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Want to upgrade, but have questions


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#1
echet

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Hi,

I'm currently using an almost 6-year old Dell Dimension 9100. It works fine but there are some games coming out this year and my specs don't quite meet minimum requirements, so I'm looking to upgrade. However, everytime I think about upgrading one piece of hardware it seems that some other piece of hardware has a limitation and needs to be upgraded as well. For example, I need to upgrade my graphics card, processor and RAM but would also have to get a new PSU and motherboard.

I've never built a computer before, but I have replaced individual components. But before I do a complete re-build, I would like to keep my hard drive, or at least keep Windows XP as my main OS (until I can get a Linux distro on it). So the first of a series of newbish questions becomes, is there anything in XP that would limit how far I can go with an upgrade? Like a max processor speed or RAM, or something like that? I had initially planned on upgrading everything to their top-of-the-line counterpart, until I thought of this question.

If there are limitations, I'm wondering if it wouldn't be better to forget about upgrading and build a totally new PC from scratch. I just hate the thought of having another old PC and/or old components lying around the house. What do you guys think?
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#2
Troy

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Build a completely new one and use the current old one for your Linux distro machine. That way it's not just lying around, it's doing something for you.

For the Dell, if it is 32-bit XP (likely), your maximum RAM is going to be 4GB.
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#3
echet

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Yeah, it's 32-bit. I had already upgraded to the max of 4GB of RAM, but I thought that was the motherboard's fault not the OS.

Okay, so I'll start from scratch. Do you have any tips as for what kind of technology to look into? Such as quad-core vs six-core, or what kind of graphics cards to look for if I plan on having dual monitors? I'm mainly looking for ideas first before building a plan of attack on this. I sense a lot of reseach coming up before I actually start buying stuff for it.
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#4
iammykyl

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I will start the ball rolling for ever one.

How *good* a PC do you want?
Have you a budget?
In what country will you be purchasing from?
What parts do you think you can migrate to the new build? screen keyboard, etc.
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#5
echet

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Well, let's see...

I'm in the U.S., so that's where I'll be buying everythng.

There is virtually no budget limit other than basic common sense. As long I feel the part is worth the price, I'll buy it.

My current PC has a dual monitor setup which I plan to carry over into the new one. Keyboard, mouse and other peripherals are not really needed at this time as I'll probably keep using the current ones until I find a use for this one. If needed I can carry over a DVD-ROM and DVD-RW drive, as well as a 3.5'' floppy drive (but I doubt I'll need that). I could also use 2x 1GB RAM , but I think it might be better to get a higher GB per chip ratio.

I would like it to a top-of-the-line as possible, without going overboard. What this means is that, while I'd like the best available models of everything, if the minor upgrade is not effective enough to warrant the cost, or if there are some compatibility issues, or potential lack of upgradability, I'd be perfectly willing to get the next model down.

My ideal PC would have max processing power, max RAM, max hard drive size, and a graphics card that will run not only major games of today, but major games of a couple years from now. I'd be willing to sacrifice processing power for say, a significantly faster bus or significantly larger cache.
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#6
Troy

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Case

Extra case fans (2x or 3x)

Motherboard

Graphics

Power Supply

Processor

RAM (x2 for 16GB maxed out)

SSD for OS Install

HDD for Data

Bluray Burner

Office 2010 Home and Business

Windows 7 x64 Ultimate (This way you can run XP Mode if you need to)
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#7
echet

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Thanks Troy, great information. I have a few questions though.

That motherboard only has 2x USB 2.0 ports. Most of my peripherals use USB 2.0. Are USB 3.0 ports compatible w/ USB 2.0 cables/plugs?

What is the reasoning for having both a SSD and HDD? From what I've read about SSDs, they are much more efficient than standard hard drives. Are they mainly only used for the OS, or are both used only due to a GB/$ ratio? If at some point in the future I wanted a dual-boot (probably with Linux) how would the drives be partitioned for that?

Is 16GB RAM the max for Windows 7, or the motherboard? Is 8GB considered "more than enough" for current PCs?

Is MS Office 2003 compatible with Windows 7? I purhcased that suite when I bought my old computer, and honestly, I don't use MS Office that much. I can use WordPad for doc files and I prefer OpenOffice for spreadsheets and whatnot. So if I can use 2003, it'll save me a couple hundred dollars.

How many fans are needed? I know you said 2 or 3, but is there some formula to figure out what you need, like n fans needed for every x watts?

Thanks again for the component suggestions. I still want to look around a bit, but that is an excellent starting point for my research.
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#8
iammykyl

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When choosing a part I make 2 lists, what is essential, what I would like. ie Mobo.
Max video cards, max other cards, max default memory speed, USB etc.
When I have made a choice, look for reviews. Here are some to look at, > http://www.newegg.co...0^13-128-480-TS

Agree with Troy on Sandy Bridge platform
2600 has integrated graphics, (disabled when a discreet video card is installed on the Mobo) virtually no overclocking.
2600K, no integrated graphics but can be overclocked to 4,8GHz, (out of the box)
There are some other differences, > http://ark.intel.com...ids=52213,52214,
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#9
Troy

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Yes USB3 is backwards compatible.

SSD is extremely fast but very expensive and not large in size. So perfect for OS, then the 7200rpm SATA drive for data storage. Dual booting becomes an interesting point there, it would depend on what your uses are for dual booting. If you just want to play around with linux as a dual boot, for example, I would just make an extra partition on the 7200rpm SATA drive and install linux on that, leave the SSD alone.

16GB is neither's limits. But it will fill out all the slots. And yeah, 8GB is way plenty.

I do believe Office 2003 works on Windows 7 fine, just thought you might be interested in a new version. A lot of people want the cheapest quote possible and then whinge that it doesn't do "Word" (well at my work they do anyway), so I just make it a habit of putting it out there. LibreOffice is good as well.

2 fans should be plenty, no specific formula, just make sure you have plenty enough cooling for the case design and components inside.

Cheers
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#10
iammykyl

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Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit OEM $179, contains XP mode.
> http://www.newegg.co...N82E16832116997
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#11
iammykyl

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Sandy Bridge CPU info.
> http://www.cpu-world...7_i7-2600K.html
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#12
echet

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For the most part, the Linux boot will be used for just fooling around, trying to learn the OS, and some general use (Internet surfing, music, etc) when I don't want to deal with issues Windows typically presents. I am a programmer, so I may be doing some minor programming. That being said, how are the components you suggested on Linux compatibility? If you know, of course. I'm not asking you to do all my research for me.

I've looked at those processor comparisons and the reviews. Maybe it's just that I don't know much about modern processor technology, but I don't really see much difference between them. The only thing of note is the 2600 can't be overclocked, which I don't know is all that necessary.
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#13
Troy

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To be honest, I don't know about Linux compatibility. No idea.
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#14
iammykyl

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That being said, how are the components you suggested on Linux compatibility?


I think you can install Linux on any computer build from the 90s up. I have had a duel boot system with XP and Debian, but never seemed to have the time to come to grips with it. I also have a PC with a Gigabyte Mobe and I use the image recovery feature which creates a 20MB Linux partition at the end of the C drive. If you can install on a MAC!!! System requirements for Ubuntu, > https://help.ubuntu....temRequirements

I think the space on the SSD to limited, and valuable, so would recommend a small separate drive and use it"s own storage partition on the Data drive.
> http://www.newegg.co...5E22-136-296-TS

About duel boot and partitions on an SSD, > http://www.linuxine....ve-ms-2-distros

Edited by iammykyl, 17 April 2011 - 04:55 AM.

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#15
echet

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I tried to install various Linux distros (Ubuntu, Slackware, SUSE, Mint, & Vector) on my current PC and all of them had some compatibitlity issues with something. I don't remember exactly which one failed what, but one couldn't detect my mouse, another had problems with my Wi-Fi adapater, one had an issue with my video card/monitor (and thus was completely useless), another had trouble reading the correct amount of RAM. Eventually I got I got Vector Linux installed and it worked with everything except my printer (which is non-vital), but eventually deleted it because the partition was too small.

I'd definitely believe that most modern hardware would be compatible though.

Thanks for your replies.
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