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Need some help and recommendations for system upgrades..

By A1cntrler
Feb 25, 2008
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  1. Hello! This is my second post here (first was in the introduce yourself forum). I have put my system specs in my profile for viewing, but I'll go over them again here.

    Back in 2004 myself and a friend who is much more computer savvy than myself built a couple of systems for myself and for my wife. At the time we spent our time online gaming playing Battlefield 1942 (with the desert combat mod). The systems we built to play that game and have served us well. They are identical except for my wife's case is red and mine is blue. Internals are the same.

    Now we have evolved to playing World of Warcraft. All was well until I went to a friends house and played it on his brand new Dell machine. Not sure on the specs of his system, but it was quite a difference! It has convinced me that it is time for an upgrade to our systems.

    Question one- If I were to replace the Motherboard, Processor, Memory and Video card, would I have to re-install the OS, or can I just hook it back to the mobo and go from there?? I assume I would need to uninstall ALL the drivers for the old mobo if it is even possible...

    Question two- What would you recommend to use in these two systems. I will spec them both the same. My friend who helped me select the components for the existing systems no longer lives nearby and is out of the computer stuff for now and doesn't have the time to help me out ;(

    I am pretty sure I need to get the motherboards replaced.. I have had a hard time finding any Graphics cards that still use AGP (seems all are PCIe now..) and with the motherboard, comes the processor. I have liked AMD, but that was pretty much because it was cheaper when I did the initial build. I would prefer to stay with AMD, but not necessary. As for memory, can I use what I have or has technology progressed beyond the stuff I have already?

    Video cards- Not a clue what to get here. What will be sufficient to run WoW with all the graphics options maxed out and still get a good FPS? Right now I am showing between 10-15 fps and it is really jerky, and at times it is unplayable on busier nights, as there will be so much motion on the screen at once and lurches in spurts. On my friends Dell system, it was smooth and fast maxed out all the time no matter where and what he was doing.

    Not looking to go bottom budget on these systems, but am wise enough to not pay a premium for the latest technology. I am happy to be 2 or 3 steps behind the latest and greatest. I just want to be able to use them for playing WoW and daily internet surfing/e-mail.

    I would like to recycle as much as possible. My Power supplies are 480w Thermaltakes and have done well, but if I need to upgrade to more power for the videocard, then so be it. Present specs are below. Please tell me what I can reuse (I know I can reuse the DVD drives/Floppy Drive/ etc..)

    Power Supply: 480w Thermaltake Purepower
    Motherboard/Processor: Asus Nforce2 A7N8X-E Deluxe/AMD Athalon XP 2600+ Barton Core (333 FSB)
    Memory: Kingston DDR 333 2700 (2-512mb sticks)
    Hard drives- 1 180gb IDE, 1 80gb IDE (non Sata)
    Video Card- Asus Radeon 9600XT 128mb DDR
    Sound Card- Turtle Beach Montego DDL (new--need to keep!)

    Thanks for all your help and recommendations! Also if you know where I can get th upgrade compnents online, please let me know and why I should get them there. I prefer to buy online, as only local stores here are BB and Circuit City, and I hate going there for Comp. parts... Used to have a CompUSA, but they just closed down a few weeks ago. Thank you!
     
  2. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 6,065   +84 Staff Member

    I've known of people that have managed to install a new motherboard/CPU in their PC without having to format. XP is fairly flexible, however, with that said, you very well may run into issues and it's wiser to perform a fresh install.

    There are still plenty of GeForce 7 AGP cards around that you can upgrade to (without touching your motherboard) and have a significant boost in performance (if you decide not to pull an entire over hall).

    There is a bit of room to upgrade your CPU. Your motherboard will support an Athlon XP 3200+ with a FSB of 400MHz.

    RAM has indeed progressed technologically. DDR2 has been the standard for some time and DDR3 is working it's way into the mainstream currently. Depsite that, DDR is still easy enough to get your hands on and upgrading to 2GB would prove to be useful.

    Your current PSU will handle those upgrades fine, and it shouldn't prove to be a problem even if you decide to do something major.

    Upgrading within your current motherboard's capabilities is feasible if you're just looking for a boost in WoW, but don't expect to be able to run newer games with great results.

    Check out NewEgg, ZipZoomFly and TigerDirect for online stores.
     
  3. A1cntrler

    A1cntrler TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Great info! Thanks. I wasn't sure if AGP was really the way to go, since it came and went so quickly. If I can stretch out the longevity of my systems by using one of those cards and updated processors, then I'll give that a try.

    WoW is the only game I play on PC. I have a 360 and PS3 for everything else. My wife loves to play WoW with me, so that is what we do. (Sometimes I think she likes it more than me...)

    I did a search on the GeForce7 cards you mentioned.. Any specific one? I see some that are 512mb, 256mb and 128mb. Also any particular brand that is the best?? I have heard good things about BFG....
     
  4. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 6,065   +84 Staff Member

  5. A1cntrler

    A1cntrler TS Rookie Topic Starter

    That one looks good. Thanks! The reviewers say that it runs pretty hot, but I have 12 fans in my case, so that should be fine :)

    So how would that perform versus a 512mb card?? Is this a case in which size does not matter?? I never figured out all the numbers and what exactly they all mean. I like the fact that it has the Asus name on it, as I have had great luck with Asus products.

    I have started looking for a processor as well, but it seems like ebay will be my friend on that one. I think it was a Socket A mobo I have, right? Not seeing many options for Socket A processors anymore. I think just stretching out the life of the computers I have now will suffice, and be the best for the budget for the time being.
     
  6. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 6,065   +84 Staff Member

    It's not so much a case where by size doesn't matter, it's a case where I don't believe you will see a significant enough (if any) performance gain playing WoW to justify spending an additional $55.
     
  7. A1cntrler

    A1cntrler TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Good Looking Out! Being a typical guy, you would think that bigger is better, however when you talk sense like this to me, I listen and research, and agree. I may just stick a PCI slot fan under the card to keep it under control and the heat out of the case...

    On the processor upgrade you mentioned, I assume if I get the 400FSB, I also need to match the RAM to it, so I could no longer use the 333 2700 ram I have now, right? I am having a hard time finding a Socket A Processor to replace mine. Would I notice a big increase in the computers power if I kept my current processor and maxed out the RAM on the Mobo??

    So in the end I would have upgraded the video card, removed my 2 sticks of 512mb ram and maxed out the ram (3-1GB sticks) Which is the best match for my current setup (keeping the old processor) and if I upgrade the the 3200+ (if I can find it, and I need 2, one for each system!)

    Supported ram for my Mobo is: 3 DDR DIMM slots for dual- and single-channel PC1600 (DDR200), PC2100 (DDR266), PC2700 (DDR333) and PC3200 (DDR400) SDRAM
     
  8. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 6,065   +84 Staff Member

    If your case is already well ventilated it might be a waste of money, but, hey if the noise from 13 fans doesn't bother you ;) go for it.
     
  9. A1cntrler

    A1cntrler TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Already sounds like the flight deck of an aircraft carrier in there, so why not lol.

    I was editing my post above when you replied to it. Was trying to keep the posting down to a minimum, but since you are the only one who has replied to my questions (And thank you very much!) didn't want you to miss my amplifying questions.
     
  10. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 6,065   +84 Staff Member

    It's worth upgrading your RAM? Yes. Maxing it? No.

    If you want to get a little upgrade happy, a 2 x 1GB kit would be more than enough for each of your systems. That'd give each of your systems 2GB of RAM. DDR RAM is not cheap these days. Yet again, it's not justifiable to spend an additional $80 (give or take) for 1GB of extra RAM per PC just to run WoW.

    You might not have to upgrade your CPU at all. I don't know what components are currently providing bottlenecks (if any). You can always just upgrade your RAM/VPU and then see how things look from that point.
     
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