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Tech: New Processer-Help please!

wilbyhillbilly 18 Apr 11 - 01:17 PM
treewind 18 Apr 11 - 01:54 PM
Newport Boy 18 Apr 11 - 04:48 PM
Leadfingers 18 Apr 11 - 04:57 PM
wilbyhillbilly 18 Apr 11 - 05:30 PM
The Fooles Troupe 18 Apr 11 - 07:39 PM
The Fooles Troupe 18 Apr 11 - 07:41 PM
JohnInKansas 18 Apr 11 - 09:34 PM
The Fooles Troupe 18 Apr 11 - 11:10 PM
The Fooles Troupe 18 Apr 11 - 11:18 PM
LesB 19 Apr 11 - 03:17 AM
wilbyhillbilly 19 Apr 11 - 04:03 AM
The Fooles Troupe 19 Apr 11 - 05:18 AM
JohnInKansas 19 Apr 11 - 05:38 AM
wilbyhillbilly 19 Apr 11 - 10:30 AM
wilbyhillbilly 19 Apr 11 - 10:57 AM
Bernard 19 Apr 11 - 01:40 PM
JohnInKansas 19 Apr 11 - 03:27 PM
wilbyhillbilly 20 Apr 11 - 04:39 AM
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Subject: Tech: New Processor-Help please!
From: wilbyhillbilly
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 01:17 PM

Would it be possible to fit a bigger processor to my PC or would it be too complicated or just not possible.

Danny is growing up fast and now some of the games he wants are getting bigger and bigger, the latest one which I didn't realise until I had loaded it, wants at least a 2Ghz processor and mine is not big enough, hence the question.

I just wondered if they are on a board and can be changed fairly simply.

Advice would be appreciated. My pc is a Dell 515 and I'm running WinXP if it's any help.

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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: treewind
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 01:54 PM

If it's not a laptop, CPU (processor) plugs into a socket on the motherboard, so to a limited extent may be swappable for a faster one, but you won't be able to go up much in speed before you find you are into another range of processors that are incompatible, and then you need another motherboard and almost certainly different memory, and there's no guarantee there won't be further compatibility issues, like needing a different type of graphics card (various flavours of AGP (old) versus PCI-E (new)) or hard disk (IDE vs. SATA) depending on how old the old one is.

So you may be left with a complicated job and nothing left of the original but the case...

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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: Newport Boy
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 04:48 PM

I can't find the specs for a Dell 515 PC - how old is it? If it's more than 5 years old, you're unlikely to find a worthwhile CPU upgrade.

Generally, if you want to run anything but the most basic games you need a computer only a few years old. Memory (RAM) and the graphics card are also important.


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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: Leadfingers
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 04:57 PM

Serious Computer Gamers need ALL sorts of Bells and Whistles which are not necessary for 'normal' puter usage . It may well be the easy option to bite the bullet and go for a 'Gaming' puter !!

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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: wilbyhillbilly
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 05:30 PM

Oh, Oh, I was afraid that might be the case.

Thanks anyway, it was worth a try, just have to persuade Danny to like smaller games (like that will happen).

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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 07:39 PM

Such upgrades once were a good idea, there used to be lots of articles in the 'newbie-pseudo-techie' magazines. Nowadays, as others have said, in order to get any reasonable performance increase, you really need to upgrade the MB, and then almost everything that plugs into it. The new RAM is incompatible, and the older style is mostly unobtainable. Especially the HDs, older PCs used the 40 pin IDEs, nowadays almost everything is the 4 pin SATA - you can get small plugin adapters.

Buried somewhere on my website is an old article that took me a lot of time to learn all the stuff therein, in which RAM was much less than 1 Gb, processor speeds were about 10% of today's rates, disks that had 1 Gb were totally unthought of, etc. Most of the 'tricks' of that day are not even worth worrying about.

In fact, when finally biting the bullet to upgrade last year, I eventually decided that a laptop was the most cost effective way - for the same price of just a desktop box - not even bothering with the new MB route, it was cheaper to just buy a new complete box - and then extra for a LCD screen. The performance for mostly web browsing and 'Atomic Typewriter' functions was more than adequate, and now I can just pick up a few kilos and not worry about damaging disks, etc.

I had said that I would never get a laptop ... well they are even more of a nightmare to upgrade ... I'll just get a new one in a few years ...

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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 07:41 PM

PS - only the most expensive and latest games (oh, he's a kid, right!) will not run on fairly cheap new laptops.

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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 09:34 PM

With the changes in processors over even the past few months - much less a few years - you would almost certainly need a new motherboard to get the right socket to put a new processor in.

You might let the kid suffer with the old dog and do yourself a favor and build your own recording studio computer:

Build a Digital Audio Workstation

"On the high-end side, ExtremeTech also offers a how-to to help you put a full recording studio into a low-cost PC. It's cheap, fast and makes beautiful music. Whether you're a musician or just want to cut your own CDs, don't miss this story, complete with plans, parts and instructions on how to put it all together."

The article dates back to 2008, so it's a little dated, but may be newer than the computer you describe as "old(?)." Bottom line to build it then was $7200.00 (US).

The series of DIY articles was ongoing for several years, and there may be newer stuff if you follow through links or search cleverly. I'm sure I saw articles in the series about how to build a "gaming computer" - probably more recently than the one linked; but I wasn't all that interested so I didn't save a link.

Even the 3 year old articles of the kind should give you some idea of what you'd face with any significant upgrade.

It might be well to keep in mind the warnings currently circulating that computer prices may increase drastically in the near future. "All" the parts were made in Japan, and the earthquake and tsunami have pretty well shut down the makers of lots of key components. And the same is true for auto parts, with several production lines worldwide currently shut down, or drastically slowed,due to lack of parts.

I'm not sure the warnings should encourage you to "buy soon," as much as to "save rapidly" so you can keep up with the prices until you've decided what you really want.


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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 11:10 PM

Play Retro Games on Your Modern PC

There has never been a better time for vintage gaming. For those of us who remember what games were like 10, 20, or even 30 years ago, the Internet has provided us with riches beyond belief. Remember when you had to stand in line just to play the latest arcade game? What about waiting months for a home version for the Atari 2600 or ColecoVision, only to find it was a pale imitation of the real thing? Remember how you didn't care, and that you played it for hours and hours anyway?
To that end, using just a Windows PC, we'll show you how to emulate vintage machines of all the major types: 8-bit and 16-bit home computers, 8-bit and 16-bit video game consoles, arcade games, and older DOS and Windows 95–compatible PC titles. You're bound to find true gaming goodness, no matter where your loyalties lie. We'll also include some discussion of peripherals and controllers, all of which have changed over the last 10 years. Finally, we'll conclude with some details on a few treasured books that truly capture the glory of the vintage gaming scene.

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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 11:18 PM

Also 2 other interesting articles for you.

This would probably fit on your current old box

Build a $200 Linux PC
If you need a second or third computer but money is tight, you don't need to buy a full system. You can build a surprisingly speedy Linux PC that will excel at everyday tasks, and cost less than $200.

also of interest
Build a Linux Media Center PC
Putting together a Linux-based media center PC still makes sense in 2010, even post–Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.6. Here's why—and how to get started.

Build It: A Cheap Gaming Desktop
Want to give someone on your list a powerful and expandable gaming PC while maintaining an Ebenezer Scrooge–like budget? Build it yourself for less than $850.

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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: LesB
Date: 19 Apr 11 - 03:17 AM

Another consideration is that, in the U.K. at least, it's not easy to get much choice in PC games on the high street. Plenty of choice in a confusing array of console games,, playstation etc, but PC games are now hard to find.

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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: wilbyhillbilly
Date: 19 Apr 11 - 04:03 AM

What a wealth of information folks, and thanks again.

I now certainly have a lot to think about, but it looks like a tossup between a new computer (FOR DANNY! Fooles Troupe, honest) or a new games console. Trouble is he has a hell of a lot of PC games as well as PS2.

Never had this trouble when I was a kid, we made our own games with a hoop and a stick.

I might now seriously look at building something from scratch for myself though, just a question of whether I will last long enough to finish it at my age! 'cos with a nine year old budding musician to support I certainly can't afford to buy an expensive one.

I will just mention that Danny has this week passed his grade one piano with a merit, so it's not all playing games for him. Needless to say we are very proud of him.

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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 19 Apr 11 - 05:18 AM

The problem is that Win 7 does not like many older PC Games... I know ... none of my games that would run under 98SE (capable up to XP many were) will now run under Win 7. There may be 'fixes'that I don;t kn ow about...

PS - get yourself a laptop - I got a 15 inch one (Screen!) - but you can get 10 inch ones if you can read them ...

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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 19 Apr 11 - 05:38 AM

The closest thing I can find to a Dell 510 PC is the Dell 5150/E510.
If this is, perhaps, what you have you can get a PDF Owner's Manual that might be some help.

This computer uses DDR memory modules, with four slots available; but it cannot use ECC chips. While this is an "older" type chip, you should be able to find suitable ones with a little searching. If you have the 1 GB that was a fairly typical installation ca. 2005 when this computer was being sold, you might gain some additional performance with a memory upgrade.

If your WinXP is the "starter edition" the maximum usable memory is only 512 MB, but if it's one of the better 32 bit kind it can handle 4 G. The 64 bit version could use 8 GB but it would be expected that you don't have that version(?). You can find Memory limits for various Windows versions at the Microsoft Developer Network.

In addition to the memory limits imposed by the OS you have installed, the motherboard and BIOS may have other (lower) limits. Sometimes you can find a BIOS update to increase what's usable, but if a limit is imposed by the type of socket on the board it may be difficult to change the limit.

If the motherboard and BIOS can handle more RAM than the current OS, you could consider upgrading to another Operating System, but that brings in the need to consider whether the machine has other limitations that can't easily be made to handle the newer version. Since WinXP already has been unsupported for some time, you'd likely be better off with a 64 bit Vista version(?). (But as The Fooles Troupe mentions, older games may not run on newer OS versions.)

This Dell has "integrated graphics" on the motherboard, and that was pretty much standard in the apparent time frame, so better gaming performance might be had by adding a plugin graphics card to get some dedicated graphics memory "on the card. In some cases, adding graphics memory in a separate card can reduce the usable RAM on the motherboard, but you generally have to install the RAM in GB increments, even if some of it isn't actually useful.

Graphics cards can run from $30 (US) to $1200, but there are some pretty good cards near the low end of that range.

A "radical" change in the graphics capabilities of the machine could lead to the need for a better monitor to keep up with the "improved" computer, but the monitors from early 200x time generally would be good enough for all you'll get with reasonable changes to the computer.

If you can get the RAM up to speed, and get some graphics hardware acceleration, you may want to look at whether the hard drive is fast enough to feed all the new horsepower. Some of the newer (higher RPM) HDs, even in the older interface configurations, can improve on the data transfer rates common in the default types likely to be on the machine; but you'll have to make significant improvements elsewhere to get to the point where the HD is much of a problem.

Unless you have WinXP Starter Edition, there are built in tools in XP and later OS versions that can give you good information about what may be holding the machine back, but knowing how to find the right tools and how to read what they can tell you can be difficult.


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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: wilbyhillbilly
Date: 19 Apr 11 - 10:30 AM

I,ve just found my receipt from Dell and the specs, which don't mean a thing to me, but perhaps someone could understand them and it may give a better picture of what I've got!

Dimension 5150 Pentium 4 630 (3.00)~Dimension 5150 Pentium 4 Processor 630 with HT Technology(3.00GHz.800MHz fsb. 2MB cache.


160G(7200rpm) NCQ SATA HARD DRIVE.

I've copied this from the paperwork, some of it looks as though it's repeated but that's how it's written down.

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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: wilbyhillbilly
Date: 19 Apr 11 - 10:57 AM

Forgot to mention, I had a new ASUS 512m DDR2 Graphics card fitted a little while ago.

It has EN8400GS SILENT on the box.

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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: Bernard
Date: 19 Apr 11 - 01:40 PM

Sadly, Intel dropped plans to introduce a 4GHz Pentium 4 in favour of the (not compatible) Dual Core/Core Duo technology. Dual Core is essentially a cheaper, stripped down Core Duo (with 1Mb L2 cache instead of 2Mb). Core 2 Duo performs better.

You may be able to overclock your processor, but it's not for the faint-hearted - reliability could be compromised, and there would be a lot of heat to dissipate. The results wouldn't exactly be startling, either!

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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 19 Apr 11 - 03:27 PM

The Dimension 5150 describes a "line" of Dell computers. It would be the first information you'd need to provide in order to search for details at Dell's support website. If you don't have an Owner's Manual for your specific machine, you may be able to download one from Dell, and you will want as much info as you can get before diving into changing much.

The Pentium 4 is a line of Intel processors, and I believe the 630 describes a particular processor in the P4 line.

The 3.00 GHz should be the processor clock speed, and the 2MB cache means that the processor can store up to 2MB of data in the processor buffer to help maintain input/output efficiency. While hard-core gamers are using faster processors now, the 3.00 GHz should handle anything the rest of the system is good for. Any significantly better processor likely would require a new motherboard.

The 1GB RAM is fairly typical for WinXP computers. It's above the fictional 512MB that Microsoft says is the minimum required. For gaming, even on WinXP most would want at least 2GB. Microsoft says that you could move up(????) to Vista with 1 GB RAM but 2GB is generally considered the minimum that gives good performance with Vista (if you believe "good" isn't a non sequitur used with "Vista").

For the 32-bit versions, neither WinXP nor Vista can actually use more than about 3.3GB of RAM, but you can't physically install 3GB with reasonably available chips, so the "workable" choices for RAM installation are 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB.

It is a point in favor of upgrading the Hard Drive that it's shown as an SATA, since that's the kind most available now. The 7200 rpm is a good nominal speed, although if you find that HD speed is a limiting factor you can get 9600 rpm drives fairly easily in convenient sizes that might be a little faster. (HD manufacturer's specs must be read with caution.) While 12000 rpm drives are available, the prevailing opinion as I've seen it is that they're generally considered useful only in server farms where the drives are "hot swappable," due to slightly higher failure rates. I wouldn't expect the 7200 rpm to cause any real problem.

The 160GB HD size is a little questionable if you're looking for improved performance but it's not because you may have the drive stuffed full. The default settings for WinXP only allow the computer to use a fraction (about 1/4?) of the free space on the drive for Temp files. A 160GB hard drive probably has only around 140 - 150GB of usable space on it due to drive "overhead." A "typical" WinXP installation, with minimal other programs, may use about 80GB, leaving 1/4(?) of the remaining "free space," or 15GB for Temp files. Since lots of programs demand their own "private Temp folders" the drive can get choked up rather quickly. The "static" temp stuff, like cookies etc., don't generally use much disk space, but it's the "dynamic swap files" that move program bits in and out that gets cramped.

It is possible to change the settings to allow WinXP to use more than the default fraction of free space for temps, but it is not recommended by any but the "wing-nuts" due to other problems that can be caused if you mess with it. Some "background processes" can use all of the free space that's not reserved as Temp, and raising the temp limits can cripple maintenance processes (I think defrag may be one of this kind) that you're not supposed to need to notice.

Stepping up to at least a 250GB HD might help, but if you're serious about making a significant improvement I'd suggest you consider a 500GB hard drive. You might be able to connect an external drive and move all of your data files to it to maximize the system HD free space, but that's pretty much a "stopgap" step that depends on you keeping anything not part of the program environment off the "little" C:\ drive. (Programs should, of course, be on the main HD, and gamers tend to want lots of programs - some of which are fairly large.)

I didn't find the EN8400GS graphics card, although there are a few comments on the EN6200. The "SILENT" line is generally advertised as a decent entry level gaming card. You should be able to get full specifications from ASUS (the manufacturer) and perhaps look at what later/bigger/better ones may be available. Many graphics cards have their own BIOS onboard, so you can look for a BIOS update for the one you have while there.

I'd suggest looking for a Dell User's Guide if you don't have one, since it will tell you some details, mostly about the hardware. Dell Support would be a good place to start.

At Start|Programs|All Programs|Accessories|System Tools|System Information - or something very similar since I may not have remembered the WinXP path - System Information (SI) can show you quite a bit of information about your computer.

SI can usually tell you things like who made the BIOS on your machine, and sometimes BIOS upgrades may be available that significantly improve performance. It may or may not be able to identify manufacturers for all the drives/drivers etc you have, since some of them identify themselves (via PNP) only as "generic."

A WARNING: A first sight of all that System Info shows sometimes tempts people to "print it out" to read later. A full printout of SI for a WinXP will eat around (at least) 1,000 pages, so DON'T. You usually can safely select an individual "branch" of the info to print, but don't try to do the whole thing.

You can also tell quite a bit about what things might be hindering performance by opening Task Manager. (Ctl-Alt-Del and select Task Manager, as I recall). Most people are familiar with using it to "kill" a program that gets hung, but the other Tabs there have lots of info about what's going on. Much of it may be unintelligible, but even if you don't have much of an idea what it all means just seeing something that "looks odd" can be a clue.

For now, the recommendation that you look at SI and Task Manager is just to suggest getting familiar with where you'll be able to find stuff you may want to know after you've considered some of the things you might be inclined to do. (You could threaten the kid with enrollment in a good "Military Academy" to get his mind of the games, but that's a little extreme for most of us.)


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Subject: RE: Tech: New Processer-Help please!
From: wilbyhillbilly
Date: 20 Apr 11 - 04:39 AM

Whew! thanks John, I think,:-)

Trying to get my head round that lot now.

Much appreciated.

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