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Upgrade? And if so, what?

Discussion in 'AMD Thunderbird' started by Freewheeling, Aug 23, 2006.

  1. Freewheeling

    Freewheeling Guest

    Hi folks. I've got some problems watching video and DVDs on my system
    and I'm wondering what I need to do to get watchable performance? I
    like to use the system to watch DVDs because of the high resolution of
    the digital screen, and because I have the computer set up so I can see
    the screen when I do my indoor rowing. What had originally been some
    minor problems have lately become severe... though I'm not sure why.
    The video was never stunning, but it used to at least be watchable.
    I'll describe the problems below, but first here's how my system is

    System parameters:

    Motherboard: ASUS A7M266
    Processor: AMD Athlon 1400 MHz
    RAM: 2GB
    Video Card: ASUS AGP-V7100 DVI SDRAM v44.03 (GeForce2 MX Chipset - no
    Sound Device: CM18738/C3DX PCI Audio Device (this is the onboard audio)
    DVD Player: Toshiba DVD-ROM SD-M1502
    Monitor: Samsung Syncmaster 205BW (Digital 1024 x 768)

    (Note: Video, audio, USB, and wireless card all use IRQ 9. I have
    replaced all of the fans on the inside as well as the heatsink and the
    power supply, within the last year. Processor runs at about 47C. )

    Symptoms: When listening to sound alone it tends to periodically
    "stutter". This appeared to get worse after I installed the Belkin N1
    wireless card. Video, especially when using DVD (and to some extent in
    general) is irritatingly jerky. The jerkiness when watching a DVD movie
    on the Toshiba isn't just mild, but can make some movies nearly
    impossible to watch. And the jerkiness corresponds to sound
    interruptions that make it all but impossible to hear what's being said.
    I use Cyberlink PowerDVD software to watch DVDs. Whether I use
    Version 4 or Version 7 doesn't seem to make any difference to
    performance. As soon as the DVD starts to run and there's something on
    the screen besides a still image, I notice that the hard drive is
    accessed continuously, and the access seems directly related to the
    sound and video faltering.

    I normally run in 32-bit color mode, but switching to 16 doesn't smooth
    anything out. Just as jerky and stuttery either way.

    Question: Short of buying a completely new system, which changes would
    tend to produce adequate video/DVD performance? New sound and/or video
    card? Video memory? New DVD Player? Some adjustment to things
    assigned to IRQ9? Is there some way I can use that 2GB RAM to
    substitute for the hard drive access? Any other ideas?

    BTW, is it possible to upgrade the processor in this system, and would
    that help?
    Freewheeling, Aug 23, 2006
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  2. I'm no expert by any means, but a couple things stand out for me:

    Is your DVD playback using software or hardware decoding? Hardware
    decoding would be preferable, and would use less of your system's
    resources. If your video card has no onboard memory, that would increase
    the burden on the rest of your computer to process the video data.

    What processes are running? Hit CTRL-ALT-DEL and see what Task Manager
    shows you. You'd be amazed how many programs that aren't active will
    still have processes taking up resources. If you're unsure about the
    nature of a particular process, just type the complete name of the
    process into Google, and it will almost always point you to a
    description on the first page of results.

    Are you routinely checking your computer for adware/malware using Spybot
    Search&Destroy and Ad-Aware? Both programs are free, and can find and
    eliminate the vast majority of nasties that might have installed
    themselves on your system. Given the recent increase in the severity of
    your problem, I suspect this might be part of it.

    Well, whaddaya know? War WAS the answer, after all. Go figure.

    A lone Micronaut lost in a world of Star Wars action figures,
    (The Excessively Parenthetical) Geena-- Worrier Princess

    "Reciprocity... is the key to every relationship."
    --LAPD Capt. Dudley Smith (James Cromwell), in L.A. Confidential

    "Andy Warhol once said that everyone would be famous for fifteen
    minutes. The unfortunate corollary is that everyone will also appear in
    a Freddie Prinze, Jr. movie for fifteen minutes."

    "This is like driving a Rolls Royce, naked, in mink underpants."
    --Tony Bourdain

    "You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it
    helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons,
    but at the very least you need a beer."
    -- Frank Zappa

    "I'm not sayin' it's the best thing in the world FOR ya; I'm just sayin'
    it's the best thing in the world."
    -- Alton Brown

    "The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is
    that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes,
    wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their
    prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet
    this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all
    the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in
    all history."
    -- Robert Heinlein
    Geena Phillips, Aug 23, 2006
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  3. Freewheeling

    Wes Newell Guest

    Yes, It's possible to upgrade the CPu, but I don't think that's your
    porblem unless it's the lack of SSE instructions on the Thunderbird 1400
    CPU. A newer video card (non MX) may help. Also, splitting those irq's up.
    But first, get a copy of one of those Linux distros that run from cd (like
    Knoppmyth) and boot it and play the DVD with it and see if it plays ok.
    That will verify it's not a hardware problem and I really don't suspect it
    is. It doesn't take much in the way of cpu power to play a dvd. I imagine
    you probably have some rouge software running, but it could be the irq
    sharing. those are the 2 spots I'd check first.
    Wes Newell, Aug 23, 2006
  4. Freewheeling

    Freewheeling Guest

    First, regarding Geena's thoughts I scan for that pretty routinely using
    Adaware and Search&Destroy, and I just finished a scan using Trend
    Micro's online process, although that's the only time I've been online
    in months. However, my antivirus software (PCCillin2000) seems impacted
    by something. It might be that it just hasn't been updated with a new
    "engine" in several months, but I've been offline during that time so
    it's hard to see how a virus could have gotten in. The only contact
    with the outside has been through my thumb drive from work, and that's
    scanned pretty regularly. Plus, no virus problems at work. The
    background monitor for PCCillin still runs, but I can't open the main
    program. I'm going to try an installation of some new software from a
    CD, and if that gets halted or starts acting strange I'll know something
    is up.

    There are a lot of things running in the background, but I stopped most
    of them (except essential services) and it didn't seem to make a lot of
    difference. Far more likely that there's some IRQ interaction. Problem
    is I don't know how to reassign IRQs. I tried assigning one of them in
    the BIOS, and the computer wouldn't boot. It might also be time for a
    new video and even audio card, but I'll try the IRQs first since that's
    the cheapest. Well, actually the antivirus stuff is cheapest.

    Problem is, I don't have any idea how to reassign the IRQs. Is there an
    online tutorial, or something?

    I do have a Linux distribution, although it's a few years old: Lycos
    Desktop/LX, which is now defunct. But it won't play the CDs, possibly
    because it doesn't have the necessary codexes, and I can't update since
    Desktop/LX is now defunct. The one possibility left is that the DVD
    software in Linux has been assigned to the wrong region, so I might
    fiddle with that a bit.
    What are the limitations on upgrading with that MB? What are the
    options? Would I need to change my power supply? I think I recently
    went from 300 to 350 amps, so it's a little more robust than originally,
    but it supports all the necessary voltages.

    A newer video card (non MX) may help. Also, splitting those irq's up.
    Thanks, will let you know how it goes.

    One more thing, I noticed that with the DVD image reduced in size the
    faltering wasn't nearly as bad.
    Freewheeling, Aug 24, 2006
  5. Freewheeling

    Wes Newell Guest

    Normally you can assign IRQ's via the bios somewhat. So start there. IRQ's
    are usually assitgned to the pci slots in the MB. Some bioses may or may
    not let you reasssign them. You'll have to check yours.
    You can download about any versio you want and burn the cd, assuming you
    have a cd burner.
    You would not need a new PSU. 300W is plenty for any K7 cpu. The only
    limitation you have with that MB is the FSB speed. It's limited to 133MHz,
    so you can run any /266 model XP cpu. Even with an older board I had that
    was limited to 100MHz (Abit KT7) I ran a 2100+ clocked at 24x100 for
    2400MHz. When AMD started hard locking the multiplier it presented
    problems, so you need an older one that's not locked, an XP-M, or have to
    modify a newer XP to make it an XP-M. But off the shelf, any /266 model
    will work. If you have never upgraded the bios, you probaly should first
    to the latest. There's lots of info about upgrading the CPU in the My
    server link in my sigline. Another very informative link is this one.

    Less pixel movement that way. Maybe a newer video card is needed, but I
    still think it's a software problem or irq conflict. it doesn't take that
    much cpu/video power to display a standard DVD image. HD is a different
    story. It takes a lot to decode an HD (1080i, 19200x1080) mpeg2 stream,
    but the DVD is only 480i (576x480 IIRC).
    Wes Newell, Aug 24, 2006
  6. Freewheeling

    Freewheeling Guest

    Downloaded and burnt KnoppMyth R5C7. Not sure what to do with it. Can I
    just replace/overwrite Deskto/LX? That's not much good to me anymore.
    Thanks! The other thing I like about upgrading is that the tax charge
    for an "upgrade" is considerably less than for a new system. Just
    another way to stay ahead of the guhmint.
    Freewheeling, Aug 24, 2006
  7. Freewheeling

    Wes Newell Guest

    KnoppMyth? Is that what I said? I meant Knoppix. KnoppMyth is
    preconfigured to set up your system as a MythTV box. Don't run it unless
    you want to wipe out everything on your drive. Knoppix is linux that runs
    off the CD and doesn't use your HDD. With Knoppix, just set the CD as the
    first boot device and boot. KnoppMyth won't do you any good unless you
    have at least one TV tuner card and want to turn your PC into a HTPC. I
    sure am sorry about that. I use Knoppmyth for frontend clientsoff my
    mythtv server and just had it on the brain. It's Knoppix you want, or any
    of the other so called live CD that run completely from the CD and don't
    use your hard drive (unless you have a linux swap partition on it). If
    you've already installed Knoppmyth, you'll have to reinstall XP or
    whatever OS you were using. Knoppmyth won't play your dvd without
    another library installed unless it's an unrpotected dvd. if you have one
    of them it'll play it fine, or should. Wow, I'm really sorry for the
    screwup in names.
    Wes Newell, Aug 25, 2006
  8. Freewheeling

    Freewheeling Guest

    Oy. I got about halfway through the installation to where it had
    apparently saved the configuration information and backed out. I
    couldn't "quit" or even "go back" so the whole thing looked pretty
    shakey to me and I just re-booted everything. I was afraid that my XP
    box had been compromised, but it seems to work OK. Even the Desktop/LX
    seems to still work... so far.

    I'm not sure what KnoppMyth did though, so am still a bit worried. It
    may have found a section of my main drive that was free and partitioned
    it for the installation, possibly wiping out some data or something.
    I'd like to repartition everything so that I can wipe out that Lycos
    installation and use that for XP, but there isn't even a Lycos user
    group any more. Whoever bought them out just killed everything, and
    left all the users hanging. Bunch of jerks. Anyway, as a result I'm
    not to friendly anymore to Linux.

    BTW, I tried to update my BIOS but I apparently need to create a
    "bootable floppy" to do it, and don't think I can with any of the later
    Windows distributions. I'm not sure how to update, but the latest
    version for the A7M is 1007 and I have 1004 installed, so it'd be a good
    idea to update (if I can figure out how to do it).
    Freewheeling, Aug 25, 2006
  9. Freewheeling

    Wes Newell Guest

    It ask if it can wipe your disk and wrans you even after that before it
    starts. So if you didn't tell it to, it didn't. You are safe.:)
    if you already got a linux distro install, it should have what you need to
    watch a dvd. Linux programs for that include mplayer, xine, totem, and
    a few more. Check the multimedia menu. the only difference in Linux
    distros is manily packaging. They all use the same base linux kernel.
    AKAIK, WXP can delete the linux partitions.
    You can always overwrite that distro with another. just download the one
    of your choice, burn the cd's or dvd and install the new one right over
    the old one. Mandriva 2006 would be a good choice.
    Download Freedos.
    Wes Newell, Aug 25, 2006
  10. Freewheeling

    Freewheeling Guest

    Thanks. I downloaded the "disk image" but have no idea what to do with
    it. Do I need to run some Linux program that actually creates the disk
    from the image? It's funny how a lot of these sites leave out the most
    fundamental stuff. I guess I'm just supposed to know that... and I
    probably once did, but have forgotten.
    Freewheeling, Aug 25, 2006
  11. Freewheeling

    Freewheeling Guest

    Never mind, I did a little search engine research and found a utility.
    I even found a disk image specifically designed for flashing the bios!
    Freewheeling, Aug 25, 2006
  12. Freewheeling

    Freewheeling Guest

    OK, I've successfully updated the bios to the latest version. The next
    step is probably to shop for a new processor. So the max is 133Mhz X 25
    = 3Ghz+ ? Is that right? What's a good middling choice in terms of
    cost and ease of installation, as well as reliability, etc.?

    Regarding the original Video issue, I think I'll probably need a new
    card. I got a message after the system crashed while executing Google
    Earth that I'd either need to reduce the hardware acceleration of get
    the latest driver. But I have the latest driver. Well, maybe the new
    processor will help, huh?

    Thanks for all your help, BTW. I've left this in the microprocessor and
    thunderbird newsgroups, because the video folks probably aren't
    interested in this processor upgrade stuff.
    Freewheeling, Aug 26, 2006
  13. Freewheeling

    Wes Newell Guest

    Everything you need is here.


    fdos1440.img 30-Nov-2005 17:26 1.4M
    rawrite.exe 30-Nov-2005 16:03 14k
    readme.html 30-Nov-2005 16:03 6k
    readme.txt 30-Nov-2005 16:03 27k
    Wes Newell, Aug 26, 2006
  14. Freewheeling

    Wes Newell Guest

    The max multiplier on K7 cpu's is 24x. Your board will do 133MHz max
    without overclocking. they didn't make any K7 cpu's that would run that
    fast. I don't know what the CPU's are going for now, but you either want a
    Tbred B core (CPUID 681) or a barton core ( don't recall cpuid). you also
    want one that is not multiplier locked if you want to clock it higher. I'm
    giving my brother my old Athlon 64 3000+ tomorrow and getting back my old
    2100+ Tbred B core and MB.
    I've got an old Geforce 3 with 64MB of DDR ram sitting in the closet. Make
    me an offer, or look on ebay next week. I'm going to put a bunch of this
    stuff there.
    Wes Newell, Aug 26, 2006
  15. Freewheeling

    Freewheeling Guest

    Well, Knoppix didn't work. It gets to the end of the installation, and
    just starts intermittently "flashing" some stuff on the screen. I let
    it go for close to an hour, and it just kept flashing. Tried both
    version 4 and version 5, with the same result.

    Again, if I wanted to set up a system to play HDTV off of
    cable/internet/phone what would I need to get? A new hard drive
    probably, right? (I currently have 2 40 GB drives, but they'd obviously
    be unsufficient for TIVO.) A new CPU probably, also? And a new video card?

    I wonder why Knoppix behaves this way? Perhaps it's the same problem
    that I have with video? Some sort of intermittent problem? Some
    hardware conflict?
    Freewheeling, Aug 27, 2006
  16. Freewheeling

    Wes Newell Guest

    That's strange.
    For cable, you'll need a QAM capable tuner. Phone? (Fios maybe, don't
    know). Internet, you can forget for HDTV. 1080i broadcast take about 7GB
    per hour. 720p about 4GB per hour. SD only takes about 1GB per hour.
    Maybe that IRQ sharing you have.
    Wes Newell, Aug 27, 2006
  17. Freewheeling

    Freewheeling Guest

    I'm getting the Cable TV "triple play", with phone, TV and internet.
    I've ordered two converter boxes for regular TV, but thought I'd give
    HDTV a try. So all I need is a tuner card? Can I get that with video,
    and kill two birds?
    Freewheeling, Aug 27, 2006
  18. Freewheeling

    Freewheeling Guest

    I got this creature:


    (Used http://www.tinyurl.com to resolve wrap problem for long URLs)

    It will at least solve my DVD playback, although it didn't actually say
    it was QAM tuner capable. If not, I suppose I can bring it back for an
    exchange. But they only had three TV/Video AGP cards available, and
    this was the cheapest.

    Now, I suppose I'll need to upgrade the HD (if I intend to use TIVO) and
    the processor, in that order. I'd still like a more substancial hint on
    what to use as a processor. I just can't figure out what all the
    nomenclature is about. Can you just suggest something in the $60-$70 range?

    Thanks for all your help, BTW. Usenet is fantastic, as are you!
    Freewheeling, Aug 27, 2006
  19. Freewheeling

    Wes Newell Guest

    For regular cable, you don't want or need cable boxes for clear QAM. Just
    plug the cablke from the cable company into a QAM capable tuner card. you
    can get all cable channels except the encrypted ones. For those, and
    HD, you need a cable box that has a firewire output and you'll need a
    firewire input into the PC to record it. Since I've never had cable or
    sat (and never intend to), that's about the extent of my knowledge on it.
    If you just want OTA HDTV, all you need is a $25 HDTV (ATSC) tuner card.
    Your setup is going to be at least 10-20 times that.
    Wes Newell, Aug 28, 2006
  20. Freewheeling

    Wes Newell Guest

    IMO, you're wasting your money on crap like that. And no, it won't do QAM.
    And when NTSC is disconbtinued in Feb. 2009, it won't do much of anything
    except be a video card.

    What Tivo? I don't understand what you're saying. I dumped my Tivo and all
    my DVR's over 6 months ago. They won't record digital broadcast.
    AMD 754 Sempron 3100+.
    I think you're jumping into this too fast. Their are many many things to
    consider before buying anything. If you've definately settled on regular
    or HD cable, then that All in wonder probably won't even work for you to
    record. And there aren't any Tivos that will record cable HDTV. The S3
    should work if you can afford it whenever it's released. See last line in
    Wes Newell, Aug 28, 2006
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