Saturday, February 14, 2009

Upgrading On A Budget

For the past several months I've been looking at parts to replace an existing PC that was beginning to show some age. Being the geek I am I'm always looking for the best overall price to performance, which often times leaves me waiting until I can get an extremely hot price on my parts. This weekend the planets align just right and I found myself with the opportunity to buy some extremely budget friendly components that will make the most out of my money.

When upgrading I always consider what I've got that can be reused, what I need to replace and what my overall budget will be. In this case I wanted to limit myself to spending $120 max. I'm not looking to upgrade to a high end gaming machine. I'm only looking at add the best parts for the money. I'll be reusing several of my old parts including my power supply, video card, case and drives. Had I not had a decent power supply and a great video card I would have needed to factor this in and increased my budget accordingly.

The old rig:
As you can see for day to computing this PC has plenty of power. The dual core 3800+ has a slight overclock on it so its running at 2.3ghz which makes it plenty fast for most of the things I do and 1.75GBs of RAM is more than enough for most tasks. Unfortunatly I've noticed a slight slow down when doing some heavy multitasking. The easy fix would be adding more memory but the price for DDR just doesn't make it worth it. Besides I'm ready to hand this one down to someone else in need.

I'll actually be using the old rig to replace and aging Athlon Socket A machine my mom has been using fir several years. This rig should run everything she can throw at it and more.

The new parts:
The price on the CPU was really the catalyst that got this build flowing. The E5200 is by far the best performing chip in its price range. With a decent board and some good cooling the chip can easily be overclocked to perform at or above the level of much higher priced chips. The chip is regularly $73 shipped for the retail version so I was saving $20 right off the bat, a deal I just couldn't pass on.

The heatsink/fan and motherboard were open box items at Newegg, both with considerable savings. Usually I'm skeptical of open box. reconditioned or refurbished items. But I know Newegg and they have an outstanding policy of backing items. Even open box deals.

The prices were $13 for the heatsink (regularly $37), $49.99 for the board (regularly $97). As you can see those prices are very nice and even though I had to pay shipping I still came in well under the best prices I could find anywhere else.

The memory I bought late last year when it was free after mail in rebate, I think the cost after shipping was something like $2, I'm still waiting on the rebate but it's in the works. I've had the RAM sitting in the closet waiting to be used. I've also got 2gigs of Corsair XMS sitting in there that I might add in just to see how much extra performance I get. I the XMS last year as well when it was at a great price.

My total cost for the parts I didn't have was $135.84. As mentioned originally I had set myself with a budget of about $110-120 so as you can see I'm a little over budget. The trade off is I get a much better motherboard and better cooling than I would have gotten had I gone with cheaper parts. There were two or three boards priced $15-20 cheaper however I hope the board I got equates to better overclocking which will give me a better price to performance ratio.

My new parts should arive some time next week. Between now and then I'll try to run some benchmarks on the old rig so we can get a comparison to the new rig and see just how much my upgrades were really worth.

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