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Thread: Which upgrades?

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    Poor graduate. Ulti's Avatar
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    Which upgrades?

    Well I've decided to be nice to my siblings and upgrade their pc a bit (I say a bit as I'm not going to folk out much), however I'm not sure which order I should do it in.

    My little bro likes to game and my sis just goes on fb/watches stuff online mainly.

    The current pc consists of:
    CPU: AMD Athlon X2 3800+ 90nm AM2
    Motherboard: Asus M2N68 630a
    RAM: 2GB Corsair XMS2 CL5 800Mhz
    OS: Windows XP 32 bit
    Graphics card: 8600GT

    I grabbed an 8800GS off fleabay for £20 but their monitor is currently 1024*768 15". If I give them my old dell 1280*1024 monitor 17" will the 8800GS 384mb be able to cope with it? My bro mainly plays games such as L4D and TF2 (steam games).

    I guess RAM upgrade would be next? If I do go for a RAM upgrade, should I get 2x 512MB or another 2x 1GB? I'm not prepared to buy a 64bit OS unless there are actual gains over 3GB RAM for them.

    Thanks!

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    Efficiency freak Queelis's Avatar
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    Re: Which upgrades?

    I'd say the succession of upgrades should be GPU, then CPU, then RAM. WinXP with 2 gigs is plenty for most, 3GB won't make a noticeable difference.

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    Ulti (12-04-2010)

  4. #3
    Poor graduate. Ulti's Avatar
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    Re: Which upgrades?

    Will the 8800GS be good enough for 1280*1024 though? I'm not planning to upgrade if it isn't though, just saves me a bit of time of shifting monitors around as they don't mind a 15" 1024*768. (Personally after using 1920*1080 I hate how small their screen is haha)

    Well I'm not sure what's slow in their system, I just know it lags a bit. I'm currently running 2GB DDR2 myself on Windows 7 but I'm not gaming atm so I guess I can't really compare. Waiting to see if I should go for i7 or Thuban haha.

    I'll run a benchmark on HDTune when they're not using the pc and see what the speeds are because I suspect their HDD is slightly slow and I've got a spare HDD which may be faster but I think they're both WD Caviars so there may not be much of a difference but they install quite a lot of junk on their pcs anyway. I doubt they'll let me reformat though.

    In terms of CPU what should I be looking at? The board seems to be an AM2 board but for some reason in the CPU support lists it supports Athlon II and Phenom II processors. As I understood it, AM2 boards could supports AM2+ CPUs via a BIOS update and AM2+ boards could support AM3 CPUs via a BIOS update, however AM2 boards cannot support AM3 processors... Odd.

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    Re: Which upgrades?

    I'm pretty sure the mobo only does HT1.0 so will retard your CPUs if anything good is plugged in. These 630 boards are still being used by OCUK in their budget builds. I'm waiting for the good the AM2+ boards to start appearing second hand but with CPU support ongoing ther eare not many appearing.

    The 8800GS seems to keep up with a 8800GT at 1024 without AA. It starts to get less competitive as the res and whistles are cranked up. techpowerup seems to show it can run at 8800GT speeds when overclocked. Might be quite fun!

    WRT to the lagging perhaps a spring clean may help. I have an old HD and I thin kit lags a little so I was thinking to save up and get a nice F3. How about removing their admin rights! (not sure they wouldtrust you anymore).

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    Re: Which upgrades?

    Any of the 8800 series of cards are going to be a marked improvment over the 8600 card. Not much point upgrading the ram to be honest as well you know XP won't see or use above 3.25.

    You might find that PC a touch faster if you re-install windows, everything seems so much smoother after that if it hasn't been done for a long time. That said if the hard drive is oldish it may be time for something newer.

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  9. #6
    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: Which upgrades?

    8600GT ~= 9500GT; 8800GS == 9600GSO. The Hexus 4670 review has both a 9500GT and a 9600GSO so will give you a good idea of the capabilities of the cards. I'd say an 8800GS should be able to cope fine with 1280x1024 medium settings.

    Thereafter, either upgrade the CPU to something like this Athlon x2 5200+ (looks a bargain @ £37.41!), or get a decent cooler and overclock it some! If you can get the 3800+ to nearer 2.4GHz it should give a noticeable boost. AM3 CPUs are backwards compatible with all AM2 sockets, but as Ulti says the slower HT will limit performance, so if you did go for an AM3 processor you're better off staying to the cheaper end of Athlon II - something like an X2 240.

    As others have said, 2GB RAM is plenty for XP, and I don't think you'll see any worthwhile improvement for the cost of upgrading the RAM, given the high RAM prices at the minute.

    EDIT: As behemoth said, a reinstall / new hard drive would be well worth consideration, too!
    Last edited by scaryjim; 12-04-2010 at 09:57 PM.

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  11. #7
    Poor graduate. Ulti's Avatar
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    Re: Which upgrades?

    Well here's the HDD:


    I've uninstalled a loada crud games that my bro doesn't play anymore (most of them were demos argh) Currently waiting for it to defrag, I'll run HDTune after it's done. Average transfer rate is 50% lower than my WD Caviar Black and 25% of my Intel X25-V. 23ms access time doesn't seem too nice either.

    So even if I were to get 3GB RAM there won't be much improvement over 2GB? I'm sure getting 2x 512mb sticks can't be that expensive.

    Seems the 8800GS handles games at 1280*1024 very well. Guess they'll get to use the old monitor then.

    Should I bother with upgrading the CPU? I'm not too fond of getting a new board and CPU though. I did overclock the CPU to 2.5ghz but it ran a little unstable and although Prime95, Memtest and OCCT were fine the pc seemed to BSOD randomly sometimes so I put it back on stock.

    Bit confused with the description on Asus' site though, it does mention the M2N68 "accelerates data transfer rate up to 5200MT/s via HyperTransport™ 3.0 based system bus." though...

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    Re: Which upgrades?

    Ouch !! Thats seriously slow if thats a SATA drive. Even my 400 gig Samsung IDE is faster than that. I'd seriously consider a fresh install if you intend to keep that drive.

    The X2 3800 is still a capable chip, and if perhaps you had better cooling in the case you could get that OC back to 2.5 GHz that would be ideal I seriously wouldn't bother getting a new CPU unless it was dirt cheap, especially if your trying to do this upgrade on the cheap.

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  14. #9
    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: Which upgrades?

    The motherboard webpage lists the following speed for the HT:

    "2000/1600 MT/s"

    I would probably get a new CPU if possible!

    Here is a comparison of a Athlon X2 4450e with a Athlon X2 7850:

    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/38?vs=90

    The Athlon X2 7850 is based on the Phenom processor.

    At the same clockspeed both the Phenom and Phenom II based Athlons are faster than the older Athlon processors:

    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/31?vs=90

    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/31?vs=114

    Even with the reduction in HT speed the newer Athlon II X2 processors would be a good upgrade as they have a much higher clockspeed and more L2 cache than the older Athlon II X2 processors.


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

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    Re: Which upgrades?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulti View Post
    I'm sure getting 2x 512mb sticks can't be that expensive.
    Scan currently have generic 512MB DDR2-800 CL5 RAM @ £10.56 per stick (so handily, 2 would cost £21.12 and garner you free shipping ). But I personally think the gain going from 2GB - 3GB in Win XP 32bit isn't worth £21...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulti View Post
    Bit confused with the description on Asus' site though, it does mention the M2N68 "accelerates data transfer rate up to 5200MT/s via HyperTransport™ 3.0 based system bus." though...
    Interesting. I didn't think NVidia's 630a chipset supported HT3, but you're quite right - ASUS's site is pretty insistent that it does! But that would only matter if you were going for a new CPU, and I have to agree that...
    Quote Originally Posted by Behemoth View Post
    The X2 3800 is still a capable chip, and if perhaps you had better cooling in the case you could get that OC back to 2.5 GHz that would be ideal
    It all depends on your case and cooling, but if you can get the CPU stable at ~ 2.4GHz it'll make a noticable difference. Personally I'd think about extra cooling for the chipset and VRMs as well as the CPU. The only reason I raised the CPU is that a review I was reading about a year ago of the AGP HD4650 found it was bottlenecked by an X2 3800+...

    EDIT: here's the review, from Tom's Hardware. The page I've linked to is the Left 4 Dead test, as that's a game you say your brother plays. It's also one of the games that best demonstrates the CPU bottleneck...

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    Re: Which upgrades?

    Well CPU is stable at 2.5ghz, I've put the memory down to 620mhz though as I'm too lazy to run memory tests and there doesn't look like there's much difference. The games he plays managed around 50 fps average with all settings on max on 1280*1024. I did overclock the 8800GS to 700mhz core, 800mhz memory from 580mhz core and 700mhz memory. I'm sure it could go higher too but I haven't got the patience to overclock it more. However I need to think of a cooling solution though, the XFX 8800GS only has a 2 pin fan so it can only be regulated by voltage changes. Tried RivaTuner and such and I can't change the fan speed as it's not a 3 pin fan apparently. Not sure if I want to get a new cooler though as I can't hear it from where I'm sitting but they don't seem to mind too much by the sound but personally when I'm on their pc it does seem loud.

    I guess the only thing needed is a HDD now but they said they'd rather have the pc as it is now than lose all their data and have a faster pc haha.

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    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: Which upgrades?

    Good stuff Sounds like there's life in the old girl yet!

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