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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've had a Dell Pentium D 2.8 with 3 GB of memory for over a year now with no problems. Not long after I got it I bought a 7600GT since I figured from data I took in at the time that it was the best card I could install without going to a bigger PS. The stock Dell is 305W.

Recently, I installed FSX. It ran well, although had some odd glitches such as not holding the weather settings and disconnecting the USB flight controller while in the middle of an approach. These things seemed random and I attributed it to the usual MSFS quirks I've experienced with earlier versions.

At the same time I installed FSX, I downloaded the latest nVidia driver for the 7600 GT and for the Saitek flight controllers.

Now the computer has started to suffer mysterious hesitations when doing something. Click on an icon to open a program and sometimes the hourglass goes back to the mouse arrow after a few seconds, without opening the program. Also some delay once in a while when moving the mouse cursor. These things have become more frequent until finally, yesterday, the computer would hang on the "Windows is shutting down" blue screen and never actually shut down. (It's XP Home, BTW). Also now, when booting, it hangs on the opening screen, the one with the scrolling loading bar. It never completely loads.

I put in a fully functional HD from a few weeks ago, a bootable back up copy made with Casper XP. It does the same thing, so it's not the HD.

I haven't tried it this morning. After a night to cool off it might boot, but even if it does, the problem is still lurking there. This problem has been a slow process in occurring. When it first started I ran Spyware Doctor and AVG, CCcleaner, a Windows Tuneup Utility, and defragged. Doing those things always fixes any problems I might be having.

This however is a hardware problem.

My theory is that I've stressed something with FSX. Using it was the first time I ever heard the fan going on the 7600GT. I'm thinking my PS is marginal and that I may have stressed it out and it is in a slow failure mode.

Or it could be memory? I've not run the Memtest utility yet but if the computer boots, I will do so.

If it's not either of those two then it has to be the MB I guess.

Has anyone reading this gone through any of these symptoms and, if so, what did it turn out to be?

Any and all thoughts, guesses, and certainties would be appreciated.

I'm writing this on an old WIN 98 computer I've (thank goodness) kept under the table. It still works fine, although what a difference between it and my Dell!

Maybe the new video driver is not good? I read in the forums where it is a good idea to delete the driver, reboot, and let Windows find a new one.

I guess it could be some chips on the 7600GT too?

Don't know where to start . . . I guess test the memory if I can get it to boot.

Thanks for any suggestions,

Mike
 

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First, to install new nVidia video drivers (or any hardware drivers, for that matter), you uninstall the old drivers (using Device Manager or Add/Remove Programs), then reboot. When Windows reboots, it will use standard drivers but will find the drivers and offer to install them. Don't. Use the setup utility that came with the nVidia drivers you downloaded, and reboot again. Do not use hardware drivers from Microsoft. They are buggier than beta drivers.

You should be good.

By the way, you are using a video card that requests a 350W power supply, so you definitely are underpowered.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the feedback.

I did not uninstall the old drivers first. I'll re-do that in the morning.

I've been shopping for a new PSU that will seamlessly replace the Dell and be of good quality. Probably an Antec 430W. Reading the Dell forums re this, they tell me I'm fine with the 7600GT - that 8800GT's and more are okay with the 305W Dell since it is under-rated. They say Dell does this knowing customers are going to stress their systems.

Meanwhile, I've re-seated all cards, pins, plugs, etc. and gave it all a good cleaning. Also did MEMTEST. I cleaned off the old thermal paste and put a fresh coat on the cpu/heatsink.

I took out an eSATA card that never did work reliably.

It's running like a rocket now, although I've not loaded up FSX and tried to recreate the sim problems I had. When I do load it and stress things again, if I have any more trouble I'll definitely replace the PSU and go from there. I think it's either the PSU or something going bad on the Graphics card.

Meanwhile I'll re-do the nVidia driver.

Thanks,

Mike
 

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If you need a new PSU, check the current one first. Dell tend to use proprietary PSUs, with a different connector set to a standard unit- means they can charge you an arm and a leg for one of theirs, apart from that not a great deal of benefit. Later models have tended to use generic types, but check first, just in case:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks.

Dell has some very helpful forums which let a person narrow the question down really well - or maybe I mean narrow the answer down.

Reading the posts of others with my model Dell, I find that anything designed for 24 pin ATX boards will fit.

I'm thinking an Antac 430W would be perfect, but so far no problems with the old setup. Not only is it running faster now, it's running quieter too. Whatever I did with my little clean-up, it worked.

Mike
 
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