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Need Advice On Computer Upgrade

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by dannajo, Apr 25, 2004.

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  1. dannajo

    dannajo Thread Starter

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    I'm thinking of upgrading my computer. Here's what I have now, any suggestions on what might be upgraded to make a better system? This computer was built by a friend of ours about 4 years ago. It works just fine for me, but hubby complains about it being too slow for his games he plays. Counter Strike and Half LIfe. He wants to buy a new one, I don't. If we can upgrade to make it work better, we can save a lot of money. If I decided to get a DVD/CD writer combo, would you suggest keeping the old CD writer just as an extra in the computer. Any suggestions for a good DVD/CD combo writer? I have a large tower with lots of room for extras too, not that I really need any. If you need anymore info on the computer please let me know.

    Thanks!

    Intel Pent 4, 1.3 GHZ
    512 MB Ram
    GEForce 2 64MB TI
    Mother board is P4VXMS by ECS
    Creative Soundblaster Live Platinum
    We have a DVD drive, which we rarely use, and CD writer.
     
  2. Davey7549

    Davey7549

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    Dannajo
    Your basic system will be restricted for game playing via three items.
    1) CPU Clock Speed 1.3 P4 is good though which helps with larger cache.
    2) Your front side bus is probably 133 or 266 which will be a bottleneck
    3) Your Video card is rather limited in size and power needed for playing games

    The only item you currently have control over in the hardware section is the video card which could be replaced with a faster card.

    As far as the DVD\CD combo unit..... Do you have a specific purpose for this unit? If it is for Video production and creation of DVD's then other considerations must be looked at.

    1) Your system would need a way of capturing video whether it is through a firewire connection DV or an AVIO device of some sort.
    2) Your current hard drive size may be restrictive and an additional large dedicated hard drive would have to added to accommodate the large file sizes of Video.
    3) Even with the above additions, capture device and larger hard drive, your current system configuration still may be prone to drop frames during capture because it is receiving information faster than it can process\store it.
     
  3. rugrat

    rugrat

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  4. dannajo

    dannajo Thread Starter

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    Davey, Can you explain what you mean by this? 2) Your front side bus is probably 133 or 266 which will be a bottleneck.

    I would mainly be using the DVD recorder to transfer home videos to DVD. I'm getting ready to install a 60gb HD, as soon as I find out why my computer keeps locking up. I'm going to install my current HD into my daughters computer. I could buy another HD and use it strictly for the videos. As far as the rest of the system configuration what would you suggest to be the best way to go?


    rugrat, Would that processor make a significant amount of difference, or would you try a new video card first?

    What type of video card would you suggest?

    Thanks!
     
  5. Davey7549

    Davey7549

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    Dannajo
    The easiest way to explain FSB (Front Side Bus) is comparing to an actual bus on the street. The speed of the bus delivering its cargo to its particular stops will determine how much the bus can transport during a certain time frame. The cargo in this analogy is your information moving back and forth from processor to ram.
    The front side bus on that motherboard I believe is 266mhz. Many of the newer configurations are able to operate at 400 and 800mhz.
    There is also what is called I\O bus which is the speed at which data is transferred to the peripherals, hard drive, video card ETC. I\O speed is really dependent and bottlenecked on how fast the peripherals can respond that is why caches are used for accumulating data while the hard drive is writing or reading for transfer.

    As I mentioned before you would have to install some sort of capture device for Video. If the home video's are on VHS then an analog to digital device would be in order and if the video's are Digital already then either Firewire or USB would be needed depending on your camcorders output.

    Again you would have to dedicate a large hard drive for video, and make sure there is absolutely nothing running in background during the capture process. Doing so would give you your best shot of not dropping frames.

    Dave
     
  6. Triple6

    Triple6 Moderator

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    The Pentium 4 socket 423 technology is obsolete. The Highest CPU made was the 2.0 GHz and it doesn't compare to the those made in the socket 478 form. The 478's use a much improved core, have twice as much CPU cache, and are offered in bus speeds of 400/533/800Mhz and clock speeds over 3.4Ghz. Your mothebroard is also low quality, ECS products do not rank very high in terms of stability or performance. This boards second biggest problem is that it only supports SDRAM, not DDR, DDR is the new standard and doubles the work per clock cycle and is offered in higher speeds.

    A for the DVD drive, if you are looking at a DVD burner then it is backward compatible as a DVD reader, CD burner, and CD writer. Two brands that I like are Lite-On and LG and they sell relatively cheap as well. For video editing you'd really want to go with a new machine or major upgrade.

    What is the exact model of your video card? Your soundcard is good, you could keep your hard drive, and optical drives, possibly the case and powersupply if its a 350 Watt and a decent case.
     
  7. dannajo

    dannajo Thread Starter

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    Sorry I've been busy and haven't had a chance to post. My video card is a NVIDIA GeForce 2 house brand 64mb TI ddr, that's from the receipt where it was purchased.

    A friend of ours built this computer for us.

    I think I'm going to try this upgrade.

    As far as my case goes, what do I need to consider there? Its a 300W ATX mid tower case full size for P4 and AMD, again from the receipt. 300W is the power supply that you are talking about above, correct?

    So what I need to do is get a new motherboard, processor and possibly a video card.
    I notice a lot of you guys have AMD processors, are those better then Intel?

    I have a brand new 60GB HD that I will probably use for now, and maybe upgrade that later on down the road.
     
  8. rugrat

    rugrat

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    Just my opinion,
    I have been using AMD processors for several years and have found them quite reliable. As far as your upgrade, you are looking at ,
    Motherboard
    Processer
    Ram, As you can do better with DDR
    Video card

    The 300 watt ps and case should be ok, hard drive, floppy, cd, etc... should also be ok. The 60Gb drive is probably ata100 or better and would be better with a new motherboard. If you have the extra cash, it would not hurt to upgrade the power supply to 350 or 400 watts but, should be ok to start.

    SeeYa
     
  9. dannajo

    dannajo Thread Starter

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    Alright thanks. I think I will go with an AMD, but now I just have to figure out exactly which one. Is there a website that will show me processor and motherboard compatibility? I will probably upgrade the power supply too. Any suggestions on where to buy the parts? I've seen newegg mentioned a lot on the boards.

    Thanks for the help.
     
  10. BananaMan

    BananaMan

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    Just thought I'd add this as I was paasing through:

    I bought an NEC DVD/CD burner recently and absolutley love it. Combined with DVDShrink (freeware) it hasn't failed me yet for backing up DVDs and stuff. Just make sure you have plenty of free disc space (about 12Gb should do) for temp files, etc. NEC do a cheap model that is also excellent (something like ND1200, I think).

    I've also got an AMD CPU and will probably get another when I upgrade. I haven't had any problems with it.

    I wouldn't personally go for a Western Digital hard drive or IBM. I've had problems with both in the company I work for. I'd pick Quantum (they do some very good budget drives if you need to save money).

    I'd go for a nice big power supply (400W) although something smaller will do, it may not last as long or may cause wierd crashes as you add components.

    As for motherboards, I'd get the best you can afford as this is the foundations for the rest of the system and if you get a good one, you'll be able to keep it when you upgrade next time as well. Try going to motherboard manufacturers and looking at the specs - they will tell you whether they're compatible with AMD. Also search Google for customer reviews of motherboards before you buy one.

    However, looking at your current specs, I'd say the bottle neck is caused by 1) Graphics card memory and 2) CPU. So, you may be able to get away with just upgrading these if your motherboard allows.

    Hope this helps.
     
  11. griffinspc

    griffinspc

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    I'll jump in too if you don't mind. I think, given what you have, a rebuild not upgrade is what you're talking about. What you're saying right now is this. You're keeping the case and replacing:

    power supply $40.00 and up for decent supply
    Motherboard $100.00 +
    Processor $75.00 and up
    Ram $100.00 (512 minimum)
    Video card $100.00
    CD/DVD burner $125.00
    hard drive $60.00

    All those are very rough figures since it depends on what you buy and where as well as rebates but that's a moderate machine, not a high end, for roughly $600.00

    What's left from the old machine? floppy and cables.

    Now I like to build my own and would encourage anyone to do the same but if all you want is a better machine then this isn't an upgrade anymore it's a build.

    You have to decide whether going to a good reliable Mom&Pop and picking out a new machine for about the same price that will likely be just as good if not better (with a new OS included I might add) is the way to go. Then you have the old machine to give to your kids or give it to hubby and you keep the new one :D.

    Just something to chew on, OK.
     
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