Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fry's salesman "Our computers don't have PCI slots, but your PCI card will fit in a PCIe slot." Wrong on both

This is my ignorance as well as the Fry's salesperson, but I'm asking the questions and he's pretending to know the answers.

I have the Delta 44 audio interface which has a PCI card and breakout box. PCI cards are old now, but my computer that I use for recording is failing. I've reformatted, maxed out the RAM, and done all the XP performance tricks I could find, but it's still slow, and when editing video it stalls and locks up. It used to not do that. I've had to replace the power supply a while back when it was acting up, but now I'm done upgrading. I want a newer system.

The Delta audio interface was about $150. It comes with the PCI card and a breakout box. I don't want to upgrade that if I can help it. It works great.

So our other computer went out completely. We need two, as there are many times Lisa is working on the computer with work and school stuff and I am also working on audio, video, freelance, etc., so we need two working computers.

I went to Fry's and thought I would ask about the PCI dilemma I will soon face. I asked if there are any new computers that still have PCI slots. He said no. But, he said that PCIe has the same size slot, but usually the older PCI cards are too big to fit in the newer boxes. I scratched my head, but I wasn't buying a computer with recording in mind, but I knew I would be in the near future.

I bought a Dell desktop. It had a pretty big box, so when I got it home I opened it up and checked out the expansion slots. It had a few different sizes, but the text on the MB was so small that I couldn't really read the label on the slots. Two of the slots were clearly newer form factors as they were tiny. They had two others that looked closer to size of the old PCI slots.

I opened my old computer and I looked at, and measured, the PCI slot that my Delta PCI card was plugged into. I compared it to the slots in my new Dell and one of the slots looked to be identical.

So I start researching  whether I can plug a PCI card into a PCIe slot. The answer, a resounding NO. They won't physically fit, but even if the old card would fit, it wouldn't work.

I then think that I am SOL and will have to buy a new PCIe Delta card. I look at the specs online for my new Dell and the specs say that it indeed does have a PCI slot. I open my new Dell back up, get some readers (it sucks getting old), get a flash light, and once again try and ready the labels on the MB of the Dell. Well damn. It does indeed have a PCI slot. I even installed the old PCI card and drivers to confirm it will work and it does.

So for now, I can use my new computer with the old hardware I have. The Dell is a quadcore with 6 GB of ram, so it should work fine for both audio and video. Well, video my be another story as I don't know about the onboard video on the Dell vs whats in my old computer. But I'll find out.

So my Fry was just talking out of his ass. He was a nice guy, and I wish him all the best, but if I didn't do some research I could have spend a lot of money on some unnecessary hardware.

Live and learn.

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