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Upgrading Processor/Video Card/Ram

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by shadobeni, Feb 22, 2005.

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  1. shadobeni

    shadobeni Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2005
    Messages:
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    I have a comp (Dell Dimension 4100) with the following specs:

    Pentium III 866 MHZ (Intel 815E chip set)
    200W DC power supply
    Video card: Geforce 2 MX 460 64MB AGP 4x
    RAM: 512MB PC133 SDRAM

    I was just wondering if it would be worth upgrading my video card and if so what would be the best video card to upgrade to before my processor becomes a bottleneck in performance when it comes to playing games.

    I was just wondering if there's even a quantitative way of figuring out the right "balance" or optimum combination of processor speed, ram & video card before it gets to a point where you might as well buy a new computer with all superior components instead of upgrading any one individual component. I figure at least when it comes to games that these three are the most important components.

    Right now I can play Max Payne & Mafia well. Beyond Good & Evil seems to run okay at 800x600 but the action sequences seem to be slow but in all honesty I can't tell if the game itself intentionally slows it down because I've only just started playing and it only seems to slow down during the first battle, everything else where there's no fighting runs smoothly.

    Recently bought Max Payne 2 which supposedly requires minimum 1GHz processor speed but it seems to work fine on my computer but again I've only just started playing it. This led me to wonder how important is processor speed when it comes to minimum requirements in games? If say you have enough ram & a good video card will that more than compensate for a lower than minimum requirements processor speed?

    thanks
     
  2. JSanguancheu

    JSanguancheu

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2002
    Messages:
    1,824
    Hmm..this is a tough one.

    I'd say you'd probably get the most performance increase from upgrading the video card to something a little more current. Probably a radeon 9200/9600 or geforce 5200/5600 with 128mb and directX 9.0 support. Don't spend more than $100.

    Also get a higher rated (300w+) power supply to support the new vid card. 200w is pretty low for any system.

    The processor is a decent speed for a P3. I think the max they went up to was 1.2Ghz or so.

    Going over 512mb ram really doesn't help much in terms of game performance.
     
  3. JFresh

    JFresh

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Messages:
    161
    Hi,

    What JSanguancheu is correct.

    However to answer your question of if there's a way to figure out the best price/performance there is...kinda.

    If you're interested in upgrading your processor and memory I recommend going here for a bit of research:

    Sharky Extreme:
    www.sharkyextreme.com

    Once there, on the front page look for these two links:

    Weekly CPU Prices

    Weekly Memory Prices

    This website has tracked the fluctuations of CPU and memory prices for a few years now. Plus, they organize it into a nice table so you can see just how much a new processor or memory will cost and be able to compare it directly with those around it. You can use these tables to determine what would be the best price/performance.

    Also, if you are planning on upgrading your processor, May is generally a good time to do so. AMD and Intel have been known to roll out upgrades during May. This has a trickle down effect that lowers the prices of all the processors below it.

    As for your video card generally around $100 - $200 is the sweet spot for price/performance. The high end video cards will run you $400 - $500 which historically has been known to not provide too much more performance over the $100 - $200 cards, at least not compared to the additional price you pay.

    I am an avid gamer as well. When I upgraded my computer last summer I purchased an ATI Radeon 9600xt. This was around $150 at the time and I couldn't be happier with it.

    Also, I agree with JSanguancheu that you should definately upgrade your power supply. Don't get anything less than a 300W. As for me I have a 350W PS. Antec, and PC Power and Cooling are both good brands for Power Supply's.

    Hope that helps!

    JFresh
     
  4. shadobeni

    shadobeni Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2
    Thanks for the help.

    For me, I just want to max out my computer as much as possible with some easy upgrades. It originally came with a Riva Tnt 2 and 128 MB ram. I checked the manual and it said the max ram was 514MB so I maxed that out and man does it make a noticeable difference. The upgrade from tnt 2 to Geforce 2 mx made Mafia playable. Then the ram made it so that I could up the visual quality a lot. Not to mention the game loads so much faster.

    I don't intend to upgrade the motherboard/processor. I figure if I do that I might as well just buy a whole new computer. I want to keep most of the original components running. I figure my old video card and 128 ram can be given to someone else to put in their computer fairly easily.

    200 W is what came with my computer originally. Kind of reluctant to change it. This is my only computer so if I screw something up then I got nothing to do my more important stuff...I know that technically my Geforce 2 mx is suppose to required 300W but it seems to work fine. Would it be possible to get away with a 200W supply with a ati radeon 9200se? I read somewhere that ATI cards in general require less power than nvidia ones.
     
  5. JFresh

    JFresh

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Messages:
    161
    In all honesty I'm not sure if you would be able to get away with it. It's entirely possible that you would be able to, however when I built my Athlon 750 several years back, every resource I read said that if you want to play games on your system then you really should get a 300W PS. And considering that you are relying on this machine for your every day needs as well as entertainment I highly recommend you get one.

    Installing a new power supply is extremely easy to do. All it takes is 10 minutes and a screwdriver. All you do is unplug and unscrew the old one and then screw the new one in and plug everything in again. I'm sure you could do this but if you want extra insurance here's a tutorial on how it's done:

    http://compreviews.about.com/od/tutorials/ss/DIYPSU.htm


    Newegg sells an Antec 300W power supply for $38 that would be perfect for your needs, so the cost is pretty inexpensive as well.

    Let me know how everything goes =).

    JFresh
     
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