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Upgrade or New?

I have a Dell Dimension 8200 series, Pentium 4 Processor at 2.0 GHz,with 256MB RAM,80 GB hard drive, purchased in March 2002. It runs sluggishly, especially when moving between programs and running multiple programs. Also start up and shutting down is slow.

I have configued a new system with Dell with a cost of $838. It's a Dimension E510, Pentium D 930 at 3 GHz with 1 GB RAM and 160 GB hard drive.

I have now been looking at upgrading my current system to 1 GB RAM. At Dell the cost is $530. At a memory upgrade store, I can get it for $300- $340. Is it worth upgrading my 4 year old system? Also, is it possible to upgrade USB ports to 2.0, and is it worth it? I realize with the upgrade I'd have to update my bios.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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upgrade or new

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

After 4 years it does not pay to upgrade. Give it to a beginner who can learn how to use a computer.

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In reply to: Upgrade or New?

Your old computer is probably not worth upgrading. Certainly not if you buy the memory from Dell. One of the advantages of buying new is the warranty, you will be able to talk to Dell about problems instead of having to fix them yourself.

Also, a four-year old desktop is going to be old enough that you may start having problems with the hard drive, CD-ROM drive, etc. It is always nice to have a new system that is more up to date.

Don't worry about losing your files, you can take the old hard drive out of the old system and use it in an external case and still have access to your files.

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Good Question...

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

If you are really looking for an improved system I recommend that you consider what the system will be used to do. Functionality is key.

If this is generally to be used for report writing, listening to music and surfing then an simple upgrade should do the trick, however if you are a gamer or use the system to rip and burn DVDs, watch movies and other high processor use activities, then go the whole hog with a new system.

If the latter is the real use for your system, consider going with an AMD processor (probs AMD64) and remember that upgrading your processor may mean a new Motherboard, and PSU. Plus you may want to look at a new Graphics card and new RAM modules.

Not sure re costs in the US (I am in the UK) but 2 * 1Gb modules are relatively cheap now.

General idea is to shop around and building it yourself will save you a fortune.

Hope this helps.


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(NT) (NT) His system uses's real expensive

In reply to: Good Question...

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In reply to: (NT) His system uses's real expensive

Oh crap, I hadnt noticed that.

I would still go for a new system rather than try to upgrade a 4 year old one.

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(NT) (NT) Me too on the 'new vs, upgrade'.

In reply to: Oops...

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Upgrade vs. new...

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

Before spending the money try these few upgrades/maintenance tips. Upgrade your memory to at least 512MB. If you are running ServicePack 2 consider 1GB. Next defrag your system. Run all your anti-malware apps (at least two scans of each kind of malware). If your hard drive is over 65% full add a new one and move all your music, pics, etc to the new drive.

Understand that a P4 2ghz chip isn't the fastest in the world but, given what info you provided, it should still serve you.

If these upgrades don't work for you you can always move the upgrades to a new computer. Just make sure the memory will work.

and life goes on...


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In reply to: Upgrade or New?

RDRAM is expensive as hell, and it's no worth spending $300 on an obselete technology. Also, it's not worth spending $300 on a 4 year old system. I'd go with a new Dell.

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Thank You...

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

Thanks for almost instantaneous replies to my questions. You all are great.
Thanks again!!

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I'm in the same boat

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

I have an 8200 too and the memory from Dell is way too high. I'm considering buying it off of eBay; there are a number of vendors selling used RDRAM, usually for less than $200 a gig. Make sure the seller has an excellent feedback rating and is located in the US. A number of people have been burned purchasing computers and components from overseas sellers.

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Do you need a new system at all ??

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

CPUs aren't following Moore's law any more. Chances are good that the CPU in the $900 system won't even be twice as fast as the old system - maybe just 50% faster. So, I think the real question is : what are you going to do with the system ?? If you are going to run high-end graphics, you need a new motherboard and graphics cards (those ARE following moore's law, expect 4 speedup), and your DRAM is 2x the cost of today's RAM.

If you just want to do word processing, surf the net, and rip MP3's, listen to music, you have a fine machine, in fact, I use a 1999 laptop (400 Mhz Celeron) as a stereo system in my house, and to surf the net wirelessly ...

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NO Pentium 4's!

In reply to: Do you need a new system at all ??

I would highly consider going dual core. It sounds to me from your initial post (slow when switching between functions) that you run multiple programs at once. Even though some Pentiums have Hyper Threading (and some even dual core) I would suggest waiting for another few months for the quad cores to come to market. They are SIGNIFICANTLY faster and do follow Moore's Law (processor POWER doubles roughly every 18 months ('s_law )

The quad cores are totally destroying even the best of the Core Duos and Core 2 Duo chips. Even though there aren't any programs written for it yet.. Tom's Hardware stated that they felt like they were using a computer from the future.

I understand you may not need a top of the line computer.. thats what I suggest what earlier people said.. clean out, defrag.. possible even restore your computer with the Windows Disk (AFTER backing up all your information of course).

But Toms Hardware said that you can burn a DVD, listen to music, surf the internet all at the same time without and delays with the new quad cores. It's like having 4 processors in your PC.

PS - If you do get another computer let me know where your located, maybe I could buy that one for household / server usage..

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Maybe... Upgrade or not...

In reply to: NO Pentium 4's!

Recently I just put the gig of RDRAM <proprietary Rambus memory VERY EXPENSIVE>.. It was approx 250$ cdn(purchased online) At the moment im not gaming or putting the processor through to much pain.. This dell processor is upgradeable to 2.8 ghz(gonna upgrade soon) (i got 2.0ghz)...If upgrading your 8200 check your FSB speed as a higher FSB supports PC1066 RDRAM... For the 500-600 or so cdn u would put in to upgrade this pc, money wise you should probably get another pc.. But if you must upgrade than its no 2 bad but pricey... very pricey..

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re: Upgrade or New

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

I think you are right on the money in upgrading your memory. If the system is sluggish it is not because your processor is too slow or your hard drive to small, it is because you have too little memory. So, I would not buy a whole new system, instead add 1 GB of RAM. HOWEVER, the prices you were quoted sound OUTRAGEOUS. I just recently bought a 1GB stick of DDR RAM for #39.95 on ebay, stuck it in and it sped up my system tremendously. That's all you need. Maybe defragment the system, too and get rid of memory hogging programs. But anyone who is trying to charge you hundreds of dollars to install the memory is ripping you off. If you can't do it, pay a high school kid $20 to stick it in the slot.

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RDRAM is not DDR.

In reply to: re: Upgrade or New

It's 2-3X more expensive.

The challenge: Try to find inexpensive PC800, even on eBay.

With a complete new system starting at about USD$300, investing in expensive PC800 RAM is not worth it for almost all situations, IMO. The new system will be a better performer, have less compatiblility issues, is easier and less costly to upgrade, and is likely to last longer.

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RE: Upgrade or New

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

My general rule of thumb is that if you bought the system over 2 years ago, and you want to upgrade it... buy a new one.

By the time you've bought more memory, a replacement Hard Drive, an upgraded video card, and a Dual Layer DVD burner... you could have bought another one already.

In other words the cost of getting a PC more than 2 years old up to current technology is way too expensive.

This goes mostly for units bought pre-built. If you are the kind who likes to take a bunch of parts bought off of and slap them together, this rule does not apply.

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If your upgrade is 500+ go with new!

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

If you are looking at $500+ just to upgrade your RAM you would be much better off going with a new system. You can shop around on Dell or other manufacturer sites and look for their weekly / monthly deals and with a little tweaking end up with a great system for a great price. Not only would you get a good system - but you can usually manage to get a 19'' flat panel and printer thrown in as well!

If you are looking to things that are a bit more hardcore - gaming, burning / ripping video, heavy video or photo editing, then you may want to look into piecing together your own system - especially if you already have all the software you need.

If you are considering that route I would ask a new question specific to what to get to build a system and be ready to have to pick through peoples personal preferences :o)

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Upgrade or not?

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

It sounds like your PC, even though being 4 years old, is still quite servicable for most tasks. The last 4 years have not seen the doubling of speed every six months as the four years before that did.
The real question seems to be how to make your PC faster. The best way is to save your files, reformat the hard drive, and reinstall your windows disk and applications. That will speed up the machine considerably.

Adding more RAM and a second hard drive will do wonders, while not costing much. Another 512 meg of RAM will be about 50 bucks and a 200 gig drive another 80 dollars. You can leave your 80 gig drive to run your programs, and the second drive can hold all your files. This way, if you reload windows again, your files won't be affected.

Now here's the real issue.

Are you going to really use this PC for some heavy gaming and video editing? If not, then it will serve you well for years to come doing things like internet, MS Word and photo editing. If you need the fastest speed for editing and gaming, you'd do well with a new machine.

USB-2 ports are much faster than USB-1, fast enough to pass real time video. You can probably get a USB-2 card for under 50 dollars.

Rick Bennette

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(NT) (NT) Is that PC800 RAM ?

In reply to: Upgrade or not?

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Sorry Aramine100...

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

If you don't have the memory than you should get a new computer--it's just not worth the price of RDRAM.

I have an 8200 also, but have 1.25 GBs of RDRAM. I put $200 bucks into it (power supply, video card, and hard drive, DVD burner), plus a 4-port USB 2.0 PCI card I had in my spare parts box. I know it isn't true 2.0, but it's faster than 1.1.

It's running Windows XP Pro, and is only used by my girlfriend and is more than adequate for her surfing, e-mail, and photo-editing. It's amazing what you can get away with on a PC when you're not gaming, video-editing or doing CAD.

My #1 computer buying advice: if you NEED a new computer, then buy the best one you can AFFORD.

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In reply to: Upgrade or New?

I would upgrade it. Even without going for more processor speed etc, you could get a new system with what are the "basics" for a few hundred dollars. And the basics would still be higher than what you have now.

We got in June, the Dimension 1100 (b110) for about $400? Which has a 2.53GHz Intel Pentium D processor, 160 GB Hard Drive (5400RPM), 512 MB RAM, DVD-RW, ethernet, 56k modem, firewire, etc... The only thing with it (as it is a basic entry level computer), is that it only had 3 available PCI slots, and no AGP or PCIe slots (you would want for better graphics cards or other stuff for future use).

If you wanted something to actually last for several years and still be decent/average and upgradable, I would go with a higher processor (at least 3.0), get 1GB RAM, make sure it has PCIe slots, get a minimum 256MB Graphics card and basic SoundBlaster soundcard. There should be several USB (2.0) plugs available and ethernet/firewire too. Also get a DVD-RW (you can get 2 drives one cd-rw/dvd-rom and one dvd-rw if you want as it gives you better protection if one fails).

Also, go take a look at the Dell Outlet offers, as all these were refurbished or scratch and dent and can be several hundreds cheaper for the same product. They are all configured the way the original person bought it, so you can find one with what you like (or as close to it as possible) and it still comes with a 1 year warranty and the chance to upgrade to 2-4 years just like when buying a new computer from them. The condition of Dell's refurbished items are great, I have an XPS laptop which looked brand new, and a dell axim pda as well. They also have monitors available. Selections are always changing and they may have hundreds of the same item, or only 1 or 2. If you see something you like and you feel it is worth the price (enough savings on it compared to if you configured it that way with a new product), then buy it THEN as it may not be there later on. I got my laptop for $539 (they even have "sales" or promo codes you can use to save on refurbs) and configured it would be worth at least $1200 new...

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Paying Too Much?

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

USB 2.0 cards are cheap and available at your local electronics store circuit city, best buy, etc. and they are usually in the PCI card flavor, as for memory I cant see possibly why your memory is or expensive unless it is RDRAM (Rambus) memory is fairly cheap right now with the exception of the really high end stuff and to furthermore aid you in this endeavor 1 gig or ram is fairly useless in your case anyway it wont help you with the speed of your programs there are 2 huge things you should try first before blowing a bunch of money on a new machine or oodles of ram. Buy another hard drive the one you have is probably overworked trying to seek the files and executables (programs) that you have on it and allong with this it has to operate the operating system imagine it as a record player that has to be pushed to play several tracks at random like a cd player the stylis (read and write head) has to catch up with what you are doing so spanning yoru work over 2 drive will make things easier on it. Also do the standard checks such as disk defragmentation. A computer slow to boot is the result of an overload of startup programs if you have an intrusive or many spyware and virus programs consolodate, too many try to over secure there machines against attackers that dont exist, in many instances these programs are almost useless unless you surf things you shouldnt be, sort of the equivelent of walking the red light district in short use common sense. A faster processor seldom aids in boot and shutdown because a faster processor does just as its named it processes faster and although bootup uses the processor heartily its hardly the most intensive task you could give it.

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New PC!

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

Aramine, buy a new PC, definitely. The simplest reason is that the upgrade costs are nearly as much as a new PC, which would have to be a better value.

Any new PC will have USB 2.0 built in, and usually Firewire (IEEE-1394) ports as well. Most machines over the $600 mark will have 1GB of RAM, and usually a SATA hard drive (which is very important!) with a DVD burner.

The slowest thing on your computer right now is your hard drive. Every other part of your machine ends up waiting for that old hard drive to catch up with the data. The new SATA hard drives are much faster, so the entire machine speeds up greatly.

Pentium D processors...well, they're the dogs of the industry right now. Intel has started massive layoffs, just to be able to afford to reduce the prices on those processors, all to get rid of them. Intel has a much better processor, just as cheap, called the Core 2 Duo, or Conroe.

I have to say, the best bang for the buck, any time, is going to be an AMD Athlon X2 processor. You can usually pick up one of these machines, fully loaded, for less than $900, including shipping or tax. Those use less power than the Pentium 4s or Pentium Ds, and they run cooler, too!

An easy bet, if you want smoking performance on the cheap, would be to go to and configure one of those Compaq SR1930Z desktops. I configured a variant with an Athlon 3500, 2GB of RAM, and a 250GB hard drive, with a Lightscribe DVD burner, for $819.

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Buy New !!! Don't waste your money!

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

I had an 8200 Dell and the same complaints as yours. I defragged. I wiped the cache. I reinstalled XP. I priced the ram-wow! I visited Dell's web site and their kiosks at malls. I plotted and planned. I tried to see the rational in installing new ram like yours (Dell's). It didn't make sense for me to spend the same as what I would pay for a new computer.
There are deals out there. Since the intro of XP, we have had very little problem with any computer. Have not had a hardware problem at all. Dell is not the only computer manufacturer. I own 2 Compaqs,2 Dells,
1 local manufactured one, and now 1 new HP. I walked into Office Depot, saw the same computer I was looking at over at Micro Center. There was a deal going on. $819.00 with 19" flat panel monitor after rebate. I bought it. That was in July. The same box at Dell would have cost me much more.
It works perfect. It meshes and performs well with all of our other equipment. It's a HP a1540n. Dual core. AMD 64 bit, 2G ram, etc. It may meet your requirement and may not. Might be worth a look. I like going to the store and buying the product. Mail order is not my bag. FYI- Dell is now in Costco!

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Replace of course!

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

When upgrading, you should always buy parts by itself rather than buy a whole new computer. Buying parts itself saves a lot of money, not to mention the pride of doing it all yourself.

Lots of those big stores like to share their computer's memory with the graphics card: that's why it's "cheaper." If you upgrade with seperate parts, you can probably have a computer double the power of those "big store computers" and save heaps of money.

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In reply to: Upgrade or New?

Thanks for all the input. I did buy a new computer - Dell Pentium D 940 3.2 GHz with 1 GB of memory and a 160 gig HD. I didn't need the monitor, but it was only $81 more for the 17" analog flat panel, so I got it for my girlfried. I got the bare minimum for software, because I have all I need. I think this computer will be more than sufficient for the next few years. Oh, the total cost was just over $900. My 4 year old system cost me $1400 in 2002!


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(NT) (NT) Congratulations on the new computer. Enjoy!

In reply to: much info and opinions!

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Due to the high cost of RDRAM, I'd (probably) get a new PC.

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

Due to the fact that a lot of new software and peripherals are coming out next year, I normally recommend that people upgrade or repair an existing computer, so they can purchase a new one in 2008 when the new software and devices get the bugs worked out. And if your computer took standard RAM, such as DDR, DDR2, or PC100/133 I'd absolutely recommend you upgrade it and keep it for another couple years.

You see, a Pentium 4, or even a Pentium III or Celeron is more than adequate for most of what people do with a computer. And with sufficient memory and hard disk space, it will run very fast, even when multitasking. The secret in my opinion is to reformat the hard disk each year and do a clean installation of the operating system and application software. If you do that, you'll be amazed how fast the computer will run; even an old Pentium III class machine can perform as well as a new computer.

So you may consider backing up your data and reformatting. Since your model has a separate AGP graphics card, you are not losing memory and processor time to support graphics, so 256 megabytes should be sufficient to run Windows XP. I suspect that the real problem is that your hard disk is failing, and THAT is why it takes forever to start up, the hard disk light is always on, it seeks repeatedly, etc. I suspect that when you attempt a full format on this hard disk (NEVER do a "quick format" on any used hard disk) then it will fail and you will need to replace it.

The problem you'd face is that with the original version of Windows XP, you cannot format or load the operating system onto a hard disk larger than 132 GB. So unless you purchase a 120 GB or smaller hard disk, you'd have to either purchase Windows again, or use a restore disk from another PC that has the correct version of Windows that you are licensed for (eg XP Home or XP Professional). The CD must have at least Service Pack 1 to format and install on a larger hard disk.

It MAY still make economic sense to replace the hard disk (if it's defective) or simply reformat it (if it's just a software problem) and keep this PC for another year or 2. You can purchase an 80 GB or 120 GB IDE hard disk for well under $100.

If reformatting does not solve the problem, and therefore the issue is that you need more RAM to run the programs you use, then it's time for a new PC. RAMBUS memory is obsolete and so outlandishly priced that you could purchase a brand new computer with far better specs, a new license for the latest version of Windows, and more for less than the cost of 512 megs of RDRAM! Of course the new computer will come with much more memory than that, so go figure!

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Replace it

In reply to: Upgrade or New?

I would recommend replacing the system. About one year ago I purchased a Emachine T6412 package including 17" flat panel monitor, then upgraded the memory to 1GB, upgraded the video card to a 256 Meg Radeon X800 Pro, all for about 850 dollars. Prior to my research at the time of that purchase I would never have considered a Emachine, but I have never been more satisfied with any previous computer purchase. So, keep an open mine, read reveiws, and find out what is the best value TODAY rather than recalling reviews and articles from yester-year. Either way it is still a signifcant amount of money worth spending a good 10+ hours researching your decision.

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In reply to: Upgrade or New?

Definitely upgrade. I've been in the business for nearly 20 years and just upgraded my five year old RAMBUS/RDRAM machine - and it's the same spec as yours pretty much. Like everyone says, RDRAM is just too expensive now. Yes, it's high performance, but Intel stopped developing chipsets to support it years ago so all the other technology has now played catch-up.

Just to give you an idea, I sold my five year old 1GB of RDRAM memory on ebay for 100GBP (about 190USD) last month! Paid for 30% of my upgrade to an Intel Core 2 Duo system that kicks a**.

Do a full upgrade, it costs a little more, but well worth it for another few years!! If the finances are a bit tight however and you just want to get a little more life out of what you've got, by a couple of 256MB chips (ensure you have the slots available first) and a USB2 interface card. Total upgrade probably around 100USD. Put a couple of bids on ebay and stick to a budget... Happy Good luck!!!!!

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