I bought my current rig a few years ago with minor upgradability in mind. Unfortunately it looks like PCI-Express 2.0 is the new standard. Mine uses PCI-Express. I have a 450W power supply, and … well, I’ll just post the specs here:
CASE: X-BLADE Mid-Tower 450W W/ WINDOW & LCD Temperature Display + FAN CONTROL CPU: (Sckt775)Intel® Core™ 2 Duo E6300 CPU @ 1.86GHz 1066FSB 2x1MB L2 Cache FAN: CoolerMaster Liquid CPU Cooling Fan System Kit + 2 EXTRA CASE FANS HDD: 250GB SATA-II 3.0Gb/s 8M Cache 7200RPM Hard Drive – MOTHERBOARD: Asus P5N-SLI nForce 570 SLI Chipset LGA775 Supports Core 2 Duo CPU FSB1066 DDR2 Mainboard w/GbLAN,USB2.0,&5.1Audio MEMORY: 2GB PC6400 DDR2/800 Dual Channel Memory (Corsair) 4x512 - all slots taken OS: Microsoft® Windows® XP Media Center 2005 Edition SOUND: HIGH DEFINITION ON-BOARD 7.1 AUDIO - Asus VIDEO: NVIDIA Geforce 7900 GT 256MB 16X PCI Express
Obviously the things I can upgrade here are the graphics card and CPU. I’m thinking of maybe getting the best PCI Express card I can get, and maybe a better Core2 Duo. In this way I can increase performance without breaking the budget.
For instance, a GeForce 9600 GT 512 MB can be had from Newegg for $55. A Core2 Duo E7500 Wolfdale 2.93GHz for $140. That’s an upgrade for under $200. I don’t know how the liquid cooling thing works exactly but I assume that will be a good time, taking that off and putting it back on.
Does this look good, or given my specs and limitations, any other ideas?
My PC was basically the same as yours a few days ago, here is what I bought to remedy that:
BFG GeForce 9800GT OC 1024GB 2 2GB sticks of DDR2 RAM
A new Power Supply because 450watts just isn’t going to cut it for a new video card (don’t have a link for this, but it will run anywhere from $30-$100 depending on what you got, I got a powersaving one for $100 because I leave my computer on a lot).
EDIT: Oh you want to upgrade your CPU? Why? It’s still pretty good.
Does anyone know how much functionality you lose by putting PCI-E 2.0 cards into PCI-E 1.0 slots? Is it a straight 50% loss of speed or what?
If your self-imposed limit is $200, I would skip a CPU upgrade entirely and pour your money into a faster videocard. A HD 4850 can be had for $105 after rebate and would be a good step up from your 7900 GT. [Note: the 4850 is technically a single-slot card, but that one has an oversized heatsink, which might block the next slot.] The 4870 would be nicer still and a 512MB model can be had for ~$150 AR, but that’s a bit iffier: it might be too big and/or need more power than your current system can provide. If you prefer to stick with nVidia, the 9800GT (~$100) or GTX 260 Core 216 (~$180) are your best options, IMHO.
If you still have any money left to spend, I’d also consider replacing two of your 512MB DIMMs with 2x1024 RAM, so you’d go up to 3GB total. There’s no harm in buying more, but you won’t get to use it all until you switch to Vista-64. The P5N-SLI doesn’t officially support newer 1333MHz FSB CPUs, which limits your CPU upgrade options.
I’d agree with a PSU upgrade to go with a video card jump, and that looks to be the best combo for improving performance for you right now. I’d like to point out, though, that you say your mobo has 5.1 audio but then indicate later that your sound is 7.1. I believe the P5N-SLI only has 6-channel audio.
Errrr, yep, those are inconsistent. I copied that directly from CyberPowerPC. Damn them!
Ok, so one thing … I knew this is a dumb reason (and not the only one!), but I’d like to be able to run bigger ArmA servers. That’s the reason why I wanted a better CPU. Right now later in the game, when there are more units/armies active (these are typically armies that I can’t see), my graphics start auto dialing down the detail/models of the units. I’m assuming this is because all the calculations for the server are hogging CPU cycles and it affects my view, so dials it down.
In this case a better CPU could be beneficial, correct?
Another question … it’s my understanding that the nVidia drivers are all inclusive . . that is, when you download them it’s for all cards. That’s the reason I wanted to stick with nVidia, for ease of plug and play functionality. Is this sound theory given those requirements?
ElG, how about overclocking your CPU? I built my machine which is similar to yours almost 3 years ago and ever since then I’ve had it at 3.2Ghz on air cooling alone. I’ve been tempted to upgrade but everything I’ve read tells me I’ll only see minimal gains compared with what I have now. It’s not like the old Pentium days where a faster chip came out every 8 damn months. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older but I no longer care about 3Dmark scores and getting 100 FPS in Crysis or whatever the latest shooter is.
Well, the good news is that even at such a low resolution, you’ll probably see a big improvement with just a ~$100 video card, so you won’t need a new power supply; indeed, the higher-end cards may be overkill. The bad news is you’re more likely to be CPU-limited, once you max out the video options.
As per advice given here on Qt3, i have an Intel CPU E2180 that runs at 2.0ghz stock, but at 3.0ghz overclocked - it was only about 70$ over a year ago, but they might be hard to find now.
This CPU doesn’t look too bad on the price/performance scale, without overclocking…
I’m also running a fanless 4850.
All on a 340w (80%+ efficiency) power supply.
Of course, despite … mmm, mouthing off about how horrible Apples are, i um… ordered a 4850-powered iMac the other day. Because i uh… don’t take my own advice (which pretty much describes any time i lose money on the stock market!). Anyway, i’m sick of building PCs.