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Thread: Computer Upgrade Help - CPU and MB

  1. #1
    Pre-tty, pre-tty good!! MWM's Avatar
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    Computer Upgrade Help - CPU and MB

    I've always just purchased components and assembled my own PCs. But it's been about 3.5 years since my last upgrade and I've paid no attention to the technology changes since then.

    My motherboard has died, so now's as good a time as any to upgrade. I'm not familiar enough with the newer CPU attributes and MB chipsets to make an informed decision. I'm all about getting the what it is that I need and not overpaying for the top stuff out there that I have no use for. I've pretty much always been an AMD guy and I run XP with no plan to move to Vista any time soon.

    The PC is the family desktop used for typical family stuff and nothing fancy. Here are the particulars of what I have now, all bought at the same time:

    AMD Athlon 64 3200 (2.0 Ghz)
    MSI Nforce3 Chipset MB
    80G Serial ATA 7200 rpm Hard Drive (8MB)


    A quick glance at the current offerings and it seems like there are a lot more features you have to make a choice on: Single vs Dual core, L1, L2, L3 Cache, Operating Frequency (most are similar, but is there a minimum I need to have), AM2 vs AM2+ Socket, MB Chipsets - I'm not at sure what I need versus what's just too much.

    The thing i would like to do if I can is keep my current memory I just bought last summer (2 X 1GB DDR 400 184 pin PC 3200). I really don't want to have to get new RAM, but I'm not sure if the new CPUs/MBs support this.

    Lastly, I assume HDs have come a long way in the past 3 and a half years, but want to make sure. Mine is 80GB, but I have an external for storage, so I don't need an upgrade for the storage. But if a new CPU/MB is just going to be limited by the old HD I have, I'd go ahead and get a newer one.

    Any advice would be appreciated.
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  3. #2
    Pre-tty, pre-tty good!! MWM's Avatar
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    Re: Computer Upgrade Help - CPU and MB

    Oops, wrong forum. Can a mod move this over to the Non-BB? Thanks.
    Grape works as a soda. Sort of as a gum. I wonder why it doesn't work as a pie. Grape pie? There's no grape pie. - Larry David

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    KungFu Fighter AtomicDumpling's Avatar
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    Re: Computer Upgrade Help - CPU and MB

    You get more for your money with Intel right now. I hate to say it because I have used AMD for years. Go with a Dual Core Intel CPU.

    You will have to get new DDR2 memory, but it is very cheap -- 4GB for less than $50.

    You can keep your hard drive, but you could buy a 500GB for about $65.

    I used this build when I built mine and it worked out great: How to Build A Computer

    The key these days is to buy the best video card you can afford. That is really the key component that determines which software you can use on your computer and how long your computer will last without needing to be upgraded.

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    So Long Uncle Joe BoydsOfSummer's Avatar
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    Re: Computer Upgrade Help - CPU and MB

    I bought a new rig with the AMD Phenom X4 quad core with 4GB of RAM. Disappointed would be an understatement.It may be slower than the single core with 1Gigger that it replaced.
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    SERP Emeritus paintmered's Avatar
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    Re: Computer Upgrade Help - CPU and MB

    What you should do depends greatly on your budget. Also, if you are going to spring for more than 4 GB of ram (now or into the future), you'll need a 64-bit operating system.
    Last edited by paintmered; 04-13-2009 at 06:27 PM.
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    Re: Computer Upgrade Help - CPU and MB

    I'm an AMD fan as well, but Atomic is right that Intel is taking them to the woodshed right now. But, with the Phenom II, AMD has closed the gap considerably - also $$$$-wise.

    With that chip, probably want to go with an AM2+ board with DDR2 memory. AM3 boards are out (use DDR3 memory) but the $$$$ is up there and the performance, as of yet, is reported to be not worth it.

    Depending on what you do with your system, I agree that the video card is certainly one of the most important parts, if not the most important. Do some research there.

    Try this site:

    http://www.anandtech.com/

    It has tons of info and build guides/ advice/ reviews.
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    On the brink of disaster acredsfan's Avatar
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    Re: Computer Upgrade Help - CPU and MB

    As stated above, DDR memory is pretty much obsolete now. DDR2 and even DDR3 is the new norm. If you are much for performance and tweaking, a 64 bit computer is what you go for, but if you are just wanting something for everyday, I wouldn't reccomend it because a lot of drivers won't work on it and companies are just now starting to realize more people are using these systems. Video cards are very important, but so is memory. It is very affordable, but you have to make sure you get 800 Mhz memory with a motherboard that can handle it. I actually built a computer with a Nvidia 780i sli motherboard and a Core 2 Quad processor at 2.5 ghz and 4 gigs of DDR2 800 mhz RAM. It is a 64 bit machine, but it handles everything I ask of it. The motherboard cost around $150 at the time, and the processor is $189 at the moment:
    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...?EdpNo=4387053

    If you wanted to go with the newer DDR3 memory, it's not much more than DDR2:
    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...428&CatId=3361

    This is an example of a motherboard to handle the DDR3 Memory:
    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...951&CatId=1533
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    Pre-tty, pre-tty good!! MWM's Avatar
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    Re: Computer Upgrade Help - CPU and MB

    Thanks for the input. So I have a couple of video card questions then.

    1 - What types of programs wouldn't work well without a really good card?

    2 - What's the standard as far as the minimum you need to have... the entry level.
    Grape works as a soda. Sort of as a gum. I wonder why it doesn't work as a pie. Grape pie? There's no grape pie. - Larry David

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    Member SirFelixCat's Avatar
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    Re: Computer Upgrade Help - CPU and MB

    Quote Originally Posted by MWM View Post
    Thanks for the input. So I have a couple of video card questions then.

    1 - What types of programs wouldn't work well without a really good card?

    2 - What's the standard as far as the minimum you need to have... the entry level.
    1) Games...that's the single most graphics-card driven part of computing...if you or your family aren't playing the latest/greatest PC games, then having a great video card isn't a big deal.

    2) I've built a handful of computers for my fellow poker playing buddies recently and they aren't gamers (videogame playing folk). I've suggested they buy this card here. To be honest, if the family does like video games, this thing can handle most of them, but obviously, not at the highest settings. But w/ a $20 MIR, you're looking at only $50 for a vid card...that's pretty awesome imo.

    And eVGA is one of the best brands out there when it comes to reliability.

    Hope that helps!

  11. #10
    Pre-tty, pre-tty good!! MWM's Avatar
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    Re: Computer Upgrade Help - CPU and MB

    Thanks, that's not too absorbitant a price. My famil doesn't really play games on the PC. they play some, but nothing fancy (i.e. Harry Potter). Most of them they play online. they're not game kids.

    The video card I have is about 4 years old (radeon saphire chipset, with 128MB mem). The MB I ordered comes with the ati radeon hd 3200 built in chipset. I know that's probably far from ideal, especially as it uses shared memory, but I'm going to see how it works and the overall PC performs. I'll the order a video card if I need one.

    Next I'd love to upgrade the 5 year old laptop of mine. I love having the laptop, but this one I starting to get WAY too slow.
    Grape works as a soda. Sort of as a gum. I wonder why it doesn't work as a pie. Grape pie? There's no grape pie. - Larry David

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    Re: Computer Upgrade Help - CPU and MB

    Some other video card taxing applications, other than gaming, include video/ picture editing and 3D modeling/ rendering. Sometimes an underpowered card can affect video playback, but most GPU's out there today can handle that.

    It sounds like, for what you're using it for, the onboard video may suffice. You may want to go with a card, though; As newer applications and games come out, it would give you functionality over a longer period of time. You really can't go wrong with the card that SirFelix suggests. That's a good card at a rockin' price. Newegg can have some great deals.

    Because the onboard GPU uses shared memory, make sure to get a decent amount of ram.

    As far as a laptop, there are lots of good, relatively inexpensive deals out there. Before you buy, take a look at some user reviews to see about the things that matter like weight, battery life, and cooling. I have a Toshiba that is an OK one, but it'll heat up (I have to get a cooling pad), it's heavy, and the battery life is so-so. We bought my daughter an HP for Christmas; its much lighter and is cool as a cucumber. If I would have done some more research, I would have done better than the Toshiba.
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  13. #12
    Pre-tty, pre-tty good!! MWM's Avatar
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    Re: Computer Upgrade Help - CPU and MB

    Good point on the video playback. I do some of that, but in the near future I plan to start going through all our videos and start editing them and putting them onto DVD. Probably won't work near as well with the on-board card. BTW, I have 4GB RAM running XP.

    FYI, I had to move quickly on this as the PC was dead and the family relies on it to do homework, etc... And I was heading out of twon on business and coming back 5 days later just to leave 2 days afterwards for another week. So I needed to make sure the stuff was here when I got back. I ordered from newegg. I did not know that Intel was the way to go, so I went ahead with the AMD Athlon X2 64 Brisbane 5800 3.0 GHz CPU. It had really good consumer reviews and seemed sufficient for what we needed. It was only $58 most likely because the new Phenom chips, which I had very mixed reviews. I also got a 1 TB HD and 4GB RAM, and an ASUS MB. It's definitely light years faster than pre-upgrade.

    My goal is usually to get 2 years, maybe 3 before I upgrade again. So I rarely go with the best of the best at the time. I think this will be more than suffifcient for our needs and I'd notice marginal difference, if any at all, from anything more. But I think I will pick up that video card.
    Grape works as a soda. Sort of as a gum. I wonder why it doesn't work as a pie. Grape pie? There's no grape pie. - Larry David


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