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NiGHTMARE

A tale of a crappy computer

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Here is my story of my experience using one of the worst PC's ever (well, relatively speaking anyway).

My usual computer is a Athlon XP 1800+, with 512 megs DDR RAM, Radeon 9800, SB Audigy, and various other pretty decent stuff. However, as you may or may not know, I've been having problems with this machine for the past couple of months.

First it wouldn't turn on. Soon after I fixed that (by buying an entirely new power supply!) it stoped recognising my CD-RW and DVD drives. Shortly after that my computer started refusing to boot up. Then it wouldn't turn on again.

So to cut along story short, I got tired of p**sing around with the thing, and after coming home for Easter I got my Dad to take it to the local computer repair place. While they're fixing it, I've been given what my brother calles the "junk PC" - a computer cobbled together from all the left-over crap we've got from various upgrades (me, my parents and my brothers have three other computers and three laptops between us).

The specs of "junk PC": AMD K6-333 (not even a real 333 - it's actually something like a 200 with an overdrive chip on it), 96 megs of some utterly pants kind of RAM, Cirrus Logic graphics card, an SB16, and a Mitsumi 32x CD-Rom drive which works but makes extremely disturbing (i.e. they sound like the CD is about to be snapped in half or something) clonking sounds whenever it finishes reading the CD.

Here's some of my experiences with this PC:

Internet Explorer - it's okay if you only have one or two windows open (although even then it jerks around when you scroll up and down), but any more than that and it starts freezing the system. One time it started crashing whenever I pressed the backspace key.

Kazaa Lite - generally runs okay, as long as there's not much else loaded. However, leaving it running for a long-ish time (e.g. overnight) usually makes the system start locking up or even crashing.

Paintshop Pro - looking back, I probably should have used an old copy, say version 5 or something. But I stupidly decided to install the latest version 8 beta. You know how long this thing takes to load? Almost 2 minutes - and this is with no other programs open. And don't even think about loading anything else once it's loaded, because PSP appears to eat up RAM like there's no tommorow.

Video files - .avi's are completely unwatchable: even at 50% zoom they're around 1 frame every 5 or 6 seconds. .mpg's aren't watchable in fullscreen, or even 200% zoom, but at 100%, or in some cases 50%, they're just about okay. Oh, and I should mention that this isn't in Windows Media Player or some other bloated piece of crap, this is in AVI Preview; which is probably the only video player where you can honestly say it needs to have more features ;)

Midi - wow, I can't believe I forgot how terrible midi used to sound. I can't really say any more than that :(

Doom - doom.exe is obviously okay. It was designed for systems even worse than this after all, and at least having an SB16 means the sound actually works ;) However, ZDoom is virtually unplayable even in 320x200, especially in large levels. Eternity is a little better, but still slightly jerky. Skulltag is about the only one which is more or less acceptable in 320x200.

DeepSea - despite my self-imposed 'no mapping ruled' while I finish off my dissertation, I felt I simply had to fix up Wasted 3 a little for the screenshots I recently posted. As my registered version of DeepSea (which Deep actually sent me warez of himself ;) ) was on my b0rked computer, I decided to download the latest shareware version.

After spotting several dozen changes (my version is slightly old), I opened up the text file. One thing I almost immediately noted was that it said DeepSea is supposedly 'flicker free'... but it certainly isn't on this POS =P

If there's anything good about using 'junk PC', it's that it's severely limited the number of potential distractions while I get this darned dissertation done (Word works like a charm). But that's the only good thing I can think of.

My advice to anyone with a PC with similar specs? Upgrade. Now. You really really really won't regret it :)

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Yeah, the system specs sound like mine, but not those problems. Wow, it can't even hold ZDoom with 640x480? Sucksor.

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Heh, my old computer seems better than that POS and it's got worse specs. Sux0r dude, hope you get your 1337455 system back soon.

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Well, this computer also has two hard drives, an 8 gig one which is good - if slow - and a 40 gig one which, according to my brother, is so f**ked up it's going to need a complete reformat.

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probably needed tweaking. usally a system like that will run fine for baisic everyday things, internet and such. however it sounds like the registry was completely wacked (i also be there was a ton of bullshit in the task tray) also the used hardware could have had its fair share of abuse. I ran zdoom at 800x600 on a similar system with less ram(40MB) and at 200Mhz(original 133Mhz) it ran perfectly. however due to abuse the system has had it slowed down to a craw in the last months before i told my dad it had to go. i was surprised at its life and even more with the abuse it took. being left on for weeks at a time and held in a poorly ventelated area. it isnt dead i just replaced the damn thing.

helpful hints

update ram (use good stuff and not any cheap or rebuilt parts)

proper drivers- wrong drivers can bring even a fast new system to a craw

clean registry and defrag

KEEP SYSTEM TRAY AS EMPTY AS POSSIBLE!!!! i can't stress that enought. i see people with the damn ting covering half of the bottom bar. that eats ram up and I have seen it fuck with drivers and other software. you should only have running what you need! such as an anti-virus or firewall and the stuff windows needs. all the other shit turn off. you dont need AOL, AIM, ICQ, Kazza and all that stuff running in the system tray when you are not useing it.

clean it out, keep a system as clean as possible

when i got my AMD 1800+ and such i had issues too. make sure you have at least a 350watt powersupply and the bios correctly setup as well as the drivers. also dont use the restore disks u get from dell, gateway and compaq those just muck things up

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AMD K6-2 500Mhz (actually 475 becuase the process will NOT work like it should. The processor itself is dodgy, even when new. We had it sent back twice and said fuck it.)

256Mb ram (no problem here !gasp)

Geforce 2 64Mb video (it works properly !another gasp)

PAS 16 soundcard (will not run sound period for higherend games IE diablo 2 and up, doom.exe will not run sound, but zdoom is fine. Everything else has a 50/50 chance of working)

Windows 98se (the only good thing is it runs my games)

Dos 6.0 (yay)

48x memorex cdrom. No cd burner or dvd player.

one 6Gig HDD and one 2Gig HDD. I will [hopefully] upgrade to a 20Gig.

15" Linksys monitor. It's next to dieing.

PC Accessories keyboard. It's missing the cover for the left arrow key, but it still works fine. In fact, I've gotten used to the 'recess' that is said key. I think it's the only piece of hardware that has never given my any problems. !double gasp

Logitech wheelmouse. Uh huh. Right. It's ok. For now.

Cashflow. What cashflow?

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My parents have no idea how much of their system resources are eaten up by the crap in system tray and the startup folder, so their computer is full of stuff they don't need. When I first turned this computer on, there was a tonne of crap in the system tray and startup folder too (including at least two Gator spyware components), but I got rid of it all straight away. Every last thing :)

Updating the drivers was the first thing I did. I can't believe that they still had DirectX 7 on here ;)

As for defragging, that's a good point. The 40gb drive would probably die completely if I tried it on that, but it might be worth giving it on the smaller drive, especially as that's the primary drive.

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The only thing in my startup folder would be Progress Quest. :)

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I sypmathize with your plight, and have my own tale of woe to share:

For Christmas this year, I got new computer parts: an AMD Athlon XP 2100+ (1.73 GHz), 512 MB PC2700 RAM from MWAVE, an ASUS A7S333 mobo, and a Radeon 8500 64 MB (I'm not a heavily games-intensive person, so I didn't need anything spectacular). I tossed all the parts into a new case (after discovering that Dell's cases have ridiculous proprietary power supplies and switches, making them absolutely unupgradable), and lugged it here to Purdue to install WinXP.

I tried installing it on a new partiton of my main 40 GB drive, but to no avail. It never really got past the basic DOS-like interface, and after it actually went into the main installation process it choked and died, and wouldn't recognize the 40 GB drive anymore. I tried this on my old backup 20 GB drive, but THAT one died completely. My friend Dave and I went through about half a dozen other drives (thankfully it didn't kill any of them) before finding out the IDE controller was defective, and even that was a lucky strike of actually seeing a bluescreen that specifically stated a problem with the IDE controller. The most memorable moment, however, was when even the quasi-DOS interface screwed up and gave the message, "Setuq is!ststalling Wiondos."

I send the mobo back to MWAVE and patiently wait for a replacement to arrive, in the meantime chucking all the necessary stuff into the old Dell boxen (500 MHz P3, 256 MB RAM). My 40 GB drive still worked, but the FAT was butchered and unrecoverable by any recovery program that didn't cost $200 - I ended up just sucking it up and reformatting it, losing some VERY vital stuff (old original .IT versions of older songs, VERY necessary samples for newer songs, most of my old papers and documents, porn that never got backed up) in the process. I had XP installed on a friend's old creaky 4 GB Quantum drive, and it actually worked fairly well. I never DARED try anything on my 80 GB mp3 drive (which was about 90% full in the first place!), so thankfully it was still OK. The 20 GB drive never worked again.

The replacement mobo arrives, and I gleefully put everything in the new case and try things out. Things seem OK at first... but then it refuses to recognize either of my CD drives. After a great deal of tinkering and testing, it turns out that the mobo refuses to recognize BOTH IDE controller slots at the same time. Another defect.

I send THAT one back, and go BACK to the ramshackle configuration until the new one arrives.... and FINALLY, THIS one works. And I'm happier with this computer than I have been in ages ^_^

Now, all I need is a newer, faster CD-RW drive...

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Oh yeah, and I keep registry/system tray stuff as MINIMAL as possible. I install as little software as possible, do a little micromanaging of my Task Manager "Processes" window (if you know what your basic Windows and necessary software processes are you can usually clean out one or two unwanted things from there), and run AdAware to make sure no pesky crap managed to worm its way into my system. A program like X-Setup is even better for that.

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heh, i can run K++, edonkey, a counterstrike server, and run unreal tournament. it doesnt hang whatsoever. thank god i got a dual cpu.

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Heh. Windows XP likes to randomly BSOD on my machine. I've tracked it down to the Network, so I should be getting a new network card soon.

I find it strange that Win98 has no problem with it whatsoever, and rarely crashes... Oh well.

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NiGHTMARE said:

Here's some of my experiences with this PC:

Sounds like you're using some version of Win98.

SlayeR said:

I find it strange that Win98 has no problem with it whatsoever, and rarely crashes... Oh well.

Heh, XP couldn't figure out how to read these hard drives either, although 95+ could do it perfectly. The classic Microsoft "step forward" in action.

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The only problem my computer has is that I can't use Scandisk or Disk Defragmenter, saying that there's not enough free memory (despite having 512 MB of RAM). I haven't used either program in at least half a year. I don't plan on fixing it because I'm going to upgrade it in a few weeks anyway.

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Scandisk and Defrad start with conventional memory first, usually 640k. Another reason why I can't play Darkwolf on windows. :P

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My mom hasnt up graded her comp since early 96. it still has win95 on it. That is one slow computer. I fell sorry for ya NIGHTMARE. When did the repair shop say it would be done.

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I don't see why you bitches is having so many problems with XP. Even considering how long it was running off the rickety 4 GB drive, I've only had TWO BSODs come up from my regular usage of it, and not too many crashes; whereas 98 would typically go KERPLONK-BOOM! on me three times a day.

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I dont have problems useing XP . I just dont like it. The start menu in XP sucks ass. I know alomst every thing about win98 se. I dont have the time or the patince too learn how XP works.

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Rotting Corpse said:

The start menu in XP sucks ass.


You can change it to a "classic" start menu.

I dont have the time or the patince too learn how XP works.


Uh, what's so difficult about it? It's just Windows. Most of its features are virtually identical to 98's.

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zarcyb said:

You can change it to a "classic" start menu.



Uh, what's so difficult about it? It's just Windows. Most of its features are virtually identical to 98's.

It doesn't have Dos.

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ravage said:

It doesn't have Dos.


OMG WOW one difference! Oh gn0!

It still has a command prompt. If you want old DOS shit then get DOS.

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Heh, time to make this "virtually no differences" idea backfire methinks :)

If it has so few differences, don't you think anyone who's got it (legally that is) should really have bought an older version of Windows and saved themselves a considerable amount of money?

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NiGHTMARE said:

Heh, time to make this "virtually no differences" idea backfire methinks :)

If it has so few differences, don't you think anyone who's got it (legally that is) should really have bought an older version of Windows and saved themselves a considerable amount of money?


Virtually no differences in the way one uses it, I meant. XP is more secure, more stable and more reliable than 9x. But the way in which users use it remains much the same.

Sorry, I should've been clearer :P

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zarcyb said:

OMG WOW one difference! Oh gn0!

It still has a command prompt. If you want old DOS shit then get DOS.

I happen to like my old DOS shit. :)

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NiGHTMARE said:

My advice to anyone with a PC with similar specs? Upgrade. Now. You really really really won't regret it :)


Something my dad should do.

I'm quite fine on the other hand *pets his 2ghz 512mb ram geforce 2 mx400 pc :)*

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Rotting Corpse: it *should* be back tommorow. Though it probably won't be :|

I'm getting my student loan next Monday (which is just over £1,000), so once I do get my PC back, I plan on replacing the 1800+ with at least a 2500+ ;)

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I'm in the middle of upgrading. Installin g the new mobo into the new case.

teeny tiny power cables = STRESS :P

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