sprucin up the ol' computer

Well I have slowly come to the realization over time that my computer lacks a certain something. And by lacks I mean it sucks. So basically I have beent thinking about, instead of pitching it, trying to save money by upgrading. I curently have a voodoo 3, a pentium 2, and 126 mb of ram. What I have been thinking of doing is replacing the voodoo 3 with a ATI RADEON 9600 PRO and the pentium 2 with aAMD Athlon XP 2500. This has spawned 3 questions. 1. Will upgrading these three parts really make a difference. 2. Will this allow me to play semi advanced game (BF 1942, Call of duty, and (dare I hope) Half life 2.) I don’t need the best graphics and 60 fps, just something playable. and finally 3. Should this be done by a professional or can I, A semi-knowledgable person about computers (or so I delude myself) be able to do it (most likely with some help) Thank you in advance.

I’m afraid your delusion is nigh complete if you think you can just pop an Athlon XP into that old Pentium 2 motherboard.

No, my friend, you have only one option if you are looking for increased performance: A new computer.

It sounds like your plan would involve the replacement of:

  • video card (part of the plan)
  • motherboard (to accomodate new CPU)
  • RAM (you’ll need new DDR DIMMs for your new Athlon motherboard)
  • CPU (part of the plan)
  • Power supply (New voltage setup and new connectors required for Pentium IV/Athlon motherboards, and the new Radeons require a LOT of power)
  • (maybe) case (in case new power supply and/or motherboard don’t fit in the old one, and for better cooling than your PII ever needed)

At this point, the most valuable thing you’re keeping from your old system is probably the monitor. Monitors have become awfully cheap, though.

It sounds to me like you might be better served buying a new machine, and having two useful (for office applications, at least) systems for your money, rather than one very expensive “frankenputer” with a dim old monitor, slow CD-ROM, and dinky old hard disk.

However, maybe the best thing to do is to ask this question in a specialty forum, like at AnandTech, Sharky Extreme, HardOCP, or someplace similar.

Not so fast.

Find out the exact motherboard you have and then go to their website and determine the best processor that you can install on it.
If you have a 500MHZ chip and the board can handle a 900MHZ chip, that may be all you need to do. You can upgrade the memory inexpensively. Upgrading the video card is pretty easy too. Consider a new Power Supply and a better CPU fan also.

A 900MHZ machine with 512 megs of RAM and a 128 Meg video card is still a decent machine. Still cheaper than buying a new bare bones system.

I agree with whuckfistle - check your motherboard to see which CPU it will support. A P2 board is usually Slot 1 and the fastest possible CPU would be a Pentium III @ 1Ghz, but many P2 boards only support up to 600Mhz or so. PIII CPUs can still be had on eBay and such, but they may cost a bit more than new CPUs - I just saw a 850Mhz for $150 and a 1Ghz for $200.

Memory is easy to upgrade - again, make sure you have the right type. You can try 256MB as it is good enough for most applications.

I would say a pretty good knowledge of computer hardware is necessary for the CPU upgrade. You may have to play with jumpers and the BIOS, and the video card will need drivers installed.

Just FYI, Battlefield: 1942 requires approximately 512MB of RAM for proper performance in singleplayer. I suppose it would probably be playable with 384MB, but it definitely won’t be with 256MB.

I disagree with whuckfistle. Battlefield is a fairly CPU intensive game, and Half-Life 2 looks like you’re gonna need cutting edge stuff just to get a half-decent frame rate.

I had basically your computer (heck, still do). I looked into upgrading it 2 years ago, and found that for pocket change ($35 IIRC) I could max-out the CPU (a blazing fast K6-2 500 instead of that dinky 300). Any other upgrade was just a waste of $$$. (Especially if the end result was to play games, which for me it was not).

Your computer is old enough that you can likely get “upgrades” for it 2nd hand. I’d save the big $$$ for an actual gaming rig, and perhaps save the one you’ve got for surfing, checking e-mail etc.

Another thing to consider: does the current motherboard have an AGP slot? If not, you’d have to upgrade the motherboard anyway if you wanted to use a decent (well, by today’s standards anyway) video card.

For the record, the recommended system requirement for Battlefield: 1942 is:

* 800 MHz or faster Intel Pentium III or AMD Athlon processor
* 256 MB or more RAM
* 16x or faster CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive
* 1.2 GB free hard disk space plus space for saved games
* 64 MB or greater video card which supports Transform & Lighting
* Environmental Audio™ capable sound card

Obviously, more MHZ and more MB = better performance, but if Tallayan’s motherboard can accept a 900Mhz or 1Ghz CPU and a decent video card, he should be able to play BF 1942. Of course, it may be actually cheaper to buy a new AMD motherboard w/CPU than buying a PIII CPU, but that would mean rebuilding an entire system (reinstalling OS, drivers, etc.)

BTW, K6-2s (Socket 7) are maxed at 550Mhz, but the Slot 1 (P2/P3) extends to 1Ghz, provided the MB has the right chipset and BIOS.

I think the chances of a PII mobo supporting a 1Gig PIII are just about nil.

Tallayan - if you still want upgrade info you could post more specs, but personally my answer is gonna be the same.

      • As I have seen it, the recommended specs for a game are what you want to run it at max resolution and framerate. Which is nice if you can do it, but isn’t strictly necessary.
  • Anyway, your PC is too old to upgrade, and anything you can add won’t help much. Assuming you can get an OS disk to install from, save up $300 or so and go buy a barebones system from a reputable online-retailer that will have a 2Ghz+ cpu, a 266Mhz+ fsb and at least 256 megs of higher-speed memory, plus a decent videocard, case+power supply, keyboard, and yet other stuff included too.
  • If, as an exercise, you just want to upgrade your current PC, one place I highly recommend looking for parts is (Package2You.com) – seconds and close-outs, dirt cheap. The merchandise works and if they say it’s new it is, but much of this stuff is close-outs because nobody wanted it, so it’s wise to look up reviews of the merchandise before you lay your money down.

Actually that’s seldom true.

The minimum specs are usually the BARE minimum to get the game running, and you’re bound to experience slow downs, poor response, etc.

The recommended will usually run the game ok. But it almost always will NOT run the game with everything and at high resolution.

I can tell you right now BF1942 will perform alright in a multi-player environment wunning windows XP with their recommended system.

However, you’ll be missing DX8 visual effects, will have to turn down the realism options as well as shadows, and will probably have to play at 800x600 resolution to get decent performance.

Go get yourself a complete new system.

If you want to play those games, you need a new computer.