Changed the mounting bracket from the shorty to the standard-length one, and put the card in. Vista picked the "Standard VGA" driver and insisted that was the best driver for it, bar none, and the refresh rate was so low I could watch it redraw the screen.
Of course a driver disk was included with the card. It contains drivers for XP, Vista, and 7, and the driver install program for Vista is 130 MB. After a bunch of fiddling and cantankerousness, the computer booted up with the new video card installed.
Encouraged, I double-clicked on the WoW icon. The installer came up as is normal, and I clicked the "play" button.
Machine locked up.
Unplugged and rebooted, then decided to have the machine run the Windows Experience Index thing so I could see how much faster the new card is.
Machine locked up.
In both cases it locked up the same way: hard drive stopped making noises and the monitor went dark. Do you know what that means?
...specifically it means that the power supply doesn't have enough mojo to run the motherboard and the hard drive and the video card. When the video card is doing ordinary Windows stuff it's fine, but the instant you crank up the GPU the whole thing craps out.
The specifications page for the card say "minimum 250W power supply" is required but supposedly the power supply is good for 250 watts. Do I honestly think the power supply in a $51 case--especially one this pretty--is actually capable of supplying 250W of power on a continuous basis?
Apparently it's not. With El-Hazard on and sitting next to me I can feel the hot air coming off the power supply, and that's just when running Windows Explorer. Big surprise that any extra power draw whatsoever makes the thing crap out. It's probably the power supply protecting itself from being overloaded: "Whoa! I'm not nuclear powered, here!"
It's annoying, but there isn't much I can do about it.
So what's next? Well, I could go get a standard ATX case with a big power supply that'll run everything. It would be bulky, but it shouldn't cost more than $60 or so. What's Pricewatch say? Heck, two minutes and I found one for $35 shipped, with a 350W power supply. If that's not enough extra oomph, what can you do? Go with a 400W or 450W for a few bucks more, it looks like.
Right now I'm going to let it be, though. I don't have the stomach for spending another $40 on this little project at the moment.
It's a bit discouraging, but it's a minor technical glitch and I can overcome it by buying more parts. And those parts won't even cost a lot, really. I just don't feel like messing around with it. *sigh*
The original project was to build a torrent box for as little money as possible. The current project is to take the original project and upgrade it to play WoW tolerably well for--again--as little money as possible. But "as little money as possible" looks to double the investment I have in the system.
That's not hard to do when the parts to build the silly thing only cost $136. (That post says "$116" but that was before I had to spend $20 on a SATA DVD drive.)
Currently I've got $226 into the machine but it still can't play WoW. Assume $34 for a case with a better power supply and I'm at $260, which is still damned cheap for a machine that can play WoW.
Assuming it does, because my only real worry is that the motherboard is crapping out and not the power supply. The mobo has to power the video card, and if the mobo's bus power drivers are weak--but let's not borrow trouble. It's more likely that the power supply simply cannot pump out enough electrons to run everything.
I could probably test this theory by taking the ATX power supply from Jurai (the old P3) and using it to power El-Hazard. That's a beefy power supply from a name-brand manufacturer--or at least it has their imprimatur--so if I were to do that and the thing still crapped out then I'd know what my problem is.
Eh? "Just replace the power supply you doofus"? The problem with mini-ITX cases is that their power supplies aren't standardized the way ATX ones are. You can't just go buy one and swap them out. But I'll look into that.
Nothing worthwhile is accomplished easily.