Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

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Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Sun Jul 27, 2014 7:15 pm

So, my trusty old Corsair 4gig DDR2 kit died and replacing it will be expensive for my build so I'm not sure it is worth it. Here is my current config:

- Intel Xeon E5440 /w Scythe Kama Angle cooler on it
- MSI P35 Neo2-FR
- obviously no RAM
- Nvidia GTX 470
- Samsung 830 256gb SSD and a couple of HDDs

Other things to note:
- The most demanding things I do on my computer are games. However, I would do more if I could.
- I have a Gigabit internet connection. I only mention this because it makes a good onboard NIC pretty much mandatory. The current one limits my speeds at ~400mbps.

Here are my options:

1) Keep my current config and get new RAM. This motherboard for some reason overclocks the RAM along with the CPU, and there's no way to unlink their frequencies. So, I would need to buy a pretty good RAM kit, that would support ~850Mhz or even more which is pretty expensive these days. A 4GB DDR2 kit is more expensive than an 8GB DDR3 kit around here.

2) Sell those, get the new Intel unlocked Pentium, a cheap DDR3 kit and the best motherboard that I can find within my budget with overclocking capabilities

3) Sell those and get an AM3+ platform. I think I could be able to get a decent config around a FX-4300 or a FX6300 if I'm lucky. I could also reuse my old Scythe Kama Angle with it since AMD still has that ancient mounting system.

The reason why I don't know what to do is relative performance and upgradability. Firstly, I don't know how those processors compare to each other. Secondly, I usually save some money and periodically upgrade my computer in small increments. I neglected the main three pieces for long enough that I couldn't upgrade one without selling all of them. So I'm a bit worried about AM3+ since it is also a dead platform. I will probably get the 8350 in the future, but that's it. I'll be stuck with the same config forever again. Their SATA controllers and onboards NICs are also usually worse than intel's. Option 3 should be fine for most cases, but it will also be the most expensive to upgrade in the short run.

Please do share your thoughts!
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Sun Jul 27, 2014 7:56 pm

If you were satisfied with the performance of the existing system and you're on a tight budget, I'd go with fixing what you have, but only provided you are 100% certain the problem is the RAM. It would really suck to buy new RAM and discover that the system still doesn't work; you'd be stuck with DDR2 that will be useless for a new build.

In general, I'd lean towards going with a new build. Since your primary use is gaming, Intel is where it's at these days for best performance; but AMD's FX series would be a good choice for a budget gaming build if cost is a significant issue.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Sun Jul 27, 2014 8:53 pm

Your old quad-core Harpertown processor is probably not doing too badly, especially if you've overclocked it by 20% to 3.4 GHz by raising your memory speed from 667 MHz to 800 MHz.

Would your old motherboard support two 4 GiB DIMMs, or is it limited to four 2 GiB DIMMs, maximum?
You'd be looking at $105 for each 4 GiB DIMM of PC2-6400 memory or $100 for 2x2 GiB of PC2-8500 if you ordered it from the 'egg. If you're certain that this is all that's wrong with your system, there's no better bang for the buck than fixing what you have for $100.


I would encourage you to make the LGA1150 CPU + Z97 motherboard upgrade that you described in option 2.
$70 Intel Pentium G3258

$115½ -20 combo MSI Z97M-G43 motherboard uses a Realtek 8111E ethernet PHY.
$165 Asus Z97 Gryphon motherboard uses an Intel i218V.

$40 4 GiB PC3-12800 Crucial Ballistix BLT4G3D1608DT1TX0 (DDR3-1600, 8-8-8-24, 1.5 V)
$46 4 GiB PC3-12800 Crucial Ballistix Sport BLS4G3D1609ES2LX0 (DDR3-1600, 9-9-9-24, 1.35 V, low profile)
$43 4 GiB PC3-14900 G.Skill Ripjaws X F3-14900CL9S-4GBXL (DDR3-1866, 9-10-9-28, 1.5 V)
$50 4 GiB PC3-14900 Crucial Ballistix BLT4G3D1869DT1TX0 (DDR3-1866, 9-9-9-27, 1.5 V)
Last edited by JustAnEngineer on Sun Jul 27, 2014 10:31 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:01 pm

I'm with JBI and JAE, because I find that once stuff starts to go wrong with an overclocked system, it's all downhill; it's not worth investing in RAM if the motherboard is also sketchy, and if the RAM died, that's always part of the equation.

That, and the GTX470 is still a potent card with an effective featureset, and that new Pentium is rather quick; with new, faster RAM and new core logic, I'd bet that once overclocked you'd find the new system to be a considerable jump in system performance.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Sun Jul 27, 2014 10:10 pm

If it's just the memory and you are happy with the performance of the system then you might pick up some replacement memory for a reasonable price on Ebay. Otherwise the cheapest replacement might be the G3258/MSI PC Mate combo for $100 plus 8GB of RAM for about $70, if you have a Microcenter near by. That's cheap enough that you can get a PCI-E NIC if the on-board Ethernet doesn't provide good enough performance.

It gets a bit more expensive if you have to order from Newegg or Amazon as they don't have the same combo MB/CPU deal available.

Either way that provides you with comparable performance (better if you overclock) at a reasonable price and upgrade options for the future.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Sun Jul 27, 2014 10:13 pm

I should add that if you do decide to stick with your current system I do have a 4Gb kit (2 2GB sticks of G-Skill DDR2 memory) that I am not using since I upgraded to the G3258/PC Mate combo. The one thing I'm not sure about is how it would handle the overclocking as I never tried overclocking the memory since that seemed to be asking for trouble.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Mon Jul 28, 2014 4:48 am

Thanks guys for your answers:

@just brew it! : I'm pretty sure it's just the RAM. I tested the current kit with memtest86 and it fills the log with errors. I also replaced it with an even older 1gb kit that I had laying around and it seemed to work fine. But I can't live with just a gig of RAM.

@JustAnEngineer : The CPU itself is fine and the OC potential ridiculous. I reached 3.6ghz w/o too much effort and I should be able to go even higher with better RAM. I've seen some lucky people go above 4ghz with one of these. But the platform itself has started to show its age: DDR2, SATA2, USB2, crappy NIC and no UEFI.

I live in the EU, so accurate pricing discussions are not very useful. But some things still apply. DDR2 prices are ~double compared to DDR3 and Z97 boards are still pretty expensive. Also mATX is out of the question since my graphics card has a triple-slot cooler and I also have a Xonar DG. I'll manage to find a boards that suits my needs though. Right now, I'm worried about the big picture, namely selling the rig or fixing it.

@Airmantharp: That's what I'm afraid of too. I don't know for how long I'll be able to keep it alive.

@nanoflower: I live in the EU, in a country with no acces to either amazon or newegg. But I think I'll be able to choose the parts by myself, not a big problem there.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Mon Jul 28, 2014 5:29 am

The ancient Xonar DG sound card uses a PCI slot. If you upgrade to a modern motherboard, you should retire that obsolete card. Use on-board audio or upgrade to a PCIe sound card.

You can fit a triple-wide graphics card and another PCIe card on a micro-ATX motherboard. Most of them have four PCIe slots.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Mon Jul 28, 2014 6:04 am

Indeed it is pretty ancient, but to replace it, I would need a pretty high-end motherboard or the DGX. My headphones benefit from the integrated amplifier in a big way. I think I'll be fine with a lower end Z87 or Z97 board since most of them have a PCI slot.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:22 am

Doesn't Corsair have lifetime warranty on their ram or did I miss reading something in the post?
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:57 am

There are loads of DDR2 sticks on ebay, even in the EU.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Kingston-KHX8 ... 1c4376191c
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Mon Jul 28, 2014 10:08 am

anotherengineer wrote:Doesn't Corsair have lifetime warranty on their ram or did I miss reading something in the post?


This. Getting free DDR2 back from Corsair should be your first avenue. If it's still screwed after than then the platform has aged. It could be a flaky PSU or motherboard - we don't know why you think it's a memory fault but if you're not 100% certain it's more likely to be something else. RAM isn't usually the sort of stuff that works fine for a few years and then stops: It normally dies due to infant mortality within the first month or so, otherwise it takes an external factor like power surge or static discharge to kill it. I'm thinking flaky motherboard or PSU power regulation since those are the most common culprits.


For gaming, your PC is getting pretty long in the tooth. It'll probably tick over just fine on current titles but I wouldn't spend any money on a DDR2 system anymore if the Corsair warranty fails you;
Fleabay the remaining parts and get yourself a 1150 platform with a decent NIC and something better for gaming like an R9 270x
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Mon Jul 28, 2014 11:54 am

Indeed the RAM kit has a lifetime warranty. However, I didn't know until today that I could send them back to the retailer from where I bought it. Good thing I kept the receipt. When I contacted Corsair directly, they told me I need to ship it to the Netherlands by myself. I could have bought another DIMM with that money so it wasn't really worth it.

Also, here's my reasoning for the faulty RAM:

1) I have had a Seasonic Bronze PSU for 3 years now. I overspent on it for this exact reason and I don't think I could have gotten anything better at that time.
2) The mobo/cpu combo runs fine with a borrowed RAM kit.
3) The old DIMMs fill the Memtest86 log with errors, even when only one of them is present.

The GTX470 is fine for what I play atm (diablo, sc2, some indie games). SC demands pretty high single-threaded performance, but that doesn't concern the GPU. I gave up on most AAA games since the BF, NFS and AC franchises went pretty much down the drain. Bioshock Infinite ran fine with medium-high settings and I'm happy with that. The only game for which I would want to upgrade my GPU is GTA 5, but that one is still some months away. The GPU upgrade can wait for the moment.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:35 pm

Ah okay, top marks for double-blind fault elimination.
The replacement RAM is all you need and the 470 is perfectly decent for games you've listed, and I suspect it will actually be half-decent playing GTA5.
I have workstation with all the CPU and GPU power but I seem to do all most of my gaming these days on an old core2 quad with a mid-range GTX660, and that unimpressive setup is enough even for BF4 and Crysis3.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:46 pm

I've had RAM go bad. It doesn't happen often but it can happen.

I tend to agree with the "replace RAM and keep going" point of view, it sounds like you can't beat this system for less than a lot of money. Might be time to start saving for an upgrade in another year or so, though.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Mon Jul 28, 2014 4:11 pm

Geo2160 wrote:3) The old DIMMs fill the Memtest86 log with errors, even when only one of them is present.


So two sticks died at the same time? That still makes me think something else killed them...
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:05 pm

deepblueq wrote:
Geo2160 wrote:3) The old DIMMs fill the Memtest86 log with errors, even when only one of them is present.


So two sticks died at the same time? That still makes me think something else killed them...


The system started BSODing a few months ago when I upgraded my E8400 to the current Xeon. This is pretty much a hack, and the new processor wasn't running perfectly so I assumed the BSODs had something to do with it. Par example: the temperature sensors for two of the cores are stuck at 50 degrees C. For all I know one of the DIMMs could have been running fine on the E8400 although it wasn't exactly "healthy" and the other one died recently.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:36 pm

OK, wait... I'm confused now. The system became unstable when you upgraded the CPU, but you think the *RAM* is the culprit? Am I missing something (or misunderstanding something you wrote) here?
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:44 pm

Yeah, if your CPU isn't fully supported by the BIOS (I know this, having tried many times to get a C2Q 9450 running on an Abit IP35 Pro after Abit folded and BIOS writing was left to the hacker crowd) nothing good will happen.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:44 am

just brew it! wrote:OK, wait... I'm confused now. The system became unstable when you upgraded the CPU, but you think the *RAM* is the culprit? Am I missing something (or misunderstanding something you wrote) here?


They started acting strange at roughly the same time so indeed the CPU has been the prime suspect. But it now runs fine with another RAM kit and the old one reports errors in memtest86. What would you make of this?

Well, I just sent my old Corsair kit back. Let's see what they say.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:55 am

Did you ever test the RAM in another system? It could be that the incomplete support for your CPU in the BIOS (am I correct that this is the situation?) is causing compatibility issues with the RAM.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:14 pm

Unfortunately, I don't know anybody else with a functional DDR2 desktop, most people I know don't even have a desktop computer anymore.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Tue Jul 29, 2014 6:52 pm

Imo, get a new platform (mobo+CPU+DDR3) if you are not extremely budget-limited.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:16 pm

MadManOriginal wrote:Imo, get a new platform (mobo+CPU+DDR3) if you are not extremely budget-limited.


I would, but which one? One is pretty much dead and the other is pretty expensive to upgrade, especially if I want to overclock.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:36 pm

Why not tell everyone trying to help that it looks like you did this LGA 771 to 775 Adapter (MOD) – Run Cheap Xeon CPUs in a Core 2 Quad Motherboard
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:37 am

I suspect most people who replied already know about this. Nobody asked me how I was able to put a socket 771 CPU in a socket 775 motherboard.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:47 am

Not everyone has memorized which socket each model of CPU fits in. In general, if you've intentionally done something unusual with your system configuration it is always best to mention it up front to keep people from potentially going down blind alleys.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:00 pm

It's a completely moot point since the processor and motherboard are tested and working fine with a different RAM kit.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:10 pm

I was speaking in general terms. When asking for troubleshooting assistance, it is always a good idea to mention anything that might be relevant to the discussion in the first post rather than letting people make (possibly incorrect) assumptions based on incomplete information.
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Re: Old rig. Upgrade it or fix it?

Postposted on Wed Jul 30, 2014 3:45 pm

Might point out that I learned about the BSEL Xeon mod literally last week -- and mostly because I got my hands on a 5yo Dell dual-Xeon workstation and started researching upgrade options, since the parts are pretty cheap on eBay at this point. I had probably heard about it in some distant past tech site article but that knowledge had long since evaporated.

I had to read the OP's system description twice to realize what was going on.
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