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Old 11-19-2011, 04:53 PM   #1
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Default Need upgrade advice.

Hello everyone. I need some advice for an upgrade I am thinking of doing and I've heard you folks are the people to ask. Please be patient and forgive my longwindedness but I want to make sure I'm understood.

First a bit about me so you know what skill level I'm at. I've been using computers and the internet for 13 years now. So, while I'm not new to using computers, this will be my first time replacing components and tweaking. My current technical abilities are limited to reformating had drives and installing an OS and programmes. I do understand some of the technical jargon but please be patient if I use the wrong terminology or don't understand everything you say. My use is limited to internet and such, so I don't need a nuke powered and liquid cooled gaming rig like I'm sure some of you own. lol

Up untill now I have been using a Dell XPS-R450 PII with 128mb of RAM and a 14GB hard drive with Windows98. Yes, that's right. I'm still using a 13 year old computer with Win98. While this old girl has served me well, she's getting a bit long in the tooth and it's time to retire her. This computer has been bullet proof and hasn't needed any components replaced. I'd probably keep on using her if it wasn't for so many websites not working properly with IE6 anymore. I could probably just get away with loading WindowsXP on her but I feel it's time to move on.

I recently aquired a used ATX case with the following components already installed but with no OS yet installed:

*Intel D845EPI/D845GVSR motherboard
*Intel 2.4GHZ P4 CPU
*Apacer 512MB DDR333 RAM
*Apacer 256MB DDR333 RAM
*Western Digital 250GB 7,200RPM PATA100 hard drive
*LG 52X32X52 Rewritable 16X DVD
*Allied 300W PSU
*3.5" Floppy Drive (I installed this myself and sucessfuly configured the BIOS)

I would like to add the following:
*Iomega-100 Zip Drive.
*WindowsXP or Windows7

My questions are as follows:

1. I have installed the Iomega zip drive on the same IDE cable as the DVD player/rewriter but it takes over the master status and the BIOS does not recognise the DVD player/rewriter as being installed at all. The Bios does not allow itself to recognise the DVD player/rewiter and does not give me the ability to correct this to make the DVD player/rewriter the master and the Iomega zip drive the slave. Is there a fix?

2. I would like to add more RAM. I have researched the motherboard and found the maximum it will take is 2GB of either DDR333 RAM or DDR400 RAM. What is the difference between DDR333 RAM and DDR400 RAM, which should I use for this motherboard and will 2GB of DDR RAM be that much of an improvement over the 768MB of DDR RAM currently installed?

3. Which Windows OS should I install? My software experience so far has only been with Windows98 and a bit with WindowsXP. I have heard Windows Vista has problems, is that true? I would like to install Windows7 on this system but would it operate properly with the Intell 2.4GHZ P4 CPU this system has now and 2GB of DDR RAM I hope to install? And which version of WindowsXP or Windows7 should I use? Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate and 34bit or 64bit?

There really is very little or no additional money in my budget for this project. The 2 x 1GB DDR RAM and either WindowsXP and or Windows7 disks I think I can get from a friend for free. My greatest hurdle is to get this motherboard to accept the zip drive and set it as slave under the DVD player/rewriter. And I need to include the zip and floppy drives for now because of all the photos and data I have stored on them. I really would like to build or buy something much better but there just isn't enough money in the budget right now. I would greatly appreciate any and all help in getting this thing running the best I can and in the configuration I need.

Thank you in advance for your replies.

Cheers, lvlagnum.

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Old 11-20-2011, 02:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: Need upgrade advice.

First of all, that computer is honestly not much better than the one you have right now. You're better off buying a barebones computer kit and upgrading it as you have the money to do so. Why you even want a ZIP drive is beyond me... 100 Megs of storage is... pitiful compared to what your LG DVD burner can do. They make $10 flash drives that hold 1000 times more data than that thing. If it's for legacy support because you have life-altering data on the drive, just find an old USB model somewhere and use that instead, these modern boards don't support them very well anymore - if at all.

The other reason I suggest doing a barebones is that if you want 2GB of DDR RAM in the system, you're going to spend a pretty penny, since DDR is no longer made. You'll spend at least $47 buying the RAM when you can get 8GB for the same price with a newer platform.

Windows XP is end of life. If you're using 98, and used to it, don't put it off any longer, get yourself up to Windows 7 level post-haste. Hell, even Windows 8 is on the horizon already. Vista was fine once SP1 came out, and SP2 really helped polish it out. I had some problems initially with Vista before either service pack, but SP2 and beyond was fine. Windows 7 strengthens that even further, it is totally what Vista should have been.

To answer your questions more directly,

1) ZIP drives were notorius for this. You need to have it on its own chain, without any other device to really get it to play nice. This kind of conflicting device issue is sooo 1998

2) The difference between DDR333 and 400 is price. You'll never notice the difference, DDR400 works fine in a system that was only supporting 333 at the time. As was the case back then, always buy the fastest and largest DIMM that the board supports. In this case, two 1GB DDR400 sticks would be fine. Just stick to name brands (the price I quoted above ($47) was using G.Skill DDR400 sticks at 1GB each on Newegg)

3) See above. XP is EOL (End of Life) and will soon be unsupported entirely. You're better off scrapping this system or donating it for a tax writeoff and buying a barebones PC kit. You can actually get them for as little as $150 if you know where to look (Includes Motherboard, CPU, and in some cases, RAM, power supply and case for about another $50-$80)

I just configured a new system on Newegg that has everything (except the OS) that would get you going, out the door for $272.94 if you're interested in it. There's nothing wrong with piecing it together as you have the money, I'd start with the smaller items and go from there, but I understand the bit about not having the money to upgrade to something newer, just trying to keep you in a forward moving direction.

Newegg.com - APEX SK-393-C Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Power Supply:
Newegg.com - Antec NEO ECO 400C 400W Continuous Power ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply

Newegg.com - GIGABYTE GA-78LMT-S2P AM3+ AMD 760G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

Newegg.com - AMD Sempron 145 Sargas 2.8GHz Socket AM3 45W Single-Core Desktop Processor SDX145HBGMBOX

Newegg.com - G.SKILL NS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-4GBNS

Hard Drive:
Newegg.com - Western Digital Caviar Blue WD1600AAJB 160GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache IDE Ultra ATA100 / ATA-6 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

The hard drive is the most expensive component due to the flooding in Thailand right now, but if you ignore it, the entire price of the system drops signficiantly and by the time you get around to buying one, prices may have normalized. Without the HDD, the system is only $193. Not bad considering it would have 10x or more the processing power that the P4 would have.

The motherboard also has the video, LAN, sound chips already on it, so there's no need to buy those items separately.

Again, I understand if money is too tight, just trying to give you alternatives that you may not have considered before.

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Old 11-21-2011, 10:06 AM   #3
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Default Re: Need upgrade advice.

Wow! That was an amazing reply, og. Thank you for all that information. And thanks also for looking up all those components for me. I will write it all down for possible future use. Unfortunatly there is no spare money in my budget right now.

For now, I need the zip drive because of all the photos and other data I have stored on them. The Iomega100 zip drive came out of a computer which had both it and a DVD drive on the same IDE cable with the BIOS configured with the DVD drive as the master and the zip drive as the slave. But when I try to configure the BIOS in the hand-me-down computer's motherboard to do the same, it wont allow me. Is there some way of unlocking the BIOS in the hand-me-down motherboard to solve this?

Cheers, lvlagnum.
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Old 11-21-2011, 11:22 AM   #4
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Default Re: Need upgrade advice.

There's nothing to unlock. There's either an incompatibility issue with the drive on that board, or the cable is bad. If it worked before, and you plug it in exactly the same way on the new board, it should work. If it doesn't, then yeah... incompatibility is my guess.
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