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  1. #1
    Old Merits
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    Upgrading my computer - The cheap way

    So I am in desparate need of a new computer. It is has been a very long time since I have upgraded - at least 4 years. Problem is, I am broke. Very broke. If I were to replace components it would be one at a time most likely, or I would buy a new case and slowly start filling it up. Here is what xfire pulled:

    Processor:
    AMD Duron(TM), MMX, 3DNow, ~1.6GHz
    Memory:
    1280MB RAM
    Hard Drive:
    40 GB
    80 GB
    Video Card:
    NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 (Microsoft Corporation)
    Monitor:
    Plug and Play Monitor
    Sound Card:
    Sound Blaster Audigy
    Operating System:
    Windows XP Professional (5.1, Build 2600) Service Pack 2 (2600.xpsp_sp2_gdr.070227-2254)


    For some miraculous reason my computer can still play FFXI. Honestly, the last time I upgraded it was so that I could play FFXI on it instead of my PS2. Now I am kind of tired of its inability to double task and the not so nice graphics.

    The sound card is new, I don't need any more hard drive space, and the monitor is nice as well.

    Question is, is my poor PC totally lost? I can replace all the components it will just take a while like I said.

    I don't need a super fancy computer, just one that is efficient. FFXI is the only game I play, and I like to be able to run a music player, AIM, Vent, etc. at the same time.

  2. #2
    Relic Weapons
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    Well I'm no tech expert myself... I just asked for a new build spec myself this week on this page too. All I can say to you is that my current PC (Athlon XP3200+, Radeon 9800 Pro, 1GB RAM) plays FFXI ok.... but only ok. I can't dual box and I get shitty frame rates in crowded areas. I get 30 FPS in normal exp camps and such but that's all.

    I have to have all the settings on minimum myself. And I'm sick of it. All I can say is that if you upgrade marginally to what I have you may still end up disappointed.

  3. #3
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    I have no reason to dualbox... Like I said, just FFXI and a few other apps.

  4. #4

    It is completely pointless to buy parts for a build over time, the prices change so quickly, it'd be a false economy.

    Save up $500 and come back and build a budget gaming machine.

  5. #5
    A. Body
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    What kind of budget are you talking about?

    With how old your computer is, it'd be rather difficult to upgrade piece by piece. You have a cascading problem. Replace the mobo, and you probably will need a newer PSU, and a new CPU, and new RAM, and your video card won't fit...you need to do the core stuff all at once.

    It also makes little sense to buy parts before you can make a working system from them, since you'll get more hardware for the money, as a general rule, the longer you wait.

    My most recent build was a budget one, for my HTPC, which might be something in your range. I reused my case and drives, the hardware purchased was this:

    Athlon X2 4850e CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819103255

    Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-SH2 Mobo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813128090

    G-Skill 2GB RAM kit: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820231098

    Antec Earthwatts 380 Watt PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817371005

    The CPU is $10 cheaper than I paid, PSU went up $5...so it'd be around $275 now. You could build something similar with Intel, I used AMD more for the chipset on the motherboard than the CPU itself. It'd be hard to fit in the oft-recommended (and for good reason) E8400 or something at that price point though.

    Keep in mind that I was building for a computer in my living room. I was focusing more on power efficiency and video decoding than 3D gaming. Thus far, it's been a solid machine, Vista Business is...snappy.

    It's capable of playing FFXI (integrated Radeon 3200HD), though not too well in high res. Adding a decent PCI-E graphics card would solve that though, and a good one would make it a reasonably capable game machine for most anything on the shelf. $100-120 cards nowadays would be more than enough for FFXI.
    PSU, again, was primarily chosen for my intended use, though it should be fine for a basic system unless you bought a monster of a video card later.

    One caveat with that for doing what I did is that the mobo only has one IDE channel. So you'd either need to buy a SATA optical drive, or not use one of your HDDs.

    Thing then would be OS/license.

  6. #6
    Chram
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shuemue View Post
    It is completely pointless to buy parts for a build over time, the prices change so quickly, it'd be a false economy.

    Save up $500 and come back and build a budget gaming machine.
    ^ is right.

    what you can buy *now* is the case and OS (if you don't have one you can carry over).. pretty much.

    not needing a monitor is good; you can get a decent dual core setup for around 200-250$ (ram/board/cpu) leaving the rest of whatever budget you have for purchasing a videocard and any Software (OS/office/etc) you'd need and a new case and/or powersupply (since it's always nice to have a new case and they're not expensive at all.)

    the market changes very quickly (6 month cycle) these days, so don't start buying hardware beyond case/PSU until you have all the cash together at once.

    you'll have no problems moving the monitor and sound card and harddrives over to a new pc, although if both the HDDs and Optical drives are IDE you may want to replace a few of them with SATA (sata opticals are pretty cheap these days; probably cheaper than HDD) since most motherboards these days only have one IDE controller (so 2 devices).

  7. #7
    Old Merits
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    The budget isn't too big of a deal... And it looks like I will just end up saving. I usually have about $50 of extra spending money per paycheck, so if it comes down to it I can just save it up for buying PC components.

  8. #8
    Chram
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    yeah, if your budget is ~100$/mo you should definitely wait til you have it all together ahead of time; in the 5 months it'd take to save up 500 for a new box, desktop tech will have advanced almost a full generation.

  9. #9
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    Now the question:

    Is it worth it to upgrade to Vista?

  10. #10

    Yeah, a $100 CPU now will be more like $70 in 4 months time, and so on.

    You could gamble on used parts from ebay to try and save a bit more, but I think the wisest option is to scrape together $350 minimum and build something that'll have warranties and last a good couple of years.

  11. #11

    Regarding Vista, and this is NOT meant to sound patronising, if you don't already know a reason why you need it, stick with XP. You can possibly even reuse your current windows license, depending on what kind it is. (it's not hard to pirate, but that's a different discussion)

  12. #12
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    My windows XP was installed by a friend when he came and fixed my computer for me... But it should just stay on the hard drive, correct?

    Also, as for used parts, I really don't want to go down that road. If I am going to upgrade I want it to at least be decent, and last for a good amount of time.

  13. #13

    You'll almost certainly have to reinstall windows, once you change a certain amount of parts it'll stop working.

  14. #14
    A. Body
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    You should reinstall Windows with a new build. It's not necessarily that there's no way to get it to work with new hardware otherwise (sometimes it is, sometimes not)
    ...but it's just the better thing to do.

    As mentioned, there are different kinds of Windows license. Some allow the license to be transferred to a new machine, some don't. From what you said, it's likely that you have a pirated copy anyway.

    Vista, I'd agree. If you don't have specific reasons you'd want it (other than "new" and "shiny"), then hold off for now.

  15. #15
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    Yeah, I really have no reason to need Vista, but I was just curious which is why I asked. So it looks like I will just have to start saving up then... @[email protected]

  16. #16
    Chram
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azalee View Post
    Yeah, I really have no reason to need Vista, but I was just curious which is why I asked. So it looks like I will just have to start saving up then... @[email protected]
    there's about 3 reasons to go to vista right now:

    1) you're planning to play alot of DX10 games, have a dx10 card and enough other system resources (ram, cpu speed, etc) that you can play on settings that will be meaningfully better than dx9 could give you.

    2) you have a reason to use more than 3.5GB of memory. (because XP64 isn't very stable.)

    3) you have multiple users of the same pc and several are -very- dumb; and you plan to leave UAC fully enabled; at least on their accounts (UAC set up for maximum lockdown on a regular user account is very strong execution protection, better than XP can do without being an administrator running non-native anti-hijack 'ware.)

    it's unlikely that this is true for anything you're planning to do, so no; you don't need vista - stick with XP sp3.*


    Quote Originally Posted by Azalee View Post
    My windows XP was installed by a friend when he came and fixed my computer for me... But it should just stay on the hard drive, correct?

    Also, as for used parts, I really don't want to go down that road. If I am going to upgrade I want it to at least be decent, and last for a good amount of time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Shuemue View Post
    You'll almost certainly have to reinstall windows, once you change a certain amount of parts it'll stop working.
    as others have said, most home license XP machines only allow hardware to change at a rate of 2 parts per six months and generally will not allow both the motherboard *and* the processor to change at the same time period. IF you know you have an enterprise or educational license copy of XP (or a fully cracked copy) then it may be possible to simply wipe the drivers rebuild the device list and reinstall, but this is an advanced task and if you aren't used to doing this sort of thing just reinstalling will be better for you.

    the actual installation process for windows is pretty easy these days; what you'll want to do is move any media files/data (not applications, just saved files) over to one drive, format the other, then reinstall windows onto the formatted drive.

    *it's possible that you will not be able to buy XP by the time you're ready to build your computer; if this is the case, we'll be able to help you either get a copy on the grey-market or help you decide which version of vista to use. It's also possible your friend still has a copy you can install?

  17. #17
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    I am not sure which one my friend has, but it is possible for him to install it on multiple computers. He works for a company that fixes computers locally, so he has access to that sort of thing.

    Sort of like his Microsoft Office disk that my computer blew up lmao.

    And:

    I am the only one that uses the PC, unless there is a rare occasion where my brother doesn't want to use his laptop/my mother's computer isn't working.

    Personally I am not very skilled with computers. I can do shit like change out the video cards and add RAM, but the rest is all greek to me. I would probably have my brother do it, or the friend I mentioned earlier.

  18. #18
    Chram
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    safe bet he's using an enterprise license and/or has a rolodex of valid home license keys. ask him about it and see if maybe he'll just do the reinstall for you again, honestly.

    you'll be fine with XP but you would probably be 'ok' with vista too if you really really want it. (vista just takes a bigger investment, you'd want about 3 gigs of ram for vista to get similar memory performance as 2 gigs on xp for instance.)

  19. #19
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    I am just fine with using XP. My mother got a computer from Fry's and they loaded it with Vista and all she does is bitch about it lmao. But she isn't very computer savvy.

  20. #20

    Post back when you have a budget and we'll gladly find some bargains.

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