System upgrade??

By amazon_sephy ยท 43 replies
Jul 3, 2003
  1. Hi,

    My current system is as follows--

    P4 2.0Ghz 512cahce -- Stock heatsink/fan
    512mb 2700ddr
    80.0 gb WD 7200rpm 8mb cache
    Aopen Ax4b Pro-533
    Geforce 3 Ti 200128mb
    16x pioneer slot loading dvd
    Sony 24x 10x 40x burner
    built in sound
    2.1 Labtec Speakers
    Microsoft intelli mouse explorer v 1.0
    17" Nec Multisync 75
    300watt generic psu. (i know, not good)
    Generic Case (black)

    What do you guys think about Microsofts bluetooth mouse? Its $85, and i dont know if its worth it, but i need a bigger mouse and my current mouse is started to ware out.

    My question is based on my specs above what parts would you recomend upgrading for some serious gaming? I plan on playing Half-Life 2 and perhaps Doom 3. At the present time i think taht a Radeon 9700pro and an audigy 2 would be a start. Also, i think some nice 4.1 or 5.1 speakers would be nice, but im on a limited budget... so, not necesarry. With these two additions i would need a new psu. Im looking at maybe one of those enermax 430 or some equivilent. Any suggestions?? In addtion to these hardware upgrades, im looking at spicing my system up with some cosmetic changes, like new case,,,,previous post,,, glowing fans, and anything you guys may suggest, *note i dont have a case window so no internal lights. Thx for your assistance.
  2. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    Overclock that CPU, and get those items you suggested (good choice) and you'll be all set for some gaming heaven. Doom 3 and Half Life 2, is not something anyone can comment on just yet, though chances are you're going to require a whole new system to play those games at a reasonable resolution with all the eye candy switched on. You may get by on lower quality settings, but its difficult so say exactly what that means right now. You could wait until later this year if you really want to know, and I'm sure you can get by with your current system until then, as its not exactly slow. Overclock your CPU in the meantime, as that will also boost you framerates.

    Oh, and welcome to techspot :=).
  3. JSR

    JSR Banned Posts: 592

    put your money

    on the video card.........current prices for the geforce fx 5900 @ the 128/256 sizes are falling, as well as the radeon 9800 pro 128/256 with the 256 on the radeon, proving to be not much of an improvement over the 128 model.........therefore, this is the point where the geforce extracts it's advantage, in that the 256 version of the geforce card scales in performance to it's meg, for me, i'd select the 256 version of the geforce fx 5900......either of these cards will perform on next generation games.....if you can overclock that processor, as nic suggested, then do it.......then wait out an architecture revision to 64, being able to transfer that card and some of your current peripherals when you really do upgrade :grinthumb
  4. amazon_sephy

    amazon_sephy TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 83

    Ok, then it looks like i will go ahead with the upgrades i have in mind, however, overclock my cpu? Um, i know i can, but do i really want to? I dont want my system fried, but i have overclocked before and noticed the massive improvments. I mean would you suggest a new heatsink or will mine do just fine? And JSR, the difference between a 9700pro and a fx 5900 256mb isnt worth the extra $213. And, i dont like the large size of those vid cards and their bigger heatsink fans. They still take up two pci slots, which isnt really an issue but i dont like the idea of it requiring that much space. Also, i thought 64bit procs will do little to help gaming even on games like HL2 and Doom3. Sure, they do look tempting, but the P4's Prescott revison this fall also looks like it will give amds 64bit procs some trouble with 32bit apps. But ill keep it in mind. Thx for your input. And thx Nic for welcoming me!
  5. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    The only thing he is going to need to play Doom 3 or Half Life 2 is an upgrade on the video card. You really cant believe that Half Life 2 is going to need something faster than a 2GHz machine?!
    If you upgrade your video card I would get a 350w PSU too, such as Enermax.

    And I dont care what anyone says, HL2 isn't going to need a 2GHz machine to run at "full res." (by full res. I mean 1024x768 with graphics turned all the way on). Though it may depend on your AGP settings and SmartGart settings or Nvidia Control Panel settings. At the most though you would just need to turn those down one notch from the highest settings.

    A 9700 Pro would do you just fine, or an equivelant Nvidia card, along with a 350w PSU (as long as its high quality).
    I've been told you can get the 9700 Pro for a pretty low price but the ones I've seen sell for about $260. The Enermax sells for around $65 on NewEgg.

    I have kind of along the same lines of the system that you have as far as processor, and RAM, except I have a Radeon 9700 Pro with an Enermax 350w PSU. All the games that I run, do not lag at all with settings all the way up and resolution set for 1024x768 (my monitor wont support anything higher).

    If you want to buy a new sound card I would suggest scratching that idea and just getting the Asus A7N8X motherboard. It has the best onboard sound that you can buy right now and the motherboard is around $113 on NewEgg and for the Deluxe version it is about $130. If you made this choice you would be getting a great motherboard, with great stability and the best onboard sound available at the moment. Compared to buying just the Audigy2 with compatibility issues and it isn't the best card around.
  6. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Posts: 863

    Yes, indeed. Buy a new motherboard all together, plus, your AGP slot is probably only 4x, you need to take advantage of 8x for your new video card.

    Acid, he's running an Intel, he can't use the A7N8X. Get the Intel D865PERLK, it has 6 channel audio (surround sound), 8X AGP slot (take advantage of your vid card), and 10/100/1000 lan, something to think about for the future. Get the 9700 Pro vid card, good choice. I assume with these upgrades your going to keep your computer for a while, so, I'd suggest a 400W PSU, other people may have a different view.

    You may want to overclock a little bit, don't go up too high, you'll reach instability. And, with overclocking, you better get a good CPU cooler, stock wont cut it. I suggest the Vantec AeroFlow for socket 478, just in case you're unsure :D.

    Good luck.
  7. amazon_sephy

    amazon_sephy TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 83

    That motherboard is nice, and is only about the cost of 2 audigy2s ($137). I have read reviews on it and i like it. This way im not only getting better sound, but many new features that my current mobo doesnt have. A question about that mobo, I have 333mhz ram. Currently i cant use that ram at full speed as my mobo is limited to 266mhz. With this new mobo will i be able to take advantage of that speed boost? Also, the Intel D865PERLK you mentioned is $137, the Intel D865PERL looks as if it is only missing the 1000 spec on lan and raid. Neither of these things do i need. I feel ill be moving to a wireless network before a 1000mbit network. This would save me $20, tho a small amount, it would help as im on a tight budget.

    Also one thing i forgot to add was that i have noticed that with games like even unreal2 (i know, bad game) used on the upwards of over 600mb of ram. i think i need to get up to at least 768 if not 1gb. What do you guys think about this?

    About that cpu cooler, the vantec you mentioned looks to be good, only $25. My only concern is that i have dealt with that kind of retention device before and while i found it hard to put on, i found it impossible to take it off afterwards. So, that makes me worry, i dont want a broken cpu cause of it. I like the stock retention. Also, whats your opinion on thermal grease? Is arctic silver 3 worth it??

    Ill prolly go wtih at lease a 400watt psu, most likely by enermax.

    Thx for your help guys. :)
  8. JSR

    JSR Banned Posts: 592


    you are skimping on the wrong thing............they're already talking a card twice as fast as the'll be left in the dust, wishing you coughed up the difference...........and, about the size?........that's not what she said.........:grinthumb
  9. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Posts: 863

    Yeah, you should, or actually, it should, just make sure your processor is up for it.

    I would get the 10/100/1000 to look towards the future... well anyways its just your needs.

    I doubt your unreal2 uses 600mb ram.

    Also, make sure your HD is 7200RPM at the LEAST. Anything below that and you've got to upgrade your hard drive.

    CPU coolers are always hard to snap on and off, don't worry about it. Read the instructions carefully.

    Thermal grease? A Must. Buy Arctic Silver 3.
  10. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    JSR.. just because some card comes out that says its twice as fast doesnt mean you will ever even see that speed. Plus that rumor is total B.S.

    Saying that you need a card twice as fast as 9800 Pro is like buying a card 10 years in the future. If the 9700 Pro is going to give you enough FPS that you cant notice the difference with anything higher than even a card 10 years in the future wont make any difference.

    You have to think about things like that. Plus the guy isnt rich or he wouldnt be asking for our help.

    Sorry about the Intel thing. I typed that up really quick and neglected to make that connection in my brain.
  11. amazon_sephy

    amazon_sephy TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 83

    Acidosmosis, your right about the video card thing. I dont need 150 fps or whatever the speed increase would be for more $$$, 45-60 is good enough which im sure a 9700 pro would fulfill.

    About the ram speed. Make sure my proc is up to it? Well it's the 400mhz bus obviously, and 333mhz ram compatible mobos came out with 533mhz buses, but isn't ram speed mainly mobo determined??

    About unreal 2 using 600mb, well, I was playing it and noticed it got really sluggish, I alt-tabbed out, and looked at the task manager, it said over 600mbs pf usage. So, it does eat up ram. My thought is that if this is so, then HL2 and Doom 3 would do probably the same amount of damage, and besides, an extra 256mb for like 35 bucks is worth it right? Better safe than sry!

    My harddrive is 7200rpm with the 8mb cache.

    One more question about arctic silver 3, when you apply that stuff and then put the heatsink on the cpu, will it be able to come off again? I think its that epoxy stuff that permanantly sticks them together, right??

    Oh, and acidosmosis, np about the intel/amd mix up there. :)
  12. amazon_sephy

    amazon_sephy TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 83

    Another thing i just thought of, all of you guys have been telling me that i should overclock. The motherboard XtR-X recomended is made by intel themselves which means that you have very little overclocking options. Is this a concern??
  13. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Posts: 863

    I don't know too much about overclocking because I rarely atempt it and when I do it's probabaly an Abit board that supports overclocking.

    I don't know enough about the ram mhz compared to the fsb in mhz. You should be better off anyways. If you have some more extra cash, buy PC3200 (400mhz) ram to take advantage of the 400mhz fsb.

    If all you want is 45-60fps, go with a GeForce 4 MX 400/440.
  14. amazon_sephy

    amazon_sephy TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 83

    I highly doubt a geforce 4mx would get me even 10fps. Its not even dx9. My geforce 3 can barely get me 25fps in ut2003. No, one would need a Radeon 9700pro for around 50 fps with visuals turned up. Right? And i want 50fps to be a minimun, sry, didnt mention that above...
  15. JSR

    JSR Banned Posts: 592

    c'mon acid

    when the new games hit.....i played doom was a ballbuster on my ti4400.....half life 2, doom 3, et. all........hey, you are goin to be entry level, and wishin' for more............and, as for money, he wants to go out and get sound cards etc. (not necessary) if frugality is his thing......the prices are droppin' on the 9800 pro 128.........and the comparable fx as well,........with the fx improving at 256.....screw everything else on his list..........he could carry this card over to his next upgrade........just for the "difference" price of the two cards(what? 80 bucks).........he wanted my opinion, he got it :grinthumb oh yeah, regarding may not avail you much..........other factors such as memory and motherboard may inhibit you ability to overclock........don't sweat that so much, until you install THE should speed things up quite nicely:eek:
  16. amazon_sephy

    amazon_sephy TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 83

    We all know that doom 3 will be really tough on vid cards even in the 9500 range. You've played Doom 3 huh? Obviously the leak from months ago, that is hardly optimized for anything. The final build wont be as hard on the hardware. Your right, the prices on these elite vid cards are droping. And your right, i did ask for opinions. :)
  17. JSR

    JSR Banned Posts: 592

    you got it bro'

    yeah, the action sequences really put the hurt to ya..........with all your focus'll rock :grinthumb
  18. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    JSR. That was an ALPHA version. As in NON optimized to work on systems other than what ID is using. You should know that. Once it comes out it will run MUCH smoother on your PC. If you play an alpha of a game that is as graphic intensive as DOOM 3 then you are going to be seeing terrible performance. That is a fact in any game. The game isnt even finished yet. The code isnt optimized to run on the "public's" PC's.

    The 9800 Pro is not worth the price for a 10FPS increase. When you can get a 9700 Pro for about $250-$260. In the future better drivers may make the 9800 Pro work better, but in my opinion the 9800 Pro just isnt a card that should be bought. I say either get a 9700 Pro or wait till ATI's next card comes out with the new chip that everyone is talking about. OR at least wait until it comes out and then buy the 9800 Pro with 256MB because the price will drop.

    Also, with your 512MB of PC2700 that alone is great in itself.
    One reason you have a problem with FPS and RAM usage is because you need a better video card with more RAM onboard the actual video card. Then you wont have as much of a problem with RAM usage. If you want though I dont see any harm in adding another 256MB of PC2700 to your system. Though you shouldn't need anything higher than that unless you plan on doing 3D Modeling, video editing, etc. I have 512MB of PC2100 with the Radeon 9700 Pro and I am not worried a bit about being able to play Half Life 2 or Doom 3. I have played the Alpha leaked version of Doom 3 and yes it was a bit slow but I was still getting around 20FPS.

    As far as overclocking well, it depends if you want to take the risks. If you feel like you want to give it a try then make sure you build your system with a motherboard and processor that can overclock to the speed that you want, and get a good heatsink such as the SLK-900 with a 80 or 92mm fan. It is really a matter of preference though. If you dont want to take the risk then dont pay attention to what can or wont overclock, just get the processor and motherboard that you feel is stable and runs at the speed you want.
  19. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    CPU Scaling with Radeon 9700 Pro

    Here you can see a 40% increase in frame rate for UT2003, when moving up from 2.0GHz to 2.8GHz. More demanding games (Doom 3, Half-Life 2) and faster video cards will require even faster CPUs just to handle the higher data rates required to keep the card supplied working at its max. This doesn't happen with all games, but with newer games that are based on state of the art 3D engines, you most likely will not get the best from your graphics card with that 2.0 GHz processor.

    With all those new PC parts that everyone is suggesting you buy, you are almost replacing your whole system, with one that is a half-way house, neither too slow, nor too fast, and you'll still be looking to upgrade later when you find that those new games are too jerky.

    I'd save my money to put towards a complete system upgrade later, as thats the only thing that you'll be satified with. In the meantime just overclocking that cpu will get you a good boost and won't cost you a cent. Its your money, so if you want to upgrade to something a little better, then go right ahead, but from my experience it always ends up costing more as you'll be wanting to upgrade again much sooner than you think, when you realise that your last upgrade still isn't up to the job. And it won't be cheap as you'll already have spent a good amount on mid-range components that also now require upgrading yet again.

    When you have so many components in need of an upgrade, it is rarely worthwhile. Much better to make do for as long as you can, then take that leap and get a whole new system.

    Just my personal opinion from own experience. Small steps always end up costing more over the longer term, and you end up never truly happy with what you've got during all that time. It sucks, but its your choice, so do whatever feels right for you. Everyone here has a different opinion, but at least you now have some things to consider, which will hopefully help you to make the right choice for yourself.
  20. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    acid: true, that doom 3 was a leaked alpha (defaults to 640x480 resolution @60Hz), that was not optimised, but don't forget that there are still additional features being added together withsupport for higher resolutions. Those additions will slow things down a bit I'd have thought. We'll just have to wait and see. :)
  21. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    I'll say it again. Not everyone wants to run a game at such high resolutions. 1024x768 is more than enough unless you have a huge monitor. And again I will say it. A 2.0ghz with 512MB of PC2700 and a 9700 Pro will not have a problem running HL2 or Doom 3.

    I only have a 2100+ 1.73GHz, and I can bet everyone here that this system isn't going to have a problem with either game.

    We will just have wait like you said. When that day comes in September when HL2 comes out. I'll be sure to rub it in your faces. :-D
  22. JSR

    JSR Banned Posts: 592

    the 9800 256

    does not post a significant improvement over the 128 fact, it's virtually none.......the 128 is about a 80 more than the 9700 now.......while, on the other hand......the fx does scale to meg size, making it the top gun in my book, for now ( substantiates these statements, several articles)............this is just my call bro'.........i'm goin' for the bigger gun :grinthumb action sequences, yes, on an alpha build, brought you downnnnnnnnn to single digit though
  23. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    Yea the guy is on a budget though, so we have to help him make the decision based on what he needs and can get for the right price for him.

    Those are my opinions on where I stand at this point in time. Six months from now technology will be much different and prices will be that much different.
  24. DaveSylvia

    DaveSylvia TS Rookie Posts: 107

    Intel makes fantastic motherboards that are quite stable. You won't go wrong with an Intel board at all! However, I prefer to support the 3rd party motherboard manufacturers. They usually perform ever so slightly better and the larger manufacturers are just as stable. Also, since the manufacturers don't have cpu's to sell, they provide very advanced overclocking and memory tweaking options in the BIOS. Instead of the Intel D865PERL motherboard I suggest you take a look at the ABIT IS7 or the Asus P4P800, both of which are the 865PE chipset. I prefer Abit more so than Asus but thats just personal preference. I usually shop at (a US based company) as they have great prices and charge very fairly for shipping.
  25. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    Here are some quotes taken from various forums on Doom 3 alpha performance:
    WTF is wrong with Doom3?

    I have Dual P4 3.06GHz (=6.12GHz)
    With 2GB DDR Ram
    and a Geforce FX5900.
    And D3 only runs at 16fps
    G FORCE 4 TI 4600 128MBV
    AMD 2100+
    1 GIG 2700 DDR
    DX 9
    IT RUNS HIGH 1024 BY 768 30-50 FPS RUN AWSOME
    Hey guys, I got an INTEL P4 2.4 GHZ,512 MB DDR & I bought an ATI RADEON 9000 PRO 128 MB and i downloaded directX 9.0 & latest CATALYST 3.2 drives. I was playing DOOM III ALPHA and i got 13 to 25 fps when walking, 10 to 8 fps when shooting & when there is a monster comes i get 5 to 7 fps on maximum quality with shadows on & 640X480 resolution.
    since it's an alpha the performance level on the best systems out there is pretty pitiful (~30 FPS with NOTHING moving on screen at 800x600 on a 2.4 GHz GF4 Ti 4600 comp).

    Looks as if a high end card like Radeon 9700 Pro will probably be ok on doom 3. Even the Half Life videos were captured on a Radeon 9800 Pro and they were fine. Lower to mid-range cards will have problems, especially when there are a lot of objects onscreen, but high end cards should be fine.
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