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Windows 7: A tale of two old machines... to upgrade or not ?

22 Mar 2012   #1

Win 2000 SP4 (!)
A tale of two old machines... to upgrade or not ?

Hello all, newbie to this forum but it looks like the right place.

I've got two old machines at home that I use for basic stuff, and I've been holding out for a long time but it seems like I may have to upgrade. So I want to see if it's worth it to upgrade one or both to Windows 7 or not. Or just buy/build a new machine...

I don't do any gaming, just web/email/office/pics/streaming video type stuff. No s/w dev or other hardcore processor-intensive stuff.

My dilemma is that both machines run Windows 2000 SP4 (and are perfectly stable, perfectly fast enough for me and I hate that they are being left behind), but I can't install Flash 11 and I can't work from home on either of these machines anymore for various reasons (IE 7+, Flash, Office 2010, VPN, required work anti-virus and other programs won't install anymore, etc).

#1 - "primary" machine I built in 2005...

AMD Athlon 64 2800+
Chaintech SK8T800 VIA motherboard (max 2GB RAM, PC3200 max)
ATI Radeon All-In-Wonder 7500 graphics, 64MB SDRAM
two IDE drives

#2 - ancient machine in the basement that I use for only web look-up, playing music while I'm puttering, used it to hack/upgrade a bunch of tivo's years ago, etc...

Pentium 4 2.8GHz
Asus P4T533 motherboard
512MB old-skool PC800/PC1066 RAM
Matrox G400 graphics, 32MB SDRAM @ 300 MHz but runs DirectX 9.0 (!)
currently running a single 20 GB IDE drive (!)

So... I have a few options but certainly don't want to spend much loot.

I've read from googling that folks had trouble getting the ATI Radeon 7500 card to work on Windows 7 --- I don't care about Aero or gucci graphics, just need to continue to be able to watch streaming video every now and then (not outputting to a big HD display). Funny how the old Matrox G400 is running DirectX 9.0, but the ATI 7500 will not.

Looks like I'm pretty well hosed on the RAM for the P4 machine.... RAM looks stupidly expensive.

A -- get up to 2GB RAM on the Athlon64 machine, and install a new SATA hard drive, and install Win7 64-bit. Put the older IDE drives into the P4 machine and keep it as a Win2k box in the basement for now. Deal with ATI 7500 card?

B -- Try Win7 on just the 1.5GB RAM and the IDE drives (one drive runs the OS and programs, the other is just all data/files).

C -- Break down and buy a cheap laptop instead to use only/mostly for work (a decent one would give me portability and HDMI out which would be nice). Just tough for me to stomach $250-400 when I now have a Droid RAZR and my wife has a nearly new Asus core-i5-2410 laptop with 6GB RAM and etc/etc... so my home desktop gets a little less usage now but I can't hog her laptop to work from home.

D -- Break down and just go all-out, buy a hex core monster machine (hey the Athlon Phenom II x6 barebones machines look cheap) so I'll hopefully be good for another 8-10 years?

E -- some option(s) I'm not thinking of ?

Any opinions or advice is appreciated! I have Windows 7 at work and I do like it.

Since I'm in Atlanta I do have MicroCenter close by, so parts could be cheaper than I think and/or I could just get a cheap refurb laptop or something to use for work, or maybe a new mobo/CPU/RAM combo kit to slap into my current Athlon64 box instead, and retire the P4?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Mar 2012   #2


Given the age of those machines and the probablity of failure of one or more components due to age and time, I would 100% go for a new machine, the issue isn't really with those by themselves, they fall short of the minimum recommended specs for windows 7 anyway but they also fall short of the minimum specs needed for flash player to run smoothly sure it will run but it won't be pretty.

Even if you buy new now, you may find that 8-10 years will be unrealistic in terms of expected life, just a hunch of course but there is some really crazy stuff coming our way over the next 5-10 years which will make all of us reach into our wallets to replace our computers with monsters that we don't hide under a desk.

given how good even low end computers are these days i would consider spending less and getting an i3 or amd equivilent 4gb ram system and going from there, even a laptop would be not to terrible a choice ( do note i currently dispise all laptops due to poor quality).

choices, go for an average priced laptop....wouldn't be my first choice
go for a decent desktop expecting it to last no more than 3-5 years at best.

if your in a rush then i'd look for a bargain as some places will be looking to offload their sandybridge stock in the coming months but given they are good still they will hold their prices somewhat.

sorry if i'm not softening this up for you, but old is old, if you go for a mobo bundle you'll want a new psu anyway as the risk of failure and taking the whole lot out is just not something any of us want to consider, picking up a pre build or a complete new custom build will be a safer choice.

Micro Center - Hewlett-Packard Pavilion HPE h8-1120 Desktop Computer QP771AA#ABA i know it's not cheap but it gives you an idea.
Micro Center - ASUS X53E-RH32 Laptop Computer - Black X53E-RH32 asus laptop

both available in store at the Greater Atlanta/Marietta Micro Center boom i love google:)

It's an awkward time to offer recommendations as we are just about to hit a product change from intel, as well as a saturation of pci-e 3.0 gpu's and other hardware upgrades over the coming year, taking the plunge now means you miss out on those but we have to do that at some point as the market can shift very quickly.

I would normally suggest a custom build..personally i think you get better value for the money, and you get to pick your own parts...lights and fan colours and stuff fun fun...oops i went off on a tangent again...

tldr....ditch those and get a new one.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Mar 2012   #3

Win 2000 SP4 (!)

Yeah, I have never liked laptops. They always run hot, fail, and have shorter lifespans than a good clean desktop build. Sometimes, the portability is nice but I do have that already when travelling, for the most paqrt. I've always built my own computers, going back quite a ways. Sadly it tells the tale all by itself in my house, as my wife is on her 3rd laptop since I built the Athlon64 machine....

In a strange turn of fate, my boss put in a request for a laptop today.... so I may have the work-from-home angle completely cornered at some point soon. If my employer gets me a laptop sometime this century, I'll probably just try a $20 RAM chip and see if the Athlon64 machine will run Win7 ok. If it does, great. Then I can load Office 2010 and Motoactiv and Flash 11.x and be on my way for a while longer. Maybe even spin for a 7200 rpm SATA drive and dump the IDE drive into a USB external enclosure I have sitting around, make another external drive out of it all.

If not, break down and buy something. By that time, all the new CPUs and PCI-E 3.0 will hopefully drive down the costs of other low/mid-range stuff. and all that is hopefully something that doesn't become a dinosaur overnight.... oh wait.... that always happens... :)

My System SpecsSystem Spec


 A tale of two old machines... to upgrade or not ?

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