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PC Hardware Sticky! ****PLEASE READ****

by ikjadoon / July 7, 2007 1:14 AM PDT
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A few quick troubleshooting tips
by ozos / July 7, 2007 2:07 AM PDT

If your system isn't booting up correctly try a few of the following things:

1) Ensure everything is firmly connected

2) Try a different outlet in the house

3) Try clearing the CMOS (remove battery from mainboard + unplug power from wall, wait for a few minutes, reconnect)

4) Try a minimal boot using just the following components:
-Power Supply
-A Single memory module

If you get beeps from step 4, proceed to add a VGA adapter and keyboard, boot again

If that gives you some form of display, add a hard drive, boot again

If that gives you more of your system, add another remaining component, and so on, when you find the one that halts the boot process, you've likely found the damaged component.

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Some Common Upgrade Questions
by ozos / July 9, 2007 1:53 AM PDT

Upgrading your PC is something you've likely considered, and its likely a major reason for coming to these forums, so I'd like to clarify a few common upgrade questions:

1) Can I upgrade the graphics card in my laptop? Most likely, no, currently nVidia and AMD are pushing for more upgradable graphics in laptops such as nVidia's MXM, however it isn't widely adopted, and therefore laptop video upgrades are rare, and usually not worth the price.

2) I have integrated graphics on a desktop, should I upgrade my graphics? Maybe, if you don't game, there is no purpose to upgrade the integrated graphics, they are entirely fine for video playback, TV watching, photo editing, audio editing, web browsing, online games, and will actually handle a number of 3D titles. The only thing the graphics card adds is extra 3D processing muscle, which is only seen in entirely 3D applications (DirectX) such as video games.

3) Sound cards? Sound cards are more of a personal preference ugprade, there isn't any need to have a soundcard in a modern computer as the integrated is easily high enough quality (even for a home theatre system). Some users prefer a soundcard due to extra interface ports it can add (for example, S/PDIF, MIDI I/O, optical I/O, although all of these features are becoming more and more common on integrated solutions)

4) I want to make my computer faster, what should I upgrade? Well, first I'd suggest looking at what you have, the slowest component should be upgraded first, even if it may seem to be the "least important", such as a hard-drive. Also consider your operating system choice, two computers with identical hardware, one running Windows XP, one running Windows Vista, the XP machine is going to be faster for most applications as Windows XP is less demanding than Vista which leads me to the next point:

5) Vista? Windows Vista is the new Microsoft operating system, a lot of users are considering the upgrade, there is also a lot of bad press on Vista, so I'll try to clarify what the two sides are:

The side in favor of Vista is saying:
-Newer OS
-Adds a lot of visual effects and looks nicer
-Adds DirectX 10
-New features to Windows, like Windows Defender
-Supports some games like Halo 2

The side against Vista is saying:
-Newer OS
-Visual effects are overdone, and waste system resources
-Resource hungry operating system, uses too much HD space and RAM
-Most of the "Vista" features are available for XP
-Doesn't offer any killer apps over XP
-Lots of driver incompatability and software incompatability problems

Generally, you should decide for yourself if you want to upgrade to a new operating system, the "newer OS" point is to mark that Vista is new, meaning it has new features, but new problems, along with the lack of maturity found in XP (maturity meaning less applications are targetted for Vista, while XP has been the de facto standard of PCs for about 5 years).

I hope this clears up some questions on upgrading your system, generally I won't advise any form of upgrade unless its really needed, however this need is relative to application load, if you just bought a new video game and your current graphics card doesn't support it, I would say that you need to upgrade, however if you want to upgrade the graphics card just for the sake of upgrading it, there is no point in spending the money (at least in my opinion).

The best advice I can give on assesing if you need to upgrade, try your target application first, most programs have a demo, which exists for two reasons, firstly to let you try the software out, secondly to let you try the software out on your system and see if it will run correctly. If the performance is sub-standard, I would consider upgrading to run the application.

Below is a list of components and what performances they relate to:

Processor power (speed in MHZ/GHZ, # of cores, etc) - General system performance, number of applications you have can open at once, load times on programs (minor), video encoding (heavily), audio encoding (heavily), software compilation (heavily), video playback

RAM bandwidth (speed in MHZ) - System boot time, application loading time, processor power (faster RAM usually improves processor power), multitasking

RAM capacity (size in MB or GB) - Number of applications open at once, application load time, application performance, general system performance, video playback

Hard Drive bandwidth (rotational speed (in RPM), interface bandwidth (in Mb/s, MB/s, or Gb/s)) - Application load time, system boot time, general loading times, video playback, general system performance

Hard Drive capacity (size in GB) - Amount of stuff that you can store

Video RAM (video card's memory, in MB) - Very little (it does actually play into maximum resolution, however for the current highest reoslution commonly available on desktop PCs (2560x1600), 64MB of video RAM is sufficient to display a 2D image (the desktop))

Video Processor (the GPU itself, reprsented by a manufacturer name (such as nVidia) and model name (such as GeForce) and PR number (such as 8800 Ultra)) - 3D applications such as video games, CAD, OpenGL rendering, Aliasoft Maya, nVidia Gelato, etc

Internal busses (PCI Express, PCI, AGP, HyperTransport, the front side bus) - General system performance, you want higher internal bandwidth to remove any potential bottlenecks due to bus bandwidth limitations, additionally they influence what parts you can put into the system (for example, if you don't have AGP, you can't have an AGP card)

External busses (FireWire/Lynx, USB, PS/2, RS-232, LPT, MIDI) - What devices you can connect, some provide more bandwidth than other (for example FireWire generally is faster than USB, which is faster than LPT)

Wired networking (Ethernet) - Speed at which you connect to the network, has very little influence on broadband internet (most broadband internet is 3 to 9 Mbps, Ethernet is usually 100 Mbps, and 1000 Mbps is becoming more common), faster networking allows faster file transfers on your local network, Wired networking also provides much lower latency than Wireless networking, which results in higher performance (this part acutally DOES effect broadband, as the lower latency still helps)

Wireless networking (802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11 Pre-N Draft) - Speed at which you connect to the network, higher latency than wired, however can provide some benefits (if you're in a situation where wires are impractical) Also can provide internet services at remote locations for PDAs, laptops, etc, IF there is a hotspot (some airports, coffee shops, book stores, schools, etc)

Other interfaces (Bluetooth, RF, IR) - Provide wireless interface to some devices, usually the device is designed for just that interface, so bandwidth isn't a problem (its usually an interface device, so you're not really worrying about bandwidth). One thing to note is that all 3 of these interfaces are easily interferred with (Bluetooth to the least extent) by other thigns such as other IR remotes, microwaves, cordless phones, etc

Internet connection (Broadband (Cable, DSL, WiMAX, FiOS), Dial-up (28.8k, 33.3k, 56k), T-carrier (T1), ISDN) - Speed at which you connect to the internet, you could have the fastest computer in the world, if you have 28.8k it will be a slug on the internet, influences anything related to the internet (instant messaging, e-mail, any streamed online content (movies, music, games), downloads, web browsing, etc) the faster the connection the better.

I hope this helps to clarify which parts or interfaces effect what aspect of system performance, and can help target what needs to be upgraded to attain the performance levels you'd like.

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Tip- Don?t Over Look the Power Supply
by bus / October 4, 2007 9:08 AM PDT

The power supply is often the most over looked part of a computer upgrade or build. This is not a part that should be left as an after thought. Not only does the power supply provide the power but in most cases it does 90% of the cooling and sometimes a 100% of the failing. I know that for the most part I?m preaching to the choir but for people just doing upgrades for the first time or even their first computer build the power supply is often an unknown.

The ideas that the PSU provides different voltages on different rails, that the computer power supply is switched and must be under load to operate correctly, are important concepts that need to be understood by both upgraders and PC builders. Amperage and voltage levels on those rails needs to be at correct levels for that particular computer and its components. Just as the correct type of connectors and enough connectors need to be present to hook it all up.

Newer more up scaled power supplies come with more features that require more understanding to allow PC builders to take advantage of the new features. PC builders also need to understand why the best fit PSU is in the computer builder?s best interest.

People planning upgrades need to understand that the new components in most instances need more power and the old PSU may not be able to do the job due to limited output and wear and tear. To get that new component to work correctly you may need to replace the old PSU with a newer larger PSU or risk damaging the computer you are trying to upgrade.

The following links have helped me and maybe they can shed some light and aide to the first time upgrader and first time PC builder.




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TIP: Cool running computer
by DerfX / May 20, 2008 9:00 PM PDT

With today?s modern processors and high speed, running cool is more important than ever. I found an easy way to drop my processor core temp almost ten degrees and anyone can do it.

I have an Intel P4 3.2 GHz and it ranks as one of the hottest running processors out there at full load. It cranks out a whapping 103 watts of power and you can just imagine what it would be like to put your hand on a 100 watt light bulb after it had been on for a while. Fortunately, Intel uses a throttling mechanism to slow itself down if it gets too hot to help prevent some of the catastrophes you hear about. But still, building this machine required a special case with ducting to allow outside air to be drawn in by the processor fan for optimum cooling. I know many of you will have similar setups even if the system is an off-the-shelf model.

What if figured out was that we don?t pay enough attention to just where we place our computers. Mine sits on a shelf beside my desk and is pretty much open all around the front and back. I figured it was getting plenty of fresh air. What is noticed was that near the back of the computer, where several case fans exhaust the computers internal air, a very warm cloud of air was forming when-ever I was using the system extensively. With some investigation, I noticed that it was from this warm cloud that my processor intake was drawing its source of air. If you start out with very warm air, it doesn?t matter how fast it?s moving, it?s only going to get hotter.

What I did was take some cardboard and some masking tape and designed myself an external duct that I just taped to the side of the computer, over the intake of the processor fan. I made sure the internal area of the duct was plenty big enough to allow for an unimpeded air flow to the processor but it directed the air from out in front of the computer where the air was generally 15 or so degrees cooler than the cloud of air behind the computer. I noticed right away that my CPU temps had dropped dramatically.

It?s real easy to tape together some kind of duct that will direct the air any way you want it and maybe more important, just think about where you put your computer. Know that somewhere, usually in back, your computer is going to exhaust a bunch of hot air and you don?t want the air your computer is trying to suck in to come from anywhere near that. Just positioning your computer right could make it run a lot smoother and happier and you would be surprised how often just running cooler can correct many speed or crashing problems.

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Mpc and Gateway Computer Support - Drivers, manuals.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 18, 2009 4:35 AM PST

Originally posted by by mpcsupport - 11/18/09 11:14 AM in the Computer Help forum but good to find a free drivers site with manuals for a bankrupt line, the poster gave an ok to copy this here.

"The new MPC/Gateway computer support site is now online

After the MPC bankruptcy and closure, millions of users worldwide were left out in the cold for their computer support.
The new support site has been rebuilt and is back online at http://www.mpcdrivers.com

This website has over 37,000 pages of information, over 140 gigabytes of free downloads, and over 200,000 drivers.
Drivers include: motherboards, chipsets, audio, video, networking, peripheral information and drivers, owners manuals, and a technical support forum.

Information, driver requests, or tech support are available at mpcsupport.com"

At the time of this posting it was free of the usual popups.

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