Want to Upgrade Old Computer..Seeking Opinions



Hi to all that read frequent this great website,
I am a Canadian living in Mexico. I have been using the same old computer since '99. It is only an Asus motherboard with P3 500mhz 440 Intel CPU. 768 Megs of ram. Using dual boot (Win2000 Pro and WinXP Pro.)
I will be going to Canada in a few weeks & will buy a new computer while I am there. Prices of computers & parts in Mexico are out of control!
I am looking for opinions & advice that will help me with a decision based on recommendations & experiences.

I just bought a Plextor 708a. Have burned 5 DVDs using DVDIdle & CloneDVD so far. The burner is connected to my computer via an external enclosure using a USB2.0 connection. Amazingly…I have not made a coaster as of yet.
Plextor recommends at a minimum of a 700Mhz computer.
The rip to burn procedure has been completed in approx. 40 minutes in XP, but close to 4 hours using Win2K. Don’t understand why…but that’s another story.
I don’t know what to expect with a 2.5 to 3.2GIG computer.

I would appreciate input…as far as Motherboards, Processors, Video Cards, Soundcards, Ram and anything else you can think of that will help with my purchase.
I will use this computer for ripping & burning & computer graphics only.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to read my post and for any help you can provide.

All the best,


Hi there!

Ah Canadian eh? I just love Canada (I was made there, though I am 100% Dutch).

Anyhow… you say your want to use your system for computer graphics… what do you mean with that? Games? Image editing? Viewing photo’s? There’s quite a difference in that :).

Any modern system should be perfect for burning and ripping at full speed, no matter if it’s a 2 or 3Ghz system!

What is your budget if I may ask? It’s kind of hard to make up a system without a price in mind :).

Are you into any special things like overclocking, extreme cooling etc? I guess not, but I just ask, as you’ll never know…

What soundcards are concerned: if you don’t have any very special wishes, an onboard soundcard would be just fine. RAM? Just take PC3200 now for any CPU. If you want a slightly better performance, go with CL 2.0 memory. This usually costs a little more (up to €50 more a 512MB module).
CPU and mainboard? As I said, it depends on your needs. I am a faithful AMD user. Not that there’s anything wrong with Intel, though I have my reasons to prefer AMD over Intel. Do you have any preferences are you fine with both?

Well as you can see, there’s lots too tell, but we actually need some more information to help you out the best we can. So I guess you know what do to next… :wink:


Two very important questions

What is your budget?

What will you mainly be using your computer for?


Hi again,
Thanks for the quick replys!
Ok…A little more info on my needs. I do not use computer games. I use Adobe Photoshop and Premier and Illustrator. I will be editing movies of tourists visiting here on vacation. I also edit TV shows, movies…etc. Also to be used for Video format conversions.
Other than that…I will use the new computer for ripping & burning.
My old computer will serve well for word processing and most other applications, as well as a great system to back-up data.
I now have 2 80GIG & 2 40GIG Hard Drives full of data that are not installed in a tower. I have been using my external box to back-up with Powerquest Drive Image.
It will be much more convenient to network the 2 computers. Speed is not important to me…as far as backing up.

Dee-ehn…after reading your very informative post comparing AMD & Intel, I think I will have to go with Intel for 2 reasons.

  1. My use of many Adobe products.
  2. Less of a chance of an overheating problem. I live in Mexico. Although it is always summer to me living here…the summer months here are extremely hot.
    As I am FAR from being a hardware wizard, and I will have to bring back the components I buy as computer parts (due to import duties in Mexico), I will have to put the computer together here. There was mention in your article about heatsink being installed correctly. I do not feel confident enough with my lack of hardware expertise. I do not want to make a mistake, as I only visit Canada every year or so now.

Does anyone have any opinions of the newer Asus Motherboard products…or can I do better for my $$?
My old Asus 3B-F with 440BX 500Mhz computer has served me well. As said, bought in '99 and still running.

As far as the amount of money I feel comfortable spending…it would be $700 - $800USD
for a Motherboard, CPU, Soundcard, Videocard and other things I may have to put in the tower. Also a tower to house these items. We only have dial-up where I live…so a modem is not a concern. I have an external modem, therefore can move it to the new computer if I want to.
I already have another monitor, keyboard & mouse. Don’t need to purchase those. I just want a new fast box of components.

I have never overclocked…so I don’t know if I would do this, considering the hot climate here.

Considering, that I have been using this slow, old computer to do all the tasks including burning DVDs now (less than 2 weeks of owning the Plextor 708a) and using this computer to burn 100% (no coasters), anything will be an improvement…but seeing as I am going to buy a new system, I might as well buy something very fast.

Thanks in advance for any more advice & opinions anyone can provide.

Best regards,

  1. If you’re looking at Athlon 64 it’ll probably be a bit faster.
  2. You do know that P4 actually dispatches more heat than AMD XP right?

Mainboard: Foxconn 755A01-6EKRS - A nicely priced mainboard offering high-end performance, SATA, Firewire and Gigabit LAN.

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3000+
Memory: Perferably 2 sticks of branded (Corsair,Kingston,Crucial, Samsung etc) PC3200 CAS 2.5 512Mb - Stay away from PQI.
Videocard: ATi (Powercolor as an example) Radeon 9800SE (256-bit) or better
HDD (if needed): Hitachi Deskstar 7K250 160Gb 8Mb cache (IDE/SATA flavour)
Case: Chieftec/Aopen etc (at least 350W (branded PSUI))


HiJinx: thanks for reading my article. Just one little thing: it’s getting outdated. I’m currently working on a huge update, as quite some things have changed of the last few months. One of the biggest changes is (of course) the AMD 64 bit line and the P4 EE line of CPUs. Intel CPU’s always were a step ahead when it came to working with Adobe products. The main reason for this was tht Adobe made darn good use of the built-in optimizations of the P4 (SSE 1 and 2). With the 64bit version of the AMD CPUs, SSE2 has also become AMD’s terrain. And yes, this is very noticable. The differences between the different CPUs have become much smaller. Depending on the multimedia (rendering, encoding and all the other stuff that Adobe products do) benchmark you run, one of them is the fastest. With the 64bit version of Windows in mind, getting an Athlon 64 wouldn’t be a bad choice after all. As soon as these 64bit instruction set is fully supported (Adobe already announced they will implement this optimization), you can expect quite a nice performance boost for zero cost!
When it comes to heat, you shouldn’t worry. The current Athlon XP CPUs run at temperatures about equivalent to P4 CPUs and the 64 bit version is way cooler. I have an Athlon 64 3000+ CPU. At full load it runs at only 39C (room temperature 25-30C, CPU fan set to slowest = 2000rpm). The newer P4 CPUs generate more heat than that…

Of course, Intel CPUs aren’t a bad choice. There’s nothing wrong with their quality and their performance is pretty good nowadays… it’s just that you pay some more money for the same performance (and you don’t get any additional quality or so for that) and AMD has the 64bit CPU, which will run even faster as soon as XP 64bit is ready (Linux 64bit is ready and it rocks!).

BTW, overclocking can be done quite nicely on many CPUs nowadays. Especially if you buy slower CPUs, as they are in fact rebadged faster CPUs. A Barton 2600+ CPU doesn’t have any problem to run at 3200+ with stock cooling etc etc…

BTW2, as you are into video editing, I’d consider a mainboard with onboard RAID controller. If you make a RAID array (0, 5 or 0+1 would be best for you) you can get much more performance out of your IDE harddisks. Especially when making use of fast drives (did I say WD Raptor?).

Hope this helps a little :slight_smile:


There goes his budget!! :iagree:


New egg

Abit IA7 99
2.4C 170
Kingston ValueRAM Dual Channel Kit 184 Pin 1G(512MBx2) DDR PC-3200 – Retail 198


@ Sorondil
Your system will be a lot slower than the one presented above based on AMD Athlon 64 which is within the budget.

@ Dee-ehn
Using RAID seriously requires a good controller card that supports RAID (3ware/LSI etc) which is way out of the league in this case. RAID 1 and 5 aren’t fast (especially 5) and I don’t see any benefit using those for video editing. RAID 0 on the other hand is fast due to striping although it’s not necessary since hdd’s such as 7K250 series reads about from 30Mb/s to 60Mb/s (avg is around 50Mb/s) which utilizes the PCI-buss about 50% and there’s more running on it than just an IDE-controller and keep in mind that they are software based.
The Raptor series are fast but they’re ridiculously priced and you need more space than 36Gb or 72Gb to edit.
Regarding overclocking, don’t ever consider that CPU Y will clock at X Mhz. That’s plain stupid, if you get a CPU from a bad batch you’ll be happy if it makes 100Mhz above specified frequency for instance.


Yes, hardware RAID controllers give better performance, but even with the cheap raid controllers there’s a nice gain in performance. As motherboards with onboard RAID controller aren’t much more expensive than boards without them, it seems to be a very good investment to me.

RAID 5 need a good controller to be really fast (cheap controllers eat too much CPU cycles). RAID 1 isn’t fast, but RAID 0+1 is. Problem is that it requires 4 disks (at least).

Yes they are expensive, but I find them worth the money: they are very fast, still pretty quiet and they come with 5 years of warranty (most disks only have 1 year).

Regarding the space… depends on what you do; I used to do video editing on my 45Gb disk and I had more than enough room… one hour of DV video costs about 12Gb I believe, so with 74Gb you can fit quite some video on the harddisk. Should be enough for most people… not?

Wel there is such a thing as core revisions and stepping. There’s never a garantuee, but due to the massive amount of overclockers on the internet, it’s quite easy to find what cores can be overclocked pretty good and what cores can’t. There’s no garantuee, but I do know that succes rates up to 90% (or even more) are very common… just make shure you have the right core!