Test driving a second hand desktop

January 16, 2013

After 20130116-202002.jpg talking and reminding about them for several weeks, I finally took home two old desktop towers offered by a friend at work when he heard about my motherboard failure. I wasn’t sure if either of them would turn out to be much good for me, but wanted to at least take a look and find out. They’re both Dell models, and the cream-colored one was the older unit, so I haven’t tried to do anything with it yet.

I hooked the black tower up as soon as I got it home – connecting it to the flat-screen monitor, power outlet, PS/2 keyboard, USB mouse, and ethernet router. I was pleased that it booted up with Windows XP immediately – the antivirus started complaining, and the mouse took a little while to come online, but that didn’t seem too bad. I opened Internet Explorer to go to Windows Update.

No 20130116-202013.jpg Internet. I checked the network connections – there were several entries, most of them for the 56k phone line modem, and nothing for the Ethernet. Next, I checked Device Manager, and found out that the Ethernet adapter could not start.

It took a little while to sort that out. I went over to the netbook to google and sort through all of the links to ethernet adapter drivers, some of which were dead, and some of which were filled with garbage software that I didn’t want.

Eventually I didn’t even need new drivers. I uninstalled the existing driver, told Device Manager to scan for new Plug and Play hardware, and it more or less froze the system. But when I forced it to power off and then booted up again, the Ethernet installed itself very happily.

Overall, 20130116-202028.jpg I’m not really impressed with the system, though. The CPU is decent, but the hard drive none too big at 40 gigs or so, and the RAM is kinduv pitiful. Also, neither of the two USB ports, (both in the back of the tower,) support USB2.0, and they seemed flaky on top of that. I was trying to copy some of my friend’s family photos to a flash drive to give back to him tomorrow, but the drive just blanked out in the middle of the copy. Even after I unplugged it and plugged it back into the other port, it still showed 0 bytes free of 0. (It appears to still be fine when plugged into other computers though.)

All in all, I’m starting to think that I don’t need a desktop computer, not in the next few months at least. But test-driving this old tower has helped me to be sure of that. It’s making me appreciate the performance of my Toshiba laptop, even! 😉


My kinda-new gaming desktop!

December 29, 2011

I’ve had my windows XP tower desktop computer for nearly seven years now, but with the addition of an extra stick of RAM, it kinda meets the minimum requirements for a half-decent gaming system. Accordingly, I have signed up with Steam, and made my first purchase – the ‘Left 4 Dead’ and ‘Left 4 Dead 2’ bundle, both on sale today!

Left 4 Dead 2 is still downloading. (I started with that one instead of the original.) But I’m looking forward to playing. So what other games should I look into?

System Specs:
2 GB ram
Windows XP home
Pentium 4 CPU, 3 GHz, Dual-threaded.
441 gig on 2 SATA hard drives, currently 29 gig free
NVIDIA GeForce PCX 5300 (That’s the graphics card, right?)


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