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upgrading 2 year old system for HL2

Discussion in 'ATI' started by David J Burns, Nov 5, 2004.

  1. My system was purchased at an optimum price-point in early 2001.

    WinXP Pro SP2
    Athlon 1800xp+
    Asus A7V333 mainboard
    512mb ram (ddr 333mhz)
    Radeon 7500 64mb
    40gb WD harddrive, 5400rpm EIDE
    SB Audigy Gamer soundcard
    other junk

    My current thinking is I'll try to swap in a used Athlon 2600xp+ 266
    FSB into the motherboard, upsize my harddrive to 80gb+ 7200rpm, and
    buy a new ATI video card.

    Some questions:

    One: Cards I'm looking at in my price range here in Canada: Sapphire
    9600 Pro Advantage 256, Sapphire 9800 SE, or PowerColor Radeon 9600XT
    Ultra 128MB. I've heard the 9600 Pro Advantage is nothing more than an
    upsized 9600 LE and is not worth the investment, whereas i might be
    able to unlock from 4 to 8 with a 9800 SE. I'm unfamiliar with
    Powercolor, but on Tomshardware alot of benchmarks are roughly
    equivalent between 9600XT and the 9800SE.

    - Which card of the three will give me the best HL2 experience? I
    think the 9800SE, but will that be sufficient?

    Two: I want to run HL2 on a medium setting. Any stuttering or 640x480
    I have no desire to play.

    - Is upgrading my video card -- perhaps higher than 9800 SE if
    necessary -- sufficient to play HL2? Or am I deluding myself regarding
    my 1800+ rig? Is upgrading to a 2400/2600 Athlon xp important?

    If I need a whole system replacement, i'll probably just wait another
    year and get my feet wet late. But if I can upgrade my system for
    $300-400 canadian between now and Christmas I'll do so. I see my video
    card as the obvious weak point, but have concerns about the processor

    Thanks for your comments in advance.
    David J Burns, Nov 5, 2004
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  2. David J Burns

    Mac Cool Guest

    David J Burns:
    I would wait until HL2 is released. There should be some better deals
    available right before Christmas, maybe right after.
    Mac Cool, Nov 5, 2004
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  3. David J Burns

    mhicaoidh Guest

    Taking a moment's reflection, David J Burns mused:
    | My current thinking is I'll try to swap in a used Athlon 2600xp+ 266
    | FSB into the motherboard, upsize my harddrive to 80gb+ 7200rpm, and
    | buy a new ATI video card.

    Bear in mind that I ran Doom 3 at 1024x768 at High settings with
    everything on except shadows on an AMD 1900+, nVidia GF4 Ti4400 (around an
    ATi 9600 equiv.), and 1 GB memory (266 DDR) with no issues at all. Doom 3
    ran and looked great! It also runs Counter-Strike: Source (built on the
    HL2 engine) grand as well. Of course, I have since added an ATi 9800 Pro.

    So, you might want to think about just upgrading your video card. I
    cannot imagine that D3 and HL2 will have too much difference in spec with
    regard to hardware requirements.
    mhicaoidh, Nov 5, 2004
  4. David J Burns

    Firthy Guest

    I have the Powercolor Ultra 9600XT (default 500/680mhz) and absolutely love
    it.. You might want to look into overclocking that cpu, may save yourself
    some dollars there..
    Buy an aftermarket cpu cooler and clock up the cpu, some people are getting
    the XP1800+ up to XP3000+ speeds here in AU, but you wouldnt need to go that
    far, just bump it up a bit..
    Some info on overclocking can be found here:
    I would buy the 9600XT Ultra (make sure it is the ultra Part# R96T-TC3) and
    add another hard-drive and bump up that cpu if it was me....

    Firthy, Nov 5, 2004
  5. David J Burns

    Conor Guest

    Theinquirer.net did a recent test and got over 50FPS in the Video
    Stress Test on an Athlon 2GHz with a Radeon 9800 Pro.
    Conor, Nov 6, 2004
  6. David J Burns

    Inglo Guest

    What resolution? At 1280x1024 w/ no AA my Athlon 2.2 GHz w/ Radeon 9800
    Pro gets 67.8 fps in the stress test.
    Inglo, Nov 6, 2004
  7. David J Burns

    Augustus Guest

    Buy an aftermarket cpu cooler and clock up the cpu, some people are
    Odds are if it's 2+ yrs old it's a Palomino core. They're not the best for
    getting over 1800Mhz or so. A Tbred would have more headroom.
    Augustus, Nov 6, 2004
  8. You're right, its a Palomino. I have little ability to upgrade, aside
    from pushing the FSB ahead a few mhz.

    I'm keeping an eye on eBay for a Thoroughbred 'B' core 266mhz FSB
    chip. Best I can hope for is a 2600, more likely a 2400. But 2400
    overclocked to say 2600+ is still a 50% improvement on my Palomino.
    David J Burns, Nov 6, 2004
  9. This is all good news for me. I struck on eBay and bought a new 9700
    Pro (256bit) for $120 USD...worked out to be about $180 Canadian in
    total and a huge bargain given price in stores here in Toronto. Best
    Buy and Futureshop have the 9600 XT for $299 ~without~ the HL2 coupon.
    9800 Pro retail is about $350. OEMs are a different story, but local
    ma'n'pa shops have limited stock (everyone I call is sold out) and
    I've read some nasty stories of people buying 9800 Pros that are
    actually 128 bit (Sapphires, specifically).

    I figure that although I can't run mind-blowing FPS and resolution, a
    reasonable 1024x768 @ 50 FPS+ is good for me. I figure HL2 will have
    tons of replayability down the road, so ~2 years from now when I build
    another system from scratch it will still be fresh.

    I can't see Valve releasing a game that 90% of the computers on the
    market can't play. Its all a matter of what's tolerable, and I was
    afraid that I was on the low end. Everyone's comments here indicate
    that if I upgrade my videocard alone I should be fine. :)
    David J Burns, Nov 6, 2004
  10. Actually, it was ~exactly~ an Athlon 1800+ that they tested with.
    Thanks for the heads-up about theinquirer.net!


    Looks like they recommended an 9800pro, whereas I got a 9700pro. I'm
    still probably going to boost my ram (512 -> 1gb) and swap out a
    processor for a 2400/2600+ though, so I think I'm set for another two

    Looks like Doom3 is the tougher of the two games on your home rig.
    Between HalfLife2 and CounterStrike:Source I think I'll be set for
    quite awhile. :)
    David J Burns, Nov 6, 2004
  11. David J Burns

    Wblane Guest

    Take the below w/a huge grain of salt. I've got a Athlon 2800 overclocked to
    2350Mhz w/a gig of PC3200 and a 9800 Pro and I CANNOT run Doom3 at high detail,
    2xAA, 8xAF, everything on at 1024x768 unless I want to play a stuttering mess.
    No issues at all my ass.

    -Bill (remove "botizer" to reply via email)
    Wblane, Nov 10, 2004
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