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In short, do I build a new machine or get a new case, or just save a little more until I can do a really powerful build?


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I have an HP Pavillion m9300t Entertainment PC and I'm considering an upgrade. Here are my specs:

  1. CPU - Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4 Ghz
  2. RAM - 8GB Dual Channel DDR2 PC2-6400
  3. PSU - 350W , not sure anything else except that it's the same one that came with the machine.
  4. GPU - 256MB nVidia GeForce 9300 G(?)<- Not sure, I see different ones all over
  5. Motherboard - The motherboard is an Asus model which was since purchaed by HP and no longer available from Asus. As far as the Asus website is confirmed, they never manufactured that model. According to HP's website it's the "Benecia" motherboard.
  6. Hard Drive - Came with a 640GB Raid 0, I took out on of the media drive bays and added a 1TB WD Caviar Black in place of it.

I would like to upgrade but I am having a few issues.

The PSU is small, limiting my ability to add a better Graphics Card and more hard drives.

Additionally, the form factor of this case is narrow, making it impossible for me to utilize the remaining onboard SATA ports, because I have nowhere to put the hard drives. I also have no room for cooling, which would be required in the event that I do upgrade the GPU?

Finally, I am maxed out at 8GB of RAM. Something tells me I may be at an advantage with more memory since this is primarily a video editing system.

Would a new case/PSU suffice to solve my space/power issues, or am I better off with an i7 build at this point? Also, how would the ports on the motherboard work in regards to the case and the backplate?

How would you upgrade this system? Price is a consideration.

I could theoretically do a fresh build, in which case I would spend not more than $2000 but I'd really like to make use of what I have already.

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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I'm still in the "i7 is too expensive" camp. If you go i7 you'll need to replace everything except the HDDs and the Video Card, and DDR3 is pretty expensive. Likewise i7 chips are vastly more expensive than high end Core chips.

A new power supply AND a case can be had for ~150, leaving you space and power for a high end video card to make up for your wimpy processor...You could even (possibly) go SLI. It'll certainly cost you less than 1k, unless you buy obscene video cards.

18 months down the line, you'll be able to swing a nice i7 upgrade for 1/4 the cost you'd pay today.

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+1 This was my initial thought, but i7 with 24GB is so tempting. –  Moshe Feb 11 '10 at 1:24
    
After mulling it over, this is probably the answer for now. –  Moshe Feb 12 '10 at 6:26
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A Few Scattered thoughts..

I'm not positive that motherboard would work properly in a standard ATX case.

A decent GPU would help in video editing apps that support GPU acceleration for encoding and what not.

Clock for clock, corei7 is faster than the Core2Quad, though not by a huge margin.

Going Corei7/DDR3 would put you at 12gb (more if you want to spend a crazy amount of money)

A lot of video editting rigs sport fast disk (say Western Digital Raptor/Velocirator) and run 3 or 4 in RAID 0. SSD would be faster, but exorbitantly more expensive per mb.

THAT SAID.. I say pass your HP to a significant other or sell it and build a new rig. You will end up with the right machine the first time, and not deal with the hassle of moving a bunch of proprietary stuff around.

Corei7 920 + 12gb memory, decent motherboard, ATI 5870, 3x300gb WD Velociraptors in raid 0 for your scratch disk, a big 1-2TB drive for storage, all housed in an Antec Twelve Hundred.

Done. Should cost a little less than $2k.

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+1, but I have a few thoughts. how do you use three drives in a raid 0 config? Also, Core 2 Quad is wimpy? It was pretty solid when I bought it a year and a half ago. Satanic Puppy possibly provides a short term solution, considering he is right about the $150 case/PSU combo. But I am still not sure which way to go long term. I would like to save cash for video equipment, after all. –  Moshe Feb 11 '10 at 1:27
    
nothing wrong with Core 2 Quad. Like I said, i7 isn't a huge improvement. You CAN keep your C2Q, and try moving this motherboard first and see if it fits in an ATX case. You will need a motherboard that supports RAID or a raid controller card (cheap). –  NoCarrier Feb 11 '10 at 1:29
    
I think that the mobo supports raid 0, but my only evidence is that it is set up as such now. It may be a software Raid though. I'm not sure. There is on PCIe X16 and one PCIx slot on the mobo. SLI would essentially require a new motherboard. That is already pushing it. –  Moshe Feb 11 '10 at 1:32
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