[PC Question] Computer Upgrade Help - HotUKDeals
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[PC Question] Computer Upgrade Help

Scar Avatar
6y, 4m agoPosted 6 years, 4 months ago
Hello fellow HUKD members, I'm writing in the hope that some tech savvy members can help me with my computer related enquiry.

I have recently been fortunate to take an old computer from my neighbour's hands which they were throwing away.

From opening and looking up on the model it is my understanding that this PC is and contains the following:

IBM ThinkCentre (Lenovo) M51 8141-23G
Pentium 4 3.0ghz Processor with HT
512MB DDR 400mhz 184pins RAM (2x 256 sticks - Max 4GB can be installed)
Integrated Intel GMA 900 Graphics
- However it does have 2 32-bit PCI Slots and 1 1x,16x PCI-E slot (?).
40gb SATA 7200RPM Hard Drive
Max 310W PSU

I am intending to upgrade this for basic office work, streaming videos and music from my network and browse the internet including HD videos via Gametrailers, Youtube etc.

EDIT:
--- Cross this section about RAM, I'll buy 2x 1gb sticks and install Windows XP 32-bit ---

If I were to upgrade the RAM would it be better to use 2x 2gb sticks to take advantage of dual channel mode (?) - I shall be installing 64-bit Windows XP to utilise all 4GB of RAM (If I can find some at a good price - cheapest so far is £56 total from Cex and even then I don't know if they have 2 in my local store - plus their quality control is questionable when it comes to buying RAM, though that is based on comments I've heard from people buying it online - anyone know of a cheaper place?).

Also if I were to buy a graphics card (rather than using the Integrated Intel GMA 900) what would be the best to use (under the limit of 310W)?
Should I be looking to get a "low-profile" card? Would that make a difference?

I don't intend on gaming with it but (hypothetically) if I did it'll be probably to play CS, Games using the Valve Source Engine and the Sims 2 and/or 3.
Any recommendations?
I've seen an old video of someone using a Nvidia GF 8800 GT but that'll require a new PSU if I were to take that step (I think?), plus I've heard how hot it can get and the power it requires - is there an updated card which is more energy and heat efficient?

I'm looking to spend around ~£60 for a graphics card, is that reasonable?

I apologise for the ramblings within my questions, my knowledge on computers is limited and I hope that within my ramblings there is sufficient information for anyone to shed light on my query.

Thank you for reading and (if) you take the time to post a response, all the help will be much appreciated.

Cheers,
Scar
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Scar Avatar
6y, 4m agoPosted 6 years, 4 months ago
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#1
http://www.crucial.com for price and most definetly the secification.
#2
From my experience windows XP-64 was awful, hardly any drivers available.

And 4gb for xp is overkill, 2gb would be plenty especially for office use.
#3
Adam2050
http://www.crucial.com for price and most definetly the secification.


Bobbajob
From my experience windows XP-64 was awful, hardly any drivers available.

And 4gb for xp is overkill, 2gb would be plenty especially for office use.


Cheers for the input Adam2050 and Bobbajob,
If I were to downscale my memory intentions from 4gb to 2gb would it then be better to buy 2x 1gb sticks rather than 1x 2gb stick?
Also in that case should I keep the 2x 256MB of RAM in the remaining two slots?

Suggestions on the graphics card?

Thanks again,
Scar

whatsThePoint
you'll need a bigger hard drive as well, tbh by the time you have upgraded it to do what you want it would of been cheaper to buy a new PC


I don't plan/have the means to buy a new computer especially when I shall be using this for simple tasks, surely by investing (now that I shall be buying only 2GB of ram) a max of £100, significantly less so if I end up not bothering about buying a graphics card.

Also if I'm streaming content and not necessarily using it to save files is it still necessary to upgrade the HDD?

Edited By: Scar on Aug 02, 2010 15:10: Response to whatsThePoint
#4
Ti be honest, I'd have to agree with What's the point". You're buying outdated upgrades for an outdated PC. DDR is old tech, is the hard drive SATA or IDE?,

If you want a cheap PC for office work, watching media on and light gaming, wouldn't one of the Intel Atom/Ion pcs suit you better for about £150

They would be more powerful than an old Pentium 4, run silently and pay for themselves in saved electricity in a year compared to a Pentium 4.
#5
dcx_badass
XP-64 was one of the worst operating systems made, basically no drivers and hardly any software support. 2GB ram will be fine for XP, that PSU is pretty low, I've used a 8800GT with a 400w PSU, wouldn't try a 310w. Maybe look at a 9600GT, that processor isn't good enough for most games now anyway, so no point getyting a more powerful graphics card as the rest will hold it back. So yeah I'd look at about a 9600GT. That PC is about 6 years old though. Sims 3, won't run well at all either. CSS should be ok though.

...

If you have 4 slots then do 2x 256 and 2x 1gb, for 2.5gb.


Thank you for your input in regards to both RAM and a suitable graphics card dcx_badass, it was definitely ambitious to think it could handle Sims 3. :p

I shall be looking around for a 9600GT.

Scar
#6
The problem might be the 12V rail on that CPU. Might be worth as advised getting something with a little more power.
#7
Personally, I'd try and hawk the computer on Gumtree and put the money towards a second-hand Core2Duo system. Reasons being...


I am intending to upgrade this for basic office work, streaming videos and music from my network and browse the internet including HD videos via Gametrailers, Youtube etc.

That old P4 chip mightn't actually be powerful enough to playback HD content via Flash.


If I were to upgrade the RAM would it be better to use 2x 2gb sticks to take advantage of dual channel mode (?) - I shall be installing 64-bit Windows XP to utilise all 4GB of RAM (If I can find some at a good price - cheapest so far is £56 total from Cex and even then I don't know if they have 2 in my local store - plus their quality control is questionable when it comes to buying RAM, though that is based on comments I've heard from people buying it online - anyone know of a cheaper place?).


You probably won't be able to get 2GB sticks that are compatible with the machine if it takes DDR. If you can, they won't be cheap, so you're limited to a gigabyte or two. The RAM you were looking at in CEX is DDR2, which isn't compatible with your system.

RAM is, however, fairly solid stuff and it's fine to buy it second-hand. Make sure the seller runs MemTest on it first for a few hours, though.

Regarding WinXP 64, it's a dead OS that was never really alive in the first place. Apps didn't support it (they consider it to be a server OS due to it being based on Server '03, and are often hard-coded to refuse to install on it), hardware didn't support it, and MS have pretty much forgotten about it. It's a shame, since it should in theory be a really good OS, but 'tis not to be, sadly.


Also if I were to buy a graphics card (rather than using the Integrated Intel GMA 900) what would be the best to use (under the limit of 310W)?
Should I be looking to get a "low-profile" card? Would that make a difference?


I don't think there'd be any point buying anything elaborate. For a start, the question mark you put after PCI-E and the age of the setup makes me suspect it's more likely to be an AGP slot. You need to compare against pics online to see what it is for sure. In either case, you would get a minor performance boost and an improvement to image quality by having a dedicated graphics card, and a reasonable GPU woud be powerful to run the games you're interested in, but I wouldn't recommend spending a huge amount of cash (like, no more than £30). Whether you get low profile or not depends on your case. If it's a normal size ATX case, get a normal card, if it's a slim case, get a lowprofile.

I don't intend on gaming with it but (hypothetically) if I did it'll be probably to play CS, Games using the Valve Source Engine and the Sims 2 and/or 3.
Any recommendations?


Yep - go to Metacritic, and do a search on PC games between around about 2000 and 2006, sorted highest-rated to lowest. Filter by generes you're interested in, if you want. There's looooaaaads out there.


I've seen an old video of someone using a Nvidia GF 8800 GT but that'll require a new PSU if I were to take that step (I think?), plus I've heard how hot it can get and the power it requires - is there an updated card which is more energy and heat efficient?

I'm looking to spend around ~£60 for a graphics card, is that reasonable?


I don't think an 8800GT would be possible or cost-effective, especially given that it'd need a new PSU.



But, aye. Overall, everything you have is slow and old, and although it's by no means useless or beyond upgrading, I think you'd be far better off selling it for maybe £40, then putting that money + what you were thinking of spending on upgrading it towards perhaps one of eBuyer's barebones PCs. Last I saw, they were doing a reasonably decent Pentium Dual Core E6500-based system for only around £250, and that would be an enormous improvement over your current setup. Have a ook through the Deals section, you should see interesting things in there.
#8
@whatsThePoint:
The person who won that bid must of been very happy, again it's an if to whatever I end up spending £100 to upgrade this thing (though I hope it won't go to that far of an investment).

@Bobbajob:
SATA HDD 7200RPM
Granted this is old tech and not as energy efficient as modern processors but do I really need to invest £150 for a machine that'll end up for light use?

@Adam2050:
At this rate I may just end up upgrading the RAM.

Looking around for a 9600GT and I'm getting the impression that they are rare to find - "best" I've found so far is on ebay (150473178741, 350377804323, 180538442131) and they look quite big.

[Hmmmm....]

Thanks for all your input thus far everybody and apologies for my tech noobness!
Scar

@dxx
Wow thank you for that very comprehensive input to my query,

In regards to the processor anything is better than what my family are using (I own a laptop, they are using a 10 year old P4 1.8ghz computer...)
A real shame that they (if I go ahead and invest in this unit) still won't be able to stream HD content via flash...

http://uk.webuy.com/product.php?sku=SMEMBDH9
http://uk.webuy.com/product.php?sku=SMEMBFH9
These was the RAM sticks I was looking at, are these not DDR?

Would you like me to take a picture of the insides?
It says on the motherboard "PCI Slot 1" and "PCI Slot 2" which I assumed were 32-bit slots as well as another slot which says "PCI-Express" - no idea if it's 1.0/2.0 though...
I admit the source I use was wikipedia for they had an image of the various slots of PCI(-E)

What are your thoughts of investing in a 9600GT? Still elaborate/excessive?

Is investing in a dual core system all together all that necessary especially seeing as it would be used for light use?
I don't mean to disrespect your input, on the contrary everyone's input so far is invaluable due to my lack of computer knowledge - it's simply because I don't have the means to consider investing that much into a system (even after selling this one on) and saw this as an opportunity to get an improved system over what my family are using at a lower cost.

Cheers and thanks again everyone for their input!
Scar

Edited By: Scar on Aug 02, 2010 16:05: response to dxx
#9
Hello all!

Well I managed to get a Inno3D GeForce 9600 Low Profile 512MB PCI-E graphics card for £35 but have yet to install due to doubts about my current PSU:

The details (DC Input = Amp Rails?) on the PSU's label are as follows:
+5v-/15A +12v-/17A
+3.5v-/13A +12v-/0.2A
+5vSB-/2A

I would assume that this is insufficient to power the graphics card?
Been looking around and have no idea the requirements in regards to power.
If so, would investing in something like this be sufficient? Would it be overkill?
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/152505

Cheers,
Scar

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