Upgrading Options

This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective’s website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.

There is good chance that you are either satisfied with most of your system or simply can’t afford to buy an entire new PC at one time. Hence, the enthusiasts best friend – upgrading.

What you need to upgrade will vary from person to person, so that is a call you will have to make for yourself. If you notice a lot of file swapping when you have a lot of applications open, a memory upgrade might be in order. If you have choppy frame rates on your games, you may need a new graphics card. The possibilities (and complexities) are endless.

One of the easiest upgrades is to add memory to your system. If you are running on Windows 2000 or Windows XP and are using 256MB of memory or less, this is a good place to start. I would recommend moving up to a 1GB of memory in at least PC3200 speed. This will allow you to use your DDR memory on your current (hopefully) and future system/motherboard upgrades. While having a 1GB of memory may seem like overkill, all of our test beds are now using that setup and we have noticed a significant difference between the 1GB and 512MB configurations in some gaming and content creation scenarios.

Corsair 1GB XMS3200 Pro

Another frequent upgrade is your systems graphics card. Many people, when the games they are buying seem to get slow, look towards the video card as the problem – and in some cases this is the case. However, the processor and memory system have just as much to do with your gaming experience as the graphics card does. So upgrade wisely.

If you are looking for longevity if your graphics card upgrade, look no further than the ATI Radeon 9800XT card. It is currently the fastest consumer graphics card on the market, and of course, comes with a free copy of Half-Life 2.

ATI Radeon 9800XT

If you fall in that other category of needing a processor upgrade, you have a couple of different options in front of you. If you have a Socket A processor, you’ll want to visit the manufacturer’s website for the motherboard you own to see how much you can upgrade your processor without having to replace the motherboard. Once you figure that out, you can search for a suitable replacement. Perhaps an Athlon XP 2500+?

Athlon XP 2500+

Or you can stick to the pre-Barton core, and get an Athlon XP 2700+.

Athlon XP 2700+

Find Prices on Athlon XP motherboards…

If you can’t upgrade as far as you’d like to with your current motherboard, then you are going to have to bit the bullet and get the CPU/motherboard and possible memory combo purchase. This is by far the most common upgrade scenario because usually by the time the processor is dated, the rest of these components are as well.

First, you’ll need to select a processor: either an Athlon XP or an Athlon 64 processor. The Athlon XP processors will have more life in them than many of you might be thinking, especially if you are an overclocker and tweak your system above the specs. While overclocking is not guaranteed by any means, enthusiasts should already be aware of this risk.

Athlon 64 3200+

Athlon 64 3000+ (2.0 GHz + 512KB L2)

Find Prices on Athlon 64 motherboards…

Finally, one of the more popular upgrades for this holiday season is a new DVD burner. On our PriceGrabber service, the most popular one is the Plextor PX708A that records at a 8x on DVD+R for under $200 in some cases.

Plextor PX708A
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