performance of the integrated graphics (Radeon HD 3300 or 4200) running on a Athlon II X2 245 vs the (presumably) superior Radeon HD 4650 Video card running on an AGP slot on an Athlon XP 1500+?
I've read that the Radeon 3300 is superior for gaming than the 4200, but this system will never be used for gaming, just playback. Any thoughts?
8 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Intel G6950 with integrated graphics should work well.

    Lian li PC Q07 case: Check out the small size.

    A mini-itx mobo:

    2 or 4gb of DDR3 ram

    sata HD,

    sata DVD drive--Do you possibly want a Bluray combo drive?

    reuse your PSU the Q07 takes standard ATX psu's

    Sell the old parts on e-bay. There is still a market for DDR2 ram.
  2. I'd like to keep the price way down, so I'd like to go with one of the above options. The DDR2 533 I have is at work, my boss wouldn't let me sell it, he'd just be cool with me using some for my new build. The current htpc has pretty much no salvageable parts but the still returnable HIS Radeon HD 4650 AGP.

    To be honest, my current Athlon xp 1500+ is only barely short of the performance I want/need, I'd like to go with either:

    1) Sticking more memory in it (Can max out @ 3GB for $70)
    2) Above new build with integrated Radeon HD 4200 ($160 after returning video card)
    3) Above new build with integrated Radeon HD 3300 ($167 after returning video card)

    Prices of new build calculated using the following case, HD, and optical:

    By the way, I forgot to specify full video card specs: HIS Radeon 4650 1GB DDR3:

    Thanks, this forum is awesome!
  3. Best answer
    I suggest you go for option 2, but shop around a bit.

    For example, you can get your processor in a bundle with a Gigabyte 785G AM2+ board for $119:

    Also, you can save even more if you drop down to a Sempron 140 with that same motherboard for $97:

    The Sempron is enough for HTPC duties, and it may even unlock to a dual core.

    Don't go for the 3300 motherboard. The 785G chipset is newer and supports UVD2 while the 790G does not.
  4. Liking the Sempron 140, though I liked the ASRock motherboards for their DDR2 533 compatibility, I'd love to get the suggested combo but for the fact that it only goes down to 667! I'm finding that a lot, but like I said, a free 6-8GB of RAM is something worth choosing a motherboard around when cost is a factor!
  5. The Gigabyte board can use DDR2-533 memory. I downloaded the manual and it's in there. Also, poster tony1569 on this AVSForum thread post #506 says he's running DDR2-533 (PC2-4200) on that particular board.
  6. Best answer selected by mfalconi.
  7. Thanks!
  8. I downloaded the manual and it mentions DDR2 533 support in a BIOS setting example for AM2 CPUs but doesn't mention it in AM3s. Is that what the X2.66 setting indicates under "Memory Clock" in the manual? That would make sense if the max setting is X5.33 for DDR2 1066 and the lowest one is X2.0 for DDR2 400, right? Am I reading this right (As in, multipliers from a base of 200MHz)?
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