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New build or Upgrade - Part 2: Compaq Presario SR1710NX for a Gamer

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July 15, 2011 6:00:18 PM

This is my 2nd attempt upgrading, what I deem to be, a HIGHLY upgradeable system for use with modern games for a client on a budget. My first attempt panned out very nicely with a highly satisfied customer.

This is a bit different, as this is dealing with a slightly older and slightly less upgradeable system, but I have a slightly larger budget.

Here is the system:

Compaq Presario SR1710NX
Sempron 3400+ (@ 2Ghz) Socket 939 (Single Core)
256 MB DDR 400 (4 available slots)
1 x PCIe 16x slot (primed for a nice upgrade, assuming I can disable the integrated graphics)
250 GB HDD (Wish I could upgrade this too, but might be way over budget)
Windows XP SP3
An old CRT that doesn't to better than 1280x1040, that he is quite happy with.

My budget is approximately $400.

Here is the plan:
My client is a student at a major university. He wants to run some current MMORPGs, like WoW and I will have him download the Windows 7 Pro upgrade from Microsoft for $29.99.
I will pick up a dual core Athlon x2, at least 3800+ but preferably 4200+ (@ 2.2 Ghz) for between $30-$60.
I can get 2 GB DDR 400 for about 60 dollars (and I can probably just find some in my own inventory).
I'll pick up a nice beefy power supply (I like the Antec 620W Neo Eco's reviews). It sells for about $75.
Finally, I'll use what is left of the budget to install a nice beefy Radeon 5xxx or 6xxx series card, say a 6850 for $170.

Total: Approx $395

Here is where it gets a little sticky. Unlike the last build, this motherboard is using more expensive DDR 1. But he has to get more, as 256 mb of RAM should be illegal, even with XP SP3... The power supply might not physically fit... The Video Card might not fit. I don't really want to buy a case, because at that pont, I might just skimp on the video card and build a system entirely from scratch, including a different hard drive.

Where are my savings over building a new system: No new
Case (save $30)
HDD (Save $50)
Motherboard (Save $60)
CPU (Save up to $30)
And I will save the hassle of trying to use an upgrade version of Windows 7 on a clean hard drive by installing Windows XP first.

Even conservatively, that would put this system $110 over the old one, and as I observed with the other system I upgraded, just swapping the OS, adding the RAM and putting in a Radeon 4770 was quite enough to satisfy the client.

So, should I just get a new system, or should I go through the hassle of upgrading?
July 15, 2011 7:36:10 PM

This is very similar to my original configuration for a new build. Problem is, it pushes $500, and that is a bit much. I hadn't seen that 4 GB kit before, I was thinking if I went with a new system, I'd just get 8GB... But shat shaves 25 dollars off the cost. It is still about $30 more after purchasing Windows 7 Pro, a case, as the existing case isn't very flexible, and another $20 for a DVD drive, as the one from the old system is one of those nasty ones that have no bezel, and lets face it, old DVD drives have a tendency to fail, and a new hard drive, because just pulling a hdd from a system seems just silly if I have to wipe it clean...

That totals up (before rebates, which I can't use in my calculations, per reliability) and you have

(prices after shipping)
PSU 62.98
CPU 79.99
RAM 27.99
Case 67.98
Mobo 54.98
VGA 120
Hdd 49.99
W7 29.99
DVD 22.99

===========
TOTAL 516.89 < 116.89 over my max budget.

That 116.89 dollars is a deal breaker. Even getting a cheaper case, that is 80 dollars over budget... That build won't do...
July 15, 2011 7:54:31 PM

I generally make policy (after many many many many builds and upgrades) NOT to reuse a hard drive. You CAN use an old one, but it always seems to cause more problems than simply getting a new one. Either way, I am going to upgrade to W7 (requirement for one of his games) and if it were JUST a DVD drive, I might go over by $20, but since I have to get W7, and I am reluctant to reuse a HDD unless I am using the same case/mobo anyways, the price balloons quite a bit.

What I learned from my last experience was that gamers only care about frame rates. With his monitor, a 5770 would probably be great, even with his current CPU. The only reason I am even considering upgrading his processor is because his game requires a dual core processor or greater. And I have found that almost all cards at the 5770's range need a new PSU, otherwise there just will not be enough juice provided to the VGA...

Yeah, if I had 100 more to play with, that system you suggested would be quite sweet, but I don't. I might go down to a 5670 anyways. But my experience with the last build is making me reluctant to go with anything less than a 4770...
Related resources
July 15, 2011 8:29:15 PM

Thanks for some of your suggestions, mouse24. You have pointed me to some good suggestions...

ADATA 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model AD3U1333B2G9-DRH

$27.99

Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 3.5" SATA 6.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

$39.99

AMD Athlon II X3 445 3.1GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor

$74.99


CORSAIR Builder Series CX500 V2 500W Power Supply

$59.99

BIOSTAR A770E3 ATX AMD Motherboard

$49.99

SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-222AB

$17.99

XFX Radeon HD 5750 HD-575X-ZNFC Video Card with Eyefinity

$114.99

Total: $385.93
Shipping: $13.54
Grand Total: 399.47

Missing a case and an OS. I think I can salvage an old case that I am no longer using, and if he is willing to go just 30 dollars over for the Student W7 Pro, we are golden...

I still have some research left to do...
July 15, 2011 9:21:59 PM

Well, I love eVGA, and they have honored their rebates in the past. Perhaps the Tiger Direct 9800GT will work. I have never had a problem with that card, and is on par with my old 4770...
July 15, 2011 9:40:49 PM

I used to have an 8800GT. It most certainly needed a beefy PSU (I had like 7 hard drives and a couple TV tuners and overclocked like crazy), but I expect 500w with an AMD x3 shouldn't have a problem with a name brand PSU that has decent reviews.
July 19, 2011 9:17:17 PM

Ok, so I decided to go with the new system this time. Not because it was more cost effective, but because I found a good mix of components, and because my client's system requirements went up significantly, to a point where a dual core at 2 Ghz was no longer sufficient...

So here is the build:

Newegg:
1 x ($74.99) CPU | AMD|ATH II X3 445 3.1G AM3 RT
1 x ($33.99) MEM | MUSHKIN | 2Gx2 DDR3 1333
1 x ($18.99) DVD BURN | LG | GH22NS70 OEM
1 x ($39.99) HDD | WD | 500GB SATAIII 7200RPM BLUE
1 x ($49.99) MB | BIOSTAR | A770E3 770/SB710
1 x ($59.99) PSU | CORSAIR | 500W CMPSU-500CXV2
Shipping: ($9.67)
Tiger Direct:
1 x ($69.99) VGA | EVGA | 9800GT 1GB PCI-E
Shipping: ($2.99)
mWave:
1 x ($15.99) CASE | GEN | ATX MID-TOWER
Shipping: ($0.00)
DigitalRiver:
1 x ($29.99) OS | Microsoft | Windows 7 Professional X64 STUDENT EDITION
-----
TAX: ($0.00)
Subtotal: 406.57
-----
Rebates:
1 x ($10.00) MEM | MUSHKIN | 2Gx2 DDR3 1333
1 x ($10.00) PSU | CORSAIR | 500W CMPSU-500CXV2
1 x ($30.00) VGA | EVGA | 9800GT 1GB PCI-E
=====
Total: ($356.57)

This system should meet his needs. It certainly meets his budget. I do feel bad that had he just $100 more, his system could have been significantly better... A better video card from the Radeon 6800 family and twice as much RAM. At $150 more, he could have gotten a better hard drive, maybe a new LCD. At $200 more, perhaps even an SSD...

Oh well...
July 20, 2011 9:24:30 PM

I love my CM690...

But this guy is on a tight TIGHT budget... Like the 6 bux I went over initially was dang near a deal breaker...
July 20, 2011 9:54:40 PM

This is as much a favor as a client build. If he wasn't so strapped for cash, I wouldn't have even suggested upgrading his existing rig in the 1st place...
July 21, 2011 8:09:10 PM

He isn't. And I have found that shipping is often so high on ebay for ATX cases that it isn't worth looking...
!