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Upgrade PC or New Build


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#1 of 12 OFFLINE   fuderring

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Posted July 09 2013 - 11:14 PM

 I've got an old PC (2008) that I've been using as a Media Server for a while but am underwhelmed with its performance during HD playback (skips and starts). My question is, is it worthwhile to make some small upgrades to improve performance, or should I start from scratch and build a new MCPC? My music and videos are stored externally and I use JRiver Media Center to play my music and watch videos.

The Specs for the existing PC are as follows:
HP Pavilion Elite M9100z
- Processor: Phenom-9500 (A) (2.2GHz / 2000 MHz HyperTransport 1.0) AM2; 2 x 2 MB L2 cache (95W)
- Memory: 6 GB (2 x 2 GB, 2 x 1 GB) DDR2 PC2-6400 (max of 8)
- HD: 750 GB 7200 rpm SATA 3G (3.0 Gb/sec)
- Optical Drive: 16X DVD(+/-)R/RW 12X RAM (+/-)R DL LightScribe SATA
- Networking: Wireless LAN 802.11 a/b/g/n & Bluetooth (Integrated)
- Sound: SoundBlaster X-Fi Xtreme
- Graphics: GeForce 8500GT
- OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit)

Monitor
- Pioneer Elite Pro1140HD

Is it worth upgrading what I have or should I start from scratch?

If new, cost conscience build recommendations would be appreciated.

FYI, I have a NIB 3TB Seagate Barracuda HD & Windows 8 Pro 64.
 


 


#2 of 12 ONLINE   mattCR

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Posted July 13 2013 - 08:19 AM

In many cases, the big upgrade is just this: pull motherboard and processor, replace.  You basically have a new PC at that point.


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#3 of 12 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted July 13 2013 - 08:24 AM

I know "nothing" about computer hardware.

 

I went to the local "computer fix it/custom guy" with my Acer laptop. Its keyboard died and shuts down at random if you touch it. So, I was going to use it as a server.

 

He goes...

 

"I can fix that one up for you for $275*, or I can build you a new laptop that can do 7.1 off BD, 5.1 from streaming, playback SACD/DVD-A and do HD over bluetooth or wifi for $575**."

 

Guess which one I did.

 

* The $275 would not have included 7.1 nor SACD/DVD-A

** The $575 included reusing the hardrive(which is already big enough), lcd and Dolby sound from the current Acer(as in those parts are fairly universal anyway. And he got to keep whatever was left useful of the originating Acer).



#4 of 12 OFFLINE   sean1976

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Posted July 13 2013 - 08:57 AM

In many cases, the big upgrade is just this: pull motherboard and processor, replace.  You basically have a new PC at that point.

Yeah but will the new motherboard accept that old ddr2 RAM.. probably not.  New Ram isn't expensive though,  shell out an extra 100 bucks and you can get yourself 8 gigs of ddr3 ram. The memory should improve your playback problems with big files as well I would think,  though it might be time to upgrade that video card.  Now is a great time to buy as Nvidia just came out with their new line of cards,  so the older ones are discounted.

http://www.newegg.co...N82E16814125457

http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820145345


Edited by sean1976, July 13 2013 - 08:59 AM.

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#5 of 12 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted July 28 2013 - 08:53 PM

Don't know what you ended up doing, but if you haven't decided yet, I'd recommend ditching all the HP-specific parts and go from there -- never buy HP, IMHO. No point in keeping Win Vista either.

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#6 of 12 ONLINE   mattCR

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Posted August 02 2013 - 05:00 PM

New RAM is a likelihood no matter what because it's both cheap and because if you're running older RAM, now is the time to grab 8Gb+


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#7 of 12 OFFLINE   Dave Moritz

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Posted August 17 2013 - 06:33 AM

There is not a lot you can do since it is an HP and I would recommend starting from scratch with a new pc.  But I would have a custom pc built with all aftermarket parts from the case all the way up.  With an aftermarket case you can upgrade when ever you want and use the same case over and over unless you want to upgrade to a bigger case.  Then it is just a matter of taking all your components and installing them in the new case because it is all interchangeable.  It is not like getting a Dell, HP, Sony because they are all proprietary and you have to use there motherboards and in many cases there memory and you are stuck with there case and they do not have the best airflow ether.

 

I would go with 8gb minimum of memory and you could run WIndows7 32bit, anything more than that memory wise you will have to step up to 64bit Windows which isn't a bad thing.  I would run 16gb of memory with Windows 7 64bit as memory is not super expensive until you get higher speed memory.  Depends on how well you want your system to perform!  Another beauty of going with an aftermarket case is you can build and Intel system and change it to an AMD or vise verse if you decide your not happy with it 4-5 years down the road.  If you are streaming content off the net you will need a good internet connection to keep up with the content especially if you are doing HD content and if you have multiple HD sources hooked up to the internet.  

 

Win Vista was bad and it never was very good.  I like Windows XP and it is rock solid but Microsoft doesn't support it anymore so the best thing you can do is move up to WIndows 7!  Personally I do not like the Windows 8 interface and if you have older programs you love there is a chance at this point in time they may not work on Windows 8.  I run a custom pc running Windows 7 pro 64bit with 16gb of ddr1600 and an eight core amd  processor, personally if I would have had more cash I would have gone with the Intel i7 processor.  I like motherboards from Gigabyte and ASUS and they make boards for both the Intel and AMD platform.  I would stay away from brands like Acer, Biostar, elitegroup (ESC), foxconn and even asrock.  For motherboards I like Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and EVGA for intel builds.  EVGA makes Intel boards and the other three build boards for both AMD and Intel platforms.  For hard drives I would stick with Western Digital or Seagate for traditional hard drives and make sure you go with sata 3 drives to get the best performance and the more cache the better.  Standard hard drives give you the most storage for the buck but are not the fastest and are more prone to bogging down with multiple programs loading at the same time or just taking longer.  SSD or solid state memory chip hard drives are better in performance but you will pay a premium for them and the larger drives get very very expensive.  SSD for a home theater pc could be nice for the OS and to run the software to view your content and you can get away with a 120 - 240gb SSD and not have to pay to much for the drive.  Standard drives would be better if you plan to store alot of HD content just because you can get 2-4 tb drives cheap.  If you build the best system performing system you can afford it will last longer and stay usable longer as well and you shouldn't have to upgrade it as soon IMHO.


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#8 of 12 OFFLINE   robcy

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Posted September 19 2013 - 05:24 PM

Not sure if you I am late, but here are my two cents.'

 

Replace Vista with 7 64bit.  6gb is sufficient for just about any type of media playback, so while 8 gb is good, it most likely will not offer a benefit.

 

If your interface is slow, replace the computer.

If your are only having playback speed issues, replace you video card.  Any AMD HD7750 (read cheap) or GTX 650 (non Ti) will more that handle any video you put on it.  They also do not create a large amount of heat in your case, and can be bought for less than $100.

 

I like to build/buy new computers, but I love cheap upgrades. 

 

Hope this helps.



#9 of 12 ONLINE   mattCR

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Posted September 19 2013 - 07:53 PM

Rob has the most important advice.   Vista will never make a great media center.  I missed that.


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#10 of 12 OFFLINE   Selden Ball

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Posted October 02 2013 - 09:48 AM

I suspect the original poster has completely forgotten about his query. It was back in July, after all.

 

However the networking line raised a red flag for me. If you want reliable straming of audio and video, you need to use hard-wired connections: Ethernet or power-line networking, for example. WiFi uses frequency ranges that anybody can use without a license. Wireless connectivity tends to be intermittent and gets worse with time as more and more neighbors install their own, adding to the interference. Cordless phones and poorly insulated microwave ovens are a couple of the major causes of WiFi network dropouts.


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#11 of 12 OFFLINE   SoundSolutions

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Posted November 14 2013 - 11:16 PM

I would salvage what you have. Keep the i5-3330 (maybe upgrade in a year or two), you got good RAM and HDD. Also, WIndows 7 is on the HDD.



#12 of 12 OFFLINE   Mike Veroukis

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Posted December 04 2013 - 01:54 PM

I agree with Seldan Ball. A new PC isn't likely to solve the issue. I have an even older media server and it works fine for HD content. Only difference is that I use a dedicated 1000Gb wired line. If wireless is the only option, you may want to consider wireless AC adapter and an AC router and that also goes for any wireless clients as well. the AC standard allows for both 2.4Ghz and 5.8Ghz channels to be used simulataneously. That should also work but nothing beats wired.


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