Help me decide what to upgrade next

I’m not neccesarily unsatisfied about my computer, but I almost always think about what I’m going to buy next after I’ve upgraded a part. Soon I’ll start saving for my next upgrade, so what would YOU buy next? (I’m leaning towards RAM or sound card right now.)
I use my PC mainly for gaming (that and chatting and browsing here, but that’s about the least taxing thing you can do).
1.67Ghz Athlon XP
512MB Ram
ATI 9200 Pro (256MB Ram)
40GB and 30GB HD
48x16x16 CD-RW
Creative AudioPCI sound card

For gaming, it’s time to upgrade that graphics card. get yourself a Radeon 9600 / GeForce FX 5700 or Radeon 9800 / GeForce 5950 as budget permits.

Do be aware that it’s all change more than usual in the computer industry: AGP and PCI are on the way out, being replaced by PCI Express, so I wouldn’s spend too much money. And then there’s the moves to 64-bit and SATA.

So plan on a stop-gap upgrade, not a major one, this time around, and get yourself a shiny new one this time next year.

X800. I’m the same way. As soon as I build a new computer, I’m already looking at what to upgrade. QTS said it best. I’d wait and buy the new stuff. 64 bit processors, new 64 bit XP coming, PCI Express is showing some promise. Although PCI Express cards are friggin expensive, they do seem to be the new standard. X800 will last you long enough until the price of them comes down. The PCI Express version of the x800 is $580, depending on where of course, and the performance wasn’t that much better.

I agree with qts, a video card upgrade would give you the best increase right now. A Radeon 9600 Pro will be a good speed increase, and cost about $110. For around $200, you can pick a up a Radeon 9800 Pro, which will give you a huge speed increase. Just make sure not to buy a card made by Powercolor.

The next best upgrade would be your RAM - another 512mb stick would cost $75(make sure to get a good brand like Corsair or Crucial), and would make gameplay move smoother, as modern games are starting to bloat up on RAM use - when I upgraded from 512 to a full gig, load times in Doom 3 & BF 1942 noticebly decreased.

Your processor is alright for now - I have the same CPU, along with a gig of RAM, and a GeforceFX 5900 that I got when my Geforce 4 Ti 4600 died.(I was going to get Radeon 9800 Pro, but I managed to get the 5900 on sale, and it works well enough, even if it is a bit slower.) Depending on your motherboard/how good your RAM is, you may be able to buy a
Mobile AthlonXP. Note that these chips are known to overclock like nobodies business, many people are pushing the 1.83ghz chips up to 2.3-2.6ghz on air cooling without any stability problems. Not bad for a $85 processor.

The other relatively cheap CPU upgrade option would be to buy a Socket 754 for about a $100, and then drop in an Athlon 64 - $140 for the 2800 model, $165 for the 3000 model, or $120 for the Sempron 3100 budget chip, which works in the same motherboard as the Athlon 64, but lacks the 64 bit instructions. Still the gaming performance is pretty good - The Sempron 3100+ runs even with 3ghz Prescott or a 3.2ghz Northwood core Pentium 4 in Doom 3.

Anyways, my machine can run Doom 3 with High Details@1024x768 nicely enough, though with a little stutter in combat, due to the CPU showing its age. For $275 dollars you could get a Radeon 9800 Pro & another 512mb RAM, you would be able to play all the new games pretty well at good resolution.