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Can someone give help on an old PC please?

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by Black Panther, Jan 13, 2008.

  1. Black Panther

    Black Panther Senior Moderator™ Staff Member

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    The specs of the pc in question:

    1.6Ghz Pentium 4 Willamette
    P4VXMS Elitegroup Motherboard
    786MB (256MB 7 years old and 512MB 2 years old) of heaven knows the brand.
    FX5500 Graphics card, 256MB passively cooled.
    Some really crappy PSU definitely under 350W but no specs written anywhere.

    This is all that happened so far:

    Powered it up, played Oldblivion for like 5 minutes, then it crashed. Not a normal crash, but as if an invisible finger pressed the reset button.

    Back to Windows.... played another 5 minutes... same thing happened. Twice more.

    Afterwards, it didn't even load Windows. It'd come to the loading Windows screen (before the blue Welcome screen) and reboot and restart... an endless cycle. No beeps though.

    So I powered it off and tried Safe Mode. I entered Safe Mode but the screen remained black. Sure enough I had 'safe mode' written on all 4 corners of the monitor, but no picture, no icons, no mouse, no taskbar.

    I rebooted again and got a very brief BSOD I couldn't read what was written.

    Rebooted again, and got the blue screen (not BSOD) of wanting to check drive C. Stalled at 6%.......

    Rebooted once more, this time the disk check went through.

    Windows loaded but the picture on the monitor was very funny. I mean the only thing right was the desktop background picture... The taskbar was like semi transparent and at the middle of the picture, and the icons were also semi transparent and very much duplicated, like 8 of every icon, and squashed on the top half of the monitor. The mouse pointer flashed, sometimes it was visible and sometimes it wasn't, and it didn't work if I tried to click anywhere. If I right-clicked the menu worked and I tried to go into display properties or nvidia control panel, but they didn't work and I had that very brief BSOD again.

    I tried restarting my computer some 3 other times, but always kept getting the same funny transparent icons x 8 and the taskbar in the middle of the monitor.
    Even the taskbar was weird. I could see the 'Start' button very faintly, some 6 or eight times along the length of the taskbar. And pressing it doesn't work either.


    A week later............

    I brought the Pentium 4 home so as to be able to work on it...

    Problem (1): computer rebooting and NOW even starting beeping after 10 minutes.
    Solved by removing one 256MB ram stick and letting it run on the other 512MB ram stick.
    The pc probably had been defective a long time. Ever since I purchased it 7 years ago, whenever I transported it it never posted, I had to disconnect everything, put the tower on a table and remove and re-insert the ram.

    Problem (2) was a direct cause of problem (1)....

    Due to me having to regularly disconnect everything to remove and re-insert the ram sticks....

    Well today I removed the vga monitor cable from the FX5500, to see whether if I put it in the motherboard graphics I would have the same problem. To my surprise I looked at the vga connector and there was one pin missing!!! Probably it had long been getting loose (hence the mucked up desktop) and probably the last time I removed the monitor vga connector it fell off somewhere and got lost.


    At that point I loaded everything in my car and set off for home. Note that I hadn't yet solved problem (1). So the pc beeped, I fiddled with the ram and it worked... I had inserted the vga connector from another monitor into the FX5500. I had checked and controlled that the lost pin hadn't been enbedded in the 5500 and it wasn't. Still I got the mucked up desktop. After some minutes the computer rebooted by its own and didn't load but started beeping. After I did some more experimenting with the ram sticks I found the solution for problem (1) which was to remove the oldest ram stick the one of 256MB which I originally purchased together with the whole pc.

    Notwithstanding everything, I still kept getting the funny graphics on the FX5500 but at least now the pc wasn't rebooting every 10 minutes.

    My P4VXMS motherboard doesn't have a proper onboard graphics card - there are 15 pin connectors but they have pins instead of holes. To fit into the monitor vga connector they have to have holes.

    I still managed to test it out though. Because I had the old Geforce 2 MX400 card which had been sitting on a shelf in the antistatic plastic for some 3+ years....

    Sure enough... I put the MX400 inside...

    And now I've got a perfectly working pc... I should be celebrating? NOT, because it's:
    With 512MB RAM instead of 768MB.......
    And with an MX400 instead of an FX5500 graphics card..........

    In fact I'm logged in and typing from this 1.6Ghz P4... while updating windows and stuff because it hasn't been connected to the net since May 2007...


    Sooooo....

    I've got a question please:

    I think I know the answer but I am not ready to accept it lol... if my FX5500 didn't work using the other monitor (which doesn't have a missing pin in the vga connector)... uhhh... does it mean that my FX5500 is RIP? Darn I could play Oldblivion on that but on the MX400 I know there's no chance...

    You know how a vga adapter is shaped like a blue boat with 5x3 pins... Can the loss of just one pin simply fry out a graphics card?

    What makes me all the more sad is that I can't just say like wow my graphics card's bust and I can now purchase a better one...

    With one of the earliest Pentium 4's, a Willamette 1.6Ghz, what graphics card ever could I ever buy to be better than an FX5500??? Sure I could find some 7900 AGP but that'd be bottlenecked.

    I was thinking of getting some 6800 (or maybe someone can suggest an ATI equivalent?), and another 512MB of SDRAM PC-133.

    I just really want to keep this pc working because notwithstanding all problems and its old age I like it... :eek:

    Can I cry please?

    :cry:
  2. niko084

    niko084

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    Almost ANYTHING is better than a FX5500... You could buy something cheap like a 6800 or an 8500 or an ATI 1650, 2600 and blow that card into the time of electricity didn't exist.

    Yes it is possible you ate your video card.

    Heck lets be real here..
    An x1300 or even a 7200gs would destroy that card in performance.

    6800... If you get a standard is about equal on a 1650pro...

    Once you step near the 6800xt, you pretty much have to go for a 1950gt... But
    at that point even a 7900 is lacking behind...
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2008
  3. ShadowFold

    ShadowFold New Member

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    That PSU sounds like its the problem of it shutting off.
  4. cdawall where the hell are my stars

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    a 6200 beats the FX5500 into the dirt :eek: but sounds like your good old ECS board is ending its life
  5. trog100 New Member

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    is it pci or agp.. ???? an old radion 9700 or nvidia 6600 or something like that would work..

    your unknown 350 psu wont run that much.. oblivion is not a good thing to run on an old pc thow.. it still makes a lot of modern ones groan..

    trog
  6. Black Panther

    Black Panther Senior Moderator™ Staff Member

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    Well... I know the FX5500 is a crappy, REALLY crappy card...

    But keep in mind I've got an (even crappier?) Willamette P4 1.6Ghz to pair any graphics card up with.
    Plus that the graphics card has to be AGP so I don't think an 8500 will work. More something along the lines of a 6800 prolly.

    Anything will do as long as I don't run this pc on the crappiest of all crap available ie the present MX400 that's now plugged in! :ohwell:
  7. BullGod

    BullGod New Member

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    Dude Oblivion kills weaker video-cards. Nobody believed me when I've said that my GF6200 died from playing too much Oblivion but now I got proof. :) It seems I wasn't the only one...
  8. Black Panther

    Black Panther Senior Moderator™ Staff Member

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    Dudette... :D ;)

    I'm sure it wasn't Oblivion.

    The last time I unplugged my VGA monitor adapter from my gfx card it had a missing pin.... 14 instead of the normal 15........

    Can someone give me a link to the latest Geforce 2 MX400 driver please? I've been searching in vain... :(

    Also, I don't think that neither my psu nor my motherboard is dying.

    I removed the oldest RAM stick and the rebooting+beeping quit.
    I removed the FX5500 and put in the old MX400 and the graphics are ok now.

    Computers are just like humans (for me at least).... you remove stuff, replace stuff if possible.... they work............ maybe not as well as with the original stuff...
    Removing a ram stick and a graphics card was like removing a gall bladder and a kidney. It'd still work without them or with mediocre replacements.

    However no hospital would ever be attempting a major operation like a heart or liver transplant on some 90 year old human because you can't put a socket 775 proc in a socket 423... that's the issue with pc's. If the cpu or mobo ... sob sob... I'll have no choice except mourn... :(
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2008
  9. xubidoo New Member

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    Black Panther says thanks.
  10. keakar

    keakar

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    if you feel like giving it a try you can attempt to replace the connector using one from and old scrap card or motherboard but you need to know how to solder and unsolder to do it unless you have the type using a ribbon cable connector to the card.

    like others have said you can get a new card cheap but i still wouldnt buy a new one, try to get a used one for $5 or $10 (same for replacement ram)
  11. Black Panther

    Black Panther Senior Moderator™ Staff Member

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    Wait wait wait... things are more complicated and that's why I can't accept that the FX5500 is faulty - what's got the missing pin isn't the connector on the FX5500 (15 holes) but the connector of the monitor cable (15 pins) or now better... 14 pins...:ohwell: The male I think it is called, one pin fell off...

    I've got an update on the problem. Leaving the vga monitor pin apart... I tested an MX400 on the Pentium and it worked. If I put the FX5500 it doesn't work. I've been using another monitor obviously.

    Now today I tried the FX5500 on a nearly equally old AMD Athlon, just to make sure that it's faulty before I bin it... and surprise it worked perfectly. :twitch: I retried the FX5500 back on the pentium and got the funny desktop. Retried it back on the Athlon and everything was normal.

    Another thing... on the Pentium, this time the taskbar came properly at the bottom and I managed to launch Oblivion (Oldblivion program).... AND play with no graphics glitches or artifacts. I'm sure a faulty card wouldn't be able to run such a game... When I quit the game the desktop was still funny. I ran a windows repair just in case, but still the FX5500 doesn't want to work well, ONLY on the Pentium because it works fine on the Athlon.

    So now I need not computer help but logic help lol.

    FX5500 - doesn't work on Pentium but works on Athlon.
    Hence FX5500 isn't faulty.

    Pentium ECS motherboard - The fault shouldn't be there either because although it's true that the agp vga didn't work, it did in fact work with another vga, the MX400.

    256MB RAM stick - something was fishy there. Removing that RAM stick has definitely stopped the pc from randomly rebooting. The random reboot problem didn't start now, occasionally it did it as well previously. So apparently the rebooting had been a totally separate problem from the gfx problem.

    Now what I think makes the most sense is a PSU problem.
    It's a very cheapo PSU (and to think in 2001 I bought that entire tower for nearly $2000....) nothing is written on it and I don't even know its output (maybe I'll be dismantling it later).
    What I'm thinking is that the PSU has been slowly losing efficiency and now it's reached the point where it just cannot power up an FX5500, but can power up an MX400 which I think needs less power.

    What doesn't tally with the above is how come I managed to run Oblivion on the FX5500 on the Pentium?!? I mean if the PSU can't even power it up to load a proper desktop it makes no sense that the PSU then finds the power to make the FX5500 display the game as if nothing had ever happened!

    I'm still not sure. Though since the FX5500 worked perfectly on the Athlon I'm not going to bin it for now.

    Oh and I forgot, what has the missing pin on the male monitor vga adapter cable got to do with this story? :twitch:

    Geez I wish I could solve this out. I handed down this pentium to my daughter and she's really proud of having her own pc and all that, and it plays her games fine as well. I want to keep it in good working condition mainly for her (cough and for me too because I wouldn't want to spend a lot of money on a pc for a 5 year old.........)

    I thank you for the link. However now I took out the MX440 from the Athlon and kept it for myself instead of the MX400. Because the MX440 is a faster snail than the MX400 :D and since we use the Athlon only for office work it won't make any difference. Now I will install the MX400 driver on the Athlon.

    Would the MX440 need a different driver? I can't make head or tails of the nvidia old drivers sites...
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2008
  12. xubidoo New Member

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    yep the same driver is ok up to and including the fastest GeForce 4 Ti cards

    if u have an FX series or higher 6x,7x,8x then ud need the latest nvidia drivers.
  13. NONYA

    NONYA New Member

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    Ive got a Saphire X1650 pro 512mb agp NIB if you are interested,shipping to Eu. probably cost more than the card though :)
  14. strick94u

    strick94u New Member

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    I think the 7800 gs AGP would bring it up plus get on ebay see if you can find the 2.0 ghz 423 which was the fastest they made and put a big cooler on it. Now you will still not meet oblivions minium specs but closer is that an sd ram or rdram?Don't matter its going to stress the hell out of it anyway. my old 5200 x2 amd am2 with a 7900 gs and 2 gigs ram would only hit about 30 fps in high not ultra high. Is this a built pc or cookie cutter?
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  15. Black Panther

    Black Panther Senior Moderator™ Staff Member

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    I am not sure if I need another AGP card? The FX5500 works fine... in another pc...

    And other AGP cards (MX400 and MX440) work fine in the Pentium...

    :banghead:
  16. mdm-adph

    mdm-adph New Member

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    I'd say get a 423 to 478 adaptor and run you the fastest presscott or northwood processor you're willing to buy, then get you an ol' 9700 Pro off of Ebay.
    Black Panther says thanks.
  17. candle_86 New Member

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    ok first off the FX5500 recomends a 250W PSU, now your current is a no name 7yr old 350, replace it first. Second to get more life from that computer im guessing its the 845chipset. Now go on ebay and get a socket 478 to 423 adaptor and a 400mhz P4, the best they made was the 3ghz but its rare, just make sure its a 400mz model and then just get a 6600GT or 9800xt of ebay for cheap and your good to go. But first replace that PSU. The MX400 uses less power than the 5500
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  18. keakar

    keakar

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    not sure if this applies but it sounds simular, i had an old fx5600 and with the latest driver it worked great but the problem i had was windows kept trying to install an older driver that turned the screen into very grainy windows 98 looking chit. i had to hide the driver from windows update so it would quit trying to install it.

    from what you describe it sounds like you messed up your driver and need to redo it.
  19. keakar

    keakar

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    if it works fine in another pc then your right, the card is ok

    that missing pin may have never been there to begin with
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  20. keakar

    keakar

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    found this at another site:

    Answer
    Hi,
    It appears you have a driver issue..First download the latest drivers for your card (don't install). Next go to windows contril panel, system, hardware,device manager, expand the list of display adapters, right click on the display adapter and select uninstall, ok.
    Restart the computer and windows may or may not locate your video card. If it doe not locate it , it will boot up using the windows generic driver. When windows is finished booting up, load the drivers that you downloaded by running that program.

    hope this helps,
    Larry
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  21. Black Panther

    Black Panther Senior Moderator™ Staff Member

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    I've narrowed the problem down even further.

    I tried a 300W PSU, which didn't make any difference.

    So I said well crap at least I'll have this pc running on the MX440 if it's what it wants! :banghead:

    I entered the display properties. Colour property was 16 bit. I put it at 32 bit........ and as soon as I did so schlooom the icons got all funny again!
    I rebooted and it got all normal. Note that this is the MX440, and now it's doing the same thing as the FX5500. If I put it at 16bit colours I get a normal display again.

    Do you think it's a motherboard problem? I mean I never studied computers but maybe for 32 bit it uses different circuitry on the motherboard than for 16 bit and so maybe that part of the motherboard's gone wonky?
  22. unsmart

    unsmart New Member

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    It sounds like a issue with your AGP slot to me. I would try cleaning out and reinstalling chipset drivers and also removing the NB cooler[ if not glued] and replacing the thermal gel. I've had older boards start acting weird before because of the thermal gel drying up and the NB overheating.
    I don't think putting any money into it is a good idea seeing as you can get a better system[ like a 754 or 487 setup] for dirt cheap on ebay.
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  23. JrRacinFan

    JrRacinFan Served 5k and counting ...

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    Hiya Panther! There is only 1 of 4 things, AGP slot is toast, Drivers for the card, Drivers for the chipset .... or whole frikin motherboard is gone.

    So, in those kind words, if you tried installing new drivers and still doesn't work, motherboard just doesn't work.

    Does your MX440 have 8x agp support? Does the ECS board have an 8x slot?
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  24. Black Panther

    Black Panther Senior Moderator™ Staff Member

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    Duh.

    Nevermind.

    I got it working.

    I ran windows repair under the MX440.

    I cleaned all gfx drivers, put in the FX5500. Normal desktop. :wtf: Installed the old 5500 drivers from its original diskette, and voila... :confused:

    I had already done the driver thing before and it hadn't worked. And if I remember correctly even had run windows repair too...

    Anyway, what I know for sure is that the 256MB RAM module's kaput. After I got everything working I put it in. If I try to switch on the pc with it inserted in any of the 3 slots, I get no POST, no beeps, and monitor remains on standby. But during the while I had been trying to repair the pc it hadn't been inserted, so it wasn't interfering.

    This pc's funny though. Always been weird from the start.

    After I got it working I got no sound because AC97 Audio device could not start (Code10). I rolled back the driver and it worked.

    :ohwell:
  25. candle_86 New Member

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    glad to hear its fixed man

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