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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm wrestling with how best to remedy some sluggish gaming. (Alas, I'm trying to play holiday gifts without having to buy a new pc!) People have suggested (rightly or wrongly) that I look into two upgrades: more RAM and/or a better graphics card.

The basics of what I have: Dell Dimension XPS T700r. PIII. 384 MB ram. NVIDIA RIVA TNT2 Model 64. Win 98 SE. Defrag regularly.

First, if I go from 384 to 514 ram, it'll help apps generally, but will it make a visible difference to gaming? What about from 384 to 640?

Second, the Dell rep said that they had no compatable graphics cards in stock, but was not clear on what graphics cards would be compatable with my system. Anyone out there know / have experience on what graphics cards I should be looking at? (Especially those that won't break the bank!)

Third, is there something else I should be looking at?

Thanks for any advice you can offer!!
 

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I don't think there is a single driver that'll make the TNT2 perform well with any new game.

As for compatible graphics you should have a very wide range. Your computer has a AGP 4X AGP slot. So you should be able to use almost any AGP 4X or AGP 8X video card on the market. The only ones that may not work are they very highend ones that require more power then your power supply can provide and their capability would be bottlenecked by the CPU and memory.

What games do you play and what is your budget?

384MB of RAM may be enough for some or many games. Windows 98 doesn't manage RAM beyong 512MB very well at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
SacsTC: Didn't think of checking for driver updates. Great idea. I'll check the site; thanks for the link! As for the games, the box specs say that my pc can handle them, and it does -- just not well.

Triple6: The two games that I want to work High Heat Baseball 2002 and Star Trek Elite Force II-- neither is very recent, but both given to me new by my well-meaning son. I'm flexible on price because I have a kid I don't want to disappoint, but I'm hoping not to go much past $100 (which I realize may not be realistic). Would you recommend bumping the ram to 514 and getting a medium-end graphics card? (If so, any particular recommendations? Haven't shopped for graphics cards before.)

Thank you both for responding!
 

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Well Star Trek Elite Force II would benefit from a better video card but neither game is that demanding.

I don't think you should need to upgrade the memory at all.

As suggested try driver updates.
Intel Chipset: http://downloadfinder.intel.com/scr...ail_Desc.asp?agr=N&ProductID=816&DwnldID=7948
Intel Application Accelerator:
Video card: http://www.nvidia.com/object/win9x_66.94
Sound: http://support.dell.com/support/dow...DIM_PNT_P03_XPS_T___&category=3&os=W98&osl=EN
DirectX: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/...11-62fe-4f61-aba1-914185249413&displaylang=en
For the sound drivers you'll have to go to figure out which sound card you have. Go to Start -> Run -> type DXDIAG and press ENTER. This should list the sound and other info about your computer.

It might also help to reduce the number of programs running at startup to free up resources.
Download Hijackthis and post a log here. Don't do anything with Hijackthis other then Scan and Save a log.
http://www.spywareinfo.com/~merijn/downloads.html

Also run Disk Cleanup and Disk Defrag on the hard drive.

For about $91 you can get this:
http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=14-102-305&depa=0

Its a mid range cards but should be more then adequate to run those two games.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You guys are the greatest! Thank you!

About the graphics cards, any compatability concerns that I should anticipate? Not sure how quirky or proprietary Dell is, so I have some apprehension about how interchangeable the graphics card will be. If there are pitfalls to avoid, do let me know.

As for drivers, I see that there IS a more recent driver available for my video card. Still, I've heard horror stories about new drivers messing things up. Where does the video driver reside? Can I make a backup copy of the existing driver and copy it back, if the new driver turns out to be problematic, or is the updating more complicated than that? (Sorry for the newbie question.)

I'll follow through on all of the excellent recommendations above and follow up with another post, hopefully reporting success. Again, thanks for coming to the rescue!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Triple6: Here's what came of the Hijack This scan. I'm a little taken aback at how long the log is! Any thoughts? Thanks.

Logfile of HijackThis v1.99.0
Scan saved at 8:42:02 PM, on 1/17/05
Platform: Windows 98 SE (Win9x 4.10.2222A)
MSIE: Internet Explorer v6.00 SP1 (6.00.2800.1106)

Running processes:
C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\KERNEL32.DLL
C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\MSGSRV32.EXE
C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\MPREXE.EXE
C:\PROGRAM FILES\NORTON SYSTEMWORKS\NORTON CLEANSWEEP\CSINJECT.EXE
C:\PROGRAM FILES\COMMON FILES\SYMANTEC SHARED\SYMTRAY.EXE
C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\ZONELABS\VSMON.EXE
C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\HPBPRO.EXE
C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\HPBOID.EXE
C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\RPCSS.EXE
C:\WINDOWS\NECUTRAY.EXE
C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\mmtask.tsk
C:\WINDOWS\EXPLORER.EXE
C:\WINDOWS\TASKMON.EXE
C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\SYSTRAY.EXE
C:\PROGRAM FILES\DIRECTCD\DIRECTCD.EXE
C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\STIMON.EXE
C:\PROGRAM FILES\NORTON SYSTEMWORKS\NORTON ANTIVIRUS\NAVAPW32.EXE
C:\PROGRAM FILES\NORTON SYSTEMWORKS\NORTON ANTIVIRUS\POPROXY.EXE
C:\PROGRAM FILES\LOGITECH\MOUSEWARE\SYSTEM\EM_EXEC.EXE
C:\PROGRAM FILES\ZONE LABS\ZONEALARM\ZLCLIENT.EXE
C:\PROGRAM FILES\MICROSOFT HARDWARE\GAME CONTROLLERS\SWTRAY.EXE
C:\COREL\OFFICE7\SHARED\PFIT7\PFPPOP70.EXE
C:\COREL\OFFICE7\DAD7\QUICK.EXE
C:\PROGRAM FILES\NORTON SYSTEMWORKS\NORTON UTILITIES\SYSDOC32.EXE
C:\PROGRAM FILES\NORTON SYSTEMWORKS\NORTON CLEANSWEEP\CSINSM32.EXE
C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\SPOOL32.EXE
C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\WMIEXE.EXE
C:\Program Files\Norton SystemWorks\Norton CleanSweep\Monwow.exe
C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\DDHELP.EXE
C:\COREL\OFFICE7\WPWIN7\SYSTEM\WPWIN7.EXE
C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\RNAAPP.EXE
C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\TAPISRV.EXE
C:\PROGRAM FILES\MOZILLA FIREFOX\FIREFOX.EXE
E:\DOWNLOADS\INTERNET-RELATED\HIJACKTHIS\HIJACKTHIS.EXE

R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http://home.netscape.com/home/winsearch.html
R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http://home.netscape.com/home/winsearch200.html
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchURL,(Default) = http://keyword.netscape.com/keyword/%s
N1 - Netscape 4: user_pref("browser.startup.homepage", "http://www.google.com/"); (C:\Program Files\Netscape\Users\default\prefs.js)
N2 - Netscape 6: user_pref("browser.startup.homepage", "http://www.google.com/"); (C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\default\7gs7j753.slt\prefs.js)
N2 - Netscape 6: user_pref("browser.search.defaultengine", "engine://C%3A%5CPROGRAM%20FILES%5CMOZILLA.ORG%5CMOZILLA%5Csearchplugins%5Cgoogle.src"); (C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\default\7gs7j753.slt\prefs.js)
O2 - BHO: (no name) - {53707962-6F74-2D53-2644-206D7942484F} - C:\PROGRA~1\SPYBOT~1.1\SDHELPER.DLL
O3 - Toolbar: &Radio - {8E718888-423F-11D2-876E-00A0C9082467} - C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\MSDXM.OCX
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [ScanRegistry] c:\windows\scanregw.exe /autorun
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [TaskMonitor] c:\windows\taskmon.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [SystemTray] SysTray.Exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [Adaptec DirectCD] C:\Program Files\DirectCD\DIRECTCD.EXE
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [LoadPowerProfile] Rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,LoadCurrentPwrScheme
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [Tweak UI] RUNDLL32.EXE TWEAKUI.CPL,TweakMeUp
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [StillImageMonitor] C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\STIMON.EXE
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [NAV DefAlert] C:\PROGRA~1\NORTON~3\NORTON~3\DEFALERT.EXE
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [Norton Auto-Protect] C:\PROGRA~1\NORTON~3\NORTON~3\NAVAPW32.EXE /LOADQUIET
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [Norton eMail Protect] C:\PROGRAM FILES\NORTON SYSTEMWORKS\NORTON ANTIVIRUS\POProxy.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [EM_EXEC] C:\PROGRA~1\LOGITECH\MOUSEW~1\SYSTEM\EM_EXEC.EXE
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [Necutray] NECUTRAY.EXE
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [HPDJ Taskbar Utility] C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\hpztsb12.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [Zone Labs Client] "C:\Program Files\Zone Labs\ZoneAlarm\zlclient.exe"
O4 - HKLM\..\RunServices: [LoadPowerProfile] Rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,LoadCurrentPwrScheme
O4 - HKLM\..\RunServices: [CSINJECT.EXE] C:\Program Files\Norton SystemWorks\Norton CleanSweep\CSINJECT.EXE
O4 - HKLM\..\RunServices: [SymTray - Norton SystemWorks] C:\Program Files\Common Files\Symantec Shared\SymTray.exe "Norton SystemWorks"
O4 - HKLM\..\RunServices: [TrueVector] C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\ZONELABS\VSMON.EXE -service
O4 - HKLM\..\RunServices: [HP Port Resolver] C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\hpbpro.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\RunServices: [HP Status Server] C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\hpboid.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\RunOnce: [Setup] "C:\Program Files\Norton SystemWorks\Norton CleanSweep\csinsm32.exe" -s "C:\Program Files\Norton SystemWorks\Norton CleanSweep\IM009273.CIL" "C:\PROGRAM FILES\DISKEEPER LITE SETUP\SETUP.EXE" /t"C:\PROGRAM FILES\DISKEEPER LITE SETUP" /m"Diskeeper Lite.msi" /v""
O4 - Startup: SwTray.lnk = C:\Program Files\Microsoft Hardware\Game Controllers\SWTRAY.EXE
O4 - Startup: PerfectPrint.LNK = C:\Corel\Office7\Shared\PFit7\PFPPOP70.EXE
O4 - Startup: Corel Desktop Application Director.LNK = C:\Corel\Office7\Dad7\QUICK.EXE
O4 - Startup: Norton System Doctor.lnk = C:\Program Files\Norton SystemWorks\Norton Utilities\SYSDOC32.EXE
O4 - Startup: CleanSweep Smart Sweep-Internet Sweep.lnk = C:\Program Files\Norton SystemWorks\Norton CleanSweep\csinsm32.exe
O4 - User Startup: SwTray.lnk = C:\Program Files\Microsoft Hardware\Game Controllers\SWTRAY.EXE
O4 - User Startup: PerfectPrint.LNK = C:\Corel\Office7\Shared\PFit7\PFPPOP70.EXE
O4 - User Startup: Corel Desktop Application Director.LNK = C:\Corel\Office7\Dad7\QUICK.EXE
O4 - User Startup: Norton System Doctor.lnk = C:\Program Files\Norton SystemWorks\Norton Utilities\SYSDOC32.EXE
O4 - User Startup: CleanSweep Smart Sweep-Internet Sweep.lnk = C:\Program Files\Norton SystemWorks\Norton CleanSweep\csinsm32.exe
O8 - Extra context menu item: Search Using Copernic Shopper - C:\PROGRAM FILES\COPERNIC SHOPPER\Web\Find.htm
O9 - Extra button: (no name) - {4B981DDB-ED12-4772-ABF4-76E3C14982E0} - C:\PROGRAM FILES\COPERNIC SHOPPER\COPERNICSHOPPER.EXE (file missing)
O9 - Extra 'Tools' menuitem: Shop Using Copernic Shopper - {4B981DDB-ED12-4772-ABF4-76E3C14982E0} - C:\PROGRAM FILES\COPERNIC SHOPPER\COPERNICSHOPPER.EXE (file missing)
O9 - Extra button: Shop - {7149E60F-754A-47EB-8916-F60021678D84} - C:\PROGRAM FILES\COPERNIC SHOPPER\COPERNICSHOPPER.EXE (file missing)
O9 - Extra button: Create Mobile Favorite - {2EAF5BB1-070F-11D3-9307-00C04FAE2D4F} - C:\PROGRA~1\MICROS~6\INETREPL.DLL
O9 - Extra button: (no name) - {2EAF5BB2-070F-11D3-9307-00C04FAE2D4F} - C:\PROGRA~1\MICROS~6\INETREPL.DLL
O9 - Extra 'Tools' menuitem: Create Mobile Favorite... - {2EAF5BB2-070F-11D3-9307-00C04FAE2D4F} - C:\PROGRA~1\MICROS~6\INETREPL.DLL
O9 - Extra button: AIM - {AC9E2541-2814-11d5-BC6D-00B0D0A1DE45} - C:\PROGRAM FILES\NETSCAPE\COMMUNICATOR\PROGRAM\AIM\AIM.EXE
O9 - Extra button: Dell Home - {659C54A0-0F88-11D4-91AE-C0D357C10000} - http://www.dellnet.com (file missing) (HKCU)
O12 - Plugin for .bcf: C:\PROGRA~1\INTERN~1\Plugins\NPBelv32.dll
O12 - Plugin for .swf: C:\PROGRAM FILES\NETSCAPE\COMMUNICATOR\PROGRAM\PLUGINS\NPSWF32.dll
O12 - Plugin for .mid: C:\PROGRA~1\INTERN~1\PLUGINS\npqtplugin.dll
 

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Well the log is OK, there's a lot of Norton stuff and that does slow down the computer considerable.

You can remove these by checking them in Hijackthis:
O4 - HKLM\..\RunOnce: [Setup] "C:\Program Files\Norton SystemWorks\Norton CleanSweep\csinsm32.exe" -s "C:\Program Files\Norton SystemWorks\Norton CleanSweep\IM009273.CIL" "C:\PROGRAM FILES\DISKEEPER LITE SETUP\SETUP.EXE" /t"C:\PROGRAM FILES\DISKEEPER LITE SETUP" /m"Diskeeper Lite.msi" /v""
O4 - Startup: PerfectPrint.LNK = C:\Corel\Office7\Shared\PFit7\PFPPOP70.EXE
O4 - Startup: Corel Desktop Application Director.LNK = C:\Corel\Office7\Dad7\QUICK.EXE
O4 - User Startup: PerfectPrint.LNK = C:\Corel\Office7\Shared\PFit7\PFPPOP70.EXE
O4 - User Startup: Corel Desktop Application Director.LNK = C:\Corel\Office7\Dad7\QUICK.EXE
O9 - Extra button: (no name) - {4B981DDB-ED12-4772-ABF4-76E3C14982E0} - C:\PROGRAM FILES\COPERNIC SHOPPER\COPERNICSHOPPER.EXE (file missing)
O9 - Extra 'Tools' menuitem: Shop Using Copernic Shopper - {4B981DDB-ED12-4772-ABF4-76E3C14982E0} - C:\PROGRAM FILES\COPERNIC SHOPPER\COPERNICSHOPPER.EXE (file missing)
O9 - Extra button: Shop - {7149E60F-754A-47EB-8916-F60021678D84} - C:\PROGRAM FILES\COPERNIC SHOPPER\COPERNICSHOPPER.EXE (file missing)

It'll improve the startup and free up some resources.

There are utilities that can backup up drivers but I've never bothered. For soemthing like a video driver there may several dozen files and registry entries all over the place so a manual backup is not really possible.

If a new driver doesn't work it can always be uninstalled and an older one installed. Dell would have the original driver listed but you shouldn't have to get a older version. I should mention that sometimes older drivers work better with older cards and older games but the one games mentions DirectX 9 support and that would require a fairly recent driver.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Triple6 -- I'll run the Hijackthis tonight; download the old driver for my video card to be on the safe side before installing the new driver when I get home tomorrow. Emboldened by your recommendation above, though, I suspect that the new video card is probably the way to go, and I'll keep my fingers crossed that no unforeseen compatability issues come up. You're the greatest, pal!
 

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If you want to stay under $100 try the visiontec 9200 radion or an nvidia 5200. I finished elite force 2 about a year go on my old compaq with a p3 celeron and a 9200 and it played great. Great game too
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the suggestions, ohgrant! (EFII certainly is a great game. If you haven't tried it yet, it's predecessor, though less sophisticated, is pretty decent as well.)

I've run Hijackthis and updated the driver, but without an appreciable difference. I've therefore getting ready to pick between the cards everyone has recommended. Unfortunately, though, I am still concerned about physical compatability. My current card (nVidia RIVA TNT2 model 64) has one more notch on the connection side than some, maybe all, of those that have been recommended. Short of opening up my pc (which I may just have to do), how can I tell whether there is a divider in the slot which would prevent using the cards above? Or am I worrying needlessly?

And need I fret about voltage? My current card is apparently 3.3V and though I'm guessing that I'm okay if my current card is 4xAGP, I've heard that a mismatch in voltage could fry both card and motherboard.

Thanks again to all.
 

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Using a 1.5V card in a 3.3V only slot will toast the card but the notches will prevent the wrong card from going in. And unfortunately your system uses the Intel 440BX chipset that only supports 3.3 Volt cards.

Don't look to see what AGP specs it supports, like AGP 1x, 2x, but the voltage. Many cards say 1x but they can't handle the voltage but only the trasfer speed.

A Radeon 9000 or 9200 would work as both are specified for 3.3 volt AGP slots. Avoid the SE version of the 9200 as its memory interface is half that of the regular card and its clocked slower.
 

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I think the 9000PRO is at Newegg for $65, and the 9200's are common all over the place with memory sizes of 64, 128 or 256MB. Don't bother with the 256MB models unless the price difference is really small.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
As recommended, I replaced my card with an ATI Ratheon 9200. Easy hardware install; nightmare driver install.

(CD software wouldn't install; neither would downloaded driver. Both install executables would say I need a file that doesn't appear on the CD. Telephone help at ATI was dreadful -- while people were polite, four phone calls and two 20 minute waits on hold didn't get me even a minute's conversation with a tech -- all on the long distance dime! Eventually I pieced together a driver set by going back and forth between the CD and the latest driver download. Finally got the card to work, though I'm not quite sure how.)

Everything works MUCH better -- except for one glaring problem. Every time I try to launch High Heat Baseball 2001 or 2002, I get an error message about ddhelp.exe and a partial system freeze. I can't even open the game to fiddle with settings. I have to ctrl-alt-del to get my pc to reboot.

I'm guessing this is a DirectX problem related to the new card. I'm sure hoping I don't have to reinstall DirectX since everything else is working fine. Is there a way (and do I want) to kill ddhelp? Is there some other work around?

(Or should I post this on another board? :eek: )

Thanks for any advice!
 

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Did you uninstall the old NVIDIA drivers? You can only upgrade directX you can not uninstall. There are some programs that claim to uninstall DX from your system but if something goes wrong you will probably have to format. Have you checked to see if there was a patch out for the game you are having trouble with?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Sorry, should have mentioned this! Yeah, I uninstalled the NVIDIA drivers first, and long ago installed the last patches released for both games. (They're dinosaurs, of sorts.) I've even cruised a couple of gaming boards to see if others ran into this problem, and while a few may have (way back when), none of them contained a solution that appeared apply to me.

Ugh. This is frustrating because the card is working so well for absolutely everything else. (And what a difference for Elite Force II. Wow!)

Thanks for getting back to me, though!
 

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Have you tried uninstalling and reinstalling the game, doesn't sound like directx or driver problem if all other games are working
 
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