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#360977 - 12/02/2014 16:45 No video - Good News -- Bad News ?
tanstaafl.
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/07/1999
Posts: 5370
Loc: Ajijic, Mexico
My computer lives once again... but for how long?

Last week I turned it on. The monitor came up with the manufacturer's logo, then displayed a "No Signal" warning and went into power save mode. A few re-boots proved that this was a repeatable condition.

I have a spare video card I keep on hand for just such an emergency, and when I installed it, I got the same results: no video, no signal.

Okay... put the original card back in, connect it to a different monitor. Same results: no video, no signal.

It was looking more and more like either a bad HDMI cable (I don't have a spare for that) or a bad motherboard. In any case, I'd reached the admittedly small limit of my expertise, so I took the computer and cable to the local repair shop and let them play with it. Somewhat to my surprise, they found the problem and fixed it. Sort of.

The problem turned out to be a failure of the PCI-E slot on the motherboard. There was another PCI slot still available, they moved the video card (an NVidia 8600 GTS) to that slot, and the computer now works. I didn't ask for details, so I don't fully understand why, but the tech said I would see reduced video performance with the card in its new location. Something about PCI-E vs regular PCI or something like that.

They had the computer for two days, the repair bill came to a staggering 250 pesos, or about twenty US Dollars.

The tech said that I would do well to start researching and looking for a new computer, because he said it was quite possible that this problem was only the first of a cascading series of failures.

So, now the question: Do you think this was an isolated incident, and life for my eight-year-old computer can go on, or am I likely to soon experience more and similar problems?

Second question: Since the video card is in a new location now, every time I boot up Windows I get the dialog box saying there are no video drivers installed. I have downloaded (but not installed) the appropriate drivers from NVidia's website, but except for that dialog box from Windows, everything seems to be working: I can pull up the NVidia control panel and change settings, etc. I'm pretty much of the school "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Should I install the new drivers (150+ MB of them!) or leave well enough alone? What do I do in order to install them anyway?

FWIW, the OS is Windows Vista, SP-2. This is the original 8-year-old installation, and is rock-solid. There has been so much software installed and removed over the years that the system registry is pretty bloated, and it takes more than five minutes from power-on to usability, but is great after that.

If I do need a new computer, what would you recommend? I know, that's like asking "How high is up?", but in general what should I look for? My current computer, even though it is eight years old, is still a pretty decent machine: dual-core 3GHz processor, 4 GB RAM, 4+ TB across four hard drives, 256MB on the video card, SoundBlaster sound card, six SATA slots, six USB ports, HDMI & VGA video out, parallel and serial (!) ports, E-SATA and FireWire, etc. There are seven cooling fans inside the case, if you count the small fans on the CPU and the graphics card. As you might guess, some small form-factor, stripped-down non-expandable computer is not what I'm looking for.

Ideas?

tanstaafl.
_________________________
"There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch"

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#360978 - 12/02/2014 18:06 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: tanstaafl.]
robricc
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/10/2000
Posts: 4909
Loc: Orange County, NY USA
Originally Posted By: tanstaafl.
The problem turned out to be a failure of the PCI-E slot on the motherboard. There was another PCI slot still available, they moved the video card (an NVidia 8600 GTS) to that slot, and the computer now works. I didn't ask for details, so I don't fully understand why, but the tech said I would see reduced video performance with the card in its new location. Something about PCI-E vs regular PCI or something like that.

They can't move a PCI-E video card to a PCI slot and call it a day. The physical interface is completely different. It's possible your motherboard had another PCI-E x16 slot on it which they moved the video card to.

Computer shops play tricky games all the time. I imagine the shops in Mexico are no different. I think it's more than possible the shop had a similar PCI video card on hand. They kept your old PCI-E card and replaced it with its PCI counterpart. Or, the card could be completely different which would explain why Windows is experiencing a driver issue. You should open the case and have a look. Try and find a model number on the video card.

Originally Posted By: tanstaafl.
The tech said that I would do well to start researching and looking for a new computer, because he said it was quite possible that this problem was only the first of a cascading series of failures.

This could be true, or the video card just died. It happens. You may be fine for another 8 years if you get the driver issue sorted out.

Originally Posted By: tanstaafl.
Second question: Since the video card is in a new location now, every time I boot up Windows I get the dialog box saying there are no video drivers installed. I have downloaded (but not installed) the appropriate drivers from NVidia's website, but except for that dialog box from Windows, everything seems to be working: I can pull up the NVidia control panel and change settings, etc. I'm pretty much of the school "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Should I install the new drivers (150+ MB of them!) or leave well enough alone? What do I do in order to install them anyway?

You should install the newest nVidia driver package. It's possible you have a video card in your machine with a newer graphics chipset than your original card (assuming they did a swap).

Originally Posted By: tanstaafl.
If I do need a new computer, what would you recommend? I know, that's like asking "How high is up?", but in general what should I look for? My current computer, even though it is eight years old, is still a pretty decent machine: dual-core 3GHz processor, 4 GB RAM, 4+ TB across four hard drives, 256MB on the video card, SoundBlaster sound card, six SATA slots, six USB ports, HDMI & VGA video out, parallel and serial (!) ports, E-SATA and FireWire, etc. There are seven cooling fans inside the case, if you count the small fans on the CPU and the graphics card. As you might guess, some small form-factor, stripped-down non-expandable computer is not what I'm looking for.

Having seven cooling fans is not a desirable feature. One is more than enough for a modern, powerful, quiet, efficient computer. If a parallel port and serial port are important to you, I'm always shocked when I see a new Lenovo box still come with those... PS/2 ports as well. Some Dell Precision workstations also come with serial and PS/2 ports, but no parallel. Overall, I think Lenovo is your best bet when it comes to legacy ports. Even their lowest lines usually have them.

The rest of the specs of your current machine aren't very good. I could build a dual-CPU 3GHz Penitium 4, but it would be terribly slow and nearly worthless. I assume your CPU is a Core 2 Duo, but that's still quite outdated. 8GB of RAM is pretty-much the standard these days and a 4TB hard drive costs about $130 when on sale (in the USA). You probably can't buy four 1TB drives for that cheap.

One great thing about newer computers is that they're insanely cheap for what you get. I could walk in to Micro Center any day and buy a sub-$300 laptop that would blow the doors of your full-blown desktop. I would suggest having a look at the Lenovo Outlet. Often times, there are great deals to be had.

Don't be afraid of Windows 8. It's not terrible, but I would still prefer Windows 7 at this time.
_________________________
-Rob Riccardelli
80GB 16MB MK2 090000736

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#360979 - 12/02/2014 19:38 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: robricc]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31159
Loc: Seattle, WA
Quote:
Don't be afraid of Windows 8. It's not terrible, but I would still prefer Windows 7 at this time.


I've spent some time on some Win 8 and Win 8.1 test systems here at work, and it's actually not bad at all if you make sure to install http://www.classicshell.net and boot to the desktop, so that you never have to touch the Metro UI.

Although they actually removed some important and useful functionality in Win8, I can get around it with shell commands or third party utilities.

I'm not saying I'm rushing to upgrade to Win 8 right now, but if I were to buy a new computer today, I think I could make it work for my needs.
_________________________
Tony Fabris

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#360980 - 12/02/2014 23:50 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: tanstaafl.]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13872
Loc: Canada
It does sound as if they replaced your PCIe video card with an older, simpler PCI card. But if the slot was dead, that's the best that could be done.

Time for a replacement motherboard at least.

First question: Your WinXP-SP2: what kind of license do you have? Was it a separate purchase, or did it come bundled with the hardware (aka. an "OEM edition") ?

If it was bundled with the hardware, odds (99.99%) are that it is also "locked" to that hardware, and cannot be freely transferred to something different. But if you actually purchased (WTF?) a retail copy of WinXP for it, then you likely are free to move it to new hardware (within the next few weeks, anyway, until MicroSoft stops allowing new/replacement activations).

So.. sort that out first. The answer to that question dictates what happens next: choice of hardware.

Cheers

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#360981 - 13/02/2014 00:49 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: mlord]
tanstaafl.
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/07/1999
Posts: 5370
Loc: Ajijic, Mexico
Originally Posted By: mlord
Your WinXP-SP2: what kind of license do you have?

The computer was built for me by the chief engineer of the radio station group where I worked in Alaska, strictly piecemeal with parts off the shelf of the local computer store. That includes the non-OEM end-user-licensed copy of Windows Vista for, if I recall correctly, about $180. I have the installation discs.

The idea of a motherboard swap intimidates me. The possibility of buying the same motherboard after eight years is pretty slim, and finding a different motherboard of the same form factor to go with my case would probably be difficult as well.

I suppose what I would do would be buy new case, motherboard, and CPU and move the rest of my stuff (hard drives, power supply, CD burner, RAM, video card, etc.) over to the new system. I would replace my C:> drive (an 80GB IDE) with a 128GB SSD, but keep the other three SATA drives, 4TB worth, maybe replace the two 1-TB drives with a single 2-TB split into a pair of 1-TB partitions.

But unless I see evidence of continued failure(s) in my existing system, I'll just keep plugging along with it.

tanstaafl.
_________________________
"There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch"

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#360982 - 13/02/2014 01:06 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: tanstaafl.]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13872
Loc: Canada
The RAM will _not_ transfer over to a "new" motherboard, so don't count on that. The rest, well maybe.

But go and search eBay for the motherboard -- you might find one identical to your current (old) one. Cheap!

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#360983 - 13/02/2014 01:06 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: tanstaafl.]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13872
Loc: Canada
Oh, the issue with a "modern" replacement system / motherboard, is that WinXP won't install/run on anything too "new".

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#360984 - 13/02/2014 01:28 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: tanstaafl.]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13872
Loc: Canada
Motherboards don't often "suddenly die", or have slots "go bad" for no reason. My experience here, is that the capacitors fail. And if replaced, the motherboard is good for a full second life.

So.. open up your computer case, and take a good hard look at the tiny little (typically ~1/4 inch round) cylindrical devices on the motherboard, particularly those nearest the massive CPU heat sink / fan area.

They should be clean, without leakage, and have nice, FLAT, tops. Any bulging or even cracking on the tops, or fluid/gel leakage out the bottom, means they have failed.

Any good TV/electronics _repair_ shop can replace them with new ones for you. I have done similar replacment repairs to perhaps a dozen motherboards here, all of which were 100% functional again afterwards.

Cheers

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#360985 - 13/02/2014 07:02 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: mlord]
tanstaafl.
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/07/1999
Posts: 5370
Loc: Ajijic, Mexico
Originally Posted By: mlord
Oh, the issue with a "modern" replacement system / motherboard, is that WinXP won't install/run on anything too "new".
It's Vista SP2, 32-byte, not XP, so that won't be a problem.

tanstaafl.
_________________________
"There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch"

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#360986 - 13/02/2014 07:50 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: robricc]
andy
carpal tunnel

Registered: 10/06/1999
Posts: 5747
Loc: Wivenhoe, Essex, UK
Building a PC for the first time for many years was an education on just how easy it is to build a basically silent, powerful machine.

I picked a nice big case, a quiet PSU, two large fans. I put a 3.5Ghz i7, at GTX 770 and a couple of drives in it.

I also bought lots more large fans and a speed controller, but I didn't need any of that. Even with the stock Intel cooler and a GPU that is just using a basic cooling design, it is effectively silent under all but the highest loads.

I expected to have to do lots of work to get it quiet, in the end I didn't need to do anything special (beyond a nice big case*, deliberately large fans and a known quiet PSU).

* ok, the case was complete overkill, a massive Corsair thing, but in my defense I bought that intending to build a huge server into it that never happened
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Remind me to change my signature to something more interesting someday

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#360987 - 13/02/2014 07:59 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: andy]
andy
carpal tunnel

Registered: 10/06/1999
Posts: 5747
Loc: Wivenhoe, Essex, UK
By "basically silent" I mean I can't really hear it over the road noise outside my office window and both the Dell desktop I use as a server and my laptop when it is "thinking" are both louder than it (both of which are considerably less powerful than this beast).
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Remind me to change my signature to something more interesting someday

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#360988 - 13/02/2014 12:17 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: tanstaafl.]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13872
Loc: Canada
Agree with that. A couple of months ago I replaced the Core2 mobo in our MythTV box, along with the massive heatsink/fan that was used to keep it quiet. This got replaced with an i7-4770 using just the stock heatsink. Now the hard drives sound annoyingly "loud" instead. smile

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#360991 - 14/02/2014 06:45 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: tanstaafl.]
BartDG
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/05/2001
Posts: 2564
Loc: Bruges, Belgium
Originally Posted By: tanstaafl.
Originally Posted By: mlord
Oh, the issue with a "modern" replacement system / motherboard, is that WinXP won't install/run on anything too "new".
It's Vista SP2, 32-byte, not XP, so that won't be a problem.

tanstaafl.

It's a good thing you are not using WinXP, since the support and updates for that OS will stop this year, but Windows Vista is also not a good choice. It's about the worst Microsoft OS since Windows ME, even Microsoft admitted to that. So if you're upgrading, it's probably a good idea to upgrade your OS as well. A lot of people would recommend to stick with Win7 because of the Metro interface in Windows 8, but I've used Windows 8.1 for more than a year now and in combination with Classic Shell (like Tony stated), there's very little difference between it and Win7. (and you won't ever see the Metro interface, just your trusty desktop).

This might be a good opportunity (excuse? smile ) to do an upgrade after 8 years. Everything will be much snappier and you'd get some new features that you'll probably love, like eg. USB 3.0, which is more than 10 times faster than USB 2.0 (I know from older posts you use USB a lot)

I would advise you to get a completely new system though, because any hardware you'll transfer from your old system will probably either not work or slow the new system down. The motherboard obviously will not work, neither will the CPU and memory. The only things I can see working here are your power supply unit (which I would replace anyway after eight years) and your harddisk (assuming it's a SATA model and not IDE). But even then, I would use a new SSD harddisk as a startup/OS disk, accompanied with a new SATA harddisk for storage, and next to that, the old harddisk for additional storage (or backup even - of course, you'd still also always need an off-site backup too).

Putting a PC together yourself is really not that hard anymore these days. Most of the components reside on the motherboard nowadays, even the video card (an on-board video card is sufficient if you're not a hard-core gamer). The only things you'd still need to add are the CPU, the memory and the harddisk. Then connect the power supply unit to the motherboard and you're done. All the connectors are protected these days, so you can't even connect them the wrong way round even if you wanted to, so don't worry about that.

I'm pretty sure you would be able to put a completely new system together for about $600 to $700, including an SSD harddisk and a new Windows 8 licence.
_________________________
Riocar 80gig S/N : 010101580 red
Riocar 80gig (010102106) - backup

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#360992 - 14/02/2014 09:05 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: BartDG]
andy
carpal tunnel

Registered: 10/06/1999
Posts: 5747
Loc: Wivenhoe, Essex, UK
Connecting the PSU can be a bit puzzling though, mind you that is probably easier if you are using just the integrated GPU.
_________________________
Remind me to change my signature to something more interesting someday

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#360993 - 14/02/2014 10:06 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: andy]
Tim
veteran

Registered: 25/04/2000
Posts: 1475
Loc: Arizona
Installing a PSU has made me nervous ever since I managed to use my knee to complete the circuit without noticing while installing one.

I've managed to shock myself in the weirdest ways, and that continued the trend. I hate electricity, and it hates me.

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#360994 - 14/02/2014 13:43 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: tanstaafl.]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12030
Loc: Sterling, VA
While I would never urge a tinkerer away from trying to build their own computer (it can be a lot of fun), I just want to get an idea of what your objective is. You're not really going to save any money going that route, and the performance on pre-built computers is going to be great if you get the right system.

I used to build computers for clients, but the support was a nightmare. These days I just tell people to swap out the drive of a regular old Dell for an SSD and they'll have a fantastic computer.

I also suggest getting a 4th gen Intel Core i5 or i7. After that, a pre-built computer is going to have everything you need. A huge hard drive, tons of RAM, etc.

Personally, I despise Windows 8. I will not be "upgrading."
_________________________
Matt

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#360995 - 14/02/2014 14:15 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: Dignan]
BartDG
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/05/2001
Posts: 2564
Loc: Bruges, Belgium
Your suggestion, of getting a pre-built Dell is a good one, but it'll be more expensive. But less risky too, of course.

Originally Posted By: Dignan

Personally, I despise Windows 8. I will not be "upgrading."

Why? I can understand that if you run the stock version of Win8, but if you install Classic Shell, a free program that takes less than a minute to install, you'll have Windows 8 which looks and acts just like Windows 7, but with more features. It'll also boot straight to Desktop. I've been using it for more than a year now, and I can't even remember the last time I saw the Metro interface. Windows 8 does have its merits and benefits. (the Winflag+X key combination comes to mind, but that's just one example...)
_________________________
Riocar 80gig S/N : 010101580 red
Riocar 80gig (010102106) - backup

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#360996 - 14/02/2014 14:35 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: BartDG]
robricc
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/10/2000
Posts: 4909
Loc: Orange County, NY USA
Originally Posted By: Archeon
Why? I can understand that if you run the stock version of Win8, but if you install Classic Shell, a free program that takes less than a minute to install, you'll have Windows 8 which looks and acts just like Windows 7, but with more features. It'll also boot straight to Desktop. I've been using it for more than a year now, and I can't even remember the last time I saw the Metro interface. Windows 8 does have its merits and benefits. (the Winflag+X key combination comes to mind, but that's just one example...)

I'm going to go against the grain here and say that I don't hate Metro as a Start menu replacement. For that purpose, it's not much different than the Vista/7-style Start menu. When you use the start menu, that's your focus. You don't have to deal with the desktop at all unless you want to drag a shortcut to it from the Start menu. It doesn't bother me that the Metro application launcher takes up the full screen. I usually just hit the Windows key, start typing the application I want, hit enter, and then I'm back in Desktop mode.

What I don't like is the separate full-screen app interface. It's cool/necessary on a phone or tablet, but it has no place on a desktop computer. But, you don't have to use those apps if you don't want. You can just use Metro as an application launcher (Start menu) with the added benefit of widgets with weather or news clips sprinkled about. It's really not that bad in my opinion.

Windows 8 is not bad at all even if you don't modify it in any meaningful way. It's usable, has some interesting new features, and does feel a bit more snappy than Windows 7. This could be for any number of reasons, but they toned-down Aero quite a bit. I'm guessing that has something to do with it.
_________________________
-Rob Riccardelli
80GB 16MB MK2 090000736

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#360997 - 14/02/2014 16:35 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: tanstaafl.]
K447
addict

Registered: 29/05/2002
Posts: 674
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Unless you have a compelling reason to choose a desktop/tower form factor computer, my advice for most people is to move to a high grade laptop form factor.

A USB 3.0 docking station provides lots of connectivity, with lots of different docking station brands and models available.

The laptop form factor eliminates the need for a UPS since the internal battery can provide power for several running hours. Laptop is highly portable, making transport for repair easy or just the ability to use it elsewhere in the house or beyond.

External display connections are common, and often there is provision for two or even three external displays. External keyboard and mouse connect just the same.

Compute performance has become more than ample for all but top tier heavy duty work. Even video editing is entirely reasonable. Heat output and energy consumption are typically a fraction of desktop.

Switch to large capacity SSD internal storage wherever possible. The speed is impressive, with no sensitivity to mechanical shock. Longevity is more than good enough among the better makes.

The challenge is to choose wisely from the available products. Personally I have become a major fan of the qualities found in current top tier Apple laptops. The overall MacBook Pro package is quite well made and price competitive with similar, if you can even find similar across the 'Only runs Windows' competition.

For me, an interesting advantage is that Macs can run Windows, and run it very well. But Wintel machines cannot legally run Mac OS X. With a Mac I can run either or both of the most popular operating systems, with support . Or I can run Mac OS and Windows together, at the same time.

With Wintel laptops, running Mac OS is only available via a hack.

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#361003 - 16/02/2014 17:55 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: tanstaafl.]
tanstaafl.
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/07/1999
Posts: 5370
Loc: Ajijic, Mexico
Originally Posted By: andy
Even with the stock Intel cooler and a GPU that is just using a basic cooling design, it is effectively silent under all but the highest loads.
Surprisingly, noise (lack thereof) is not even on my list. The white noise of fans and occasional click of a hard drive do not register on me at all, and my home environment is pretty noisy to begin with

Originally Posted By: Archeon
I would advise you to get a completely new system though, because any hardware you'll transfer from your old system will probably either not work or slow the new system down.
You guys have me leaning very much in that direction now. It would be a mistake to try and integrate previous generation hardware into current technology, and you tell me the expensive stuff (CPU, RAM) won't work anyway. I'd probably keep my SATA hard drives (a 2-TB and a pair of 1-TB) and swap out the 80GB IDE system drive for an SSD.

Originally Posted By: robricc
Windows 8 is not bad at all even if you don't modify it in any meaningful way.
I am more willing to accept that point of view after going through the upgrade to MS Office 2010. Like most people, I hated that new ribbon interface, but I took my son's word for it that after a few hours of use, I'd never, ever be willing to go back. And he was absolutely correct!

Originally Posted By: Dignan
While I would never urge a tinkerer away from trying to build their own computer (it can be a lot of fun), I just want to get an idea of what your objective is.
Well, that's kind of the problem. I don't really know. I don't really need ultra-high performance, but I want it if for no other reason than to impress people. I'm not a serious gamer -- the only games I have on my computer are (you're gonna laugh at me!) DOOM and Quake III Arena -- but I want to be able to run the "bigger" games if the mood should ever hit me. What I don't want is problems. I want it to boot up quickly, allow me to organize my files the way I want them, and be about as reliable as an anvil. This present failure of the PCI-E slot is only the second hardware problem I've had in eight years, the first being a failure of the on-board sound that required putting in a Sound Blaster sound card about four years ago.

Originally Posted By: K447
Unless you have a compelling reason to choose a desktop/tower form factor computer, my advice for most people is to move to a high grade laptop form factor.
That goes so much against my prejudices that it's hard for me to think rationally about it. I hate and despise laptops, with their little screens and undersized keyboards and touchpads and... well, you get the idea. But what you say makes sense. External keyboard, external monitor, lots of USB expansion capability... who cares where the CPU is hiding out? I will give that some serious thought. I do not have any space constraints, so the disadvantage of a big tower case doesn't apply in my case. I agree with you completely, BTW, about the quality of Apple hardware. Every instance of it I have [reluctantly!] fooled around with has been of exceptionally high quality.

So... there have been a lot of questions answered, a lot of good advice. I'm going back to the computer repair shop and get some specific information about a computer they sell there. I don't know if they build it in house, or if it is some re-branded pre-built from a major manufacturer. I tend to shy away from the big houses like Dell, because they sell so many computers that the bean counters wield inordinate power. I can easily visualize them telling the engineers, "Look, if we use the cheaper capacitors we'll save thirty eight cents per unit. On a million units, that's $380,000, enough to replace you about ten times over. Those cheap capacitors will last three or four years at least, and by the time they fail the buyer will be looking to upgrade anyway."

One last requirement I have that will sound ridiculous and trivial to you, but is an absolute, 100% guaranteed deal-breaker for me: I absolutely have to be able to use my existing PS-2 keyboard on whatever new machine I purchase or create. I will not do without my programmable keyboard. I will not do without my programmable keyboard. I will not do without my programmable keyboard. I will not do without my programmable keyboard. I will not do without my programmable keyboard. I will not do without my programmable keyboard. Okay, that little test ran 18.6 seconds from the first "I will not..." to the final "...keyboard." That includes setting up to record the macro, recording it, ending the recording, and then running the macro five times. I use that programmable function at least a dozen times a day, and many days I use it hundreds of times. I guess there are PS-2 to USB converters that would allow me to run my PS-2 keyboard through USB, right? Are they reliable? Any recommendations?

For the present, I will just keep running my existing system as is, but the next significant failure, either hardware or a big enough software failure that would require re-installing my OS, will be grounds for a new computer.

Thank you all for your input.

tanstaafl.
_________________________
"There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch"

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#361007 - 17/02/2014 02:05 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: K447]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12030
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: Archeon
Your suggestion, of getting a pre-built Dell is a good one, but it'll be more expensive. But less risky too, of course.

I'm not sure I really believe that anymore. The margins on these things (Dells) are so slim it's ridiculous. I'd also wonder which route would be better for someone based in Mexico. I honestly don't know whether it's better/cheaper to ship one pre-built system or a bunch of parts.

Quote:
Originally Posted By: Dignan

Personally, I despise Windows 8. I will not be "upgrading."

Why? I can understand that if you run the stock version of Win8, but if you install Classic Shell, a free program that takes less than a minute to install, you'll have Windows 8 which looks and acts just like Windows 7, but with more features. It'll also boot straight to Desktop. I've been using it for more than a year now, and I can't even remember the last time I saw the Metro interface. Windows 8 does have its merits and benefits. (the Winflag+X key combination comes to mind, but that's just one example...)

I said I wouldn't be upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8. Your arguments seem to be for someone buying a new system and doesn't have a choice. All I hear when I read this is "you should upgrade to 8 because you can make it look like 7." I already have 7 and love it. I don't see any advantage in upgrading my own system, and I won't need to for many years yet smile

Originally Posted By: tanstaafl.
Originally Posted By: Dignan
While I would never urge a tinkerer away from trying to build their own computer (it can be a lot of fun), I just want to get an idea of what your objective is.
Well, that's kind of the problem. I don't really know. I don't really need ultra-high performance, but I want it if for no other reason than to impress people. I'm not a serious gamer -- the only games I have on my computer are (you're gonna laugh at me!) DOOM and Quake III Arena -- but I want to be able to run the "bigger" games if the mood should ever hit me. What I don't want is problems. I want it to boot up quickly, allow me to organize my files the way I want them, and be about as reliable as an anvil. This present failure of the PCI-E slot is only the second hardware problem I've had in eight years, the first being a failure of the on-board sound that required putting in a Sound Blaster sound card about four years ago.

While I'd never say that Dells are perfect, you can certainly get a system worth bragging about. They've got nice video cards in them these days, and as long as you have a Core i7, a good amount of RAM, and an SSD (which is pretty easy to replace yourself) you'll have a really nice computer.

On the other hand, it certainly is fun building your own system. For my own use, my main computer for the past 10 years has been a self-built computer, and the guts have only seen a single major overhaul in that time. I've been running a first gen Core i7 since just before Windows 7 was in beta, and it's still going strong with no failures. All I've done in that time has been to upgrade to a massive 24GB of RAM, but that's ridiculous.

Originally Posted By: K447
Unless you have a compelling reason to choose a desktop/tower form factor computer, my advice for most people is to move to a high grade laptop form factor.

Your reasoning makes sense, but to be fair you should mention the downsides. The main one for Doug is that he asked for something he could tinker with. You can't upgrade anything in a laptop (ok, other than RAM and the hard drive).

I also don't think a laptop is a good value. The price/performance ratio is lower than a desktop, and if you're never/rarely going to take the laptop anywhere, you might as well just get a desktop and save some money, particularly if you already have a monitor you like (I don't know if that's the case with you, Doug).

I usually tell people that unless they anticipate moving their desktop replacement laptop at least once a week, you're better off getting a workhorse desktop computer and slinging around a netbook or something. Maybe get a keyboard for the tablet they already own.

Quote:
I guess there are PS-2 to USB converters that would allow me to run my PS-2 keyboard through USB, right? Are they reliable? Any recommendations?

I wasn't aware of any, and was under the impression that the only ones available would just work for the devices they shipped with, but this device seems to get good reviews.
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#361010 - 17/02/2014 06:52 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: Dignan]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31159
Loc: Seattle, WA
Originally Posted By: Dignan
(...) you should mention the downsides. The main one for Doug is that he asked for something he could tinker with. You can't upgrade anything in a laptop (ok, other than RAM and the hard drive).

I also don't think a laptop is a good value. The price/performance ratio is lower than a desktop, and if you're never/rarely going to take the laptop anywhere, you might as well just get a desktop and save some money, particularly if you already have a monitor you like (I don't know if that's the case with you, Doug).


Seconded.

Other downsides to laptops:

- Laptops are easier to steal and fence. Someone breaking into your house would think twice about hauling away a full size desktop PC case, but a laptop is a no-brainer.

- No way to upgrade the video card in most laptops. Probably not an issue for Doug since he's not playing any of the really modern video games, so any laptop with a high-end video chip would meet Doug's needs. But that particular issue always gives me pause. Even though I personally am using a very old desktop computer that still uses an AGP slot for its graphics card, I was recently able to upgrade the card that was in that slot. (The card was still an old AGP card, but it was more powerful than its predecessor.) Can't do that with a laptop.

- Many new laptops do not come with CD/DVD drives at all. An external CD/DVD drive is often an additional purchase. Need to install old software from CD-ROMs?

- Newer laptops are becoming less and less compatible with legacy hardware. You won't find an RS-232 serial port on any laptops these days (ever want to do an Empeg drive upgrade again?), and even things like Ethernet ports or even FireWire ports are starting to get scarce. And the PS/2 keyboard port thing was already mentioned. Of course, all of those things can be worked around pretty easily, but they all involve buying additional hardware or a docking station.

- Overall, laptop makres are making all of their design choices based on portability, low weight, and low power consumption, and in many cases those design choices will compromise the speed and upgradeability/maintainability of the system. They've made great strides towards making laptops much more powerful and capable, and most people (Doug probably included) would find a new laptop to be lightning-fast and more than adequate for his needs. But it's something to keep in mind.

With all of that said, I'm still seriously weighing whether or not I want my next personal PC purchase to be a laptop, possibly even an Apple one. I know the trade-offs, and Apple has made fantastic choices in those areas. I haven't been doing a lot of high-end gaming on my PC lately (Kerbal Space Program isn't really high-end), so the video card upgradeability isn't as much of an issue for me as it used to be. The ability to boot into Windows (or to run a Windows VM) on an Apple laptop would give me the best of both worlds. I'd need to jump through some hoops to get certain things working (such as the FireWire audio interface I recently bought), but once I did, I think I'd be pretty happy.
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#361012 - 17/02/2014 10:23 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: Dignan]
Tim
veteran

Registered: 25/04/2000
Posts: 1475
Loc: Arizona
Originally Posted By: Dignan
I've been running a first gen Core i7 since just before Windows 7 was in beta, and it's still going strong with no failures.
I still have a Core i7-940 here. I didn't think I had a problem with it until recently, I was playing a game that listed the FPS and what it was limited by on the screen and about half the time I was CPU limited (didn't stop me from buying a new video card to help the times I wasn't CPU limited though). Then later that same week, I was doing some Bullet Dynamics calculations in Lightwave and my desktop with the i7-940 in it would take a while (multiple minutes), but the laptop I got last year was done in what seemed like less than 30 secs. I wish I knew what CPU the laptop had in it, I'll have to check.

I'll have to time each, but the difference was large enough that I started looking at replacing my desktop.

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#361013 - 17/02/2014 16:09 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: Tim]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12030
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: Tim
Originally Posted By: Dignan
I've been running a first gen Core i7 since just before Windows 7 was in beta, and it's still going strong with no failures.
I still have a Core i7-940 here. I didn't think I had a problem with it until recently...

I'll have to time each, but the difference was large enough that I started looking at replacing my desktop.

Well, yeah, the 940 (I have a 920) is almost five years old now. I didn't say it would be a powerhouse by today's standards, but I still find I'm able to do everything I need.

The big difference maker in computing has always been gaming. If you're a hardcore gamer you're probably going to want something newer than five years old and more expensive than average. You won't want onboard graphics either (although Haswell has improved things). This all means big bucks (like multiple thousands), and I doubt that Doug wants to spend that.

Doug, building your own computer is fun and you get to choose exactly what goes into it. If you don't feel like messing with all of that, I still suggest getting a decent Dell (like this), then put an SSD in it. It already has a really nice graphics card that will blow away your current one, and adding RAM if you want (though 8GB is probably sufficient for most folks) is an easy task.

Swapping out a HHD for a SSD is pretty simple, and you can even use free tools to do it (Driveimage XML is great). If you need help stepping through the process I'd be happy to assist.
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#361014 - 17/02/2014 16:17 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: tfabris]
K447
addict

Registered: 29/05/2002
Posts: 674
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: tfabris
Originally Posted By: Dignan
(...) you should mention the downsides. The main one for Doug is that he asked for something he could tinker with. You can't upgrade anything in a laptop (ok, other than RAM and the hard drive).

I also don't think a laptop is a good value. The price/performance ratio is lower than a desktop, and if you're never/rarely going to take the laptop anywhere, you might as well just get a desktop and save some money, particularly if you already have a monitor you like (I don't know if that's the case with you, Doug).

Don't forget about electrical power efficiency, the value and usefulness of the laptop's own display, and the built in UPS (battery). On the Apple MacBooks the SSD drive is included in the price.
My take is that the quality of desktop components at the 'cost efficient' end of the price spectrum has been massively squeezed by the relentless downward slope of average selling prices ( now somewhere under $600US ). There is just so little profit margin that the entire supply chain is highly pressured. I distrust the longevity and reliability of most of the available Wintel product, from any brand
.

Seconded.

Other downsides to laptops:

- Laptops are easier to steal and fence. Someone breaking into your house would think twice about hauling away a full size desktop PC case, but a laptop is a no-brainer.
A Kensington type cable lock can be an effective deterrent, especially if it is attached to something substantial and hard to move.
It is also easy to stow a laptop in a secure location prior to departure for an extended duration/trip.

- No way to upgrade the video card in most laptops. Probably not an issue for Doug since he's not playing any of the really modern video games, so any laptop with a high-end video chip would meet Doug's needs. But that particular issue always gives me pause. Even though I personally am using a very old desktop computer that still uses an AGP slot for its graphics card, I was recently able to upgrade the card that was in that slot. (The card was still an old AGP card, but it was more powerful than its predecessor.) Can't do that with a laptop.
A high grade laptop does involve different perspectives. Expandability is mostly external, other than storage and ram memory.
USB 3.0 can be impressively fast, and Thunderbolt now offers external connectivity just as fast as internal card slots. Useful Thunderbolt docks and expanders are finally becoming available, pricing varies
.


- Many new laptops do not come with CD/DVD drives at all. An external CD/DVD drive is often an additional purchase. Need to install old software from CD-ROMs?
External USB DVD drives are quite inexpensive. For the tinkerer, I use a USB to SATA adapter. Plug any bare drive (DVD or hard disk) into the adapter, then into a USB port.

- Newer laptops are becoming less and less compatible with legacy hardware. You won't find an RS-232 serial port on any laptops these days (ever want to do an Empeg drive upgrade again?), and even things like Ethernet ports or even FireWire ports are starting to get scarce. And the PS/2 keyboard port thing was already mentioned. Of course, all of those things can be worked around pretty easily, but they all involve buying additional hardware or a docking station.
USB adapters exist for all these scenarios, I think.

- Overall, laptop makres are making all of their design choices based on portability, low weight, and low power consumption, and in many cases those design choices will compromise the speed and upgradeability/maintainability of the system. They've made great strides towards making laptops much more powerful and capable, and most people (Doug probably included) would find a new laptop to be lightning-fast and more than adequate for his needs. But it's something to keep in mind.
These trade offs have become much less constraining now that Intel makes decent CPUs without ridiculous power requirements. The Haswell chips are quite impressive on both computation and thermal parameters. Even built in laptop video chips are much less of a concern for most use cases.

With all of that said, I'm still seriously weighing whether or not I want my next personal PC purchase to be a laptop, possibly even an Apple one. I know the trade-offs, and Apple has made fantastic choices in those areas. I haven't been doing a lot of high-end gaming on my PC lately (Kerbal Space Program isn't really high-end), so the video card upgradeability isn't as much of an issue for me as it used to be. The ability to boot into Windows (or to run a Windows VM) on an Apple laptop would give me the best of both worlds. I'd need to jump through some hoops to get certain things working (such as the FireWire audio interface I recently bought), but once I did, I think I'd be pretty happy.
Personally I have arrived at the place where the top tier current Apple laptop is often plenty. And often the lower tier model are quite suitable.

My main computer right now is a MacBook Air 13 inch driving four external displays (three of which are 28 inches each) with a total of over eight megapixels driven.

I intend to upgrade to the MacBook Pro Retina level if/when a 1gb SSD storage option becomes available.

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#361016 - 17/02/2014 16:40 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: tanstaafl.]
K447
addict

Registered: 29/05/2002
Posts: 674
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: How the 'value trap' squeezes Windows PC makers' revenues and profits
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/20...enovo-asus-acer
... She notes that once you go outside the top-tier manufacturers, "then there's Apple, and Samsung, and Sony, which are more consumer and lifestyle brands, where they can ask for a premium price." Doing that, of course, generally points to better margins. Samsung shipped around 11m PCs in 2013, and Sony slightly fewer than 5m, according to IDC. Apple sells around 16m PCs per year...
Apple isn't a top-tier brand? confused

There seems to be a broad tendency to conflate computer sales volume with 'better'.

From my perspective Apple is the top tier computer manufacturer, both in calibre and in total quantity. The MacBook, iMac and Mac Mini are all well made, well supported, and actually sell quite well despite their apparently 'high' retail prices. Especially the laptops.

Resale values also tend to be strong. Until very recently Apple sales growth rates outran the overall PC industry for something over 20 quarters.

In the $1,000 and up price range, Apple sells more consumer computer hardware than anybody.


Edited by K447 (17/02/2014 16:53)

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#361017 - 17/02/2014 17:00 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: tanstaafl.]
K447
addict

Registered: 29/05/2002
Posts: 674
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
This is the sort of discussion underlying the DIY PC situation;
Quote:
... there are individuals who are "permanently fixated in a DIY worldview who can never be convinced to buy systems from OEMs." But this group of PC builders is a "small and ever declining portion of the PC using population."

For all intents and purposes, the homebrew PC is dead within the business and dying (albeit slowly) within the consumer market.



Edited by K447 (17/02/2014 17:02)

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#361020 - 17/02/2014 17:50 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: Dignan]
Tim
veteran

Registered: 25/04/2000
Posts: 1475
Loc: Arizona
Originally Posted By: Dignan
The big difference maker in computing has always been gaming. If you're a hardcore gamer you're probably going to want something newer than five years old and more expensive than average.
The 940 has held up quite well. It wasn't until the last few weeks that I've noticed it started showing its age. I think Thief will be the event horizon on whether I want a new machine right now or can continue to just use the 940.

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#361022 - 17/02/2014 18:03 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: K447]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12030
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: K447
This is the sort of discussion underlying the DIY PC situation;
Quote:
... there are individuals who are "permanently fixated in a DIY worldview who can never be convinced to buy systems from OEMs." But this group of PC builders is a "small and ever declining portion of the PC using population."

For all intents and purposes, the homebrew PC is dead within the business and dying (albeit slowly) within the consumer market.

Um, yes, it's true. What's your point? Because something is less popular, nobody should do it?

Originally Posted By: K447
Originally Posted By: How the 'value trap' squeezes Windows PC makers' revenues and profits
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/20...enovo-asus-acer
... She notes that once you go outside the top-tier manufacturers, "then there's Apple, and Samsung, and Sony, which are more consumer and lifestyle brands, where they can ask for a premium price." Doing that, of course, generally points to better margins. Samsung shipped around 11m PCs in 2013, and Sony slightly fewer than 5m, according to IDC. Apple sells around 16m PCs per year...
Apple isn't a top-tier brand? confused

Who are you talking to?
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Matt

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#361023 - 17/02/2014 18:19 Re: No video - Good News -- Bad News ? [Re: tanstaafl.]
K447
addict

Registered: 29/05/2002
Posts: 674
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: tanstaafl.
... One last requirement I have that will sound ridiculous and trivial to you, but is an absolute, 100% guaranteed deal-breaker for me: I absolutely have to be able to use my existing PS-2 keyboard on whatever new machine I purchase or create. I will not do without my programmable keyboard.

... I use that programmable function at least a dozen times a day, and many days I use it hundreds of times. I guess there are PS-2 to USB converters that would allow me to run my PS-2 keyboard through USB, right? Are they reliable? Any recommendations? ...
Are there not Windows utilities that could provide the same or very similar keyboard macro (text expansion) functionality in software?

I used to have (might still have it somewhere here) a macro capable keyboard. It is also PS/2 connector, but I moved on to Mac laptops and have not really needed it since.

The only catch (I am aware of) when using a PS/2 to USB adapter is to make sure the keyboard does not need more electrical power than the USB port can deliver. Standard USB port or powered USB hub can deliver 2.5 watts (500ma). Many modern USB ports and the top tier powered hubs can supply substantially more.

At one time I had a genuine IBM early model clicky PS/2 keyboard which needed around 1 Amp, way more than the USB port could properly deliver. Despite the power shortfall the keyboard mostly worked through the USB adapter, but internally the adapter was struggling and the keyboard would randomly reboot itself or lock up. Eventually I figured out what the trouble cause was and installed a high output current USB hub.


Edited by K447 (17/02/2014 18:28)

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