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This is where you can ask questions and get and give help about hardware related issues. This Forum will be moderated by Taw with help from some other experts. So feel free to ask any questions you may have about computers.

Post Fri Sep 16, 2005 8:50 pm


Well we have us here a brand new shiny hardware forum, so I suppose I'll take a whack at the first thread.

When my not-quite so knowledgeable CS majoring sister built our current PC a few years back, she didn't construct it with an eye toward gaming. Intending to build it for the parents, it was equipped with the following:

Intel P4 Processor at 1.8 ghz
GeForce 2 64mb Video card (which since burned out and was replaces with a GeForceFX 5700 128mb)
Modem... (since replaced with wireless network adapter for broadband connection)
Running WinXP Pro

This is all well and good, but there is a single deficieny in this list:

RAM: 256mb.

That's sad. Its pitiful. Trying to play Battlefield Vietnam on this setup is like trying to swim across a lake with lead boots on. Maybe you'll make it, maybe you won't, but it'll sure take a hell of a long time. The games I play are mostly RTS nowadays, but things like NFS Underground 2 take a lot of power to run, that just isn't there.

Now, my question comes down to this. Perhaps RAM isn't my problem, but regardless, its still hideously low. I have plenty of expansion slots for more on the motherboard because the 256 is all on a single board. Since I'll be off to college in a year or two I'm not sure if its worth investing in more RAM. So A.) Where's the most cost effective place to purchase another chipset (USA) and what type should I be after to ensure compatability (if you need to know more about the existing set, just ask, I'll crack open the case to get any more info). I'll need at least another 256 to get this thing running properly. I can't keep increasing my paging file size forever.

Post Fri Sep 16, 2005 11:11 pm

I would still go for the extra 256. I've seen improvements going from 256 to 512 megs and I now routinely set my computers up with 512 megs DDR

Post Sat Sep 17, 2005 8:27 am

increase your RAM to at least a gig. depending on your mobo you could overclock that processor by (potentially) up to 50%, realistically about 20-30% with decent cooling.

as far as replacement is concerned, for gaming now by far the best option in terms of performance is the Athlon 64 on an nForce chipset - plenty of choice available, shouldn't set you back too much if you shop around. Just built an FX-55 based system on an nForce 4 board for someone and it totally kicks @ss, faster than mine, that's for sure.

Post Sat Sep 17, 2005 9:07 am

Taw's right go for the gig with the rrelaease of DDR-2 reg DDR is cheap a matched pair of corsair 512's only run about $100 now and it make everything sooooo much nicer that board cpu and video should be good for now but man u need ram

Whether you spectate or participate, Life Happens

Post Sat Sep 17, 2005 10:39 am

Yeah go for atleast 1gig of DDR400 or DDR300 which ever your mobo allows...its rather cheap...and as Taw said, go for an AMD FX line of CPU i have one and it kicks ass.

"To live is to die....but living is to die slowly..why waste time on trivial things just play as hard as you can"

Post Sat Sep 17, 2005 5:14 pm

yea the more ram the better. there is a site called that has some great prices for alot of computer parts, that is what I used to build my own computer and I was not disapointed.

Post Sat Sep 17, 2005 5:40 pm

I'll be looking into this. What do I need to look at to ensure that anything new is compatable with my current chip? My 256 is SDRAM, not DDR, so I may not be able to go DDR without replacing the entire set.

Post Sat Sep 17, 2005 7:46 pm

Well you do not want to mix and match RAM types, and if you are using SD then you will probably be paying a lot for it. Check your motherboard, as a number of models were released that supported both SD and DDR RAM, but only one type of RAM could be used at any one time. Even if you *can* use DDR, you'll most likely be using 266MHz which is also expensive stuff these days.

Post Sat Sep 17, 2005 8:04 pm

Motherboard is an ASUS P4B.
I quote from the user manual:

"These three 168-pin DIMM sockets support up to 3GB using unbuffered ECC or non-ECC PC100/133 SDRAM DIMMs."

In light of this, is this what I should be after?

Also- this RAM advertised for sale is rated for 3.3V, only settings on the mobo provide for 3.4, 3.5, and 3.6. Is this going to be an issue?

@Taw- with your words about overclocking, perhaps you should make a sticky with some hints and tips for that?

Edited by - J Dawg on 9/17/2005 9:05:09 PM

Edited by - J Dawg on 9/17/2005 9:09:41 PM

Edited by - J Dawg on 9/17/2005 9:30:12 PM

Link fixed - BigMan

Edited by - bigman on 9/17/2005 10:29:21 PM

Post Sun Sep 18, 2005 5:06 am

yep that Kingston memory should do the job just fine, although I'd go for higher capacity if i were you. don't worry about the voltage, virtually all unbuffered non-ecc sd-ram runs at 3.3v, it was almost universal. don't use 100mhz, use 133!

myself i was never a fan of the Asus P4B or C, i used quite a lot of them once and while they were stable enough they were always unresponisve and slow, for me. However the P4B does give you quite a lot of control over cpu and memory timings so you should be able to squeeze some extra performance out of the thing, I clocked a 1.7 up to 2.66 on one once but I had a monstrous cooler on it.

yeh i'm on the overclocking and tweak guide, will put it up when its done.

I notice *Bigman* has been active behind the scenes.

Edited by - Tawakalna (Reloaded) on 9/18/2005 6:07:06 AM

Post Sun Sep 18, 2005 1:40 pm

@bigman- thanks for the link fix

@Taw- I know greater capacity is needed but I think i'll stop at 512 simply due to price. Best Buy's sale evaporated overnight, and I'm finding that getting ahold of 168 pin PC133 chips is quite difficult. Newegg, as reccomended has one compatable set for US$33... Now as long as I can get the parents to foot the bill I'll go as high as I can.

Edited by - J Dawg on 9/18/2005 3:29:17 PM

Post Sun Sep 18, 2005 10:55 pm

the cooler it is the faster it will run (but it does help to have lots of ram)

the path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and of the tryannys of evil men.blessed is he who, in the name of chariety and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brohers keeper and the finder of lost children. and i will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poisen and destroy my brothers. and you will know my name is the lord when i lay my vengeance upon thee

Post Mon Sep 19, 2005 4:18 am

Just asking:
Is it worth to put more money and sweat (does the RAM fit ? does it work properly? no artifacts on screen ? no compatibility problems in some games? etc.) in such a fairly old PC ?

Personally I would save every buck for a new, better rig - and until then arrange with the actual machine.
Why ?
Just because this comp with those specs has no future - even not with a Gigazillion of RAM.

But of course: 33$ for another 256MB is reasonable. Anything more invest in a new PC.

Post Mon Sep 19, 2005 5:46 am

I'd love to be investing in a new one, and I would, if I had the financial resources to go about it. However with things like car insurance, gas, textbooks etc my discretionary income is fairly limited right now. As I said, this is my parents computer, and for what they do (solitaire and outlook) its more than enough, hence no incentive to upgrade. In a year or two I'll probably end up buying my own laptop for school, but in the meantime I'm stuck with this beast, so I'll try and make that time as comfortable as possible.

Post Mon Sep 19, 2005 10:10 am

my son's pc is not vastly different from yours, J Dawg, it's a 1.7 Celeron on a Gigabyte 845 chipset board with 768mb PC-133, a 40gb hdd and an FX5200 graphics card. it runs HL2 and the other games he plays just fine. ok i did clock it to 2.26 for him and the graphics card runs faster than it should and his XP setup is tweaked to b*ggery but it does show what you can do with even a basic system. while i'm prob goign to have to have to upgrade him over the course of the next year, apart from the latest top-end games there ain't much it can't handle in some form.

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