Help me Upgrade my Computer!

I bought a new computer about two years ago. it was an HP Pavilion 8760C (scroll down a bit for the detailed description). It is nice, but I’d like to upgrade a few things- RAM, Video Card, and possibly the processor. It has 126MB RAM, 733 PIII Processor, and 16 MB Video Card currently.

I looked on (which I plan on getting the parts, since I’m a cheap bastard and don’t care if they’re used), and found some amazingly cheap things- particularly this. The guy says it’s new, 512 MB and DIMM (which I understand is a good thing). And under $40. Is this for real? I remember when 256 cards were over $300. The guy has a high rating, so I’d trust him, I guess.

So anyway, is there anything I should know before I start shopping for new parts? I am pretty much hardware challenged, I know that there is a difference between AGP and PCG (or whatever it’s called). I just don’t remember which is better. Why is my computer only expendible up to 768 MB RAM? I can’t just put two 512’s together? Will my computer have any conflicts being old and whatnot?

Oh yeah, if you know of any deals I’d like to know. I have a pretty tight budget. Staples was selling 256 MB RAM cards for $9.95 for the Christmas sale but they were out when I got there. Bait and switch I’m thinking.

Oh yeah, I’m thinking of getting about 512 MB RAM, 64 MB Graphics Card, and a processor of 1.5 GHz or higher. Though I’d take anything decent if it’s a good grab.

The first rule of computer hardware purchase is to decide what software you want to run and then get the hardware that does that.

Please post a description of what you want to do with the computer.

E.g., I am a full bore, total and complete computer geek to the extreme. Therefore I find my 500Mhz processor with 256MB of memory more than adequate to do what I want to do for the foreseeable future. I.e., the software I run doesn’t need any more than that.

Ok, I plan on playing games on it, which may or may not include online games (but probably will). I have a Cable modem. I’d expect my computer to handle any game that comes out for a while. Other than that, nothing special- IE, Word, Kazaa, Winamp, etc. I’d be running Windows XP, which I’ve noticed sucks up a lot more RAM than 98 did, and makes other programs really slow.

Oh yea, and I need a new fan. Mine makes funny noises :()

Well… if this is what you want, then chances are you’re gonna need a new motherboard. And if you’re gonne get a new motherboard, you’re probably gonna need to reinstall your operating system, or (if you have Windows XP) run “Repair your Windows Installation” after upgrading everything.

Unless you’re planning on having a company do the task for you.

Anyway, I’d recommend an Athlon processor. has some pretty good proc/motherboard deals, such as a Athlon XP 1700+ processor, motherboard, and fan/heatsink for under a hundred bucks. If you’re on a tight budget, Athlon is the way to go.

Pricewatch also has some good deals on RAM. 512 mb of PC-133 RAM from PNY (skip the Generic and House Brands) can be had for $52.

Finally, video card. Plan on doing any gaming? If not, try to find a motherboard (above) that has built-in video. If so, then I’d recommend at least a GeForce 3… you can pick one of those up for around $80. Or you can splurge for a GeForce 4 Ti4200 ($110) or a Radeon 9000 ('bout $85… but I don’t know how good the ATI cards are these days, and I’ve had some crappy experiences with them in the past… I’d recommend the GeForce).

Well, before you get RAM and a new processor, make sure that you get the right kind. You have a pIII, so you probably need another PIII, since I think PIV uses a different slot type. Also, check what type of memory your motherboard uses…I think it will most likely be PC133, but it might be something else.

Oh, and it doesn’t look like the HP you have uses a built in video card, but if it does, then you might have to disable it somehow, usually in the BIOS, though if you’re unluckey, it will be a jumper setting on the mother-board.

Memory - you’ll want to make certain what you buy is compatible with your system, in this case SDRAM. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I think on this system you can only install RAM modules up to 256MB (i.e. you have 3 memory slots, and the montherboard/BIOS will only recognize 256MB modules and below. Thus, 3 slots x 256MB = 768MB, your PC’s maximum RAM). The 512MB module might or might not work at all. If it does, your system would probably only recognize the first 256MB anyway.

Processor - I remember in the Pentium I/II/III days each processor class has a different type of motherboard slot, so to upgrade to a new class you had to buy a new motherboard. I am not familiar with the P4 slot, so I can’t really give specific advice. My inclination is to tell you to find the fastest PIII processor you can as an upgrade, otherwise you’ll have to buy a new motherboard. Motherboard upgrades are serious work though - I’ve always had to reload the operating system to get things working properly (but this was in the Win98 days, so maybe things are better now…?) :confused:

Video Card - If you stick with your current motherboard, make certain the new video card you purchase is AGP, since that’s what your motherboard can handle. If you upgrade the motherboard and it has a different video card slot (I’m assuming there’s something faster than AGP by now), then buy whatever that motherboard will handle.

I just bought a whole computer instead. It’s actually cheaper these days if you consider in the cost of a new operating system & a cpu.

I usually use to find out what dell has for sale these days. But Staples also is trying to be competitive:
"Hi-end HP Desktop Deal, Feb 9

Staples has a good deal if you want an AMD Athlon Based HP Pavilion Desktop. $200 off instant coupon. $1 48xCDRW on AMD systems.

HP 774E AMD XP 2400+, 128MB DDR/40GB, 48x CD, Ethernet, Polk Speakers, 56k modem, Corel Wordperfect, XP Home $507 + $75 shipping - $200 off coupon: 34573 -= $382. Exp 4/12 USB2, 1394 Firewire ports."

That seems pretty reasonable, since there is also another $30 off on $300 coupon at = $332. plus tax.

Yeah, it’s called AGP 4x. Seriously, AGP is still, and probably will be for a while, industry standard and just about the only one you can buy right now.