Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Computer upgrade?

  1. Jun 27, 2007 #1
    I am thinking of upgrading my PC. What parts should I buy? I currently have an old one from 2000. So probably need to upgrade every component? Probably best to buy a whole new box (with all new components)? Currently I have 731MHz, 128MB and 20Gigs.


    If you want an upgrade on hard drive space but would like to keep your old files, how would you do it? I like to have an upgrade but keep all the current settings, programs, files etc.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 27, 2007 #2

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    If your computer is from 2000, you probably don't want to keep all your old settings, just your old files. Besides, if you upgrade enough components, it becomes impossible for windows to deal with so many hardware changes.

    Anyway, we need a budget and a goal. Are you a gamer, for example?
     
  4. Jun 27, 2007 #3

    FredGarvin

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I've done this a few times now. The first thing to ask yourself is: Do you need anything special in your computer set up? If the answer is no, then you are most likely better off just buying a new computer. It's definitely easier to do and it is quicker to get back up and running.

    If you decide you want something special, or just even want to learn more about what goes into a computer and makes it tick, then upgrading is kind of fun...and a bit frustrating.

    In your case, you'll have to look at a new motherboard, new processor, new video card, new power supply, new RAM, an extra hard drive and a new case. The new motherboard, processor, RAM and HD are no brainers as to why you need them. The new PS and case were a surprise to me the first time I did it. Older cases will not house newer motherboards without some serious modifications, plus you'll probably end up hacking it up anyways. So $50 or so for a new case is not a bad thing to make life easier for you. The new PS is because of the higher power requirements. PS's are pretty inexpensive though, maybe another $50 or so.

    Considering the cost of the equipment and the time you'll put into this, you may just want to consider that off the shelf box.

    Like Russ asked...what's your criteria for your box?
     
  5. Jun 27, 2007 #4
    I do have windows XP on it, although not a gamer. I'm just looking for a faster computer to do everyday things, nothing special. So all I need is to buy a new box and insert my old hard drive into this new box to get my old computer back with the upgraded features? Would everything else be the same as before like background settings etc?
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2007
  6. Jun 27, 2007 #5
    it also helps a lot to know what you have now to get an idea of what's upgradable (or worth upgrading).

    Unless you're only upgrading a couple of components, it's probably cheaper to go with a new system though. You won't want to just put your old drive into a new system to boot off though. Hardware changes and driver differences will likely make the system unbootable. Use the old hard drive as secondary storage instead.
     
  7. Jun 27, 2007 #6

    FredGarvin

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I don't know...I upgraded my motherboard, processor, RAM and video card at once and kept my old drives. Nothing changed and the process went pretty smoothly. I booted off my old drive like had always done. Perhaps I was just lucky. I don't know.
     
  8. Jun 27, 2007 #7
    That is what I was thinking, having two hard drives, the new one and the old one. Not the old one alone. If I did that than would it retain all the features of my old computer except with everything upgraded?
     
  9. Jun 27, 2007 #8

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Generally, booting a new computer off an old drive is a bad idea. It really requires a fresh installation of the operating system. If nothing else, your new computer is virtually guaranteed to be a multi-core and if you don't install windows fresh you won't be using the extra core.

    Yeah, Fred, you got lucky.
     
  10. Jun 27, 2007 #9
    No, you'll have a new system. the data will be available on your old hard drive, but you'll need to reinstall all the software you were using before.
     
  11. Jun 27, 2007 #10
    So it's the case that the major users using many different programs will find it the most inconveinent but need the upgrade the most. Whereas people like me will find it not as inconvienent as we don't use many different programs but also don't need the upgrade as much. I might just retain my original computer as it is. It's a bit slow compared to most computers these days but still useable. The pauses are noticeable but not too long when loading between programs. The major reason why I want an upgrade is to reduce the pausing time but that isn't a very good reason for an upgrade is it?
     
  12. Jun 28, 2007 #11

    FredGarvin

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Are you maxed out on RAM? If you can add more that would definitely help you out and it is very easy to install. I didn't realize that XP could run on 128 megs.
     
  13. Jun 28, 2007 #12

    robphy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/upgrading/sysreqs.mspx
    says:
    Here's What You Need to Use Windows XP Professional
    • PC with 300 megahertz or higher processor clock speed recommended; 233 MHz minimum required (single or dual processor system);* Intel Pentium/Celeron family, or AMD K6/Athlon/Duron family, or compatible processor recommended
    • 128 megabytes (MB) of RAM or higher recommended (64 MB minimum supported; may limit performance and some features)
    • 1.5 gigabytes (GB) of available hard disk space*
    • Super VGA (800 x 600) or higher-resolution video adapter and monitor
    • CD-ROM or DVD drive
    • Keyboard and Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device
     
  14. Jun 28, 2007 #13
    What would adding more RAM help out in? I am short on RAM but don't really need to install any more programs. Would it make the computer go faster?
     
  15. Jun 28, 2007 #14

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    When your computer "runs out" of ram, it uses the hard drive to pretend it is ram - at 1/1000th of the speed of ram. It makes an enormous difference if you have that condition.

    If you hit ctl+alt+del and go to the "performance" tab, it'll tell you what your ram situation looks like. With 128 megs of ram, I can pretty much guarantee you though that you are using a lot of virtual memory (paging file). It requires about double that just to boot up.
     
  16. Jun 28, 2007 #15
    I actually first intepreted memory as memory in the form of gigs. I am low on that but it won't make my computer faster by adding more of that?

    Here is my performance situation in the paint file. I have only the webbrowser open at the time. How does it look?
     

    Attached Files:

    • ram.GIF
      ram.GIF
      File size:
      26.8 KB
      Views:
      50
  17. Jun 29, 2007 #16
    First off: My old computer is a 500 mhz AMD K6-2 with a 3dfx voodoo 3000 video card and an old soundblaster card. I have swapped the hard drives out back and forth between that machine and my 2.4ghz P4 with 0 problems. Windows XP is extremely versatile. I would not attempt this with Windows 98 though. lol.

    Second: It is not worth "upgrading" your computer, unless you just want to throw some more RAM in. More RAM will increase how fast your computer runs. And yes, you will notice a difference if you are running Windows XP on 128 MB of RAM. When I went from 256mb to 786mb in my old 500mhz computer, I noticed a humongous increase in speed (but then again, I really used that poor computer to death). Just running your browser for a half an hour and an instant messaging program at the same time will use up the rest of the RAM that windows doesn't use. Now.. If you want a mind boggling increase in speed (which would be highly enjoyable and you will not know how/why you ever continued using a 733mhz computer with 128mb of RAM), then go get yourself some fancy, dandy dual core computer. If you want to build a cheaper one yourself, keep reading, otherwise, skip to my "third" point. I suggest that you use a dual core AMD or Pentium-D processor (make sure to get a motherboard and RAM that supports dual channel RAM as well). These processors have been extremely reduced in price to stay competative with the new Intel Core Duo CPU's. The Duo's have inflated prices right now because they are top of the line. If you plan on upgrading within the next few years, get a more capable motherboard and a low end core 2 duo and then upgrade the processor later. Otherwise, you will probably just skip right over Core 2 Duo to whatever the next thing is in 6 or 7 years.

    Third: If you have a Dell computer, you probably have an OEM copy of windows. Keep reading, you're about to be disappointed. If you try to put your hard drive into a new computer, your windows will stop working after 60 days. An OEM installation of Windows on a Dell computer must stay in that Dell computer. However, you could upgrade everything else but the motherboard and it should still function. Microsoft deemed a motherboard change as signifying a big enough change to the computer system to render it a completely different machine than what the OEM Windows was licensed to be run on. If you build a new computer yourself, you will have to buy a copy of windows for yourself as well (which would be anywhere from around $99 to $200, depending on what you get. If you buy a retail computer from Dell or Best Buy or wherever, however, the computer will come with it's own windows, so this won't be a problem then.)
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2007
  18. Jun 29, 2007 #17

    FredGarvin

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    You definitely need more RAM. No question about it. Like BNL said, it will make a difference.

    In your screen shot, it shows you as having only about 48 MB of physical memory left. If you do another CTRL-ALT-DEL and select the "process" tab, you can sort the processes running by RAM usage by clicking the "Mem Usage" button at the top of the column, you'll see how much RAM each application is using. On my machine, Windows Explorer is taking up about 30 MB. That would wipe out what you have left. If you run one other program, you'll be out of RAM and into virtual RAM (what Russ was talking about).

    Check your motherboard to see what kind of memory slots you have and how many open ones you have. I would recommend you max out the number of slots. There are some pitfalls to watch out for when you upgrade memory, so make sure to not just jump in and buy some memory sticks.
     
  19. Jun 29, 2007 #18

    FredGarvin

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    When I did my recent HD upgrade, I found out I screwed up and threw out my old Windows 98 CD. The upgrade copy of XP I had was useless. So I had to get a full blown version of XP. You can get OEM copies of XP for the price of an upgrade. The catch is is that it is OEM. If you don't plan on getting another upgrade any time soon, then you are clear and you can save some money because of what BNL just mentioned. As a matter of fact, the company can sell, legally, OEM copies of XP because they are considered an OEM. To meet that requirement, they have to include a piece of hardware with the package for XP. So in my package there was a piece of crap memory bundle included. It is added simply to make the lawyers happy.

    I found that amusing.
     
  20. Jun 30, 2007 #19
    Why do you need a brand new everything? If youre not going to get into hard core gaming, then what you have is probably more than sufficient for your basic day to day use. True, you could use a ram upgrade, but is a couple of seconds worth of computing time worth the money youre going to spend on upgrading your current pc or buying a new pc? Dunno. You gotta think about that though.
     
  21. Jul 3, 2007 #20
    That is amusing.

    I'm tempted to buy an OEM copy of windows just to see what random object gets bundled with it. lol
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Computer upgrade?
  1. Upgrading PC133 (Replies: 2)

Loading...