I’ve got an almost-6-year old Alienware as my primary Windows box. It’s been a real trooper, and I’ve had no significant problems with it. It’s starting to get a little long in the tooth, though, and I’m torn between scrapping it for a new box, building my own new box, or making some upgrades to this one. Here’s the current critical components:
[li]ASUS P4C800-E motherboard[/li][li]Intel Pentium 4, 3.0 GHz processor[/li][li]2 GB DDRAM TWINX 2048-3200PT RT (thought I had more; I’m going to have to look at that more)[/li][li]Radeon X1600 Pro 512MB AGP Video Card (upgrade from original)[/li][li]Creative SB Audigy 2 ZS Sound Card[/li][li]420 Watt Power Supply[/li][li]Seagate Barracude 120GB Serial ATA hard drive[/li][li]Second 128 GB hard drive (can’t remember detail; I pulled it out of another computer)[/li][/ul]All this is housed in a standard Alienware Area-51 full tower case.
I’m not exactly a power user. For the most part it’s a web-surfing, letter-writing, Quicken-running occasional game-running machine. As for the games, I tend to be a couple of years behind the curve. I haven’t finished Halo 2 yet (partially because the machine seems to be limping along on this), and I still haven’t started Half-Life 2. I like FPSs, but I don’t spend a lot of time playing games, so I tend to pick them up cheap a while after they become popular.
The last time I priced out some components, the difference between build-my-own and buy pre-made wasn’t as significant as it used to be so I’m leaning toward Frankensteining what I’ve got now.
To me, the obvious places to start are the motherboard/CPU combo, RAM, and video card. Unfortunately, every time I start looking at new components, I get completely overwhelmed by the different CPU/motherboard combos and I determine to limp along for a little while more.
So my first question is, based on the motherboard I’ve got in there now, will the case accommodate modern motherboards (I assume it will). Assuming I want something current that I can get a few years of use out of, but not necessarily bleeding-edge, anyone have recommendations?
I assume that once I settle on a motherboard/CPU, I will be better able to focus my attention on the other components and they’ll start to fall into place. Maybe I’ll be back to ask for more help once I get there, but let’s focus on the brains of the box first. I’ve replaced/installed virtually every component in a PC over the years (except the motherboard) so I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty (provided soldering’s not involved). I’m just behind the times on CPU technology.
So, anyone want to toss out some suggestions?