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Looking for GPU upgrade for older CPU in socket 939

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 5, 2011 10:47:17 PM

So I'm super broke and my dear old dad wanted to remove some stuff from his computer room (chalk full of tasty computer parts that he wouldn't give me). So my dad gave me a 5-6 year old rig with the following parts:

-Abit AN8 SLI s939 w/ AMD Athlon 64 x2 4200+ 2200mhz (stock)
-3 gb mix-matched RAM - Kingston Value RAM DDR 400mhz/PC3200 [DC Kit 2 x 512mb = 1gb) / PNY OPTIMA 2GB (2x1GB) Dual Channel Kit DDR 400 MHz PC3200
-Nvidia Geforce 6600LE 256mb
-650w PSU
-24" Viewsonic Monitor

I'd like to upgrade the GPU using Nvidia (I know and like Nvidia - fairly loyal to them). Now I'm not looking to do alot here. Just watch avi/mkv movies with an HDMI out and maybe play some newer games and MMO's that do not seem to require a lot (i.e. Starcraft 2, Skyrim, Secret World, Star Wars: Old Republic) I just want a playable framerate with medium to high graphics (if possible) and I use my PS3 for console games). Now I've read a lot of these posts but nothing with my exact situation and I just want to be sure I make the right decision as my limit is $50-$100 max. I was thinking anywhere between 9800gt 1gb to GTS 250. That seems to be the range to avoid too much bottlenecking but still get the most out of this old rig without upgrading the Mobo/cpu (which i might do but prob not for a loooong time).

I am also looking to OC my cpu and I have never done it (total n00b). My mobo has Q-otes and a single but large fan with cyclone tunnel case panel. I am worried about temps and wondering if there's a safe Uguru setup I can do without worrying about it until I can get better at it. I mean whats the lowest/safest OC for the 4200+ 2-3ghz? Where can i get instructions on how to do it in Uguru?

Thanks for putting up with my noobishness - I can build pc's but beyond that I'm clueless. :) -

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a c 142 U Graphics card
December 5, 2011 11:37:26 PM

With a system that old, the best you can get from nvidia that won't bottleneck is probably the 9800GT or GTS 250 as you said. If you do look at newer cards, make sure that they are PCI-E 2.0 and NOT PCI-E 2.1. Socket 939 was one of the earliest sockets to have PCI Express, and those early PCI-E boards tend to have compatibility issues with PCI-E 2.1 cards.

I'm not too familiar with how those older AMD chips overclock so I can't help you there. All I can say is that you aren't going to be able to overclock to any real extent if you are using the AMD stock cooler. The stock coolers tend to be barely adequate for operating the CPU at factory spec. If you don't have an aftermarket CPU cooler you will need to get one, however, it may be difficult to find a cooler that will fit on a Socket 939 board. Most current CPU coolers only have mounting brackets for Socket AM2 or newer for the AMD CPUs.
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December 6, 2011 3:30:51 AM

Thanks! Any idea if my system with a GTS 250 will run Skyrim or SWTOR?
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a c 142 U Graphics card
December 6, 2011 3:37:48 AM

The games will run, but not necessarily well, especially with Skyrim. Skyrim is a fairly CPU heavy game and requires a pretty fast dual core to run well, especially on higher settings. You didn't say what resolution you want to play at, but judging by the size of your monitor it's probably a 1080p display. With that CPU you should be able to pull off low or medium settings on those games with a GTS 250. TOR will probably run better than Skyrim. That's about the best you can do for that system, even overclocked, an Athlon64 x2 is pretty dated, it will struggle with more CPU heavy titles.
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December 6, 2011 11:00:37 AM

OK so GTS 250 is best bet, can't really OC either one, and they'll barely run modern CPU heavy games - so next question - what, if any, cheap Mobo/cpu upgrade can I look into without sacrificing too much hardware (i.e. the 2 gb of DDr 400 ram that i just bought for $60)?

thanks again for your help. I love this site and glad to be back into PC's - been using laptops for years now
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December 6, 2011 11:05:51 AM

Best answer selected by turboknee.
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a c 105 U Graphics card
December 6, 2011 11:22:33 AM

turboknee said:
OK so GTS 250 is best bet, can't really OC either one, and they'll barely run modern CPU heavy games - so next question - what, if any, cheap Mobo/cpu upgrade can I look into without sacrificing too much hardware (i.e. the 2 gb of DDr 400 ram that i just bought for $60)?

thanks again for your help. I love this site and glad to be back into PC's - been using laptops for years now



want to save time/money/aggravation ? look into the new amd APU's. will blow away what you're trying to accomplish with the 939 set up. the
"on board" graphics will lay waste to the old system even with the new gpu you were thinking of.
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a b U Graphics card
December 6, 2011 11:45:45 AM

turboknee said:
OK so GTS 250 is best bet, can't really OC either one, and they'll barely run modern CPU heavy games - so next question - what, if any, cheap Mobo/cpu upgrade can I look into without sacrificing too much hardware (i.e. the 2 gb of DDr 400 ram that i just bought for $60)?

thanks again for your help. I love this site and glad to be back into PC's - been using laptops for years now

The problem here is any newer socket(AMD or INTEL) will require DDR2 at least and most likely DDR3. DDR 400 RAM is a dead end. :cry: 
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December 6, 2011 11:59:10 AM

Well I just lost my job and blew $65 on ram and wireless pci adapter - bout to spend another $70-$80 on a GTS250 just to get something out of it so it's not just a pretty monitor on my desk - so this will have to suffice for now. :( 
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