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Need some help with my rig

brans

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#1
Hi guys, new to the site, looks like a great place here. Am having trouble with my computer so I am hoping to get some insight from the resident experts. I've just started learning about what does what inside this thing, so bear with me please.:)

So I am gaming (BF2, TF2, FSX) with a 2 year old Dell gaming computer. Yes, yes, I know, buying a Dell was a big mistake. But at the time I knew absolutely nothing about this kind of stuff, so building was out of the question. Anyways, here are some quick specs:

Intel Core 2 CPU (Dual-Core) 6400@2.13GHz
2x Kingston 1GB DDR2
NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GS
WDC 250GB SATA HD

The two main problems I am having are artifacts appearing after an extended amount of time playing (usually after 30mins), and general lagginess on some of the more resource intensive aspects of these games. As far as I can tell, there are a few potential causes.

1. Heat. The GPU idles at 52°C. Running 3DMark06 with ATITools doing a temp log, when the artifacting appeared during the test, the GPU hit 68°C.

2. The CPU? During the GPU testing portions of 3DMark, I was getting 12-24FPS. However, during the CPU tests I was stuck at only 0-1 FPS. Not sure if this is normal or not, or how to fix it.

3. Crappy Dell PSU? It says it puts out a maximum of 375W, which seems low for a gaming rig?

I have blown out the computer with compressed air recently which only helped slightly. Thanks in advance for any help.
 

erocker

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#2
.

1. Heat. The GPU idles at 52°C. Running 3DMark06 with ATITools doing a temp log, when the artifacting appeared during the test, the GPU hit 68°C.

2. The CPU? During the GPU testing portions of 3DMark, I was getting 12-24FPS. However, during the CPU tests I was stuck at only 0-1 FPS. Not sure if this is normal or not, or how to fix it.

3. Crappy Dell PSU? It says it puts out a maximum of 375W, which seems low for a gaming rig?
1. Remove the cooler from the card, clean off old thermal paste with alcohol, and re-apply new paste (AS5, or AC MX-2) and re-apply cooler.

2. The CPU test is totally normal, your CPU is good, though you may want to do the same thing as you do to the video card with the paste.

3. Yeah, It wouldn't hurt to buy a quality PSU of at least 500 watts.
 

quickie

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#3
Did you add the 7900GS after you bought the Dell? It seems a bit weird that Dell would put such a low PSU for that system. Then again, these computer makers are notorious for going cheap on the PSU.

The artifacting sounds like a heat issue with the video card. Make sure the HSF on the video card is operating properly.
 

brans

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#4
1. Remove the cooler from the card, clean off old thermal paste with alcohol, and re-apply new paste (AS5, or AC MX-2) and re-apply cooler.
Is this hard to do? This would be the first time I have tried something like this, so I'm a bit apprehensive. Is there a guide or something on the web that details how to do this?

2. The CPU test is totally normal, your CPU is good...
Good to know.

3. Yeah, It wouldn't hurt to buy a quality PSU of at least 500 watts.
Do most PSU's install the same way? If I bought a PSU recommended in the sticky list, that physically fit inside the case and had the proper connections, it should mount/work properly?


Did you add the 7900GS after you bought the Dell? It seems a bit weird that Dell would put such a low PSU for that system. Then again, these computer makers are notorious for going cheap on the PSU.
No, the 7900GS came stock with the computer. It was one of their 'gaming' rigs. Sounds now like they just stuck a new card in without worrying too much about making it run properly.

The artifacting sounds like a heat issue with the video card. Make sure the HSF on the video card is operating properly.
Well, it spins and blows air out, but it does get pretty hot. How can I check whether it works properly?




Don't know if this link will work, but here is my 3DMark06 log:
http://service.futuremark.com/orb/resultanalyzer.jsp?projectType=14&XLID=0&UID=13200164
Thanks for the help guys.
 
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#5
i havent been inside a newer dell but the older ones all had proprietory psu (special plugs that were wired differently) so a regular non dell psu would not work in them, i think you may have the same problem.

before you buy one be absolutely sure it will work for you. (go to dell forums and check with them, they will confirm your psu options and if it has to be a special psu made for dell then they will give you links to sites that sell them.
 
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#6
what keaker says is true.And me too havent had a sneak peek into a new dell rig,but they have their own plugs for the power and some card slots.So u are lucky if your new one not plugs coz if it plugs 99% of chance it will burn(the old ones).Check whether the power is to the ATX standard 24/20 pin one.
 

hat

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#7
Cleaning/applying thermal paste is fairly easy, I just took the heatspreaders off of my memory cause they were aftermarket and had crappy contact (my uncle did a crappy job putting them on, this RAM was his before it was mine). I have no intentions of adding any cooling to it, I'm just running it bare now.
 
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#8
what keaker says is true.And me too havent had a sneak peek into a new dell rig,but they have their own plugs for the power and some card slots.So u are lucky if your new one not plugs coz if it plugs 99% of chance it will burn(the old ones).Check whether the power is to the ATX standard 24/20 pin one.
i cannot confirm this as fact but i read in another thread a while back that even if the plug does fit, the wires are in different holes from regular psu so if its not wired correctly for a dell it will fry something when you turn it on.

i suggest being very very carefull about making the right choice so the psu is compatable.

if it were me i would only go with one that says its made to be used for a dell.

but i agree you should get something like a 500 or 550 watt psu
 

Graogrim

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#9
1. Heat. The GPU idles at 52°C. Running 3DMark06 with ATITools doing a temp log, when the artifacting appeared during the test, the GPU hit 68°C.

2. The CPU? During the GPU testing portions of 3DMark, I was getting 12-24FPS. However, during the CPU tests I was stuck at only 0-1 FPS. Not sure if this is normal or not, or how to fix it.

3. Crappy Dell PSU? It says it puts out a maximum of 375W, which seems low for a gaming rig?

I have blown out the computer with compressed air recently which only helped slightly. Thanks in advance for any help.
1. This is a possibility, though to be honest a peak of 68 degrees doesn't seem excessive. My own GPU peaks at close to 90 degrees under high load for extended periods (hours) without issue.

2. Your CPU is fine. If it had any real problems you likely wouldn't get past POST, and it certainly wouldn't manifest issues solely as graphical corruption.

3. Well, for perspective, your CPU consumes 65 watts and your GPU consumes 82 watts. That's a total of 147 watts between the two chief power consumers in your system. By contrast my CPU and GPU pull a combined 215+ watts under load. The system that I currently run is a Dimension 8400 with a stock 350 watt power supply. The upshot is that barring a faulty connection I'm not convinced that your power supply is a problem.

So of the three possibilities you list, heat is the least unlikely culprit. Just make sure your cooling is ok.

You may have another problem, however. Even solid state devices like video cards are subject to wear and failure. You may want to pull the card and examine it to make sure that its capacitors are all intact (not bulging or leaking electrolyte) and that its voltage regulators aren't failing. If anything looks burned or leaking, don't even put it back in the system once. Dispose of it and replace it. An 82 watt component suddenly failing in a system can take the whole rig with it.

Edit: Most of the time on more recent builds Dell uses fairly standard power supplies. However, those which Dell uses do differ from the norm in that they don't often have externally accessible cutoff switches and as a result cases are designed to nearly fully enclose them. You may have to take some metal cutters to the back of your case if you do decide to replace your power supply (which I don't think you need to do) in order to accommodate an aftermarket model.
 

brans

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#10
Okay, got a reply from the Dell Community forum:

You can, using almost any standard ATX 2.2 unit, but keep in mind that high wattage can be deceiving. The Dell 375 can provide 30 amps to the +12v rails any upgrade you choose should be able to provide more to make it worth it.
So good to know that I am able to upgrade if I need to.

1. This is a possibility, though to be honest a peak of 68 degrees doesn't seem excessive. My own GPU peaks at close to 90 degrees under high load for extended periods (hours) without issue.
The 3DMark test only lasted about 10minutes though. I haven't had the opportunity to play for multiple hours recently, so I have no idea what it might actually peak at under prolonged periods of stress.

You may want to pull the card and examine it to make sure that its capacitors are all intact (not bulging or leaking electrolyte) and that its voltage regulators aren't failing.
Everything looks good. No visible burns and the caps all look fine.


I'm pretty confused at the moment. On one hand, I may just be expecting more from the system than it is capable of delivering, but the fact that my system ranks 21/29 when compared to similar systems based on the 3DMark test would seem to imply that's something is not performing as it should.
 

Graogrim

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#11
It does sound as if your problem centers on the video card in one form or another. Check your video card's cooling, check to make sure that supplemental power is connected, and if both of those are ok then you could be experiencing some sort of circuit failure--perhaps flaky video memory.

If you have the opportunity, borrow a video card from a friend and try it for a couple of hours in your system. I have the feeling that your troubles will disappear when you do.

I wouldn't take the 3DMark rankings too seriously as long as you're "in the ballpark" so to speak. Bear in mind that Dell isn't exactly famous for system performance optimization, either hardware or software.
 

brans

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#12
Okay, did another look over of the card. It's firmly in the slot on the Mobo and it the other wire connected to it looks like it's in properly.

The fan on the top of the card is spinning, but it looks like it's hardly pushing any air. Maybe it should be upgraded to something aftermarket that's a little beefier? Cheaper than replacing the whole card at least.

As far as borrowing a replacement card, that's unlikely I think. I doubt that most of my friends even know what a video card is.


EDIT: Something like this, perhaps?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835887009
 
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brans

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#13
Just an update. Since installing the two PCI fans, and dropping the idle temp 5-6°C or so, I've noticed a significant reduction in the artifacting I was previously experiencing. I had been really busy so was unable to game for an extended period, but my brother played TF2 for about 2hrs solid last night and experienced no problems whatsoever. Is it a great longterm solution? Probably not, but should tide me over nicely until I am ready to upgrade the whole system to something with better cooling.

So again, thanks a lot to everyone who contributed to this thread.
 
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#14
Okay, did another look over of the card. It's firmly in the slot on the Mobo and it the other wire connected to it looks like it's in properly.

The fan on the top of the card is spinning, but it looks like it's hardly pushing any air. Maybe it should be upgraded to something aftermarket that's a little beefier? Cheaper than replacing the whole card at least.

As far as borrowing a replacement card, that's unlikely I think. I doubt that most of my friends even know what a video card is.


EDIT: Something like this, perhaps?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835887009
many times the inside of the heatsinks get clogged with dust or covered in a coating of dust and the air just cant get through to cool it so before you invest in an aftermarket cooler i would suggest you look through the fins of the heatsink (this may involve removing the fan if neceassary). use a flashlight to be sure it is all clear so air is able to move freely. if it is not blocked with dust or covered in a coating of dust then the aftermarket cooler is needed. a good cleaning might fix it.
 

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#16
Brans i have a pc power and cooling 410 PSU brand new in an unopened box if you are interested,i ordered it and then decided to do a complete build instead of fixing my dell.You will have to check to make sure this is the unit for your ppc but it is supposed to fit most dells.This is the unit.
http://cgi.ebay.com/PC-Power-Coolin...ageNameZWD1VQQcmdZViewItem?_trksid=p1638.m118
I paid 85 +shipping,ill sell it for 50 plus shipping.