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Old 01-18-2006, 07:08 PM   #1
JVegVT
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Default Got a new computer

I haven't been here for a couple of weeks. We had our children and grandchildren here over the holidays, then had a dinner with my cousin and his family, and when it finally looked as if things would settle down, I surprised myself and bought a new computer last week.

Needless to say, I've been busy since then and expect at least a couple more weeks of quite a few tasks before I can get back to my regular computer projects. It's not just the one computer. I also have to do some hardware switching, copying of files, and have to prepare my oldest computer for its new home.

I've been getting frustrated of late with the slowness of my 500 Mhz computer, used mainly for Linux. So I've been looking at motherboards and CPUs, expecting to go my usual upgrade route of a new motherboard, CPU, RAM, and HSF. My budget is very limited, so in no way was the cutting edge a possibility.

But when I saw this computer's price after rebate, I knew there was no way I could approach it if I did my own upgrade. The computer has a Sempron 3400+ CPU on a Socket 939 motherboard, SATA hard drive, an empty PCI Express socket for a future video upgrade, two FireWire ports (one on the front) and six USB 2 ports (two on the front). I ordered two 512-meg sticks of PC3200 DDR RAM so I can take advantage of dual-channel memory--should be here in a day or two. I'm moving a 200-gig hard drive from my present XP computer to my new one and will also switch the CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive in the new computer with the dual-layer DVD writer in my present XP computer. The new computer will be my main XP computer and my present XP computer will become my main Linux computer. The old 500 MHz computer will be donated to a nonprofit or a school. I'll sell the 17" flat-screen CRT that came with the new computer because I don't need it (have two LCDs for the desktop computers).

As you all know, setting up a computer is time-consuming when you have loads of programs. I'm well along and hope to be done by the weekend. Then I have to work on the other two computers.

Not that I'm complaining!<g>
--Judy M.

   
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Old 01-19-2006, 04:33 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JVegVT
I surprised myself and bought a new computer last week.
Congratulations! Have a good time with it.

   
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Old 01-19-2006, 08:59 AM   #3
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Wow! Sounds quite cool...where did you buy the Sempron?

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Old 01-20-2006, 05:47 PM   #4
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Wow! Sounds quite cool...where did you buy the Sempron?
Staples. BestBuy has it on sale this week for $10 less, but they don't have instant rebates and EasyRebates like Staples does. You don't have to mail in anything, just do it on the Web.

I'm quite pleased with myself because I got the dual-channel memory working. This motherboard has you place the matching pairs in the same bank, which is the opposite of how everything I read said to do it. I googled and found a lengthy thread about this computer and motherboard and that's where I learned that the sticks have to be placed in the same bank. Once I did that, voila--dual channel is working! I have a gig of RAM with more to come when I find a match for the 256-meg stick that came with the computer.

There's not a word in the documentation for this computer about setting up dual channel memory, nor anything on the Compaq/HP Web site. The only way I knew it was capable of dual channel was by finding one line on the specs for the motherboard, which I downloaded from Compaq's Web site before I bought the computer. I think it's odd that they don't say anything. What I suspect is that they don't want the tech support calls from people wondering what dual channel memory architecture is, why would they want it, and how do they do it. You have to be precise in how you do it and I don't think the target market for inexpensive computers is technically savvy.

I also discovered that I can run Adobe Premiere Elements 2, which has prodigious hardware requirements. Your processor has to do SSE2; the specs on the Sempron 3400+ said it did SSE2 but I wasn't confident that the OEM 3400+ might not be doctored. So I downloaded the Premiere Elements trial version (over a gig download!) and installed it today. It's working. Yeah!

I should finish installing software tomorrow if I don't have interruptions.
--Judy M.

   
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Old 01-21-2006, 08:24 AM   #5
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<< two FireWire ports (one on the front) and six USB 2 ports (two on the front). >>

If you haven't you may find it worthwhile checking out each of those ports to make sure they are working, especially the front ports.

Over in PCHW/Laptop we keep on getting people reporting that not all their ports are working and they usually only find this out by spending a lot of time trying to work out why some device is not working, and only later trying the effect of switching ports .......

You really got an extraordinary deal with that PC!

   
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Old 01-21-2006, 11:27 AM   #6
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And another to add to the weirdnessmix:

I've got a Tosh 2430 S255 that seemed to have a couple of dead USB ports right out of the box. They wouldn't work with an MS "Intellimouse Explorer 3.0"

The mouse itself seemed ok. Worked with other computers.

Then I found that the same USB ports worked with an MS "Notebook Optical" mouse.
Ooookay. Some kind of weird incompatibility ...?

And then I found that if I plugged in the Notebook mouse first, let the computer recognize that, and then switched to the other mouse, all was well.

At which point I wrapped up the othermouse and stuffed it away into a drawer someplace. I like the smaller mouse better and if I had to carry it anyhow to get the big rat to work ... well. What was the point of that?

Computers. Are. Weird.

   
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Old 01-21-2006, 12:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
judy: Staples.
NO!!! That's amazing...I would never have looked at a pc at Staples...may just have to take a browse...I loathe Best Buy and would never, ever buy anything there...


>> There's not a word in the documentation for this computer about setting up dual channel memory, nor anything on the Compaq/HP Web site.

As I was reading what you had to say about RAM, I kept thinking "shouldn't that be in the mobo book?"...guess not...glad you were able to sort it out...pretty cool that you were able to do that...


>>It's working. Yeah!

Very way cool!


>>I should finish installing software tomorrow if I don't have interruptions.

Do keep us posted...

By the way...is this a desktop or a laptop? I'm assuming desktop but when I checked Staples online all they list are laptops...

Terrie

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Old 02-02-2006, 06:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugh Wyn Griffith
If you haven't you may find it worthwhile checking out each of those ports to make sure they are working, especially the front ports.
I have a total of 14 USB 2 ports on the computer--4 in the back, 3 in the front, 3 from a USB2/FireWire PCI card I put in, and 4 on a USB 2 powered hub. I put in the PCI card because I read that the USB 2 on this chipset was somewhat sluggish and since I had the card anyway and wasn't going to use it on another computer, I removed the PCI modem (which I'll never use) and put in the USB/FireWire combo card. The hub plugs into one of the ports, which is why I have 13 available, not 14. I also have 5 FireWire ports (1 in front, 2 in the back, 2 on the expansion card). I don't think I'd be too upset if one or two weren't working.

So far whatever port I've tried has worked, but I haven't tried them all. Will do so as time allows.

>> they usually only find this out by spending a lot of time trying to work out why some device is not working, and only later trying the effect of switching ports >>

The first thing I would do is try another port, so at least I wouldn't spend a lot of time trying to figure out why a device wasn't working.<g> Good to know, though, and a good reminder of the way to troubleshoot--always try the easiest thing first.
--Judy M.

   
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Old 02-02-2006, 07:02 PM   #9
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I would never have looked at a pc at Staples...may just have to take a browse...I loathe Best Buy and would never, ever buy anything there
Don't you look at the weekly sale papers? The best prices for stock, name-brand computers you'll ever find are at the big stores like Staples, BestBuy, Circuit City, and whatever others you have in your area. The prices all run about the same, depending on what's on sale that week. The prices all are after rebates--usually multiple rebates--so you do have to get those slips in and be very careful that you do exactly what's required and then track your rebate online. Staples has a particularly nice system with their Easy Rebates. You do everything online and don't have to mail in anything. But not all their rebate items are Easy Rebates.

I buy things at BestBuy if they have the best price on something I want. Have never had a problem. Why do you loathe them? I suppose you've had a bad experience.

Quote:
As I was reading what you had to say about RAM, I kept thinking "shouldn't that be in the mobo book?"...guess not...glad you were able to sort it out...pretty cool that you were able to do that
"Mobo book"? What mobo book?<g> The printed documentation is almost non-existent. Pretty good documentation is included in PDFs installed on the hard drive. It's up to you to print them out (which I did). They're not very technical, though. They also have an upgrade guide that explains how to replace drives, install cards, etc. Nothing about the motherboard, though.

It wasn't such a great achievement to figure out the dual channel memory. If I had known better, I would have noticed that two RAM slots were blue and two were brown. With dual channel memory, the RAM slots are usually color-coded so you know where to put the matching pairs. Nobody 'splained that to me before I got the computer, though.<g>

I got another 256-meg stick, which I installed today along with the 256-meg stick that came with the computer originally. I now have 1.5 gigs of dual channel memory and things are humming along nicely. I finished all my other hardware switching around, too, and my oldest computer is ready to go to its new happy home with a local nonprofit I've supported for a long time.

Quote:
By the way...is this a desktop or a laptop? I'm assuming desktop but when I checked Staples online all they list are laptops
A desktop. Staples online doesn't have much selection for computers or hardware in general. Or software. Lots of office supplies.

I've just about finished installing things. It has taken a long time because I had to take out several days to switch around hardware on three computers and get one ready to go. You should have seen this place while I was working on the computers! It seemed I had computer parts everywhere. Then, of course, there was all the plugging and unplugging of cables, which I always hate. I'm soooooo glad to be done with that.
--Judy M.

   
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Old 02-03-2006, 06:16 AM   #10
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I buy things at BestBuy if they have the best price on something I want. Have never had a problem. Why do you loathe them? I suppose you've had a bad experience.
I've had multiple bad experiences at Best Buy. Once, they refused to sell me the product I was trying to pay for, unless I also bought the service contract. They were outright mean about it and virtually yelling at me. I left it with them. Once, I gave up waiting for a rebate and accepted it as a loss, and then a year later it came. Once, a sales clerk laughed at me for my lack of knowledge on making enquiry on software. Hmmm--however, I bought some software there once on a set of history books on sale for about $10. I didn't think anything of it, until I saw the same set later for $200. And, my wall paper and screen saver are absolutlely beautiful samples of classical art, which I bought there also, for like about $15, and I've never seen it anywhere else. Still, I don't stop in very often.

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