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Upgrade/Rebuild... What should I go for?

Discussion in 'Whatnots' started by Crawl, Nov 15, 2001.

  1. Crawl Gems: 23/31
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    It seems times flies so fast now adays, but it's that time again. The old Celeron 400 just ain't cutting it any more. I've decided to go ahead and use what I have to upgrade to a new system, or just get a rebuild using my existing parts. What I'm looking to get in the new department is:
    -new processor
    -more RAM
    -new 3D graphics card
    -possibly a cdRW drive
    What I'm looking to keep are my:
    -hard drive
    -existing 64 MB RAM
    -Sound card
    -possibly my CD drive

    Ok, now that that is established, the question I pose to you is what should I be looking to get? I know I want to get a new processor obviously. The Cerlon has about served it's use, and it's starting to get a bit outdated as far as the games I play go. And I know it will only get worse. What would you all recommend upgrading to? I don't really want the newest and the fastest. I don't have that much money. I want the most band for my buck so to speak. What will get me the most out of a processor and still make me feel like I've got a good deal. Next comes the RAM. I hear it's cheap. Now another big question. Graphics cards. In this area I am totally clueless. I have no idea what to ever look for. I'd like to get a really good one, but I'm not sure what to go for.

    Alright, all you tech people who know infinately more about this topic than I, what sould I go for. Price is a consideration here, as I was hoping to spend only about $400. That may be low balling myself though, and I'm pretty sure I can't get a cdRW drive in that price. I haven't done enough shoping around to know. Anyway, if you happen to know prices for your suggestions, feel freet to post them. It will help me alot in considering what you suggest. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Lokken Gems: 26/31
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    perhaps you should skip your ram as they might not be the fastest in the world. Also check ahwat your motherboard is. You might need to buy a new one because of the new stuff you want. But you should easily be able to keep the stuff you want to keep
     
  3. Mollusken Gems: 24/31
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    [​IMG] That processor seems to be really out of date now (compared to the games coming up), and so is probably your motherboard as well. I recommend a new Socket A motherboard with a AMD Athlon/Thunderbird processor (or Athlon XP if you want to pay for it ;)).
     
  4. mark the beneficial shah Gems: 5/31
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    I have an e-machine with a 333 celeron, so don't feel bad. Go to Dell.com, and look under thier refurbished computers. You will find a good on for arround five hundred us dollars.
    If I can keep a job down thats what I am going to do.
     
  5. BogiTheWaverer Gems: 12/31
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    I built up my "new" system with used components from online auctions,
    surplus stuff from friends and special offers at computer shops.
    So i managed to put together a PIII 800 system with Asus TUSL2 mobo,
    256MB RAM, Geforce2 MX-400 32MB, 40GB IBM HD, DVD, 8x CD-RW
    and SB-Live! in a Kengtech Midi-tower for about 350$.


    [This message has been edited by BogiTheWaverer (edited November 16, 2001).]
     
  6. Jack Funk Gems: 24/31
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    Nice job for $350.

    If you have the patience and knowledge, then rebuild. If not, buy a new system and use your old one as a file server/network gaming machine.
     
  7. Linael Gems: 3/31
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    I Recently rebuilt for the Imminent games NWN & Motoracer 3.
    1400 Athlon, 256mb memory, Asus A7v mobo, Asus DVD, 40GB IBM Ericsson, 300w case, 15" Samtron Monitor, & GeForce 2. It cost me £750 Sterling (about $950).

    If you build your own, enlist a friends help. It should'nt take more than 2 hrs to build a PC.

    Finally, stuff you can & can't save money on:
    Can't save...
    Video card. You need a Geforce 2 or better.
    Motherboard. Do not buy a cheap one... ever.
    Memory. 256mb of pc2100 is £30 Sterling.

    Can save...
    Monitor. If it can do 1024 X 768 it's good enough unless you do AUTOCAD or something.
    Case. Provided it has a 300w PSU any will do.
    CPU. Top of the range costs 25% more than it will in 5 weeks time. Buy a upper-mid-range CPU like 1.0-1.6 Ghz and upgrade later. (Make sure your Motherboard will support 2.0 Ghz)
    Floppy. Should'nt need one now.
    HDD. 20Gb Minimum should be OK.
    CD. No real advantage to speeds above 16x. Look instead at the Seek & Track-Track times.

    If you can't afford this, look at the small-ads in the papers. Some people sell their 6-month old PC's because of Divorce/Bored/etc and some real bargains can be had.

    Good Luck.

    Linael of the Mists.
     
  8. Mollusken Gems: 24/31
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    From my experience, try not to save too money on anything if you don't have anything else important to spend them on.

    [This message has been edited by Mollusken (edited November 16, 2001).]
     
  9. Crawl Gems: 23/31
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    Ahh, unfortunately my problem is lack of available spending money, not the lack of things to spend it on. So unfortunately buying a system from a store may be out of the question. especially since I'd have to upgrade the video card anyway and I already have some stuff I can use from my old machine. Fortunately, I didn't list that I am keeping my monitor, floppy disk drive(who cares), and speaker system. I am hoping I can get a friend of a friend so to speak to put one together for me as a favor, so all I have to worry about are the parts I need. I *think* I will need a new motherboard, and then of course a new processor, more RAM (not a big money issue...guess I'll pop for the 256RAM), and a new video card. If the gods like me, I can keep my case as well. What is the best video card on the market and how much are we talking about here? Also, by an upper end middle of the road processor, should I be looking to get a low end P4 processor or a high end P3? ALso, how much do good mother boards run these days?
     
  10. Lord Moeken Gems: 13/31
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    Well Crawl, If you want the best of the best you need the Nvidia Geforce 3 or the ATI V8500. Of course you're looking at $400 or more for those things and that would pretty much eat up your budget. For a good afforability/performance ratio you could probably find a cheap ATI Radeon 32 or 64mb DDR or a Geforce 2 GTS for much cheaper.
    It really all depends on when you want to upgrade again. My latter choices should keep you happy for a couple of years.

    BTW, I have the ATI card and it seems very fast to me (compared to my old TNT2 card :))

    As for cdrw - check out a company called LG. They have enexpensive burners that seem to be good quality. Much of their technology and hardware comes directly from Plextor, but at a fraction of the price.

    Mollusken might be on to something as well. You can get a Socket 'A' Mobo and an Athlon for very cheap right now, and if you want to save a few bucks, you can also get a 900 duron for even less. (I built a starter system for my inlaws with a Duron and it really is fast for a budget processor) Socket 'A' is nice because it is so versatile and gives you some upgrade options in the future.

    Here are the essentials:

    256 mb ram - it's so cheap now and will give you a huge performance boost.

    Video Card - if you're doing any gaming then this is a must. A good vcard will give you more performance boost on games than anything else. You can have a super fast processor, but slap in a crap vcard and you're still gonna play those games slow. Go to madonion.com for some good reference material. You can even benchmark your system and compare it to others.

    Motherboard - stepping stone for everything.

    Processor - I'm partial to AMD just because they are much cheaper, yet clock for clock perform better than Intel. AMD does run hotter and has been claimed to be less reliable however (I've never had a prob tho)

    That's about it Crawl - I mean as time goes on you may also want to look at your hard-drive as well. You'd be surprised at how much a faster hd improves overall speed.
    Good luck and shop around, there are some deals out there :)
     
  11. Azardu Gems: 9/31
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    I recommend you wait until the nFORCE based motherboards start appearing. They have an integrated GeForce2MX, a NIC, and soundcard that does Dolby Digital 5.1 encoding in hardware (great if you have a home cinema setup). Buy an Athlon XP with that and 256mb or more DDR RAM. For CDRW, I'd recommend a Plextor drive.

    Here's some info on the nFORCE chipset
     
  12. Crawl Gems: 23/31
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    I don't suppose anyone out there has a link to one of their favorite sites that has some kind of preformance comparison between the Athalon XP and a Pentuim 4. An Athalon XP might fit into my budget (if not, parhaps an Athalon Tunderbird since they should be getting cheaper I guess with the release of XP), but then I'd like to know how they stack up against the Pentium chip. Also, since I'm not exactly hardware literate, how can I tell what type of motherboard I have? It's about 2 years old, came with a package system Packard Bell Cerleron 400 processor. If I were to open the case up, would there be anything in there to tell me what I have? If I need to upgrade to a socket A motherboard, how much does one of those cost? Also, how can I tell if I have enough cooling built into my casing for an AthalonXP processor, and if I don't, do I have to buy a new case or can I just add more/better fan system? And of course, how much will a new casing cost me?

    Ok, now for the RAM. I'm going for 256 MB. Is there any specifics I should look for, brands etc? Yes I'm clueless, so take that into accout;)

    Everyone seems to like the GeForce 2 cards, so I guess I will look into those. They seem to be reasonably priced and I think one of those will fit into my budget (if motherboard and housing don't break me...hoping they won't).

    Finally, anyone out there have a link to a good site that has a good listing of standard retail prices for these part groups (graphics cards, processor, motherboards, etc) and a description of the various brands?

    [This message has been edited by Crawl (edited November 18, 2001).]
     
  13. Azardu Gems: 9/31
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    Basically, the comparison goes like this:
    You buy an Athlon XP 1500+, it's supposed to be as fast as a Pentium 4 at that speed, although the processor itself is actually clocked a bit lower than that.

    And that old motherboard of yours has to be replaced by a socket A or 478 depending on your choice of Athlon or P4.

    If you open your case, check what color the slot where your soundcard is fitted. If it's black, you need to buy a new soundcard as well (another reason to go with the nForce :p) because of outdated technology no longer supported.

    Most computers I've seen run just fine with one fan/heatsink combo on the CPU and one fan in the PowerSupplyUnit, so you shouldn't need to worry yourself about that. Just make sure you get a decent fan/heatsink which is rated for the CPU you decide to go with. Checking that the case is fully ATX compliant might be a good thing too, but I think most PentiumII and up systems are...

    And you'll most likely have to replace your memory, as it is probably made for a 66mhz internal bus. Go for DDR SDRAM, but make sure that the new motherboard supports it. From what I hear, Mushkin and Corsair are good brands, but I haven't been able to test those myself.

    For price comparisons etc, go to http://www.pricewatch.com/
     
  14. Crawl Gems: 23/31
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    Arzadu, I do like the nFORCE IPG. I read the link you were so kind to post, and it looks like a very nice combo deal indeed. I'm just wondering if there is any fixed date for release. I've got about a month until I can have enough for an upgrade anyway, so I'm interested in the product. I'm just wondering what it will cost, which is always a concern.

    Otherwise, I'm liking the AthalonXP 1600 range thus far because the motherboard and processor would save me quite a bit on the P4, even if the preformance is noticeably less. Nice combo for $161. The memory I'm still not sure on. I have no idea really what the different types of PCDDR memory (2700, 2400, 2100) are for. Either way, not alot really. After looking at all the GeForce 2 cards on the market, I'm bewildered. What type of GeForce 2 would I want? They've got Ultra, TI, Pro, MMX 400, MMX 200, and GTS. What should I shoot for? What will give me the best deal of the bunch as I don't really need the best, just something that will work well for 3d and 2d applications and games. After looking at all of that, it looks like I can still get most of what I want for under $400, even if I do have to get a new sound card (haven't checked yet and....Jesus, when did sound cards get that cheap? Good lord, are those prices for real? I mean two years ago as best as I can remember they were more than twice that...I'd guess I could pop and extra $20 something for an AWE 64 at that price)
     
  15. Lord Moeken Gems: 13/31
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    For some useful hardware information check out: http://www.anandtech.com/

    or http://www.tomshardware.com/
    for great reviews and even some of the comparisons you may be looking for.

    A little research can go a long way to making the corret hardware decision.

    the forums are full of useful opinions and information.

    The deciding factor on what cpu your existing motherboard will accept is the Slot/Socket type and the onboard chipset. I would hazard to guess that a new motherboard would be in order for you. Your case is probably an ATX case and thus will accept any of the new motherboards. One thing you may want to look at is the size of your powersupply. Today's power hungry peripherals and processors require rock solid 3.3, 5 and 12 volt sources. I would recommend at least a 250W or higher supply. The Athlon XP actually runs cooler than the older Athlon Thunderbirds because their circuits are smaller and thus produce less heat. I have an Athlon TB 1.33 Ghz and it does run hot. But a couple of cheapo case fans improve the airflow substantially.

    Another good memory supplier is Crucial.

    Crawl, go to this website and you can download a free, very handy utility that will tell you alot of information about your system, including motherboard info. It also is great for testing your existing hardware.
    http://www.sisoftware.co.uk/sandra
     
  16. NoYur_Role Gems: 4/31
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    I've seen a gaming PC system which looks like it is the pinnicle of the PC gaming community but I need to know if anyone has had any experience using an AlienWare computer? Is it really as good as advertised or should I go for something else?
     
  17. Sir Dargorn Gems: 21/31
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    Just a quick note on celerons.

    A celeron 400 will run 99 out of a hundred games for many years to come. There is some sort of myth about celerons being worse at games but in fact they are worse with desktop functions not games.
    A 400 is perfectly acceptable and twinned with a good graphics card will do the job pretty damn well.
    I have a celeron 750 with no graphics card and only 64mb of ram. I can play arcanum, theif 2, half life, deus ex, stronghold, red faction, all with no problem. And again i must state that i have no graphics chip just the standard 5 mb intergrated system.

    As for a budget choice for a graphics card i would recommend the 3d prophet range which starts with a 32 mb card for just £60 and a 64 for just £80.
     
  18. Azardu Gems: 9/31
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    Crawl: I think MSI has one out these days.
    And the difference between the various DDR memory types are the maximum speed they are rated at, I think (though I might be wrong).
    Graphics-wise, the MX200 and MX400 are the bottom of the line, while the Ti, Ultra and Pro are at the top. That makes the GTS the one in between ;) Depending on your needs though, one of the MX ones might be more than enough for you.
    For a soundcard, don't buy an AWE64, it's old and ISA (the black connector no longer found on motherboards, or did they make a PCI version of it too?). I don't really know what to recommend here. SoundBlaster Live is good, or used to be, but I have read some bad stories about their cards on newer versions of Windows (in Windows 2000 and XP, I hear a strange sound in the headphones all the time myself). Can't say about their newest product, the Audigy though. A lot of people have recommended the Hercules Game Theater XP, but it has an external connector bay that makes it a bit more expensive than the vanilla soundcards.
    By the way, it's Athlon, not Athalon :)

    NoYur_Role: Could you post the computer specifications?

    Sir Dargorn: What resolutions are you playing 3d games in? And the point is not to merely run games, but to have them run fast and smooth ;) And you should definitely consider buying some more RAM, as disk trashing is not very healthy for your HDD (or can you deny that you have a lot of harddrive activity when playing games?).

    A minor correction to my previous post:
    The number on those CPUs are not meant as a comparison between them and the P4s, but between them and the older Athlon Thunderbirds.
     
  19. Azirath Gems: 6/31
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    Crawl if you want cheap computers wait until right after the holidays and they will be *very* cheap, or you could buy all the parts seperately, there are books and online tutorials on how to everywhere if you have the time and the patience, this is probably what you might want either way:

    windows 2000 P3 1.2ghz
    192mb of 123mhz rdram
    40gb hard drive
    44X speed cd-rom/cd-r and possibly a dvd
    32mb geforce 2 or 32mb radeon
    creative labs awe32
    some kind of high speed internet connection

    this is my computer, i built it in 7 hours for a little over 1000 dollars.

    windows 2000 amd thunderbird 1.8ghz
    4 sticks of 128mb 123mhz rdram
    geforce 2 64mb ram
    soundblaster awe32 surround sound speakers
    50x cd-rom/cd-writer
    dual 60gb ultra high-density hard drives
    oc32 comcast high speed internet

    [This message has been edited by Azirath (edited November 18, 2001).]
     
  20. NoYur_Role Gems: 4/31
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    You can find all the different specification at their web site www.alienware.com They even have a section where you can customize your own PC.
     
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