Operation Upgrade: How We Rebuilt Three Old PCs, Part By Part

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PCWolf

Dell Dimension 4600 Upgrade Project:

Original Configuration:

Windows XP
CPU: Intel P4 2.60ghz with HT / 533 FSB
ODD: Generic IDE 48x CD Burner / DVD-ROM
HDD: 40G IDE HDD
MEM: 256mb DDR PC2700
GPU: NVidia GeForce4 MX 64MB (AGP)
PSU: 250 Watt

Upgraded Configuration:

(Tried Windows 7 but it was too laggy, so put back Windows XP)
CPU: Intel P4 3.06ghz with HT 533 FSB (Free)
ODD: ASUS 24X SATA DVD Burner $19.99
HDD: Western Digital WD Blue 500GB $59.99
MEM: Crucial 2GB (2 x 1GB) SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) $48.99
GPU: HIS Radeon HD4650 1GB AGP (128bit) $99.98
PSU: Antec ATX 550W $64.99

Total Cost of Upgrading the Dinosaur: $293.94

Results: PC can now play most games OK as long as they don't require a dual core CPU or over 2GB of Ram. Can play 720p Videos without problems on a HDTV. The CPU was salvaged from another dead PC so that cost me nothing. The only thing that can be upgraded a bit more, would be to add a 3.4Ghz CPU for about $25.00 but decided it was not worth it. Once 4K becomes the norm, this PC will be no more.

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shoan

like Arthur replied I am shocked that a student able to earn $9035 in four weeks on the internet. have you seen this web link NuttyRichDOTc om

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Athlonite

I do believe that once you replace a mobo it's a rebuild not an upgrade if you must also replace the CPU, GPU, RAM, HDD. PSU replacing any of those on their own or two of them is an upgrade and I don't class installing a clean copy of an newer OS as an upgrade

most those PC "Upgraded" on here really only needed more ram a better GPU and maybe an SSD to probably score 90~95% of the scores realized using the options chosen in this article

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PCWolf

Agreed. Replacing the Motherboard is a Rebuild, not an Upgrade. Your just putting all new hardware in a Old Case. A Upgrade would be: New Ram, new CPU, new GPU or new PSU.

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OmNomNom

I got excited for a sec when I thought it would be an XPS that used a BTX mobo. I had a XPS710 that had a mobo crap out and I just scrapped the whole PC. Between BTX case and the odd double 24 pin 800watt psu wasn't much to salvage but the old core2duo.

+1 on not calling it a "rebuild" if you have to upgrade the mobo.

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Benjo

This article has inspired me to finally ditch my P4 and Athlon 64 boxes. My last build involved gutting a Packard Bell mATX tower of it's Slot 1 Celeron innards and replaced with a socket 754 system.

I wonder how much of a speed boost these would give:
http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=COMBOA7L3B&cat=MBB

I saw the high-end mATX build article here a while back. Drool-worthy, but I buy/sell/fix beater cars for that price :P

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Hilarity

Just junk or sell all three and build a new box. For a gaming PC, 2yrs is it. Then its time to upgrade if you built with upgrades in mind or a whole new build. That's tech for you.

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limitbreaker

Sorry but respectfully... This article is terrible. Like many other said, a lot of these are new builds and not upgrades. I think if you need to change the ram, motherboard, cpu and even the videocard then it is no longer an upgrade and you might as well get a new case with it too. And I feel a bit wrong with upgrading a gtx 295 purely to get dx11 because that card is still fast enough to play every game at max settings with a smooth fps possibly in 3dvision to top it off, there isn't enough mind blowing tesselation games out there to merit 500$ for one feature.

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praetor_alpha

That's exactly the same reason why I'm still using a GTX 285. Skyrim is pretty much the only game I can't get running at 1920x1200 at 60 fps at all times, but that's because it's mostly CPU limited (i7 2600).

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rshawnk

You guys must have been bored that day. "Hey, I know what we can do...".

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jhains

Only #2 qualifies as an upgrade in my book; #1 & #3 are basically new PCs housed in their original cases.

Upgrade implies replacing a few parts. Replacing the MB, CPU, RAM, GPU, HDD & OS, is building an entirely new PC.

Add to that the "upgrades" are essentially the cost of a new PC (add $100 for a case and PSU), this article is left wanting.

I think a better approach would have been to take the 3 PCs, and a budget of $500 each for upgrades, and demonstrating how changing specific items would affect the performance. For example, on PC #1, replacing just the RAM, GPU and OS; on PC #2 replacing just HDD and OS; and PC #3 replacing just the GPU and HDD. Then change it up, and replace $500 of different parts in each and show the results.

The data from those benchmarks would be much more useful to a potential upgrader, and would make for a far more interesting article.

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strangelove9

"I think a better approach would have been to take the 3 PCs, and a budget of $500 each for upgrades, and demonstrating how changing specific items would affect the performance. [...] The data from those benchmarks would be much more useful to a potential upgrader, and would make for a far more interesting article."

Perfectly said, bravo!
That would be a much more interesting article, indeed!

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strangelove9

Actually, the people who say these aren't technically upgrades, but full rebuilds, are right.

In the case of the first PC, for instance, everything got replaced, except the case. That's the definition of a rebuild.

MrMakapuu had the right idea - and his solution was much cheaper, too!

Please provide TWO (one could be just a fluke, and is not statistically significant) real-life instances in which a Quad-core Q6600, paired with enough RAM and a good ~$150 videocard, won't rise to the challenge of everyday tasks... and even most specialized tasks. And I dare anyone but the most hard-core gamers to claim that you can't play every conceivable game on that system at 1080p resolutions.

Not to mention that the article was misleadingly advertised on the MPC main page under the headline "Operation Upgrade: How We Resurrected Three Dying PCs"... They're anything but "dying", if they're still functional - and at least one of them is still kicking a$$ even against current competition!

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guoruiwu1994

The Q6600 is 2.4GHz, the Q6700 is 2.66GHz

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kixofmyg0t

The second builds old 295 GTX got 772 fps in Far Cry 2?

Screw the 7990 I'm getting a 295 GTX instead!

EDIT: Til that the Radeon 7950 is a 3 year old GPU according to this article. (3rd build under original parts) and got over 1,000 fps in Far Cry 2. I take it all back. This article taught me that both the 295 GTX and the 7950 are 5 times(rough estimate) as powerful as a 680.

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praetor_alpha

Indeed. Guess this seals the debate I'm having as to whether or not to up my GTX 285 to something else, like a 680.

I doubt those are typos, as those figures are complete with commas.

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PreacherSeven

I own Houdini's magic wand, when I first got it I had to replace the top white cap because it was loose. Last month I replaced the bottom white cap because it fell off, then the shaft broke last week so I replaced the middle section. Anybody wanna see Houdini's wand?

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Zig

This is the knife my grandfather used to kill indians with (sorry, not pc). we've replaced the blade 3 times and the handle twice, but it's the same knife.

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mikeyfree

I CANNOT FREAKIN BELIEVE YOU JUST SAID THAT.....YOUR GRANDFATHER WAS A COWARD AND SO ARE YOU. IF YOU WOULD HAVE SAID THIS ABOUT BLACKS OR WHITES THEY MIGHT ARREST YOU. YOU ARE A SORRY INDIVIDUAL.
YOU SHOULD BE BANNED AND I'M POSTING THIS ON ALL THE MEDIA I CAN.

No white man ever killed and indian with a knife, they did it with small pox blanks, alcohol and false flags.

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PreacherSeven

Relax, that's an old joke and it simply is not funny if not told correctly. Plus I don't.... wait I smell a troll-lo-lo-lo-lol

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HeroOfCanton

I don't know. You could change it to Nazis and it would still work. Seriously, no one likes Nazis. "This is the knife my grandfather used to hunt Muppets" would also be pretty funny.

"I sure could use some help counting to four..." *gank* /TheState

Oh wait, I forgot we're supposed to be "outraged". Ahem... LET'S CALL THE INTERNET POLICE AND HAVE THEM DO A BACKTRACE!!

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mikeyfree

I grandfather changed the handle on his whip cuz it broke whippin his slaves. He called it an upgrade. 1st known use of the word during the slave trading years.

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Biceps

Zig did mention when he posted that it wasn't pc (which stands for both Personal Computer and Politically Correct), and he was obviously just trying to make a point. To shuffle around all the indignation and actually get to the heart of the matter, I have to say the muppet-killing knife is actually NOT the same knife. BUT, it is an UPGRADED version of the same knife. The same goes for computers.

If you upgraded a computer and it was still the same computer after the upgrade, then you just blew a bunch of money in order to have the same machine.

The case on my computer cost about $400 and is kind of like a Ferrari body. I'll be using this case for partial and complete upgrades for years, as it has a 1000W power source and is built like a rock.

If you come back snarking about native Americans again, mikeyfree, then you are a troll. If you come back to the topic at hand, perhaps this can be an intelligent discussion.

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PreacherSeven

The first thought that ran through my head as I was reading this was "they must like that Dell case because they just built a whole new pc inside it". Sure enough that's what happened, so I would consider that more than an "upgrade". Now about using two 460's and keeping the same cpu: using video cards that are 3 generations old is hardly an upgrade and these machines are meant to do more than just gaming so hyper threading might come in handy. That being said I think the only pc that was just "upgraded was the last one and the other two were a little excessive and leaning towards "new pc" rather than "upgraded"

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SilverSurferNHS

while this is true to us, who haven't had those systems under our desk for months to years, for themselves or in a scenario where a person makes such changes to their personal computer, i bet when that person talks to friends and what not about their computer they will refer to it as a great upgrade from their previous computer

i wouldn't consider something a new build unless there's a new case and parts list for it, something that will ultimately run separate or at least mostly separate with a few carry over parts that could be quickly replaced... but yeah, its just semantics and we all define it differently - like where one might be in their own "upgrade" cycle.

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Biceps

Ok, this article makes up completely for the lack of a low-end build in your monthly line-up. Well done.

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mikeyfree

800 or more for an upgrade? Might as well put together a new build. Either 1 or 2 changes to your rig, like new video card w/psu, or change old hd to new ssd. Things like this is what I consider an upgrade, and the if I can get them on sale. Around 200.00 bucks would be a target price unless of course you have money to burn, and if that's the case you wouldn't be reading this article. You'd be driving your BMW around with your model girl friend smoking cigars and chewin gum.

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Jeffredo

Two of the three aren't "upgrades". They're new builds in the old case. Once that motherboard comes out "upgrade" no longer applies.

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Biceps

I upgraded a Core2Duo with to a new MB with a Core2Quad Extreme a (long) while back, inside a nice case. Everything except the power supply, the case and the cables was new. And I considered it an upgrade. I think you are arguing semantics.

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mikeyfree

I would have to agree, that once the mb is changed its a new build.

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PCWolf

+5

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Biceps

See above under knife comment for my response, though I probably should have put something here, too.

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renodude18

About ten years ago I bought Dell's Dimension 8300 desktop. For the majority of that time it was stock till a few years back when I decided to add a new video card, Power supply, Hard drive as the stock 80GB was way to small for its new purpose as my Entertainment system as I replaced it with a Laptop. I thought about upgrading the processor but the stock P4 does just fine with Windows 7. I dont know how many more years this machine has left but its ran great with no issues at all even with the upgrades. But I think windows 7 is the last OS upgrade that it will see sad to say. I'd love to get an Newer Old Dell and Upgrade it in this ones place at one point..

Also as an afterthought I think the only system worth upgrading is the Dell as the others are more newer were custom built.. I personally like to see OEM machines upgraded as they can be more of a challenge as noted at the beginning.

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Strangelove_424

Awesome article. Most people I know do small step upgrades like these, in a trusty case, instead of re-starting from scratch every generation.

Also, for anyone with thermal paste to clean off, don't forget to use something that doesn't shed fibers... coffee filters do the trick.

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MastaGuy

I have an old Dell Dimension E521, and I have done upgrading too, not at this level however. The problem is that Dell previously used BTX style cases and motherboards, making it impossible to add a new motherboard and CPU.

In case anyone is curious, I upgraded the Dell to a AMD Athlon X2 64 6000+ (the 89w version) a 60GB SSD, PCI network card, an EVGA GT430, 4GB of RAM, and Windows 7 64bit. I spend about $200 on that upgrade and I'm glad I did it. However I wish I could do more.

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510Gamer

These seem like pretty substantial upgrades, $1000 seems excessive...

Also I think the formatting on the article is wrong, you have the new parts and their prices at the end in the results section, while the performance charts are in the middle in the upgrade section. There are also some line breaks because of pictures.

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MrMakapuu

Oh and BTW you can overclock that Q6600 to 3.0 or higher on air easy...And if not buy a used Asus 775 board somewhere for under $100!!

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MrMakapuu

When I saw the title of this article i was thinking you were going to just upgrade the components not everything in the case that doesn't make sense to me what you did and wasnt green or resoureful at all!

So I put a quick build below for you and the extra money you can save for the next generation after x79?

Anyways,

$1K for a upgrade? You can buy a new computer for that..

Try and be more resoureful bitches.

You still got a quad core there...And who uses HT for gaming anyways.. with these upgrades you can run Bf3 fine... looks amazing on 42" LCD in 1080p btw ;P

Use the old MoBo, go to ebay or craigslist you can probably pick up 2 used 460gtx's or AMD's version for under $200, use them in SLI or Xfire, max out the ram for another $50, and get a SSD for under $100... an OCZ 750watt for around $75 with rebate or equivlant on newegg or something, and x64 Win7 for $150... And you can take advantage of that extra GPU for folding or extra graphic processing outside the SLI...

$575 Total

I just saved you $494... you wasteful seaman!!!

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CaptainFabulous

And you got something that's a fraction as powerful as what they built.

I'm sorry, what was your point again? That you know how to do a half-assed upgrade?

Try and be more intelligent bitch.

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MrMakapuu

Not going to feed the troll

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CaptainFabulous

Then I guess you're going to starve to death? Good.

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mattman059

trololololololo

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SilverSurferNHS

wow

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Neufeldt2002

Do not feed the troll.

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SilverSurferNHS

Lynfield Up - 77.2 FPS i assume

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kixofmyg0t

You should see the 3 year old(according to this article) Radeon 7950! It got over 1,000 (complete with a comma) fps!

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SilverSurferNHS

i stopped reading after a while cuz these r a dime a dozen - mpc needs to kick in come creative chaos to shake things up... the most fun i have on the site lately are watching trolls troll and flamers flame, all over... meh

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