I currently have a 3700+ single core, w/ 2 gigs of DDR400 on a POS mATX mobo. I think the mobo is the root of my problems, notably: Crash on resume from hibernate, glitchy ethernet, and terrible USB/SATA performance. The box and the paint on the board claim that it is a "RS482-M", but when I tried to upgrade the firmware to newer version that claimed to fix many of the issues I had with the board, the dos bootdisk claimed that the board was in fact NOT an RS482-M. I ended up crossflashing the board to the RS480-M firmware (probably a huge mistake). The problems seemed to stop, but after about a month, they have cropped up again (worse than before).
I was looking at a Fry's ad this weekend, and I spied a E2200 w/ a P45GCT-M (also from ECS, but I am ok with trying them again) for 80 dollars. Right above it was a set of 2x1gb DDR2-800 for 20 (after rebate).
Im about to go off to college, and I am not going to be spending much (if any) money on my computer now or for the next few years. Should I upgrade to the Intel 754 and DDR2, or find a better 939 board (for $50-ish) and get another 2x1gb set of DDR400 (for a total of 4 under Vista64)?
Both options will end up to around 100-120, which is about as much as I can spend now. I do a pretty good bit of Photo editing, and I might be running some engineering programs for my classes on this computer. The programs taxed my brother's gaming laptop (w/ 3800+ and 1.5GB of DDR400) pretty heavily; they burned out his CPU cooler in fact...
So I am wondering whether the dual core pentium is a step up or down from the 3700+ (in single threaded applications) and whether 4GB of DDR is better than 2GB of DDR2.
Any help would be appreciated.