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Would like some opinions on if this is upgradeable

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Last response: in Systems
October 21, 2010 6:36:13 AM

So my real computer died lately (multiple hard drives corrupted, ram had errors, never took it in but was told the motherboard was probably screwed) and I had to stick with a buddy's old computer. It's a HP Pavilion a706n with a Geforce 7300 GT, extra gig of ram, but everything else is stock to my knowledge.

First off, does the maximum ram really matter? This thing has a max ram of 1gig which would do me no good, but it recognizes the 1.5 gigs just fine. If I shouldn't be upgrading it then it'll be over, but if I can buy a 2 gig stick for this thing that'd be step one. I couldn't find an article about maximum ram for reference, so if I was wrong and there's a nice explanation in there, I'll just read from that.

Next, although it kills me to upgrade anything without a pci-e slot, what would you guys think about upgrading the gpu? Basically I'm just trying to play some older stuff (specifically Fallout 3, could care less if everything else old looks crappy) without lag and wouldn't have the cash to get a new computer til February, assuming nothing goes wrong before then. From what I read from older threads off google, a Geforce 9500 is the best pci gpu and it seems to run about $75. I had a Geforce 7950 Pro for PCI-E in my old computer (don't ask me how it handled newer games, I wouldn't know) for reference. I don't necessarily need to stick to nvidia but its the company I know the most about regarding product lines.

Lastly, and this I need the most help with since I've never done it: what's the most badass cpu I could put in this thing, and should I just be looking at pin counts for upgrading purposes or what? I know PCI robs a ton from the video slot and if I can't get at least 3 gigs of ram in here I'm not going to bother upgrading it anyway, but if I could do the above and get a cpu for this thing, it seems worth it to not have to sit around until February.

Thanks guys! Any more upgrading tips assuming I wasn't wrong about the ram would be awesome!

More about : opinions upgradeable

October 21, 2010 6:59:46 AM

Hi I'll see what I can do here.

Let's see if we can discover more about your board:
Hmmm ouch Athlon XP, Slot A, 2004.

It has a VIA chipset... Via KM400A

Chipset can handle 16GB of RAM, but can your BIOS? Is your system actually USING the 1.5GB? You need to run a program or two and monitor RAM usage. That will be a clue.

I'd be willing to bet if you can use 1.5 now 2GB should be fine... but that's probably not going to solve your problems.

Finding a slot A CPU upgrade is very unlikely. There are four generations of AMD motherboards between that one and modern boards.

I just don't see you getting any decent performance from such an old system. A new motherboard for your dead system sounds much more likely.
October 21, 2010 8:29:38 AM

FreeRAM XP Pro says I have 1536mb of ram, and constantly has around 1150mb free. If it wasn't working would it not show up at all, or just not use it? I mentioned the 1 gig max since that's what the hp website said, and all I was told was that it didn't really mean anything. I guess I'll load a game and see what it does, plus I'm not too worried about buying 2 gigs of ram and not being able to return it.

Also, my dead system has been pieced apart. The hard drive and ram won't work on other systems that they should, so I think something major happened. Thanks for all the info!
October 21, 2010 8:31:26 AM

Can you upgrade? Somewhat. Should you upgrade? No.

You may be able to get 2GB in there. The motherboard says it supports 2GB, but it mentions that the PC manufacturer's max memory may very. Not sure why HP says the max is 1GB. Might be a mistake, or there might be a good reason for it.

The best you could upgrade the processor to is a Athlon XP 3200. Which, by the way, doesn't come close to getting you to the recommended specs for Fallout 3 (a dual core processor). Fallout 3 is only 2 years old. Even in computer gaming terms, it's not that old. Compared to your PC, it's a fetus.

Buying a new PCI GPU? :( 

Yes, these things will will improve your a certain extent. Anything that runs good on it now, will run better. It will not be a huge improvement, and you will still be paying around $200 to upgrade it with parts that you can't transfer to a new PC. That seems like an incredible waste of money, that could go to parts for a new computer. Upgrading only makes sense if the upgrade will significantly increase your performance, and last you for a while, or if the upgrades will transfer to a new computer.

October 21, 2010 8:36:47 AM

A new rig is more appropriate for you.
Better start planning the budget.
October 21, 2010 5:59:03 PM

itsapaul said:

Also, my dead system has been pieced apart. The hard drive and ram won't work on other systems that they should, so I think something major happened. Thanks for all the info!

Is it that the drive is dead, or that it doesn't load windows? If it's the later, that is to be expected. Unless the computers have the exact same motherboard, Window probably won't load. Formatting the drive should allow you to reinstall windows on a new system. If you need to get data off it, you can slave it off the other drive and copy the data over, or just use it as a second drive.

On your computer that died, did you try using a restore point, or reinstalling your OS? It's really hard to say without seeing the problems myself, but bad memory could potentially corrupt data on the hard drive to the point where Windows won't load properly. If you have multiple memory sticks, and your computer doesn't require memory in pairs, try using it with one stick, and see if it runs OK. Typically, you will only see one bad stick, though no always. If the one stick is bad, try the others one at a time. In fact, I would try downloading Memtest first, and running that to test the memory, one stick at a time if necessary. You run it from a bootable CD or floppy, so the hard drive won't even be a factor. If the memory tests good, then it is likely you mother board, which you could most likely replace cheaper than upgrading that old computer.

If the memory is bad, try slaving the drive(s) on another computer. Depending on how badly the data is corrupted you may need to reformat the drive. Keep in mind though, if that old computer is running Windows 98 and the drives are formatted with NTFS, the OS won't be able to read them. If that's the case, try slaving them on another computer with Windows 2000 or later.

Typically a bad motherboard may generate errors, but wouldn't actually damage the components. You may be able to salvage your broken computer by simply replacing bad memory, or the motherboard. If all the components are really damaged, there must have been an electrical issue that fried it, like a power surge. If that's the case, you will need to go the new computer route.