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Upgrading Old Computers Under $350

upgrading-old-computers-under-350

Warning:  Random post, but this may benefit those trying to upgrade old machines as cheaply and effectively as possible.

Story:  In 2006, I had two very old computers, in fact they are still old.  “Whiplash” was a custom build running a P5B Deluxe MB (533 – 1067 Mhz FSB), X1800 GTO video card (PCI 2.0), Pentium D 2.67 LGA 775 (Overclocked to 3.4Ghtz), 2 GB DDR2-5300 667Mhz RAM, 180GB 7200RPM HD, and a 500W power supply (Combined with a heater, I could throw a circuit breaker in a room, thanks to the X1800 needing 450W alone)  “Goldfish” was an older computer, stock with a PTGD1-LA “Goldfish” MB (533 Mhz FSB), X300 128 MB Video Card (AGP), 1 GB of DDR-3200 400 Mhz RAM, 200 GB 5400 RPM HD, and a 400W power supply.   Time took it’s toll, as well as other unfortunate experiments and incidents that rendered them inactive (The reason they could not be used was because the HD’s kept crashing)

Now:  I need slave computers to handle 3d rendering and calculations, and if I just ordered the hard drives, they would take probably weeks to complete a render with the out-dated technology.  Plus, the power supply in “Whiplash” died, and was replaced with a 420W power unit.  So I began my research to bring them up to par as effectively and cheaply as possible.

Problems:   “Goldfish” is SO OLD that it will become unstable for any CPU above 533 Mhz FSB.  “Whiplash” is so flexible, even to this day, that I could easily go overboard with a CPU and video card.

Upgrades:  “Goldfish” is receiving a Nvidia GT 620 1GB GDDR3 (PCI 2.0) video card and a Seagate 160GB 7200RPM hard drive.  “Whiplash” is receiving a Nvidia GT 620 2GB GDDR3 (PCI 2.0) video card, a Pentium quad core Q6600 (2.4 Ghz 1066 Mhz FSB), and a Seagate 160GB 7200RPM hard drive.  They will be linked by a USB KVM switch to a single monitor.

Specs:  (From www.passmark.com)
Using their “Passmark Mark” (Higher is better) and the “Rating” format (Lower is better)
“Goldfish”
BEFORE
                       CPU:  Pentium 4 2.93 Ghtz                      327 / 1537
                       Video Card:  ATI X300 SE 128MB         28/587

AFTER
                       CPU:  Pentium 4 2.93 Ghtz                      327 / 1537
                       Video Card:  Nvidia GT 620 1GB            433 / 271     (405 / 316 Improvement)

“Whiplash”
BEFORE
                       CPU:  Pentium D 2.66 Ghtz                     549 / 1294
                       Video Card:  ATI X1800 GTO 512MB   145 / 416

AFTER
                       CPU:  Pentium Quad Q6600 2.4 Ghtz   2968 / 436  (2419 / 858 Improvement)
                       Video Card:  Nvidia GT 620 2GB             433 / 271     (288 / 145 Improvement)

Cost:   (www.amazon.com)
Pentium Quad 6600 2.4 Ghtz                                $116.20
Nvidia GT 620 2GB video card                              $62.79 (I bought the last one.  Sorry!)
Nvidia GT 620 1GB video card                              $47.85
2x Seagate 160GB 7200RPM hard drives          $72.98
USB KVM                                                                    $23.99
Total:                                                                          $323.81

Savings:  You don’t have to buy a new MB or a new monitor thanks to the KVM switch, nor do you have to go all out for the CPU and video cards.  I did do a good search of my garage and found some compatible RAM for each machine, doubling the amount of RAM.   Also a huge amount of power cords and adaptors and such.    Power supplies were adequate for the two video cards (Each needing 350W), and I made SURE to read up on the video card power requirements (I was about to stick the X1800, which required 450W, into “Goldfish” which houses a 400W power supply to shave more costs….)  So all in all, this saved me about $1000 – $2000 for both computers.   (The p5B Deluxe motherboard is very flexible, even to today’s standards because it supports water cooling and quad cores at 1333Mhz FSB with a proper BIOS update)

Note:  These are “slave” builds, all they will do is render so that my main machine can breathe.  They are not expected to be gaming machines.  My primary machine, “Red Queen” handles all the creation, editing, and preparation process, then hands the files off to one of the two slaves to be rendered.  She also doubles as a gaming machine.

Trivia:  The PTGD1-LA mother board came in three variations:  Goldfish, Grouper, and Puffer.  Since I have the “Goldfish” version, it was a fitting name.

Any questions?  Comments?  Critiques?  Advice?  Coupons?  Change?  Comment below!


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