+1 to my nerd cred

Not quite two years ago, I built my first computer.  It was a pretty budget-style gaming PC; I think it cost me ~$600 to make from scratch.  And it was a rite of passage in my life as a card-carrying nerd.  Being a lower-priced build, there are now games coming out that I want to play that won’t run all that well on the original system.  I’m not wanting to run Crysis on high settings or anything.  I would just like to run Left 4 Dead smoothly, maybe see a bit better performance in WAR, and be able to play Starcraft II when it comes out (although that may be another upgrade cycle away, knowing Blizzard).  I had already upgraded my video card a few months back, but I’ve done that many times before, so that wasn’t too big of a deal.

Replacing the CPU is a step up from a video card upgrade, as far as technical knowledge goes.  Sure, I had installed the original CPU in the system, but I have had very little experience with processors and heat sinks.  I was pretty confident I would be able to get the old parts out without messing up the motherboard, then get the new processor and heat sink in.  I had less confidence in my ability to solve any BIOS problems or other compatibility issues that arose after installation. 

As it turns out, I got the new processor into my system without much problem.  It did take a bit of effort to remove the old heatsink, but after using a flathead screwdriver to help pop it lose, everything was downhill from there.  What really pleased me was thatit was strictly plug-and-play with the new processor.  I didn’t have to adjust any BIOS settings, or anything like that.  At least I don’t think I had to – everything seems to be working fine, and the system recognizes the new processor and its increased speed.  So all in all, pretty easy installation.

For those that are wondering, I went from an Athlon 64 X2 3800 to a X2 5200.  Not a huge upgrade, I know, but it’s one of the fastest processors my aging motherboard can support.  And I have seen a bit of an improvement in WAR already.  I also meet all the recommended requirements for L4D now too, so I’ll get that sometime in the next couple weeks and give it a spin.  I’m also going to drop another 2 gig of RAM in there, which will get me up to 4 gig total (3.5 effective in XP, of course).  So overall, a great upgrade experience and another notch in my nerd belt!

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