PIII 450 How Should I upgrade?

ferwoods used Ask the Experts™
I am currently using a Pentium 3 450 Computer. A Dell Dimension XPS T450 to be exact running with 256 megs of Ram.

I want to start playing some new games (Medal of Honor, Max Payne...) however my computer will not handel it because of 2 reasons.

1) My ATI Rage Pro 2x graphic card does not support OpenGL in Xp
2) I believe even with a new graphics card my computer is to slow.

What is the best way for me to upgrade this computer and how can I do it? If I by a new graphics card, ram, processor will I be able to place the new chip on my motherboard? Could someone please explain.

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WakeupSpecialist 1


Unfortunately you may not be able to upgrade the CPU.  You can upgrade the ram "most likely"  and the Video card.  But The Motherboard is proprietary.  Also P3's are not too easy to come by and can generally cost more than P4's.  My suggestions are this:

1.  Leave the old machine intact, give it to the kids a niece or nephew?  Grandchildren?!  etc...Donate it as a tax write off?


2.  Part out what you can from this Dell Dimension XPS T450 machine.  And salvage what you can.  And get a new Case and motherboard and CPU etc...and salvage the rest.

3.  Try to find a P3 processor that will work with your old board that is faster than what you have now.  And upgrade your ram if possible.  I am guessing your ram is PC133 or PC100.  So should be cheap and still fairly easy to find if you get PC133. PC100 is hard to find.

P3 processors: http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProduct.asp?submit=manufactory&catalog=343&manufactory=1157&DEPA=1&sortby=14&order=1
Ranging from around $45.00 and up.  Not many available.  1.0 - 1.4 ghz.  some are Intel Celeron 3's...so keep in mind what your machine can handle.
It may not be able to use 1ghz processors and up.

PC133 ram:

starts at like $18.00 for 64 mb stick...kind of expensive.

Found this:
PC Club has 128 mb for $18.00

Anyway good luck!

You will see the biggest increase with a new video card - preferable one with DDR ram.  I think you will be impressed at the difference.

No, you will not, quite often, mid-low end computers like this one will experience a slower performance due to a higher end graphics card, it would be best, as wakeup said, to salvage whatever you can, or give to a relative or friend.  Also, I find that Dell, or any other proprietary computers, such as IBM or COMPAQ do not function very well without thier inborn components and/or drivers.

However, if you just want to play max payne and MOH, you COULD try a new video card, since 450MHz and 256 MB ram is enough, and the ATI is not a really good gaming card.  Although at the rate the complexity of graphics is increasing, you would probably need a new system to play most of the games comming out anyways.

Besides, a new computer for gaming won't cost more than $1,000(US), and it would be a fairly good investment for future purposes.

I would at least see if a new card works before I spent all of that money - after all, you can always use the new card on a new computer if you decide it's not good enough on the old one.  I used a gforce2 ti with 64 MB DDR on a piii500, and it worked fine for games.

I understand your delema as wanting to be able to run the current software with this type of unit However.

You computer:
Dell Dimension XPS T450

Specs are listed as such:
System Information  
System chip set Intel 440BX AGPset
Data bus width 64 bits
Address bus width 32 bits
DMA channels seven  
Interrupt levels 15
System BIOS chip 4 Mb (512 KB)
System clock 100 MHz (matches external processor speed)
Diskette/communications ports 48 MHz from the system clock

Expansion Bus  
Bus types PCI (version 2.1), ISA, and AGP (version 1.0)
Bus speed AGP: 66 or 133 MHz
PCI: 33 MHz
ISA: 8.33 MHz
AGP expansion-card connectors one
AGP expansion-card connector size 124 pins
AGP expansion-card connector data width (maximum) 32 bits
PCI expansion-card connectors four
Shared PCI/ISA expansion-card connector one
PCI expansion-card connector size 120 pins
PCI expansion-card connector data width (maximum) 32 bits
ISA expansion-card connectors one (shares a card-slot opening with a PCI connector)
ISA expansion-card connector size 98 pins
ISA expansion-card connector data width (maximum) 16 bits

Upgrade ability:

That particular board is a BX440
It has a 100 FSB
What this means is your are stictly limited to the CPU speed you can put into it and judging from the information from the Dell site that would be a 850 CPU for that particular board.

The AGP slot is a version 1.0 (2X).
This is a older and outdated version meaning though you could use "some" of the newer video cards in it, you might not see much of the preformance you would be seeking to get the OpenGL effects you might be looking for, ie.. the card would have to run at a much slower speed that its capable of.

You could add more memory to the unit and you would see some decent improvement. Its hard to judge what one person finds acceptable as compared to another.
By this statement I mean:
Once you start using some of the newer machines and realizing the potential of them and the advantages you tend to increase your standards of what is acceptable to you.

If your thinking of upgrading it could cost you 'about' $170 to get you to a PIII 800, GeForce 4 440MX, and 256MB RAM.
Prices vary and are if you did work yourself and got from:

This would not guarantee that the system would still meet your needs for future software.

What I would suggest is weigh your current budget with what you could afford. Ask yourself reasonably what am I looking for and what is the maximum amount Im willing to spend.

I personally build my units (ie.. clone) so that I know what is in my box and what it will max out at. If you have that capability then thats great you can fit the peices all together and my be able to build a P4 1.7 or 2.0 Ghz machine for around 700 - 800 dollars.

Now you could buy another propriety (limited again) unit for much less but in time you might find yourself in the same situation again.

Please note for gaming purposes you are going to want a good video card. I would recomend for pricing purposes the GeForce 4 TI4200 (64MB or the 128MB). Its between $100 - $140 but it will give you the gaming speed without burning a hole to much in your wallet (As if $100+ isnt doing so).

When I buy a unit to build, things I look for is the motherboard. I find out what the Front Side Bus is on it and what is the maximum speed that board will do. That way I can buy a CPU thats fast and yet 6 months to a year down the road, I will be able to slap another faster CPU in there and not be out of date.

If your looking for a new board of this type make sure it has at least a 533 FSB most of these boards still are backward compatable to support the current 400FSB options and get you what your looking for.

Im a ASUS fan myself and have been partial to the socket 478  ASUS P4S533 motherboard.
It has a onboard network card, onboard sound (which is accually good), and it supports up to CPU speeds of 2.8+ Ghz. Even though Im only currently running a 400FSB 2.0Ghz Intel CPU in it.

Good luck. We can only offer advice, but when it comes to money decisions... thats a whole new ball park.


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