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Specific Upgrade and Vendor Questions, Please! :)

hi--and thank you for your help :))

i presently own a slow pc: Pentium 166MHZ, with 256 MB SDRAM. i'd like to upgrade. i'm not into games, or "sound" (playing MP3's, etc.). i would simply like a faster pc that will allow me to add Windows XP, and that doesn't "hang" when i try to do more than one thing at one time. anyway, i don't need an absolutely "top-end" system.

i have a number of questions that, perhaps, some of you pros will chime in on :))

i'm going to get a "barebones" system: just a new case, a motherboard, new cpu (and fan), and RAM. depending upon the motherboard, of course, i may need other things. I already have a perfectly good hard drive, CD-RW drive, Zip drive, etc. So getting a complete new system is not necessary.

one problem is, my local vendor sells barebones systems using AMPTRON motherboards. more than a few people have warned me to stay away from AMPTRON (poor support). Here are the links to the two AMPTRON motherboards (one for P4, the other for Athlon XP) I could get from the local vendor:



do others out there agree that AMPTRON, in general, is not the way to go? If AMPTRON is OK, would you kindly comment on the above boards?

another problem: i did put my present system together a few years ago, but that was a few years ago and with the help of a (since moved) neighbor. so, i'm a bit nervous about tackling this.

my questions:

1. are there specific vendors you folks use that have provided fast, reliable service and good support? If so, would you recommend them to me?

2. do you know any (many) who offer what i'm looking for: case, motherboard, fan, cpu, ram? will the vendor assemble and maybe even test the setup before shipping? i am not really afraid of buying. let's say, the motherboard from one vendor and the other parts from another--as long as attaching the motherboard won't be too much of a problem. can attaching the motherboard be a problem? do i need those plastic "spacers" i recall using?

3. an ASUS (i believe) motherboard has now been recommended to me twice: Model A7N266VM--for Athlon XP. Wondering if, by chance, anyone might happen to know of it?  

4. can attaching a fan be a problem? If so, should I have the vendor attach the fan, too?

5. about cases: i need a mid-tower case of a certain size (i just need one no taller than 16 1/2 inches and not wider than 7 or 7 1/2 inches--most i've seen are around that size it seems) i presume i can get case dimensions from the vendor? also, i was told that i should try to get a case that can handle various sized motherboards in case of an upgrade down the line. is this correct, and are such cases available?

Apologies for all the questions. there is another local vendor a bit further away than the one with the AMPTRON boards. i may visit them. if so, i may have additional questions. thank you all :))


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8/22/2022 - Mon



I hope this helps !

1. As far as venders I order my stuff from micro tek, and had good service.  I buy alot of parts in my local town because I dont want to wait, or because i can get just as good a deal, and some parts I dont like chancing by ordering online.  

2.  There are millions of people who sell barebone systems.  Try www.pricewatch.com.  It is a site that gives you a search based on price, and product.  Very very useful.  

3. Asus is the only brand of motherboard I buy.  I like the features they offer, and i have had good luck.  I have a A7V133A and a A7V266-E.  

4. Building a computer yourself is not too difficult assuming you have a basic understanding of the parts.  Mounting the motherboard is not typically tricky.  You have studs that come with most cases and screws that go into the studs.  You simply line up the holes.  Mounting the fan to the processor is probably the most tricky part of building a computer.  The problem is your using a fairly good amount of force to get a tiny fan to sit on a plastic square.  You can avoid this by buying pre seated motherboard processor combos.  And often when companies do that mounting for you they offer a better warrenty.  

5.  Cases come in all shapes and sizes today.  I suggest going to your nearst computer store and looking for what you need.  Cases weigh a bit more than your average computer part, so shipping can sometimes make them jsut as expensive as something you find in town.  Get one with at least a 350 watt power supply.  FOr what your doing 300 would be fine, however alittle extra never hurts, and the cost is probably about the same.  

Good luck.


Try this as your guide:


Pcpowerandcooling.com is the PC industry's leading supplier of power supply units and cooling systems.
They sell 'smart' PS units with overvoltage and overcurrent protection as well as other features not found in 'generic' (low-quality) PSUs.

For motherboards:
I would recommend Intel, ASUS, and Abit. These three are my favorite brands in terms of stability.

For processors (CPU):
Since you are not into gaming and heavy graphics applications, I would recommend Intel's Pentium 3s and 4s.

Athlons are good but they require extra cooling hardware and power because they tend to overheat not just during heavy graphics applications, voltagewise, these chips have higher ratings than Pentium 4s.

For questions 4 & 5:

Go to http://www.pcpowerandcooling.com  =)
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If you want a case that can accommodate even a full ATX size motherboard and additional drive bays without compromising its internal cooling space, go for a mid-tower size case.

God bless. =)

For memory:
I would recommend http://www.crucial.com =)

AMD does not require "extra" cooling.  And they do not over heat simply because they are hot.  Intel p4 chips run in the same range as AMD, and P4 chips would burn up too should the fan quit working, except that the p4 chip supports a throttling technology that powers the chip down should this occure.  This is one reason why I would chose a AMD based Asus motherboard.  They have a fail safe built in typically, yet you get the power and lower price of the AMD chip.  
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to all, i thank you for your ongoing, intelligent, informed comments. they're so helpful to me. i hope you don't mind if i keep this open for a while as i go through this process of finally determining what i'll get.

i'm leaning heavily towards an ASUS motherboard. there's a NY vendor that was suggested to me: JNCS (www.jncs.com), that offers motherboard bundles that come with cpu, fan, RAM all mounted and pre-tested. the shipping packaging looks exquisite, as well. there appears to be excellent support.

i have a "case problem". i need a case not taller than 16 1/2 inches, so i think i'll buy a case locally and hope i can mount it easily enough. the board i'm sort of focused on is an ASUS A7N266VM. it has on-board sound and video (i'm not a game person, or a "sound" (music) person, so i'm not too concerned about those aspects. besides, there's and AGP slot, if needed, for video upgrade. the board is "microATX", so, obviously, i'll need to get a case that supports it--and, as mentioned, i'll buy it locally: to be sure it fits the dimensions i need.

do you gentlemen know of anything i should look for in purchasing a case that might prove to be a hindrance in installing a microATX board? are there plastic "spacers" that hold the motherboard away from the case? do these "spacers", and also the screws that secure the motherboard to the case, come with the case? or with the motherboard? in short, are there things (pitfalls) i should know about in buying the case, then trying to secure the board to the case?

will a 300-watt power supply be ok? or do i definitely need 350?

finally: memory. i understand that since both the sound and the video are on the motherboard they use up main memory. do you recommend i get 512MB versus 256. or do you feel 256 is enough?

thanks again :)

marylyn :)    

I would go with the 350 as I said the cost will probably be the same or close.  I would go with 512 because memory is cheap, and as you said your onboard equipment will use the same memory.  The micro ATX board is a smaller foot print, just make sure when you buy your case that it supports the micro board.  Most cases come with a set of spacers, yet for some reason they do not always have enough.  I would buy an extra set when you get your case just incase, they should be very cheap.  Good luck.


Be wary about buying products that are 'bundled' with other items. Chances are some of them may be of low quality or perhaps used/refurbished/old parts. =)
Your help has saved me hundreds of hours of internet surfing.

Um... If it is a reputable shop, if you are buying a board processor fan combo, they will typically offer at least a year warrenty.  One of the shops I bought from would give you a 3 year warrenty for 30 dollars.  So as long as they offer the warrenty I would not be too worried about it.
And, you do not have to worry about putting the fan on the chip.

thanks again to all. i wanted to report back to let you all know what i decided on as far as the motherboard is concerned:

i bought an Asus motherboard: A7N266VM, Athon XP2200 (with fan), with 256 DDR memory. The board is assembled, pre-tested, and comes with 1 year of support from vendor. Price: $282--normally $312 but all motherboard bundles were $30 off today, so I just went ahead and bought.

i'm grateful to all who steered me away from the local outfit's AMPTRON board bundle.

again, thanks to everyone for your support. now it's on to getting a case, locally, for a microATX that will fit my needs.  i'll keep this topic open till i get the thing together sometime next week. i may need some more expert advice if i run into trouble :))  

marylyn :))

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thank you to all who contributed. i located a mid-tower case through a local vendor. i took a chance on a 300W power supply (all they had outside of very high-priced "gaming" cases), but i think it should be fine. it includes a second fan (besides the power supply fan) for cooling the cabinet. i was careful to get one that support a microATX board, but it also supports a full-sized board should i need to upgrade.

thanks, again, to all who contributed!

marylyn :)
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I am glad you accepted the answer from a person who gave you wrong advice.  

i don't believe that snide comment was called for. perhaps, in retrospect, you are correct: he did tell me that AMD chips heat up more.

nevertheless, he did recommend asus, and he certainly took ample time to try to respond to my plight (as did you, i might add).

look, i'm sorry. this is the second time i've received nasty comments for my selection. i like this site very much. i find it extremely helpful, but i must say the after-the-fact comments are unappreciated. do these points really mean that much to you?

if i awarded these points wrongly--again, i apologize. i do thank you for your valued assistance.


I do not care about the points.  I care about if you get bad advice or not.  I admit I do not know everything, and I maynot always give the best advice.  I just think that in the future, you should becarful, and if experts answering your question do not agree, you should ask for them to explain why they disagree.  Good luck.  
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again, i'm sorry this selection caused a ruckus. i thank you again for your knowledeable help.