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Upgrading advice

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by lisakmusco, Apr 14, 2008.

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  1. lisakmusco

    lisakmusco Thread Starter

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    As can be seen in my "Fatal System Error" thread, the MB in my computer (#2 in signature) is dead. I don't see the point in the time or expense in repairing it, especially since more damage may have been done, anyway). It was an older (4 years old) MB & CPU anyway. So, even though I just upgraded my husband's gaming computer (#1) from this one about this time last year....here I go again. :eek:

    Since he still hasn't been totally happy with its performance to date, and as long as I have to buy a new MB (& CPU) anyway...I might as well improve on his again. So what I am wondering is this:

    How much of a difference will a different MB & CPU make, especially if they are both in a similar 'class' as the existing? I'd like to stick with AMD X2 and an MSI board to simplify the tradeoffs from one system to the other.

    More specifically, here is what is going through my mind:
    CPU - Looking at the same AMD Athlon 64 x2's.....I have a 4600. How much do I gain going to 4800, 5000 or 5200, for example. They all seem to go in the same MB's....

    MB - What do I gain with the different chipsets? Is a different chipset better than another?How can I find this out? For example when I look at the product list on the MSI site, I am looking at the socket AM2 and there are 13 different boards in that group, all with different chipsets. The one I have is in that group. Or do I have to go up to the next group of MBs (AM2+) in order to see an improvement over the existing MB?

    Naturally, I am aware that more memory will make a difference, as well, and since I doubt I can reuse the old memory that was in the now-dead board, even temporarily, I will of course get more memory right off the bat (ie 2 or even 4 GB) to go in the new board. Before this happened to my computer, I had been looking into increasing the memory in his. I should have known better than to only buy 1GB at the time, but I also had to get a new case and video card at the time, too, so I stayed conservative.

    Speaking of video cards, I am obviously aware that the AGP card that was in the now dead system, cannot be reused, since I had to replace it last time, but I am thinking that I could delay on upgrading that as I should be able to use the newer one (the PCI-E) card in the new board and use the on-board of the existing temporarily, since that system isn't used for anything graphics intensive. That's not to say I won't get one right away, either, just that it could wait if it had to. My immediate concern is to get both running again right away (especially mine as there are a number of things I haven't been able to do or access for a month now), but at the same time I want to improve on the better one of the two as well.
     
  2. Jones

    Jones

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    Have I been transported into Bizzarro world? :eek:

    Is there any chance you've written a book on your beliefs, or perhaps have some type of newsletter I can show to my wife? :D


    As far as your specific questions go, the main benefits to going to a higher-end chipset is to gain more 'tweakability' and overall better performance and stability. Generally, any Intel or nVidia chipset on a good brand motherboard (MSI is one of the better ones) between $100 and $200 will yield very nice performance and have a well rounded feature set.

    If you're mainly looking at increasing the gaming performance, you'd notice much more improvement by upgrading the video card than you would by upgrading the processor. While you will notice a boost with a new processor, the new graphics cards are SOOOO much better than even the ones they released a year ago. (y)
     
  3. lisakmusco

    lisakmusco Thread Starter

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    What, not all wives put their husband's wants and needs ahead of their own....it makes my life smoother the happier he is.

    So what you're saying is the MB and CPU aren't going to make that huge of a difference, especially over the ones that I just bought a year ago, so I shouldn't worry too much and spend too much time choosing them.....the video card and memory will make more of a difference, which I already knew.
     
  4. Jackiefrost9

    Jackiefrost9

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    You will notice a pretty large boost in performance with a new motherboard and cpu, however to upgrade those you will need new RAM, and if you got a good video card down the road then I would say a power supply too. The boost in the cpu and mobo upgrade will mostly come from the 2nd core of the X2 you want to purchase.

    As for what chipset, I really recommend you go with an AMD chipset for an AMD build. Their new chipsets are incredible, especially the 790FX. It's somewhat regarded as being better than anything Intel or Nvidia has right now. That opinion is mixed though because a lot of people seem to love intel and nvidia while disregarding AMD all together.

    A new hard drive would be worth it too. That 40GB one seems unbearably slow. Moving to a 250GB Western digital would be worth it, load times would be improved. A 500GB would be even better. Even if you don't need the space it's worth it. The larger a hard drive it, the closer the data is to each other and the faster the computer can read off the drive. It's called data density.

    If you have any more questions as to specific parts please ask.
     
  5. Jones

    Jones

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    More or less, yes.

    You shouldn't have to spend too much 'time' choosing them as long as you stick with certain guidelines. Those being 'good brand board' and 'good brand chipset'.

    If you want to stick with AMD, look for one of the new 'Phenom' processors. If you'd like to go with Intel, any of the Core2Duo or Quad-Core chips are really good.

    As far as chipsets go, keep in mind that AMD processors are not compatible with Intel chipsets. If you're sticking with AMD processors, look for an nVidia chipset like the 780i, or if you want to save some cash, the 680i. Both are really high-end gaming chipsets.

    If you switch to an Intel processor, then I'd suggest you look for an x38 or x48 chipset.

    For motherboard brands, I'd stick with: Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI. Also, although they aren't usually on everyone's top-picks, I just recently build a new gaming computer using an XFX motherboard, and love it. Great gaming performance, and a good price. All of the reviews of XFX products are really good.

    Just my two cents.
     
  6. Rich-M

    Rich-M

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    I agree with Amd stick to Amd chipset or Nvidia only. Moving to a 6000 or greater would give you a difference and they are not a lot of money, Phenoms are not cheap, but probably noticeably faster. If you have been using a real video card, you don't want to live with onboard for any period of time, trust me.
     
  7. lisakmusco

    lisakmusco Thread Starter

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    Thanks for the advice everyone. I was leaning towards either the K9N6SGM-V (a local shop was offering it with the Athlon X2 4400+ and 2GB of RAM and calling it a "Power Gamer") or the K9NGM4-F (one of the 2 newest AM2 boards per MSI's site). I'd like to go up to one of the two newest AM2+ boards (with the AMD790 chipsets Jackie mentioned), but they are so much more expensive, I just don't know.

    Rich - the onboard video wouldn't be too bad for basic computing (ie, internet, email, word/excel documents, quicken, geneology), though, right? The "real" video card would stay with the gaming computer which would get the new board/cpu. Eventually, it would get upgraded and the existing card would move down to the basic system.

    Jackie-- same story for the 40GB HDD. It goes with the basic system that doesn't necessarily need the extra speed for the tasks listed above. I'd love to replace it too, but the other components are the higher priorities. In fact, initially, when problems first cropped up with my system, it was thought that it might be the HDD failing, but it turned out to be the MB. I had no idea that the size of the HDD would make a difference, though. When I split our one system into two, I initially was going to give my husband the smaller HDD as his computer is only for a few games and mine has everything else, but because the larger (newer) one had a faster RPM speed I ended up giving it to him anyway. After your explanation, I'm really glad I did.

    Jones- the nVidia chipsets you mentioned (680i and 780i) are for the Intel boards. I am rather certain on an AMD X2 processor.
     
  8. Rich-M

    Rich-M

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    I suppose that would be OK though I would never run onboard video on any of my own pc's.
     
  9. Jackiefrost9

    Jackiefrost9

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    The AMD versions are 680a and 780a (which isn't out yet).... I think.
     
  10. lisakmusco

    lisakmusco Thread Starter

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    So, I have it narrowed down to the AMD Athlon X2 5600 chip and one of the following three boards. Any comments/opinions for or against either or all of them?

    MSI K9AGM3-FIH

    MSI K9N SLI-F V.2

    MSI k9NGM4-F V.2

    Or a totally different suggestion within the MSI family?
     
  11. lisakmusco

    lisakmusco Thread Starter

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    Well, now I have a different option to throw into the mix. A local shop has suggested the MSI K9n Neo-F with the Athlon X2 5200+ and 4 GB of RAM (I am checking on the speed) for what seems to be a very reasonable price (only 60-75 more than I was looking at the other options for and those were without adding RAM, or shipping costs).
    How does this compare to my existing System #1? Will it be an improvement, and how much of one?

    Ok - just heard back about the RAM he's offering (Transcend 667 MHz), and it, of course raises more questions for me. Now I realize different people have different opinions on what is a quality brand, so I don't necessarily want to go there, but he basically told me that when I bought the high-performance/gaming memory (OCZ Gold 800 MHz) last year, I wasted my $$ and that I'd be better off with this, because my other components (including the board/cpu he is suggesting) can't take advantage of the high-performance RAM, or even the higher speed standard RAM. Can that be true? or is he just using that to try and push me up to a higher-end board? He somewhat said the same thing about my video card as well.
     
  12. Jackiefrost9

    Jackiefrost9

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    Transcend is ok, but don't expect to be able to overclock at all. It depends what components you have as to how much of an increase you'll see, and it also depends on what you use the computer for. If you play games then you will almost always see an improvement with a new graphics card. RAM doesn't make as big of a difference as a new video card, but it can be seen in some games. High speed RAM only really comes in handy when overclocking though.

    Why are you just considering MSI boards?
     
  13. lisakmusco

    lisakmusco Thread Starter

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    Well, I don't overclock -- don't know how and especially on my husband's computer I can't take the instability risk. He gets upset and frustrated as it is with occasional glitches (or his over-expectations) without me risking more crashes.

    Mainly I'm just looking at MSI boards because that's what I already have, and have had no real problems with them. They'd also been recommended in the first place as good quality boards, so in the interest of simplicity and less confusion (and interchangeability) with the two systems, I'm figuring its easiest to stay with them.

    His computer is used strictly for games -- primarily RCT3, but also Train Simulator, Flight Simulator, SimCity, and some others. Mine is used for everything else -- internet, email, documents, music, etc.

    I intend to get a new graphics card as well, since I won't be able to reuse the one that was in my system (AGP) when I take his existing MB.

    So, was I wrong to buy the 800 MHz Gaming RAM last year? And should I not get more like it (ie, high-performance) this time around?
     
  14. Mighty Mouse

    Mighty Mouse

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    "repairing it". >>>> in general, you don't repair hardware. you *should* either reinstall to see if that resolves the problem or replace.


    :)
     
  15. lisakmusco

    lisakmusco Thread Starter

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    Rob-
    That's exactly what I am doing...replacing/upgrading. However, in the particular case of what happened to my existing motherboard (bad/bulging capacitors) it was theoretically possible to repair it. But, since it is older, I am opting to just replace it.
     
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