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should i run XP or win7 on my older gaming desktop

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

 

EDIT: so..........sorry if this got a bit long, but you can skim it pretty fast and get the gist. i can definitely use a little help, and headfi is where i always go for balanced opinioins on almost any subject, except maybe women  ;)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so the specs are:

 

asrock dual-sata2 socket 939 mobo

a64 x2 dual core cpu like 2.6ghz

2gb basic DDR ram

basic seagate 7200rpm ide HDD 250gb

9600gt PNY gpu

500w ultra psu (yes it's low end, but this system is old and not worth much, and i figure that next time i put a lot of money into pc gaming will be a few years when i build a totally new machine and turn this into a server or something

 

 

i've got decent cooling, just need to clean out the dust; it's been sitting unused a long time. I figure, even with how long i've had it, it's still a very capable gaming machine for today's games. correct me if i'm wrong, but i think i should be playing most new games on medium to med-high settings?

 

i've heard conflicting reports, but i've been told if i upgrade the gpu, i could get a lot more out of it?????

 

 

 

as far as upgrades, i'll either do nothing, or i'm willing to do something if it has a lot of bang for the buck

 

it's not an issue of "not enough money", it's an issue of "i don't buy anything unless i'm getting a great deal and tons of bang for my buck"

 

 

so..........

 

1. XP or win7?????

2. worth upgrading anything? i figure i'll try to overclock the cpu some as the guy i bought it from got it to 3ghz (on water though, so with my air setup i won't get near that). i'm not willing to do any drastic water setups, or put a bunch of money into it. i just want to squeeze everything i can from what has been a wonderfully capable system for a long time. do i have to overclock ram or anything? it's just basic kingston pc3200 stuff, i doubt it'll do much. i know NOTHING about overclocking, but i would love some basic advice: i'm really not intersted in spending days on end trying to get every GHZ out of the thing, i just figured considering the board can OC ok, and the cpu can, i might as well pump it up a little, eh????

 

 

.........and btw, i say a "gaming" machine because THAT is what will tax the capabilities of the thing. i'll be using it for everything else as well, including connecting it to my projector, and doing office stuff, and etc. etc. i'll have it connected to a 22" lcd on my desk, and my 120" projection screen on my wall

post #2 of 21
Thread Starter 

oh, and as far as cooling, it's a basic antec case, with standard intake and exhaust fans, i might open up the vents a bit with a wire cutter for more airflow; but i do have a very high end cpu HSF. it's one of those sunbeam beasts with a solid copper HS, copper heatpipes, leading to a stack of very thin alluminum plates, with a big 120mm fan blowing air through it and straight into the exhaust fan; with a little AS5, and a decent intake flow rate, i'd say i've got about the best you can get for a basic, no-frills, air cooling system. won't break any records; will, however, hopefully, keep my cpu cool enough so i can OC it a bit. the thing runs a bit hot; i think the last guy might have really NEEDED that watter cooling. well, if i can't OC much, then i don't have to bother with that, and that'll make me happy too

 

oh, and what about OC'ing the gpu? i'm thinking not a good idea, eh??? just a basic fan on that

 

 

and, if i were to get a new gpu, do you think it's worth it even with all the other parts being older???? and what should i get??? i've been out of the game so long  i don't know what's good; if i were to get something, it would have to be a SIGNIFICANT step up from the 9600gt, and also not rediculously expensive. basically, i'm thinking that a new gpu, whenever i get one, will be the last upgrade for this machine. i don't really need 4g of ram do i? is the 2gb ram a reason i should stick with XP????? i'm thinking maybe. DDR ram is expensive, so that's a shitty bang/buck upgrade.

 

i have been liking win7 though; and maybe the WMC features would be good for my projector??? i dunno, i'll mostly be watching films that i have downloaded in AVI format and the like, legally of course;  i'm running win7 here on my laptop, but it has a core2duo, 4gb ram, and it doesn't run all that fast

post #3 of 21

I'll talk about your second question first, or well, the overclocking/upgrading question first that is. One of the biggest things that comes to mind, whoever said you needed watercooling is a freaking dork. Watercooling is good for either A) Keeping a rig silent, or B) Heavy overclocking that a much cheaper heatsink that can't keep up with. On the plus side though, if I remember correctly those CPU's overclock like a champ, unless I'm mistaken you should be able to crank the thing up to 3.2 with very little work and no additional cooling. Going higher might require a bit more research then just bumping a number and see if it boots though, it's not really a "days" thing as it's more of an "hours" thing as you wait for your computer to reboot and run tests.

 

As for your RAM, I would honestly say it's what's holding your system back. If you can run DDR2, do so, it's dirt cheap and should make a difference in current games. Not only that, quite a few games seem to require a bit more RAM as a requirement under Windows 7 compared to XP which could lead to some problems in the future.

 

Also, the GPU is fine in most regards, but it depends on what resolution you're running it at, higher the resolution the lower the settings you'll be able to set for games.

 

Really, I would recommend installing XP, throw a bit of an overclock on the CPU and GPU, run some tests for a couple hours to make sure they're stable, then throw a couple games on and see how they run. If you're happy with it then you've answered your own upgrade question, if you find the thing chugging away at 20-30fps and hating it, then you should look at replacing your weakest link or building a new system entirely.

post #4 of 21

Windows 7 if you have it, just disable aero and you should be set. 

 

Otherwise XP, don't think it would be worth going and getting a copy. 

post #5 of 21

If the RAM is DDR and not DDR2 then llama is right and then you should upgrade if possible. If however the RAM is DDR2 and you just forgot the 2 in your post then you should be ok. The gpu is still fine as long as you have a low resolution and i really wouldn't bother with overclocking it. Also, make sure you do a bit of research before you try and overclock ANYTHING, or you could damage a crucial part of your system, and as for the OS it really isn't a huge difference gaming-wise.

post #6 of 21

There's a box running Windows 7 in service at my Dad's accounting firm with these specs:

 

AMD A64 x2, 2.2GHz

3GB DDR 400 RAM (2x1GB, 2x512MB)

Ancient inexpensive graphics card of some sort

 

It runs Windows 7 with aero quite well. There should be no concerns there. For gaming and multitasking you'll probably want to bump up the RAM a little before investing in a new video card- the one you have should be fine at lower resolutions. Just remember that the socket 939 platform benefits from memory in a dual-channel configuration so you'll want to install RAM in matched pairs. Simply adding a single stick of RAM will cause your machine to revert to single-channel operation and theoretically halve your memory bandwidth.

post #7 of 21

Socket 939 motherboards don't accept DDR2 memory (DDR2 compatible motherboards are AM2).  If you've already got a copy of XP, just use that.  If you're buying a new copy though, get 7---

post #8 of 21

the oldest PC i have is running windows 7 (with aero), a 2gb, pentium d940 with geforce 7600GS...absolutely great, very responsive, and far more stable, usable and secure than windows XP...so i'd say run with 7 if you can.

post #9 of 21

If it's already got Windows XP; I wouldn't bother to upgrade to Windows 7 - unless you absolutely want to play DirectX 10-only games.  It's too bad you missed the $30 student Windows 7 Pro "upgrade", which was really a full license...

 

Upgrading from that 9600 would definitely make a huge difference - I would even recommend going with a current-generation card, but there's a catch...

 

Your board has a PCI-Express x16 slot, but it may be any one of the 1.0, 1.0a, or 1.1 versions (you'll have to look it up to find out).  If it's not a 1.1, its compatibility with current 2.0 cards is suspect (it may work or it may not, depending on the card and the motherboard) - although reports are rare of incompatibility (90% of the time you'll be fine).  I just experienced that 10% the hard way when I got a 5750 that wouldn't work with my old 939 mobo.

 

So try a friends' card first if you can, but otherwise make sure you get one with a good return policy.

 

Your processor will be fine - you'll still be GPU limited if you turn all the eye candy and resolution up.  There's only relatively small gains to be made with a CPU upgrade at the level you're at.  I might try to find some cheap 512 MB DDR sticks on eBay though, so you can upgrade to 3 GB of RAM.

 

Oh, and a bigger (and therefore faster) hard drive will have a noticeable impact on startup and loading times (as much as half the time) -- for less than $60 you can get a 1 TB drive.  That'd probably be the second upgrade that I'd make (more important than the RAM) -- but even with upgrading the RAM you could get a pretty rockin' gaming system for ~$200 or so.  If 2.0 cards don't work, you could spend $60-$100 on a card that does work (like a 7950 GT or something) and you'll still have a pretty good system (again, upgrading the HDD would still make sense).

 

 

 

On the other hand, a whole new mobo/CPU/RAM upgrade wouldn't cost that much more - another $200 (rather, $175 if you're considering upgrading the RAM on your current setup) for something like an Athlon X3 or X4 with a budget AM3 mobo and 4 GB DDR3.  For a power efficient system (Athlon + mid level GPU) you could probably stick with your current PSU.   That's about $345 total, keeping the same optical drive/case/keyboard/mouse/monitor.  Maybe over your budget, especially if you'd like a more powerful rig in the near future.  But if you're okay with the rest of the system, that's a pretty decent way to upgrade.

 

Oops... I forgot that if you have an OEM copy of Windows on the machine right now, you'll probably need to get a new copy of Windoze... So that adds another $100 for a basic Home Premium Windows 7 x64 OEM copy, or $180 for the full version (transferable between motherboards).  If you didn't game, Ubuntu would've been a decent alternative... So it might make sense to stick with the current motherboard/CPU/RAM if that's over your budget.  The money saved could be put towards an eventual "big" upgrade.

 

 

 

So, you've got lots of options!

post #10 of 21

Looking at your board, it would appear that you have one of Asrock's unusual models with expanded upgrade options. You have both AGP and PCI-E graphics card slots as well as the option to upgrade to socket AM2 with this board.

 

Yes, you can actually buy an add-in card for your machine that will allow you to install a more modern CPU and DDR2 memory. The problem lies with tracking the required board down. The advantage is that you aren't getting a new computer- just upgrading the old one.

 

This should work nicely if you have an OEM Windows license. If it doesn't activate Microsoft's phone support should take care of you.

post #11 of 21

Windows 7 has a much better resource management, and Aero is not an issue as it can be enabled on gpus that are much weaker than yours and run as smooth as with Aero disabled. Also take in account XP is much less safer than either Vista or 7.

 

I do think you getting a pair of 1GB DDR modules is a good idea, and better to do it while they still last, as prices are already climbing a little on many places.

 

No point on going with XP as it will only have some security updates until it finally gets the axe, while 7 is very much alive. XP is a dying horse, more prone to catching diseases, and just plain less stable than 7. Make no mistakes, games run fast on 7, more than you can imagine, especially if you have a Nvidia gpu.

 

If gaming is really what you intend to do on that machine, then there is no question that a stronger gpu will give you better performance in games. You could try and see if you can find a relatively cheap GTX 460 1GB. That paired with your machine, and hopefully along with 2GB more of memory, and you'll be quite satisfied with the gaming performance difference of the before and after wink.gif Though you didn't say which monitor you have and at what resolution you usually play games.

 

I do agree that getting a 1TB 7200RPM SATA hdd is both cheap and quite the improvement over what you currently have.

 

Bottomline is that there are 3 important upgrades that when combined will give you quite a feeling of a fresh machine on your hands:

1. RAM

2. GPU

3. HDD

post #12 of 21
post #13 of 21


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post

Windows 7 has a much better resource management, and Aero is not an issue as it can be enabled on gpus that are much weaker than yours and run as smooth as with Aero disabled. Also take in account XP is much less safer than either Vista or 7.

 

I do think you getting a pair of 1GB DDR modules is a good idea, and better to do it while they still last, as prices are already climbing a little on many places.

 

No point on going with XP as it will only have some security updates until it finally gets the axe, while 7 is very much alive. XP is a dying horse, more prone to catching diseases, and just plain less stable than 7. Make no mistakes, games run fast on 7, more than you can imagine, especially if you have a Nvidia gpu.

 

If gaming is really what you intend to do on that machine, then there is no question that a stronger gpu will give you better performance in games. You could try and see if you can find a relatively cheap GTX 460 1GB. That paired with your machine, and hopefully along with 2GB more of memory, and you'll be quite satisfied with the gaming performance difference of the before and after wink.gif Though you didn't say which monitor you have and at what resolution you usually play games.

 

I do agree that getting a 1TB 7200RPM SATA hdd is both cheap and quite the improvement over what you currently have.

 

Bottomline is that there are 3 important upgrades that when combined will give you quite a feeling of a fresh machine on your hands:

1. RAM

2. GPU

3. HDD


"Not much point in going on with Windows XP"?  Well, sure, if Windows 7 were free (or still $30 for students)... but it's not, and for a budget system upgrade it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.  Windows XP still works perfectly fine, and is still safe enough for the vast majority of responsible users...

 

Now, if he doesn't have an OS to begin with, well that's a whole 'nother thing...

 

I still think the first thing to do is to make sure that his mobo will work with PCI-E 2.0 cards.  If it can't, it's probably best to keep this as a pretty budget build ( << $150 total) with just GPU, HDD, and perhaps RAM upgrades.

 

I'm a bit skeptical about upgrading from 2 GB to 3 GB on a system that's limited in terms of card upgrades - if he had 1 GB it'd be another thing, but I'm not sure that RAM would become an issue for games or other typical use.  30+ tabs of FF and photo/video editing at the same time, sure... But games that will run well on a pre-2.0 PCI-E card probably won't run into RAM issues with 2 GB (assuming a decent legacy 512 MB or 1 GB video card).

post #14 of 21

PCIe is backwards compatible, so he can install 2.0 cards on 1.1. A retail Windows 7 can be installed on more than one computer. But yes, everyone who uses windows should have got a Windows 7 during that promotional period. Many games that were made at the time 1.1 cards were around can still be heavy, and 2GB of memory just isn't enough anymore.

 

OP, you've got my suggestions.

post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post

PCIe is backwards compatible, so he can install 2.0 cards on 1.1. A retail Windows 7 can be installed on more than one computer. But yes, everyone who uses windows should have got a Windows 7 during that promotional period. Many games that were made at the time 1.1 cards were around can still be heavy, and 2GB of memory just isn't enough anymore.

 

OP, you've got my suggestions.


Okay, let's go over this again.  We don't know that he has a v1.1 PCI-E x16 slot.  Actually, after a little research I've been able to find that his motherboard has a v1.0a slot, which does not have guaranteed compatibility with v2.0 cards.  Believe me on this one, it can in fact be a problem.  It happened to me with a vintage-2005 ASUS socket 939 motherboard and an ATI 5750.

 

Legally, Windows 7 can only be installed on one computer at a time (for more than the trial period anyway)... an OEM license makes it even more of a pain in the arse.  I still think that sticking with Windows XP x86 there's minimal benefit to upgrading from 2 GB to 3 GB of RAM (of course, 4 GB won't make any difference at all...) for the vast majority of scenarios, including DX 9 gaming.

 

 

Quote: http://www.overclock.net/operating-systems/539529-does-windows-7-benefit-4gb-vs.html#post6692337

I'm running Seven x64, had to give my Bro a 2GB stick (outta my system! :swearing and don't really notice a difference.
I'm runnning on 2GB right now, Crysis feels the same, Bioshock feels the same, the only downgrade I can feel is that GRiD now takes almost three minutes to get back to after a quick Alt-TAB rather than the instantaneous response with 4GB.
Other than that, buisness as usual.
Hope it helps.
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