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Irritating Computer Problem

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HI all, I know there are some real computer experts on here, as opposed to amateurs like myself. For various reasons I needn't go into we ended up with a slight shortage of working computers in our household. I found that my brother's old Dell Dimension 3100 was still knocking around, and plugged it into my ancient but still rather lovely Cornerstone P1500 monitor. It booted up O.K into XP (albeit very slowly), and I was able to set the screen resolution to 1600x1200, and the refresh rate to 85Hz- the picture from the Intel 915G onboard graphics was fine. However when I set about trying to clean up the XP install and put on working antivirus, Libre Office etc. the XP install proved to be too badly screwed by years of ham-fisted abuse from various other family members (I found loads of evidence of dodgy toolbars, malware etc.).

So I decided that, since it was sporting a 64 bit processor, I'd go with in install of Windows 7 64 bit. I acquired a 60GB SSD secondhand for 20 quid off a chap on another forum, and when I discovered that a P4 650 (the fastest processor the 3100 is capable of taking) was £3.99 delivered off ebay, I whacked one of those in too. After a little bit of farting around to find a working DVD drive I had windows installed no problem, on 1GB of RAM too (it claims to need 2GB). First things first, I went to change the screen resolution from 800x600 to 1600x1200, which was fine, then went to change the refresh rate....oh. The drop down box gave me one option - "use hardware default setting".

As far as I can gather the problem is that Intel never supported Vista or W7 on the 915G platform, so the driver is a bog standard Microsoft one. Unfortunately without a proper windows driver for the onboard graphics, it can't detect the refresh rates that the monitor is capable of. I have spent hours googling for a solution to this problem, and come up blank. I've tried to get windows to install various drivers that others claim will work, with no joy- they either fail to install, or more irritatingly, refuse to even try because my hardware doesn't meet the minimum standards :angry: . I reckon my best chance of success is to hack the registry to set the default refresh rate to 85hz, but hours of poking around and googling have got me nowhere.

I know I could probably solve this problem in two obvious ways: 1) installing W7 32 bit, or 2) using the LCD monitor supplied with the computer, but I don't want to because 1) W7 64 bit seems to work perfectly in every other respect (I'm typing this on it now) and 2) my brother is using that monitor to dual screen his laptop, and if I don't use this Cornerstone my wife will be on at me to get rid of it as its so huge, and I don't want to do that.

So any suggestions gratefully received!

Edit to say that: I can't solve the problem by installing a cheap PCI-E graphics card and the appropriate drivers, because the Dimension 3100 has no PCI-E 16x slot (it just has one 1x slot :rolleyes: ).

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It is possible that you might find the correct W7 driver on the graphic card's manufacturer's web site. :huh:

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If you only have 1gb RAM then installing 64 bit will give you no extra benefit, stick with a 32 bit Win 7 if there are drivers or XP or better still boot up with a linux disk and check everything is ok, ubuntu would be an easy place to start if you haven't much experience of that. Nowadays it detects everything automatically (normally).

Or get a PCI 1x card off ebay ?

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I had a problem before where i needed some sort of monitor driver for it to detect what refresh rates the monitor was capable of handling - refused to set above 60hz without it. This was years ago though!

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Go 32bit - the only advantage of 64bit is the large address space, which is not relevant as you only have 1GB. For most operations, 64 bit is actually slower, but if you are doing things like running a stack of VMs or databases on a 128 GB box, then 64 bit is essential.

Though I'm not sure why you think going 32 bit will solve the problem. I'd have stuck with XP which is a perfectly good OS.

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I'll second the Linux option. It's more lightweight than Windows so you should get better performance ( I think?)

Add Open Office as a free Microsoft Office alternative, Firefox and Thunderbird for web and email, and you're away.

Linux is a good thing to get familiar with. You might as well learn it one day, unless you're planning on going Mac at some point. Windows has had it's day really.

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I'll second the Linux option. It's more lightweight than Windows so you should get better performance ( I think?)

Check the graphic driver support first, should be ok but some of the Linux drivers are flakey due to lack of manufacturer information. Graphics on my current desktop are slowwwww under Linux compared to Windows 7.

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Linux would be a good call if this PC was for me, but it's for my wife to write her screenplays on and for my mum to surf the internet, so I'll stick with what they know!

I've had a look inside the case and there's absolutely nothing behind the PCI-E 1x slot, so I think I'll take a dremel to it and shove a PCI-E-16x card in there.

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Check the graphic driver support first, should be ok but some of the Linux drivers are flakey due to lack of manufacturer information.

Intel write their own Linux drivers and push them into the kernel, so generally they're not a problem. The exception is when they didn't build the chip themselves, but bought it in from a third party, when there probably won't be any driver at all.

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