As all 1 and 1/2 of you know, I came into a small windfall the other day - which got me thinking of doing some computer upgrades (since the wind didn't fall far enough to replace my computer outright). But, being ever-cautious me, before I got into that, I wanted to test my bad video card to see if it was bad, because I never believe myself the first time around. So I tested it and it was bad, indeed.
Bummer. Double-bumming was the fact that with the bad card back inside, the hard drives began spinning but there was no system beep and no evidence of the computer actually booting up. It was like Wow, my hard drives are spinning, that's nice. That and a quarter won't even buy me the paper. Of course the monitor remained pitch-black dark throughout this non-event.
So I took the card to the only two tech stores in town but it's so old neither one carries it anymore. I might as well have wheeled in a mainframe and said hey guys, got another one of these? The fact that my card is not just extinct but also, gasp, AGP, made the reps at Best Buy laugh and laugh - after one of the sales reps googled on an iMac trying to figure out what it was, at which point I lost all respect for everyone in there.
How I wish we had a Frye's...
From there I went to a local computer shop and just bought another graphics card, after a long day in which I explained to everyone - one rep at Staples, where I started out, three at Best Buy, where I went next, and two techs at the computer shop - that my computer would not boot up with the graphics card installed. The only person to buy a clue? Staples guy. He said that like my motherboard, duh, might be shot. I can't believe that out of six people - two of them experienced techs - Staples guy was the only one who got it right. Like the chefs at your local steakhouse not knowing how to cook your Filet Mignon, but with the counter guy at McDonald's, it comes out perfect every time.
Not that my video card isn't shot - it is. It failed to light up the monitor on the relic-y computer in the shop that, gasp, also takes an AGP video card, but the system booted normally otherwise. So I bought another graphics card, simply to rule out with Actual Proof In Hand that it's the new graphics card at fault. It isn't.
My latest theory is the chipset on the AGP slot (not the entire motherboard, obviously - but I'll need to replace the entire motherboard just to fix this) is shot. The new graphics card works - but the screen keeps scrolling at correct res (1400 x 900 - I also picked up a bigger monitor on the cheap) and was so dim I had to tilt it backward to see the picture. To doubly test my theory, I unhooked the bigger monitor and hooked the smaller monitor up, but it too became so dim I had to tilt it backward. So I took the card out, took the smaller monitor off, and hooked the bigger monitor up to the 32MB on-board video. Now I'm stuck with a bigger display set to 1280 x 1024 res, when I need 1400 x 900 and everything graphic-y online looks smushed and blurry, which is causing me significant eye strain.
A computer purchase isn't in my budget right now (new or used) but I've been looking at low-end used computers online anyway, thinking I'll save myself from installing another motherboard (I have a 20-page PC Mag walk-through to work with, but I've never replaced a motherboard and I absolutely don't wanna start now) and just buy another computer with more powerful graphics. Like there is any such thing at my price range - which is so low it's cringe-worthy - there is not. So I'm thinking, since I don't want to sink what little money I have left into someone else's underpowered mess that probably won't have the right video card, either, that I'll take the computer with me when I bring the video card back on Monday and have them do the motherboard themselves.
I still love this computer, I just can't deal with it anymore.