Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question
Solved

Upgrading an OLD Dell Dimension 4550

Tags:
  • Prebuilt
  • Systems
  • Product
Last response: in Systems
Share
June 19, 2011 8:30:46 PM

Greetings!

Before I begin the forthcoming wall of text regarding the topic at hand, I just wanted to commend the sponsors of this board for providing such a great resource. There is so much useful information available here and the members really make all the difference in helping people with their questions (from what I've seen; I joined up simply because I've been able to find out so much about so many different subjects here). Anyhow, just wanted to say - excellent work! :) 

So, here's my situation:

Finances are extra tight in my household as of late and I know that the true solution to all my computer woes would be to simply buy or build a new computer. Unfortunately - because of funding - this option is simply out of reach at the moment. So what I am stuck with is an old Dell Dimension 4550 that someone gave to me about two or three years ago as a way of saying thanks for helping with a move to a new apartment. As those of you who know even a little about computers are aware, this is far from a gaming rig and options for improving this dilemma are extremely limited. I've researched quite a bit about this system, so I'm being honest with myself and not expecting any miracles. However, I do think there are few upgrades I could perform that will fall within a quite reasonable budget and may be worth trouble; that is - if I could kindly ask you folks for a little advice on whether or not my suppositions are warranted or not. Bear with me - I'm very new to A LOT of this stuff, and as I said, I'm not expecting any miracles as far as performance if concerned with this very archaic and limited system. Just looking to breathe a little bit of extra life into a dying system. That said, here goes:


For starters, here's the data sheet for my current system:



My mobo:



Simple overview of my CURRENT system configuration:

Dell Dimension 4550
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.53 GHz (non-HT enabled)
RAM: 2 GB DDR
GPU: EVGA e-Geforce 6200 PCI 256MB
OS: Windows XP Professional SP 3
Hard Drives: 2 Hard Drives; No RAID setup options available - both are identical WD 320 GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache ATA-100 EIDE HDD's
Monitor: 22-Inch Insignia 720p 60Hz LCD TV


Currently, the system I have here is equipped with the Pentium 4 2.53 GHz processor (non-HT). The best price I was able to find for the maximum processor upgrade available for my board (socket 478, 533 MHz max FSB, Intel i845PE mobo) was this Pentium 4 3.06 GHz HT enabled cpu, socket 478, 533 MHz FSB for about $29 USD including shipping costs:



Here are the specs for this cpu from the manufacturer's site:



I'm aware that the jump from the 2.53 GHz non-HT to the 3.06 GHz HT would probably be rather insignificant; and that the Hyper-Threading feature of the latter would only yield 2 logical threads, but still only be a single-core processor. The only real place I could see this making a tiny difference is in multitasking (not that I do a lot of intensive multitasking on this system to begin with). I do use programs like Photoshop CS 5 and Flash, but only rarely (I'm in online college courses for Animation), as necessary. Nothing too intense. The reason for the CPU upgrade would really be out of sheer curiosity and also because I'm looking to throw a different GPU/graphics card in the tower as well.

Because it's a wonderful Dell machine, I have absolutely ZERO overclocking options available to me (trust me - I've scoured around looking for ANYTHING that will allow me to even alter the slightest thing. No dice, whatsoever). The only thing that I was able to do was use a Windows GUI-based program called MemSet to change the RAM timings. That's it.

My current GPU is - hope you're sitting down... An EVGA e-Geforce 6200 256MB PCI card. Yes, I said it: PCI (NOT PCI-e). (-=laughing=-). Back when I bought the thing, I knew nothing about video cards (not that I know anything more about 'em now), and it was the only PCI card I could find in a local Circuit City at the time. Anyhow, at stock it had a core clock of 280 MHz, no shader clock that I was aware of, and I believe a 425 MHZ memory clock. I was finally able to find a way to overclock this GPU by flashing a custom bios over the board. It's now at a stable OC of 352 MHz Core/ 730 MHZ Memory. Still, this thing was never meant to be a gaming card to begin with... and as I've only recently learned (by reading posts on this board nonetheless), it's a a godawful PCI card. Luckily, it's only sharing the bus bandwidth with my PCI WiFi adapter card. I've also installed a TinyXP 32-bit Operating System (I can only do 36-bit with this rig, no 64-bit even if I upgraded the processor to the one mentioned above). By the way, although I realize that TinyXP is not an official, legal build, my product key is; so that part is legit. Anyway, these minor tweaks have allowed me to run DOOM 3 with Ultra Quality settings enabled and everything but AA @ 1024 x 768 resolution with some very playable framerates (cannot confirm exactly how many FPS I'm getting as I haven't tested it; but animations and movement are usually very crisp and smooth. If I had to guess I'd say the 25-40 fps range, because it is extremely playable as I've suggested). Half-Life 2 (which I know could probably run on a calculator powered by a hamster on a spinning wheel because that Source engine is just so highly optimized for even older systems) actually looks pretty stunning. I've gotten Far Cry 1 to run pretty smoothly at 1024 x 768 with most of the settings on High (no AA for any game though... that's where things really slow down). I know I'm YEARS behind what everyone else is enjoying nowadays, but unfortunately, this little puppy is all I've got for right now.

Yet, I still can't help but feel like I could get a least a *little* bit more out of this system (even though the bottom line is that it is - ultimately - utter crap).

So, I noticed that I do, however, have a completely free AGP slot... Only thing is that I'm limited because it's an AGP 4x slot.

I was able to find a used Geforce 6800 GT 256mb AGP 8x card going for $15 including shipping costs on eBay. From what I've read up on this model, it will be fine and downclock to accomodate a 4x AGP bus. The problem I see, is that the manufacturer recommends a 350W PSU for this card. My system is only equipped with a 250W PSU. I really don't want to have to go through the expense of getting a new PSU if I don't have to. Plus, it's a Dell. I'm pretty sure that if it's even possible to change out the PSU at all, I'm gonna have a difficult time tracking down a higher wattage PSU that'll be compatible.

Question #1: I'm wondering - If the card is running in AGP 4x "mode", will this consume any less power?

Now I know there is the worry of the bottlenecking with a card like that in the system. Apparently, my mobo will only go as high as 2 GB DDR RAM (which I have in there already - one 1GB stick @PC3200, the other a 1GB PC2700). So, I'm stuck there. I know I could replace the second PC2700 stick with an additional PC3200 one to complement the other, but - again - if it isn't completely necessary, I won't bother and just save the cash.

Question #2: Will the upgrade from the P4 2.53 GHz (non-HT) processor to the P4 3.06 GHz (HT-enabled) processor help alleviate concerns a little bit where bottlenecking would be concerned running the Geforce 6800 GT AGP 8x card @ AGP 4x bus speeds?

I know it's quite a longshot, but I'm being real with myself and knowing I can't expect to play games like Crysis or even Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare with reasonable settings, even with the upgrade. I'm just looking to play the 2006 and prior games a little bit better (i.e. Far Cry 1, DOOM 3, QUAKE 4, HALF-LIFE 2). And I figured, if for just $45 USD I can squeeze a little bit better performance out of an obsolete and ancient rig, that won't hurt my wallet too much and may be worth the couple bucks. Considering I didn't pay anything for the system to begin with (with the exception of the Geforce 6200 card I chucked in there), $45 spent won't be such a lofty investment until I can get the financing together to get a REAL computer. I just would like some confirmation if it is achievable from a technical standpoint.

Some other options I considered:

This CPU:
Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz 800MHz 1MB Socket 478 CPU


I would do this one, but I'm 99.99% sure my mobo wouldn't accept it. Even though it's a socket 478 (Prescott? Northwood?), it's got an 800 MHz FSB rating. I'm not certain that my Northwood mobo @ 533 MHz FSB would even be compatible. Still, if it could work, it'd be better to go to 3.2 GHz and a 1mb cache.

These GPU's/Graphics Cards (Not that my system could take advantage of any of these):

EVGA NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GS AGP



Double what I would pay for the 6800 GT AGP, but from what I understand these 7800 GS AGP's were meant to replace the former mentioned card.

Gainward Bliss 7800 GS 512 MB AGP


*NOTE: Can't find this one for sale ANYWHERE.

Ati Sapphire HD 3850 512mb



----------------------------------------------

Thanks for bearing with me and sitting through this promised "wall of text" for such a trivial system. Trust that any and all help would be greatly appreciated by this hopeful gamer in a (hopefully, only temporary) financial pickle. Thanks in advance and take care all! :) 

~ Tony (a.k.a. RevOne)

More about : upgrading dell dimension 4550

Best solution

June 19, 2011 9:01:05 PM

AGP card slots are not identical . There are physical differences , and power differences between the various generations of AGP , x2 , x4 and x8 .
I cant recall where the changes were made , but you should be able to research this on the net to find out if you can install a more powerful card .

But even if you do the fastest AGP card is going to be well below the level required for decent game play , and the processor performance a fraction of whats available today in a budget system .

I think you should wait till your fortunes have improved , rather than spending what little you have now on something that wont achieve the result you want anyway .
Share
June 19, 2011 9:32:53 PM

Thank you Outlander for taking the time to read through all that stuff I wrote up there and providing your input. Believe that it is highly appreciated! I expected just as much regarding this system. It does what I need it to for the moment; the challenge was getting it to do what I want it to. I saw this system sitting on a shelf at Wal-Mart the other day, and I really would seriously consider picking it up: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Acer-PT.SGM02.002/16608489#Pr... . After all, ANYTHING would be an improvement over this current DELL system.

The thing I'm leary of is that it's A) an Acer, 2) I haven't done any comprehensive research to see if any online merchants (e.g. Tiger Direct, Newegg, etc.) could offer something better for the same price range, and 3) I haven't done my research on the components that come bundled with this system and whether or not it would be worth it. For instance, I know it's got an integrated GPU out of the box, but I noticed from the product specs it says it has 2 PCI-e x16 slots. I thought I could maybe get two cards and run an SLI/Crossfire setup, maybe jump the RAM up to the 8 gig max, and perhaps have a decent little rig for at least a little while until I needed to replace the Acer. Also, I'd want to know that I could maybe OC this motherboard through bios options, can I configure a RAID-0 setup... things like that. I just gotta conduct some research. I mean, for a $400 cheap Acer I wouldn't expect much, but I still need to really look into it. Plus, there's the issue of convincing the lady of the home to shell out the 400 bucks on a new system when there's nothing wrong with the one we've got (aside from being able to play games on it!). I just don't know much about Acer's and I'm pretty sure that most pro's frown upon them. There's a difference between the terms "cheap" and "affordable"; and I'd want to ensure that a pre-built would up to the task.

Honestly, I really do think that once I've got the money together, I going to go the custom built route. At least that way you can get exactly what you want to meet your expectations and budget.

Anyhow, thanks again for assistance. If I do ultimately decide to shell out the 45 bucks to add in the components I mentioned in the original post, I'll follow-up with my results in the off-chance that there's someone else out there in my same situation that would be looking to something similar (though I doubt it -=laughing=-). Thanks and take care!
m
0
l
Related resources
June 19, 2011 9:56:41 PM

Acer are a pretty reasonable brand , I think

And yes the Athlon quadcore is a big step up from the old single core pentium
but you may find the upgrade options severely limited .
Usually such computers have low wattage power supplies that wont handle the load of an extra gfx card, and some use non standard designs designs that are hard or impossible to replace . That does look like a small case in the photograph so I am suspicious .

Having two pci-e x16 slots is not a guarantee of both [ or either] being connected to 16 pci-e lanes . Many such slots operate at 4 x or 8 x .

It should be able to build a similar priced computer with decent hardware , and a future for about the same price if you are prepared to accept integrated gfx for now .
Windows can be the hurdle since thats $100 too , but if you are prepared to use Ubuntu linux you will pay nothing and have a very similar experience to windows , even in gaming , and an app store with many free and paid programs .
m
0
l
June 19, 2011 9:58:21 PM

Acer are a pretty reasonable brand , I think

And yes the Athlon quadcore is a big step up from the old single core pentium
but you may find the upgrade options severely limited .
Usually such computers have low wattage power supplies that wont handle the load of an extra gfx card, and some use non standard designs that are hard or impossible to replace . That does look like a small case in the photograph so I am suspicious .

Having two pci-e x16 slots is not a guarantee of both [ or either] being connected to 16 pci-e lanes . Many such slots operate at 4 x or 8 x . and the power supply might be sitting over them limiting expansion to half height cards .

It should be able to build a similar priced computer with decent hardware , and a future for about the same price if you are prepared to accept integrated gfx for now .
Windows can be the hurdle since thats $100 too , but if you are prepared to use Ubuntu linux you will pay nothing and have a very similar experience to windows , even in gaming , and an app store with many free and paid programs .
m
0
l
June 19, 2011 10:15:27 PM

I have had a very quick look at Newegg

Athlon x3 445 $82
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GIGABYTE GA-78LMT-S2P AM3+ $65
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Really basic feature set , but able to support the next generation bulldozer processor

a 2 x2 gig of 1333MHz Ram ~ $42

Samsung F4 320 gig hard drive ~ $42

Antec Three Hundred + BP430 Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 430W Power Supply $90 [ or $70 after rebate ]
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

A dvd drive $25

Total is $326 after the case rebate

If I could spare the money I'd replace the motherboard above with this model
GIGABYTE GA-880GMA-USB3 AM3+
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It costs $40 more but it has a much better future
and makes the total

$366
m
0
l
June 19, 2011 10:27:14 PM

i agree with above, then you could have the computer mentioned above for about 10 years, although it would probably be near the state of your current dell by then .(technology's too fast...)
m
0
l
June 20, 2011 12:06:01 AM

Outlander_04 said:
AGP card slots are not identical . There are physical differences , and power differences between the various generations of AGP , x2 , x4 and x8 .
I cant recall where the changes were made , but you should be able to research this on the net to find out if you can install a more powerful card .

But even if you do the fastest AGP card is going to be well below the level required for decent game play , and the processor performance a fraction of whats available today in a budget system .

I think you should wait till your fortunes have improved , rather than spending what little you have now on something that wont achieve the result you want anyway .


I did a little more digging with regards to the current Dell configuration I have out of sheer curiosity (more like stubborn-ness, perhaps -=laughing=-). I used this web site (suggested in another thread on this very forum. I'm serious - I love this place! :)  ) to give me a ball park idea of whether or not I could throw the 256 MB 6800 GT AGP into my system and keep the 250 W PSU I currently have. After entering my specs into each of the fields and then selecting the 6800 GT option, the results yielded that at minimum I should have a 251 W PSU. The recommended was a 319 W on 100% load (which I'm guessing would most likely be more accurate if I were trying to pump a game like Far Cry 1 or Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay through on a system like this). Surprisingly, I found that the 256MB 7800 GS AGP consumes less power than the 6800 GT; although it still gave me a recommended suggestion of some odd number like 284W. Additionally, the way the site is laid out, there's no way of determining if this is what is determined for AGP 4x (although I assume they are factoring in 8x bus speeds on full load). Looking at my mobo, there are some physical concerns as well. The RAM slots are awfully close to the AGP slot. Here's an idea of what my motherboard looks like (although it's not exact, but very similar):

http://www.esaitech.com/objects/catalog/product/image/t...

Here's the 6800 GT AGP card:

http://www.gpureview.com/database/images/cards/202/larg...

Here's the 7800 GS AGP card (top and bottom):

Top: http://www.gpureview.com/database/images/cards/382/larg...
Bottom: http://www.gpureview.com/database/images/cards/382/larg...

For starters, I'm concerned that the RAM slots would interfere with a card that long. Secondly, I noticed that my AGP slot with this motherboard would require me to install the card with top/fan side facing downward (don't know if this is normal as I have no experience with AGP cards. I guess it would make sense from a ventilation standpoint).

So, I'm starting to think that it's no-go either way I look at things. The processor upgrade might work, but the GPU thing might be a dead end. It's a shame because after learning about the difference in bus speeds between AGP and PCI (66 MHz vs. 33 MHz , respectively; physically moving my gpu from the south bridge to north bridge, etc.), I thought I might actually benefit by getting an AGP card for this system. Well, it's only $15 (the 6800 GT) so I may just be hard-headed and get the thing anyway and see how it flies with the upgrade to the 3.06 GHz processor. If not, I'm pretty sure my brother's got a PC with an 8x AGP slot and he could find some use for it in the event it doesn't work on mine. And here, I wishing/hoping I could even take things as far as throwing an ATI HD 4670 into this thing... http://shop.amd.com/US/_layouts/shop/ProductDetails.asp... -=sigh=- Oh well...
m
0
l
June 20, 2011 12:32:52 AM

Looks to me like the gfx card will fit . It also looks like you'd have to take it out to undo the clips holding the RAM .
Here are the various agp slots and voltages
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accelerated_Graphics_Port

Fans are always on the bottom side when the card is in an ATX motherboard . Completely normal . The card doesnt extent above the actual slot [ as opposed to the molded plastic socket ]

Of the 6800GT or 7800GS then I think performance is similar .
Nvidia used gs , gt and gtx in that order of increasing performance so the 6800 is the second best card of its generation and the 7800gs the third best of the next generation . I suspect the 7800 gs is the stronger card . But its still not going to play any modern games with any detail

The real problem though is the power supply . There is no standard way they are rated . A 300 watt psu might be able to supply 300w continuously , or it might be rated for short periods at 300 watt and really be only able to deliver 200 watt day in day out . Worse still is that over time they get old , cranky and less capable .
It might be fun to try this upgrade , but Id want a fire extinguisher handy before I tried gaming
m
0
l
June 20, 2011 2:28:04 AM

By the way, I really wanted to give thanks for your feedback and suggestions on moving onto a better machine. I was (pleasantly) surprised to see that it isn't as expensive as I originally thought it would be to assemble a decent rig from the ground up. Even your suggestion with the pre-built Acer I saw in Wal-Mart was extremely helpful; although, now that you've shown me how easy/simple (?) and affordable a custom built could be, I would probably be more inclined to take that option when the time comes. Looking at those links you provided truly got my wheels spinning, and while browsing those pages using this Dimension 4550, it's difficult not to almost practically salivate over the possibilities of a new system (sorry, it's the natural "old-computer user" reaction, I think -=laughing=-).

So, I was looking at the links to the components you provided and got to thinking of a few more questions. I notice that both motherboards you listed were socket AM3 boards. I would more than likely just go all the way and get the more expensive of the two. The thing I was curious about was if in the future or even while building this one (provided finances allow for it at the time), if I wanted to go from the Athlon II X3 to a different socket AM3-based CPU like either of these:

AMD Athlon II X4 645 3.1 GHz

http://www.ebay.com/ctg/86127063?_imid=320708736643

AMD Phenom II X4 965 3.4GHZ - really simply for the benefits of the L3 Cache

https://www.pcczone.com/amd-phenom-ii-x4-965-3-4ghz-bla...

... Could a mobo like that handle these (especially the latter)? I'm thinking a new PSU would be in line as well for something like the Phenom, because the Athlon II X3 is listed as 90W, the Athlon X4 says 95W, and the Phenom II X4 says 150W. Well, didn't mean to sway too far off topic, but I really, REALLY liked the suggestions you provided.

As far as adding the new GPU to my current system, I'm more than likely going to go with the 7800 GS (I wish I could find the Gainward AGP model because I've read that it's actually a rebranded 7800 GT extending the typical 7800 GS's 16 pipelines to 24 pipelines and 512 MB gDDR3 instead of the 256 MB DDR3 that's standard on the regular models). I'm probably going to do it just for the heck of it, but I also know that overclocking will more than likely NOT be an option because I couldn't adjust the voltages on that card, since at stock voltages it would already be putting quite the strain on my setup. I might have to also consider definitely keeping that fire extinguisher nearby just in case! Thanks for everything... Your help with this is sincerely greatly appreciated. I guess I'll post my results once I have it all set up.
m
0
l
June 20, 2011 3:34:43 AM

If you look at a motherboard makers website , look for the page for the particular board , then there is almost always a cpu support list .

I'd be very surprised if there are any AM3 boards that cant run an x4 Phenom . It would be completely normal for them to support all of the AM3 line up .

But the board I suggested is an AM3+ motherboard .
AMD's best chips are out classed by intels new sandy bridge products .
The counter punch is AMD releasing a completely new design of processor later this year [ possibly september ] code named Bulldozer .
Bulldozer has the same pin arrangement as AM3 but can only run in AM3+ motherboards . Older [ read cheaper] chip sets like the board I suggested dont support all the power saving features of Bulldozer but they do run them perfectly well .
Quite a few of us have our fingers crossed that BD is a match for Intels best, or even better still that its faster . BD has been delayed and there stupid rumors flying about , but so far the reason for the delay is most likely that AMD are running their 32nm production line at capacity making Fusion APU's [ which are a combination of an Athlon quadcore and a gfx chip ] for laptops and desktops

To cut through all the confusion : BUY AN AM3+ MOTHERBOARD if you are buying AMD
m
0
l
June 21, 2011 10:22:01 PM

A little update on the actual thread title topic. I actually ended up ordering a 512MB 7600GS AGP 8x for the Dimension 4550. I should get it in about 3 - 5 business days, so I'll know by then what the results were. It's not a beast by any means, but for a limited system like this with even more limited CPU and RAM upgrade options, I think it'll more than suffice. It should definitely blow the current Geforce 6200 I now have out of the water, but I'm not expecting a monumental performance increase (just more stable FPS in the games I currently play and it's a Sparkle brand card. I wanted a more "known" manufacturer of course, but what can you ask for when working on a very limited budget for a system that's obsolete anyway ). I did a good amount of reading up on cards that would fly with this system and I happened to come across a couple threads confirming some users reporting success with this card and the Dimension 4550's stock 250W PSU (here's one - http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/desktop/f/3... ). In fact, the 7600 GT AGP (a better card) is also reported stable, but I couldn't find one of those going for anywhere near the $30 I got the 7600 GS for (the cheapest GT is saw was at least $80). Here's a quote from the thread on the topic: "To clarify, the 4550's agp bus protocal is a 2x/4x speed multiplier agp slot suppporting 1.5v signaling." (Source: http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/desktop/f/3... ) Additionally, I've learned that the Dell Dimension's stock 250 W PSU provides a continuous 250 Watt supply; as opposed to throttling it up/down between a higher and lower wattage's conditionally.

For safe measures, when I get the card I'm going to remove the molex power cables from the secondary 320 GB HDD (it's only mainly used for backup/storage), the floppy disk drive (not that it sucks up much juice), and one of my disc drives (the secondary DVD-ROM drive, as I actually never had a need to use it). Not a sacrifice I will miss at all really.

This will leave the mobo itself, one DVD-R/RW drive, one (the main) HDD, my PCI WiFi adapter card, and the AGP card itself sharing the 250W PSU. There are also the other peripherals like my webcam, but it''s not like I use it all the time or it even drains much power. I'm confident it will all work out fine. I've read in at least two different threads that Dell often underrates the wattage on their PSU's (here's one: http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/desktop/f/3... ; although I'm not going to just take it based on two unofficial accounts) and the manufacturers of GFX cards overrate the required wattage as a means of protecting their skin in case someone decides to throw their unit into a machine that's below specs. I also checked up on my current video card (the EVGA Geforce 6200 256 MB PCI), and even that one recommended a 300W PSU and is rated to consume 26 W operating at max capacity. I've been running it for years (more recently, overclocked) and have had no problems whatsoever, even with all those extra components hooked up. The 7600GS AGP card I'm getting is stated to use only 32W at max capacity ( http://www.xgcdb.com/cards/sparkle/geforce-7600-gs-sf-a... ); a mere 6 W difference.

The only thing I'm worried about is that it's using passive cooling (a pretty large heatsink). I wanted one with a fan (the GT has one), but I'm going to take my chances. While my Dell's tower is pretty adequately ventilated, one of the first things I'm going to be checking beyond the power concerns is temperatures. If I can find one for a couple bucks, I'll look into getting something like this: Thermaltake PCI Slot Blue LED Fan - 1 x 80mm - 2200rpm - 1 x Sleeve Bearing : http://www.alwayslowest.com/AL/index.cfm?fuseaction=sho...

I still need to get the 3.06 GHz HT P4 processor, but that's another story.

So, I know it really just sounds (reads?) like I'm just rambling on about an outdated system that no one cares about, but I thought it would be beneficial to anyone who's stuck with this machine even in 2011 and is looking to do anything with it. I know I've had to do quite a bit of digging around to find some answers, so the least I could do is share my experiences in the (albeit, unlikely ) event anyone out there in the world encounters the same situation. All in all, I'll be spending about $65 total for this "upgrade" (new GFX card, new CPU, PCI slot fan). If anything, it'll be the most fun I could have experimenting on a computer for now for not a whole lot of money.
m
0
l
June 25, 2011 8:19:48 AM

Just a quick follow up after receiving the graphics card. What can I say? I'm thoroughly impressed by what this old machine is capable of now after this small upgrade. With just the graphics card installed - and mind you, running only at AGP 4x capacity - I find that I am able to play games that I only dreamed possible with the old Geforce 6200 in there. I've been running it strong practically all day testing out a couple of games, and there have been absolutely ZERO issues with power supply concerns. Additionally, I'm even finding that I can play far more "modern" games (though not the latest by any stretch of the word) than was ever thought possible with a machine like this and certainly NOT possible at all with the previous card installed.

For example, I quickly did a test run with Doom 3 on I believe it was something like 1600 x 1440 (something like that), Ultra quality, All advanced settings enabled, including 2x AA, and the computer didn't even break a sweat at very playable framerates never dipping below about 38 Frames Per Second. Granted, this is quite a joke compared to what others can do on their systems, but for an old Dell Dimension 4550, it's pretty admirable. I also haven't tinkered with the settings any more to see if I could go higher on the resolution or AA. There were others I tested: Half-Life 2 maxxed out settings at 1080i worked smooth as butter; Halo: Combat Evolved runs perfect maxxed out settings @ 1360 x 768, and I was even able to play some very fluid Left 4 Dead 1 with very respectable Medium to High (here and there across the board) detail setting at 1024 x 768. I also went on this site: http://www.systemrequirementslab.com/cyri/ , and just started analyzing my system for random games and found I was meeting recommended requirements for far more games than I was eligible to play before with the 6200. And once I have the new processor installed, I'll fall into the recommended system requirements (or in certain cases, at least very close) for a few more popular titles from the last five years (like F.E.A.R. and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, for example). I even managed to get Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter to finally run with fluid framerates (I only tried it at 1024 x 768 resolution, everything else maxxed out, but then started getting into it, and haven't tried higher settings! :lol:  ).

I dared to even go as far as trying Dead Space 1, but that's when things started to show the real age of my computer. The only way for me to be able to play that one would probably have to be at 800 x 600 with medium settings at best on a few things, and low or disabled for all the little bells and whistles. Even then, it would still feel a little choppy in busy sections of the game. Well, I should have the new processor in by late next week, so hopefully I'll see a little more improvement in the stuff I'm finding I can now run at good/great settings. All in all, for only spending about 60 bucks on a doomed machine that I initially didn't spend a single dime on to begin with, I couldn't ask for anything better until I can manage to scrape a few bucks together to build a new one! :)  In the meantime, I can get caught up on a great many of awesome titles I've missed out on over pretty much the last seven years (graphics are great, but for me, all I need is decent enough presentation and the gameplay itself means everything).

Many thanks to you Outlander for the guidance and advice! Hope this can help someone else in a situation like my own!
m
0
l
June 25, 2011 8:51:59 AM

GRAW and GRAW2 are my favorite games .

Im glad its all worked out for you
m
0
l
July 1, 2011 8:57:30 PM

Best answer selected by revone.
m
0
l
July 13, 2011 7:48:34 PM

So here's the final verdict: the Sparkle 7600 GS card turned out to be crap. With the stock heatsink/passive cooling, it was putting up temperatures in the 80+ degrees Celcius range (which equals not good).. while idling, nonetheless. I found a buyer for it on ebay and ended up selling it for about a third less of the price than what I got it for, so that was a minor loss. However, I lucked out and got a BFG Nvidia Geforce 7800 GS OC AGP for a whole $14... and chucked it in the system. I also ended up getting lucky and snagging up the Pentium 4 3.06 GHz Hyper-Threading Socket 478 processor for only $15; then selling my old EVGA Geforce 6200 for $18. I'm not up for doing the math right now, but all in all, this upgrade didn't cost me much at all.

With the new 3.06 GHz P4 and 7800 GS (still only able to operate at AGP 4x because of the motherboard AGP socket limitation), I'm actually able to run Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1 & 2 @ 1024 x 768 resolution with most eye candy settings enabled (only 2x AA and 8x AF though), High Texture setting (there are four settings, the highest being being "Extra", and "High" - the one I have it on - being the one just below that). I haven't tried World at War yet, but I anticipate similar results. Oblivion runs smoothly at Ultra-High Quality settings and a resolution of 1280 x 768. I'm even playing Dead Space now (granted, with most of the eye candy enabled but not all, I can only get smooth framerates at 800 x 600, but still, given the age of this system, it's very playable and even pretty nice to look at). Battlefield 2, Battlefield 2142, Call of Duty 2, Half-Life 2, F.E.A.R., Doom 3, and Quake 4 run pretty darn near to maxxed out (AA settings are usually only 2xMSAA or 4xMSAA, but everything else cranked up), averaging 50 to 60 fps depending on the game; and the Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter and Rainbow Six: Vegas games run like a breeze on Medium-High mixed settings at 1024 x 768 resolution. Left 4 Dead with mixed Medium to High settings and a 1024 x 768 resolution runs pretty flawless, but I do experience the occasional hiccups now and again when there are a ton of character models on screen at one time.

I'm actually quite impressed with what this system - that was once struggling to run Star Wars: Repulic Commando - can now accomplish. I'd be uber excited, but I'll probably end up selling this system anyway because I've started building a budget AMD AM3 based system. Whatever I can get for this one, I'll probably just put towards a new PCI-e 2.0 x16 graphics card; or a beefier CPU (Phenom II x4 955 BE is what I'd really want; but I might have to settle in the mean time for an Athlon II x3 440 because of budget concerns). Anyhow, just thought I'd leave a little update to give a little closure to how this upgrade turned out.
m
0
l
February 9, 2013 7:11:04 PM

skateredit547 said:
is this the same gpu you have?
http://www.jr.com/evga/pe/EVA_256P1N400LR/



The specs look exactly the same as the card I had (sold it quite a while back), but the card design is slightly different, The PCB was smaller/thinner than the one pictured. It came out only as far as the black heatsink.
m
0
l
!