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Upgrade on a budget: Need Suggestions

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March 14, 2004 8:16:26 PM

I am thinking of finally upgrading my computer. Currently I have an AMD Athlon 1.0ghz T-Bird system with a Radeon 9500 Pro video card and 512mb 266 DDR memory. This is simply not going to cut it when games like Half-life 2 and Doom 3 are released. I want to be able to play these games with a descently high framerate(as in not choppy as hell). Here is the trick: I DON'T want to spend a whole lot of money. Let's say $250. If I am pushed I MAY be able to swing $300, but let's keep suggestions in the $250 range for now.

I will be upgrading only cpu, motherboard and memory. I am currently looking at the Athlon XP 2800+. Is this a good choice? I have been out of the loop for a while so I need a suggestion on motherboards for whatever processor I pick(Last time I often read articles, the Asus A7N8X was the hottest thing on the market). I would really like to avoid overclocking for at least a year or so as I do not fully trust a overclocked system to be reliable and can't afford to have it burn up. I have heard good things though about being able to easily kick the 333fsb cpu's to 400fsb without much hassle and a stock fan. Is this accurate?

Thanks in advance for all advice.

Zach
March 14, 2004 8:45:05 PM

The way I see it, there is basically only one suggestion for your case:

Abit NF7-S Mobo $100
Kingston ValueRAM 2x256MB PC3200 Dual Kit $95
Barton 2500+ Retail $80

You can of course choose a cheaper motherboard but I would suggest sticking with this one, to avoid any problems in the future!

Depending on how lucky you are, you will be able to overclock your 2500+ from stock speed all the way up to 3200+, using stock cooling. It's not difficult neither dangerous, as long as you know what you are doing. There are many here that will gladly provide you with all the necessary info for doing so.
March 14, 2004 9:33:46 PM

He can save money by buying an A7N8X-X for about 80$US. It's not a bad motherbord and it's equipped with nForce2 chipset.

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March 14, 2004 10:16:26 PM

So their is no danger in clocking the 2500+ up to 3200+ speed with the stock fan(using the motherboard and memory you suggested)? Will I need to increase the voltage? I don't want to risk it if there is a fair chance it will burn up.

What web site/store do you all use to buy your computer parts? Newegg has the parts you listed priced at a total of $276 with the free shipping. Do you think I can do better than that?
March 14, 2004 10:50:14 PM

I don't really need all those extra features so I guess I can go with the less expensive one(saves $25).

Is this: http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?descripti... the regular NF7 v2.0? I don't see v2.0 written on the web site so I need to know. I may be ordering this stuff TONIGHT.

Again, could some people reassure me that overclocking the 2500+ is safe. If it is then I have no problem in doing it.
March 14, 2004 10:56:37 PM

with my asrock K7S8XE+ which is only 62.00 including shipping, cbeardotnet is the ebay user name of the seller of this great board, its using SiS748 chipset supports ddr400 and sata and 6 usb's all i do is set the fsb to 200 and my 2500 barton easily does 3200 with no volt changes to anything. ask crashman about the SiS748, its great!

Fat, Drunk, and Stupid is no way to go through life Son.
March 14, 2004 11:06:51 PM

I agree with the suggestion as your budget doesn't allow more. For Ram, I'd add Crucial, geil or Corsair's Value line to your choices also. Cheapest of the 4 should work. All good names.

You won't have to overclock the XP2500+ now, but it's a bonus that you can get some free performance in the future if you do need it. If you have a nice sound card, and don't need SATA hard drive support, the regular Abit NF7 (non S) will save you another $25 or so. I just got one for $75. I personally like a sound card in a gaming rig. But if you plan on using the integrated sound, then splurge for the S as the NV soundstorm is better. Also you then get SATA Raid support, which might not help you, but doesn't hurt either. If you can wait, maybe some better choices will enter you sub $300 price range by Mid Summer. But in your case and with a $300 ceiling, I doubt it. Now truely looks to be a good time for you to upgrade, yet the fact that HL2 and D3 are not available yet, makes me wonder if waiting may be better. I still doubt a Pentium4"C" or Athlon64 will enter that pricing range before those games are both out. So possibly the only benifit to waiting might be the higher end Athlon XP's could drop in price enough in the next few months? IMO I'd upgrade now in your case.

ABIT IS7, P4 2.6C, 512MB Corsair TwinX PC3200LL, Radeon 9800 Pro, Santa Cruz, TruePower 430watt
March 14, 2004 11:08:30 PM

Shoot Spitty, ya beat me too the NF7 suggestion.

ABIT IS7, P4 2.6C, 512MB Corsair TwinX PC3200LL, Radeon 9800 Pro, Santa Cruz, TruePower 430watt
a b à CPUs
March 15, 2004 3:58:48 AM

I'd go with the -S version simply because it has the nForce APU, allong with those other features you don't think you need, but might want in the future.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
March 15, 2004 6:08:32 AM

>Again, could some people reassure me that overclocking the
>2500+ is safe

Depends what you call "safe". If you overclock with some common sense (ie,small steps at the time, no insane voltage increases, decent cooling) its not likely to cause physical harm, even if the overclock fails. It might reduce life span of your cpu, but reducing it from 20 years to 10 years for instance is not really something I'd worry about much. IF you are brainless and up the voltage to 1.9v, set the fsb to 200 Mhz or more at once, don't provide adequate cooling, you will likely kill the cpu, if not immediately, then over time.

Another thing concerning "safe"; many people assume because it boots into windows and finishes a 3Dmark run that it is stable at their overclocked frequency. I suggest you take it a bit further though, try running BurnK7, superpi as well as burn in programs (like sandra) for some hours before you call your overclock stable. Also keep in mind that what is stable today may become unstable this summer, and an unstable setup can cause severe dataloss (harddisk corruption, etc).

In short, if you know what you are doing, apply some common sense, its fairly safe. Otherwise, it is not.

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
March 15, 2004 6:29:48 AM

Ok. I have decided to go the overclocking route as you all have suggested. I will be getting the Athlon XP 2500+, an ABIT NF7-S motherboard, and a Kingston ValueRAM Dual Kit(512mb total).

My final question to you all is: Is the 3200+ speed easily achievable with the regular Barton 2500+ or do I need the Mobile version($15 extra) that everyone keeps talking about?
March 15, 2004 6:54:13 PM

It all depends on how lucky you are. Nobody can guarantee you any results but I think that you will have more chances of a higher overclock, along with lower voltage, if you go for the Mobile Athlon XP 2500+.
March 15, 2004 9:17:37 PM

Yes I have to agree the mobile is the better overclocker now. Both should hit XP3200 speeds on a decent board with decent RAM and a good Power supply. But the mobile is unlocked still, so you can run say 10.5*200 if 11*200 isn't stable. I'd rather run 10.5*200, than 11*185 anyday. Also, you can boost up the multiplier too for more MHz. You have to decide if it's worth it being that the Retail XP2500+ with fan is still cheaper by $15-20 than the mobile oem with no fan.

ABIT IS7, P4 2.6C, 512MB Corsair TwinX PC3200LL, Radeon 9800 Pro, Santa Cruz, TruePower 430watt
March 16, 2004 3:53:23 AM

Well...I took the plunge this morning and ordered the regular 2500+ Barton retail version. It should be here Wednesday and I sure hope it clocks to 3200+ with no problems. This should hold me for a year or two untill 64bit reaches a reasonable price/quality. Thanks for all the suggestions everyone.
March 16, 2004 4:55:55 PM

I don't like to give you bad news but ... maybe to play Doom 3 and HL2 the problem won't be in you CPU or memory, but with your GPU. These titles are going to force a lot GPUs, are probably the bottle neck will be there.

Anyway, wait until you can test the game and decide.


Still looking for a <b>good online retailer</b> in Spain :frown:
March 16, 2004 7:03:16 PM

My Radeon 9500 Pro is MUCH better than any of the 9600s on the market today. My room mate only has a 2ghz p4 and a Radeon 9000 Pro(which is vastly inferior to my card) and he is able to run HL2 smooth at high resolution. Therefore, my effective 3200+, nForce2, Radeon 9500 Pro system should run it like a champ.

Yes...I have the leaked copy(shhhhhhh...).
March 16, 2004 8:10:26 PM

Don't get me wrong, but Radeon 9000Pro is a DX8 card, so it will run without DX9 eyecandy. In other words, if I am not wrong the game will adapt the settings to your romm mate card capabilities. That means you will play with much better effects.

About estimating performace, I recommend to look at <A HREF="http://www.tomshardware.com/graphic/20030912/half-life-..." target="_new"> Toms Hardware </A> review. Even a 9800Pro "only" runs it at 40 FPS in some demos.

Obviously the end results depends on optimizations made on HL2 code, ATI drivers, resolution and AA/AF you will use.

So time will tell. I hope you (and lot of other people) are able to play as desired. ATI/Nvidia should care about it. We pay a lot of money to them. ANd hey, although I am going to upgrade very soon I still have a GF3 on my computer!


Still looking for a <b>good online retailer</b> in Spain :frown:
!