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Old 03-13-2010, 03:05 AM   #1
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Question Upgrade Suggestions

I am a student with a very tight computer budget, and have managed to build a decent gaming rig for very little money. Unfortunately, I'm experiencing an increasing amount of FPS lag on newer games. I don't need to play everything on max settings, but I do want to keep my FPS above at least 15 at all times . I usually get good deals by purchasing last generation's parts for cheap.

Here's my current system:
  • Video: NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GSO with 1GB Memory
  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3.4GHz with Hyper-Threading
  • Memory: 2GB DDR2
  • Motherboard: ECS 915P-A2
  • Hard Drive: HITACHI Deskstar P7K500 HDP725050GLA360
  • PSU: 500W OCZ StealthXStream OCZ500SXS

Obviously my processor is woefully outdated. What would be a good sub-$100 replacement (I'm not set in stone with Intel)? Also, should I consider upgrading my RAM (more or to DDR3) or video card?
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Old 03-13-2010, 12:05 PM   #2
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Default Re: Upgrade Suggestions

tbh, the CPU will not improve your gaming a lot. I put my 9600 GSO in a P4 system and it only lost a couple frames compared to my Phenom II 955.

What games are you looking at playing, at which settings, and resolution?
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Old 03-13-2010, 04:04 PM   #3
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Default Re: Upgrade Suggestions

I noticed significant choppiness when playing Mass Effect 2 at 1440x900 with all of the special video settings turned off (high quality bloom, film grain, motion blur, dynamic shadows, light environment shadows). Certainly it did not make the game unplayable, but it messed up some of the more graphically intense scenes and made me worry about playing future games.

I'm surprised at your assessment of my P4. From my understanding they were dinosaurs compared to dual and quad core processors. (I forgot to mention that it has HT support as well.)
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Old 03-13-2010, 04:08 PM   #4
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Default Re: Upgrade Suggestions

Actually, your system is pretty well balanced performance-wise. No matter what you upgrade, everything else will be a bottleneck. A CPU upgrade might help in Mass effect 2, but not by a ton.

What motherboard do you have? We don't even know if a CPU upgrade is possible.
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Old 03-13-2010, 04:21 PM   #5
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Default Re: Upgrade Suggestions

Quote:
Originally Posted by foothead View Post
Actually, your system is pretty well balanced performance-wise. No matter what you upgrade, everything else will be a bottleneck. A CPU upgrade might help in Mass effect 2, but not by a ton.

What motherboard do you have? We don't even know if a CPU upgrade is possible.
It's not. I'd have to upgrade my motherboard as well (which is why I don't care if a new CPU is AMD or Intel). Currently I have an ECS 915P-A2 (specifications).

EDIT: Also, my hard drive is a HITACHI Deskstar P7K500 HDP725050GLA360 (specifications). My PSU is the 500W OCZ StealthXStream OCZ500SXS (specifications).
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Old 03-13-2010, 05:25 PM   #6
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Default Re: Upgrade Suggestions

What OS are you running?

You will have to reinstall it too.

For $100 you won't get anything with intel, but you might be able to get an Athlon II 245 and a cheapo motherboard.

Any chance yo can stretch to $150?
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:19 PM   #7
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Default Re: Upgrade Suggestions

Quote:
Originally Posted by foothead View Post
What OS are you running?

You will have to reinstall it too.

For $100 you won't get anything with intel, but you might be able to get an Athlon II 245 and a cheapo motherboard.

Any chance yo can stretch to $150?
I'm running Windows XP, and don't mind having to reinstall. Also, being a student, I think that I can get a free copy of Windows 7. I'd rather not upgrade now though.

I'd really like to keep it under $100. Keep in mind that I will probably be buying used, so I may be able to get things cheaper than you might expect.

What component do you think is the bottleneck on my current system?
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:36 PM   #8
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Default Re: Upgrade Suggestions

I think there really isn't one, but the second you change anything there will be. To have an effective upgrade, you would need to change the mobo, CPU, and video card.

It really is not easy to get used CPUs and mobos.
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:54 PM   #9
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Default Re: Upgrade Suggestions

I'm sure you could find a nice deal on a dual core AMD socket AM2 CPU and motherboard. Throw in 4GB of DDR2800, and you should be good to go.


You know, quite simply it may be just a video card upgrade will do the trick. Something at least 9800GT or higher.
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Old 03-13-2010, 11:39 PM   #10
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Default Re: Upgrade Suggestions

So, in other words, I need to either settle for my current setup for spend a couple hundred dollars upgrading?
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