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Looking for feedback on upgrades

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Last response: in CPUs
March 28, 2003 4:44:06 PM

Hey everyone. I know this type of thread is common, and I've scanned the archives, but I can't seem to find any threads that are specific enough for me to get a solid idea about my machine. I'd just like to get some advice and feedback about my upgrade plan. Here's what my system will look like after I upgrade.

* = new component

Antec Lanboy aluminum case w/350w PSU*
MSI K7N2-L nForce2 motherboard*
AMD Athlon XP 2400+ (2.00GHz)*
512Mb (2x 256Mb) PC2100 DDR RAM
IBM 4OGXP 40GB hard drive
ATI Radeon 9500 Pro 128Mb*
Viewsonic E790B 19" monitor

I was looking at the Barton 2500, but I've heard extremely mixed opinions of it, and I think it'd be best to play it safe and just stick with the 2400+. If I go with the Barton, I'll have to buy some PC2700 DDR, and the cost of my upgrades will go up about $130. Is the 66MHz FSB jump really worth the extra cash?

Basically what I'm aiming for is a rig that will run all of this year's games well at no less than 1024x768x32bpp, yet won't force me to start selling organs/drugs/souls to pay for it. However, I don't mind spending an extra $150 or so if it will yield a substantial and noticable performance increase that will delay my next upgrade several months.

So what do you guys think? Think anything needs to be tweaked, or am I good to go? Many thanks in advance for the feedback.

More about : feedback upgrades

March 28, 2003 6:48:29 PM

I would say that you're pretty set to go. However if you're looking for a gaming machine then maybe spending a little more on the video card would be a novel idea. Not that the 9500 Pro is bad, but you could up that to a 9700 Pro or even wait a few and get a 9800 Pro. Or heck, just wait a few and get a 9600 Pro if the 9700/9800 is too much for you.

<font color=blue><pre>If you don't give me accurate and complete system specs
then I can't give you an accurate and complete answer.</pre><p></font color=blue>
March 28, 2003 11:04:43 PM

What are the RAM Specifications?

If you are running an Nforce2 motherboard, you really want to be running Dual DDR-RAM. Preferably a matched pair of 333MHz Corsair TWINX XMS Low Latency RAM. Humungo difference between that and plain jane PC2100 DDR RAM! When run with a 333MHz CPU it would run syncrhonous and would be a screamer.

Stable Technologies
'The way IT should be!'
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March 29, 2003 3:22:48 AM

Yeah, I'm not going to buy 333MHz RAM if I don't have a CPU with a matching FSB. Is it worth the extra cash though? I've got an AMD Thunderbird 1.4GHz right now, and I have no major qualms about the performance of Windows apps (including Photoshop), so my primary interest is going to be gaming. But I don't think that just another 10-15fps in UT2003 is worth an extra $130.

As for a video card; I'm still considering buying a faster Radeon than the 9500. The 9700 is out, because it's twice as much as the 9500, and only 10-20% faster. Not a good deal in my opinion. However, I an very interested in seeing what the 9600 has to offer. Fortunately, I won't be upgrading for at least another two weeks, and the word 'round the 'net is that the 9600 Pro will be available by then. It's definitely an option.

How's the rest of the stuff sound to you guys? I'm also wondering if maybe I should be an OEM CPU and get a third-party heatsink/fan combo. I won't be overclocking my CPU, that's for sure. Any suggestions? Thanks again.
March 29, 2003 6:20:04 AM

i wouldnt buy a 3rd party fan right away, definitly pick up some arctic silver thermal paste, then use sisoft sandra to check your cpu's temp after a 2-3 session of gaming

but if you have 1 0r 2 8cm fans at the back you should be fine
March 29, 2003 5:59:21 PM

The Lanboy case only has room for one 8cm fan at the front and one at the rear, but that's all I have in my case now, and my Thunderbird is running very stable at about 55 degrees Celsius. I've also heard that the Thoroughbred B runs much cooler than the Thunderbird. I'm also going to be swapping my Sunon fans for some Antec UV fans, and the Lanboy is an aluminum case, which should cool things down even further. Will this setup provide adequate cooling for a non-overclocked CPU?

What do you guys think of a Barton setup with some 333MHz DDR? Is it worth the extra cash? Thanks for all the responses so far, I really appreciate it.
March 29, 2003 7:07:23 PM

I guess you have to measure the value on your own. The Barton @333MHz with Dual DDR @ 333MHz with agressive timings is really what the Nforce2 was built for.

If you are not going with 333MHz, I can't see a reason to buy the Nforce2. It would be smarter instead to buy a KT400 based board at a significantly lower cost.

By the way, do you have the specifications of your existing RAM? It would be good to know the timings!

Steph Benoit

Stable Technologies
'The way IT should be!'
March 30, 2003 12:46:35 AM

Basically, I'm looking at two options:

1. Athlon XP 2400+, 266MHz DDR ($144)
2. Barton 2500+, 333MHz DDR ($252)

The difference in price is $108, which is a very substantial amount of money to me. What kind of performance increases could I expect to see if I chose the second setup over the first? According to <A HREF="" target="_new">THG's</A> <A HREF="" target="_new">own</A> <A HREF="" target="_new">research</A>, the Barton actually ends up being slower than the 2400+ in some cases. I can't guess the integrity of those benchmarks, but they certainly do raise some question about how great this chip really is. So how is it, anyway?
March 30, 2003 6:23:44 AM

I just upgraded my own system. I already was running a MSI kt3ultra-aru board. The board is about 8 months old, supports 333 ddr, but not on the fsb and not on all the ports.

I put in a xp2400, was already running 512 of ram, and moved it into an Antec SLK3700AMB case.

I would definitely suggest just buying the retail processor if you're not overclocking or planning to. My system runs at 40 c with only the stock 120 mm case fan from the antec case and the retail hsf.

You might look into an 8x agp ti4200, I'm not an ATI fan and biased to nVidia.
March 30, 2003 3:41:25 PM

Checking Pricewatch can be your best friend. The 2400+ can be had at newegg (first reputable dealer I know going down the pricewatch list) for $136 retail, and the Barton 2500+ for $173 retail at googlegear (which is also fairly reputable as far as I know). Whether the 2500+ is worth an extra $37 is harder to tell, though. It's your decision there.

<font color=red>The all new GeForce FX-</font color=red>
<font color=blue>The only factory-overclocked vacuum cleaner, complete with upholstery attachment!!!</font color=blue>
March 30, 2003 3:48:51 PM

for ut2003 the extra cache on the Barton is worth it barton's biggest problem is overclockability as far as i gathered

so the main reason i would say is extra cache and then the 333fsb which btw can't be bad for perfomance either :-)

March 31, 2003 3:13:31 PM

and the Lanboy is an aluminum case, which should cool things down even further

I still haven't seen any definitive proof that an aluminum case cools better than a steel case. Do you have any proof or are you just perpetuating the theory?

<font color=blue><pre>If you don't give me accurate and complete system specs
then I can't give you an accurate and complete answer.</pre><p></font color=blue>
March 31, 2003 4:50:15 PM

slvr_phoenix: Nope, just some good ol' perpetuation. ;) 

Well, based on the feedback I've gotten from everyone, it sounds like I'm on the right track with my upgrade plan. I don't think I'll be going with the Barton setup, as it won't really net any significant performance increases over an Athlon XP 2400+ with PC2100 DDR. I suppose now, all I'm looking for is some benchmarks of the Radeon 9600 vs the 9500. Let us all hope we see those soon, hehe.

Thanks again for the feedback, guys. I really appreciate it.