Need advice on an upgrade

By Linda ยท 13 replies
Mar 23, 2003
  1. Here's what I have:

    500 mh Pentium 3
    640 RAM
    Nvidea TNT2 video
    40 Hard drive

    Where should I put my money to make my games (Morrowind, Mafia) not run choppy? Is it the processor speed or the video card? And what do you think I should get?
  2. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    The worst bottleneck is definently the TNT2.

    I wouldn't put a top-of the line vid card in that machine, rather
    something like radeon 8500/9500, a good GeForce 3 or a not-the-cheapest GeForce 4.

    Another thing worth upgarding without buying a new motherboard is the CPU. And you should get the fastest thing your motherboard supports.
  3. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Morrowind? Unless you upgrade your CPU AND your video card, it still run choppy.

    It actually doesn't run very well on my Athlon XP 1600+ (@ 2000+), 512mb DDR and an ATI Radeon 7200 DDR.
  4. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    Sorry, but I'm going to be a bit more negative, though correct.

    What you need is a completely new PC. Going by the specs you quote, all the major components would need replacing if you wanted decent performance. Believe me, I am in exactly the same position as yourself, but I'm holding out just now as I'm a little short of cash.

    My specs are ...

    Athlon 1300GHz
    Geforce2 Ti
    512 MB RAM
    80 GB Hard Drive
    SB Live 5.1 Soundcard

    Even with this spec, I can only run older games (2 yrs) comfortably.
    Don't waste good money trying to improve your current system, as I'm betting you'll just end up regretting it.
  5. Linda

    Linda TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well, this is actually my daughter's PC, my old hand-me-down. If a better video card would fix it, I would buy a good one for my PC and give her the card in my box: an Nvidea GeForce2. Morrowind works fine on it.

    I'm concerned about her processor. If I get a new video card, I won't want to get a new processor, too, unless they are cheap, and I don't think they are!
  6. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    If you are saying that you have a GeForce2 in your PC, then why not do a swap and see the results for yourself. Also, Pentium IIIs are very overclockable, so you might try that as well to see if any improvement is noticed. Just a thought.:cool:
  7. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Pentium III 500s are NOT very overclockable. They are still using the old cores which require more voltage and generate more heat.

    Her processor is definitely going to slow the game down. Make sure you set all details to low (especially ones that have to do with shadows and geometry), and perhaps it will be playable? It is certainly worth a shot, but from what I've seen, Morrowind is going to need something like a 1GHz or better to run reasonably. The extra amount of memory will definitely help you out though.
  8. young&wild

    young&wild TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 993

    IMO upgrading the video card will not help much at all the cpu and memory will become the bottleneck. You would be much better off uprgrading the CPU, Motherboard, Memory and perhaps get a faster HDD.
  9. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,994

    even with only a 500 mhz P3 a geforce 2 is still going to be a big improvement over a TNT 2 card.
  10. young&wild

    young&wild TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 993

    The video upgrade is just not worthwhile IMO, you might end up in the end spending money that can even get you a brand new system.
  11. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    Which Geforce2 is it that you have?
    If its a Geforce2MX then you will see a little improvement. If its a Pro, Ultra, GTS then you will see a bigger improvement. Also if it has 64mb of vram rather than 32mb (which the TNT2 has) it will increase the amount of performance improvement since less video data will need to be swapped in and out of system memory.

    You can check out this "Geforce2 Scaling" article at Tomshardware. They only start with an Athlon 800, but you get the idea that the Geforce2 isn't going to be that great with what is now a very low spec CPU. But it will be better than the TNT2. And it gives you an excuse to get a new card for yourself ;)
  12. Elcarion

    Elcarion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 169

    Try your GeForce2 video card in the system to see if that does the trick. Unfortunately, it's not likely to have enough CPU for most recent and future games. It's worth a try to see how much of an improvement the video card is nonetheless. I just upgraded an Athlon 850Mhz system from a Riva TNT 16MB to a GeForce2 MX MX400 64MB; the difference is substantial!
    You can purchase GeForce2MX 64MB now for around $40. New Athlon 1100 CPU ($33), 256MB DDR RAM ($26), new motherboard ($52). These are budget-priced items that may be in your budget. Use the pricewatch link on this website to find motherboard bundles.
  13. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    If your system uses the Slot 1 format, you can always try to get a Powerleap system with a Celeron at around 1GHZ.

    As for the video card, a GF3TI200 or an Radeon 7500 can be found for very cheap.
  14. Malladine

    Malladine TS Rookie Posts: 20

    The problems with just upgrading your vid card are
    1. Your motherboard may not accept anything significantly better
    2. The cpu has to be able to keep up with the vid card and a 500mhz cpu will not be able to handle anything more than what you have.

    So, I will agree with most here by saying that you'd be better off saving for a new system. A new cpu will probably not work too well as, if you have owned the system for a more than 3 yrs (back when a 500 was pretty good!) then the motherboard itself will not be able to take anything much faster, plus the vid card issue mentioned above.

    It sucks, but when you're getting to the point where a mb upgrade is the best bet, it's pretty much a whole new system you need. 1.4+ghz CPU, GeForce4 TI 4200 / Radeon 9000 PRO + vid card, DDR ram, modern hdd, etc etc.

    It's happened to me more than once.

    I love discussing this stuff. If you want more detailed advice, by all means shoot me a private message.
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