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Possible reasonable upgrades for my 2 year old system?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by vipe155, Jan 26, 2010.

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  1. vipe155

    vipe155 Thread Starter

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    Ok, I am basically new here and have a system I built in the middle of 2007. I am trying to see if it is viable to upgrade any of the components to make it a little more competitive for the rest of this year, but I don't know that there is much I can do with it without buying multiple components.

    I have:

    MSI AM2 Athlon 64/X2, PC6400 mem. capable motherboard
    4600+ Athlon X2
    NVIDIA 9600GT 512mb
    2 gb PC6400 DDR2

    I am currently running 64 bit Windows 7, and despite 2gb of memory it runs well.

    Basically, I don't know if there is much that can be done with this. It's kind of stuck where it is. I could get a little faster dual core X2 processor, but I don't know that it would make much of a difference. Obviously a quad core CPU would require a new motherboard and CPU, so might as well do that with a whole new computer build. I could upgrade to 4gb of dual channel memory, but I don't know that games/programs would utilize it enough to be worth it. Video card wise, I have a 19" 1280 x 1024 monitor, so I whether or not a better video card would get a huge difference in framerate at that resolution I'm not sure.

    I am primarily looking at this in regards to games like Bioshock 2, etc. coming out this year. I would just like to run those newer games a little better for this year until I anticipate building a new system in 2011. I have heard a lot of people say that 4gb of memory isn't totally used by most applications yet. I have heard that unless you do a major processor upgrade (like dual core to quad) it's not going to make much of a difference. Also, it seems that newer NVIDIA GTX/GTS cards really shine at higher resolutions, not where I am at.

    Are any of these major components worth doing anything to, or should I just leave this system as is and replace the whole thing in the future?
     
  2. RonRizzy

    RonRizzy

    Joined:
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    I'm running a system I built in late 2008, and still have no problems with it at all. LOVE IT! It's fast (I'm an anal-annie - I watch over it like a hawk!) and smooth, and the only upgrading to it I've ever done is add more RAM to it. That's really about it for affecting it's raw performance.

    Occasionally, over time, and this is per your judgement as well, you may want to upgrade things like DVD-drives, hard drives, bigger monitors, but really, my suggestion would be RAM.

    You're running a 64-bit version of Windows 7 - that can see a total of 8GB's of RAM. I would say if you have the money, get four-2GB sticks, or if you only have two DIMM slots, purchase two-4GB sticks. Trust me...from 2GB's that you have currently, you WILL notice a difference IMMEDIATELY! :)

    Basically, my thinking is how to dramatically improve the performance of your machine without spending an arm, an ***, and your first born! LOL

    I'm sure others will chime in as well too with some good ideas as well!

    Good luck!
     
  3. vipe155

    vipe155 Thread Starter

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    Well, I have considered more memory, and it would probably help run more applications on Windows 7. But, I don't think it would necessarily let me run a game from 2009-10 any better than I do right now. That's my main point of upgrading at all.
     
  4. bigbear

    bigbear

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    I don't think a lot more ram is going to help as the bottleneck is the CPU.
    Not sure how far you could go with the CPU as we need the motherboard model no
     
  5. sickcars

    sickcars

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    If you want better FPS for current and future games then your best option is to upgrade the video card. Depending on how much you want to spend I suggest getting one of the latest high end cards from ATI which is currently the fastest video cards on the market.

    Then if you still have $$ left over maybe throw in 2gb more for a slight boost in performance if you like and thats it.
     
  6. vipe155

    vipe155 Thread Starter

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    Well, I don't have the exact Motherboard model number on hand, but it's a Socket AM2, Athlon 64/X2 type. So I could go up to the 3.0 ghz 6000+ Windsor (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103772).

    This is my dilemma. New Memory, video card or CPU. So far there is a vote for all three.

    Computer wise I only use AMD CPUs and NVIDIA Video Cards. Just my brand loyalty I guess.
     
  7. sickcars

    sickcars

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    For games you will see the most FPS increase with a new higher end video card
     
  8. vipe155

    vipe155 Thread Starter

    Joined:
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    Well, I decided to do a bit of upgrading, and got a NVIDIA GTS 250 and another 2 gb of memory. I believe the memory upgrade has helped me move around Windows 7 faster, loading times seem a bit quicker, etc. The video card is ok. I took some benchmark results with the old equipment and the new parts in and got this:

    3DMark Vantage:
    Old: 4987
    New: 6752

    Company of Heroes Directx 10, High/Ultra 8x AA:
    Old: 33 fps
    New: 42 fps

    Resident Evil 5 Directx 10, 4x AA High:
    Old: 46 fps
    New: 53 fps

    So there is a gain, but not a whole lot. I get a lot higher score on 3DMark Vantage, but only decent gains on game performance. By the way, Company of Heroes looks the same on DX9 and I can get 60 fps average (59 average on Res Evil 5 dx9). I have seen a lot of GTS 250 benchmarks that beat mine out score-wise, and they all have some Intel processor on the test system. Am I not getting a great performance increase here because of the old X2 dual core?
     
  9. Compiler

    Compiler

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    5,855
    Hi, I just saw your post for the first time here... so I see your first post was over a week ago.

    - First, dump brand loyalty. Both AMD and Intel make good products as does ATI & Nvidia (ATI is owned by AMD). And sometimes both sides screw up. I have an intel CPU in my desktop, but would prefer if it we're an AMD.

    2 - Download PCWizard (linked from my sig), it will tell you what you have about you computer. You can't upgrade if you and we don't know what we're working with. Use PC Wizard to tell you your Motherboard brand and model number and also its BIOS version. Then GO to the website of the manufacture (ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte, etc) and see what BIOS updates are available.

    3 - Also, we need to know what kind of PSU you are working with. If your PSU is weak, a high/higher end video card can make it fail. What is the model & brand?

    4 - With a BIOS upgrade, your motherboard (as long as its NOT a DELL, HP, etc) can use newer CPUs.

    5 - The AMD X2 6000 Windsor is very old, very hot and can burn up some motherboards. Not recommended.

    Here is a list of AM2+ CPUs which should be compatible (with BIOS upgrade): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...ption=&Ntk=&CFG=&SpeTabStoreType=&srchInDesc=
    I'd go with the $140~155 AMD X4 3.0Ghz CPU. The others are older other chips (####) are slow. The X3 940 is the best AM2 CPU you'll ever be able to get.

    6 - Yes, with 64bit Windows - you should have at LEAST 4GB of RAM.. but even with 4GB, I'd usually recommend going with 32bit for resources. With 64bit, 6~8GB should be installed.

    7 - the GF gts250 is a re-branded GF 9800GT (but a tad faster), the 9800GT is a rebranded 8800GT, but a tad faster. All are not much faster than the 9600GT and you're CPU limited as well.

    Here is a chart. The ATI 5700 are DX11 too: http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3658&p=10
     
  10. vipe155

    vipe155 Thread Starter

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    Oh, I know what I am working with. I built my current system. It has a MSI K9N Neo-F AM2 NFORCE chipset motherboard (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130050). Bios wise it has whatever came with the mb. It is a socket AM2 type, and according to the information is Athlon X2/64/Sempron compatible. I've never heard of a motherboard being able to be "updated" to use different CPUs. Power supply is an Antec 500W Basiq.
     
  11. Compiler

    Compiler

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    All standard motherboards have easily down-loadable and installable BIOS updates. But follow instructions properly or you can kill the board. And yes, since the time of P3/AMD Socket-A, BIOS upgrades added CPU capability as more and more chips come out, bug fixes, etc. Currently, the AM2 & AM2+ CPUs are no longer made. AMD has over 25 AM3 CPU that have come out in the past 12 months. About 5 CPUs were released in the past week alone.

    But looking at the MSI site on a REV 2.0 of your board... looks like they didn't bother to add the X4 CPUs to the board. :( Last BIOS update was in 2007, before the X4 CPUs.

    http://www.msi.com/index.php?func=prodcpu2&prod_no=1585&maincat_no=1

    I'd go with the X2 6000 Brisbane at the most... Not a Windsor as for reasons stated.

    You'd get more choices buying an AM2+ board ($75~90) which do support AM3 CPUs - thus, allowing you to use any AMD cpu out there. You can buy an X4 CPU for as low as $90 or a very fast X2 550 for $90.

    Here is a chart: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/default.aspx?b=47

    Going from what you have now would be about 64fps... going to an X2 550 will be about 79fps. But a brisbane X2 6000 would get you up to 76fps. An X4 CPU would pump up to 81~88fps.

    So, for about $40 you could get a Brisbane X2 5400/5600 (2.8 / 2.9Ghz) would only give you a bump of 68fps (4 more frames) but a Brisbane 6000~6200 will get you 70+. Thats about the cheapest route.
     
  12. vipe155

    vipe155 Thread Starter

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    It seems Newegg pretty much just has the 6000+ Windsor. They do have the 5600+, but I don't see where that will do a lot. I guess my motherboard really is stuck with Athlon X2s. Are there other AM2 boards by other manufacturers that can do AM2+ or AM3 processors through updates? Is this just MSI not bothering to update my MBs BIOs.
     
  13. Compiler

    Compiler

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    I wouldn't use the Windsor type.

    How AMD AM CPUs work.

    AM2 CPUs = AM2 & AM2+ mobos
    AM2+ CPUs = AM2 & AM2+ mobos / But the AM2 mobo's BIOS must support the AM2+ CPUs.
    AM3 CPUs = AM2+ & AM3 mobos.

    AM2 CPUs = 800mhz max RAM speed
    AM2+ CPUs = 1066mhz max RAM speed (makes little difference) AM2+ cpus in an AM2 mobo run at 800mhz max.
    AM3 CPUs = DDR3 (AM2 AM2+ are DDR2)

    AMD3 CPUs are plug compatible with AM2+ and AM3 mobos. But you can't fit an AM2 or AM2+ cpu into an AM3 mobo.

    = = = =
    If you're looking at replacing your mobo, might as well get an AM2+ board so you can use your current DDR2 memory.
    You just bought more DDR2... otherwise, I'd recommend an AM3 board since the cost of DDR3 is now at or below DDR2 prices. 6 months ago, 4GB of DDR2 1066 was $30~60, nowadays its $90~120 which is normal for out-going tech.

    For quality and features, I'd recommend Gigabyte.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...ark=False&ActiveSearchResult=True&Order=PRICE

    I'd recommend the 785G Chipset... cheapest model is $80.
     
  14. vipe155

    vipe155 Thread Starter

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    I appreciate your help. I try to keep up with new tech, but you know I build a system for myself and really research at that time, and then when you don't need to buy motherboards or processors or anything you kind of lose track of what comes out.

    I guess I'm leaning towards just calling this system what it is and using what I have in it. 50-60 fps at high settings with some AA on isn't too bad, and the games coming out this year I'm interested in (so far) I hit right in the recommended settings. It's not ideal, but the upgrade options aren't either. If my motherboard was capable I would go for a quad core or triple core phenom II or athlon II.

    It's kind of strange, it's like NVIDIA doesn't really have much out right now. The GTXs aren't that impressive and everything else is rebadged. Plus AMD is getting trampled on in the high-end market, so I don't know what I'll end up with in 6 months - year when I build a whole new system. I try to build a new system every few years and upgrade the video card in between.
     
  15. Compiler

    Compiler

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    Your computer is about 3 years old tech... it happens. Hey, I have a quad core intel - and there is no upgrade path without tossing it out either.

    Yeah, intel has the TOP end CPUs... but you're looking at $300, $550 and 700~900 CPUs to get there. The $175 top end AMD CPU competes with the $300 Intel Core i7-920.

    If you bought a budget intel system (i3) and decide you want a 6-core CPU, you'll be SOL... you'd have to swap out the board, cpu and buy more memory for the bigger socket CPU (i7 9-series). While AMD's 6-core CPU will drop into an AM3 board.. with BIOS update.

    Most computers sold have CPUs in the $30~100 price range... which AMD has the faster chips at that price range. The difference in performance between a $100 AMD cpu and a $700 intel CPU for gaming is about 10~20fps (out of 100) in 1920x1200.

    Turn off the AA will help a bit...

    Here are your options:
    A : $40~60 = 5600~6000 CPU : minor 5~7% performance increase.
    B : $175~225 = X3~X4 various CPUs + mobo : 20~30% performance increase in gaming, but 1.5~3x faster for video and productivity.

    I'm about to replace a client's AMD 939 (single core) PC with an AMD X2 550 AM3 PC that will be smokin... especially since it'll get an SSD! I'm going to be soooo jealous.

    If you can.... I'd take back the gts 250 and get a DX11 card. Prices are a bit high today - in 2-4 months todays $150 cards should be $110~120. The limited increase you saw by buying a $110~150 card would have been better with the CPU/mobo upgrade since the 9600gt & 250gts are in the same G94/G92 family. You should have seen more performance with the gts250, but you're CPU limited. Ah, the tech game. :(
     
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