Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question
Closed

Upgrading an older stock system

Last response: in Systems
Share
January 7, 2012 8:48:36 PM

Hey guys, I have just joined Tom's Hardware community recently and would appreciate any help on this issue. Very excited to join in on the fun! :D  :ange: 

I currently have several computers, mostly laptops. The one desktop PC I am here about is the HP Pavilion a1600n, it is stock and has not been modified, and runs Windows XP. I found a way temporarily overclock it when playing games from 2.0 to 2.35 Ghz and it is pretty stable. :) 
( http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/product?cc=us&lc=en&... [link to manufacture's help page])

All of its specifications are neatly found here:
http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/documentSubCategory?...

This was a great system at its time for my needs, but now I have come to a point where it cannot meet my gaming and work needs. It has become a matter of a) building a gaming PC, b) buying directly from the store, or c) upgrading my existing machine. All of these are a possibility (tell me what you think is the best thing to do) but I really want to know about the last option. Do you think we could pull something off with a new GPU and some more RAM to salvage this? Keep in mind I am in no way wanting or expecting a major improvement, but playing some of my favorite games on medium/high settings would be great. :love: 

This isn't for a full blown build, just a face lift, so to speak. In particular, lets make the goal to run Napoleon Total War and with decent graphics. I found the requirements so don't worry. :pt1cable: 

Recommended:
o OS: Microsoft® Windows Vista®/XP®/Windows® 7
o Processor: 2.6 GHz Dual Core CPU
o Memory: 2 GB RAM (XP), 4 GB RAM (Vista®/Windows® 7)
o Graphics: 256 MB DirectX® 9.0c shader model 3 compatible GPU
o DirectX®: DirectX® 9.0c
o Hard Drive: 15 GB free space

Compared to what I have now, what are all the things I will have to do to get this machine up to date. I have never built a computer before but with all the tutorials out there and your help I'm sure I could do it! :sol: 

Thanks for any help on this, if you find any good CPUs/GPUs/RAM/etc post the link as to where I can get them at a fair price here. :hello: 

I'm looking forward to your help! :pt1cable: 
January 7, 2012 9:06:00 PM

Well, to start off I would upgrade the simple stuff; HDD/SSD, PSU and GPU, sound card, etc. But stuff that may be bottle-necked by the system, but are parts that you want to use going forward.
Do not waste money on Ram, CPU, mobo until you are ready to move into a bigger case, and then get them all at the same time.
Score
0
January 7, 2012 11:53:12 PM

CaedenV said:
Well, to start off I would upgrade the simple stuff; HDD/SSD, PSU and GPU, sound card, etc. But stuff that may be bottle-necked by the system, but are parts that you want to use going forward.
Do not waste money on Ram, CPU, mobo until you are ready to move into a bigger case, and then get them all at the same time.


Do you think I should just get right into a new case then and reuse some of the parts? I mean, the case isn't too small to begin with. Do you know any good GPUs? :??:  Yeah, I'm a noob at this. :cry: 
Score
0
Related resources
January 8, 2012 2:33:14 AM

What is your budget? Are you up for a turning this in a whole new computer (eventually)? Because if you buy a new case and move everything into it, a new PSU to handle a better GPU, and a great GPU then you will be set for a little while. Then when your budget improves, you can by a new MB, CPU, and RAM. I would wait on a HDD for a couple more months, to give the market time to allow for prices to drop further.

How much RAM do you have already? Because if you can survive on what you have now, then as caedenv said, don't waist your money on it.
Score
0
January 8, 2012 12:01:15 PM

phyco126 said:
What is your budget? Are you up for a turning this in a whole new computer (eventually)? Because if you buy a new case and move everything into it, a new PSU to handle a better GPU, and a great GPU then you will be set for a little while. Then when your budget improves, you can by a new MB, CPU, and RAM. I would wait on a HDD for a couple more months, to give the market time to allow for prices to drop further.

How much RAM do you have already? Because if you can survive on what you have now, then as caedenv said, don't waist your money on it.


Thanks for the advice, I have just 1024MB RAM, so a gig. It meets minimum requirements but aren't RAM sticks easy to install? I agree with your idea for a powerful GPU to hold me off for a while, but exactly what GPU that is, I don't know any good ones. I'd be comfortable spending whatever the GPU costs if it will indeed help out. :) 
Score
0
January 8, 2012 12:21:21 PM

How much money do you plan on spending on this upgrade?
Score
0

Best solution

January 8, 2012 1:46:08 PM

Hi,

First (for me) what are you doing to overclock? "I found a way temporarily overclock it when playing games from 2.0 to 2.35 Ghz and it is pretty stable." Something like SETFSB? Do you like you approach, did you see a difference?

For you this is what I'd do (and what I have done for HPs).

For games VIDEO makes a huge difference. This is the money upgrade. If you do video then your system will scream. If you don't then it's a dog. (aside, I have an Hp Pavilion a1230n with upgraded video in the basement).

Your 3800+ CPU will do OK.

Your Memory should go from current GB to 3GB by adding a single 2GB dimm. PC2-4200 or faster, must be DDR2 SDRAM. Something like this: $20 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Your Video choices are limited by POWER SUPPLY (PSU). You have a 300 watt PSU. Your CPU at 2.2ghz consumes 89 watts max. (I don't have a 2.0ghz power number) With an OC to 2.4Ghz it becomes a 4600+ with 110 Watt TDP (max power). That give you about 100-110 watts of 12V from your 300 watt PSU for video. (edit: the math here wasn't clear. An HP bestec 300 watt PSU supplies about 250 watts 12V, you've used about 110w of 12v on CPU, about 30w 12v on other stuff so 250-110-30= 110w 12V left. The video card uses 12v.)

Without changing your power supply, you can slap in an HD6770 or HD5770 (same card, different name) with 108watt TDP and game like crazy. The system may become unstable if you OC the HD6770 -- you don't have enough power reserve to OC the video. That MB does have a free PCIe x16 slot for video. HD6770 is uniquely suited for your PC because it is a very strong low power card. HD6770 will play anything you want to play that can be played on an amd 3800+. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you decide to change your PSU you can install a standard ATX power supply. You must google for PSU makers with great reputations, there are no standards for how the PSUs get rated. One choice would be a Antec Earthwatts PSU, there are many other good choices, but you MUST get a quality PSU (vs. must get high wattage,they are not the same). http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
The reason to swap PSUs would be to get a very strong video card to carry forward to your next PC.

With a strong PSU you can use ANY of the video cards in this article: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...

None of the other parts in your current system need to be changed (unless you want to get a gaming mouse...)

edit2: This is your MB: http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c00... It's an AM2 MB, and will support up to an Athlon 64 X2 5000+. I wouldn't upgrade CPU on this board (would start with new MB, CPU, Memory if you want that) however as a hobby, if you feel like playing with a CPU swap, the AMD x2 5000+ is is a common $30-50 used part on ebay.... It a lower power part than your 3800, so would give you more headroom on 12V for video, and any playing you do with OC is less likely to blow something up on your MB. (It's not clear how much power your MB could originally supply the AM2 socket, and OEM HP board usually doesn't have that much extra power reserve, and 5 years later will be more likely to fail as parts age. IF you do CPU swap, use good quality thermal paste (e.g. artic silver), etc. That vintage CPU was not protected against thermal meltdown if the heatsink is not on correctly.
Share
January 8, 2012 2:25:47 PM

tsnor said:
Hi,

First (for me) what are you doing to overclock? "I found a way temporarily overclock it when playing games from 2.0 to 2.35 Ghz and it is pretty stable." Something like SETFSB? Do you like you approach, did you see a difference?

For you this is what I'd do (and what I have done for HPs).

For games VIDEO makes a huge difference. This is the money upgrade. If you do video then your system will scream. If you don't then it's a dog. (aside, I have an Hp Pavilion a1230n with upgraded video in the basement).

Your 3800+ CPU will do OK.

Your Memory should go from current GB to 3GB by adding a single 2GB dimm. PC2-4200 or faster, must be DDR2 SDRAM. Something like this: $20 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Your Video choices are limited by POWER SUPPLY (PSU). You have a 300 watt PSU. Your CPU at 2.2ghz consumes 89 watts max. (I don't have a 2.0ghz power number) With an OC to 2.4Ghz it becomes a 4600+ with 110 Watt TDP (max power). That give you about 100-110 watts of 12V from your 300 watt PSU for video. (edit: the math here wasn't clear. An HP bestec 300 watt PSU supplies about 250 watts 12V, you've used about 110w of 12v on CPU, about 30w 12v on other stuff so 250-110-30= 110w 12V left. The video card uses 12v.)

Without changing your power supply, you can slap in an HD6770 or HD5770 (same card, different name) with 108watt TDP and game like crazy. The system may become unstable if you OC the HD6770 -- you don't have enough power reserve to OC the video. That MB does have a free PCIe x16 slot for video. HD6770 is uniquely suited for your PC because it is a very strong low power card. HD6770 will play anything you want to play that can be played on an amd 3800+. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you decide to change your PSU you can install a standard ATX power supply. You must google for PSU makers with great reputations, there are no standards for how the PSUs get rated. One choice would be a Antec Earthwatts PSU, there are many other good choices, but you MUST get a quality PSU (vs. must get high wattage,they are not the same). http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
The reason to swap PSUs would be to get a very strong video card to carry forward to your next PC.

With a strong PSU you can use ANY of the video cards in this article: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...

None of the other parts in your current system need to be changed (unless you want to get a gaming mouse...)

edit2: This is your MB: http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c00... It's an AM2 MB, and will support up to an Athlon 64 X2 5000+. I wouldn't upgrade CPU on this board (would start with new MB, CPU, Memory if you want that) however as a hobby, if you feel like playing with a CPU swap, the AMD x2 5000+ is is a common $30-50 used part on ebay.... It a lower power part than your 3800, so would give you more headroom on 12V for video, and any playing you do with OC is less likely to blow something up on your MB. (It's not clear how much power your MB could originally supply the AM2 socket, and OEM HP board usually doesn't have that much extra power reserve, and 5 years later will be more likely to fail as parts age. IF you do CPU swap, use good quality thermal paste (e.g. artic silver), etc. That vintage CPU was not protected against thermal meltdown if the heatsink is not on correctly.


Thank you so much for your great response, its very clear and easy for a newbie like me to understand. Basically I use NVIDIA's own performance application. It allows me to monitor my system and also tweak stuff like the CPU frequency and some basic cooling controls. I overclock it but don't save the settings so the next time I boot up it returns to default 2.0 GHz.

I believe I once swapped the motherboard because the old one fried. I'm working on finding out what motherboard is in there right now, maybe it already supports better hardware? The CPU should be fine, I hope, when the GPU picks up the slack, especially if I overclock it to the 2.35 GHz. :o 
Score
0
January 8, 2012 2:39:40 PM

Ohh, "I believe I once swapped the motherboard because the old one fried. " That maybe explains how the OC works. Retail MBs allow you to OC, HP does not. Did you pick up a standard retail MB? (If so, then also make sure you have a disk backup, your HP recovery media will not work on a retail MB).

Since you can swap a MB you can do any PC hardware swap. There are some modern CPUs that run in an AM2 socket if you can find a BIOS for your MB that supports them. If can can find a BIOS with support, look for an X4 from this list that is supported then see how much. That'll give you another two years on your PC if you can find one cheap... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_AMD_Phenom_micropr... (Much over $75, then the cost of CPU+ddr2 memory at $100 starts to creep into the area where you are better spending $200-250 for an intel i3-2300, MB plus ddr3 memory)

edit: But do Video first. that's where you'll see a difference. Gaming, an AMD 3800+ (OC'd to 2.35!) with strong video will kill the strongest Intel CPU running integrated video.
Score
0
January 8, 2012 4:21:37 PM

tsnor said:
Ohh, "I believe I once swapped the motherboard because the old one fried. " That maybe explains how the OC works. Retail MBs allow you to OC, HP does not. Did you pick up a standard retail MB? (If so, then also make sure you have a disk backup, your HP recovery media will not work on a retail MB).

Since you can swap a MB you can do any PC hardware swap. There are some modern CPUs that run in an AM2 socket if you can find a BIOS for your MB that supports them. If can can find a BIOS with support, look for an X4 from this list that is supported then see how much. That'll give you another two years on your PC if you can find one cheap... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_AMD_Phenom_micropr... (Much over $75, then the cost of CPU+ddr2 memory at $100 starts to creep into the area where you are better spending $200-250 for an intel i3-2300, MB plus ddr3 memory)

edit: But do Video first. that's where you'll see a difference. Gaming, an AMD 3800+ (OC'd to 2.35!) with strong video will kill the strongest Intel CPU running integrated video.


Yeah, when I was searching I learned HP locked the BIOS to prevent overclocking, so that's a likely explanation.

I really appreciate your detailed explanations, I knew I would find some help here. Anyways, you are totally right about those crummy integrated graphics cards from Intel. The machien should be fine with some RAM and a new graphics card I believe. If you have any suggestions or find the "perfect" card :)  then be sure to post back.

I still have a question about the motherboard. Because it isn't the original one, the graphics card you recommended may not work with it? And can I keep my existing BIOS if I swap the graphics card? :bounce: 
Score
0
January 8, 2012 7:39:44 PM

To answer that last two questions, yes. So long as your motherboard has the proper expansion slot, any GPU will work in it. BIOS isn't effected by what card you have, aside from having to disable the integrated GPU to make sure it uses the new card.
Score
0
January 8, 2012 10:23:40 PM

phyco126 said:
To answer that last two questions, yes. So long as your motherboard has the proper expansion slot, any GPU will work in it. BIOS isn't effected by what card you have, aside from having to disable the integrated GPU to make sure it uses the new card.


Well then, umm, and how do I do that? :sweat: 

Although, I thought Intel did integrated graphics cards, while I have an AMD processor and then an NVIDIA graphics card. So a swap is all I need?
Score
0
January 8, 2012 10:32:45 PM

Intel and AMD both have integrated graphics cards built into their processors. However, not all processors have them. In that case, the integrated graphics card is built into the motherboard. In this case (as in, your motherboard) your motherboard has a graphics chip built into it, the 6150 LE. When you buy a new graphics card, you will install it in the proper slot. Then you will go into your bios, there will be an option that is easy to find that you can change to route the monitor into the new card.

After you do that, save and exit, restarting the computer. Unplug your monitor from the motherboard VGA port and now plug it into your new graphics card port. Once that is done, boot into windows and install your drivers that came with the card. Restart once that is done, and you should be good to go.

There should be a tutorial on youtube as well that can help you. I can't give step by step info on how to change the bios as I don't have a computer near me to boot up to tell you, so I apologize for that.

I assure you that you have a PCI-E x 16 slot on that motherboard, so you can buy any GPU off newegg.com that is a PCI-E x 16.
Score
0
January 9, 2012 8:35:08 PM

phyco126 said:
Intel and AMD both have integrated graphics cards built into their processors. However, not all processors have them. In that case, the integrated graphics card is built into the motherboard. In this case (as in, your motherboard) your motherboard has a graphics chip built into it, the 6150 LE. When you buy a new graphics card, you will install it in the proper slot. Then you will go into your bios, there will be an option that is easy to find that you can change to route the monitor into the new card.

After you do that, save and exit, restarting the computer. Unplug your monitor from the motherboard VGA port and now plug it into your new graphics card port. Once that is done, boot into windows and install your drivers that came with the card. Restart once that is done, and you should be good to go.

There should be a tutorial on youtube as well that can help you. I can't give step by step info on how to change the bios as I don't have a computer near me to boot up to tell you, so I apologize for that.

I assure you that you have a PCI-E x 16 slot on that motherboard, so you can buy any GPU off newegg.com that is a PCI-E x 16.


I'll be back for some help choosing a card for the motherboard, when I find out which one is in there now. Thanks for the answer to those questions mate! :lol: 
Score
0
January 9, 2012 11:07:27 PM

Please do. Anyone here will be happy to help.
Score
0
January 12, 2012 9:24:23 PM

phyco126 said:
Please do. Anyone here will be happy to help.


I have opened my PC and verified that this is the motherboard currently installed: http://www.msi.com/product/mb/K9N6PGM2-V.html

Now, the all important question, can the graphics card recommended above still be used?

Does anyone have an idea for a good graphics card on this particular motherboard? :wahoo: 
Score
0
January 12, 2012 11:21:49 PM

1. Careful with the OC, the MB only supports (Support up to 65W only) but you are driving over 100 watts thru the cpu socket.
2. The MB has standard x16 PCIe slot (gen 1, that's fine). Buy any video card you want. Upgrade your PSU if you buy a card with TDP > 108.

Without changing your power supply, you can slap in an HD6770 or HD5770 (same card, different name) with 108watt TDP and game like crazy. The system may become unstable if you OC the HD6770 -- you don't have enough power reserve to OC the video. That MB does have a free PCIe x16 slot for video. HD6770 is uniquely suited for your PC because it is a very strong low power card. HD6770 will play anything you want to play that can be played on an amd 3800+. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814150540

If you decide to change your PSU you can install a standard ATX power supply. You must google for PSU makers with great reputations, there are no standards for how the PSUs get rated. One choice would be a Antec Earthwatts PSU, there are many other good choices, but you MUST get a quality PSU (vs. must get high wattage,they are not the same). http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817371034
The reason to swap PSUs would be to get a very strong video card to carry forward to your next PC.

With a strong PSU you can use ANY of the video cards in this article: http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] ,3107.html
Score
0
January 13, 2012 8:33:51 PM

tsnor said:
1. Careful with the OC, the MB only supports (Support up to 65W only) but you are driving over 100 watts thru the cpu socket.
2. The MB has standard x16 PCIe slot (gen 1, that's fine). Buy any video card you want. Upgrade your PSU if you buy a card with TDP > 108.

Without changing your power supply, you can slap in an HD6770 or HD5770 (same card, different name) with 108watt TDP and game like crazy. The system may become unstable if you OC the HD6770 -- you don't have enough power reserve to OC the video. That MB does have a free PCIe x16 slot for video. HD6770 is uniquely suited for your PC because it is a very strong low power card. HD6770 will play anything you want to play that can be played on an amd 3800+. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814150540

If you decide to change your PSU you can install a standard ATX power supply. You must google for PSU makers with great reputations, there are no standards for how the PSUs get rated. One choice would be a Antec Earthwatts PSU, there are many other good choices, but you MUST get a quality PSU (vs. must get high wattage,they are not the same). http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817371034
The reason to swap PSUs would be to get a very strong video card to carry forward to your next PC.

With a strong PSU you can use ANY of the video cards in this article: http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] ,3107.html


:(  I know I'm kinda asking you to take me by the hand, so to speak, but I need some help to finsih this off. I like the HD6770/5570 and have found where to get them but I was wondering that now that we know the motherboard, what other options do I have to get the most bang for my buck :heink:  as I want to know other graphics card options too.

Maybe a top 5 list of graphics cards I should look at or something? :sarcastic: 

Thanks so much to whoever can help me out on choosing a card for my system!

I searched up some posts and found the AMD Radeon HD 6850, or the Radeon HD 6870, or the Radeon HD 4670, or the Geforce GTX 460, or the Radeon HD 5570, or the GeForce GT 440, or the Radeon HD 5750, or the Radeon HD 5670, or the Radeon HD 3450, or the GeForce 8400. Any others out there? The problem is, I am not sure which ones will work with my 300 watt power supply unit? :pfff: 
Budget: right around 100 dollars (I want to get a good card not just something cheap that will become outdated in a year but I cannot afford the top of the line obviously).

Any ideas? :sweat: 
Score
0
January 21, 2012 11:55:09 AM

Best answer selected by gotanyideas123.
Score
0
January 21, 2012 3:57:30 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
Score
0
!