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Looking for cheap upgrade options

Graogrim

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#1
I've been casually looking around for cheap ways to work into a faster CPU than my lowly P4 3.4. And I do mean cheap.

My ideal goal is to first get a motherboard that supports my current CPU (it's LGA 775) and RAM but that offers headroom to grow into something like a Core 2 Duo. My compromise goal would be to get a motherboard/CPU combo that supports my current RAM...bearing in mind that my RAM consists of 1 GB of PC2 3200 and 1 GB of PC2 4300. So the motherboard will have to support operating the RAM at a broad range of FSB divisors. It will also need 4 DIMM sockets, and I'd prefer that it be ATX, not micro.

I have little in the way of brand loyalty. I don't much care whether I end up with AMD or Intel. But I'm having a tough time finding hardware with the flexibility I desire.

Anyone know of a motherboard that would fit the bill?
 

Sydneyboi

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#2
Have a look at some of the asrock boards.
 

quickie

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#3
hmm ... given it has to be 4 RAM dimms and an ATX board, this is the only "cheap" priced board I can recall: MSI Neo5-F based on the Intel 945GC chipset.

It only supports up to 1333FSB, so your Core 2 Duo options will be limited going into the future.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130139

I know of some cheaper Foxconn boards, but most will have 2 dimms instead, something you don't want.

If you want to go the AMD route, the boards are generally cheaper. But then you would have to buy an AMD cpu to go with that.
 
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#4
if you get an ASRock board make sure you dont get one with a VIA chipset, they suck really bad.
 

Graogrim

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#6
Thanks quickie that looks like a promising suggestion. As long as it won't choke on mere PC2 3200 DIMMS it looks ideal for my needs.

And Unsmart, by cheap I'm thinking sub-$100 for the board alone, sub-$200 for a board/CPU combo.
 

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Graogrim

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#8
I haven't seen much mention of the E2200's but it's definitely the right price. I'll check some benchmarks and reviews to gauge what kind of upgrade it would be. Assuming that it provides more than a marginal performance increase all around it could be a winning combination when coupled with the MSI board linked earlier. I just need to verify that I can get by with my existing memory on it for a while.
 
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#9
With the price of DDR2 so cheap you could get a 2x1gb kit and still be in your budget. This got really good ratings http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820211066 and it's $28.00[$43.00] after mail in rebate:)
Do you plane on keeping your system or selling it?

EDIT: The mem was such a good deal and so well reviewed I just got some. Also if you don't mined open box theres some good boards on newegg for real cheap
 
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#10
ABIT have some good boards that are cheap, have you had a look on ebay few cheapys on there
 

Darren

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#11
How much is your budget, are you planning on overclocking, and what is the system going to be used for?
 

Graogrim

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#12
That does look like a pretty good deal overall, unsmart. But with the motherboard priced that low I've been considering an E4400 or E4500 to take up the slack in my budget. More memory would put me over, and the PC2 3200 memory I have only has to last me a few months.

Hmmm. Since 1 gigabyte of my RAM is PC2 4300 I might be able to reuse just that and get 1 additional gigabyte and still squeeze by.

I really don't want to exceed $200 overall because this is just an interim upgrade until I have the spare cash to get something serious.
 

Darren

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#14

hat

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#16
go for asus P5N
 

JrRacinFan

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#17

Graogrim

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#18
This board is a terrific resource. That's a bunch of good suggestions to work with. Thank you all.
 

BullGod

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#19
Well how about this mobo:

DFI BLOOD IRON P35-T2RL LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
$107.99

and this RAM

A-DATA Extreme Edition 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model ADQVD1A16K - Retail
$49.99

The thing is you could use your current processor, get the benefit of much faster RAM and don't spend your entire budget. The thing is that this board supports the new 45nm processors from Intel so it's much more future proof than any of the boards posted here. You could buy one of the new cheap processors that will come out and overclock the shit out of it...
 

Graogrim

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#20
I considered that approach as well, but I haven't really moved *forward* in CPU performance since I put together my former 3.2 GHz system in 2003. My current P4 550 is more of a lateral move, and it shows. At this point I think I'll get a lot more out of a cheap CPU upgrade than a big memory and motherboard upgrade. My expectation for my next "real" motherboard upgrade will include infrastructure upgrades like PCIe 2.0, and that's just not available yet. A cheap mobo, my current RAM, and a budget CPU will tide me over.
 

Graogrim

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#21
I think I've hit upon the key for the motherboard I'm looking for. It has to be based specifically upon the 945P chipset. Other 945 variants won't do, as they don't support DDR2 400 (PC2 3200). In fact, it seems like not even all 945P motherboards offer the range of support I want. That said, there are some pretty good options out there. Here are some of those that I'm considering:

Asus P5LD2
MSI 945P Neo5-F
Biostar TForce 945P

I'm not sure which way I'm going to lean. All three boards seem to be pretty close peers. Some have extra frills that I'm unlikely to use such as SATA RAID, and there are minor variations on integrated sound which I won't use anyway, so nothing really makes the decision for me. I've had consistently good experience with Asus in the past, but I hear good things about Biostar and their website appears to provide solid support. The MSI is a bit of a wildcard but it's hard to argue with the price. In all likelihood it will come down to flexibility and sophistication of the BIOS, ease of setup, and that sort of thing.

If anyone wants to chime in with some input feel free. I'm especially interested in possible deal-breakers on any of these boards.
 
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#22
I really don't see the point in basing your MOBO choice on the weakest part of your currant system:wtf: I would go with just the 4300 for now and get a better board and the 3400 is going to kill any OC. With a OK board some DDR2 800 and even the cheapest C2D you will smoke your P4 after a little OCing.
It's up to you though not trying to push you just my 2 cents:toast:
 

Graogrim

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#23
Believe me I've considered it. First, there's the whole synchronous clocking issue. I'm given to understand that on an 800 MHz FSB CPU the effect is sufficiently profound that having memory clocked at 533 can be slower than memory clocked at 400. Which means I'm probably going to end up running memory at 400 MHz anyway. Then there's the fact that I'm treating this system as more or less a throwaway--neither the motherboard nor the CPU nor the memory will survive my next upgrade sometime in the second half of 2008, so future-proofing isn't a concern.

This is a band-aid upgrade to get my performance a little more current while I hold on for a true nextgen system--PCIe 2.0, DDR3, quad-core, etc in another 6-9 months. At that point, I'll be more willing to open my wallet.
 

JrRacinFan

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#24
Graogrim, that's not necessarily true. You can run a divider on the board that will make the ram actually clock higher. like a 4:5 divider.
 

Graogrim

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#25
My thinking is that given the limitations of my budget, I'll end up with a faster system overall putting those extra dollars into a faster CPU (for instance, bumping to the 4000 series instead of the 2000 series dual cores) instead of faster RAM.