Is this a feasible solution, or am I just screwed? (Computer-savvy? Help!)

Ok, so my dear sweet fiance bought me a ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128 meg card. However, there are some problems, entirely due to my own stupidity. :smack:

Problem 1: Stupid me didn’t realize I’d need a much bigger power supply than my system currently has. (Yes, I’m aware the system requirements are on the box, I just had neglected to look at my power supply before going out to buy it, assuming it would be fine, I’ve been kicking myself in the arse all night, so you all don’t have to do it for me :stuck_out_tongue: ) So, obviously I need a new power supply, minimum 300 watt, my puny 180 watt won’t cut it.

Problem 2: I made the enormous mistake of buying a Compaq 2 years ago, which I am finding out, much to my dismay, is damn near impossible to upgrade. The 9800 looks very pretty sitting in it’s box, but that’s not where I want it. I want it in my computer humming away, while I merrily play my dragon-mage in Horizons beta.

However, I am REALLY doubting I can upgrade my power supply to what I need on this motherboard, it being a Compaq proprietary P.O.S. I learned this lovely fact too tonight (that my motherboard is a p.o.s.), after downloading a PC audit program for my comp and running it. I never really had any idea what my motherboard specs were before (you can stop laughing now =p ), I’ve never done any real work inside my case except installing a new network card, this is all completely new to me. If you’d like a good hearty laugh, this is apparently what the specs of my current motherboard are:

Board: Compaq 07BCh
Bus Clock: 133 megahertz
BIOS: Compaq 786K2 09/21/2001

Buying a whole new rig just so I can use my shiny new card, is not an option, since fiance’s buying/building HIS new rig this weekend with the help of a techie friend of ours. So, my options are A) Let my sweetie use the card in his rig, since he was planning on getting the same one anyways, and just wait till I can afford to make myself a new rig (since I have zero intentions of ever buying a packaged comp I can’t upgrade myself again), or B) Salvage what I can of this mess and see what I can do to make it so that I can use my new card.

Obviously, I’d much rather go with B, since it’s the option that allows me to use my pretty new Precious (my Preciousssss, Compaq tricksies us! Nasssty Compaq) in hopefully, at most, a week or two…as opposed to 6 months to a year from now, when I’ll be able to buy a new rig, complete with another new card.

To that end, this is what I’m hoping is possible, in order to be able to use my new card: buy a new case and motherboard, and take all the other bits out of my Compaq, put em in my new box, and send the old case and motherboard back to Compaq with a hearty F! U! etched in the side, because they’ll never see another dime of my money, knowing what I know now about the impossibility of upgrading them without paying Compaq hundreds of dollars to do so. To accomplish that, I need some help to determine if this is possible. I did some researching, and I think this will work, but seeing as I am (as is obvious by the stupid mistake of buying a video card way too big for my current mobo/power supply) a complete computer-building n00b, I need help. Goddess, do I need help. :confused:

Ok, I already have an AMD Athlon 1800+ XP processor (1.52 gigs), it’s fine and I don’t think it needs upgrading to work with this card. At least I hope it doesn’t, or I am screwed, because a new processor atm is out of the question.

I looked up motherboards compatible with my processor, and this is what I found, that seems to be exactly what I’d need without being too expensive for my current budget (at least with a new case/motherboard, upgrading will be an option in the future). Gigabyte GA-7VM400M VIA KM400 chipset Motherboard. I upgraded my RAM to a gig tonight, and I made sure that my new RAM is compatible with this mobo. (2 512MB sticks of Corsair DDR266(PC2100) RAM, as opposed to the two 256 sticks I had in there of whatever crap Compaq prolly had lying around)

Now, the case. I have no idea what is too much for what I want, or too little, so I am looking at what I can afford, that looks cool and seems to have the most options. This one looked pretty good to me, seems like it’s alot of case for the money, with PLENTY of room to upgrade in (which, oh surprise surprise, my Compaq doesn’t have): 58 bucks, plus another 25 bucks for the 6x case fan option. Is 6 fans too much? Can you have too many fans? I’d rather play it safe than sorry with a 400 dollar vid card, and for an extra 25 bucks, 6 fans seems like a bargain. It also comes with a 350W power supply pre-installed, so that saves me another couple bucks right there. If you guys have better suggestions at around the same price range for either the mobo or case, suggest away, as long as the price is the same range.

Now, finally, we come to what I really need to know if this is a feasible option to be able to use my card. Can I pull all the other crap out of my Compaq and put it in this case/mobo? Here’s what I’m working with for most of the rest of my computer (whatever other little bits I might be missing, I’m clueless about…let me know and I can try and figure out what you’re talking about chuckle):

1550 megahertz AMD Athlon XP
128 kilobyte primary memory cache
256 kilobyte secondary memory cache

_NEC NR-7800A [CD-ROM drive]

Compaq DVD-ROM DVD-116 [CD-ROM drive]

3.5" format removeable media [Floppy drive]

WDC (Western Digital) WD800BB-60CCB0 [Hard drive] (80.03 GB) – drive 0

Compaq FS740 Color Monitor

Sound controller (Is this my sound card? I am now officially out of my depth, I know nada, zip, zero about Sound/Sound cards): Creative AudioPCI (ES1371, ES1373) (WDM) I have no idea what all that means, I just copied it from my device manager. If I need to look at something different, please tell me.

So…what do you guys think? Is this a feasible solution, or am I just screwed for a year till I can afford a whole new rig?

Eeeshh! I had a similar problem to yours a while back - the power supply in one of the machines(Purchased by my predecessor) in an office I support went bang (literally) - when I opened up the case, it turned out to be a very compact miniATX PSU (or something like that), only 100 watts or so - sourcing a replacement was virtually impossible (and nothing over 150 watts was available).

In the end, I transplanted the motherboard, drives etc. to a standard ATX case and used a ‘grown up’ PSU. I’d recommend this solution, but if you don’t have the motherboard manual, make sure you know how all the connectors for the power switch and case LEDs are arranged before you unplug them.

I feel your pain. Our Compaq 924CDS (a 486) came with one (1!) ide controller, and they wanted hundreds for an expansion card. Jerks made sure the generic 20$ one I got didn’t work either.

About your system: You don’t say what model of Compaq you have, but I’d bet your audio is built in to your mobo, which doesn’t really matter 'cause the mobo you’re looking at seems to have it built-in too.

Fortunately, other than the mobo and the PS, Compaq can’t futz with anything else 'cause they don’t make it. From what you’ve posted, what you’re suggesting would probably work.

P.S. - Another option for you to consider: I don’t know where the card draws most of it’s power (I’m betting it’s from the floppy connector on it rather than from the AGP bus), but it could be possible to just hook up an extra PS to the card only and power it that way. (It’s the sorta thing I’d do since I have a few old spares - I don’t suppose you’re big on that option. ;)) I’ve heard of it done to support multiple HDs, but if Q.E.D. or someone comes along insisting it’d cause a chrono-feedback implosion and destroy the universe, I might not try it.

P.P.S. - Make sure the PS is of a good brand. (Seems ok. Some suck) My brother had to upgrade his 250W (yeah right) Sparkle P.O.S. when he got his 9700. (He’s got an Enermax 465W dual-fan thing now.)

The model of my current comp is a Compaq AMD Athlon 1800+ XP, I have no idea if the sound card is part of the mobo or not…I’m pretty sure there’s a sound card in a PCI slot, but not sure what, if anything, that means. I’m also not sure if the mobo I’m looking at has on-board sound or not…hopefully someone here can look at it’s specs and tell me chuckle

Your plan sounds reasonable. If the new motherboard has onboard sound, there’s probably no reason to put in a sound card. On board sound is pretty good these days. Of course if you neglected to mention that your Compaq’s card (if it’s a card) is 5.1 surround or something, you may want to take it with you. Also see what else the new board has integrated – you can leave things off like the network card, most likely. This will save the PCI slots for future upgrades.

Uh, did you say the new video card was PCI? If so, exchange it for an AGP version and make sure the motherboard is AGP. Beware that there’s like AGP, AGPx2, AGPx4, and AGPx8.

You may want to boot up the new machine (yeah, it’s a new computer with some of your older, transferred components) first and get into your BIOS settings before putting in the new card. There should be a setting that makes the AGP slot override the built-in video if present. If you want to put in the card first, it’ll probably work. If you don’t have video on VGA output, you’ll have it on the other and you’ll be able to make the change later.

What Windows version are you running? Because you’ll have a whole new motherboard, Windows is going to want to install a whole lot of drivers. The newer your Windows is, the better the chances of the Windows CD containing the drivers for all the built in stuff on the motherboard and the motherboard itself. If your Windows installation is a cluttered mess, it may be a good time to do a format/install of the hard drive. If you do that, it’d also be a good time to partition the drive so you can move “my documents” to the other partition (only a suggestion).

Good luck.

It’s an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro, with AGP 8x/4x support, I looked at the mobo I’m looking at linked above, and it says it has AGP 8x graphics interface…so far so good, I think (I hope!)
The description/features of this mobo from the link I have above are:


GA-7VM400M is new generation all-in-one solution for latest AMD Athlon™ XP processor. Equipped with VIA UniChrome KM400 chipset and plenty of features, GA-7VM400M delivers a full-function platform with excellent performance. The VIA UniChrome KM400 chipset integrates the UniChrome™ 2D/3D graphics core with MPEG-2 acceleration for excellent multimedia eformance and complete flexibility on the desktop. The chipset North Bridge exchanges data with the CPU through a flexible and ultra fast Front Side Bus at speeds of up to 333MHz, and features an AGP 8X controller for graphics upgrades. The KM400 also supports a complete range of DDR memory speeds, including DDR200/266/333. In addition, the USB 2.0 and 6-channel audio are equipped to provide a complete solution for mainstream corporate and consumer desktop systems. GA-7VM400M will definitely represent the best choice of integrated solution for AMD Athlon™ XP platform now and future.

Advanced 333 Front-Side Bus Support
Superb bandwidth AGP 8X graphics interface
DDR333 memory support
Great expandability of 6 USB 2.0 ports
High quality 6-channel audio support
Ethernet 10/100Mb LAN Network Connection
Norton Internet Security™ Included

I run Windows XP, and it could use a reformat anyways. The sound card/onboard sound thing I’m still confused about =/

Watch out for 8x AGP. That can cause some issues, and there is really no speed difference between 4x and 8x.

Also make sure your AGP arpeture in your BIOS is set to 64. 128 or higher can cause instability with some OpenGL games.

This is from a 9700 Pro user who dealt with both of these issues. :slight_smile:

I think you’re fine with your plan, but I’m not sure I’d trust the Turbolink power supply that comes with that case. $58 is just shy of the price point of “generic case + power supply I would trust with anything” … basically, a power supply of that wattage that has a reasonably low chance of catching fire is probably going to retail for at least $40, which means I wouldn’t put high faith in a case + ps of less than $70, and I wouldn’t personally trust a case + ps of less than $60 with all the much-more-expensive equipment you’re putting into it.

The good news is that a good case can last you through a few whole-system upgrades (if you want to keep the “old” system around, THEN you buy the cheapo case and put the old system into that, saving your good case for the new stuff).