System upgrade, most bang for buck?


I currently have a Celeron 566 and an Asus p3v4x MB with 1 gig of PC133 ram.

This system is old and I need an upgrade!
I'm a multimedia design student so I demand good performance from my machine within my budget. I use these apps every day; Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash, Sound Forge, Illustrator, FileMaker Pro, have at least 3 brower windows open, winamp, burning cds, etc.
I always have lots of apps running, I'm a heavy user.

Here is my budget: $700 Canadian
What I need to get:
Power Supply

I'm thinking of getting a dual Athalon XP 2000+ system with minimum of 512 megs ram. For my use, would I notice a difference with a dual system?

Can anyone recommend a good motherboard/ram/case to go with this setup and within my budget?

I want to have the upgrade by the start of January.
21 answers Last reply
More about system upgrade bang buck
  1. with athlon the Nforce 2 platform is the way to go, with that chip however (2000+) you won't see much performance increase caus is just can't take the bandwidth, a decent agp card however can... my advice is to use a good quality 512Mb module in just one slot preferably CAS2 i'll get back on prices and athers

    Remember the time You used 20Mb harddrives
  2. I should have mentioned this above. My current video card is a Geforce 2 Pro 64 meg with tv out and I plan on keeping it. The only real gaming I do is for Medal of Honor now and then.

    Also I forgot to mention that I want the following on my motherboard:

    -USB 2
    - minimum 5 PCI slots
    - AGP 8x support
    - latest memory support
    -No intergrated video
    -No Intergrated sound? (I have a sound blaster Live!)
  3. why agp 8x with that card i don't even know if that will work

    anyway your asking a lot for little money

    prices from

    cpu 2000+ 199,52$
    case 55-60$
    512 MB DDR 333 270$
    nforce 2 mobo 150-240$ (depending if you really want firewire caus with features like that you're in another price range) on the no integrated sound part, i'm not even gonna look for that you do it finding a decent board with 8x support and latest memory support will almost definetly have sound on board but you can of course just put in you SB

    as it looks now your looking at around 700 to 750$ depending on how bad you want that firewire they didn't state price for asus (they have nforce2 mobo's) A7N8X so prices i gave are those hadeled in belgium (isn't cheap here)

    Remember the time You used 20Mb harddrives
  4. I am about to upgrade myself and asked a similar question on this board a few days ago, just FYI:
    <A HREF="" target="_new"></A>
    I am about to order the following:
    Board ASUS A7N8X Deluxe (expensive but tons of features)
    Proc AMD 2100+
    Memory 2 times PC2700 DDR333 256MB
    As I am gaming a lot I will also upgrade my graphics card to a Ti4200 (to stay within the budget...)
    Have fun !

    Famous last words:
    I am only trying to have fun...
  5. unfortunetly there isn't a motherboard now without onboard audio. You can disable them and think of them as a backup incase your sound blaster goes.

    the IT7 MAX2 or the AT7MAX2 might be what you want then. Check them out. I don't know if you prefere intel or amd. But AMD is the best bang for your buck. Also most boards support DDR so i wouldn't worry about that. You do have to buy all new memory though. Memory is very expensive now. 200 US dollars for 512MB Dimm at newegg. That pretty much exhaust your funds as you need a case too and thats about 100 US bucks so thats 300 already and you still need a motherboard and RAM.

    Life is irrelivent and irrational.

    <A HREF="" target="_new"> My Rig </A>
  6. Thanks for the replies guys!

    I didn't realize that most motherboards come with onboard audio, it must be good! I'm not keeping up with hardware so forgive me if I'm not making sense :)

    What is all this talk about Dual DDR?
    That means you need two ram sticks?
    Also what would be better for me, 2x256 ram sticks or 1x512?

    Also would an Nforce be a better video card than my geforce 2 pro?

    I suppose 8x AGP isn't that important, I just figured I might as well make my new motherboard upgradable :)

    I found a nice case! $60 Canadian

    Found Athalon XP 2000 + OEM for $140 CDN or $145 retail, does retail come with heatsink and fan?

    KingMax 256MB PC-3200 DDR400 SDRAM $139 - might get 2 sticks or 1 512?
  7. firstly, the Nforce 2 isn't a video chip it's a chipset used on motherboards it can have integrated graphics hower being geforce 4, but this isn't the reason to buy a mobo based on this chipset,

    if u use one stick of DDR 333 your bandwith would be 2.7 Gb if you use 2 it sould be 5.4 GB quite a difference yes but it would'nt do you any good whatsoever because the XP 2000+ has a 266 Mhz FSB that can only use 2.1 Gb of provided bandwidth (2800+ has a 333Mhz FSB)

    the reason to buy this chipset over say KT333 or KT400 is that it is more stable and it performs a few percent better even in single channel DDR mode ie using one stick
    so I say buy one stick of best quality ram you can get your hands on, 512Mb Corsair DDR 333 Cas 2 XMS would be the best for you, or another but make sure its cas 2 as it is faster,

    later you can upgrade your sytem with an additional ram module (it has to be the exact same though, and a 2800+ ) in a year or 2 prices will probably be much much lower, note that in this setup your system would perform as good as PIV 3.06 with RDRAM,

    so really you do NOT need 2 sticks because your cpu can't do anything with it and bandwidth asked by an 8x AGP card is 2Gb so the 2.7 GB provided by a single stick of DDR 333 will be more than sufficient

    Remember the time You used 20Mb harddrives
  8. forgot to mention this

    does your video card have 4X AGP, if less you won't be able to use it on this mobo in this case i would buy the A7NX8 PRO with integrated graphics this will be an improvement to what you have now (higher framerates)and will have all the features you ask for

    Remember the time You used 20Mb harddrives
  9. it does the samething rdram does.

    Just know that dual DDR is slightly faster. You COULD think of it as QDR. quad data rate with dual ddr which so far only the nforce board has it.

    if you do get an nforce then yes you would need two ddr sticks however you won't be able to upgrade your memory again. So i would get 2 512mb sticks.

    if you get a normal board then i woudl get 1 512MB stick.

    I do believe the nfroce 2 onboard video is better then the gf2 pro. I think it has a geforce 4MX equivalent. However, from my understand, those boards have no agp slot so you are stuck with that video solution until you get a new board. I would suggest to keep your card and find a board with an AGP 8x slot.

    Don'y skimp on the case. The case stays with you forever. I would get an antec case or an enermax case! with at least a 400 watt power supply.

    Yes retail always comes with a 3 year warranty and cpu fans where oem is just a 1 year warranty and no fan. pay the extra 5 dollars! it's worth it.

    hope that helped.

    Life is irrelivent and irrational.

    <A HREF="" target="_new"> My Rig </A>
  10. It sounds like you'd REALLY benefit from a dual CPU system. However with such a limited budget and demanding requirements, good luck! (Especially finding 5 PCI slots on a dualie motherboard since most dualie mobos come with a combination of 32-bit and 64-bit PCI slots, which would extremely limit your number of 32-bit PCI slots.)

    To begin with how futile this will be, we can start with an Asus A7M266D-L dual Athlon motherboard at Pricewatch for 187 USD. It comes with USB2 and ethernet built in, but no Firewire and <i>definately</i> not the absolute latest memory support or AGP8x. (In fact, good luck finding <i>any</i> dualie Athlon MP motherboard that supports DDR400, not to mention dual-channel DDR. So we just won't go <i>there</i>...)

    Toss in two retail Athlon MP1500+ CPUs for 99 USD each and you're up to 385 USD already. Then add two 256MB sticks of Samsung PC2100 CL2 DDR SDRAM for 68 USD each to raise the total to 512 USD.

    Of course, converting that to Canadian dollars brings it to 810 already and we haven't even gotten into the fact that the MP motherboard <i>requires</i> a 400W power supply. (Actually, it also requires: <font color=blue>+5V/3.3V rails is 180 Watts; +12 Volts requires 15 Amps; 5VSB requires 1 Amp. Also Ensure that the ATX power supply can put out at least 10mA on the +5 Volt standby lead (+5vsb)</font color=blue>. So not just any old 400W power supply will do.)

    So we're already over budget and still need to pick up a good 400W power supply and Firewire card. Dualie systems just aren't going to cut it for your budget. Do you see how insane your desire for a dual Athlon 2000+ with 512MB of RAM minimum for only $700 Canadian is? You can't have everything...

    So let's look at a single Athlon system then. Of course it won't be quite as good for multi-tasking, but hey, with your budget...

    How about an Asus A7N8X Deluxe nForce2 motherboard. It comes with built in USB2, Firewire, Dual ethernet, Serial ATA, and a dual-channel memory controller. All for only 140 USD. Not bad.

    Now, it's not the best processor in the world, but for your costs an Athlon XP 2100+ for 87 USD sounds peachy. (And you can always upgrade it later.) Toss in two 256MB sticks of Corsair PC2700 CL2 DDR SDRAM for 110 USD each. Now you're at 447 USD. That's 707 Canadian dollars.

    Of course it's questionable if your video card would even run in this thing. It should be an AGP4x card, which is okay. However, I'm not sure if the voltage is acceptable or not. So you <i>might</i> need a new graphics card. And anyway, you'll also probably still need a new power supply anyway, but at least you won't have to go as high as 400W with this setup. Oh yeah. And all of the systems I've mentioned use OEM CPUs. (It's getting hard to even find retail AMD CPUs anymore, not to mention find them at a worth-while price.) So you'll need to pick up a heatsink for them too. And, of course, none of that includes shipping costs. So unless you can find a store in Canada with prices (after dollar conversions) similar, you'll have to pay a bit more there too. So that still leaves much more to spend money on even though your budget limit has already been reached.

    So as you can see, your budget leaves much to the nearly-impossible. I suggest that you bite the bullet and decide what is really important: future upgradability, current performance, or your wallet. Otherwise, you're just looking to be SoL.

    <A HREF="" target="_new"><font color=red>Join</font color=red> <font color=blue>the</font color=blue> <font color=green>THGC</font color=green> <font color=orange>LAN</font color=orange> <font color=purple>Party</font color=purple>!</A>
  11. The best bang for the buck comes with XP processors below 2000+. Good bang, fewer bux. The best motherboard for the money is the MSI 745 Ultra. For more bang on a few more bux, the nForce2 boards are great. Either one of these gets you out from under your current VIA chipset.

    AGP8x doesn't matter with current cards, but the nForce2 does support it. Also, the fastest memory doesn't matter with AMD CPU's, but you should get PC2700 in order to have upgrade options for 166MHz bus (DDR333 bus) processors, which puts you back to the nForce2.

    If you want an extremely cheap upgrade, you could use a PIII 1000EB, you wouldn't need a new board or new RAM that way, you'd save 2/3 of the money and get better than 1/2 the performance of the 2000+/DDR/Board. The 1000EB is about 3x the performance of your Celeron 566.

    <font color=blue>You're posting in a forum with class. It may be third class, but it's still class!</font color=blue>
  12. thanks for reapeating what i've been saying guys, and btw you don't need 2 sticks of ram to work the Nforce it works fine with just one stick, he doesnt need 2 sticks and i already explained why

    Remember the time You used 20Mb harddrives
  13. well you need 2 sticks to take advantage of dual channel ddr though.

    Life is irrelivent and irrational.

    <A HREF="" target="_new"> My Rig </A>
  14. yes you need 2 sticks efor dual mode but lets face it an athlon 2000+ won't go faster because of that, and as we're on a budget Ithink 1Gb of good ram is going to be a tad expensive, so one stick of 512mb DDR333 cas2 will be more than fine, when he's got the extra cash an upgrade using a second (identical) memmodule and a 2800+ willgive another boost,

    in this scenario going for dual ddr mode is useless and to expensive

    Remember the time You used 20Mb harddrives
  15. I really apprecaite all this great feedback.

    Well the thing is my budget is low at the moment. I might be able to squeeze in an extra $100 for a total of $800.

    I found my box for my video card and it's AGP 4x and supports fast write. It's a Gainward Geforce 2 Pro/450 with 4.5 ns memory speed, golden sample. Will this work with any new motherboards, such as the Asus A7N8X?

    Do you think I would be better getting an XP 2000 now and then upgrading to a 2800 or better say in 6 months?

    Or would I be better getting a XP 2400 now?

    This would mean I want a motherboard that would support the benefit of the future upgrade (if XP2000 is purchased).

    How much futher will AMD be going with their Thunderbird B models that will work with this nForce motherboard I will probably get? Up to 3000+?

    Basically a dual system is out of my league at the moment. So I can invest my cash in other areas.

    I just read that review on the Asus A7N8X which is a motherboard that sounds like it would fit my needs, I found it for only $226 Canadian. I also just ready that DDR400 is no longer offcially supported by lack of performance... so I can save cash and go with the DDR333 Ram :)

    So here is what I am thinking about:

    Asus A7N8X
    Athalon XP 2000+
    1x512 MB DDR333

    Then I would do this in say 6-8 months.
    Upgrade to:
    Athalon XP 2800 or whatever is faster and my MB can support
    1x512 DDR333 = 1 GIG DDR33 total

    Keeping my current Geforce 2 pro video card.

    Feedback appreciated!
  16. that seems exellent

    athlon will go to 3000+ yes
    yes buy a cheap one now and upgrade later you'll only see better performance using a 2600+ which can have a 333FSB
    think about taking a 2200+ though, 2000+ is 0.18 micron 2200+ is 0.13 micron but this is entirely up to you, when you upgrade to 2800+ and extra 512 ram your system will really bang.... make sure that the memory you buy can be bought in 6 months aswell caus you really need 2 identical sticks of ram

    2400+ would be a bit faster thats all but it only has a 266fsb same as 2000+

    Remember the time You used 20Mb harddrives
  17. I'm going to do that very thing myself. I am unsure if it would be usefull getting a single stick of 512 now (and getting another 512 later) or just getting 2 sticks of 256.

    Does anyone see PC3200 C2 Ram from Corsair being considerably cheaper 6 months to a year from now? Current prices are approximately $100 for 256, and $185 for 512.
  18. not very likely, ddr will remain the standard for some time even when ddr 2 comes , future ddr 2 mobo's are said to be backwards compatible with ddr , furthermore prices will probably be a little higher now (holiday season) i do not think prices will vary much

    choice is yours on the 2 times 256 or 1 time 512, you cpu won't be helped with the dual if it's not at least a 2600+ 333FSB and when upgrading you have the problem that the nfoce 2 only has 3 ram slots (i think) so a stable dual config can only be achieved by plugging 2 slots with ram so imo best is one 512 stick now and a second when upgrading, make sure you can get the same and look int a cas module , they are more expensive but give better performance look at corsair imo they have the best, most sites use these to test configurations

    Remember the time You used 20Mb harddrives
  19. I had decided on getting a single stick of 512 PC3200 C2 when I noticed this on the spec:

    Latency: 2-3-3-T1 (one module installed)
    Latency: 2.5-3-3-T2 (two modules installed)

    Install 2 and they are at cas 2.5
  20. is that on the memory module or the mobo

    i know the asus mobo has very agressive memory timing, and that say dual channel 2.5 will perform better than single channel cas 2.5, this is because the programming uses the memory modules much like HD raid configs do, when reading from one stick data packets are sent to he other one and prepped for use etc etc this makes that the memory latency is reduced to a minimum

    Remember the time You used 20Mb harddrives
  21. That's from the module.

    Here's something else I am thinking about. It may be best to get PC3200 now since there's a good chance Barton may come with 400 fsb and I could overclock the Asus to sync.
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