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post #1 of 41 Old 06-11-13, 10:43 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Tacoma, WA
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Upgrade PC or New Build

I've been lurking for a while, but this is my first post. I've got an old PC (2008) that I've been using as a Media Server for a while but am underwhelmed with its performance during HD playback (skips and starts). My question is, is it worthwhile to make some small upgrades to improve performance, or should I start from scratch and build a new MCPC? My music and videos are stored externally and I use JRiver Media Center to play my music and watch videos.

The Specs for the existing PC are as follows:
HP Pavilion Elite M9100z
- Processor: Phenom-9500 (A) (2.2GHz / 2000 MHz HyperTransport 1.0) AM2; 2 x 2 MB L2 cache (95W)
- Memory: 6 GB (2 x 2 GB, 2 x 1 GB) DDR2 PC2-6400 (max of 8)
- HD: 750 GB 7200 rpm SATA 3G (3.0 Gb/sec)
- Optical Drive: 16X DVD(+/-)R/RW 12X RAM (+/-)R DL LightScribe SATA
- Networking: Wireless LAN 802.11 a/b/g/n & Bluetooth (Integrated)
- Sound: SoundBlaster X-Fi Xtreme
- Graphics: GeForce 8500GT
- OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit)

- Pioneer Elite Pro1140HD

Is it worth upgrading what I have or should I start from scratch?

If new, cost conscience build recommendations would be appreciated.

FYI, I have a NIB 3TB Seagate Barracuda HD & Windows 8 Pro 64.

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post #2 of 41 Old 06-11-13, 11:33 AM
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Re: Upgrade PC or New Build

I'd honestly start from scratch. you got enough ram, but your proc and vid card need some improvement since I think that's where your bottleneck is. at this point it's almost not worth upgrading cuz you'll need a new mobo, ram, video card and that's the main pieces of your machine as it is. might be able to salvage the optical drive and case, but the rest is cheap and better stuff is available
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post #3 of 41 Old 06-11-13, 11:52 AM
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Re: Upgrade PC or New Build

I would start a new build. A custom Build...You should be able to pick up most of the parts at the local Frys in Renton. If you needed assistance they will even put it together for you....for a small fee ($50-$100)
Computer Case: ? Your Choice
OS: Win 8 PRO 64 (you have)
Processor:Intel Core I7 Sandy Bridge E 3.2GHz LGA 2011 130W Six Core $570 or Intel Core i7-3820 Sandy Bridge-E 3.6GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 2011 130W Quad-Core Desktop Processor $300
MotherBoard:Intel BOXDX79SR LGA 2011 Intel X79 SATA 6Gb/s Usb 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard $319
Main Harddrive: SAMSUNG 840 Series MZ-7TD120KW 2.5" 120GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) $110
Secondary Harddrive: 3 TB Seagate Barracuda (you have)
Memory: CORSAIR Vengeance 32GB (4 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 Desktop Memory Model CMZ32GX3M4A1600C9 $265
Optical Drive: LG Black 14X Blu-ray BDXL Internal Rewriter SATA BH16NS40 $119
Sound: SoundBlaster card with digital optical outlet
Graphics:MSI N670 PE 2GD5/OC GeForce GTX 670 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card mini HDMI and 2 DVI $365

$1500 plus what ever case you decide to go with and what ever power source you choose. As for the sound card re-use your old one unless you think you want to upgrade.

Yes it costs a bit but it will handle anything you throw at it. I believe in paying up front and not having to worry about the computer becoming outdated for a long time.

I'll update with all the parts recommendations a little later when i get a chance...
If you build a good custom PC it will last a long time 5-7 yrs before you feel the need to update. And typically you can then just start upgrading parts as needed.

I have built a couple custom pc's over the years. My main computer at home I just recently increased the memory to 8GB, installed a SSD (320 GB), and installed Win 8 Pro., it runs a AMD Phenom quad core CPU (water cooled), and a older 8800 GTX Ultra water cooled, it also has a 1 TB drive, 2 TB drive, and 500 GB drive, Blu Ray Burner drive, Blu Ray drive, Soundblaster X-fi sound card, 700W power source.

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Last edited by phillihp23; 06-12-13 at 10:34 PM. Reason: Updated Info
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post #4 of 41 Old 06-11-13, 01:59 PM
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Re: Upgrade PC or New Build

My system is older than yours and I don't have any playback issues; and this is with a lowly 2.4GHz Intel Q6600 quad core running on XP 32-bit with a measly 2GB of RAM. I have tried VLC, XBMC and Media Player Classic HT and all work fine for me. I think your main problem is Vista and that you would see improvement simply by installing Win7. Win8 still seems a bit dodgy to me.
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post #5 of 41 Old 06-11-13, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Upgrade PC or New Build

The benchmarks that I found show the Q6600 being a more capable processor than my AMD chip. Also, from what I've read, XP is not as cpu/ram needy as Vista. I'll buy that going to W7 or 8 will probably be an improvement over Vista, but I don't want to spend the time if it's going to be a short term fix.


Harpmaker wrote: View Post
My system is older than yours and I don't have any playback issues; and this is with a lowly 2.4GHz Intel Q6600 quad core running on XP 32-bit with a measly 2GB of RAM. I have tried VLC, XBMC and Media Player Classic HT and all work fine for me. I think your main problem is Vista and that you would see improvement simply by installing Win7. Win8 still seems a bit dodgy to me.
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post #6 of 41 Old 07-15-13, 12:44 PM
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Re: Upgrade PC or New Build

i don't see a reason why it would be a problem to run video on that rig as is. that 9500 is a bit old but it's got some life in it. i've ran 1080p bluray rips on an e4600 for awhile without issue. the 8500gt i can't say that about though. i doubt that's what's holding you back but it seems something is in question. have you tried to use any other software to run the media? i generally use vlc personally. it could easily be a bug in the software that came with an update. if it was working before, i see no reason it should stop now unless it's what i mentioned of the source being hindered somehow.
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post #7 of 41 Old 07-15-13, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Upgrade PC or New Build

Thanks for all the help.

For now I'm going to keep using what I have and upgrade to Windwos 8 and install the 3TB HDD and hope for the best. I'll probably buy a SSD to install the OS on too.

Soon after, I'll start collecting parts to build a new HTPC which I've started to document here:

It's a bit more expensive than I wanted to spend, so I'm going to collect a part here and a part there over the next few months (hopefully be done Q1 next year) starting with the case and ending with the CPU. This way if the next gen Intel CPU comes out before I'm done, I can go with that.

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post #8 of 41 Old 07-15-13, 02:53 PM
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Re: Upgrade PC or New Build

I am running win 7 on a i3 NUC with a 2nd i3 NUC as a Media Server and a Atom for my NAS and it works flawlessly. On my NUCs I only have 4GB of ram each and 60GB SSD drives. On the Media Center I run OpenElec/XBMC and it boots in a few seconds... Everything is very fast. I was running a Quad 4GB AMD setup and it def ran slower than my current setup does plus it consumed over 4 times the lectricity. The key I think to my setup running so fast is the Media Center is running OpenElec/XBMC (a stripped down Linux with only what it needs to run XBMC), and my NAS runs XBMC off of a USB stick. The HDD are Hitachi 4TB 5400rpm drives which even though they are not the fastest they run very well. All of my streaming is across a Cisco Gigabit Switch. Total cost was about $1800... But everything was new.

If you made your old HTPC into a NAS it would cost you nothing... Leaving about $800 for 2 NUCs or you could use 1 NUC and do your browsing from the Media Server. I am very happy with my setup and would highly recommend it


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post #9 of 41 Old 07-15-13, 05:00 PM
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I would think that computer should be able to handle 1080p video and HD audio without breaking a sweat.

Our computers are the same vintage as yours. Both are running Vista 32 with a Q6600 processor, 2Gb ram, one eith a 8500 video card and the other a new 650TI video card and there are no playback issues on either.
Media Center is the usual program.

If you just playback on the monitor does it have issues?

Are you going thru an AVR or directly to a TV?

Are you using HDMI?
Both audio and video?

If you are using 3rd party anti virus consider switching to Microsoft Security Essentials, it is one of the least intrusive ones and is about as good as any other... plus it's free from Microsoft.

If there are any social media programs installed (Facebook twitter) kill em off.

Disable all automatic updates on all programs.

Make sure as few programs as possible start up and run in the background.

Try using Media Player or Media Center and see if those programs have issues to.
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post #10 of 41 Old 07-16-13, 09:55 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Tacoma, WA
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Re: Upgrade PC or New Build

Thanks for the suggestion. I've thought about turning the old PC into a NAS, but I really don't have space for multiple devices. My PC is old, but I think I can extend the life by by upgrading to Windows 8 and installing a SSD as a boot drive. The NUC's seem like an interesting way to go, but you really need a NAS to go with it, again, no space for multiple devices.

I use Media Center v16, but only for watching standard def DVD from my hard drive (no Blu Ray player on the pc) and listening to music.

My AVR (Rotel 1067) doesn't have HDMI in, so I go SPDIF to it and HDMI to the TV (Pioneer Elite Pro1140HD). We watch BR DVD's on the BR player with no problems.

I notice the problem the most when streaming NETFLIX in HD, and to a lesser degree when using MC. When I stream netflix (HD only), the CPU usage, it's at ~90% and playback hangus up even though there's plenty of data in the buffer. Again, I get similar problems but not quite as bad when watching videos on MC. With the computer freshly booted with no programs open, the CPU is running at ~60%.

I do have 3rd party anti virus running. When I install Win8, I'll make sure to use MS Security Essentials. , I'll do this tonight to see what kind of difference it makes.

I don't have any social media programs installed.

I'm sure I have automatic updates installed, but will probably dissable these when I reinstall the OS.

I do have a but load of programs starting up when I turn on the computer. The first thing I do after start up is go to the system tray and close ~ 10 things. Hopefully I won't let this be a problem with the new OS.

In general, I think a lot of my problems come from this being a 6 year old PC that has never had an OS reinstall. Also, I don't think Vista 64 helps performance.

I'll report back after I update the computer to report if the problems have cleared up.

Thanks again for all the help!
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