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Upgrading a 3 year old system (socket 775)

NocrenNocren Lt Futz, Back in ActionNorth CarolinaRegistered User regular
So I'm dusting off my old desktop and now that I know (sort of) what I'm doing, and looking to upgrade the BIOS and getting the system up and running for primary use (gaming and internet) while possibly convert my current laptop to ubuntu for work stuff.

I bought/assembled this thing about 3-4 years ago and put it away a couple years later (moved to smaller living area).

Hell, I'm not sure what OS is on it (probably XP) and right now I'm just looking to run through my Steam catalog and not really do any major upgrades (Major being anything more then $75).

I'm using a Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3R motherboard, a Core2 Duo E6550 CPU, 4 GB DDR2 RAM (better sure I'm capped here), Nvidia 8600GT card and a decent 19" flatscreen (though at 4:3).

Looking to possibly upgrade the processor but everywhere I look just says "upgrade the MoBo" and that's not an option right now.

So what is the best and cheapest upgrade that I'll notice on this thing?
Other questions: I'm pretty sure I'm 32bit and not 64 but I want confirmation for any potential OS upgrading

Random Musing: Wonder if I could use this as a HTPC? Or would it be too underpowered?

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    hsuhsu Registered User regular
    128gb SSD for the OS/apps. Easily the most noticeable upgrade you can buy.

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    SmokeStacksSmokeStacks Registered User regular
    Your system is at a dead end. If you don't want to upgrade the mobo than you're probably going to want to look into a quad core CPU (depending on what CPUs your mobo is compatible with), but finding LGA 775 Core 2 Quads or quad core Xeons will be ridiculously expensive compared to newer CPUs because they're pretty rare, which drives up their secondhand prices.

    Other than an SSD, your video card is really the only thing you can upgrade without a major overhaul, and it's the biggest bottleneck you have. My CPU is slightly less powerful than yours (an E6400 compared to your E6550), but coupled with 4GB of RAM and an HD 4850 I am able to play relatively newer games as a result. I'd stop by the build thread and post your specs there and ask them what the best GPU would be for your machine in the $75 range that you mentioned.

    You want to use a 64 bit OS for that system. Windows 7 is rock solid, and has many features and security enhancements that are not present in Windows XP (which at this point is over twelve years old).

    Lastly, HTPCs require very little power. You can run Windows Media Center on nearly anything and XBMC was initially designed for the original Xbox, so unless you want to be able to watch physical Blu-Ray discs anything from the late Pentium 4 era can be an HTPC providing it has a decent amount of RAM and a GPU capable of outputting 1080p video without melting into slag. However, if you're interested in putting together an HTPC, you'll either need an HDTV or a better monitor to really take advantage of it.

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    NocrenNocren Lt Futz, Back in Action North CarolinaRegistered User regular
    Thanks. Wasn't sure if my CPU was 64 compatible or not.

    And yeah, I'm looking at other cards to see what I can do.

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    SmokeStacksSmokeStacks Registered User regular
    For the most part, any desktop CPUs manufactured from 2003-2004 and onward are 64 bit.

    Grab yourself a decent videocard and then stop by the Steam thread and I can get you a list of games that I've been able to run well on my machine.

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    NocrenNocren Lt Futz, Back in Action North CarolinaRegistered User regular
    eh, you can probably just hit me on Steam. I doubt I'm currently bottlenecked on anything really and can run my entire catalog. I'm pretty tollerant on setting things low-medium if needed.

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    hsuhsu Registered User regular
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-card-review,3107.html

    Tom's hardware comes out with graphics card advice by price point on a monthly basis. The above link is for October and I'm sure a November link will show up before Black Friday sales start.

    Given your setup though, you'll notice the SSD more. You'll probably see 5x faster speeds for any disk related activity like boot times, game loading, app loading, even map/zone loading in games.

    An SSD is one of those upgrades that change your user experience so much that noone who buys one ever goes back to rotating drives for their OS/games/apps.

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    hsuhsu Registered User regular
    To further my point, I would say that you should upgrade your monitor before upgrading your video card.

    No point in buying a nice GPU, but looking at the results on a small monitor.

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    NocrenNocren Lt Futz, Back in Action North CarolinaRegistered User regular
    Oooh, that chart page 7 is exactly what I'm looking for!

    Monitor isn't that big a deal if I upgrade the video card to one with HDMI out.

    I think I might be ok for now anyway and just start saving money for a new system.

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    Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    Your best bet from a price/performance point is to just save for a while and build a new system.

    If you can find a Q9*** series cpu that your mobo can support for a reasonable price, that could help for a while. A new video card and an SSD are both devices that can be transferred into a new build.

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    NocrenNocren Lt Futz, Back in Action North CarolinaRegistered User regular
    I'll probably start with an SSD then.
    Video card will probably come later.

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    kraz007kraz007 Registered User regular
    I have a 775 system lying behind me and I'm looking at the same conundrum. Upgrade or just throw it in the thrash and buy a new system with the new socket.

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    ZxerolZxerol for the smaller pieces, my shovel wouldn't do so i took off my boot and used my shoeRegistered User regular
    Throw it out for a completely new system if you can help it. I have a machine running an overclocked Q9450, a chip that's at the tail-end of LGA775, and there exist some (probably poorly threaded) games that are severely CPU bound to the point where killing graphics settings to max-ass doesn't improve the framerate one lick (Borderlands 2 and Saints Row 3/4 are prime offenders). It's just going to get more and more pummeled when next-gen shit is coming in. As stated before, these legacy parts are just too expensive for what they can do.

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    DraygoDraygo Registered User regular
    or you can turn your old computer into something useful like a NAS box/router/whatever the hell you want.

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    SmokeStacksSmokeStacks Registered User regular
    Draygo wrote: »
    or you can turn your old computer into something useful like a NAS box/router/whatever the hell you want.

    Seriously, this.

    Why the hell would you throw a perfectly useful (and still fairly powerful) computer in the trash?

    Even if you had no need for a hardware firewall/HTPC/torrentbox/distributed computing machine/game server/NAS/whatever you could just donate it to a group that needs it, or even throw it on craigslist and get a few bucks out of it.

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    hsuhsu Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    Zxerol wrote: »
    Throw it out for a completely new system if you can help it. I have a machine running an overclocked Q9450, a chip that's at the tail-end of LGA775, and there exist some (probably poorly threaded) games that are severely CPU bound to the point where killing graphics settings to max-ass doesn't improve the framerate one lick (Borderlands 2 and Saints Row 3/4 are prime offenders). It's just going to get more and more pummeled when next-gen shit is coming in. As stated before, these legacy parts are just too expensive for what they can do.
    This was my exact same experience. I stuck a new graphics card into my LGA775 box a few years ago, and it didn't do jack for my frame rates. Maybe 10%-20% better, but for a $300 video card, that's crap. I had to just bite the bullet and move to an LGA1155 system (the LGA1150 came out 6 months later, so my timing sucked). I didn't even get a newer graphics card until this past spring, as moving from LGA775 to LGA1155 made such a big difference that I could hold off on a better GPU.

    hsu on
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    jskangjskang Registered User regular
    I just went through the same thing, too. I had a 5 y.o. build running a Gigabyte P35-based mobo and a Q6600 w/ 4GB of RAM running Win7 Ultimate x64. This particular build started life as an WinXP system. Just before the rebuild, the most recent updates I had made to it were to upgrade the GPU to an AMD HD7850 from a GTS8800 320MB and dual 128GB SSD running in RAID1 for my system partition from a pair of WD VRaptors.

    My rebuild was made easier and less expensive by the fact that I was able to reuse everything except for CPU, RAM, and mobo. One of the great benefits of BYO.

    Considering the not so hardcore gaming I do day-to-day, I was hoping to squeeze more life out of the system but individual mobo components starting failing (SATA ports, etc.) and that forced my hand into rebuilding.

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