$200 Upgrades?

lorcani

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My brother wants his computer upgrading for Christmas. However, I don't know where to put the money (<$200) for the most effective upgrades. You guys have any clue? Here's the specs:

CPU - AMD AXP 2100+ @ stock (I don't really want to overclock)
Mobo - Shuttle MN31N (nForce 2)
RAM - Mushkin "Cheap Line" 512Mb DDR3200
Video Card - Sapphire Radeon 9000 Pro 128Mb
Hard-drive - 40GB Maxtor something

I'm thinking the video card is probably the most pressing, but I need an upgrade that wouldn't be limited by CPU speed. Or, I need some balance between upgrading the CPU and the Video Card, while still getting Socket A and AGP.

He definitely needs the upgrade; he plays Black & White 2, The Sims 2, Gun, HL2. Fairly recent games. He hasn't had an upgrade in a year and a half, so I want to do the best I can for the money.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
 

B. W.

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This is a tough one.

I'd say (by the games you mentioned) that he'd be better off with a new system, but since you listed a <$200 price point, that's probably not going to happen (unless you can get the whole family to chip in?).

Right now, I have a 2200+ in my system and that's definately the bottle neck (coupled with a 5700 Ultra). So you could get him a faster processor, but you'd be limited to the socket A chips..

Then again, how does he manage to run HL2 and The Sims 2 at playable settings?
 

ray4389

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Other than for braggin rights I see no reason to replace my socket A 3200+
 

PWMK2

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I wouldn't worry about the processor, but spend all of your money on a new video card. It wouldn't really be causing much of a bottleneck considering the sub-$200 upgrade. HL2 has some crazy physics, but I'm sure nothing your proc. wouldn't handle. A 9800 or X700 AGP would probably be good enough for what your brother needs to play those games:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16814102294
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16814102584

edit: I see he has actually played HL2 and B&W2 with the current setup? That's pretty impressive! :eek: Are these games even playable?
 

lorcani

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B. W. said:
Then again, how does he manage to run HL2 and The Sims 2 at playable settings?
See, playable settings are all relative. I just did a bit of Gun on his computer to see how it plays, and it looks awful. The motion is really jerky as well. :(

B&W2 stutters like a moron.

ray4389 said:
Other than for braggin rights I see no reason to replace my socket A 3200+
What? Where did I mention your 3200+? Wrong thread?

I saw this today at Fatwallet, and I was wondering how good that would be for the price? Its the x800 GTO that you can unlock to 16 pipelines to make it like an x800XTPE. Plus, how likely is it that it won't be able to be unlocked?
 

LongShotHero

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lorcani said:
I saw this today at Fatwallet, and I was wondering how good that would be for the price? Its the x800 GTO that you can unlock to 16 pipelines to make it like an x800XTPE. Plus, how likely is it that it won't be able to be unlocked?

AFAIK, there are no socket A motherboards with PCI-E slots
 

dirtydr

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You might want to consider a new mobo with integrated graphics & a new CPU. I don't know how a 9000 Pro stacks up against the 6100 (or the x300) but there are a number of boards @ $75 or less. Coupled with either a 3300+ Sempron 64 or an A64 2800+ for <$120 that may be the way to go. There would be an upgrade path that way also (pci-e).

Otherwise I'd probably go with a 6600GT and another 512MB. Having that little ram is not helping the cause.

Edit: There is this combo for $142. 3000+ Sempie and a Biostar 754 board w/ 6100. There are quite a few 512MB 3200 modules around $40 too. Looks like that board is micro atx so you'd want to make sure his case has mounting holes before going down that road.
 

LongShotHero

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dirtydr said:
You might want to consider a new mobo with integrated graphics & a new CPU. I don't know how a 9000 Pro stacks up against the 6100 (or the x300) but there are a number of boards @ $75 or less. Coupled with either a 3300+ Sempron 64 or an A64 2800+ for <$120 that may be the way to go. There would be an upgrade path that way also (pci-e).

Otherwise I'd probably go with a 6600GT and another 512MB. Having that little ram is not helping the cause.
Yeah, a sempron + integrated would be good, and then later he could add RAM and a video card. Or new mobo + maybe a used 754 pin A64 from someone on the forum and have some money left to go toward a new gpu.
 

LongShotHero

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I think this sempron64 plus the biostar geforce 6100 mobo it has as a "combo special" plus another 512 of RAM might be good and is do-able for for under 200. It has PCI-E as mentioned earlier so there will be a good upgrade path.
 

lorcani

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The only issue with getting the Bio-star mobo, is that I don't currently have a PCI-E graphics card; that doesn't have AGP or onboard video.

How about getting the best Socket A processor I can, buying a R9800 Pro here, and then another 512Mb stick? I might run a bit over, but that seems like the most logical solution.
 

LongShotHero

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I was referring to this mobo but your solution would work too. AGP and socket a are both dying, so many would reccomend bumping up to at least socket 754, if not 939 with PCI-E.
 

dirtydr

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You sure about that ;)

The only question in my mind is how well the 6100 stacks up against a 9000 pro. My suggestion (and LSH's) was more the "balanced" upgrade route. Say 3 or 6 months down the line your bro gets some cash and wants to go for a nice pci-e card, that option will be there.

Having said that, there is nothing wrong with maxing out the current board either. You will see the biggest gains in performance for the money at the cost of upgradability. Its all a judgement call as far as I see it... unless the 6100 is lesser than what he currently has.
 

lorcani

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That's my fear as well, about the R9000 v 6100. It would be an awful Christmas present if it was actually a step backwards.

I can't find any benchmarks between them, either.
 

LongShotHero

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lorcani said:
That's my fear as well, about the R9000 v 6100. It would be an awful Christmas present if it was actually a step backwards.

I can't find any benchmarks between them, either.

I would ask in either the video cards forum, or maybe SFF because the 6100 is on a lot of mATX boards so some people might use it in their SFF rigs.
 

meatycheesyboy

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Give a bit of time and I'll bench my 6100 and tell you some 3d mark scores for reference.

I also have a Socket A Sempron 2800+ box with a Radeon 7000 that I can bench. I don't know how the 7000 compares to the 9000 but it maybe useful.
 

meatycheesyboy

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Alright, time to be amazed by my 3d Mark scores... I'm glad I don't game, this would be embarassing :)

Machine 1
Biostar 6100-M7
Sempron 2800+ (Socket 754)
2 GB PC 3200
Onboard Sound
Onboard Video

3d Mark 01 - 4513 3d Marks
3d Mark 03 - 1160 3d Marks
3d Mark 05 - 585 3d Marks

Machine 2
Asus A7N8X-X
Sempron 2800+ (Socket A)
768 MB PC2700
Radeon 7000
Onboard Sound

3d Mark 01 - 1140 3d Marks
3d Mark 03 - 57 3d Marks
3d Mark 05 - Unable to run
 
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