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  1.    #1  
    Hey Everyone.

    I have an old Pentium 200Mhz computer (the chip BEFORE the PII) and i'm thinking of investing alittle to make it into a good 'web-computer' (You know, like the ones Compaq and others are selling....but with a hard-drive).

    I've installed a second hard-drive (2.1GB and 6.4GB) and I've already established that the highest RAM i can manage is 128MB (which is better DIMM or SIMM?) I've installed a USB card and I'm running Win98SE.

    What i'm curious about:

    Video card. I was looking at the 3dfx Voodoo 2000 PCI card as it'll fit in what i have. I have 2 PCI slots available and 2 (what were the letters again?) ISA? slots available (one has my ATI Mach2 video card in it right now). I hear the 3dfx is good for a machine with a low Mhz processor as it takes on alot of the video work...not to mention it's a cheap card (i'd like to keep costs way down as the final result of this machine is to be a quick internet access in the house)

    I'm also looking at the Boca Research Tidalwave 56K V.90 USB modem (i don't have want DSL or cable right now but will one day.) Any other suggestions? i thought the USB connection might help setup and speed somewhat.

    Last question, I don't THINK I can upgrade the processor on my current motherboard, i looked in the motherboard manual and the fastest speed they list is the processor i have (it's an old computer!). Does anybody remember if the PII chip would fit or am i just daydreaming? And what are the difficulties with buying a new motherboard and chip and just stripping everything off of what i currently have and connecting it to the new motherboard. Is it just a matter of reading the manual and making sure i have jumpers in right slots, etc.?

    Thanks in advance.
    wow, it's been awhile.....things have REALLY changed...why is my Visor Edge still in my hand? Will a Treo fit better?
  2. #2  
    A good hardware site to try is http://www.maximumpc.com
    I used it to determine what motherboard and components to put together my new system.
  3. #3  
    Hoser --- If your not going to be doing a lot of 3D stuff with the computer (I am ruling out most games due to the age of the system), I'd think you would be better off throwing in a fast 2D gfx card in your system. Matrox comes to mind (I use to use those a lot on those type systems) -- this might save you some cash..

    Not quite sure about the modem.. Seems like reviews are few and far between nowadays regarding them.. I'd recommend looking for a non-softmodem (one that is a "Windows modem") -- these use the CPU to maintain the connection and you may see a slow down in performance when doing processor intensive tasks.

    Assuming your using the Pentium 200MHz w/o MMX, I believe you have the fastest processor that motherboard can support (though even with MMX I think those boards only go up to around 233mhz..) Unfortunately, new boards are generally configured quite a bit different from those older boards. Most of the new boards are AGP/PCI only (no ISA), however, you should still beable to find boards with 1 or 2 ISA slots on them (this might be an issue if your currently using them). Also, the boards will most likely require different RAM from what your currently using (figure $1 to $1.25 per MB for RAM costs) -- along with the new motherboard, new cpu and new ram, you will probably need a new ATX case to house everything ..

    While I have seen people do this type of upgrade, I wouldn't recommend it.. you could spend a little more and get a completely new box (since your already planning on getting a new video card and modem)

    Joe
  4. #4  
    Hoser,
    I can answer some of those questions...

    The Boca modem I'd have to say I personally can't recommend that much...at least with the systems I've delt with. It seems to have alot of problems with transfer rates and talking to the servers that alot of ISPs use. Another suggestion is an A-open FM56 modem...it's alot cheaper and I have never had any problems installing it.

    You can upgrade the processor a bit but I'm not sure how much it'll help you. There is a module called "Evergreen" or something like that that usually has an AMD processor with a circuitboard that plugs into the same socket your pentium plugs into now. The circuitboard allows motherboards to recognize chips that are faster than the board was intended to run. It takes a bit of tweaking to get it to run good but I've had more success installing them then not. Hope this helps and if you need to you can email me at john@cstone.net or ICQ me at 35406549.

    Horus
    "Caution: Cape does not enable user to fly."
    ~Batman costume warning label
  5. #5  
    First of all, I have the same computer as you do! 200 Mhz processor, and such. DIMM is better then SIMM. DIMMS have a faster tranfer rate (SDRAM PC-66, PC-100 etc..). SIMMS have only 72 pins, while DIMMS have like 168. It sounds like your going to run out of IRQ's (Interupt Requests, they allow componets to stop te processor and tell it to do something, like when you press a key on the keyboard) anytime, I did with my machine. GET A PCI CARD!! The are so much better then ISA because their 32 bit and not 16 bit. I like Matrox cards, but over at http://www.pcmag.com , do a search and they have a review of like every graphics card. Go for the USB modem, it will be easier, but you might want to go to a different comapany. Make sure you get a non-winmodem USB. That will be important, because it will tax your processor. I would go with a Xircom USB 56k modem. look at Xircoms site. D-Link I think has a USB modem too. It sounds like you have a socket 7. And as I know Socket 7 (at least on ebay) go up to 500 Mhz.. It probably might be easiet to go with evergreens thing.. I don't know your excat motherboard, but I'm buying a mobo soon and want to make sure it can go up to 500 MHz. A good mobo will do that, where a cheaper one will only go up and down 200 Mhz...... Is your motherboard jumper configured or configured in the bios? F1 at boot, or any other F key... It might say hit delete to enter setup. I congreatulate you for doing memory and hard drive first. Smart thing to do. well hope this helps

    -miradu2000


  6.    #6  
    Wow! first of all, thanks for all the tips!

    Further Questions:

    Cerulean:
    I looked at all the Matrox cards on CNet and PCMag and generally they were either out of my price range ($250) or right at the same price as the 3dfx card. The Matrox cards at the lower price had 8MB while others had 16MB (ie: 3dfx) I don't want to sound like i know what i'm talking about (because i don't!) but wouldn't it be better to get a 3D card for the same price with more memory? Or am i missing something?

    I looked for a 'non-soft' modem but couldn't get that information anywhere. How can i determine if a modem is 'non-soft'?

    And as far as your advice on upgrading the processor, i came up with the same conclusion after thinking about it. I'm ok with the 200MHz. If i wanted more i'd just go buy a new computer.

    HorusIVD
    I can't find an 'A-open FM56'modem...or at least i don't think i can. not sure if that's a model name, manufacturer or what!
    For awhile there i was set on getting an external USB modem as i currently have a 28.8 SupraExpress connected to it and i don't know why else. But after looking at prices, i'll suffer with trying to squeeze a PCI modem into the cramped case. With a new PCI video card, PCI modem, PCI USB ports, and PCI ...what else is in there? I'll check when i get home.. I won't be using my ISA slots at all!

    Miradu2K
    thanks for the quick clarification on dimms and simms. i ALWAYS got them mixed up and i don't work with stuff like that regularly so i forget which is which.
    What is this about running out of IRQ's???? explain further..you've got me worried.

    You also suggested Matrox, see my comment above. comments?

    I looked all over xircom's site and couldn't find a desktop modem (only laptop PCMCIA type) can you help and possibly post a link?
    Also, see my comment above about modems. I think i should go with PCI for price advantage. It shouldn't be any harder to set up than a USB modem (aside from opening up the computer, but i'm doing that anyway.) And this may help in the future as i won't need to buy a USB hub for any additional devices (thinking of getting a zip drive for file backup...or a CD-RW..i have some space left for it if i use a shoehorn!).

    Thanks again to the 3 of you. I still have some questions, I'll post more when i get home and open up the little 'Tank'.
    Looking forward to further responses.
    wow, it's been awhile.....things have REALLY changed...why is my Visor Edge still in my hand? Will a Treo fit better?
  7. #7  
    Do you have AIMor ICQ? e-mail me if you do miradu2000@juno.com No but more stuff. I can't give you too much info on IRQ's but here is what they do. Your computers processor when it's like runnign windows needs to kn when a key has been pressed or a mouse has been moved or a modem is being used, they all send a interuppt request to the processoer. that stops the processor from doing it's task and looks at what the IR was. now you only have 16 IRQ's and about 9 of them are used by the computer. Other ones are used by PCI controllers and the such. eventually you will run out. now I bet that you will be able to add a video card and maybe a modem but nothing else, IRQ's run out very quickly.

    I found the xircom modem by going to http://www.usb.org and then lookign at products, modems and I found a 56k modem. Theirs a better site to do this with but I can't remember . It isn't hard to set up devices in side the omcputer, it' sjust when you run out of IRQ's that get's annoying.

    Oh I like a CD-RW drive better for back-up. I would reccomend HP. you can backup a gig f data for a dollar. (use CD-R's for this, CD-RW's aren't the best for critical data)

    Buying used can save you a ton of money, often 50% off. I would reccomend goign on ebay and trying. Make sure you look at the sellers comments. also try to get someone who know what they are selling.

    Oh one more thing..
    their is no such thin as a hard PCI modem. They are all winmodems except for about 4. check out http://www.linuxmodems.org to find out about modems. (seriouly they have modem info for everyone!) somewhere their their is the link to a page that lists the 4 non winmodems that are PCI. You will have to pay a ton of money though for a non-winmodem that's PCI.

    AIM or e-mail me at miradu2000 miradu2000@juno.com for more help..


    -miradu2000
  8. #8  
    RE: Matrox card -- your right, go with the 3D card .. it appears that Matrox is more focused on dual/quad monitor support, high resolutions, etc.. not worth the extra cost since your probably not going to use it..

    Soft modem -- hmm.. last I heard external modems are almost always non-soft modems (though not sure if this applies to USB based modems) and internals are soft-modems unless otherwise noted -- I don't think I have purchased a POTS (plain old telephone system) modem for well over a year (lately have been doing DSL/LAN/Cable modem installs) so who knows, maybe you can't get an old fashion modem...

    Joe
  9. #9  
    I did a quick and dirty check on ZDNET for an adequate 2D PCI card, and I eventually found an old "Matrox Millennium 4mb WRAM PCI ; MIL/4N (not Upgradable)" - for $28.99 - see http://www.compuvest.com/index.cgi?c=videocards

    For the modem, get an external serial modem. Just make sure to get one with drivers for Win98. USB modems have been surprisingly poor performers, so save you money. Also, given the age of your motherboard, USB (even via an add-on card) may not work all that well if you don't upgrade the motherboard's BIOS. If you really want to save some money, get an old ISA internal modem (around $30), but be prepared to disable one of your motherboard's external serial ports.

    If all you plan on doing with the box is working with IE or Navigator, I wouldn't even bother upgrading the RAM (assuming that you have 32MB).

    I wouldn't bother with upgrading the CPU.

    BTW, if all you want is a homebrew Internet device, why not run Linux; and save that Win98SE license for a game machine?

    [Edited by yucca on 08-22-2000 at 08:57 PM]
  10.    #10  
    Yucca
    Thanks for the link Yucca. Question, how can this place afford to sell these cards for SO CHEAP!? compared to other places? In other avenues if i found a place selling things that cheap i'd start to wonder if i was getting refurbished or partial products.

    As far as using Linux. I have nothing against it, but i'm not in the mood right now. I don't want to deal with anything else. This is a computer that i want to put in my living room (i've got some aesthetic set-ups that i may have to post on here when it's all set up) and make the computer an access point to the internet that is also part of our everyday life (i don't want to have to go into the den to go online kinda thing) and i don't feel like getting into the whole Linux issues. This is supposed to be an easy thing....


    Cerulean
    Thanks for info on the modems. For some reason i prefer external modems. That's what i've always had, with other computers aswell...i remember my old external 2400!!
    Before I do settle on the 3D card, what are the true advantages to getting a better 2D card over an ok 3D card? Should i even be worrying? I currently only play QuakeII and Airport Tycoon on this computer (QuakeII runs smoothly, however Airport Tycoon is chunky). So as you said earlier, i'm not 'gaming'. What i'm looking for is a video card that will be able to help out the slow processor for general use (internet, digital camera pictures, etc.)at a price around $100 - $130. Suggestions? Can a video card 'help out' like i want it to?

    Miradu2K
    Thanks for the quick update on IRQ's. I vaguely remember dealing with them on another computer once. I guess if i get an external modem (i LOVE that site.. http://www.allusb.com) and just replace my current PCI video with a new one, then effectively i'm not adding any more PCI cards to my system. And as i said above, i prefer external modems anyways so this decision makes me more comfortable.

    Thanks for all your help(s?). If there are any other suggestions, PLEASE let me know...i won't be buying stuff until early next month (putting it into the 'family budget' for next month...august is almost tapped out)
    wow, it's been awhile.....things have REALLY changed...why is my Visor Edge still in my hand? Will a Treo fit better?
  11. #11  
    Originally posted by Hoser_in_USA
    (which is better DIMM or SIMM?)
    Hoser,

    The question of whether DIMMs or SIMMs are better is pretty much moot unless you plan to change out the motherboard, since the MB will only accept one or the other. Most older MBs use SIMMs (72 pin), whereas most newer ones use DIMMs.
    Eschew obfuscation!
  12.    #12  
    Originally posted by linguas
    Originally posted by Hoser_in_USA
    (which is better DIMM or SIMM?)
    Hoser,

    The question of whether DIMMs or SIMMs are better is pretty much moot unless you plan to change out the motherboard, since the MB will only accept one or the other. Most older MBs use SIMMs (72 pin), whereas most newer ones use DIMMs.
    Actually i have slots for both. Looking in the manual for my motherboard, there is a chart for memory configurations and i have to use one OR the other, not both. and i have 4 simm slots and 2 dimm slots.

    Based on what i've heard here, i'll go with 2x64MB dimms instead of 4x32MB simms. (those are the configurations i need to run inorder to get the 128MB max RAM on the system).

    I've got news. I've decided to go with the SupraExpress 56e USB external modem. I currently have a SupraExpress PnP 28.8 and i've been VERY happy with it over the years. I bought it for a few dollars from my last job as everyone in the company was spec'd with this modem back when i used to work there. And based on 10 of these modems and their performance, i like the brand and i believe in brand loyalty when the brand proves its performance. (hence the 2 volkswagons in my driveway!)

    Now, i need to decide on a video card. I asked a question earlier today on the advantages/disadvantages of getting a 3D card (such as the 3Dfx Voodoo 2000) over a good 2D card (from somebody such as Matrox)? If anybody could answer this question then maybe i'll make up my mind on a video card today aswell! (then maybe i can sneak a few purchases into august and take them off the september budget!)

    thanks again!
    wow, it's been awhile.....things have REALLY changed...why is my Visor Edge still in my hand? Will a Treo fit better?
  13. #13  
    hoser ..... I wanted to find a good answer for you, so I turned to tomshardware.com .. on there, they had a graphics guide that talked about 2D performance. According to the article, virtually all the current crop of video cards offer similar 2D performance (http://www6.tomshardware.com/guides/graphic/index2.html)

    Given that information, I'd probably recommend the 3DFX card your looking at .. they are pretty cheap, supported by lots of programs and heck, you could get some 3DFX enabled screensavers (or WinAMP visualizations) to spruce up the living room..

    Joe
  14.    #14  
    Originally posted by Cerulean
    According to the article, virtually all the current crop of video cards offer similar 2D performance (http://www6.tomshardware.com/guides/graphic/index2.html)

    you could get some 3DFX enabled screensavers (or WinAMP visualizations) to spruce up the living room..

    Joe

    great little article joe. thanks for that link. I think i will go for the Voodoo card. Now the question is do i pay $60 for the 2000 or $90 for the 3000?

    I think i'll just get the 2000 and use that $30 towards something else (dinner out?) I don't need super gamer graphics capability in this machine.

    I have a new question. Last time i (personally)bought RAM was in 1994! things have changed.

    What specs do i need to look up in my Motherboard manual to determine the proper RAM to get? I know it mentions EDO and DIMM or SIMM (earlier i said i could use either one..) but now i see things like 3.3V vs. 5V and Unbuffered vs. Buffered. I'll have to check the manual when i get home tonight, but could somebody direct me to a link that explains this better or perhaps explain this themselves?

    Thanks.
    wow, it's been awhile.....things have REALLY changed...why is my Visor Edge still in my hand? Will a Treo fit better?
  15. #15  
    Re: Voodoo

    I'd go with the 2000. You'll visually see an improvement in Quake 2 and other apps that can take advantage of the 3dfx driver set with both the 2000 and 3000, over your ATI card.

    But the improvement between 2000 and 3000 may be barely noticible on your Pentium-based 200 MHz computer.

    IOW, IMHO, you'll be wasting $30 to an improvement you cannot notice or take advantage of (because the game/app you're using that would benefit would tax your process, i.e. too slow of a CPU. After all, you're gonna be using this as an Internet appliance...why pour that much more in?

    Re: Memory


    In most cases, the manual should define the proper and/or minimum memory specs. But sometimes, the translation gets lost.

    Besides http://www.crucial.com, a query search on Ask.com will some some sites that have additional definitions. Also, Kington Technologies has a PDF guide that's touted as "the Ultimate Memory Guide). See http://www.kingston.com/tools/umg/default.asp

  16. #16  
    Because it is surplused - old - as in 3+ years; but you won't get much better 2D performance with newer cards. Also, it has mature (as in stable) drivers for Win95, Win98 and NT v4. It is probably supported by Win2K, but I haven't looked that up since your only going to be doing Win98.
  17.    #17  
    What's the difference between Buffered and Non-Buffered RAM? and 3.3V vs. 5V ?

    I've found a few sites that explain RAM and i've learnt quite a bit but i can't seem to find the answer to these two questions.

    OH and i finally figured out what i have:

    Giga-byte GA586VX 82430VX motherboard with a Pentium 200MHz.
    I'm not sure if this helps but some of you seem to have amazing resources and the ability to research stuff like this.

    [Edited by Hoser_in_USA on 08-24-2000 at 11:09 AM]
    wow, it's been awhile.....things have REALLY changed...why is my Visor Edge still in my hand? Will a Treo fit better?
  18.    #18  
    UPDATE:

    I went and bought the 3dfx Voodoo3 2000 PCI card. And the Diamond SupraExpress 56K USB external modem.

    Last night i started.

    I installed the video card and everything went well! IT was AMAZING how it improved things. i'm happy with the purchase.
    I then installed the modem. and everything was sorta smooth (didn't recognize it at first but worked at it and it loaded all the drivers.) I connected to my ISP and surfed for a couple of minutes. Then the problems began.

    I started getting errors (IE5 had to close) so i disconnected from my ISP. As i did that, windows informed me that there were problems and that I should re-start my computer. So I did and then it got worse.

    The computer wouldn't start up again. I would get long beeps with a blank screen. I turned the power off, waited a bit, then powered back up and the same thing...long beeps, blank screen. I disconnected the modem and pulled out the video card (the 3dfx troubleshooting suggested that the card wasn't seated properly). So i re-installed the card and I turned the power back on. Now I got one short high beep and then a low beep (never heard a low beep like that before!) The hard drive spun for a bit (sounded like it was doing something) but still the blank screen.

    I pulled out the video card and turned on the system. the same high/low combo beep. so i figure this must mean it can't detect a video card. I re-installed the video card in another PCI slot.....AND IT WORKED! I started up windows and ran some programs and everything was fine until the computer just decided all of a sudden it had to reboot! (almost like a loose connection turned the computer off then back on...it did a scandisk on startup).

    When it booted back up i uninstalled the modem drivers and since then the computer has started up without a problem. So far.

    Any suggestions? I'll try re-installing the modem tonight when i get home to see if i experience the same symptoms.
    The only PCI cards installed are my USB PCI card (2 USB slots) and the 3dfx video card.

    I'm alittle confused. I don't see how a conflict between the modem and video card can occur and how it would prevent the video card from being recognized on start-up. I also don't understand the 'all of a sudden' reboot.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    wow, it's been awhile.....things have REALLY changed...why is my Visor Edge still in my hand? Will a Treo fit better?
  19. #19  
    Other than a driver incompatibility, it sounds like you're running into BIOS incompatibility, IRQ conflicts or a BIOS Plug and Play issue (or both-- one causing the other)

    On the latter, check your BIOS settings and see if your BIOS/CMOS is configured to setup plug and play devices. If it is, turn it off (you want Windows 98 to do the PnP dance, not the hardware). You may have to uninstall and reinstall the drivers after this.

    On the IRQ conflicts, you shouldn't be running out of IRQs but the possibility does exist that the USB card is trying to map itself to the same IRQ that your video card is using (or visa versa). Manually setting them (after turning off the BIOS' PnP) should resolve that.

    There could be a chance that your computer's BIOS isn't quite up-to-snuff--- the Gigabyte web site (www.giga-byte.com) doesn't state whether the BIOS updates they have for your motherboard addresses compatibility issues with USB, Windows 98 or anything.

    As for driver incompatibility, the SupraExpress USB modems typically ship with a pretty current driver set so you shouldn't need updated drivers. The Voodoo3 2000 does have updated drivers on the 3dfx site, you might want to check them out. However, I am unfamilar with your USB card-- if it required a driver for Win98 to recognize it, then I'd search the vendor's web site for an update driver.


    [Edited by ProjectZero on 08-25-2000 at 12:06 PM]
  20.    #20  
    Originally posted by ProjectZero

    On the latter, check your BIOS settings and see if your BIOS/CMOS is configured to setup plug and play devices. If it is, turn it off. You may have to uninstall and reinstall the drivers after this.
    thanks, i vaguely remember something in my BIOS about PnP and i'm pretty sure it was enabled...if i disable it, would that allow Win98 to assign IRQ's appropriately and hopefully resolving the issue?

    I checked the resources for the video card and modem when i had both installed and it was working (for that brief period) and it said there were no conflicts for both. Is it possible that there are conflicts and Win98 doesn't see them?
    wow, it's been awhile.....things have REALLY changed...why is my Visor Edge still in my hand? Will a Treo fit better?
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