Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Personal Entry: Motherboards and Graphic Cards

Boy, does it get any better than this? I submit that it can not.

My two month contract has expired, and now, officially, I’m a full fledged employee of the company I'm working at. Since I’m the “new guy” now, it’s my turn to do night shift. For the next month or so, I’ll be working 11pm to 7am (roughly). Hooray :(

As an “employment present” I decided to get a new graphics card. My old ATI Rage Fury Pro just wasn’t up to specs anymore. I had heard a lot about the GeForce 4 and read some really great reviews of it. So, I went out and got a GeForce 4 MX 440 AGP Card. That’s where the fun began.

I install it, and immediately the USB ports and the new graphics cards are fighting over IRQ 5. This means that my system locks up, and becomes totally unresponsive. No problem, I disable the USB on the motherboard, boot, go back to the BIOS, and turn them back on. Now they are happy with IRQ 3. But, the video card just cuts out at random, turning off the monitor when it does.

Newsgroup support research states that this particular card, and the whole “MX” line, has some compatibility problems with certain brands of Motherboards. Although my motherboard is not listed as one that it has issues with, it’s hard to find a listing for “Joe’s Budget Motherboard” anywhere. (It’s not actually called that, but it might as well be)

Back to the store I go, and exchange it for an ATI Raedon 9500 Pro. Sure enough, I plugged it in, loaded the drivers, and was up and running in 30 minutes.

The lesson in all of this is to do research before purchasing new computer products. One must not stop at the manufacturer’s website though. I suggest doing a search on Google’s groups page. It contains the newsgroup posts of real people, not marketing people, who have real problems with real computers.

Tech Tip: Registry Editing and Batch Files

All this new hardware in my rig, and I’m playing a game from 1997. Red Baron II is still the best WWI Flight sim in existence, but it doesn’t “play” well on an XP platform. The sound only works the first time the game is run, and the graphics are not up to speed. A little more research shows a way to upgrade the game to the Red Baron 3D version, and a little batch file I created keeps the sound running smooth.

Now, I’m not going to bore you with details on this. If anyone is interested, I will be more than happy to describe the steps in full. Drop me an email and I’ll pass the information along.

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