Author Topic: Computer Trade - Help Wanted  (Read 322 times)

Boo the Gentleman Caller

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Computer Trade - Help Wanted
« on: June 26, 2011, 10:24:06 pm »
Hiya crew,

So I've been real into Bethesda games recently. I've been playing Morrowind since it came out, Oblivion, too. However, I'm really starting to get into the whole modding scene quite heavily. That being the case, I'm wanting to upgrade my PC in order to handle some of the higher end graphic-capabilities of these mods and MGE (Morrowind Graphics Extender, which is a separate program from the normal Morrowind game engine, which is more powerful and capable of shaders, extended draw distances, highly detailed scripts, etc). Here's what I have:

Dell Dimension 4700...
It's running on a Pentium(R) 4 CPU 2.80 GHz
2.79 GHz, 2.00 GB of RAM.
80 Gig hard drive.
Windows XP
nDivia Verto 9600GT graphics card

And this is what I may be trading it for:

Gateway custom or another of...
4 GB of memory
750 GB hard drive (it's actually 3 250GB hard drives)
He said that "the board is loaded and Intel's top of the line server board"
Case "includes 120 mm fans and 3 small one's"
2.4 TRUE dual core processor
nDivia GeForce 7650 GS
Windows 7
He also mentioned that it has slots for about 10 hard drives and and 4 5.25 drive bays...

This sounds like a good deal, although I think the video card is actually a step back from what I can tell. Granted, I'm not a techie guy in the least.

I am trading the computer plus $100 plus a few games for the computer and $150.

Is this a good deal for me to do?

The main problem is that I can't get the games to run properly on my computer. The textures are constantly jacking up during gameplay (the game will start randomly inputting the wrong textures in on the meshes). I don't know if this is a problem with the video card (which I doubt), the game being too much for the CPU to handle, perhaps some kind of overheating (which I also doubt), or maybe even a faulty hookup somewhere.

Any help from those with more computer/technology knowledge is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Ramsus

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Re: Computer Trade - Help Wanted
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2011, 12:38:11 am »
It's only a good deal if it can handle a medium to high end video card.

So first of all, does it have a PCI-e slot? Server motherboards may have them missing due to the headless configuration found on many servers. You'll need one to put in your own card, and that nVidia chip sounds like it might be integrated, so there's no guarantee from the information given that there's a PCI-e slot.

What kind of processor is it, besides being a dual core processor? If it's a Pentium D, then it's not a real step up from your current processor other than being better for multitasking due to having a Pentium 4 architecture. A Core 2 Duo would be twice as fast at nearly half the clock speed. An original Intel Core Duo isn't bad either, but isn't much of an upgrade.

What kind of memory is it? You'll really want DDR2 800MHz (PC2 6400) or better, and preferably the same thing in every slot (for timing reasons). I've been building a new low-end gaming system and things ran much smoother after I replaced the crappy memory I originally stuck in it with some newer stuff (it was failing some stress tests I was putting it through, so I've been replacing parts). DDR3 is better, since it's cheaper and easier to find these days.

Finally, does the power supply have two PCI-e 4-pin connectors and a rating of at least 550W? You'll need that for a video card upgrade. Just having lots of molex connectors isn't always good enough with high end cards either -- I'm finding that out with a cheaper gaming rig I put together, since the "650W" PSU I stuck in it can't handle a Geforce GTX 275. I had to downgrade the machine to an ATI Radeon HD 4830 due to power draw issues. It still plays most games on high settings though.

If it doesn't meet all those requirements, then don't buy it. You'll end up replacing half the parts anyway, just so you can stick a decent video card in it.

If, on the other hand, it does meet those requirements, I've got a spare  GeForce GTX 275 I can sell you for $100. You should be able to play pretty much any game on High or Very High at 1920x1080 with this card (I tested it out). It performs somewhere between an ATI Radeon HD 4830 and an nVidia GeForce 460, but it has a really big power draw to it, so you'll need a good power supply with the right connectors.

If you want to buy a new card, the nVidia GeForce 560 is at a real sweet spot in terms of price vs. performance. You can find it as cheap as $180, but it'll be worth it, since it'll play pretty much everything maxed out. Once again, however, a good PSU is essential here.

If you're just looking to play games on Medium-High at more lax resolutions (i.e. 1440x900) and without the big power requirements, the Radeon HD 4830 is a good buy at less than $70. I had to reseat the heatsink on mine though due to glitches, and AMD/ATI's drivers really suck though, especially with OpenGL apps and games.

Ramsus

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Re: Computer Trade - Help Wanted
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2011, 12:57:04 am »
Also, some useful software you'll want to have on a thumbdrive, especially if you intend to upgrade your computer or do a bit of overclocking:

  • CPU-Z - download the 32-bit and 64-bit standalone copies and keep them on a thumb drive. You can get all the detailed information about your system, especially useful timing and clock rate information to help with overclocking.
  • HWMonitor - You'll want to do the same with this program, since you want to check the running temps of the computer while it's being stress tested.
  • Prime-95 - Stick this on a thumb drive run the Blend stress test whenever you want to see how well built a computer is. You can then watch the temperatures go up in HWMonitor. Very useful when overclocking, since a stable system should be able to run any of the various stress tests this program has for hours on end with no bad side effects.
  • GPU-Z - This is useful for monitoring your video card. It can show all the sensor information too.
  • FurMark - Finally, you'll want this on your thumb drive so you can stress test your video cards. Just leave the "Burn-In" test running for three or four hours and make sure the temperatures hold steady and nothing glitches.
With a careful eye and the right tests, you might even figure out exactly what the problem is with your current machine and walk away with just a replaced part or two.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2011, 01:00:51 am by Ramsus »

Boo the Gentleman Caller

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Re: Computer Trade - Help Wanted
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2011, 01:01:18 am »
First off, Ramsus, I take my hat's off to you. I've been around here since about 2007/2008 and you and I haven't spent much time in conversation. I know next to nothing about you, but I greatly appreciate your input on the matter. Clearly you're quite knowledgeable and taking time to help me out, not just in education, but in showing me some ways to test my current computer to see if I can't solve the issue and make more intelligent shopping decisions. For real, it's greatly appreciate!

Back to the task at hand...

I just e-mailed the guy, the processor is a "3.0 dual core pent d" according to the seller.

I'm quite satisfied with the performance of my current computer... The only problem is that, as I stated, the system tends to mess up with textures sometimes. Next thing I know the screen flickers and random textures start appearing over meshes. I had looked online for some troubleshooting, and from what I can gather it's either (1) not getting enough power or, (2) the CPU just can't handle it. When I look in my Task Manager, when running Morrowind MGE or Oblivion, the CPU is like 60%+ in use.

Sorry my technical knowledge isn't quite up-to-par in describing these issues.

I'm planning on buying/building a new PC in time for Skyrim, so I may forego this experience and just wait it out for another four or five months. Once I know the system requirements to play Skyrim on maximum settings I can begin to formulate my plan for what I'll need, should I start from scratch.

Now... It's time for me to download some of these tests and put them on my thumbdrive to do some in-depth problem solving. :)

Ramsus

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Re: Computer Trade - Help Wanted
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2011, 01:47:07 am »
If it's a Pentium D system, then it's kind of dated and might be a pain to find a good video card for. Unless it's already got a really good power supply in it and a PCI-e 2.0 slot in it (the white x16 kind) with plenty of space for a good video card, I wouldn't bother trading. It's too risky without taking a good look at it yourself, and you don't want to have to make a compromise on the video card you choose, since then you'll just end up buying yet another one later if you have to get a weaker one now. It's your call though.

If it can handle a high end video card though (assuming it'd even fit inside the case), you can throw one in and forget about it. Chances are it'll be running new games just fine for the next three or four years, if not longer, despite being at least that old already. In fact, you could probably get away with doing that with your current system...


Which, if your system is simply too slow to handle a game, it should just crawl without glitching the graphics, kind of like watching something in slow motion, or straight up crash due to the physics not being handled fast enough. If you're getting weird texture artifacts, then something is overheating or already fried on your current computer. You'll want to figure out what it is and how it got that way (i.e. broken fan, bad airflow, etc.), since you might be able to fix it.

Try to stress test your current computer's CPU with Prime95 and then the GPU with FurMark so you can see which one is glitching up. You can also monitor your CPU and GPU temps in HWMonitor while you're playing a game. It'll keep track of what the maximum temperatures were, so when it starts glitching, exit out and see if they're reasonable. Any temperatures above 70 C on an older card would be questionable. You might clean things out with compressed air and run your computer with the side of the case removed so you check all of the fans.

If it's just a glitchy or overheating video card, check the rating on your power supply and just buy a replacement. Don't bother trading, since you're just wasting your time and you'll end up buying a video card for that computer anyway.

If on the other hand, Prime95 can't run perfectly for hours on end without crashing your system or causing errors, then you're better off trading the whole system. Replacement parts for your current computer are just hard to find unless you buy used crap off eBay.