I'm helping an older coworker upgrade his PC, he has a HP Compaq with the following:

  • Pentium 4, 3.2 GHz
  • 72 GB HDD
  • 1.5 GB RAM
  • HP 09F0H motherboard, Intel 945G Express chipset

He just needs something he can use for day-to-day browsing and the occasional HD movie. Budget is very tight, at CAD $150.

I plan to buy the following for him:

  • EVGA 8400GS graphics ($38): Just something simple for HD video playback
  • Seagate Barracuda 1 TB hard drive ($64)
  • 4GB RAM ($37)

I originally thought to upgrade the CPU, but the motherboard is incompatible with modern CPUs. To upgrade the motherboard + CPU would practically use up the entire budget, with unusable RAM and storage space. I chose to get a graphics card because the Pentium 4 seems to struggle with Youtube videos even at 720p.

Would this be a good allocation of the budget, or is there any better ideas?

P.S. I've had bad experiences with used parts so that's not an option. I don't want to risk his limited budget on potentially faulty components.

  • I see the board will support a dual core CPU. Is the CPU dual core? if not, that would give a nice boost too on the cheap. It would be used but as long as it is not DOA and the seller warranties it not to be, it will work as long as you need.
    – Jack
    May 14 '17 at 16:54
  • @Jack I found a cheap Intel core 2 Duo E8400 on eBay and it's on the way now! Thanks for the advice, hopefully​ it helps solve the choppy video playback problem
    – Panpaper
    May 19 '17 at 23:52
  • Great news and with the video card, you should notice a great boost in performance
    – Jack
    May 20 '17 at 1:25

The upgrade is fine; the 8400 GS appears to have great reviews on Amazon.

However, with an increase in use of cloud services, I doubt that the 1 TB of space will be used at all; maybe 100 GB at the most, since you said that what he will be doing will be pretty much just browsing. Thus, I recommend getting a small 128 GB SSD, which go for around $55. SSDs make Windows considerably snappy, as for many computers the hard drive is the bottleneck for loading web pages. There won't be any complaining of slowness ;)

  • Thanks oldmud0! I don't think my coworker knows how to use cloud services, so I stuck with the HDD so he can store his photos and videos. All the parts have arrived, but HD movie playback is still very choppy. Is this a limit caused by the old CPU? Thanks
    – Panpaper
    May 19 '17 at 23:58
  • @Panpaper depends on how it is choppy. If it's buffering a lot, it's internet. If it's just generally freezing up, desyncing with the audio, and then going really fast to catch up, it might be the CPU but it depends on where you are playing it from (i.e. does the player have graphics acceleration?).
    – oldmud0
    May 20 '17 at 0:18
  • As a follow up on what oldmud0 is stating, if the HD video is streaming from the internet, the internet service has everything to do with playback performance. Satellite internet, like Dish ( I have it and I loathe it) is really bad for streaming video, same for Direct TV. If you are playing videos that are kept on the computer, then the cpu may have been the bottleneck
    – Jack
    May 20 '17 at 1:29
  • @oldmud0 when I tried to play a 60 fps video on windows media player, it played the video at 30 fps, making the video twice as long. When using VLC player, I get a bunch of colored shapes. For YouTube, it's not an internet problem as I have a 150 Mbits connection and my other devices do it with no problem. Just want to add that I really appreciate your responses!
    – Panpaper
    May 20 '17 at 1:31
  • @Panpaper I recommend checking your graphics driver. Windows Media Player uses DXVA (DirectX Video Acceleration) so all the video should be decoding from the graphics card.
    – oldmud0
    May 20 '17 at 1:34

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