Finally getting a better PC- Dell Optiplex GX280

Discussion in 'Computer Games and General Discussion' started by granville, May 1, 2009.

  1. granville
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    Member granville GBAtemp Goat

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    Ok first of all, don't laugh at this pathetic PC or whatever. Hear me out first. First of all, I was previously using two Dell Latitude C610 laptops. They were almost identical, except for a few differences. Here were their specs:

    Warning: Spoilers inside!

    So once you look at my specs, you'll actually see what an amazing update this new system is. It's a desktop. Below are my new PC's specs:

    Dell Optiplex GX280
    Pentium 4 2.8 Ghz with Hyper Threading
    800mhz FSB
    2GB DDR2 memory
    Intel Integrated Media Accelerator 900 (up to 128MB memory leaching off the system memory)
    160GB HD


    So, almost 3 times more raw CPU speed (not including the fact that it's a step up from P3 and has HT tech), 4 times the memory (8 times if you consider my other laptop and it's the newer DDR2 kind), and the FSB is much better as well. I'm even convinced that the gfx card is probably a bit better. I doubt anyone can stick up for my old Radeon!

    Now, let me say a few more things about this. I bought it on Ebay from a large company for less than $100 (about $70 without shipping). This is really cheap for me and it's really the only amount I can afford now. One of my old laptops broke about a month back, which is why I haven't been as active on GBAtemp or gone on IRC in a while. I have also been unable to work since I have an internet job, so my mother chipped in and helped me purchase it (finally seeing the value in my being employed). So, know that although this PC may be old and certainly not at all up to today's standards, it is far better than my old ones, is very cheap, and should get most jobs done that I need done. I was going to have to buy an older model with Intel Extreme Graphics 2, but thank god I was able to get this one for even cheaper and better.

    So, know that I am poor and struggling at the time before you start to make fun of my purchase. It's not a dual core, it doesn't have a real graphics card, and it's old. I also have not received the PC yet, but it will arrive some time soon. Hope it works at all for starters (professional refurbished model). I also don't like Dell, but my hands are tied since mom chose it and is paying for most of it. I'd appreciate some help on some questions now-

    1- Basically I know that everyone hates integrated graphics with a passion. I'm still under the impression it's better than my old 16MB Radeon Mobile card. Judging from the integrated card's model and my amount and type of memory, how well can I play some more modern games (2006-present) and can you name some examples? I can tell you that I don't mind cutting corners by lowering the effects and resolution either near the bottom or to the absolute lowest. I'm no graphics-whore and can easily deal with games being on the lowest quality settings (I've been playing games like Jedi Academy like that for years on the lowest settings).

    2- Could my PC emulate PS2 at all? The developers of PCSX2 are a little vague on the requirements since many people seem to have beefy specs (dual cores, fancy graphics). Can I play any games at all just using my integrated card. I don't mind fiddling with speedhacks, lowering the graphics to the lowest settings, or whatever. I can handle that if they can play at all on here.

    3- Can I finally get decent speed N64 emulation? I've been fiddling around with N64 emulation for quite some time (about 5-6 years now) and have gotten many games running full speed such as Mario 64, Zelda OOT, and Banjo Kazooie. Some of the more elaborate games run a bit sluggishly for me though even on lower resolutions. Banjo Tooie, Donkey Kong 64, Conker, Paper Mario. Those games are known to slow down at times on some of the lowest graphical settings. Will I finally be able to play these games decently? I already got full or almost full speed using PJ64.

    4- Can I emulate Dreamcast games? I hear nullDC is pretty speedy even on low speed single core machines. [​IMG]

    5- Perhaps it would also be good to ask which systems I can emulate at all. I've gotten old systems like SNES, PS1, Genesis, and GBA systems working pretty well on my old laptops. I realize that Gamecube and Wii are probably 100% out of the question as they need dual-quad cores. Any other systems I missed that you think I could play reasonably now?

    6- I'd like to ask about a few specific games I'd love to finally try out. Psychonauts, Lego Indiana Jones, Beyond Good and Evil. Could I run these at all? I actually got Lego Star Wars 1 and 2 to boot up and play at extremely slow speeds on my old laptops using a program called 3DAnalyze. It fakes pixel shader and vertex shading/T&L support using the CPU speed I suppose. It forces the program to boot at any rate but at slow speed and some graphics glitches. Hell, I even got Star Wars KOTOR to boot and run somewhat on my old laptop (at speeds varying from 5FPS-25FPS depending on the action onscreen) Like I said, I really am totally ok lowering game effects and resolution some or all the way. All that matters is the gameplay. I have never been a graphics whore and am just interested in playing the games.

    I will likely eventually get a new graphics card to put in, but I just can't at the moment no matter how cheap. Literally every dollar counts. I'm lucky I was able to get this PC. At the moment, I'm not looking for being told off for buying a crappy PC or telling me that integrated GFX cards suck, I know that 100%. I just want some ideas on what sorts of games or emulators I can play using the system. Thanks in advance for any help anyone can offer. I'm actually really excited that I don't have to deal with 9-year old speed anymore regardless of how bad you might think the PC is!

    I might edit or respond with more questions later. Please be understanding that I am now going to have to adjust to a new generation of technology and learn what I can or can't do on the new system. Thanks again for your patience and help for a now-new-PC noob. [​IMG]
     


  2. PokemonV

    Newcomer PokemonV Advanced Member

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    Wall of text :wtf:
     
  3. granville
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    Member granville GBAtemp Goat

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    Then why respond to it if you don't have anything relevant to add? I was posting how I got a new PC and would like some help with some questions about it. If you don't have anything to say about it that could help me, don't post here. >_>
     
  4. velocity37

    Member velocity37 GBAtemp Regular

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    Heh, I know those PCs. I fixed one and resold it.

    1. Don't count on playing anything decent at any resolution. My old X1300PRO and 2.8Ghz dual-core AMD could only run Fallout 3 on lowest graphics settings in the smallest windowed resolution. You might be able to play some games from around 2004 though, like Half-Life 2, but even then don't expect to play at great graphics settings.

    If you could invest in any graphics card at all, you'd have much more luck with gaming. It looks like the GX280 has PCI-Express, so you can get a really cheap graphics card that would help you run games better. The previously mentioned Radeon X1300 card can be had for as little as $10 on eBay at the moment. The X1300 will run 2004-ish games pretty well.

    2. I wouldn't count on PS2 emulation. PS2 emulation is at the point where there are games that can be run without major flaws, but you have to have a beast of a machine to get a playable framerate for all but a very few.

    3. N64 emulation should be better than what you're used to, but you really need any graphics card to optimally run N64 games. I ran all N64 games flawlessly performance-wise on my 1.6Ghz single-core athlon machine with my X1300PRO.

    I've never tried Dreamcast emulation. I have two real Dreamcasts [​IMG]

    5. There's really not much other than Dreamcast that is emulated with decent support after PSX/N64. You could maybe try NDS emulation? Though compatibility is still very sketchy, as is speed for a lot of games.

    6. If you pick up a cheap PCI-Express graphics card, you shouldn't have too much issues.

    So really, all I'm saying is pick up a $10 PCI-Express graphics card to compliment your new machine. I understand that you're broke, but if/when you can scrounge up $10, your PC gaming experience will be phenomenally better.
     
  5. Joe88

    Member Joe88 [λ]

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    those are the same computers that my school has in the student study lobby's/lounge

    anyway

    1) its gonna be very limited, and I do mean "very limited" with emphases
    alot of games will not run, I cant give you a list of which games will work
    system requirements lab will do that for you http://www.systemrequirementslab.com/referrer/srtest
    that has to wait until you get the machine though

    2) im fairly sure its not gonna work good at all
    as you said, it requires beefy specs to run
    a very low framerate most likely, not playable area

    3) yes N64 sure work fine no problem, I got the n64 emu running almost on a P3 @ 550mhz
    and P4 has no problems running
    I mainly used 1964 due to PJ64 tends generate graphics error's depending on the game

    4) Ive never used it so I cant answer you about the DC emu

    5) the answer is most likely no for the GCN emu, PS1 emu should run pretty much perfect depending on the emu (CVGS ran perfect on my p3)
    MAME should work good also

    6) again check system requirements lab about these games to see where your specs rate for these games
    the games are not that taxing on the hardware, so should run on the lowest settings


    depending if you have the slim line model or the bigger desktop version
    your graphics card upgrade will be limited, low profile cards and I think the machines ship with a 200-300w PSU

    anyway its a nice upgrade from those laptops no doubt [​IMG]
     
  6. granville
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    Member granville GBAtemp Goat

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    Thanks for the responses. I do have the fatter model of the Optiplex, so adding in a new graphics card shouldn't be an issue if I have to do it. Thanks for telling me about that model of the Radeon. I did indeed find some of them for about $10 on Ebay. When I get my new PC, I'll try some games and emulators on it and see how well the integrated card performs. If it sucks, I'll buy a new one. Can probably scrounge up that amount to buy it! Cheers and thanks so much for the answers! [​IMG]
     
  7. p1ngpong

    Supervisor p1ngpong Legit Boss Harold

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    Let me just add Ive tried a little dreamcast emulation, not much, but yeah it should run some games quite well. Maybe not intensive 3D type games, but 2D ones should run ok with a little tweaking.
     
  8. Joe88

    Member Joe88 [λ]

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    the x1300 is really outdated now, 3 generations behind current cards
    theres no support for them anymore with windows 7 either

    you would be be better off saving for a 4670/4650 or so
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16814102838


    forgot to ask, does it have an AGP slot or PCI-e slot?
     
  9. granville
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    Member granville GBAtemp Goat

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    I'm pretty sure it's PCI express. That's what I read in the manuals for the system online. I guess that's good since I could potentially get the best card available if I could afford it (I assume).

    And I've no problem with an old outdated card if it can play newer games on lower gfx settings. $52 is actually too much for me right now. Not even sure if I can afford $10 at the moment. I was just given a new PC because mom was sick of me not working. Theoretically though, if I got that Sapphire Radeon you posted, could I run PS2 games or anything? Or is it my CPU that is the holdback here?

    Also, I doubt I will get Windows 7. I can't even use Windows Vista since mom might force me to share this one every so often. She won't have anything to do with Vista or 7 as it's not compatible with her jobs or something. Maybe they'll switch technology soon. Heard Vista and 7 perform like crap anyways compared to XP. I'm not into visual bells and whistles, but I will likely have to upgrade soon just because M$ likes to outmode their shit.
     
  10. nicman000

    Newcomer nicman000 Advanced Member

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    If you went out and got an awesome graphics card you would just be wasting your money.
    With that PC, any awesome cards would be bottlenecked.
     
  11. kjean

    Member kjean GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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  12. granville
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    Member granville GBAtemp Goat

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    It should be noted from that article that transform and lighting seem to be missing from the integrated card. Some games require that to even boot up or run at all. Lego Star Wars and other Lego games for example, required both pixel shader and T&L. Psychonauts and Beyond Good and Evil are two more similar games I believe. So by itself, I could likely not play the games like that.

    The thing that makes me worry less than I should is the listed program- 3D Analyze. It's a program I've been using for several years now to emulate pixel shader caps and T&L. It basically is a program you launch like an emulator front-end, load a game EXE into the load box, and set graphical settings before launching the game. It works really well for people who have enough speed and memory, but their graphics card doesn't support certain special effects. I have had success running the Lego Star Wars games using this program shockingly using my old laptops. It just fakes or supplements the CPU speed to provide pixel shader support or whatever. The game ran at rates in the range of 10-60FPS, but that was due to my CPU being slow and lack of memory or even a decent GFX card. If I can get those kinds of games to run AT ALL on my old clunkers, I should have no problems getting them working on a PC at least 3-4 times more powerful.

    It's actually a really cool program 3DAnalyze. I wish most games would come with features like it for those of us with less powerful PC's. Some gamers like myself don't mind cranking down the extra shading or filtering if only we could play the game. At least my new integrated card HAS pixel shader support. My old Radeon didn't even have that.

    Oh and one more thing, there are these excellent unofficial Radeon drivers called Omega Drivers. I'm not able to use some of the new versions since they removed support for my ancient mobile radeon, but I'm willing to bet that community has added support for Windows 7, or will someday. We'll see. I think it's just Vista so far.

    Oh and my new PC should be shipping today or tomorrow since we are paying today. Probably tomorrow. But then, maybe not until Monday since it's not technically a business day. At any rate, I guess you can somewhat understand my excitement just because it's infinitely better than what I have. I'm pumped! If I can't play any games decently though, I'll see about getting a cheap graphics card.

    EDIT- I found something very interesting over on the PCSX2 forums. Apparently someone got Kingdom Hearts 2 working perfectly on a system even worse than mine (except for the graphics):

    http://forums.pcsx2.net/thread-4256-post-35600.html#pid35600

    They cite that the game is totally playable and I assume full speed on a single core P4 2.6ghz with 1GB DDR(1) memory and a cheap AGP gfx card. I have a 200mhz advantage over that and twice the memory. In fact my memory is the DDR2 kind, which I hear is faster than DDR1 anyways. All I would need is a cheap graphics card! That's pretty darn cool as that was one of the main games I wanted to be able to play! [​IMG]

    In fact, I should have looked over at the PCSX2 forums anyways, so sorry about that. Nice to know that my PC won't be TOO terrible at playing stuff I want if I can get a cheap newer graphics card.
     
  13. pEpz

    Newcomer pEpz Member

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    feel like sending you some money
     
  14. granville
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    Member granville GBAtemp Goat

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    Haha, that's nice of you to say so, but things are getting a little better for me now. [​IMG] I've found a couple of old toys I didn't know I had anymore and have listed them on Ebay. Found a rare Lego train that has gotten past $70 on bids so far. [​IMG]

    Don't worry about me at all. I'm ok right now. Just needed a new cheap PC to work and wanted some ideas about what else I could possibly do on it.

    And I'm hearing more and more that you CAN play PS2 games on even a 1.7 single core PC with integrated graphics at playable rates. You just need to put on speedhacks, frameskip, and lower the extra graphical enhancements. Voila, someone on Emuforums got Kingdom Hearts working on an even crappier PC than mine! Somewhere around 30FPS too! XD I'm pretty happy and pleased. Hope the PC arrives soon. Also hope the thing runs ok.
     
  15. Minox

    Supervisor Minox Spytech Employee

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    If you get a decent GPU for it later on you might even play some of the newer PC games available. The stationary computer I'm using atm has similar specs to that of your new computer with the exception that it runs at 3Ghz, has 3GB RAM and is equipped with a Geforce 8600GT and it can play most games that were created 2008 or earlier and even a few newer games.
     
  16. Splych

    Member Splych GBAtemp's Lurker

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    That PC you are gonna get is just like mine. Only thing different is the CPU ...

    Anyway, I also have a graphics card, but I think it is like 64MB or something xD. All I know is that it is small so here is what I can answer out of your questions...

    1. I am playing Cabal. It just got released last year and am playing it perfectly with not problem. But maybe the graphics card boosts up performance but all I know is that when I play there is no lag. It is a 3-D Game... Graphics are good, so I find it decent. Simply 2-D Games such as MapleStory run perfectly with no lag, and I was running it without a graphics card.

    And well... That is the only question I can really ask. For me, the most important thing you need to do once you get your PC is get a decent graphics card. The one I am using it... Nyeh. I wanted to buy myself a 512MB at least, but at the moment, I need to have a better reason of getting it. Upgrading RAM isn't mandatory, but I guess it is still a good idea. I am planning on upgrading to 4GB to see the difference in performance for games. And also got a DVD RW drive. Don't wanna get too specific so yea...
     
  17. Joe88

    Member Joe88 [λ]

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    well adding a ton of ram probably wont see much increase at all

    even the newest operating systems can barly touch the 4GB barrier unless you are doing rendering/ 3D modeling, photoshop, and making videos and such
    for newer PC you should aim for 4GB though to be on the safe side
    older PC's like the one mentioned are fine with 2GB, there shouldnt be any problems
     
  18. granville
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    Member granville GBAtemp Goat

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    I certainly can't see myself needing more memory. I don't plan on installing Vista or Win7. Just XP, which I hear can run comfortably on 64MB or so. 2gigs should be fine, even with an integrated card leeching off of it.

    PC should be here by Wednesday since it shipped today and is tracked for arrival by the 6th. I hope at least it runs for starters but it should be fine as it's a refurb. I don't really like Dells, but my hands are tied here anyways. All in all, I'll probably end up being blown away even though most of you have systems many times more powerful. Remember that I am going from a processor one third as fast, and having HT technology plus the fact that it's just a pentium 4 instead of 3 should help. And 4 times the memory AND the memory is the faster DDR2 kind. 6 times the front side bus speed. I'm 100% sure the RPM speed of the hard drive is far faster, meaning faster access and loading. And I still am convinced that even that integrated graphics blow my old Radeon out of the water. All in all, I expect to be impressed in one way or another.

    I appreciate all the help I've received. I did indeed find some posts on the emuforums (Ngemu) that state that you CAN indeed get playable speeds for some PS2 games using computers even slower than mine. So that's interesting to say the least. Several people have reported this and the emulator is still in development. It could still get faster with every new release and optimized for older PC's.

    I also forgot another thing. Can I possibly overclock this CPU? If so, how much could I safely do this at? I'll have to read up on how to do this if I can. Never tried it before. Any advice would be appreciated.

    EDIT- I read for a minute. I may not be able to overclock ANY dell system. Not sure yet.
     
  19. Joe88

    Member Joe88 [λ]

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    the motherboard is custom made for dell
    and the BIOS are locked to dell specific bios

    you cant overclock it

    just a note
    pretty much all manufacturer PC's have locked bios unless advertised as extreme gaming (I think the XPS has unlocked bios and such)
     
  20. velocity37

    Member velocity37 GBAtemp Regular

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    You might be able to overclock the CPU if the BIOS allows for it. You'd have to monitor temps (speedfan) whilst running torture test programs (prime95, superpi, etc). You're not going to gain much, as has been said by myself and many others, your main bottleneck is the integrated graphics.

    When you get the computer, be sure to tell us the max output of the power supply.

    Also, you might want to give it a thorough checking (12-24hrs) with Memtest86+ to diagnose any bad RAM modules before they give you problems.
     

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