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Hardware noob...


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Simply put, just as in the topic title. While I do consider myself fairly proficient at operating a computer, troubleshooting software issues, and programming, I know next to nothing about hardware.

 

So basically what it comes down to is, my computer is... aged a bit (probably quite a bit. As I said, I don't keep up with hardware much) and I'm quite cheap (and yes, I am a teenager trying to hang onto what I have). What can I do to get the most out of my computer? Specifically, I'm looking for any programs or 'nething like that that might increase performance. Basically, anything that doesn't require me opening up or changing 'nething inside my computer (I don't trust myself that much :D ), I'm open to.

 

Sorry I come off as a complete noob in this field... but that's me. Anything you can tell me would help (as well as 'neone else who knows as little as I do...)

 

Dell Dimension 4500

WindowsXP Home SP2

Intel Pentium 4 2.00 GHz

512 MB DDR RAM

GeForce FX 5200 128 MB (btw, was $30 a good deal for that, about 6 months ago?)

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To be blunt... Proprietary systems like Dell, HP and Compaq aren't really ideal for gaming.

 

I know that a lot of gamers who are in the same position you are in have no choice but to "do with what you've got" and that is fine. The only reason I bring this up is because the amount of performance you get out of a specific game (patched/optimzied, or not) is equal to the hardware components that are running it more than any tweaks you can do if we are going to get right down to it.

 

So, I'm sure you've heard it before and I say this only to get it out of the way and with no malice toward you... Eventually, if you plan on getting more into gaming in the future you will eventually have to save up and get a system that is more built for gaming from the ground up (building your own system like a lot of us do, or buying something like Alienware).

 

Okay. That's obviously what you can't do.

 

Now... What CAN you do?

 

As far as KOTOR2 itself goes... There are a lot of tweaks, settings, drivers and other things you can try -- Take a look at the "Solutions to Problems" Thread stickied at the top of Forum to see what others have done as a place to get started. There are various commands you can play around with in your swkotor2.ini; drivers you can download and test (betas; third-party like Omega) and a host of other things.

 

However, overall, the only thing you (and many others with better hardware) can do is wait for the forthcoming patch and hope and pray that the developers nail some of the major techincal bugs and optimize this engine more for ALL graphics (Nvidia and ATI) card chipsets because in the end...

 

No amount of tweaking certain hardware can squeeze performance out of a baddly coded (ported in this case) game/engine and it will be up to the devs to correct this in the near future, hopefully.

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30$ for a GeForce 5200 seems me quite a good deal, even sixth months ago. But you'll have for your money, ie not very much.

Nowadays, video cards are the most critical component of a gaming PC. Without a good and fast video card, the games will be sluggish and/or ugly whatever the CPU or the amount of RAM.

 

Software programs should not help much to increase significantly the game performances. I don't even see any program who could do that. It would imply overclocking something and there physical risks for the involved component.

 

If you really want to increase your performance, sorry but you'll have to change things in your computer. Don't worry, if you take care, it's not so difficult nor risky. The best thing to do for now would be saving a bit money to buy a new video card such as GeForce 6600GT and 512MB RAM more. Another solution is to wait a few months and buy a whole new computer tailored for gaming. Reading hardware websites is a very good way to learn about this and knowing what to buy following your budget.

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You're a bit limited as far as options go, but seeing as it's a Dell there are a few things you could do to boost performance in Windows.

 

Have a look at the guide here It is probably the most definive guide for tweaking windows (it's a lot of reading, but the only way to get any real gain out of tweaking is to put time into it).

 

Also grab a copy of the latest driver at TweaksRUs ( http://www.tweaksrus.com/ ) The site has been up and down lately, but the drivers are really worth getting (install the nv3x / GeofrceFX drivers.

 

If you want a real performance boost in games I strongly recommend getting a new graphics cad (either a Geforce 6200 or a Radeon 9600 (not the se) ).

 

You can game on a Dell or HP system - my current system started out life as an HP (admittedly the only original components are the motherboard and one of the hard drives).

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bump, still looking for options

 

There are many options for upgrading or maintaining your hardware. For example, everything regarding memory (RAM / harddrive) can have a high impact on the overall performance.

 

But I think the available software options are rather small. Generally, software only slows down your system ;).

Reinstalling, removing or maintaining your software/OS can restore the performance of the day you bought your computer, but don't expect it to become significantly higher than that.

 

What do you use your computer for most?

Gaming? Office tasks? Or other?

 

In which situations and with which applications do you encounter bothering slow downs?

"Jedi poodoo!" - some displeased Dug

 

S.L.J. said he has already filmed his death scene and was visibly happy that he

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More RAM will only have a slight impact in overall performances. It will allow you to load things faster and you will gain some comfort in certain games (in World of Warcraft, having 1 GB of RAM makes flying travels more fluid), but it'll never replace a better video card. In fact, you notice the RAM in only two cases :

* You don't have enough memory, the game/application is swapping and the framerate will certaintly drop quickly to 1-10 FPS.

* You have far more memory than needed and the levels are loading themselves at near light-speed.

But anyway, the impact of adding RAM is far less noticeable than a few years ago where all performances gained a good increase. I upgraded recently to 1 GB of RAM and the only difference where in faster loadings in UT 2004 and maybe some other games, but nothing more.

 

The HDD is less important. If it's used during playing, it's very bad sign (ie, it's swapping and access times in a HDD are just 1000 times slower than in RAM; welcome into the slideshow world). The HDD is just a comfort "option", the more you have, the less you'll have to clean it to install new games. If it's fast good news when you install your games, it may be quicker. Having it defragmented and only NTFS partition (if you only have Windows of course) is certaintly the best you can have from it.

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More RAM will only have a slight impact in overall performances. It will allow you to load things faster and you will gain some comfort in certain games (in World of Warcraft, having 1 GB of RAM makes flying travels more fluid), but it'll never replace a better video card. In fact, you notice the RAM in only two cases :

* You don't have enough memory, the game/application is swapping and the framerate will certaintly drop quickly to 1-10 FPS.

* You have far more memory than needed and the levels are loading themselves at near light-speed.

But anyway, the impact of adding RAM is far less noticeable than a few years ago where all performances gained a good increase. I upgraded recently to 1 GB of RAM and the only difference where in faster loadings in UT 2004 and maybe some other games, but nothing more.

 

The HDD is less important. If it's used during playing, it's very bad sign (ie, it's swapping and access times in a HDD are just 1000 times slower than in RAM; welcome into the slideshow world). The HDD is just a comfort "option", the more you have, the less you'll have to clean it to install new games. If it's fast good news when you install your games, it may be quicker. Having it defragmented and only NTFS partition (if you only have Windows of course) is certaintly the best you can have from it.

 

Nobody said anything about that additional RAM or a faster harddrive replaces a better graphics card!

 

If you look upon a PC only as a gaming platform, I strongly disagree.

 

I asked warstrekkid what he uses his computer for, because I couldn't see that his question only aimed at graphics performance.

"Jedi poodoo!" - some displeased Dug

 

S.L.J. said he has already filmed his death scene and was visibly happy that he

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Alright, well with options as limited as mentioned, I guess it comes down to the big question: better to upgrade my existing system or just replace it?

 

Btw, I do use it mostly for gaming, but also a lot of school work-type-stuff, though most of my concern comes from gaming.

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Alright, well with options as limited as mentioned, I guess it comes down to the big question: better to upgrade my existing system or just replace it?

 

Btw, I do use it mostly for gaming, but also a lot of school work-type-stuff, though most of my concern comes from gaming.

 

Overall... I'd say save up and just upgrade the entire system and build it yourself for best results.

 

The system you have is more than adaquate for most school work (I assume it is just word processing and stuff like that; not video or photographic editing or CAD applications; Hell, a Pentium III is more than adequate for administrative work if we are going to be totally honest... Unless it involves a lot of large number crunching with Excel and other mathematical programs, and even then, it is more a matter of speed than the CPU not actually being able to compute the values).

 

There are a ton of new technologies on the market now with SLI, PCI-E and 64-bit computing (not to mention soon-to-be dual core CPUs).

 

The good thing is that prices should be dropping in a year, year and half on some of these technologies, so that is why it is a good time to save up and upgrade in a while if you can't afford it right now; You'll get better bang for you buck performance and technology wise if you wait.

 

I have an AMD 64-bit 3200+ that I bought last year (custom built) and the reason I did it was for future compatibility more than anything else. Yes, it makes a big difference in games... But the real benefit hasn't even scratched the surface yet since no game, app or OS developers have coded anything to take advantage of 64-bit systems yet. This is going to change, hopefully, around the Holidays as Windows 64-bit should finally be released and hopefully, some apps will start making the transition from 32-bit to 64 as well. I am not expecting "miracle" performance increases, but rather using my entire system more to its full potential than anything else.

 

Also...

 

When upgrading, you should also take into account what you plan on doing with that system as well. You said you primarily game on it and that is what most PC enthusiasts do.

 

However, there will come a time when you WON'T be as interested in games... But you'll still want the power and speed of say a 64-bit system to just make whatever you do that much faster. I fall into this category myself.

 

I'm pretty much getting out of games... But I still play them (KOTOR series, obviously), so I at least want a machine that I can still play games on for a few years before the next big leap in technology occurs... Like the new SLI, PCI-E and things of that nature.

 

So, ultimately it is up to you... But more importantly, what you plan on doing and what you want to be able to do with whatever new system you decide to build (if you decide to build a new one and not upgrade your current one).

 

As the old saying goes... Performance is only equal to the amount of effort you put into it... Effort being the time and money you put into this researching, saving and eventually upgrading.

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