Last year I built a new system and gave my older system to my brother. It is an HP P4 2.6 GHz system with a 7600GS AGP in it. It has been fine for playing WoW, but now my brother wants to play UT3 and some other newer stuff, and he told me that the system spontaneously reboots on him after a few minutes of playing those games. I am guessing that the problem is caused by a combination of weak video card and weak power supply, but I am no expert.
So I was thinking of getting him an upgrade for a Xmas present, but is it worth dumping more money in an obsolete AGP system? AGP cards are not terribly plentiful. A 7900GS AGP and a new power supply are going to run over $200. For $350-$400, I could get him a new mobo, dual-core processor, faster memory, and a PCIE card. But that's pushing the budget at the moment. So the options are either upgrade the AGP card now, or wait a while and be happy leveling up yet another toon in WoW.
You can get an AGP X1950 PRO for cheaper than $200, and it's faster than the 7900 GS... but I wouldn't pair it with a 2.6 Ghz P4. I'd pair it with an Athlon64 maybe, but not a P4 unless it was over 3 Ghz.
He'll get alot more mileage out of a new system. Hold off.
the 7600 is not a weak card. and the p42.6 eventhough its older, but still can handle the game your talking about. you'll just have to lower all the setting to lowest and gradually up them til you find the proper setting. also, a new ati x1950 pro would definetly play the games you want on highest settings. agp is not dead. you can get alot more years out of that system.
I've seen X1950 pros for as little as $100 used. Check Ebay and local Craig'slist
However, a new graphics card is not going to solve the problem of spontaneous rebooting. Most likely it's either a heat issue, a PSU problem, or a software/drivers problem. Software is most likely and also the hardest to diagnose and treat. Make sure the fans on the GPU and CPU are both in good working order, and be sure to blow the dust out of the heatsinks and the case if you haven't already. If you truly think it's your PSU that's causing the problem, try running another game, one that still pushes the card decently, that you've played w/o problems in the past. If it now crashes that game too, it lends a bit more credence to it being a PSU issue. However, it could still be a software problem. I guess the only way to truly root out a hardware vs software problem like this is to either swap out parts or start with a fresh Windows install. Not very practical either way I'm afraid.
At least make sure your computer is configured to display a windows BSOD message, and not to reboot automatically when a BSOD may occur.
Having said that, Joefriday is right on the money: your brother's system shouldn't be crashing or rebooting. There's a problem, likely heat or power, that needs attention. That 2.6 with a 7600 GT should be able to serve him for a little while yet.
Yes, the main issue is really the rebooting/crashing. However, it never occurred until he tried to play some of the newer games. Which led me to believe that it was a heat or PSU issue...software pushing the system beyond its limits.
So how would I diagnose this problem? Should I have him take the cover off and blow a fan on the system and see if it improves?
Cleaning inside the case would be a good idea no matter what you do - and I suggest buying compressed air instead of using a fan.
The next step is to check out your PSU to see if it is the likely problem. What model do you have? What is total wattage and wattage on +12v rail? Should be on a plate on the PSU.
How much power does your current system require?
This site has a calculator you can use - and you can also use it to check out the requirements for modifications to see if PSU must be upgraded if other parts are.
The PSU is the one that came with the machine. The old system is a pre-fab HP Pavilion that I bought from Circuit City. I tried to find some specs, with no luck, but the replacement PSU recommended by CC parts is a 200W supply.
I ran the calculator and it reported 197W. But I have no idea how much current we are getting on the 12V rail.
No you would not want to buy a 200w psu, especially not anything from circuit city. You could upgrade the video card, but going for a new system is a better option. I have a similar system as you and it runs most a games a t high/maxed settings @1024x768. You have an issue with your computer randomly restarting and it does not have to do with your system being to bad. It is most likely a psu issue.
i upgraded my brother's computer like 3months ago. he plays super low ended games, he wanted to play little bit higher ended game, so i put the 5200fx in it. he really doesnt care about the parts he has it in his computer.
if i were you, i will get like 8600gt or gts pci, changing the mobo.