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Solved: Upgrading my PC into Gaming PC. Need advice.


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JennaV's Avatar
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02-Jan-2010, 01:22 PM #1
Question Solved: Upgrading my PC into Gaming PC. Need advice.
I bought a Compaq Presario SR5413WM from Wal-mart last year for around $400. Since then I've really gotten into online gaming (MMORPG's), and while I can play the games on my computer I have to use the lowest graphics settings. I want to upgrade my PC to up the resolution and be able to use anti-aliasing without lag.

While I have learned a lot about software since owning a computer, I currently have no experience in hardware upgrades. I should also mention that this computer came with Vista Home, but I downgraded to Windows XP (which many might consider an upgrade come to think of it).

I have gone to multiple websites to find instructions on how to upgrade my computer, but the only problem is I have no idea what I should be buying. I have all the instructions on how to perform the upgrade, but not on the specific hardware I should be buying for my model number. Any advice, suggestions, or comments would be greatly appreciated. I am including all the specs of my computer that I could find below:

Product Number: KJ393AA
Processor: Athlon LE 1640 (L) 2.7 GHz. 2000 MT/s. Socket AM2
Cache Memory: L2 Cache, 512 kb
Chipset: GeForce 6150SE nForce 430
Motherboard: Asus M2N68-LA.
HP/Compaq motherboard name: Ivy8-GL6
Memory: 2GB currently installed. 4GB Max (2X2GB allowed)
Speed Supported: PC2-6400 MB/sec
Memory Type: 240 pin, DDR2 SDRAM
Hard drive: 250 GB SATA 3G (3.0 Gb/sec) 7200 rpm
Modem: 56K bps data/fax modem
Video Graphics: Integrated graphics
Sound/Audio: High Definition 6-channel audio ALC 888 chipset
Network/LAN: Integrated 10/100 Base-T networking interface
Expansion Slots Available: 1 PCI, 1 PCI Express X16, 1 PCI Express x1
Drive Bays Available: 1 of 5.25" and 2 of 3.5".
Operating System: Win XP, Version 2002, Service Pack 3, 32-bit
(I am planning to upgrade to Windows 7 as soon as I can.)

If there's any additional information I need to provide let me know, and I'll get it here A.S.A.P.

Thanks for any advice and suggestions ahead of time. -Jenna-

Last edited by JennaV; 02-Jan-2010 at 02:59 PM..
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02-Jan-2010, 01:35 PM #2
Your Athlon is pretty underpowered for gaming, though the graphics chip is even less up for gaming.
I would suggest something like this:
http://cgi.ebay.com/AMD-Athlon-64-X2...item1e59c74c2f
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817341021

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814161287
OR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814141073

Make sure there's actually room inside the case for the card and the power supply.
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02-Jan-2010, 01:53 PM #3
Thank you for the product suggestions. How can I verify whether or not these are compatible with my system before I purchase? I am very interested in learning how to determine these things for any future upgrades.

To answer your concern this tower is mostly empty so I believe it has plenty of room for new hardware. These are the dimensions of the tower:

Tower Width: 6.7 in
Height: 16.8 in
Depth: 14.8 in
Weight: 21.2 lbs

I have read on other forums a concern for the power supply to be able to carry the weight of upgrades. I have tried looking for my power supply specs, but I have yet to find them using Google.

Last edited by JennaV; 02-Jan-2010 at 02:00 PM..
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02-Jan-2010, 02:00 PM #4
http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/d...roduct=3397528 CPU is compatible as per here. Graphics card is PCI-E 16x, and the board has such slot, compatible as far as that's concerned. Power supply, you will just need to check whether you have a regular ATX power supply installed currently.

For the power supply specs, (although completely a waste of time, a HP NEVER has a power supply good enough for a worthy graphics card upgrade) check the sticker on the current power supply's side.
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02-Jan-2010, 02:09 PM #5
Thanks for the link to the HP motherboard specs. That's very helpful.

I'm sure my power supply is not, as you said, "good enough for a worthy graphics card".

I am also wondering if I need to buy all my upgrades at once and make the switch all at once or can I do this gradually? If so, what should I buy and upgrade first, 2nd, etc.? And should I upgrade to Win 7 before or after new hardware or does it even matter?
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02-Jan-2010, 02:16 PM #6
Preferably power supply first, but CPU is quite okay to upgrade first too. Graphics card last, because you really need the power supply for that to work properly.
Does not really make any difference when you upgrade to Win7 as you aren't swapping your motherboard or hard drive. No extra procedures required at any time when comparing upgrading the hardware while running XP versus 7.

If you're going to wait a while with the power supply, look around for deals on the Corsair CX 400 power supply, currently its price has jumped ridiculously high at least on newegg, if it's around 50, maybe with free shipping and a MIR, go get it.
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02-Jan-2010, 02:26 PM #7
Here's what I found for the power supply you mentioned:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001FXB7X0/...SIN=B001FXB7X0

It is priced at $54.03 with free 3-5 day shipping and with a mail in rebate the price is $44.03.

Could you confirm this is the right one?
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02-Jan-2010, 03:18 PM #8
I have found 2 AMD processors on Newegg I believe will work with my motherboard given what I have learned so far. If someone could confirm if these are indeed compatible I would be very appreciative. I am also wondering which one of the two to choose should both of them be compatible. The first one comes with Heatsink and Fan. #2 does not.

Motherboard #1 ($81.99) is here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819103769

Motherboard #2 ($53.99) is here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819103242

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02-Jan-2010, 03:27 PM #9
That's the one, good find.
Both CPUs are compatible, the latter is OEM which means you'll need to also buy a CPU cooler for it. (the latter is better, newer, smaller die size version)
Here are a few choices, look around for better prices if you want to.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16835185125
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16835186134
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16835103041
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02-Jan-2010, 04:17 PM #10
I'd rather have the second cpu then since it is better. I'll do some digging for the best price possible for a cpu cooler.

I currently have 2gb of ram installed. I have an empty slot that can hold another 2gig stick. I take it I should upgrade that as well for max performance?
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02-Jan-2010, 05:03 PM #11
1. Need decent graphics card. Integrated is terrible. This should be the first priority.
2. Upgrade the ram to 4GB, ram tends to be pretty important for mmorpg games.
3. Upgrade the processor.


Or just build a new computer from scratch.
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02-Jan-2010, 07:00 PM #12
Concerning RAM upgrade:

According to my motherboard specs my motherboard supports PC-4200 (533 MHz), PC2-5300 (667 MHz), and PC-6400 (800 MHz) DDR2 DIMMs.

I know nothing about RAM other than the more of it you have the better off you are. Is a 800MHz (the PC-6400) going to perform better than a PC-4200 (533MHz)? I'm not entirely certain of what the difference is in terms of MHz.

I'm sure if there is a difference then my computer surely came with the low end of that. Should I get a new 2GB ram stick to match the other or should I go all out and buy a new pair at the high end like these (which won a Consumer "Best Buy" Award:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820231209

~*~*~*~*~

I also have a query about integrated graphics since you brought it up. On the HP site for my motherboard it says the following:

  • Integrated graphics using nVidia GeForce
  • Up to 256MB (with 512MB or more system memory)
  • Also supports PCI Express x16 graphics cards*

NOTE: *Either integrated graphics or the PCI Express x16 slot are usable at one time; they are not usable concurrently.

Here's my question: Since my computer currently has integrated graphics and I'll be adding a PCI card, how do I exactly make the switch from one to another (since I guess I can have both at the same time, but can only use one at a time)?

Last edited by JennaV; 02-Jan-2010 at 07:14 PM..
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02-Jan-2010, 07:22 PM #13
In 99% of the cases, the integrated card will auto disable when you plug anything into the PCI-E 16x slot. If not, you will need to go to the BIOS setup and find onboard video or whatever it is called in your BIOS, and disable it. Integrated peripherals or similar is usually the first submenu to go to.

Higher frequency in RAM is better. Buut... You will also make sure the exact RAM you're getting is surely compatible. There's much more than frequency in RAM compatibility... Wait a while and I'll finish this

Here are a few options for you: http://www.crucial.com/store/listpar...rio%20SR5019UK I would recommend the PC2 6400 (DDR2 800) CL6 2 GB stick. http://www.crucial.com/store/mpartsp...C30100A5CA7304 Theoretically the same thing, except having a completely different model number for a bit less on newegg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820148164 Apparently only Crucial themselves use the product code on their page, others use the one on newegg. Weird.

Last edited by BG-0; 02-Jan-2010 at 07:34 PM..
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03-Jan-2010, 06:09 PM #14
Thanks, BG. You've been really helpful. I was really afraid when I posted my thread everyone was gonna say "Your pc won't be good at gaming ever. Just build a new one." or something like that. I'm glad this pc can be salvaged.
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04-Jan-2010, 12:22 PM #15
Got another question about RAM.

From what I have read the lower your CAS Latency is the better. And the lower your voltage is the better. I looked at the Crucial.com recommendations you posted and those run at CL-7, 1.8V, $62.99 for 2x2GB

At Newegg using their memory selection system I ran the same specs as the Crucial memory specs and found these:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820231166

First of all, I wanted to know if these would actually work. It mentions Intel in its description, but not AMD so I wasn't entirely sure. Everything else in the specs part matched the ones from the Crucial site.

These have a CAS Latency of 5, so 2 points lower than the crucial, but they also run at a higher voltage of 2.0-2.1. They are also more expensive at $97.00.

So my question, if these are indeed compatible, is whether or not I should shell out the extra money for 2 points of CL and take a hit in voltage. What do you think?

EDIT:

I think I found something even better:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820231219

$95.00, 2x2GB,DDR 2 800 (PC2 6400), CL 4, Timing is 4-4-4-12, Voltage is 1.8-1.9V. So now I'm wondering if I should be getting this kit instead of the other. This one also comes more highly reviewed on Newegg than the one I mentioned above.

Last edited by JennaV; 04-Jan-2010 at 12:40 PM..
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