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upgrading a computer--please-please help a newbie??????????

by ms_kay / April 14, 2004 12:18 AM PDT

I know that this is a rather extensive question, but I don't know where to turn. First and foremost I'd like to thank every one that has offered help thus far.
I've got all of the items put together that I need, but before ordering them I want to be sure that my choices (compatibility) are correct. I do hope someone can help.

I'm using Windows 98, 350MHz and my motherboard is a ASUS P3B-F and these are the things that I have put together after stumbling through the maze of computer jargon.
Are the following items compatible with my mother board and OS:
dual channel Ultra ATA/100 card. This card automatically identifies and configures driver types and can share interrupts with most PCI cards. It is easy to install, and is well worth the cost.
Cables Unlimited - PCI, IDE, UDMA100, I/O Flex 4-Drive Controller
Ultra DMA (ATA) 100 MB/sec data transfer rate
Two independent Ultra ATA/100 channels
Up to four IDE devices supported
Support 128GB hard disk drives
Auto identifies and configures driver type
Support Ultra DMA 5/4/3/2/1/, PIO 4/3/2/1/0, DMA 2/1/0 modes
Can share interrupts (IRQ) with most PCI cards
IDE drives types support ATA, Fast ATA-2, EIDE, Ultra ATA/33, Ultra ATA/66 and Ultra ATA/100
Fully Plug and Play compatible
Supports Windows

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Re:upgrading a computer--please-please help a newbie??????????
by ChuckT / April 14, 2004 5:12 AM PDT

ms_kay, "newbie",
you are making this a lot more complicated than it is.

Nobody, except a glutton, is going to wade through all the specs you listed to pass judgment as to whether or not all those components are compatible.
After all, do you really think that the height, width and weight of the hard drive is going to affect the compatibility?
And the compatibility it what? To themselves? (obviously), but what about to the operating system? You mentioned Win98, but are you really going to install that? or do you have sights on a much better OS, like WinXP? and if you are looking toward WinXP, why would you have bought just a 350Mhz motherboard. And if you say it is because you already have this motherboard and are using Win98, then why are you asking us in evaluating its compatibility. You should now be able to tell us.

Look, the truth of the matter is, the best test of compatibility is to actually try it. Sure, there are some software tools that MS and others have created that "test" the system at hand to evaluate the compatibility of upgrading, but I'd say that in most cases all they really do is read a few specs internally of your box and some components (CPU, amount of memory, some particulars of the BIOS, and not much more) and compare the results against some recommendations. If you decide to upgrade a system that falls short of those recommendations then the system will probably still work, just, perhaps, slower that some people might like.

With the BEST of intentions and processes someone could pre-evaluate your list of components, and say yes or no, but the real test is to just try it.

Buy the best that you can afford, for the use you intend, and try it. (see next message, as well)

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Re: upgrading a computer (continuing)
by ChuckT / April 14, 2004 5:16 AM PDT

(continuing from the previous message - for some reason the CNET board was preventing me from making one long message, so I broke it up into 2 parts.)

There are many possibilities that there may be some incompatibilities between your components, but there are many more possibilities that they'll work just fine together.
Just try it. Happy

Even if there are some issues, the chances are there is probably some software patch, or driver update, that resolves that very same problem. Then you will have the fun of investigating the problem and finding the solution. That is how most of us got beyond the "newbie" stage.

Have fun in your adventure. Enjoy yourself. And remember no matter how much you learn there will always be someone somewhere who will know more than you on any particular subject.

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Re:upgrading a computer--please-please help a newbie??????????
by frankzxcv / April 14, 2004 5:46 AM PDT

gee whiz, that was one complicated post.

you're making this harder than it is.

the only issue i see here is your mboard may be so old it or at least its bios may need to be updated to handle a drive over 30 gb.

350 mhz time for an upgrade anyhow. your biggest problem will be CPU and mobo bus speed, not compatibility.


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Re:Re:upgrading a computer--please-please help a newbie??????????
by ms_kay / April 14, 2004 6:28 AM PDT

Thank you both so much. Its wonderful and encouraging to find ones such as yourself's that are willing to offer their help. Happy And I am truly sorry that I threw out so much.
It seems though from your comments I'm back to where I originally thought I should start--the motherboard and CPU. The motherboard is only 2-2 half yrs old, and although only 350MHz processor speed, I had hoped to get a little more time out of it. When I had it put in I knew absolutely NOTHING about computers other then what that lil' button was on the tower. lol I had to take it in for repairs less then a yr after I bought it (it had been a new computer) and choose one of those corner computer stores. He told me the motherboard had to be replaced and a few other things that sounded like gobbly-goop, and so I said go ahead. Well, I'm embarrassed to say, but I walked away with a pocket book $600 lighter and a computer repair man, I'm sure, laughing his a-- off! Idiot here--smack me with a 2x4!! But, I chalked it up to a learning experience and vowed I'd never let it happen again. And so, to make a long story short, here I am wanting to rebuild-upgrade my own computer. Happy
So, it seems my wisest course of action would be to go back to square one--mbo and cpu. Thanks once again for your support and help.

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Re: upgrading that old computer
by ChuckT / April 14, 2004 9:01 AM PDT

That is, don't try to piecemeal "the old horse" and expect to get a "new steed".
Instead, look for those really good, complete systems, for lots under $600.

I could tell you a couple places, on the internet, that have GREAT deals on well-known computer brands. Specifically Dell computers, but others, as well. But all you really need to do is go to "" and search for "coupons deals rebates" It is truly amazing what I have seen recently.

The deals will involve little known coupons, rebates, special codes, and often free shipping, for very limited times.

Recently I have seen a Dell 2.6GHz P4's, with 512MB of memory, at least 30GB drive (I think it was actually a 60GB) a DVD and CD/RW for about $360.
If you also got the 17" LCD panel with it (very nice size!) then all together it was under $600, and that included free shipping.

There are other great deals, they come and go all the time. Remember, search for "coupons deals rebates"
And, also remember, that every day, the deals change. A good one today, but probably a better one tomorror, or next week. Check it out.

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Re:Re: upgrading that old computer
by ms_kay / April 14, 2004 10:16 AM PDT

Thanks Chuck for the advice. I think I may have left something out in my post, the computer that I'm working on is a second one that I have. I have a not so bad system--Pent 4, 2.34GHz processor, 80GB hard drive with 512Ram. The one that I'm trying to upgrade is my first computer--so I guess there is some sentimental attachment. By working on it, I figured that it would be another step in my learning process. Someday I'd like to build one from scratch. Happy And if I do succeed in upgrading the old one, I could give it to my brother, he's wanted one for some time, but unfortunately is unable to afford it. So I'd learn, and help someone. Maybe what I'll do is put in a new hard drive, keep the gb low and put in the sound card that it needs, and leave it at that. What ever money I would have put into it, I can put aside for the day that I can build my dream computer. Happy Thanks for all of your help.

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Re:upgrading a computer-/oops! another post

I have two thoughts. You might do ok to tinker with this one just to learn the ropes and get familiar with the headaches of getting a system to work and squeeze a bit more life from it. If you have a few bucks to burn, it's not a bad idea but this will never become a "dream" system. You could have fun with it though and maybe salvage a few parts to use later. I will speak only to two pieces of hardware mentioned. I would ditch the sound card you listed and get a basic Creative Labs PCI512. It's a solid card with decent drivers. If you want an add in PCI controller to handle larger and faster hard drives, I would go with Promise Technologies cards. The one hitch is that your system will see it as a SCSI controller and you must set the BIOS to boot from a SCSI device. These card do add some system performance as far as launching programs. The Creative and Promise cards should set you back no more than about $80 from a variety of on line mail order places. One quote I remember from a brief attempt spent in auto racing is "Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?" Have fun!

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Re:Re:upgrading a computer-/just had to share
by ms_kay / April 15, 2004 11:07 PM PDT

I posted this in my video question, but I just had to share. In the off chance that it was missed, and since it really does have to do more so with this question--I thought I'd place it here as well. Formost I'd like to thank everyone for all of their help in this post as well as my others. I quote from my other post:
As for my video, the driver that I've been using or was given is a Ensonio (not sure if I spelled that right). To find that wee bit of info, well I think a celabration is in order, so drinks all around! lol. I couldn't find the info on the part and the computer was in pieces. And no hard drive. But I put it all back together, and-and I didn't even have any screws left over!!! LOL The hard drive was my biggest problem, its pretty much toast, thus my reason for wanting to replace it. So I put it in, and thought I'd give Segate's wizard a try. Set it up as though it were a new hard drive. I thought the worst that could happen is that it wouldn't work at all. Well imagine this, I'm using the computer right now! Still have my problem with my video-display settings, so any suggestions?
UPDATE: Well no need for suggestions, unless someone knows of a better driver then I'm using. I worked on it late last night and was able to reinstall the driver, set the display and everthing is working as it should be. Happy I think I'll still do a little work on it (a learning experince) and then give it to someone that really needs a computer. Happy With thanks once again. Cherio, have a great day one& all.

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