Upgrading my PC. Decisions, decisions...

By Maxïmo · 17 replies
Aug 13, 2005
  1. Hey guys, first off, I'd like to say I should have joined a long time ago. This forum has helped me so much! Anyway...

    I was looking for some advice on a cheap, but worthwhile upgrade. Im in the UK so cant use newegg (I think :confused: ) with a budget of around £250-£300 (~$450-$550). of course I wouldn't be upset if the build ended up with a little cash left over, I am a student after all! :D

    The budget is to buy a new CPU, Motherboard, Graphics Card, and s'more RAM. And I may need a new PSU aswell. I was thinking of an AMD Athlon 64 3000 (maybe higher depending on other components), a GeForce 6600gt 128Mb DDR3 or Radeon 9800 Pro 128Mb DDR, and a stick or two of 512Mb DDR400 RAM. I welcome any suggestions you have on any components, but esp. Motherboards and PSU's.

    Maybe its pushing it, but I'd like to be able to run the likes of Half Life 2, but if not, I'll settle for a pc thats gunna last me through the next few years of Uni, cos I prob won't have the funds to upgrade for a while :(

    Many thanks in advance to anyone who replies!

  2. Maxïmo

    Maxïmo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Had another thought. The PCI-E motherboards appear to be a lot more expensive than the AGP ones. Is it worth spending the extra dosh on a PCI-E compatible graphics card and motherboard, or is it better value to stick with AGP?

  3. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    With agp, you could get more for your money now, but then later, you won't have as much upgradeability. Performance between agp and pci-e are similar, although pci-e is faster, just not totally utilized yet.

    Maybe your market is different, but the price difference between similar agp and pci-e cards isn't that much in the US.
  4. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,503

    Look at the offerings from www.komplett.co.uk
    You won't find much cheaper than that.
    Go for a Socket939 AMD64 motherboard. Get an AMD64-3000 S939 'Venice' now (ADA3000BPBOX, includes fan + 3yr warranty). In 1-2 years you could upgrade to a faster, or even dual-core CPU.
    AGP is definitely cheaper now than SLI/PCI-e and will be available for quite a while to come.

    Also check out their Bundles/Upgrades category.
  5. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    If you really want a cheap system with good performance, you can get an AGP/Socket-754 but you will have little to no upgrade options in about 6 months time. It will still be fast but you'll be stuck with what you have.

    MSI K8n Neo Platinum (nForce3) - £59.95
    Amd Athlon64 3400+ - £94.95
    Crucial PC3200 512mb - £34.95 x2 or x3
    Leadtek WinFast GeForce 6800 128MB - £99.95
    Zalman ZM400B-APS 400W - £54.95

    Total = £379,7 with 1024mb of Ram or £414,65 with 1536mb.

    PS. you do have a case to put all of this in, right ?
  6. Maxïmo

    Maxïmo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Aye, I've got a case, HDD, CD-R, DVD/CD-RW, etc. etc. (I'm upgrading PC 1 in my profile), but it may also require a little extra cooling cos theres not much if any airflow through the case. Don't know if any of you guys have heard of Novatech, but they seem to have some pretty good deals. Some of it they manufacture themselves, so its cheaper, but should I be avoiding 'home brands', so to speak? I'm gunna do a bit of searching around and get back to you. Thanks for the advice so far!
  7. nein

    nein Banned Posts: 109

    Avoid AGP if you can, it's a dead end. It may hangs around awhile, but it will not be good for long in the exact same manner as 3D PCI video cards are still around but not good for much.

    As is in the newer games developers are making, they already said they did them with nVIDIA's SLI in mind. It meant new games will really utilize PCIe 16X, you wanted things to last a least a couple of years, then avoid AGP.

    AGP are good deals now as they are being rid of, soon enough their prices will head back up again, just as PCI 3D graphic cards are overly expensive for their very limited returns.
  8. Maxïmo

    Maxïmo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Well I forgot that I need a copy of XP Home as well, so its put £60 on top of my original estimate, and its a lot more than I was hoping for...
    I can get:
    Athlon 64 3000 Venice £104.23 - http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/specpage.html?AMD-64930V
    Asus A8N-E Nforce4 Ultra PCI-E Motherboard £69.33 - http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/specpage.html?ASU-A8NE
    Leadtek Winfast (I think) 6600GT 128Mb £112.8 - http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/specpage.html?NOV-66GTE
    512Mb DDR PC3200 RAM £31.73 - http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/specpage.html?RAM-40/512
    450W PSU £16.45 - http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/specpage.html?NOV-PSU450#lblR
    Win XP Home off ebay for ~£58

    But the total is about £400 inc. VAT and delivery... way over my budget :eek: puke: :( (I normally dont use that many smilies, but this has really shocked me!) Any ideas on cut backs I could make, because going by the advice here and in other threads, I'd like to try and stick with socket 939 and PCI-E (no offence Didou)

    Got any suggestions/spare miracles that'll get me closer to my budget?
  9. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    Your VGA card seems very expensive. Order it somewhere else.
  10. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,666

    I would NOT get an Operating System from Ebay!!!

    I don't know why you are shocked at the price. $500 bucks for mobo/CPU/GIG Ram/XP, a power supply AND a decent video card? That is a LOW budget I must say. It's pretty much a new system minus a case, hard drive and optical. You may want to get a good mobo/cpu/ram and a power supply for that budget. And start with a cheap video card and upgrade it to something decent in the future.
    Otherwise, wait and save some more pennies. You need another hundred, maybe two hundred.

    Is it better to get cheap NOW or quality LATER?
    Is is less expensive to buy something cheap NOW and upgrade LATER? Then you end up having to buy TWO parts in the end.

    You make the call.

    Happy hunting
  11. Maxïmo

    Maxïmo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    I hadn't really thought about it that way... I realise its a very low budget, and maybe I'm expecting a bit much, but I've really got to stick with an absolute maximum of £350. If possible, I'd like something thats gunna last a couple years without desperately needing an upgrade. Cos the PC I'm using now can barely run AVG, Media Player, and Internet Explorer without grinding to a halt every few minutes. I looked at the Overclockers website, and an identical card cost about £1 less. Didou, your prices are excluding VAT, but I'm pretty sure I have to pay the Tax, so I don't think I can get one much cheaper, unless I go for a less powerful graphics card.

    I'm not that clued up when it comes to how powerful which cards are. Would a regular 6600 256Mb suffice (i.e. run half life 2 at acceptable levels :D )? If so that'll knock £30 off - http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/specpage.html?MSI-6625E
    Also, is my motherboard overkill for my needs? (I wont be having two graphics cards running together, a fantastic sound system, or multiple monitors)

    Thanks again for the advice so far.
  12. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,666

    I don't know how much I can help with finding good prices, I would shop at like Newegg or ZipZoomFly, but since you can't shop there, I think, and use a different currency, that's to much math for me!

    I'm not totally familiar with the nVidia line of cards, I've used mostly ATI. But I have an nVidia GeForce 5700Ultra right now, which is like a 3 year old card or so. And it runs HL2 pretty well. Your 9800Pro will run well. And your 6600 should be fine too. As long as it isn't the "budget" line. That is, get the "Pro" version or at least not the cheap version.
    As long as your video card has at least 128mb of RAM, supports Directx9.0c, Hardware T&L, you can play the game. Just maybe not the highest quality settings.
    So I'm sure that card will be fine.

    Not needed to downsize your motherboard purchase, price differences are so low right now. If you didn't go with your 64-bit and PCI-X then you'd be buying a nForce2 chipset with a 32-bit Athlon 3000 perhaps. And AGP video. But I doubt the price difference is that much. And 64-bit you'll be ready for the future.

    One last thing, as someone mentioned, since you pretty much ARE looking for a new system, why not search for a barebones setup? Or a company that gives you a case/PS/mobo/CPU/RAM in a box. With maybe even bigger discount.

    good luck
  13. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,503

    How about buying a second-hand (3-6 months old) system?
  14. Maxïmo

    Maxïmo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    TBH I wouldn't know the first place to look for a second hand computer that had been well treated and would remain reliable. I've had another good look on the web and concluded that Novatech has the best prices I can find, and it's also cheaper to get the individual components rather than a bundle as far as I can tell. Having looked at other products they've got for sale I've managed to bring the spend down, without forfeiting too much on my desired specs. It involved getting an OEM processor (recommended?) which took £30 off straight, and only means finding a heatsink/fan, which shouldn't be too bad...

    CPU: £76.36 http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/specpage.html?AMD-6430WI
    AMD Athlon 64 3000 Venice Core 512k 90nm Socket 939Pin
    RAM: £31.73 http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/specpage.html?RAM-40/512
    400MHz 184Pin 512MB PC3200 DDR RAM DIMM 2.5V 3.2Gb/Sec
    MoBo: £57.28 http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/specpage.html?FOX-NF4
    Foxconn nForce4 Socket 939 PCI-E Dual DDR400 5.1Sound GB LAN SATA Raid, ATA
    What does Micro ATX mean btw?
    PSU*: £14.10 http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/specpage.html?NOV-PSU400
    400W ATX Is apparently quite noisy, but I'm not too worried about getting a silent rig.
    OS: £65.93 http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/specpage.html?MS-WXPHSP2
    Win XP Home with SP2 OEM
    Fan: £8.95 (Not exactly sure about this though)
    AMD 64 - Arctic Cooler Heatsink & Fan - Upto 64-3400

    This gives a grand total of £260.21 inc VAT and Delivery
    * May go for the 450W version http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/specpage.html?NOV-PSU450 for another £2.50, but I don't know if I'll need it?

    As long as this looks OK (I.e. no particularly dodgy manufacturers) all thats left now is to find a Graphics card I think. Im not exactly sure I get what a "budget" line would be. Embarrassing question, but would a GPU with 128Mb of DDR RAM be equivalent to the same model with 256Mb of regular RAM? If anyone could recommend a cheap Graphics card I'd be really grateful. I've got ~£75 left to spend. And is this rig gunna last me a few years?

    Thanks guys, you've helped me a lot already, and I know it can be a pain in the *** helping guys like me out.
  15. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    Matx is micro atx, a smaller version of atx. It fits in both regular and matx cases. It has less pci/pci-e slots usually, and a somewhat more limited bios. They're usually square instead of rectangular.

    In most games there isn't much difference between 128 and 256mb, but some games in the future might need 256mb, or need it to run higher settings.
    My 6600gt is fine for the games I've played, and my 6200(which I have running at 6600(regular) speeds, is pretty good as well.

    Do you have enermax, antec, ocz, tagan, seasonic, etc psus available for not too much money? If so, get one, they're better brands.
  16. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,666

    It looks pretty good except a couple quick thoughts:

    1) OEM CPU is fine except that you don't get the warranty, and you have to buy a fan. If the fan price chews up the savings then get a retail CPU.

    2) The fan you DID choose seems to be a pretty cheap price, I highly doubt it would be even as good as the fan the retail CPU came with, if you could either switch to retail CPU (best) or spend a few more dollars on a better fan.

    3) I don't know how good the name Foxconn is for motherboards. I would prefer an MSI or other name brand. At least look for reviews perhaps at Toms hardware guide www.tomshardware.com

    4) I'd also like to see a name brand on your RAM if possible.

    I guess it's all pretty good. Having a retail CPU (and warranty) would be the primary change I'd make. Next read the reviews on the rest of them. And check that everything has at least a year warranty. Warranties save the day.
  17. Maxïmo

    Maxïmo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    b******s! Wrote a lengthy informative reply only to have the computer resart mid-post! :mad: will re-write tomorrow. basically, have found Gigabyte MoBo, Corsair or OCZ RAM, and is 512M DDR equivalent to 1Gig, and enough, cos the MoBo only has one (really!) DIMM socket... and how do i find out if i can put a Micro ATX MoBo in my current case?
  18. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,666

    Gigabyte would be okay for a mobo. Corsair and OCZ are great names for RAM. But only ONE slot of DDR! Questionable. You could live with 512, but for sure you'd end up wanting a gig some day and having to buy a gig stick anyway.
    I would venture to say you could find a microATX mobo with 2 slots at least.

    As for your case, as long as it's a generic case, you CAN put a micro mobo in there. Cause remember the micros are smaller. You'd only need to ask this question "can I fit a normal ATX mobo in a case", because they are bigger.
    If you have a case like a Dell or HP or E-Machine case then be carefull and check those dimensions first.
    The thing with microATX motherboards is that they do fit pretty small areas. And take a look at the motherboard CPU slot in relation to where it would be in your case. Because once you stick a big heatsink/fan on it, it will stick out 2-3 inches more. Which can be a problem for some HP/E-machine type cases where the power supply may be in front of that area.
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