Buy or Upgrade Computer - part II

To reiterate yesterday's question with a bit more specific info: I'm looking at either buying a new computer or upgrading my current one and wonder what is the best choice. Below are the details of my current system. Thanks for any help you can provide

Dell Dimension XPS D266

Operating System:
Windows 95 B (OSR2)

266 megahertz Intel Pentium II
32 kilobyte primary memory cache
512 kilobyte secondary memory cache

6.44 Gigabytes Usable Hard Drive Capacity
726 Megabytes Hard Drive Free Space

Main Circuit Board:
Board: Intel Corporation AL440LX AA678149-307
Bus Clock: 66 megahertz
BIOS: Intel Corp. 4A4LL0X0.10A.0017.P06

Memory Modules:
64 Megabytes Installed Memory
32 Megabyte Module Size - 2 Installed
One Memory Socket is Empty

Wave Device for Voice Modem
YAMAHA OPL3-SAx Sound System

Standard Floppy Disk Controller
Intel 82371AB PCI Bus Master IDE Controller
Primary IDE controller (dual fifo)
Secondary IDE controller (dual fifo)
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  1. Sorry man, your pc is a little too old. The only thing you can save is the modem, soundcard, keyboard, mouse and monitor. Neverless, I reccomend you build your own! It's more fun than buying, and cheaper, too. You'll need a new case and power supply, get at least a 300 watt. Get any athlon CPU, or duron if you want to save money. Get the motherboard to go with it, get a geforce 2 graphics card, at least 256 megs of RAM, and definately a larger hard drive. (at least 30 gigs)

    I'll give my reccomendations on the brands etc, later if you want.


    Life is hard...Live with it.
  2. Definately buy a new system.

    You would spend far too much upgrading this and it still wouldn't come close to the power of a new system.

    You only have a board with an LX chipset so that would have to go, or u would be limited to a 66Mhz bus and no AGP.
    Coppermine P3 and T-birds or Durons significantly faster than PII.
    Memory is cheap now so get loads. 256MB for Win 98/ME sytem, 512MB for NT/2000, Linux.
    Hard-Drives have come along way in the 3 years since this system.
    And of course a nice Graphics card.

    <font color=red>Why don't you ever see the headline "Psychic Wins Lottery"?</font color=red>
  3. I'd buy a new system.

    If your determined to upgrade, I'd add a 128Mb stick of RAM
    and install Win98se.
    You might even pick up a CPU between 300 & 350 MHz

    If you buy and build your own system, you'll enjoy it more and you'll learn a lot.

    Heatsinks, fans & whisky...Everythings Cool! :wink:
  4. Actually I have a LX board that has AGP 2x support.

  5. Do you have a family? If you buy a new PC, a couple of network cards, and a crossover cable, two computers will be more fun than one. Use the older one for work (which it's quite capable of!) and buy a gaming machine as the new PC. That way you can play Quake, while the kid does his homework, or vice-versa. Plus you can share your DSL connection or modem, and both go online at once. You can also share printers, and with 3rd party software, scanners, etc.

    Your older PC might benefit from an extra 128MB stick as well, and maybe an upgrade to Win98SE (don't bother with ME!).

    ~ The First Formally Rehabilitated AMD Lemming ~
  6. Another option - slocket goes into your slot 1 allowing you to plug in a FC-PGA chip. Choose a Celeron at 766MHz (or below, the ones above use 100MHz frontside bus), and you should be able to plug it in. You may need a bios update which might be difficult to get, and you may need to check your voltages.

    ~ The First Formally Rehabilitated AMD Lemming ~
  7. Thanks a lot for all of this advice... this is a very awesome community!!!!!

    <b>"The Master doesn't try to be powerful; thus he is truly powerful."
    -- Lao Tzu</b>
  8. Not sure if this got through before, but I'm interested in building my own... How hard is it (I've only pulled the cover to install a cd-rw)? What components do I need for the box? How much will I spend for these various parts?


    <b>"The Master doesn't try to be powerful; thus he is truly powerful."
    -- Lao Tzu</b>
  9. Well, I personally haven't built my own, but judging from the posts here and experiences of my friends, I'd say it's definately not a job that you should take lightly. Now, I personally have screwed around with my old computer, and I know about electrostatic discharge, pulling and installing cards, memory sticks, and bios stuff, but I'm still rather leary to purchase $1000+ in equipment to build it myself. Granted I'm gonna give it a shot, and I hope it will be fun and good learning, but it's going to be a little, well, scary. Now, it the difficulty also seems to depend on whether you go for Intel or AMD. Intel machines are very easy, and for many, just a matter of plugging everything in and turning it on. Simple as that. AMDs on the other hand, seem to be a little more tempermental, and also require a gentle, yet firm hand. Kinda like a pet, or kid. You need to really know what your doing, and to not let setbacks ruin the experience. My friend's AMD Slot A took him no time to build, but around three months to get "settled" as far as drivers, bios settings, and software was concerned.

    As far as what you need, it's the same for either AMD or Intel. I suggest that you get a Retail/Boxed processor of either brand. That way, the quality is top-notch, you get a heatsink with fan, and a good long warrenty. That takes care of the most important aspect, as a chip without a working fan and heatsink won't last at all, it will either fry like the AMD, or just not turn on, like the Intel. Either way, it won't work. Putting a heatsink on isn't fun from what I hear, and a science in itself. Ask others about that one.

    Now, if you want a budget system that runs well, but not as fast, go for the Intel Celeron or AMD Duron (starting at ~$40 for either). If you want the full chip, get an Intel Pentium 3 or the AMD Thunderbird "C" (starting ~$175 for AMD). That "C" means that it runs with a 133MHz (or 266MHz) front side bus (FSB). Right now I would suggest not getting Intel's Pentium 4, as it is a bit pricy, offer performance comperable to Thunderbird 1.33GHz, and requires expensive Rambus RDRAM.

    You will also need a motherboard. I have been looking into AMD, so I really know nothing about Intel motherboards, so you'll have to again ask someone else. As to an AMD, your best bet is to get Socket A motherboard that has the VIA KT133A chipset. Usually anyplace you look will tell you the chipset. Make sure it has the "A" after the 133, because that way, you will have the best motherboard chipset. The Asus A7V133 and IWill KK266 or KK266-R (all ~$115-$140) are the ones most often recommended. Again, do not get an AMD DDR system (chipsets AMD760, Ali Magik, and KT266) because the price doesn't justifiy the performance yet, and there are some "issues" with the current motherboards.

    Memory is also nessicary. With an AMD system, I would recommend that you get Crucial 256MB PC133 CAS/CS 2 (~$100). And that would probably also work with Intel, but unlike the AMD, the RAM speed (the PC133 part) has to match the FSB speed of the processor. So if you get an older P3 with a 100MHz FSB, you have to get PC100 RAM instead. But go with Crucial, as they have top quality RAM and the prices are really good.

    You also need to get an ATX case. Umm... cases, unless really cheap, are mostly a matter you will be putting them and making sure that they fit. Some come with power supplies, so do not, but always make sure that the power supply is rated at 300 watts at least. That is nessicary with an AMD, and not a bad idea with Intel. If space is not a concern for you, then I suggest an Antec 830SX (~$90). They are full tower cases, and come with a 300 watt power supply. You can get the 840SX (~$120) for a 400 watt power supply, but that might be a little too much. But make sure that the case is an ATX case, whatever you get.

    You will also need a 3.5" floppy drive (~$15), any kind will do. A hard drive, which I think, and many will agree, the IBM Deskstar series is good, and Quantum and Maxtor are good as well. Just make sure that it is a 7200RPM IDE drive, and has at least 20GB of storage (~$100), but 30GB is better (~$150). Also, make sure it is ATA-100 compatable so that you can get the best possible speed. DVD-ROM and CD-RW drives are your own choice, and just look around to see whats what, cause I don't. But you need at least one of them at startup, cause most drivers and such come on CD-ROMs.

    Also, you need a video card. If you're going to be gaming, and have a few bucks, get a NVIDIA GeForce2 Pro ($220) or GTS ($200) or ATI Radeon ($170-$220). If you're tight on cash, go for the Kyro II ($150) or the NVIDIA GeForce2 MX (~$125). And if you have the money, get the NVIDIA GeForce3 ($400).

    A sound card isn't nessicary to get the computer going, but I would suggest getting either a Hercules Game Theater XP ($130) or any of the Sound Blaster Live! ($100-$175) line. I hear there are some issues with the Live! line on some AMD motherboards, but I'm not sure how bad. For speakers, anything will do... and depending on the quality, can range from $60-$250.

    The last things, like a keyboard and mouse, as well as monitor, are really what you feel comfortable with. Some people like LCD, some like CRT. Some like 15", some can't live without a 19" or 21". Its preference really, and what you're willing to spend. A good, 19" Sony Trinitron monitor will run you ~$500, maybe even ~$600. Avoid LCD screens if you will be playing games though, as the refresh rate of the LCDs aren't up to par yet, and some blurring and streaking happen in fast action. I suggest you go to the local computer store and look there, and see what you like. That way you avoid mail-order as well, which can kill a monitor. Same goes for the keyboard and mouse. It's all a matter of feel, and you can only get that by trying them out. While most people love their optical mice, some people out there don't like a "castrated" mouse

    Well, I think that's about it, and your computer will start @ around $1000 for the lower-end, without a monitor, and go up from there. If you keep the old computer, there are no parts to transfer, but if you don't keep it, remember that some things, like the mouse, keyboard, speakers, the monitor... things like that that aren't important to have new and high quality can be reused, and replaced over time. Well, if I forgot anything, I'm sure others will add on to this. Hope it helps, and happy building!


    Without Evil, there can be no Good. Therefore, without an Intel, there can be no AMD.
  10. There's a good book worth buying.

    The P.C. Support Handbook by David Dick

    It covers most of the HNC/D syllabus and is a great book for beginning to understand how computers work, but be sure to get the most up to date edition.

    Heatsinks, fans & whisky...Everythings Cool! :wink:
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