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Olero
20-06-2011, 07:53 PM
Hi there,

While I'm also looking to buy a new PC.... as soon as the SSD's drop some more in price, I am also considering to give my old, yet trusty, PC a final upgrade to still be able to use it to play, not too demanding games on a LAN. Since I'm not reallly familiar with upgrading hardware (the only thing I ever upgraded was my graphics card, which still performs pretty good), does anyone here got a clue to what I still can upgrade cheaply? Here's the specs:


Operating System
MS Windows XP Media Center Edition Professional 32-bit SP3
CPU
Intel Pentium D 820
Intel Pentium D 820
SmithField 90nm Technology
RAM
2.0GB Single-Channel DDR2 @ 266MHz (4-4-4-12)
Motherboard
ECS Asterope3 (CPU 1)
Graphics
Monitor: Philips 190X (1280x1024@60Hz)
GPU: 512MB GeForce 8800 GT (XFX Pine Group)
Hard Drives
244GB SAMSUNG SAMSUNG SP2504C (SATA)
Optical Drives
HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GH22LS50
TSSTcorp CD/DVDW TS-H652L
TE3093H RCD318F SCSI CdRom Device
Audio
Realtek High Definition Audio
Power*
Max 300 Watt (according to the sticker on the thing inside ;)

mashakos
20-06-2011, 08:04 PM
Pentium D? whoah!

Sorry man, can't see a cheap upgrade on that configuration. At least not one where you will see a return on your investment.

Kablooie
20-06-2011, 08:52 PM
Yeah. Agree++

A Core2 would fit that socket, but then I'd be worried about the PSU - and if the mobo would even support it.

Save your money for the new system.

Olero
21-06-2011, 11:38 AM
Thank you both

:'(


And yet this baby (well, grandpa) still runs things like M&B Warband, Dragon Age, The Witcher, Fallout 3/New Vegas and more. But when I recently tried ARMA II.... Ouch. Oh well, I'll save my precious cash for the new rig.

laneford
22-06-2011, 10:40 PM
I have a pentium D.

:(

DarkNoghri
22-06-2011, 11:34 PM
Thank you both

:'(


And yet this baby (well, grandpa) still runs things like M&B Warband, Dragon Age, The Witcher, Fallout 3/New Vegas and more. But when I recently tried ARMA II.... Ouch. Oh well, I'll save my precious cash for the new rig.

If it makes you feel any better, I have a much newer processor than you and Arma 2 is still barely playable.

Kablooie
23-06-2011, 02:24 AM
I like that avatar . . . . (DarkNoghri) . .

DarkNoghri
23-06-2011, 04:10 AM
I like that avatar . . . . (DarkNoghri) . .

Likewise. Yours is even better, since it sounds like your name refers to Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie.

I'm not sure if he's on the forums, but Feet posts on the main page quite a bit, and usually uses the mini-tiger of the transmogrifier run.

Kablooie
24-06-2011, 01:17 PM
I throughly nicked yours for use on Bioshock:Infinite's forums, heh. If you've a presence there let me know and I'll change it.

oops, thread kidnap, solly, Olero. ummm. yah. Save your dosh for new system, yep yep.

Olero
24-06-2011, 02:03 PM
I throughly nicked yours for use on Bioshock:Infinite's forums, heh. If you've a presence there let me know and I'll change it.

oops, thread kidnap, solly, Olero. ummm. yah. Save your dosh for new system, yep yep.

I forgive you, but you made my computer cry :(

Kablooie
24-06-2011, 02:24 PM
Likewise. Yours is even better, since it sounds like your name refers to Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie.

I'm not sure if he's on the forums, but Feet posts on the main page quite a bit, and usually uses the mini-tiger of the transmogrifier run.

Actually it's from "Horrendous Space Kablooie", their comical reference to the Big Bang (and it was actually adopted by astronomers who were also fans of the strip).

Teddy Leach
24-06-2011, 07:37 PM
I also have a Pentium D! And a 70GB harddrive! Fortunately, I'm getting a brand new i7 rig soon though.

PoulWrist
29-06-2011, 08:28 AM
Well. You COULD look for a used Core2Duo or Quad CPU, and a used or new really cheapo 5-600 watt PSU, I know you can get some decent ones that are dirt cheap. At least here in Denmark there's a brand called "Energon" that has some really cheap PSUs with decent specs. They're not enthusiast class, at all, but they'll get the job done and so far I've used them in a lot of cheap office PCs for a couple of local businesses that come to me for all their hardware needs. Those are still rolling, even the ones that are used ostensibly for 3D rendering nodes where all that mattered was cheap hardware units to get more cores up and running on the rendernetwork...

So, take a look at ebay, or your local equivalents, and look for Core2Duo CPUs, Quads are still kinda expensive, and compare them to new prices... you can make some pretty good deals there if you're lucky. That'd be my advice for the cheapo upgrade.

Olero
12-07-2011, 02:00 PM
Somehow I missed your post PoulWrist, but thanks for the info! I think I'll do just that (both the CPU and PSU), along with some better memory (at the same "low" latency), depending on what my frontside bus allows (I think 533 Mhz). I might even add a second harddrive / 2 new ones (in RAID0 if possible? I'm not worried about dataloss and could use the speed)

Olero
13-07-2011, 09:03 AM
Alright, for a total of 100,- Euro I've ordered some nice upgrades:

- 2GB 533Mhz RAM kit
- Core2duo CPU (ebay)
- Similar 250 GB HDD
- 530W PSU

Sure, not that big of an improvement, but a nice final step for this PC I think. Now I'm wondering how RAID0 works. I know it combines the both HDD's and reads/writes on both at the same time, thus increasing speeds (with the higher risk of losing it all). What I don't understand yet, can I just add a second HDD, set them both to RAID0 and that's that? What about the data and OS I currently have on my HDD? Can I just keep that without issues?

CMaster
13-07-2011, 09:33 PM
Don't even think about RAIDing non-matched drives, especially if they're not set up for use in RAID. You'll be rebuilding the array constantly.

Olero
14-07-2011, 07:19 AM
Don't even think about RAIDing non-matched drives, especially if they're not set up for use in RAID. You'll be rebuilding the array constantly.

Hmm, they are pretty similar (same brand, size, RPM, connection etc), so I don't see any problem. RAID isn't a new option for HDD's as far as I know, so why should they not be able to be set up for use in RAID?

CMaster
14-07-2011, 10:14 AM
Hmm, they are pretty similar (same brand, size, RPM, connection etc), so I don't see any problem. RAID isn't a new option for HDD's as far as I know, so why should they not be able to be set up for use in RAID?

Well for example my housemate bought a pair of matched HDDs for a RAID0 setup. However they weren't the "deisgned for RAID" model (which was near enough the same price to within 10, he just hadn't know what the difference in the letters was). This meant that when they were busy, they wouldn't prioritise a certain type of request over what they were already doing. Which in turn led to the array to collapse, and several hours of rebuilding rather than being able to use the PC. Each collapse has a risk of losing data too. Overall, running RAID0 dramatically increases your risk of losing data for a bunch of reasons.

I also couldn't find any mention of an "Asterope3" on the ECS website, so I couldn't check if it even supports RAID or not. If it does, it will certainly be software-based, which is different to the kind of RAID you get in high end enterprise development. That said, if you want to push ahead and see if you can make it work, and expect to see a good enough performance benefit, go right ahead. I'm certain there's someone on these forums who knows a lot more about it than me and can help you through.

Olero
14-07-2011, 10:35 AM
Thanks for the explanation CMaster! I did check if the HDD's supported RAID and luckily, the ECS Asterope3 (which is a HP name, the real name is RC410-M/L) supports RAID 0/1. I don't know if I manage to get it all working, but I reckon if I backup everything and start with 2 formatted drives, it is worth trying. I'm using this old PC to practice PC-building skills a bit. I'm not worried if everything falls apart (well, don't want to burn down the house or electrocute myself ;) since I'll be buying a new PC within half a year anyway. But hardware sure is more complex then I thought (especially compatibility)

CMaster
14-07-2011, 11:15 AM
Thanks for the explanation CMaster! I did check if the HDD's supported RAID and luckily, the ECS Asterope3 (which is a HP name, the real name is RC410-M/L) supports RAID 0/1. I don't know if I manage to get it all working, but I reckon if I backup everything and start with 2 formatted drives, it is worth trying. I'm using this old PC to practice PC-building skills a bit. I'm not worried if everything falls apart (well, don't want to burn down the house or electrocute myself ;) since I'll be buying a new PC within half a year anyway. But hardware sure is more complex then I thought (especially compatibility)

Good luck with it. Storage performance is often something of a bottlekneck for a lot of applications, so you should see a real performance improvement if it works.

Olero
18-07-2011, 10:15 AM
An update, for those who are interested:

- I installed the 2nd harddisk, but not in RAID0 (I forgot that my Windows XP is OEM... So I couldn't format the 1st harddisk "d'oh!")
- The new PSU is pretty sweet, and makes less noise. I do have an overdose of free dangling cables inside the already cramped miditower now though.
- Memory proves to be problematic. Due to the fact my pc is a HP pc, the BIOS settings for memory (along with a lot of other stuff) can't be altered. At all... So I'm stuck at memory running on 233 MHz thanks to HP not wanting people to alter things. Annoying as hell, and I really would like to know if there is a "workaround" available
- My new processor hasn't been delivered yet, but I expect it to arrive tomorrow (all the way from Spain :-P)

CMaster
18-07-2011, 10:53 AM
- Memory proves to be problematic. Due to the fact my pc is a HP pc, the BIOS settings for memory (along with a lot of other stuff) can't be altered. At all... So I'm stuck at memory running on 233 MHz thanks to HP not wanting people to alter things. Annoying as hell, and I really would like to know if there is a "workaround" available


If you can find out the actual motherboard model number (http://www.ecs.com.tw/extra/productinfo/MB.htm) you could download a bios update for it and flash over your old one. Warning however - flashing BIOSes always runs the risk of something going wrong and bricking your PC.

Olero
20-07-2011, 11:29 AM
Quick question again:

I finally (well, pretty quick actually; in 5 days including the weekend all the way from Spain) got my new CPU. I checked and can reuse my CPU cooler, which is a good thing. What I don't know is this: Is the thermal appliance of my current stock Intel cooler still working if I remove it and then reinstall it with the new CPU below it? Or do I need some kind of thermal grease paste? Which won't be a problem and is easily and cheaply obtained, but I don't want to ruin things :)

And I might try flashing the BIOS, if I can muster up enough information about mine so I know exactly what type and version BIOS I have.

CMaster
20-07-2011, 12:04 PM
The link there tell you how to find the mobo model number. If yours matches any on the ECS site, you should be able to grab that one.
And yes, you are probably going to want to put on some new paste. As said, it's cheap enough. Basically, you need really good thermal conductivity between heatsink and processor, for obvious reasons. In the real world however, these surfaces have a fair amount of roughness and may not sit perfectly flat. So a small amount of highly-thermally conducitve paste bridges any gaps that there might be. Most heat sinks when new have a block of pre-preared goop on, but that never comes apart neatly enough to reuse really, so you're best off wiping it off and replacing.

Olero
20-07-2011, 01:26 PM
The link there tell you how to find the mobo model number. If yours matches any on the ECS site, you should be able to grab that one.
And yes, you are probably going to want to put on some new paste. As said, it's cheap enough. Basically, you need really good thermal conductivity between heatsink and processor, for obvious reasons. In the real world however, these surfaces have a fair amount of roughness and may not sit perfectly flat. So a small amount of highly-thermally conducitve paste bridges any gaps that there might be. Most heat sinks when new have a block of pre-preared goop on, but that never comes apart neatly enough to reuse really, so you're best off wiping it off and replacing.

Thanks a lot! You're making this a lot easier then I thought at first, and you helped me avoiding doing stupid things so far (aside from the upgrade process itself perhaps ;).

Olero
21-07-2011, 11:43 AM
Final update (star date 21072011 ;)

I installed the new processor yesterday and it works like a charm! Tested it immediately by playing some Mount and Blade: Warband / Fire & Sword, which both tend to grind to a halt when there are too much NPC's around. The effect was stunning! A whole lot smoother and quite a bit more frames per second.

Afterwards, I tried New Vegas (after installing the new DLC), and loaded a save in a crowded area. The effect was not too much, but I feel the bare minimum frames per second was a bit higher, which is a big improvement for New Vegas anyway ;)

I also spent ages looking for a good BIOS update, but couldn't find the exact one. The only one I found (on the HP website) was of the same version as I already had (though the date was different, but I reckoned it was the date it was placed on the HP website, not the revision date). There are other BIOS updates on the ECS website, but they are all for the RC410-M2, which isn't RC410-M. Not going to risk that!

One final, almost retoric, question: Clearing the CMOS setting of the BIOS (by moving the jumper) does only reset the clock and restores settings to the default settings, right? It doesn't make greyed out setting (the memory settings, and especially the much wanted frequency setting) suddenly accesible, am I right?

Oh well, all in all I'm satisfied with the final update for my PC, especially for 100,- Euro (HDD was 30,-, CPU 30,- and PSU 35,- and thermal paste 5,-. The 2 strips of memory I'll be able to sell and only cost me 20,- Euro). I'm also still suprised how much games run smooth on my computer, despite it being so old. And I'll probably still have the best PC when I join the next LAN party with friends :)

CMaster
21-07-2011, 12:25 PM
Sounds like it all went well and yeah, I wouldn't risk any bios updates that don't match exactly - there is the RC410M (v2.0) mind (http://www.ecs.com.tw/ECSWebSite/Product/Product_Detail.aspx?DetailID=565&CategoryID=1&MenuID=16&LanID=0). They might work, but the cost if it goes wrong. And yes, clearing the CMOS just clears the settings. Any updates that HP offered would be pointless anyhow - they'd still lock you out of stuff.

You might want to download this tool (http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html) that lets you monitor temperatures to check everything is ticking over ok, although you survived running FO:NV so I shouldn't imagine anything is getting too hot.