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What To Upgrade, What To Keep?


Jenn
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I've upgraded my computer in the past, but never built one. Got my little $600 check, and want to see what can be upgraded. Currently using it for gaming, DVD watching and Photoshop.

 

My hubby is all gung-ho for getting a Phenom 9850 processor w/a ASRock AliveNF7G motherboard, but he can't give me a good reason when I ask "Why?" To me, it feel like he's found the most expensive processor he can find and putting it into the cheapest motherboard he can find. I'm not against spending $300 for a processor or a motherboard, or even both, but I think it's silly if the boost we're going to get will be minimal. I'm more concerned with the fact that, IMO, our video graphics are not compatible with our monitor; it only allowed for 640x480 resolution unless we go into the control panel and disable.

 

Here's what we have:

 

Processor: Athlon 64 X2 dual core X2 5600+ @2.8 GHz. The CPU numbers in PC Wizard seem to jump b/t 1.8 and 2.8 every second; don't know if that's good or bad.

Motherboard: ECS Nettle2. I have no freaking idea about this mobo because I can't find anything about it online.

Chipset: nVidia 6100v

Graphics: nVidia GE 6150SE nForce 430. We recently got a video card (for free) that is a GeForce 7350LE, but I don't know if installing it would accomplish anything.

Monitor: Philips MAG 20MF500T

RAM: 3GB installed w/a maximum of 8GB

Socket: AM2 (940). I assume this means it won't fit an AM2+ processor.

 

I'm looking at my numbers in PC Wizard and I don't see anything that suggests that anything just *needs* to be upgraded, but I'm sure there's room for some improvement. The core temperatures average at about 42 degree; core 1 is loading at 40%, with core 2 at 20%, but I'm not too sure what those numbers mean. Looking at these numbers, is there anything right away that screams "SUCK"? If there's a way to merely upgrade some things on this mobo that would boost performance, I'd rather do that than look at another mobo, and possibly another processor to boot. If we go get another processor/mobo, then I want something that will SIGNIFICANTLY boost performance, not just a little bit.

Edited by Jenn

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Well, not sure how you feel about going intel

 

Also, not sure what sort of RAM you have atm, but if it's decent, 600 dollars can go a long long way

 

Let's see here...

 

Let's say you DID go with intel, and upgraded your RAM as well, here are a few links from newegg:

 

CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16819115052

RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16820148076 (20 bucks after MIR) (2GB, only, but I'm not a fan of having 3GB in a system)

MOBO: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16813128347

GPU: Any 8800 GT, which you can find for 120-150. You can also spend 200 on a 4850, if you wish.

 

In any case, this totals to 400-450 before shipping. It is, imo, a nice upgrade to what you have right now. The remaining 150 can be used to get a PSU, if your current one doesn't support the upgrades, or a new case, or both (you can get two high quality pieces for both areas if you search a bit, or just bump up to $650, total).

 

If your case and PSU are fine, I'd say keep your monitor and upgrade your HD. The monitor will eat up 200 bucks for no real 'performance' benefit. Obviously if your HD is ok, too, then you could look to get a new monitor :D. If you're looking to OC, slap on an arctic cooling freezer for only 25 bucks, great bang for the buck, as long as the OC'ing isn't tooooo extreme. You said you use this for gaming, the upgrades I listed will be a large boost to performance. Really, the 150 can go anywhere you deem necessary (new sound, or the options I mentioned, or w/e). Bottom line, to me, is that if I had a computer with your specs, I'd spend the 600 on an overall upgrade, rather than focusing on supercharging one part of it.

 

 

EDIT: now that I look at it, I'm not sure your CPU even really need that big of an upgrade atm. You can focus on getting other parts, such as sound or w/e, instead. The mobo, in my opinion, still needs an upgrade.

Edited by avo345

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In the end I buildt my computer for about around $750. Got everything that's in my sig for around that much. So it should be pretty easy to slap one together for $600 or if you can $700.

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The CPU numbers in PC Wizard seem to jump b/t 1.8 and 2.8 every second; don't know if that's good or bad.

It's AMD's power-saving changing the speed of the processor when full speed is not needed

I have no freaking idea about this mobo because I can't find anything about it online.

6100 AM2 says enough

 

The 7350LE is probably marginally better than the onboard...

 

640x480 screams out suck lol, that's a horrendous resolution for a monitor (looks like your TV is 640x480)

 

seeing as you have AM2, you already have DDR2 RAM, so an upgrade to a 775 mobo with Core2 CPU would be a relatively painless upgrade that could be anywhere from a good upgrade to massive, depending on how heavily you use Photoshop...

 

for games you could improve the 3D performance and quality dramatically even with a cheap card like the 3850

 

I think the first thing you should upgrade is the monitor/TV!! Get one with a DVI input with a resolution of 1680x1050 (or at the very least 1366x768 for a TV)... if you don't actually watch TV on it, you could get a monitor and separate speakers... I'm pretty sure the 7350LE has a DVI output, so you'd only have to upgrade the display to be able to watch DVDs properly, and have some space in Photoshop... if you can stretch to it, 1920x1200 is awesome

 

the 7350LE uses TurboCache which steals your system RAM... you can disable the RAM stealing, but then some games might not load... just get a 3850 or similar if you are a casual gamer

 

I think for Photoshop and gaming, a Core2 Duo @ 3GHz (i.e. E6750 (65nm) or E8400 (45nm)) or higher would give you a massive jump in performance, even at stock speed... a Core2Duo @ 2.4 is about the same as an X2 @ 2.8... so [email protected] is 25% extra speed before you've even considered overclocking... a very modest OC of E8400 @ 3.8 GHz would be about 60% faster for Photoshop at least compared to your current system

 

Watching DVDs can be done on computers that are 10 years old or more... but a proper graphics card and C2D would let you have the option of watching HD video like BluRay or downloable HD content... use the DVI output of the graphics card to either DVI or HDMI on the monitor/TV for the best quality picture for movies...

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hey, dont know if this is what your looking to do, it might be more then you willing to spend too but its a good deal in my mind and will be a very nice computer. you would need a CPU cooler and video card.

 

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/Se...&CatId=2405

 

EDIT: the only thing that "screams suck" is prob the video card.

Edited by T3mpest

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Thanks to everyone for all your help! I had a feeling I was going to need to go to an Intel. What happened to Athlon, exactly? All I heard for the past few years was how much better Athlon was than Intel, and now, everything I read says Athlon has fallen off.

 

EDIT: now that I look at it, I'm not sure your CPU even really need that big of an upgrade atm. You can focus on getting other parts, such as sound or w/e, instead. The mobo, in my opinion, still needs an upgrade.

 

Okay, any mobo recommendations? Would my current CPU be about equal to an E8400 @ 3.0, or not as fast? Also, why do you not like more than 2GB? The RAM installed is DDR2 SDRAM PC2-5300.

 

I think for Photoshop and gaming, a Core2 Duo @ 3GHz (i.e. E6750 (65nm) or E8400 (45nm)) or higher would give you a massive jump in performance, even at stock speed... a Core2Duo @ 2.4 is about the same as an X2 @ 2.8... so [email protected] is 25% extra speed before you've even considered overclocking... a very modest OC of E8400 @ 3.8 GHz would be about 60% faster for Photoshop at least compared to your current system

 

That sounds doable. Here are the two I'm looking at.

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16819115037

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16819115052

 

The second one is $60 cheaper but the processor to the first one is what you advised. Are the differences between the two CPUs worth the $60 difference?

 

Also, should I be looking at a mobo/CPU combo, or look to get them separately? I've heard of places selling good CPUs but crappy mobos.

http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZbestcalifornia - this seller has a lot of mobo/cpu combos that look solid

http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-E8500-45nm-CORE-2-...1QQcmdZViewItem - I know the price is worth the CPU alone, but I don't know if paying the extra money for an E8500 is worth it over an E8400.

 

Watching DVDs can be done on computers that are 10 years old or more...

 

The monitor I use is also an HDTV. It's also the only TV we have. We only paid $150 for this one, so it's the last thing I'm trying to replace. I see a lot of beautiful monitors for under $250, but I haven't found one that doubles as a TV that we could actually afford.

 

but a proper graphics card and C2D would let you have the option of watching HD video like BluRay or downloable HD content... use the DVI output of the graphics card to either DVI or HDMI on the monitor/TV for the best quality picture for movies...

 

7350 does have a DVI output. Here's the weird thing: when we were running XP w/this monitor, we had no problem adjusting the resolution. With Vista, it won't adjust at all past 640x480 unless you disable the graphics (and then it looks like garbage). So if there's a way to get around this "graphics acceleration" crap that Vista uses, I'd appreciate knowing how. Even paying money for a new video card would probably be cheaper than spending enough money to replace a monitor that doubles as an HDTV.

Edited by Jenn

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Here's a couple suggestions

 

Gigabyte EP43-DS3L - $99

E7200 - $129

MSI 4850 - $199 (The upgrade in performance from what you have now will be night and day with this card. Like going from driving a lawnmower to work to driving a porsche. You could also just grab a 3850 if savings were needed.)

 

Your ram should be fine as it'll handle up to 333mhz fsb, but if you needed too; 2gb of some newer DDR2-800 wouldn't set you back much at all. Example!!! - $43

 

Total: $427/470 (w/ ram) or $360ish with the 3850

 

And honestly the difference will be huge in the gaming portion, and probably quite a bit faster all around.

 

With the extra cash you could probably use that for a better PSU, something along the lines of say Corsair 450W. I've got the same PSU, and its great

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Is there a big difference between the E7200, E8400 and E8500? I want to do this one right, because I don't plan to do this again for a LONG time. I've read of E8400s overclocking an average of 3.8, where E8500s can seem to go into the 4.3-4.5 range. Not too sure if the difference is worth the jump in cash.

Edited by Jenn

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If your not upgrading for awhile, the E8400 would be the better choice. The E8500 isn't really worth the extra cash though, but the difference between the E7200 and E8400 is.

 

Whatever you end up doing, the combo of either of those CPU's and the 4850 will have you gaming comfortably for a very long time, not to mention watching DVD movies/photoshop.

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Awesome. The E8400 it is. Now it's a matter of getting a motherboard. What am I supposed to be looking for? Anything I've ever upgraded just had me adding to the mobo that was already in the computer; I've never bought one before. eBay has some pretty inexpensive CPU/mobo combos, but I don't know if that's because the mobos aren't any good or if they're just good prices.

Edited by Jenn

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GIGABYTE GA-P35-S3G $75

E8400 $190

Sceptre Naga 23" 1080i WS HDTV (1360x768) $350 $320 after MIR

6ft DVI to VGA cable $4

 

Shipping $10.55 ?

 

So $599.61 after the MIR... how's that for hitting the budget? :D

 

 

You'll be able to watch TV and DVDs on a bigger, sharper screen. The higher resolution will give you more space in Photoshop, and the bigger size will make detailed work easier. The Intel P35 chipset makes the motherboard a solid performer and a decent overclocker despite the modest price.

 

You can upgrade the graphics card later for games. I think the instant satisfaction of a massive improvement for TV, DVD and Photoshop would outweigh an improvement in 3D graphics on a low-resolution display.

 

The 7350LE has all the required hardware support for HD Video playback as well as video-scaling, so it can scale-up DVD to the HD display and support the full 1360x768 resolution

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I'd stick with one of the gigabyte boards suggested, and if TV/DVD watch is the main use, then hardnrg hit that budget right on :). Other then gaming i'm sure that 7350LE would be great. (then again it depends on the games your playing.)

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