PC Upgrade

amacfarl used Ask the Experts™
Hi All,

Attached below is a system report outlining the details of my computer.  I believe it is around 4-5 years old.

I don;t use it for games, but I do require a little bit of a punch.  I use Oracle Virtual Box and run a number of virtual images.  Also I have a few TBs of data on a server in the house that it needs to crunch through...

I am thinking that all it needs is new motherboard and chip + memory?  The DVD, HDs etc are all fine.  

The question that I have is (a) is that all that is needed or do you recommend anything else?  (b) do you recommend just reusing the case or purchasing a new case?


   Computer Type   ACPI x86-based PC  
   Operating System   Microsoft Windows 7 Professional  
   OS Service Pack   Service Pack 1  
   Internet Explorer   9.0.8112.16421 (IE 9.0)  
   DirectX   DirectX 11.0  
   Computer Name   DUNIAN-PC (DunianPC)  
   User Name   Dunian  
   Logon Domain   Dunian-PC  
   Date / Time   2012-12-29 / 07:50  
   CPU Type   QuadCore Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200, 2333 MHz (7 x 333)  
   Motherboard Name   Pegatron IPIBL-LB (Benicia) (1 PCI, 2 PCI-E x1, 1 PCI-E x16, 4 DDR2 DIMM, Audio, Video, Gigabit LAN, IEEE-1394)  
   Motherboard Chipset   Intel Bearlake G33  
   System Memory   3328 MB  
   DIMM1: Samsung M3 78T5663QZ3-CF7   2 GB DDR2-800 DDR2 SDRAM (6-6-6-18 @ 400 MHz) (5-5-5-15 @ 333 MHz) (4-4-4-12 @ 266 MHz)  
   DIMM3: Samsung M3 78T5663QZ3-CF7   2 GB DDR2-800 DDR2 SDRAM (6-6-6-18 @ 400 MHz) (5-5-5-15 @ 333 MHz) (4-4-4-12 @ 266 MHz)  
   BIOS Type   AMI (02/23/09)  
   Video Adapter   ATI Radeon HD 4300/4500 Series (512 MB)  
   Video Adapter   ATI Radeon HD 4300/4500 Series (512 MB)  
   3D Accelerator   ATI Radeon HD 4350 (RV710)  
   Monitor   HP 2311x (DVI) [23" LCD] (3CQ208D7Q1)  
   Monitor   HP VS19 [19" LCD] (CNN61213TM)  
   Audio Adapter   ATI Radeon HDMI @ ATI RV710/730/740 - High Definition Audio Controller  
   Audio Adapter   Realtek ALC1200 @ Intel 82801IB ICH9 - High Definition Audio Controller [A-2]  
   IDE Controller   Standard AHCI 1.0 Serial ATA Controller  
   Storage Controller   MagicISO SCSI Host Controller  
   Disk Drive   SAMSUNG HD103SI ATA Device (1000 GB, 5400 RPM, SATA-II)  
   Disk Drive   ST1000DM003-9YN162 ATA Device (1000 GB, 7200 RPM, SATA-III)  
   Optical Drive   MagicISO Virtual DVD-ROM0000  
   Optical Drive   TSSTcorp CDDVDW TS-H653Q ATA Device (DVD+R9:16x, DVD-R9:12x, DVD+RW:22x/8x, DVD-RW:22x/6x, DVD-RAM:12x, DVD-ROM:16x, CD:48x/32x/48x DVD+RW/DVD-RW/DVD-RAM)  
   SMART Hard Disks Status   OK  
   C: (NTFS)   931.5 GB (181.5 GB free)  
   E: (NTFS)   931.5 GB (931.4 GB free)  
   Total Size   1863.0 GB (1112.9 GB free)  
   Keyboard   HID Keyboard Device  
   Mouse   HID-compliant mouse  
   Primary IP Address  
   Primary MAC Address   00-22-15-58-97-2F  
   Network Adapter   Realtek RTL8168C(P)/8111C(P) Family PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet NIC (NDIS 6.20) (  
   Network Adapter   VirtualBox Host-Only Ethernet Adapter (  
   Printer   Canon MX870 series FAX  
   Printer   Canon MX870 series Printer  
   Printer   Fax  
   Printer   Microsoft XPS Document Writer  
   Printer   Nitro PDF Creator (Pro 8)  
   Printer   Send To OneNote 2010  
   FireWire Controller   AT&T/Lucent IEEE1394 FireWire Controller (PHY: Agere LFW3226/3227)  
   USB1 Controller   Intel 82801IB ICH9 - USB Universal Host Controller [A-2]  
   USB1 Controller   Intel 82801IB ICH9 - USB Universal Host Controller [A-2]  
   USB1 Controller   Intel 82801IB ICH9 - USB Universal Host Controller [A-2]  
   USB1 Controller   Intel 82801IB ICH9 - USB Universal Host Controller [A-2]  
   USB1 Controller   Intel 82801IB ICH9 - USB Universal Host Controller [A-2]  
   USB1 Controller   Intel 82801IB ICH9 - USB Universal Host Controller [A-2]  
   USB2 Controller   Intel 82801IB ICH9 - USB2 Enhanced Host Controller [A-2]  
   USB2 Controller   Intel 82801IB ICH9 - USB2 Enhanced Host Controller [A-2]  
   USB Device   Apple iPad  
   USB Device   Apple iPhone  
   USB Device   Apple Mobile Device USB Driver  
   USB Device   Apple Mobile Device USB Driver  
   USB Device   Unknown Device  
   USB Device   USB Composite Device  
   USB Device   USB Input Device  
   USB Device   USB Input Device  
   DMI BIOS Vendor   American Megatrends Inc.  
   DMI BIOS Version   5.37  
   DMI System Manufacturer   HP-Pavilion  
   DMI System Product   FR615AA-ABU m9441uk  
   DMI System Version    
   DMI System UUID   AC096CEC-6F8EDD11-9C13011D-D02BA7C7  
   DMI Motherboard Manufacturer   PEGATRON CORPORATION  
   DMI Motherboard Product   Benicia  
   DMI Motherboard Version   1.01  
   DMI Motherboard Serial Number   MS1C87R70802003  
   DMI Chassis Manufacturer   Hewlett-Packard  
   DMI Chassis Type   Desktop Case
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Top Expert 2013

you can go with a new mobo, CPU and Ram
i would look into i-5, or i-7 series cpu, and at least 8 GB, or better 16 GB
while the disk drives are still OK, and can be used, have also a look into the 6 gb sata drives :

However, i found the biggest speed increase for my system came from installing an SSD for the OS - intel 160 GB SSD
i keep my data on a 1 TB drive
Most Valuable Expert 2015
If you need a new motherboard, CPU and RAM you might as well get a new PC. The price would be similar.

If you change the board, you would have to get a new Windows License (as you are probably currently running Windows 7 OEM as provided by HP, and OEM versions of Windows are only licensed to run on the mainboard they came with originally).

If you get a new PC, make sure you can get it with Windows 7 64 bit and not with Windows 8, or get it without OS and install a retail version of Windows 7 to it. Or install a Linux distro as main OS...

With the current system you could get more RAM. But you'd need a 64 bit version of your OS in order to be able to use the additional RAM. It looks as if you currently have a 32bit version installed.

If I'm not mistaken you could try the HP recovery process, I believe you should be able to choose between Windows 7x64 or x32 during the process, as normally you get both versions.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

So this is an HP?  It identifies itself as a "DMI System Manufacturer   HP-Pavilion" at one point.

If that's the case, then you need a new case because most if not all HP systems have custom motherboards and you can't just replace it and put a new one in the case (in most circumstances).  Plus, a motherboard sold today for a system with oomph will likely require a better power supply than you likely have.  Now, any replacement of motherboard that old will require a new CPU (that is part of the point, right?) and that will likely require replacing the RAM.  So you can still use the graphics cards, hard drives (if you want to wipe them) and the optical drive.

Now I don't bother with optical drives these days - I keep a USB one and use that on what has become a RARE occasion that I need it.

And a 5400 RPM hard drive is a bit slow compared to the 7200... I'd replace it, using the 5400 for long term/archive like storage.

I'd make sure you get at least 8 GB of RAM but RAM is so cheap now... my desktop has 32 GB and I think it cost me about $120.
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Imal UpalakshithaIT System Administrator

short answer is go to a new pc. proccessor you have is Intel Core 2 Quad which is DDR2 ram support & old socket type. it is in front side bus technology & now not used in intel latest sandy bridge technology. front side bus had some limitations in data transfer  & intel i serias has removed that.
other differences  http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/257243-28-difference-quad
latest sandy bridge memory frequency is above 1333Mhz.
another thing is sandy bridge series GPU has moved in to proccessor.
I personaly use core i5 2500 & there is a big difference i feel core 2 quad & sandy bridge

Most Valuable Expert 2013
Top Expert 2009
A bit of counterpoint ....

==>  First, if you DO want to upgrade, I agree that by the time you buy a motherboard, CPU, and memory, you may as well buy a new case and PSU for the system.    In fact, it's very likely you will HAVE to do this, as many HP systems won't work with ATX boards (they're often BTX or micro-BTX instead of ATX/micro-ATX).
==>  Second, a Q8200 isn't a bad CPU at all.    While a newer i5 or i7 will indeed have 2-4 times the CPU "horsepower", it's very likely you don't use what you already have in most cases.    You may want to consider a couple upgrades to your current system:

(a)  Replace the system drive with an SSD
(b)  Buy another pair of 2GB modules, upgrading the memory to 8GB.    Your report doesn't indicate whether you're running Win7 x32 or Win7 x64 ==> if you're running x32 you'll need to reinstall Windows from an x64 install media to take advantage of the larger amount of memory.     ... if you need to do that, I'd consider moving to Windows 8 instead.   You can get an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for only $39.95 from Microsoft through the end of January.   [Note:   You have to "jump through some hoops" to get the x64 upgrade if you're currently running an x32 system.   If that's the case, ask if you need help.]

But if your current OS is Windows 7 x64, it'd be very simple to just add 2 more memory modules and move the OS to an SSD ==> you'd likely be very happy with the improved performance you'd see from these modest changes.     [And if you later decided to upgrade anyway, the SSD could be used on the new system -- so the only "sunk cost" would be the additional memory modules.
Most Valuable Expert 2013

It's a micro-ATX board so the case options are pretty much normal

It will support a 64bit OS with up to 8GB RAM

You should make sure it's updated to the latest BIOS version if you are going 64bit though (v5.43)

This BIOS version does not have good SSD support via the integrated ICH9R SATA controller so a conventional 7200rpm HDD may be a better option

I'd go for the OS upgrade and add 2 x 2GB RAM, stick with the CPU, depending on what you're doing the 5400 > 7200RPM HDD change may not give you much for the $$.
Gary CaseRetired
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Top Expert 2009
"... does not have good SSD support via the integrated ICH9R SATA controller ..."  ==> ????

An SSD runs perfectly on IHC9 board !!    The only "issue" is that they're SATA-II ports ... not the newer SATA-III.    HOWEVER ... this is still VERY fast -- FAR faster than the sustained transfer speed of any rotating platter drive; and in fact as fast as many SSDs can sustain.

Further, the greatest speed boost from an SSD isn't the higher transfer rate -- it's the nearly instantaneous "access time" ... a few microseconds of "settling time" vs. 10-20 ms of seek and latency time.    Even on an older SATA-I system an SSD will make a BIG difference in performance.

Regardless of whether you elect to upgrade this system;  or simply buy a new motherboard/CPU/memory combo and install them in the same case, I would definitely buy a nice SSD for your system drive [The new Intel 335 is an excellent choice].

... but as I noted above, if you simply add 2 more 2GB modules, and an SSD, you'll almost certainly be VERY happy with the result.    Whether that will also require a reload is a function of whether or not your current OS is 64 bits.
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Sorry garycase, should have explained this was an issue with 4 pavilions we had with this board, changed to SSDs and although they were recognized data transfer rates were barely those of the 5400's we had HP look at them and that was the story we got back, the SATA controller/BIOS wasn't up to it and there wasn't going to be an update anytime soon so we dropped the idea.  All anecdotal, don't see anything to that effect on their site and may have all been smoke and mirrors.  They did have some incentive to fix though as we were renegotiating their contracting at the time.


Wow... many thanks for all the comments and thoughts.  Very kind of you all.  There are a lot of points, so I will try and tackle them one by one.

Three Options
(1) New Computer
(2) Upgrade Existing - Memory & SSD + 64 bit OS
(3) New motherboard & processor, case etc.

Option 1 - New Computer
My thoughts are that is a waste of money.  Personally I will be purchasing things that I dont need - e.g. Windows 8 (I have a W7 non OEM licence), Hard Drive, DVD etc. and will then need to spend money on things that I would like - e.g. SSD etc. Please do shout if you disagree - but I think this is a non option for me.

Option 2 - Upgrade Existing - Memory & SSD + 64 bit OS
The total cost of this option is:
- Memory - Approx £40 for 4GB
- SSD for OS - Approx £120 for 120 GB
- Windows 7 64 bit - No cost (I have a retail licence)
Total Cost: ~£160

If this does not work... the money wasted would only be the memory cost at £40.  However there is the point raised from MASQUERAID that infers that SSD for the motherboard would not be beneficial and I would have to change the motherboard.

Option 3 - New motherboard & processor, case etc.
A new motherboard + CPU + memory is approx. £300 (http://www.dabs.com/products/asus-intel-performance-bundle--includes-p8z77-v-lx--intel-core-i5-3570k---8gb-black-mamba-ddr3--8BPY.html?catid=15005&src=3)
A new case is £60
120 GB SSD is £120
Total cost £480

So... as for options, I could go with Option 2 and if this doesn't work then go for Option 3 - the risk is £40 sunk cost lost.    There is also the option of going with Option 3 and not the SSD as many not be required.  I do have a Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM which I could use....instead.

So lots of options.  

Any further thoughts?  I would be interested to hear if you believe that my summary is correct or not.

Question - how could I benchmark my existing system and check the performance.  It would be good to compare pre and post upgrade performance


Top Expert 2013

Gary CaseRetired
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Top Expert 2009

Your summary is farily good -- but as I noted above, you do NOT need to be concerned about SSD performance with an ICH9 chipset.      I don't doubt Masqueraid's experiences;  but there have been a LOT of improvements in SSDs in the last couple years;  and it's also very likely your board has a newer BIOS than the ones that had the problem.

As for benchmarking your upgrade => PassMark is useless for that.    Since you're not changing your CPU, a CPU-based benchmark will give you identical results !!     If you go with the memory/SSD upgrade, I'd do two things:   (1)  Time your actual boot time NOW and after the upgrade.    [By "actual boot time" I mean from the point where the OS actually starts booting  [AFTER the POST delay (which is fixed, so it won't change no matter what upgrades you do with the same motherboard)]  until you hear the logon sounds (or see the desktop).    You'll notice a BIG improvement in this with an SSD (and a very minor difference with more memory).        (2)  Run HDTune on your current system disk; and on the new SSD.    The best "benchmark" however, is simply how much better the system "feels" to you => and I'm certain that with twice the RAM and an SSD it'll be MUCH nicer.
Most Valuable Expert 2015
Apart from the above, you said you used virtualization, and that's where you'll see a huge improvement by having more RAM. While up to now you can probably barely run your OS and a virtualized one simultaneously, with 8GB you can easily run 2 or 3 VM's at the same time, particularly if you have the VM's on separate HD's.
Gary CaseRetired
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Top Expert 2009
One other thought r.e. your comment "... I have a few TBs of data on a server in the house that it needs to crunch through... "  ==>  Your system has a gigabit network adapter ... but is your router have a gigabit switch?      (and are any switches you're using also gigabit?)

... THAT can make a HUGE difference in data you're moving around between systems.


Apologies for the delayed response in closing this question.  But I am a firm believer it is best to close it when it is all done and dusted.

I purchased a SSD drive, Memory and re-installed Windows 7 x64 bit.  Very surprised with the speed increase.  Option 2 worked well.  Many thanks to all for helping!!!  Always very impressed on the standard of help I get from this forum.
Top Expert 2013

i wonder why i was not credited - in my very first post i suggested just that :
>>  However, i found the biggest speed increase for my system came from installing an SSD for the OS - intel 160 GB SSD    <<

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