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2.11.2007

Updating my PC

Well, I finally went ahead and updated my PC.

My old system was:
Socket 754 Athlon 2800+ (1.8GHz)
Biostar Nforce 3 250GB motherboard.
1GB RAM
80GB PATA OS drive
120GB SATA drive for TV recordings from my capture card.

After much deliberation, I decided on a minor overhaul. I went with:
Pentium D 805 (2.66 GHz dual core at 533 FSB)
ASUS P5PE-VM motherboard (cheap, but will host a Core2Duo or Pentium D, and supports AGP and DDR400 RAM)
250 GB SATA drive for the OS

I kept my Happauge MCE150 TV capture card, 1GB of Corsair DDR400 (now running in dual channel instead of single), Geforce 6800XT AGP card, and the 120GB recording drive.

Gaming performance is slightly better than before. This is mostly due to the 6800XT's limitations, not an AGP or CPU bottleneck. Framerate is about the same as before, but I think the dual-core CPU is making map loads and AI performance faster and smoother.

For desktop performance, my PCMark2005 score went up by 30 to 50%...so I'm very happy with that change. Video encoding is going faster, along with much snappier desktop performance. I've also found that my PVR software, GB-PVR, is no longer having stutter problems if someone starts up a big application while the recording service is running.
Yesterday, I was able to run the Folding @ Home client, and render a DVD using DVDFlick while a tv show was recording, and there were no hiccups or stutters in the finished recording.

My long term plan for upgrading this rig is to wait for price drops and then put a Core 2 Duo and faster AGP card on this board, but I think that'll be up to a year off.

I have to say that if you already have DDR400 RAM and a good AGP video card that this board and CPU combo is a great way to get them onto a dual core setup on the cheap. I'm thinking about writing an article on this build and posting it over on www.cheapassgamer.com as a build-your-own guide.

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