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In need of Comprehensive Help...

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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April 15, 2006 7:54:28 PM

I am attempting to make my eMachines T3302 computer work with a number of games which require a compatible video card. The one it came with is an S3 UniChrome 3D, and I have an AGP slot avaliable.

I have attempted to install a 32MB nVidia GeForce2 MX200 4x card (which I bought for $15 used) in the unused slot. With the card installed, the machine would not boot. There was no hard disk activity. I had removed the card in an attempt to run the nVidia install program first, but an error window came up saying that there was no nVidia hardware installed.

I had all this information relayed back to the source it was ordered from, and they sent me an nVidia Riva TNT2 32MB video card for free. After installing this, the monitor showed an eMachines logo and subsequently a black screen with the phrase Phoenix Technologies, LTD, across the top of the screen with a double line beneath it. The hard disk sounded at first like it was making an attempt to boot, but after a moment, there was nothing.

If anyone has any experience with this machine or these cards, I have a few questions. Is this computer even expandable in the video card department? (I would think so, considering the fact that they advertise the avaliable AGP slot, but nowadays I'm not so sure...) If so, what sorts of cards would be compatible?

Keep in mind that I have no hardware experience and I don't know the meaning of half of what I have just rattled off. Also note that my family doesn't have money to spend on high-price cards. I had been told that I may have to spend somewhere around $70 to get a working video card, and even that amount (which I know for a fact is small) is nowhere near what I'd like to spend.

More about : comprehensive

April 15, 2006 8:34:00 PM

You can expand right up to (almost) the top. What games are you planning to play? A GF2MX200 won't really cut it for just about everything.

What you probably need to do to solve your problem at the moment is disable the on-board video. I'm assuming that the S3 wasn't actually a card and came straight off the main board? To do this, enter your BIOS (F2 or DEL at boot, it will say) and look around for a 'enable/disable' for the onboard VGA/graphics/video, and disable it. Your GeForce or Riva will now work.

I'm not sure what to suggest as far as buying a new card is concerned as I'm in the UK and prices are different in the states, but that ^^^ should get you started on making your computer work again.
April 16, 2006 1:06:44 AM

I'm not going to be doing any major online play, no CAD work, nothing like that. The highest-quality graphics that I will ever make use of are *maybe* Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. What drove me to buy a new card was that I'm a Myst buff, and I recently bought the fourth installment (the previous 3 worked fine). I checked the back of the box and it said that I must have any one of these 32-meg DirectX-compliant cards:
-ATI Radeon 7000 to 9800 or better
-nVidia GeForce 1/2/3/4/FX families
-Matrox Parhelia
"...These chipsets are the only ones that will run this game..."

I can understand what you mean in disabling the S3. Neither of us (my dad and I) really thought it was actually a video card. However, would the computer actually be able to just start picking up signals from a completely new piece of hardware?

And there's the driver issue. We aren't sure to install driver first or the hardware. It's the "chicken or the egg" thing. :) 

There's a problem with sequencing. What makes sense to me is to keep the first card in while the new card is installed, install drivers while using the old card, then boot and disable the first one. Still, we had tried installing the drivers first (can't install anything unless I know what I'm looking at) but at least with the GeForce, I couldn't see anything unless the new card was not in the computer.

I don't know. I think I've confused myself. Again... :roll: :wink:
Related resources
April 16, 2006 2:18:24 AM

The S3 is integrated:
http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/chipsets/p4-series/pm...


You should be able to drop any AGP card into the slot and have no problems booting into windows (assuming it matches the AGP speeds, I would assume your slot is a 4x/8x).
Windows will use generic drivers until you install the cards drivers, you do not need to install them first for the card to work(although your graphics are usually very limited without the drivers i.e. low res low color).

It is possible the sued card is not working, personally I wont buy computer equipment used. I would buy a new card off the web (newegg.com) I also hear Oblivion is very demanding....
April 16, 2006 4:32:08 AM

try pressing F8 a few times before booting windows. you should get a list of options on how to boot into windows. select VGA MODE. once you boot windows in vga mode you should be able to bump up your bit depth and your resolution and install your geforce drivers. do all this off course after you disable your on-board video in your BIOS. not sure it will work, but its worth a shot. hope it helps.
April 16, 2006 2:43:25 PM

That wouldv'e been our first oprion in troubleshooting. With the first card, the boot menu showed up for only about a second or so, then went dark (though not off), regardless of whether or not we pressed F8.

I guess I should've thought about this kind of thing before I bought a computer from eMachines... :roll: My family has never had very good luck with computers.

I also checked newegg.com and I found it harder to navigate than my favorite Computer Geeks. The products are listed by manufacturer, so I have to sift through information to find what I need. Geeks.com was very patient and sent us that second card free of charge, asking us to keep the first one (no need to send it back). I almost feel bad for pestering them.

Bottom line: I can't disable the first one without a second one installed (I'm assuming) and the computer won't start up unless there's only the one in there. The S3 isn't actually a card; I can't just replace it. Though the control panel tells me I can disable it, I don't think I want to because then how will it put anything up on the screen?

What sorts of factors determine whether or not a video card works, on my machine or any? Is there any component I'm ignoring?
April 16, 2006 2:45:57 PM

Start up with the S3 and disable it. It won't be disabled 'til the next time you boot, so you'll be okay.

Disable the S3, then save the CMOS data in the BIOS and restart. You probably wont see anything on the screen. Switch off, and install the new card. See if that works.
April 16, 2006 11:16:03 PM

I can't do that unless I'm absolutely sure that it will work. My mother earns a living using Microsoft Word, and as much as I think it would work, I'm not inclined nor allowed to do so. We can't be sure there's any way to restore our old settings if we can't see anything using the new card. If that were to happen ...We'd be screwed.

I need to know why the thing won't boot if a new card is in there. If it's because the monitor is still attempting to read from the first card, that method would work (in theory). If it's anything else, the entire computer is rendered useless.

I do have an extra monitor on hand, if that helps in any way.
April 16, 2006 11:17:50 PM

The method I outlined is safe; if there is a problem (although I doubt there will be unless there is a problem with the board) you can always remove the battery and clear the CMOS, defaulting to the S3 and saving your system.
April 16, 2006 11:25:06 PM

Would that clear hard drive data/settings in any way?
How much is "cleared"?

BTW-- Thanks for your help, everyone.
April 17, 2006 8:45:52 AM

Read this if you're curious, skip to the bottom for the short answer.

The CMOS is the settings stored in the BIOS.

Basically, the BIOS is a ROM with a small program on it that boots your PC (what you see when you first switch on your PC - Phoenix Tech. etc...)

The CMOS data is the data that you see when you press F2/Del to 'enter setup'. When you clear the CMOS data, it doesn't remove the program, it removes the custom settings for the BIOS. When you switch back on, the settings will be default (underclocked etc...). It takes less than a minute to restore the settings, it's very simple.

So in short, no, clearing the CMOS data won't affect your hard disk or data at all.
April 17, 2006 10:40:05 AM

I have FX5700 oc'd and i get 8fps in oblivion min detail 640x480. Needless to say i dont play that game.
April 19, 2006 8:12:21 PM

If I am allowed to try it, I will. My dad is still waiting for another reply from Computer Geeks (Who should've sent us information before sending another card, but that's another story :roll: .)
As far as I can tell, that sounds like the answer.

Thanks for your help, everyone. :wink:
!