I have quite a few questions regarding my aging machine, and I'm hoping you kind folks can answer. I've searched quite a bit but am having trouble finding the answers to exactly what I need.
I've started playing Flight Sim X on my desktop and am not satisfied with how it looks and runs. I'm looking to upgrade my graphics card, and have already added more RAM, but this is where I've encountered trouble.
I found out enough about my mobo to get the right RAM -- ordered a gig and currently have 2x 512 MB sticks installed in my P4PE. I figured I'd put the other gig stick (G Skill 184 pin PC 3200 double sided) in the third slot and be good to go -- wrong! I put it in and the computer wouldn't even boot. After searching the internet for quite some time trying to resolve the issue, I just put the gig in the second slot (or "1" if going by 0-1-2) and took out a 512, and it ran fine. I now have 1.5 gigs in my computer and it's running fine. Obviously, I'd like to take advantage of the leftover 512 stick that's sitting on my desk right now! Any ideas?
Also, the graphics issue. I thought initially I had PCI-express, and then was told by a friend that I have AGP. After searching the forum, it looks like my mobo is indeed AGP and I'll have to settle for a lesser card. However, when I go to the properties of my video card, it says its located in "PCI slot 7, PCI bus 1 device 0 function 0". I'm not sure what this means, but does this mean I have a really old PCI slot, PCI express, or still really do have AGP and I'm just confused!?
After not being satisfied with the performance increase a 7800 GS would give me over my 6800 GT OC, I decided (if I do in fact have AGP) that I'd like the ATI HD 3850. However, will I have to upgrade my power supply? And, will my system be so bottlenecked that it can't take advantage of the card? Here's my specs:
Alienware (ordered in 2004 I think)
3.06 GHz single core
1.5 GB DDR SD RAM 400 PC 3200 184 pin (hoping 2 gigs if I get the third DIMM slot issue resolved)
BFG nVidia GeForce 6800 GT OC
80 GB HD (don't know speed, probably mediocre)
400 watt/"max 420 watt" power supply
Windows XP 32 bit
I think my biggest shortcoming is the power supply, but if that can run the HD3850 please let me know.
I hope my post has been thorough enough -- sorry about the length. So, again:
1) How do I get that DIMM 3 slot working?
2) AGP or PCI/PCI express?
3) Can I handle/should I bother getting the ATI HD 3850 (trying to pimp out FSX)
I can't answer all of your questionjs, but why did you buy a single 1GB module instead of buying 2 to run them in dual channel mode? Your current setup is slower than it would be with 2 x 1GB modules in dual channel. Running 2 or 4 DIMMs is best.
Did you open your PC to check the type of video card that you have? It should be AGP.
Why not consider getting a PC that's better suited to gaming?
You hopefully are wrong, but it depends on the motherboard that you have. There are very few motherboards that can't use dual channel, particularly when they have 4 identical memory slots.
Memory isn't that expensive. I bought 2 x 1GB Kingston PC3200 memory for an Asus P4P800E Deluxe for $50 CDN. If your motherboard supports dual channel, get another 1GB module and sell the 2 x 512MB. Are you sure the new and old modules have identical specs?
If it only has 3 memory slots, then it definitely doesn't support dual channel. Dual channel slots always have a different color, i.e., the blue slots for channel A and the other slot(s) for channel B.
I personnally wouldn't invest much into that system. You hopefully have an AGP card. It's easy to check by opening the case - the AGP slot is not lined up with the PCI slots. If you knew what Alienware system you have, it would be easier to figure out what motherboard was used to assemble it.
I'm looking to stretch my beast of a system with a P4PE board as well.
You may have already found this out, but the reason you cannot put memory in the third slot is because of the motherboard itself. DIMM2 and DIMM3 sockets share the same rows, so you can either put a double-sded DIMM in DIMM2 leaving DIMM3 empty, or single-sided DIMMS in DIMM2 and DIMM3.
It doesn't matter what you put into DIMM1, it'll work regardless. The only thing I'm concerned with is the memory configuration. The P4PE does NOT support X16 DDR DIMMS. Now, I'm not sure how to tell which modules have this setup, so I don't know which ones to buy aside from the expensive ones that are 'guaranteed' to work that are listed on some manufacturer's websites when searching for the memory and motherboard compatibility (i.e. ~$45US PER MODULE).
As for the graphics card slot, it's 4X AGP. I have no idea how much it'll improve moving up from the Nvidia 6800 card. You might want to look on newegg at product reviews, you may find things there.
Finally, for the power supply, I'm not sure what card you had in mind, but the card found here says the following under specifications:
"450Watt or greater power supply with 30Amps on 12 volt with 2x4 power connector recommended."
As for upgrading my system, it's looking pretty expensive buying a whole new rig, but then again, I don't know how much more punch I can get by spending ~$200 to upgrade from 1GB->2GB and Nvidia 7600GS->ATI HD 3850. My last purchase was the graphics card upgrade from a (get this) Geforce Ti4200. That was a nice boost, but I'm still lagging IMO.