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Need to make some upgrades.





william
Well, this computer I'm on right now has been serving me for almost three years. When I bought it, it was considered high end, with some pretty nice specifications. Well, technology changes quickly, and I've been meaning to make upgrades a few months after I bought it, but I never got around to it. There are quite a few things I'd like to upgrade, but I also have a budget of about $100. So, the question is, what should I upgrade?

My specifications:
Pentium 4 @ 2.8 GHz with HT Technology, 800 MHz FSB and 1 MB of L2 Cache
512 MB of RAM @ 400 MHz.
160 GB Hard Drive at 7200 RPM
nVidia GeForce FX 5200 Graphics Card with 128 MB of VRAM (AGP)
DVD+RW Drive and a DVD-ROM Drive (dead)
250 Watt PSU

Now, my list of upgrades is quite expansive. Here's a list of the upgrades I wish to make:

-Another gigabyte of RAM; when this thing is idle, I'm using about 300 MB of RAM; recently when I was doing some designing, I was using all my RAM plus 4 GB of virtual RAM. Filling my RAM completely happens on a daily basis.

-A new optical drive; my DVD-ROM drive is dead, and I don't want to put any of my old, ugly, and slow CD drives in this computer. Razz

-A new graphics card; this one has been giving me some issues. They can be fixed, but some more graphics power would be nice as I do some gaming on this.

-400 Watt PSU- I didn't build this computer only because the deal I got was incredible. I was really mad with the 250 Watt PSU, but I never did make the upgrade.

-TV Tuner- Installing Windows XP MCE was my original plan when I bought this computer. However, I went with XP Pro. My plan was to get MCE paired with a TV Tuner and Remote.

With the $100 I have to spend on this computer, what upgrades should I make. I'm almost certain that I should buy another gig of RAM, but other upgrades I'm a bit unsure about. What do you guys think?
psycosquirrel
Get 512Mb of RAM, and a new video card first. That should eat your $100.

CD Drive next.

Then, get a decent PSU. The XClio 450BL was the best you can get for your money, but Newegg stopped selling them (or is oos). Here is a step up from that, still really cheap: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817189005

Tuner should come last.
william
Hmm...well, are you sure about 512 MB? I'm a power user and multi-tasker (it's not uncommon for me to be running 27 applications at once with 8 of them being demanding).

Video card, I can see where you're going, and probably will make that second. It's possible I may buy the DVD drive first.

As for the power supply, quite nice. Very Happy I'm actually surprised I haven't seen this before. But, I may go for a lower wattage.

And I'll have to agree with you on the TV tuner.

But, my question remains this; should I really get another 512 MB, or a GB?
DecayClan
Get 512 Ram and a psu.
When you get more money, get a new vga for over 100$.
As long as you do have one good DvD-RW, you don't really need an other one. Disconnect the old one, because all that it can do, is cause trouble.( and it is only getting power from your already over-used PSU).
calicamper
Definetly go with the RAM and a new PSU first. Then as your budget grows a new graphics card, the GeForce 8000 series has some decent options. We'll have to wait and see about ATI's 2000 series. Make sure that the PSU you get provides enough power, some of the new graphics cards are hungry!
william
My dead DVD Drive is unplugged, but still in the case. The PSU, I really do need to upgrade, but I'm actually not using it to it's max, yet. Now, I'm still not sure about getting another 512 MB, as 1 GB of RAM for me is nothing. And, as for the graphics card, I don't need anything extremely high end, just a bit more powerful than the one I have now. Plus, it's also AGP, so some of the high end cards aren't for me.
calicamper
Quote:
And, as for the graphics card, I don't need anything extremely high end, just a bit more powerful than the one I have now. Plus, it's also AGP, so some of the high end cards aren't for me.



You can still get some decent cards that are AGP.

GeForce 7600 GS for about $100
http://www.pricegrabber.com/p__MSI_GeForce_7600_GS_Video_Card,__22919602


GeForce 7800 GS OC for about $170
http://www.pricegrabber.com/p__eVGA_e_GeForce_7800_GS_CO_Video_Card_w_EVGA_Top_Plate,__16697823

If you wait a little bit longer the ATI cards will force down the price of the GeForce line but with AGP it's going to be slim pickings (I'm in the same boat...)
william
Yeah, I'm aware of those cards. I was mainly referring to the high end 7 series, the 8 series, and ATI's new 2000 series. Also, the video card upgrade I'll make will most likely be an nVidia card. ATI only if I find a really good deal. I'm also taking a look at their All in wonder cards. But, as I've heard, their performance isn't so great, so the chances of me purchasing one is quite low.
psycosquirrel
I think that you would hit a bottleneck with your video card if you had more than 1Gb of RAM, unless you are multitasking very simple apps. I would recommend getting another 512Mb for now, and upgrading your video at the same time, to keep everything balanced.

That should hold you over for awhile, then you should try to make the jump to PCI-E and DDR2. The more you invest into the old system, the more you waste, because it will become obsolete faster from inability to upgrade.
william
Well, I can see where you're going. Most of the applications I multitask are extremely demanding. OK, I'll probably get another 512 MB of RAM plus a decent graphics card. I'll try to figure out what card to get. I'll mainly be looking an nVidia's midrange 7 series for now. But, one more question, would you suggest getting two sticks of 256 MB, or one stick of 512 MB for RAM?

And as for moving over to PCI-E and DDR2, I've been planning that for a while. I have a high end rig planned, but I ended up with some budget issues (that computer is quite pricey). I'm getting a high end laptop very soon, though. This is to replace my obsolete notebook (way more obsolete than my desktop). Afterwards, I'm going for a new desktop.
ForceRun
Well sorry to tell you but your rig is getting old, you need to start considering is it worth the cash to upgrade the old or can you start saving for you new computer. I would spend any more money on your current rig, nothing can be used in a new system. All the Mobo, CPU, Ram has to go. PSU, Video card (AGP to PCI-E), almost anything you will buy will work work with any kind of new system.

If you just won't have any kind of money any time soon, you will see the highest preformance if you get a 7600, any thing else is a waste of money.

512MB of total ram is very low, but any ram you buy, is pretty much worthless as soon as you open it. Heck, DDR2 is cheaper than DDR, and DDR is getting harder and harder to find.
william
Yeah, I'm aware. As I mentioned, getting a new rig was in my plans for awhile. I actually have over $1000 saved to be spent on computers. However, I would prefer to spend that money on a new laptop and a few upgrades to my desktop. I'll buy my new rig right when I get the money. For now, it's just upgrades (I only want to spend $100 of the cash I saved for this computer's upgrades). As for graphics, a 7600 is what I was considering, and probably what I'll purchase. RAM, I don't know how I've lived with a mere 512 MB and I really need to upgrade that.
william
OK, I've been thinking about this for awhile. The idea that this computer is so outdated annoys me. But unfortunately, I'm making two major purchases soon (a new laptop and TV), so I really can't go for a new desktop right now. I've decided to upgrade the RAM right now, and the power supply soon afterwards. I know that most of you guys suggested getting another 512 MB, but my decision is to get another gigabyte, but then immediately upgrade my GPU (I really don't want to upgrade RAM, then upgrade the GPU and RAM again).

So, I need some suggestions for what to purchase. For RAM, like I said I'm going for another GB, but it's still possible that I go with 512 MB. For the PSU, I really like the one psycosquirrel mentioned, but I'm considering a lower wattage. And finally, for the graphics card, I'm most likely getting a GeForce 7600 GS. What do you guys suggest?
psycosquirrel
It will be worth it to spend a bit extra on the extra wattage of that PSU. It will last a LOOOONG time, you can use it in your next build too.

Get Corsair, Kingston, OCZ, etc (a mainstream, GOOD brand) for your RAM. Your best bet would be to go for a 1Gb stick, it'll probably be cheaper anyways than going with 2x512Mb. This is the cheapest 1Gb stick I would go with off of Newegg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220030 Or, if you want 2x512Mb --which still will be fine, you really shouldn't care too much about it, because your mobo probably can't really use more than 2Gb, and might be able to run 1T with 3 512 sticks, which would probably be better than 2T with unmatched sticks-- you could go with this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146577 which is an awesome deal after rebates. We use that EXACT memory in almost all systems in my department at Georgia Tech. It is rock-solid and never fails.

As for the video card, I would say get a GT if possible. The GS still is a good card though.
william
Well, I never did think about my next rig. I think 500 watts may be too low for my future rig Razz but it actually maybe useful for this other computer I plan to build (not my main computer, but none the less). I just quickly calculated a couple things, and I realized at full load I would be using over 400 watts, plus this extra wattage would be nice for later use. Thus, I've decided to go ahead with the one you recommended. I keep saying this, but it really is nice.

RAM, my personal favorites are Crucial and Corsair. I'd also be fine with Kingston and some other brands. The Patriot one you mentioned is cheap, no doubt, but I've had some bad experience with that company. Never again will I buy from them. Anyhow, the second one you listed is what I was looking at, only the 1 GB version. I'm only getting a single stick, losing dual channel, but that's not too bad.

As for graphics, I think I just may be able to shell out enough for a 7600 GT. It'll cost me ~$30 more, but I think it is worth it. What do you suggest? I'm thinking about XFX or eVGA if they have it.
Mannix
I agree on the RAM. That's pretty small for this era. ...Really. ...You should have at least 1 GB.

I strongly dislike that video card also. ...I had one personally, and was very impressed with how the Radeon completely out-classed it.

And yes, a working CD drive might be important there too.... ?
william
OK, guys, I have one major problem. Normally I work with custom built computers, but as I mentioned, I bought this due to the incredible deal. This computer is a Dell Dimension, and I don't know if that power supply will work unless I get a new case, or mod this one. Now I'm really in a bad situation, because if most PSU's don't work on this system, I'll be forced to get one certified to work on Dells, meaning I'd be limited to 350-400 watts. I may be able to get the power supply into this computer, but I'm not sure. I didn't realize this before because I always custom build my computers, and upgrading those computers is quite easy.
DecayClan
william wrote:
OK, guys, I have one major problem. Normally I work with custom built computers, but as I mentioned, I bought this due to the incredible deal. This computer is a Dell Dimension, and I don't know if that power supply will work unless I get a new case, or mod this one. Now I'm really in a bad situation, because if most PSU's don't work on this system, I'll be forced to get one certified to work on Dells, meaning I'd be limited to 350-400 watts. I may be able to get the power supply into this computer, but I'm not sure. I didn't realize this before because I always custom build my computers, and upgrading those computers is quite easy.


RaTS, this really sucks man... If i were you, i would prefer to "make a psu fit" or better buy a new case... ( i found some very good ones with only 40Euros). I wouldn't buy "a dell" because my choices would be limited, and even if i found a Dell certified that is a very good deal, i would still be sceptical about it, because of the future use, because i am sure that in the future, at some point, i will need to do something, that the case would forbid me to. ( i use my old computers, as servers, and stuff like that, if you throw them away, then this isn't something that should worry you.)
william
Yeah, I too am skeptical about it. But, it might be my only choice unless I could stick with the 250 Watt PSU I currently have. I really don't feel like modding this case, because I would rather just spend a mere $20-$30 on a new one. I never did like this case because of the PSU, the lack expandability, and that horrid Dell logo. Evil or Very Mad Unfortunately, my choice of cases is also limited, because of the BTX form factor.

This has really been annoying me for awhile. With the upgrades I'm making, getting a new PC would be better, but I can't do that at the moment. This is about the only desktop I've purchased from a vendor (other than my old IBM desktop), and I really have not been pleased. Despite the fact I got nearly $500 off, I now don't think it was worth it.

Well, anyway, I'll upgrade the RAM and try to live with it. I may do something with graphics, but the PSU is what's really bugging me. If things get worse I may buy myself a new case along with a 500 watt PSU and stick everything in there. I'll keep looking at PSUs that are compatible with this as well.
psycosquirrel
If you are so limited on everything, just save the money and put it towards your next build so that you can get it faster.
william
I wish I could, but unfortunately, I need upgrades now, and I can't get a new computer. It's my only choice. Anyway, I think I may have just resolved the power supply problem. I'm going to go purchase a PSU of decent quality. If things work out properly, I'll be going for another gigabyte of RAM and a 7800 GT graphics card. In the mean time, does anybody have any suggestions for which brand of graphics cards to go for?
psycosquirrel
eVGA, XFX, or BFG (in that order).

Avoid PNY.
william
OK, cool, as that happens to be exactly what I considered. eVGA is my personal favorite, never had any problems with them. Other than those three companies, the only other company I looked at is Asus. Although that's my fourth choice, does anybody have any experience with their's? Still, I would most likely go on with eVGA.

OK, so I've compiled what parts to get.

-XCLIO GOODPOWER 500 Watt Power Supply
-1 GB of RAM from Crucial (one stick)
-7600 GT Graphics card, probably from eVGA.

I'll purchase the first two first, and soon afterwards get the graphics card. And, hoping that I'll be able to squeeze some more power out of this, I'll be wiping my hard drive and starting over, hoping that the performance would meet my expectations.

Thanks again everyone for the help.
psycosquirrel
Asus is fine. It is #4 on my list Laughing

Try using 2000 instead of XP, that should give a bit of a performance boost too.
william
Alright. My final decision has been made. I'll be going for an eVGA model.

As for Windows 2000, I lost my copy of it years ago. Sad If I still had it, I would have had a dual boot on this computer. (A lot of software I have won't run properly on 2000) Oh, by the way, (thought I should mention this) I'll be partitioning my drive to allow a dual boot, one for Windows and one for Linux.
psycosquirrel
Cool. What distro?
william
Not too sure. Most likely going to be either Ubuntu or Fedora Core. I have both installed on this other system, but it'd be nice to have Linux on my main system.
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