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Thread: Upgrade or build new?




  1. #1
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    With Half 2 and Doom 3 coming up, and looking at all the nice systems on TweakTown, I've decided it's finally time to upgrade. A little history: The machine I use is maybe a year and a half old and is a Gateway that was given to me as a gift(:grr: could have built two better comps for what this cost). It has an Intel 64 MB AGP (AGP quality, but no AGP slot :grr: ) integrated video "card." The processor is a low-end Northwood P4: 2 GHz, 100 MHz FSB (quad-pumped), 12K Trace 8K data 512 L2. The mobo is a crappy 845 Intel board; BIOS doesn't allow OCing:grr: (not that that would be wise considering the cooling). RAM is 512 DDR PC2100 (but the stupid BIOS said it was 504 after I updated it, so I don't even get full advantage of that).
    To summarize, nothing is really good, but the video card is the only thing totally killing me. The question is: Should I bother buying a new video card (anything with cell shading and such for games) and possibly other hardware? Can I even put a PCI video card in and not have any sort of major conflict? Or should I just keep saving money (currently have $140 U.S., enough for minor upgrades) and build something that will last a few years? If I should upgrade, what exactly should be upgraded? I'm no real expert in hardware (been so long since I've built a computer:( ), so what can I upgrade (RAM, processor, etc.) and what should I upgrade?

  2. #2
    Beefy Guest

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    Can't really comment too much on those games until they come out and we see what they need in a PC, but chances are any PCI video card you can get will be below par.

    If you got a Gateway, then I suggest simply leaving that system alone and building yourself one from scratch. It'll save hassles in the long run, and give you a second PC to use / sell.

  3. #3
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    I hoped you wouldn't say that. :( I'll wait for more input but I bet that's the best choice. Unfortunately (should have said this before), by the time I have saved up enough money (let's say another $300 U.S.), thos games probably won't even be considered new anymore. It could take six months or longer. And even selling this thing (although I'd rather use it as a server or something later) would have to involve me suckerng one of my friends into paying too much for it and I would still only have a mid-range system (most likely). but still, I could upgrade it.:grr: Okay enough arguing with myself out loud, I guess I'll for more input.

  4. #4
    Beefy Guest

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    At the moment I'm putting together a basic PC for a server at home. So far, on a $350AUS (about $200-$250 US) I've managed the following:

    Athlon XP 2000+
    nForce2 MB (with onboard GF4MX / sound)
    512MB DDR
    Existing case / HDD / CD drive.

    That's a basic system, but if I ever want to make it into something more than a server, it's easy done. The mobo will support up to a 3200+ XP CPU, more RAM, can always insert an AGP video card. Just remember that you don't have to start out with the big system you want. An nForce2 board with onboard video / sound will be an improvement to what you currently have, then you can add a new video card when you decide you can afford one. More drives can be added later as well, so you can always take the HDD / CD drive out of your Gateway until you can afford and upgrade there, then put them back in once you are finished.

  5. #5
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    I can get the hard drive out of this thing (80 gig Maxtor, the only thing in this that isn't totally outdated), and I have a DVD drive and a CD burner so I don't need both. I actually got an idea in other thread about building a case out of legos. I don't have any spare cases anymore but I have tons of legos from when I was younger. I'll start out with a cheap enough video card-- it just needs to be able to play HL2 and such (needs cell shading). Again, it's been so long since I've really messed with hardware so I don't know what video card is going to be good for my needs. How much better will the XP 2000+ be over my P4 2GHz (and what's it cost)?

    You think I could get all that and good mobo\processor\RAM etc. for under $350 U.S.? (monitor, keyboard, etc. aren't needed either) Or what about goin with your stuff? You seem to be doing well so far ($250? nice), but will that do what I need it to at the moment? More information on the board video please (my ignorance shows through again...does it have cell shading?).

  6. #6
    Beefy Guest

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    If you do what I did, you'll want something better than the 2000XP+ that I purchased. I'm not intending on using that machine from gaming, and it was the cheapest Athlon XP I could buy new.

    The onboard video on the nForce2 board I got is a Geforce 4 MX, with however much RAM you assign from your total (for example, if you have 512MB RAM, you can assign 32MB to the video card, leaving you with 480MB RAM). The Geforce 4 MX is simply a faster Geforce 2. It's fast for what it does, but it doesn't support DirectX 8 or 9 technology. I've got a feeling that either Doom 3 or HL2 (or both) will want at least a card with DirectX 8 support. However, as I said earlier, you can use the GF4MX for now, and then when you can afford it, upgrade to a better video card (a Radeon 9800XT or Geforce 5950 will work fine). From what I saw, the onboard GF4MX only cost an extra $30 AUS or so ($20 US), so it's up to you how you do it.

    A Lego case is a nice idea, but it's a lot of work. Making sure that motherboards / drives fit properly and are secure, wiring it all up, doing buttons, etc.. takes a lot of effort, plus they aren't the greatest for heat either. I'd see if you can find a simple, cheap case that comes with a nice little 300W / 350W PSU.

  7. #7
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    Okay, I'm going to start searching for hardware right now (I can do something on my own). Ill go for that mobo with the integratted stuff for now (cheap = good). I think I want at least 768 MB RAM, exactly what kind of RAM should I get (brand, PCxxxx, etc.)? I'll start looking for processor but I could use some advice on exactly which XP I should get. I guess I'll look for a case, for now. I wasn't totally in favor of taking the time and effort to make a lego one.:rolleyes2 I think I can find the other hardware on my own but I'll post again if I find something.

  8. #8
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    Mobo:
    http://www.chaintechusa.com/tw/eng/p...c.asp?PISNo=12
    Seems cheap enough, is it what I'm looking for?
    What brand PSU? I've found dozens 350W about $12-14 U.S., many are "house brand" or "generic".
    I'm going to be totally stumped on cooling as well. What do you think I 'll need for cooling? I might want to figure out case first though.

    Edit: http://www.antec-inc.com/pro_details...?ProdID=80602#
    Found that from the TT price grabber link I found in the sticky above this. I can't figure out if it has enough USB ports and such though. I would prefer not to spend more than that much ($30) on a case as there is a free alternative I am avoiding.

  9. #9
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    Well YawgmOth, since i'm bored & nobody wants to play in the BG Games.............i did a quick google and came up with 3 case alternatives and a barebones system that you might consider.
    All 3 cases come with PSU's (Generic).You'll find them as follows:

    $24.99

    $27.99

    $39.99

    And

    $209.99
    Happiness isn't something you experience; it's something you recall.

  10. #10
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    That system looks pretty nice. Does the the mobo come with that integrated video Beefy was talking about? You think that plus RAM, case, cords and anything else I need would be doable for under $300? I figure 768 PC3200 and a cheap case\PSU would bring it slightly over $300. What else would I need? Just cords? Looks like it can already support 6 USB. Beefy or anyone else have any objections? That looks pretty good. I could probably sell this thing to a friend for $200-$300 (more, but I can't totally rip him off) leaving me enough money to get it.

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