Newbie--slow CPU what to do? (graphics upgrade question too)


Jan 2, 2006
I have a Dell 4550. It is old, but I am trying to upgrade it to make it as good as it can be. While doing this, I am teaching myself all about computers and how they work. So, I have the max memory my mobo will take: a gig of pc 2700 333mhz ddr ram. I have a pentium 4 2.00ghz cpu, and currently have an ATi Radeon 9600 SE 128mb 64bit graphics card.

Ok, so here are my questions:
1. For good graphics for games like Call of Duty 2, and Counter Strike:Source, I want to get anywhere from an ATi agp 4x x700 to anx800 or maybe an nvidia equivalent. Basically anything that is much much better than what I have in there right now which isn't too hard. However, researching this more, I am thinking: If I get a nice card will my CPU be a bottleneck or not for gaming?

2. Will getting a nice card take a signifigant strain off my cpu? Are there ways of safely and slightly OCing my entire system for better performance, since I think my CPU can max out at like 3.2 ghz while melting of course.

3. The fact that I have a 4x AGP slot make a difference either?

Do any of you know other shortcuts I can take to getting better gaming performance or all together performance on my computer besides buying an entirely new rig?

Thanks a lot guys for any suggestions/answers. -Ben
There aren't many socket 478 boards with pci-e. I would save some more until you can replace the mobo-cpu and graphics all at the same time. Your cpu will be a bottleneck, so getting a new board for it would be a waste of money. I couldn't get my 2.0a much higher than 2.6 overclocked. I recently found a Fry's combo deal for an athlon 3200 with agp. The board was almost free. That would be a good short term solution for you, if you live near a Fry's. The good news is that you can use the pc2700 in your new setup with amd, even though it may slow it down a little. You might get lucky and be able to overclock it to pc3200 speeds with a voltage boost.


Your mobo doesn't OC at all really. If that is indeed a northwoodA (100/400 fsb) it is too bandwidth limited for a chip upgrade to do much good even.
As far as getting a new gfx card goes, your upper limit for usefull would be something like this 9800XT Even at that, it will be cpu limited. It will also loose a little because of the 4X, but not much.