Upgrading Dell 8250 to 8300? or to 8400?

Present specs- 2.4 P4 processor, 1.25 gig RDRAM, GeForce 6600GS 256MB vid card, 250W power supply.

After tweaking video settings to try to ease the load on the CPU any way I could so I can play Warhammer Online, I've come to the conclusion I need a faster processor. Money's tight, so I am looking at a few options. I'm listing them below, with pros and cons and concerns, hoping I can get some opinions on what way to go-

Option 1: Find and install an 8300 mobo with a 3.0 or better CPU. I understand it fits the 8250 case just fine. Pros- releases me from RDRAM bondage, and I can purchase cheap DDR RAM. It keeps the AGP slot, so I can bring over my video card (saving money, and it's a good card)- or can I? I have read elsewhere that the 8250 AGP slot runs at 5.5v, and the 8300 AGP slot runs at 3.3v? Can anyone verify? Also, with a new mobo, I've read I would have to reformat and re-install my operating system (WinXP Home). Is that true? (Total cost guesstimate around $300.00)

Option 2: Find and buy an 8400 tower. Pro- again, DDR RAM. Con- I understand this mobo has PCI-e slots for the graphics card, so I'd have to ditch my newer 256MB AGP card. OTOH, the PCI-e card I'd have to buy might give me better performance, but still costs more than I would like to spend. And I'd have to re-format my hard drive here too? I'd like to bring over my newer hard drive from my old 8250. (Total cost guesstimate around $600).

Option 3: find a faster processor that would fit on the 8250 board? How feasible is that?? Would I need a new OS install? A BIOS flash?

I'm seriously trying to do this upgrade for about $300 or less, with the least amount of hassle possible. Money's real tight, but I enjoy my gaming hobby- it keeps me out of the bars, movies, malls, etc where I might spend more! Trying to keep the rig going for another year or so...

Thanks in advance for any help, I hope I've been clear as to what I'm trying to do.
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  1. I couldn't help but post on this. One thing i see is that you're saying DDR ram is cheap.... it's not cheap when you compare it to DDR2 ram.

    I have bought countless dells off of ebay (newer dells) and if you're looking for $300 or less that is where i'm going to point you. Get on ebay and do some searching for Dell optiplex systems ( 320, 330, 745, 755, gx620, 740 ) These all take ddr2 ram and have a pci-e slot. 745 and 755 are going to be more recent. These are often cheaper then dimension systems even though they're great systems.

    Do some ebaying and you can find a good system for $200 or less. I got my office computer, a optiplex 745 w\ 3.4ghz pentium D, 4gb ddr2-800 (spare from my old gaming computer) for $235 shipped and they included a copy of vista that i sold for $120... that is $110+4gb ram.

    Most newer video cards you would need to add a more powerful psu but maybe you can find one w\ a decent video card.

    My basic view on upgrading an older system is that its a waste of time and too expensive in comparison to a totally new system. socket 478 cpu's can only go so high and if yours is a 2.4, the board may only take a max of 2.8... 2gb ddr ram = $70 or so, vs $35 for ddr2.
  2. Thank you for the response, itadakimasu.
    My bad on the ddr reference- I meant ddr2. 1 gig of RDRAM is ~$300, and 1 gig of ddr2 is about $35 these days.
    Your last paragraph, in conjunction with some further research I did on the Warhammer Alliance site, pretty much seals the deal on not going this route. Turns out, not only is WAR apparently CPU intensive, a single core processor of any kind is sub-optimal, especially for scenarios with 100+ players on the screen.
    So, after much soul searching and conferring with the hubby, I've decided to build my system using the guidelines (more or less) from the Warhammer Alliance site. This will be my second system build, and will save me about 35% from a comparable Dell XPS 630:

    Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale
    4 GB Corsair ddr2 RAM
    GeForce 8800 GT 512MB RAM
    250 GB Seagate SATA II HD
    New copy of WinXP Home for clean install
    GIGABYTE GA-EP45-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel mobo
    Cooler master 5 case
    Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro CPU cooler
    PC Power and Cooling Silencer 500W PSU

    From newegg.com, all totalled $802 before mail in rebates of $40.00.

    Yep, more than twice what I wanted to spend, but I came to the conclusion that I need to build a machine for the long run, as inexpensively as possible. And that usually means, 'supply your own labor' to save money. The 8250 lasted me 6 years, I hope this one will do the same.

    I put all these specs in here, not to brag, but to hopefully help someone else out who is struggling with the same conundrum.
  3. hehe,

    your budget went up i see : )

    good luck w\ the build. The 8250 probably cost you nearly the same amount of money, possibly more when you first bought it..

    so thats definately a plus
  4. Yes, the budget sure went up! :o

    I bought a pair of the 8250s back in 2003 and IIRC they cost about 950 each- but that was with monitors etc and a year or so of Dell support. But it's pretty comparable really.

    All the parts arrived yesterday, all looks well. Hopefully will start the build tonite.
    Wish me luck! And thanks again for the opinion.
  5. i found invoices here in the office for the 320's they bought mid 2006 for $850 each, 3ghz pentium d w\ 512-1gb and xp pro.... i got a 320 w\ a core2 and 2gb a few weeks ago for under $250 on ebay.

    its hard to price computers and hardware when they improve so fast without huge price increases... if they sell a new dell package w\ core2 processor, 2gb, dvdrw, and lcd for under $500.... what does that make any 2-3 year old dell worth?
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