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total newbie need help hardware, memory, program advice

Guest

I am hoping someone can help me to figure out if my computer can handle flight sim and train sim programs.

I have a four year old computer (Dell Dimension) that kids to use strictly for pc games. Here is what I found out about my system: OS - Windows XP, Processor Intel Pentium III 590 MHZ, Memory 254 MB Ram, Direct X version 9.0, Free space 6.68 GB, Intel 82810 Graphics Controller.

My 5yr old really wants flight and train simulator programs but I don't know if the system can handle it and what other components I should get (joystick, yoke, etc).

Since he is so young I don't need the latest and greatest but I'd like to get something good. I was looking at Microsoft 2002 or 2004 flight sim. Can I just buy the game and play or do I need a graphics card? Do I need a joystick or yoke and if so a USB connecting one?

Please help - I'm so confused.

Pro Member Trainee
crash_deplane Trainee

A 590 MHz Pentium III with only 256 MB of RAM isn't going to do much for Flight Simulator, even if you can scare up an old copy of FS 2000 or FS '98. You might be able to play FS 2000 at minimum resolution, but your RAM will be limiting you. Playing flight simulators on slow computers isn't fun; they are hard to control and visibility is poor because you have to turn the scenery way down. Even my 800 MHz Pentium III with 512 MB of RAM was pretty slow playing FS 2000. FS X will definitely not run on your computer, even if you have the necessary DVD-ROM drive.

Pro Member Chief Captain
Tailhook Chief Captain

Anonymous wrote:

I am hoping someone can help me to figure out if my computer can handle flight sim and train sim programs.

I have a four year old computer (Dell Dimension) that kids to use strictly for pc games. Here is what I found out about my system: OS - Windows XP, Processor Intel Pentium III 590 MHZ, Memory 254 MB Ram, Direct X version 9.0, Free space 6.68 GB, Intel 82810 Graphics Controller.

My 5yr old really wants flight and train simulator programs but I don't know if the system can handle it and what other components I should get (joystick, yoke, etc).

Since he is so young I don't need the latest and greatest but I'd like to get something good. I was looking at Microsoft 2002 or 2004 flight sim. Can I just buy the game and play or do I need a graphics card? Do I need a joystick or yoke and if so a USB connecting one?

Please help - I'm so confused.

I agree that 256MB of RAM is cutting it thin but assuming that your 5yr old won't really notice the difference for a while, FS2002 (Standard Edition) should run fine on low settings.
If your child gets bored with FS2002 due to the lack of action, you might consider a Combat Flightsim such as Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator II (Pacific Theatre). It can be lots of fun and excitement and in Easy Mode even a child can score.

Yes, you will need a Joystick. Don't go overboard there, the more sophisticated ones will be too complicated for your child to use. This also applies to the Yoke. IMHO a Yoke would be an overkill at this stage.

Guest

Ok - I am really not that computer smart but I was thinking that the 254 mb RAM sounded low too. We just had the windows XP installed at Best Buy along with an additional 128 MB of memory. When I was searching my computer for DirectX I found this:

Processor: Intel Pentium III, ~590MHz
Memory: 254 MB RAM
Page file: 119 MB used, 505MB available
DirectX Version: DirectX 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)

I guess I'm not sure what that line about page file meant. Do you think that after the upgrade in Memory from Best Buy I really only have 254 MB?

Pro Member Chief Captain
Tailhook Chief Captain

Indeed, if Best Buy recently added 128MB of RAM that means you had only 128MB prior to that, so now you have 256MB.
However, as you have a Dell with an Intel 82810 Graphics Controller, an educated guess would be that you have no graphics card as such, but a graphics chip instead which is integrated on your motherboard.
Because those graphic chips don't have their own memory, they draw it from your RAM. Which in turn means that you actually have less than 256RAM at your disposal.

Re the DirectX - 9.0c is the most recent version so you're up-to-date in that department.

Guest

Ok - so I asked my husband and he thinks the 254 is right. So I guess I should look at the older progams. I guess the only other option is to get an external memory to add right?

Pro Member Chief Captain
Tailhook Chief Captain

Anonymous wrote:

Ok - so I asked my husband and he thinks the 254 is right. So I guess I should look at the older progams. I guess the only other option is to get an external memory to add right?

It's actually 256. To my knowledge there's no such thing as external memory - if there is, it's so obscure that you're probably asking for trouble just looking into it. Better staying on the well trodden path Wink

If you wish to add memory, you have to find out if your motherboard has any vacant slots - I doubt it but can't be sure. If you only have a total of 2 memory slots, let's hope the motherboard can support 256MB modules -- the next size up from 128MB modules.
Then... depending on the type of motherboard, it might or might not support a single module of 512MB of RAM. But based on your statement that the comp is quite old, I doubt that.
However, to make sure how much, what type of and how many modules of RAM your mobo supports, it's best to look at the DELL site or at the Pentium site seing that it's a Pentium mobo.

Guest

Thank you for your assistance. I think I'll get the Microsoft 2002 professional program and leave the memory alone. If his system really struggles with it I'll either give up or consider letting him have it on my computer. I don't think my husband wants to spend much more money on his system.

Guest

Thank you so much for your help on this. I don't think my husband wants to invest any more money on his old pc. I was thinking of getting Microsoft Professional Flight Sim 2002. If it does really poorly I'll give up. I was also wondering about a train simulator and have seen several that would be fun for him but they mention a graphics card. Am I right to assume I don't have one of those? How much do they run and can a novice install it?

Pro Member Chief Captain
Tailhook Chief Captain

Anonymous wrote:

...but they mention a graphics card. Am I right to assume I don't have one of those? How much do they run and can a novice install it?

I don't think you have a graphics card per se. Keep in mind though that often when they mention a graphics card what they really mean is that your PC can actually display graphics / pictures. This is left over from the Dinosaur age when only some very new computers had that ability. Silly but true.
Digressing: Often a piece of software will claim that you need a soundcard to run it -- same thing -- what they really mean is that your computer must be able to produce sound and you have speakers or headphones so you can hear it.

To recap: many brand computers such as DELL don't have a souncard or a graphics card but instead have integrated sound chips and graphics chips on the motherboard.
I haven't owned a brand computer for a long time so I can't speak from recent experience... but I believe that with the newer brand computers you can actually add a graphics card. In most cases though you won't be spoilt for choice as you'll have to settle either for a proprietary card or one by a manufacturer that is somehow affiliated with a company such as DELL. If a graphics card can be added to your PC (the best way of finding out is the DELL site or the site of the maker of the motherboard - Intel in your case) whether the job is easy or difficult depends very much on the enclosure of the PC.
Basically, if your PC is inside a tower, it's pretty easy because you'll have sufficient space inside to move around.
If instead of a tower you have a desktop enclosure/case it could get tricky because you're already restricted by lack of space. Having said that, if your motherboard indeed acommodates for a graphics card - if someone else can install it, so can you. It's not that difficult.
These days when you buy a new GFX card you'll get a diagram of some sort with it that shows you how to install it.

The price -- it shouldn't break the bank. But as I mentioned you might be restricted with your choice, so that's the first thing you have to find out.

Train Simulators: I've never owned or used one but from what I've been reading, Trainz Railroad Simulator is supposed to be much better than its Microsoft equivalent. Trainz even has a 2006 edition where on the other hand (from memory) Microsoft have stopped the production of their Train Sim. But you'll find verification in this regard on the net -- I'm hoping I'm not telling you lies here.

Guest

Thank you so much. You have been really helpful. I have a tower system and have installed other things like a dvd drive, and usb ports on it. I'll start with the software and see how good it is without adding anything else and if needed and able - I'll look into another card down the line.

Pro Member First Officer
mossy First Officer

you can get external memory, but not ram i think only the other one (cant remember what it called i think its rom) I have a 250gb external hard drive - basically a huge usb flash drive.

Pro Member Captain
Steve (SpiderWings) Captain

Hi,

Just wanted to say that I only have 256 RAM also and I'm not unhappy with FS2004 on it. The computer is newer than yours (2004 here) and maybe the graphics is better. Perhaps in the chips like previous post mentioned.

My 5-year old grandson took the controls the other day and did a fairly good landing of a Ford Tri-motor at San Francisco which is a fairly busy area. I had the traffic at 50% and some of the scenery settings in the middle range. The point is he had a good time with it on this old computer.

It might be that flying faster aircraft might be a problem. But I land 747's and B-2 bombers all the time. One thing that I found recently was that I was able to greatly improve my skills on the Piper J3 Cub which takes a real sensative touch on the stick while taxiing and landing. But I managed to get pretty good at it on this computer. I believe that exercise probably tested my system's ability pretty well.

I guess the experence might be a lot better with more RAM and a better graphics card. I may find out in the future. But just wanted to let you know my experience. Bottom line is I've been delighted with FS2004 and have been using flight sims since 1987.

Good luck.

Guest

Wow thank you for that information. I may look into the 2004. My husband's boss said he has one that he'll give us if he can find it. Free is always better and I'm sure my son won't care much about quality of picture. He just wants to see the planes and try to fly them. Now to find a joystick.

Pro Member Captain
Steve (SpiderWings) Captain

Anonymous wrote:

Wow thank you for that information. I may look into the 2004. My husband's boss said he has one that he'll give us if he can find it. Free is always better and I'm sure my son won't care much about quality of picture. He just wants to see the planes and try to fly them. Now to find a joystick.

Free is good. However, I think it was around $25 last time I checked prices on it. I paid $54 for mine new.

Joystick - paid $65 at Walmart 2 years ago for a Logitech Wingman Force 3D
I'm happy with it. I don't use the force feedback to the fullest because it was kinda intense. Others here might have some good words on what is a good joystick.

TOP COP Guest

Anonymous wrote:

My 5yr old really wants flight and train simulator programs but I don't know if the system can handle it and what other components I should get

No disrespect to you but a 5 year old won't get the complexities of Flight Simulator. I would get Flight Simulator 98 from Wal-Mart for $10 and let him have fun. It will run just fine on your computer and your child won't be able to tell the difference. In a month, they'll be interested in something else anyway.

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