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Installing a video card on a used HP DC7100 system

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  • Graphics Cards
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Components
Last response: in Components
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March 31, 2008 3:23:33 PM

Hi everyone. Sorry if I should have posted this in the Consumer Electronic / System section but I need answers quickly and thought there is more traffic in this section.

I am on a budget and would like to buy a used HP DC7100 (pre-built business grade "convertible minitower"):

http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF10a/12454-124...

I just need to upgrade my system (still using a PII with Windows 98SE as I'm writing this...) for internet use and being able to use all the little convenient gadgets like mp3 players, cameras and flash drives.

The configuration is as follows:

PIV 3.2 GHz
512MB DDR (will upgrade to 1024)
80GB sata hard drive
Integrated 128MB video memory with a PCI-E slot
DVD ROM
Windows XP Pro SP2

I'm not a gamer but the only thing is I'd like to run Tomb Raider Anniversary just for fun on it as well as some other not so demanding 3D applications. So I'd like to install a dedicated video card.

The store I want to buy it from can upgrade the RAM to 1GB which I will ask. I asked them if it's possible to install a dedicated video card and they suggested the ATI Radeon x1650 Pro 512MB. I asked for a 8600 serie NVIDIA card but the guy told me that it needs a more powerful power supply (like 450W) but that they can install the 8500GT 256MB on it.

Which one is better in your opinion? Will it work properly on this pre-built discontinued HP model or do I run the risk of ending up with blue screens of death and other annoyances? Is this a good deal? (They ask $285 without the video card and memory upgrade)

Thank you
Frankie

More about : installing video card dc7100 system

March 31, 2008 4:33:24 PM

You're better off buying a new system for a few hundred more dollars as that used HP isn't all that fast for gaming. Then you will have a newer, much faster processor, a power supply of the correct size and type and a case that can hold a modern video card. I'd give the budget System Marathon build here a look-over as they made a very powerful machine for $851- you could certainly do better than that just to run Tomb Raider.
March 31, 2008 6:56:24 PM

Thanks for the reply MU_Engineer.

Actually I'm thinking I could even get away with the on-board video because it's Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900 (128MB) which supports DirectX 9 (Shader 2.0) to run that game, on low settings or something.

If it doesn't work I still can get a GeForce 7000 serie card for about $50 at some stores.

What is your opinion?

Thanks
Frankie
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March 31, 2008 7:40:50 PM

Frankie27 said:
Thanks for the reply MU_Engineer.

Actually I'm thinking I could even get away with the on-board video because it's Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900 (128MB) which supports DirectX 9 (Shader 2.0) to run that game, on low settings or something.

If it doesn't work I still can get a GeForce 7000 serie card for about $50 at some stores.

What is your opinion?

Thanks
Frankie


The GMA 900 is very weak. I have the quite a bit more powerful GMA 950 in my laptop and it can play games at 640x480 fine and so-so at 800x600. A new low-end build with something like AMD's integrated 780G chipset (aka Radeon 3200) is much, much faster and the motherboards start at about $70, you can get an X2 4000+ dual-core that will be faster than a P4 3.2 for $50, and 2 GB DDR2-800 will run you about $40.
March 31, 2008 9:10:33 PM

Thanks. But my rationale behind picking this system was that it's a single core and I'd like to use XP and I heard that Vista manages better the multi cores and that I would have to download special drivers to take advantage of a dual core with XP. And also since it's a business grade PC it would be more stable in the long run. But actually I'm starting to consider a new PC...
March 31, 2008 9:27:57 PM

BTW I just read "CPUs to avoid: Pentium 4, Extremely power hungry, nothing special in terms of performance..." in the buyer's guide. I think I have a lot of reading to do.
April 1, 2008 12:12:05 AM

Something like this would be much better.
http://www.slickdeals.net/index.php?tagid=4&tag=dell&no...

It's $380 vs $285 but you get
1) A 19" Monitor which you can sell to Drop the Price to about $225.
2) The 2nd GB of RAM is included, so make that $200 vs the old system.

They offer an 8600GT upgrade for this system so it can handle that.
But Don't buy the card from them.
You can find some sweet Deal for the 8600GT for less than $50 After Rebate.
April 1, 2008 1:34:09 AM

Frankie27 said:
Thanks. But my rationale behind picking this system was that it's a single core and I'd like to use XP and I heard that Vista manages better the multi cores and that I would have to download special drivers to take advantage of a dual core with XP. And also since it's a business grade PC it would be more stable in the long run. But actually I'm starting to consider a new PC...


Well, here's a few thoughts:

1. XP can handle up to 32 cores out of the box with no special drivers needed, as can Vista. Vista has a slightly improved process scheduler compared to XP, so running multiple threads (regardless of the number of cores) will be a little smoother on Vista than on XP, but it's not that great of a difference.

2. The "driver" that the person is probably referring to would be AMD's Dual Core Optimizer, which is an OPTIONAL piece of software that was used to correct an early and small bug in XP dealing with the timestamp counter. Current patched versions of XP and Vista do not need this "driver."

3. A "business-grade" PC made by an OEM like HP really only differs from the consumer versions in standard warranty length (typically 3 years vs. 1 year), appearance (matte dark gray or black vs. glossy and various colors), default amount of trialware/nagware installed (little to none vs. possibly quite a bit) and potentially a *slight* increase in part quality. However, the part quality you get from buying parts individually from a reputable online retailer even for a lower-end/midrange system is typically as good or better than the best OEM units. This is because the OEM systems are designed to become obsolete after a certain period of time, such as the typical 3-to-5-year business lease and they do not need to last beyond that. Enthusiast parts are higher-quality as they are much more likely to be abused by people running them above rated specifications and the manufacturer doesn't want to get the bad PR of parts not being able to stand up to some abuse.

4. Stability depends on two things- hardware stability and software stability. If you run a custom-built machine that is anywhere near appropriately designed, it will be extremely stable if run at anything close to stock speeds due to high-quality parts. Software is often the culprit in stability issues if the user isn't overclocking a system a lot as device drivers are notorious for causing instability. This is another area in which a self-built custom system can be a lot better. You can look at reviews and see what parts have crappy drivers and avoid them to avoid much of the driver grief. You can also upgrade drivers easily if a release of a driver is bugged as you have standard hardware. With an OEM machine, the OEM does a little bit of driver testing and then ships ONE driver version with their hardware and that's it. Often, their hardware is proprietary and will only run well with their own version of a driver, leaving you hosed if stability is less than you'd like. And it's also not as easy as simply replacing a part if the driver is bad as OEM units have that proprietary hardware than can be non-standard and not replaceable. A good example is Dell's power supplies in the PIII days- they had the normal 20-pin ATX connector but wired the connector differently so you had to buy their replacement PSU for much more than a third-party unit from an online source, else you'd fry the motherboard and really be in trouble.
April 1, 2008 10:20:03 PM

I changed my mind and will probably try to build a low-cost Intel platform based system. That's what I did 10 years ago and I'm still using the high quality parts that I chose at that time (Asus Mobo, Intel CPU, Quantum Fireball hard drive still going strong) so I will set myself for a bit below $1000 and take into consideration future additions when selecting the motherboard, such as a LCD display, adding a second SATA optical drive or a good PCI-E video card later on. Hopefully I'd like it to be future proof to a certain extent and last at least 5 years.

So far it would be Intel Core 2 Duo e???? with Asus P5? motherboard (I have to find the best bang for the buck mainstream CPU) with × 2 1GB DDR2 (2GB), a Seagate Barracuda 320GB, Antec Sonata III quiet case and PSU (500W) that I will "polish" every sunday, Sony NEC Optiarc DVD-RW optical drive. Now I'm not sure about the Operating System. Maybe should I just go with XP SP2 32bit version? Because if I choose Vista 64bit I would make sure the motherboard has like × 4 DIMM sockets to allow upgrading the RAM and take advantage of the 64bit... I really don't know what to do with the OS. I will hang out a little here and keep on reading articles and reviews at Tom Hardware for awhile...

Thanks
Frankie
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