system rebuild, need mobo advice

my upgrade of the kids’ pc went well – especially since the older kids PC started working again too, so now I have two extra PCs. I am going to take over the newer system (newer being a highly relative term) and want to upgrade it even further. Earlier I just added an AG video card and some more RAM, but what I’d like to do is move away from the P4 platform and go dual-core. So my dilemma is that I need a mobo which:

– supports dual-core processors (Intel, my preference)
– supports AGP, not PCI Express
– uses PC 3200 RAM (DDR)

in other words, a board which supports modern processors but last-generation video cards and memory. Is this possible? Anyone have any suggestions? I am overwhelmed by the choices on newegg thus far and need some help here. I did find this board by ASRock which seems promising, but was hoping for a few more choices.

7 thoughts on “system rebuild, need mobo advice”

  1. I’d hesitate to recommend that upgrade path if you have any choice. For what a whole new system costs these days it’s probably not worth the headache.

    If you must go this route, it seems that the VIA PT800 pro is the only chipset that has the ability to support a Core2 processor and an AGP video card. According to the VIA site, that chipset can be found on the ASRock motherboard you found, as well as the ECS PT880PRO-A, and the Gigabyte GA-8VT880P Combo. I’ve never heard of ASRock before, but I’ve had good luck with ECS, one of my machines of about that generation has an ECS motherboard in it that is still running strong. Gigabyte of course is a major player but I’ve had reliability problems with them in the past, they don’t seem designed to last a long time.

  2. I agree with David’s first sentence. I have such a system, built in ’04 (It’s an Athlon XP; gets a 3.6 or so on the WEI in Vista due to the CPU). It runs pretty well, but the upgrade path is pretty close to dead. In particular, you will find that RAM costs something like twice as much as higher-speed stuff. I can buy 4GB of pc6400 (on sale) for half the price of a gig of pc3200 at Fry’s, and they run that sale on a regular basis.
    Also, AGP video cards are not quite at the hen’s teeth stage, but are getting close. I assume you want that slot architecture because you’ve already got a decent card, but you might wanna just get a good dual-core PCIe mobo with decent integrated graphics, and then get a better vid card later. I got a Fatal1ty mobo I’m pretty happy with; it had an ATI x1200 onboard, which was good enough for anything but gaming. The mobo was about $120.

  3. the problem is that I literally bought the AGP card last week, along with two sticks of PC 3200 RAM, to upgrade an older PC with an ASUS P4s533-e mobo. so thats where I am starting from.

    Now, that box runs much better, and WOW works and I can do Aero, but the P4 CPU is still a bottleneck (3.5 WEI – cpu the weak point, would be in mid 4’s otherwise). What i really want is to get a dual core chip mainly for the power consumption and the multitasking (i know P4s do hyperthreading, but thats not teh same). I dont really need more graphics performance (this is the only PC in my house with a graphics card, not integrated graphics now – most of what we do is web, office docs, and my MATLAB work). I just want a machine i can play around with and experiment on.

    My cost for teh card and ram upgrade was $140 and so i really dont want to put more than another 150 into this box. Of course if I had been thinking a bit more ambitiously last week and gone for the full mobo/cpu/graphics card/ram it might have cost about teh same, but Im committed now 😛 anyway if i get a hybrid board I still can upgrade to pci-express later, and i dont think my PC 3200 ram wil be a major performance drain. I wouldnt see much benefit above 2GB anyway. it isnt optimal, but itss till upgradeable. since its not my primary PC but a box i can learn vista on and play occassional games (waaaay behind the leading edge curve), its not that big a deal.

    I cant find that ECS or Gigabyte board mentioned at newegg. is there anyother retailer you buy from?

  4. interesting – Anandtech found that on a previous version of the ASRock board, AGP performance was actually better than PCI-e performance, due t bandwidth issues. It looks like there wont be any point in upgrading someday to a pci-e 16x video card if i go this path. See:

  5. Fledge: gotcha.

    Still, keep in mind that there are now dual-core Pentium 4s. They’re considered low-end, since they don’t have as much cache as the Core Duos, but you can find sub-$550 laptops with 15″ screens and a dual-core P4.

    I don’t suppose you can return the card and ram?

    1. i guess i could return them, though i need to double check the policy. but its such a pain!!

      honestly – how much of a performance hit am I really taking by going this route versus if I had done a pci-e board from the start?

  6. It’s not so much the performance hit of AGP versus PCIe as the fact that you’re painting yourself into a corner by insisting on buying a board with obsolete tech.

    The AGP card and RAM you just bought are sunk costs. I know it feels bad, but my advice is to ignore them. 4GB of new RAM should only set you back $50 or so, and PCIe video cards good enough to run something like WoW should be similarly cheap.

    This way, not only will you have a faster system, but your upgrade path in the future will look a lot better.

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