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hardware basic run-through


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#1 chromebuster

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 10:03 PM

Hi folks,
I want to say that when it comes to software and programs, security and malware, and just fixing general issues around me, I'm pretty good at it. But when it comes to figuring out hardware specifications, what drives are compatible with what models, forget it. I have a few questions regarding this. I would like to know what each of these terms mean, what kinds of things they do, and what cards they hold. X-16, X-8 PCI, PCI Express, and DDR3 versus the other types of RAM. One of my goals is to learn how to, at least in a tower system, manage my own hardware so that I don't have to continuously rely on sighted individuals to help me replace, add, or remove parts. and considering my next potential Dell model, it might be essential someday.

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#2 Broni

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 11:52 PM

You can find almost anything using Google.

PCI cards:
http://www.acme.com/build_a_pc/pci_types.html
http://www.ehow.com/list_7410797_types-pci-slots-there_.html

RAM types:
http://www.computermemoryupgrade.net/types-of-computer-memory-common-uses.html

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#3 Platypus

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 03:06 AM

X-16 and X-8 PCI will necessarily be PCI Express, since the original PCI didn't have these distinctions. PCI Express is a serial bus, and the X figure is how many lanes the slot has. So X-16 delivers the highest performance and will commonly be used by a video card. It mightn't be so easy for a vision impaired person to distinguish between X-16 PCIe and the older AGP slot, they're similar in position and size. Color coding is not always consistent.

A mainboard will often have an 8-X or 4-X slot or slots. But since 4-X is fast enough for most applications that don't demand 16-X, such as sound or a hard drive controller, I'm not aware of there being a lot of 8-X cards. A 4-X card can be put in an 8-X or 16-X slot.

DDR3 is currently the fastest implementation of DDR RAM, and since the modules are the same physical size as earlier versions, they could be hard for anyone with restricted vision to distinguish. They have different arrangements of notches, which are easy enough to identify on the memory sticks, but harder to identify and match (especially by touch) on the motherboard slots.
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#4 chromebuster

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 07:43 AM

Thanks Broni for those links. I just haven't had time to look anything up since it's finals week for me here at college, so I've been really busy. And not to mention some prankster managed to pull the fire alarm waking us up, so yeah ... it's been wonderful. But I had a question for you. Since X-4 and X-16 slots seem to be able to fit video cards, which slot would be able to accomodate a sound card? I ask due to the fact that my next Dell model (hopefully the T110 Server model), doesn't have a sound card by default, and though I'm hopefully getting an external one for Christmas, it might just be easier to install one myself rather than to get ripped off by Dell for them to give me one. Blindness or not, they'll consider anything like that custom according to a friend of mine. What do you think? Thanks.

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#5 Platypus

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 10:07 AM

A sound card may only be a X-1 card, which will also work happily in a X-4 slot. People have reported that they've found motherboards with dual X-16 slots for SLI video don't accept a 1-X card, as they're set up with some interlock system for running the video cards, and it only seems to work with them. The single or four lane cards are supposed to work normally in X-8 or X-16 slots.

Edited by Platypus, 13 December 2010 - 10:08 AM.

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#6 chromebuster

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 11:12 AM

So then would you recommend me just ask Dell if sound cards are supported in those models? It'd be stupid if not, but I'm sure that I'm not the only one who needs sounds at all times, right?

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#7 Platypus

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 06:11 PM

It's not really a case of sound cards being supported or not, if the board has one or more 4, 8 or 16 lane slots, a single or 4 lane sound card can be expected to work fine. The only exception I have seen is some instances where people said they could only use a video card in the dual X-16 slots on SLI capable boards. A sound card would still work in a smaller slot.

It could be awkward for someone if they wanted to use a X-1 sound card, X-4 drive controller and a single video card in a system with two X-16 SLI slots, and a single X-4 slot. The sound card or drive controller might not work in the second X-16 slot. But it's only a potential consideration with SLI mainboards.

Edited by Platypus, 13 December 2010 - 06:12 PM.

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#8 chromebuster

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 06:33 PM

Thanks folks. Looks like I actually have it easier than I thought since my older computer that needs replacing is a Dell Dimension E510, so I can just take the card out of there and use it with the new model, right? I'm pretty sure that won't be too difficult since almost all sound cards seem to be PCI these days, isn't that correct? And I know that the T110 model has at least one of those slots free. Correct me if I'm wrong though, as I don't do well interpreting system specs. The only issue now is external speakers, as the ones that come with a dimension can't be placed on the T110 since it doesn't have a headphone port. That's why I say thank God for the external sound cards that are out there.

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