Advice for novice computer user...

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This is my first post here so im not sure if this is in the right place...

Ive come to this site alot whenever ive experienced any pc difficulties and thus far it has proven to be very helpful, particularly the forums.

Anyway, onto my question. First things first, im a novice with pcs; i dont really understand much about them only the very basics and selective areas of which.
I have a dell dimension 3000 pc which at first i thought was a pretty good computer, untill i got the sims 2 and other newer pc games. then i found out that it was far from the best for playing more hardware demanding games.
At first i figured id just upgrade the graphics card to the best available for PCI slots but the more research i did the more obvious it became that this might not be enough and that, especially given how fast the dell dim3000 has aged, it might be a wiser decision to get a new motherboard too.

As ive mentioned, im not really pc-savvy and some of this stuff will be way over my head.
So if anybody could give me, in lamans terms, any advice on what to do? i want to definitly upgrade my pcs graphics card (also anybody know a good PCI slot graphics card to use with games such as the sims2?) but im sure about upgrading my motherboard.

Any help or suggestions on the matter would be really appreciated.


Posts: 1,994   +1
if you are wanting to play graphically demanding games a PCI video card is a waste of money. If you decide to upgrade your going to need a new mobo AND a copy of Windows XP. your dell disk will not install windows on a non dell mobo.

download and run SIW it will tell you what MOtherboard, ram, and video card you presently have. list it here and we can assist you in what your best options are.

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3
Erm i think im listing the right stuff here, sorry if im not:

Video card - Intel(R) 82865G Graphics Controller (?)

Im not sure what to post for motherboard and ram (on my pc theres apparently 2 slots with SDRAM on?) so to save time ill just post what it says:


Chipset Vendor Intel Corporation
Chipset Model 82865G/PE/P, 82848P DRAM Controller / Host-Hub Interface
South Bridge 82801EB/ER (ICH5/ICH5R) LPC Interface Bridge
SMBus Intel Corporation 82801EB/ER (ICH5/ICH5R) SMBus Controller @EDA0

CPU Intel Pentium 4 HT
Cpu Socket Socket 478
Processor Upgrade ZIF Socket
Max CPU Speed 3600 MHz

OnBoard devices
Video (Enabled) Intel 865-G PCI Accelerated SVGA
Ethernet (Enabled) Intel Pro 100 VE Network Connection
Sound (Enabled) AC'97 Audio Controller


Slot 2 - SDRAM DDR 512MB PC2700 (166 MHz)
Slot 3 - SDRAM DDR 256MB PC3200 (200 MHz)

I hope some of this stuff helps.
If im going to upgrade my pc, getting hold of Windows XP wont be a problem, the mobo will be because i havent got a clue when it comes to mobos.

I have a few other questions as well; if i do upgrade my pc will i need to buy RAM, memory, new sound/graphics cards too? will i just be removing the mobo and everything else staying? erm...also...will i have to buy a new graphics card anyway and would it still have to be PCI because i read somewhere that if you replace the mobo in Dell pcs you can use PCI-E etc sorry i might just be getting things confused and this might not be true.

All help will be really appreciated
Thanks - Dyna


Posts: 840   +7
Before you decide to upgrade the motherboard, make sure dell doesn't use some type of proprietary power or front panel connections. Sometimes they do. This would make swapping in a new board more difficult if not impossible.


Posts: 1,994   +1
if you want to go th cheapest route to upgrade to play newer games then get a Asus P4P800SE, you can use your existing CPU. you will need to buy a Video card that is AGP, NOT PCI-E for the best performance you should run dual channel ram. you wont be able to use the PC2700 and the PC3200 together for dual channel, they have to be the same speed to run in dual channel. and it is also wise to use the same brand, model as the existing PC3200 module. ( even better is to buy a matched set of PC3200 modules for dual channel)

the mobo you have now is a 865 chipset and so is the Asus, so you might not have to reinstall windows. but yuo should at least do a repair install. Also you need to check the wattage of your PSU, it should be at least 400 watts and delivering 20A on the +12V rail. ( the info is on the side of the PSU)

or if yo have the money you can go the complete update route of New Mobo, CPU, ram, and PCI-E video card. and use your optical drives and hard drives from your existing computer.

* what is your current CPU? P4 or celeron? and what speed?
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  • #6

This is like reading ancient egyptian heiroglphics for me haha. Im getting used it though.

My CPU is pentium 4 HT with 3.00GHz

I put in a PC3200, will that automatically run with my other one or do i need to do something for them to bother work together?

Also im from UK so the i think the watts and voltage stuff varies to that in the USA
My PSU is 250V and 10A, i dont know where to find the info on Watts, it doesnt say on PSU...unless im not looking in the right place. Im checking my plug that goes into the back of my PC.

Also if im to replace my video card which should i get? Id like a decent one which i could play games like The Sims 2 on.

Is this the Asus mobo i need?
Another few questions before i stop pestering you; once i replace my mobo what will happen to my CPU, sound card etc? Will i have to start replacing lots of things or is it just video card that i would replace?


Posts: 1,994   +1
I put in a PC3200, will that automatically run with my other one or do i need to do something for them to bother work together?
if it runs it will run at the speed of the slower module. for best performance you need matched pairs of Ram to run dual channel.

if you upgrade to a new mobo and a new video card your probably going to need a new PSU. get a good quality one 430 to 500watt range. look at what the PSU puts out on the +12V rail, ( this info is on the side of the PSU) you want at least 20A in the +12V rail.
The P4 3 Ghz is sufficient for running newer games, with a Asus P4P800SE, another stick of PC3200 ( ditch the PC2700) and a AGP video card like the Radeon X800 or a Nvidia 6800GT.


Posts: 2,094   +3
+12v 16 A / 250W max
If thats all it says, then you may need an upgrade.

300Watt+ PSU should be suffice, but it depends on what hardware you are planning to put.. usualy 400W+ for basic gaming rigs..

EDIT: forgot to mention, get a good quality PSU. Something like Enermax, Antec etc. They deliver about 80-90%+ of advertised power rating, and are better equiped to handle heavy and hot workloads. You can read from this forum the crap caused by cheap generic PSU's..

once i replace my mobo what will happen to my CPU, sound card etc? Will i have to start replacing lots of things or is it just video card that i would replace?
I'm not a mobo expert but i can try to answer best i can :)
To reduce cost, you should try and find a motherboard that has compatibility to the CPU. Note the socket type and pins. That way you can just remove your existing cpu and port it straight into the motherboard.
According to the motherboard you posted, and your current one, they all have onboard sound and ethernet. You only need to change them if they become unsuitable or screwed up somehow.

All other hardware - optical drives, FDD, HDD, RAM, etc can be transfered into the new motherboard or upgraded. Its up to you :). The only problem when changing the motherboard is that you may need to repair windows xp, or do a complete reinstall (rarely). Some are lucky not having to do a repair after the change. Backup anything you deem important before switching mobos.


Posts: 1,994   +1
Also, what about the mobo i left a link to in my previous post? Its just so i can get a pros opinion before i buy these and then find out i was completely wrong.
The link is to a Asus P4P800 which is an excellent board it is the same 865PE chipset as your current mobo, but the asus has a 8X AGP port and six channel sound onboard.
Upgrading Present System to HTPC

Howdy People,
I'm not sure if this is the right thread to post this, but I need some help here. I have a machine that I need to convert into an HTPC, the machince is loaded and I just want to add a card or any recommended part to make this converson possible.
Here is want I want to do with the converted machine, I have a lot old and movies on the machine that I want to play directly from the machine to the TV. I don't want to Burn any more of these movies since friends and families never return them when they're borrowed.
Now here is how the machine is configured:

OS: Win XP Prof. Svr Pk2
Processor: Intel Pentium 4 3.00GHz
Mobo: Soyo P41865PE Plus Dragon 2
Memory: 1.5GB DDR-400 (3X512MB)
HD: 4 WD 80GB (3 IDE, 1 SATA), 2 Edge Diskgo 250MB ea,
Optic Drv: 1-TDK DVDRW0404N, 1-Sony DVD-RW DRU-820A USB Drive
Floppy: 1-3.5" Floppy Drive
Video Card: Radeon 9200 AGP Card, V-Stream 2388X Video Capture Card
Sound Card: Creative SB Live, Envy24 Family Audio Controller

So what else do I need to add to this system to make it possible for me to play my movie directly from it, can anyone please help?


Posts: 2,094   +3
you should realy start your own thread but still....

Memory: 1.5GB DDR-400 (3X512MB)
heaps of memory, but if your mobo supports dual channel then put in that last 512mb ram stick.

if you want to play movies on your tv from the pc, then just use a s-video cable from your video card to the tv... otherwise if your pc and tv supports HDMI then use that. Its a sweet rig you got, and should handle it, but i'm a bit behind on the media pc side of things, so second oppinions counts..

Alternativly you can just purchase a little media box thing that connects to your pc via ethernet and to your sound/tv system...
Upgrading Present System to HTPC

Thanks N3051M, I'll try your suggestion. My video card does have an output for S-Video Cable, my question though would be do I need a software to run the movies, do I have to make any changes to the video card setting?


Posts: 2,094   +3
Don't realy think you need any additional software to run it through the tv, as your video card and its driver should do most of the work, if its up to it...

You can change settings to set it to go to s-video like the same as you change your monitor settings: right click desktop>properties>settings>advance button>monitors.. (it depends on what video card drivers you are using but they should be in similar locations)
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