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Q: Upgrading my PC ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   6 Comments )
Subject: Upgrading my PC
Category: Computers > Hardware
Asked by: guybo-ga
List Price: $7.50
Posted: 14 Aug 2002 05:36 PDT
Expires: 13 Sep 2002 05:36 PDT
Question ID: 54470
Just after a little advise on upgrading my PC. 

My current specs are as follows:

Intel Celeron 800
VIA Apollo Pro/133/133A PCI Chipset
NVIDIA RIVA TNT2 Model 64/Model 64 Pro
128 MB RAM

Essentially I am looking for an economically efficient upgrade path.
It doesn't have to be top of the line; just value for money.

I DO need precise details of what to ask for though (such as type of
RAM); I tried upgrading my memory and only ever got half of the 256MB
stick to show up... so I know just enough to be dangerous ;)

Thanks for the help!

Request for Question Clarification by voyager-ga on 14 Aug 2002 05:47 PDT
Hi guybo,

what are you using your machine for? (and what is most important to
you about the performance of your system)

Which OS are you using?

Do you have a certain budget in mind?


Clarification of Question by guybo-ga on 14 Aug 2002 05:51 PDT
I'm running XP pro. 

50% usage for work with Dreamweaver, Word, Photoshop, etc. 
50% usage for 3D shooter games.

As I'm in Australia, prices might fluctuate compared to US standards
but I am willing to spend up to around AU$800 gradually in the next
few months.
Subject: Re: Upgrading my PC
Answered By: voyager-ga on 17 Aug 2002 07:17 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hi guybo,

as you can see in the comments section, there are basically three
approaches to make your system faster and still stay within your
budget constraints:

1. Upgrading the graphics card. I agree with the the person who
suggested the GeForce 4 Ti 4200. NVidia's cards are generally well
supported and this particular card has a very good speed+features to
price ratio. There are basically two different versions of this card
(by many differen but basically exchangable vendors): One that comes
with 64 MB and one with 128 MB. I would opt for the 64 MB version
because it is cheaper and faster (no joke) than the 128 MB version.
The price for a card like that should be somewhere below 400 $AU.

2. Upgrading your memory. This is a pretty cheap option. However I
would advise against it. Should you plan to upgrade to another
motherboard later, you will - in all likelihood - loose this
investment, because the newer boards usually demand another type of
Memory for your system would be around $AU 70 for 128 MB (PC133 SDRAM,
7ns, CL2 - but better tell me the name of your board, and how many
sticks you already have, before you buy that)

3. Upgrading to another mainboard/processor/memory. I can also
recommend this option. Especially your work related programs will
benefit from it. Personally I would advice using an AMD processor for
a budget system. It usually gives you more power for less money. All
my non-server systems are running on AMD CPUs and I never regretted
putting them in there.
My suggestions for a new board would be:
Gigabyte GA-7VRXP  ~ $AU 240
Epox EP-8K3A+      ~ $AU 230

You'll have to add memory to that. Those boards run best with DDR333
memory (CL2) 166Mhz (sometimes it's also referred as PC 2700 DDR
SDRAM, 333 MHz).
A 256MB stick is about $AU 170

As the main processor I would add an Athlon XP which starts at $AU 250
for the 1500 version.

If you add this together and put in the money for a cooling system,
you'll be slightly over what you wanted to spend. If you shop around a
bit you might get the components for less though - I just took the
first australian online shop I could find the components in to give
you a conservative estimate.

To avoid trouble with the Ram, I usually make the people I buy the
board and memory from (I usually buy both at the same store) put in
the initial amount and the processor (even a professional sometimes
breaks something and that way it's their fault...).

My personal advice looking at your system would be to get the graphics
card now. You can easily integrate that into your old system and you
won't have any trouble integrating it in any later system. It will
also give you the biggest performance jump in your 3D gaming category.
If you really have to wait a long time for Photoshop to do its job,
upgrade the Ram to 256. The jump from 256 to 512 won't achieve as much
as an upgrade to from 128MB to 256MB. Dreamweaver and Word will be
content with that amount of memory.
I would wait a little with the upgrade of your board/CPU combination.
This is the most expensive possible upgrad and a lot is changing
specifically in the area of memory at the moment. If you can tell me
exately what board you have, I might be able to suggest, if upgrading
the CPU is worth it.

As for your harddisk - if the 40GB are enough for you at the moment,
then don't bother getting a new one. Performance increases due to a
new HD are not enough to warrant a new one at this time.

I hope this helps! If you run into any trouble while doing your
upgrade, feel free to ask for clarification! If you have questions
about the components I mentioned, ask for clarification, too!


Additional Resources:

VIA KT333 Put To The Test

DDR333 For Athlon: VIA KT333 vs. KT266A

Big Little Sister - The GeForce4 Ti4200
guybo-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Thanks a bunch... specifics were provided which was what I wanted.
Thanks also to everyone who took the time to comment!

Subject: Re: Upgrading my PC
From: vocaro-ga on 14 Aug 2002 06:38 PDT
If I was doing 2D and 3D graphics work, I would definitely upgrade
that video card. The TNT2 is "old technology" these days. With an
NVidia GeForce4, for example, you'd definitely notice an improvement
in your gaming experience.
Subject: Re: Upgrading my PC
From: omnivorous-ga on 14 Aug 2002 10:44 PDT
This actually starts with general information -- not the specifics of
your memory type or what hard disk could be added to your system --
but I hope that it's helpful.

In looking at issues like this, one is generally looking at:
-- logjams: such as a hard disk that's too full
-- useage: determining what resources (processor, memory, hard disk,
video) your applications are taxing the hardest
-- speed: generally you'll prioritize faster components first.  Memory
access is 1,000 times faster than hard disk access -- so operating
systems are set up to take advantage of that, though you may have to
change software settings.

There's a good tool to analyze you particular system at PC Pitstop

Still, you'll have to make some judgment on which resources to upgrade
first.  Then you'll want to get specific part numbers for memory;
learn what options you have for video and disk upgrades.

Computer systems change rapidly, even within a specific manufacturer's
models.  Recognize that trial-and-error is often necessary -- and that
upgrades can introduce mis-matches that will actually SLOW your
Subject: Re: Upgrading my PC
From: robbienewbie-ga on 14 Aug 2002 10:56 PDT
From your spec and estimated price (AUS$800 is about US$400), I think
you will not upgrade the motherboard-CPU combination. The only part
that I think can be upgradeable is the Video, Memory, and the CPU (if
possible). For Memory and CPU, you need to check your motherboard
specification about your limit.

Now, for XP itself, a better Video is a must, especially if you do
gaming too.
Extra memory will help your work with Photoshop, so it is my second
Upgrading CPU to a much better one is my last choice.

Upgrading Video: The suggested nVidia GeForce4 by vocaro is a good
one. I suggest you to pick the GeForce4 TI-4200. Don't get the lower
MX or the higher TI series. Not really worth the value of it. The 64MB
version is about US$130-150. If you want to save some more, go for the
original GeForce3, which is about US$80-90.
You can see the performance comparison (including your TNT2), check
out Tom's VGA Chart at
Just get any brand, because right now the board quality is similar.
Make sure the one you picked up have good tech support and warranty in
your area.

Upgrading RAM: From 128MB, the common suggested step is go to 256MB.
Personally, because the price difference is not much right now and it
will save the time to upgrade later, I'll go with the 512MB. I assumed
yours is PC133 type. Many online store will sell these for US$50-90,
but for this important part I usually go to Crucial . Their price is about US$100-120. Choose the
Non-ECC if possible, because the extra quality is not noticable for
home use.

So now you already spend about US$300. With the extra US$100 left, you
can but the fastest Celeron for about $70-$80 in the US, but I don't
think your motherboard will support it. So, you can keep your extra
$100 for food :)
As for hard drive, it depends on you. If right now you used up almost
all the space, and you think you will need more soon, then buy new HD.
For most people, 30GB HD is big enough, and 40GB is too much. For me,
I almost filled my 80GB setup :)

Hope this helps!
Subject: Re: Upgrading my PC
From: ukiguy-ga on 14 Aug 2002 11:52 PDT

Do you know the model of your motherboard (mainboard) or more
specifically its size? Is it "ATX" or an older "AT" standard. If it is
an AT motherboard, then don't read the following (finding a
replacement AT motherboard with higher specs would run you much

I think for 400 US dollars you could most definitely upgrade your
system (Motherboard,CPU, and memory). A motherboard such as the EPoX
EP-8KHA+ (about $70-80) would give you twice the bus speed with its
VIA Apollo KT266A AGPset. You can find a speedy Athlon XP 1800+ for
about $70 or a 2000+ for about $100 if you shop online, and you can
also find PC2100 DDR memory (that would accomodate this new
motherboard) at a price of around $100 for a single 512 meg chip (with
room to expand to 1.5 Gigs if you wanted). This leaves some extra room
for price differences and/or shipping.

If you find good deals on the above, then I would suggest looking into
replacing your video card (but not after satiating your memory-hungry
programs first with those 512 megs!) I would suggest a GeForce3 TI if
you're on a budget ($80-100) or if you want to pump out the extra $$
for a GeForce4 TI series ($130-300) card. While your video card is
old, I think for now the best investment would be to speed up the
performance by increasing your bus speeds and memory performance.

For an idea of current prices, I went to

Hope this is useful,
Subject: Re: Upgrading my PC
From: ukiguy-ga on 14 Aug 2002 11:57 PDT
I'm sorry, I meant the ep-8khal+ motherboard (not the ep-8kha+) for $70-80.

Subject: Re: Upgrading my PC
From: phi-ga on 19 Sep 2002 05:06 PDT
also If ur Video card is PCI u'd do well to keep it and add  a second
monitor.its well worth the extra acerage u get .

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