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Old 11-03-2013, 12:24 PM
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How do you tell if your computer has a sound card?

I bought a rebuilt computer, recently.

I tried adding plug-in speaker, but they don't even register as plugged-in.
And no sound.
So...How do I tell if my computer has a sound card?
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Old 11-03-2013, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
I bought a rebuilt computer, recently.

I tried adding plug-in speaker, but they don't even register as plugged-in.
And no sound.
So...How do I tell if my computer has a sound card?
Sound comes in two flavors, sound cards, and onboard. If your rear audio plugs are mixed in with the USB and or network ports, its onboard sound.

If your audio plugs are in one of the expansion slots, you have a sound card.

To make it more confusing you may have both
Old 11-03-2013, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by drachillix View Post
Sound comes in two flavors, sound cards, and onboard. If your rear audio plugs are mixed in with the USB and or network ports, its onboard sound.

If your audio plugs are in one of the expansion slots, you have a sound card.

To make it more confusing you may have both


OkaYYY y...how do I get my brand new speakers to work?
Old 11-03-2013, 12:50 PM
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How many sockets do you have that a speaker can plug into? If it's only one, then your computer might use the same socket for both input (like a microphone) and output (like a speaker), and you might have to go into the settings to change which it treats it as. What operating system and version do you use?
Old 11-03-2013, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
How many sockets do you have that a speaker can plug into? If it's only one, then your computer might use the same socket for both input (like a microphone) and output (like a speaker), and you might have to go into the settings to change which it treats it as. What operating system and version do you use?
Windows XP.

There seems to be two sockets, one for mike & one sound.

I've matched the color-coded sockets.
Old 11-03-2013, 01:03 PM
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Check Device Manager to see if the sound card is active, or if it shows as an "unknown device." The difference will be whether the correct drivers are loaded.

If there are no drivers loaded and the card is not active, you can let Windows try to find the right ones, or pull the card and go download the *EXACT* drivers needed - emphasis because for things like Creative there are dozens of card models and then a card sold as one model might actually have five or ten revisions - with no compatible drivers between them.
Old 11-03-2013, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
Check Device Manager to see if the sound card is active, or if it shows as an "unknown device." The difference will be whether the correct drivers are loaded.

If there are no drivers loaded and the card is not active, you can let Windows try to find the right ones, or pull the card and go download the *EXACT* drivers needed - emphasis because for things like Creative there are dozens of card models and then a card sold as one model might actually have five or ten revisions - with no compatible drivers between them.
Where do I find Device Manager?
I looked in the Control Panel, but no dice.
Old 11-03-2013, 01:13 PM
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Right click on the "My computer" icon, Properties, Device Manager.
Old 11-03-2013, 01:18 PM
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I found something called "Audio Codeics".
Is that it?
Old 11-03-2013, 01:25 PM
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You can do it from a Command Prompt:

Click Start

Click Run

You'll get a text box. type this in:

devmgmt.msc

Hit Enter

That should do it.





You can also get there from the Control Panel by clicking on the following buttons and tabs:

Start
Control Panel
Performance and Maintenance
System
Hardware
Device Manager
Old 11-03-2013, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nachtmusick View Post
You can do it from a Command Prompt:

Click Start

Click Run

You'll get a text box. type this in:

devmgmt.msc

Hit Enter

That should do it.





You can also get there from the Control Panel by clicking on the following buttons and tabs:

Start
Control Panel
Performance and Maintenance
System
Hardware
Device Manager
No-no...I found the Device Manager.

Is "Audio Codeics" the sound card?
What will the card be labeled as?
Old 11-03-2013, 01:30 PM
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I can only say for Linux, so for XP find the equivalent settings:

in KDE I can either look in System Settings, go to Multimedia and look under Audio Settings, which lists the devices. About 4 seconds.

Or I can log into the Control Center, click on Hardware Information, wait for it to probe, and read the sound profile. About 2 minutes.

Or if it's a desktop, open the case.
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Old 11-03-2013, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Claverhouse View Post
I can only say for Linux, so for XP find the equivalent settings:

in KDE I can either look in System Settings, go to Multimedia and look under Audio Settings, which lists the devices. About 4 seconds.

Or I can log into the Control Center, click on Hardware Information, wait for it to probe, and read the sound profile. About 2 minutes.

Or if it's a desktop, open the case.
i really don't understand most of that, and I wouldn't know what a sound card looked like.
Old 11-03-2013, 01:46 PM
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Well, in the first case my sound card is listed as CMI[long number] Audio Analog, with the built in card greyed out.

( The choice of card is set in the BIOS --- at which you could also look to see whether a card is installed. )

In the Hardware option it says: X-Plosion 7.1, which I can see is a separate card.

In the case a card would be installed into one of the PCI slots probably.



Audio Codecs perhaps refers to the codecs installed which are files that translate other files, like mp3s, into sound, independently of any card.
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Old 11-03-2013, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Claverhouse View Post
Well, in the first case my sound card is listed as CMI[long number] Audio Analog, with the built in card greyed out.

( The choice of card is set in the BIOS --- at which you could also look to see whether a card is installed. )

In the Hardware option it says: X-Plosion 7.1, which I can see is a separate card.

In the case a card would be installed into one of the PCI slots probably.



Audio Codecs perhaps refers to the codecs installed which are files that translate other files, like mp3s, into sound, independently of any card.
I don't understand one single word.

Let's try this another way--when I open Device Manager, what am I looking for? Will it be listred as "Sound Card"?
Old 11-03-2013, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
No-no...I found the Device Manager.

Is "Audio Codeics" the sound card?
What will the card be labeled as?
I believe that Audio Codecs is the software. If there is no card listed in the device manager, you may not have one. There should be something in the Control Panel that has to do with Hardware and Sound. If you open it, there may be a button that's turned off.
Old 11-03-2013, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
I don't understand one single word.

Let's try this another way--when I open Device Manager, what am I looking for? Will it be listred as "Sound Card"?
On my Window 7 system, it is listed under "Sound, video, and game controllers".

The quickest way to get to Device Manager, incidentally, is to hold down the Windows key and press the Pause/Break key. IIRC, in XP that takes you straight there; in Win 7 it takes one more click.

Last edited by njtt; 11-03-2013 at 02:17 PM.
Old 11-03-2013, 02:21 PM
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Quote:
Will it be listred as "Sound Card"?

No. It will be listed as [NAME][LONG NUMBER], like say as a made up example: Creative-5555555.

I fired up an XP virtual machine in VirtualBox: under Control Panel look for Sounds & Audio Devices. Then click Hardware. Anything with AC'97 is onboard audio: Google any name you don't recognise.
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Last edited by Claverhouse; 11-03-2013 at 02:22 PM.
Old 11-03-2013, 02:21 PM
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I'm beginning to get the notion that I have no sound card.
I will go have a discussion with the seller of this item.
I am debating whether or not to bring a Blunt Object with me, for the discussion.

I warmly thank each & every one of you for your help & patience with me!
Old 11-03-2013, 03:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
I'm beginning to get the notion that I have no sound card.
Because you have a place to plug in speakers, I find this highly unlikely.

No one's asked this yet, and I apologize in advance for the basicness of it, but are your speakers plugged into a wall outlet in addition to being plugged into the computer?
Old 11-03-2013, 03:11 PM
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In the list of devices in Device Manager, are there any with a little yellow warning triangle and something like "Unknown Device"?

And, back in Super Basic Land... have you checked to see that the volume is turned up? Right-click on the little speaker icon in the task bar tray. Make sure all the volume settings are set at least midway, if not full. (You can tweak them later).

No speaker icon in the tray? You don't have a valid sound card, with drivers, installed. Windows won't know it has a sound card until it sees valid drivers.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 11-03-2013 at 03:12 PM.
Old 11-03-2013, 03:11 PM
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if there is a jack/socket to plug a speaker/headphones in then the sound card function in on the motherboard, this is onboard sound.
Old 11-03-2013, 03:50 PM
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"Audio codecs" is definitely NOT what you're looking for. These are software modules that handle different audio formats like mp3, wma, etc., and are way upstream of the audio hardware.

If you have no entries under "Sound, Video, and Game Controllers", then you either have no audio hardware or it's not set up. The latter is *far* more likely, since most motherboards have minimal audio hardware built-in; additional "soundcards" or "audio interfaces" are added for better audio.

In Device Manager, try "Action -> Scan for hardware changes" and see if anything pops up for audio.

Also (though, if you have no audio devices registered, this is unlikely to be helpful), in Control Panel, look for "Sound" and click that. See if you find anything useful there. If not, tell us what tabs you see. I'm on Win7 and IIRC, XP is rather different.

Another thing to try is to open up your computer and see what's connected to the jack you're using. Usually, there's one panel attached to the big motherboard with all the connections for audio etc. If the mic & speaker jacks are on a separate slot, see if they're connected to a different board. Let us know what you see.

Finally, if there's a speaker icon in systray (usually, lower right corner of desktop), right click it and select "volume control" and fiddle with that.

Chances are very good that your computer has some kind of audio hardware, but for some reason it's not set up correctly. I can't remember the last time I saw a mobo without audio.
Old 11-03-2013, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Justin_Bailey View Post
Because you have a place to plug in speakers, I find this highly unlikely.

No one's asked this yet, and I apologize in advance for the basicness of it, but are your speakers plugged into a wall outlet in addition to being plugged into the computer?
Yes
Old 11-03-2013, 05:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
In the list of devices in Device Manager, are there any with a little yellow warning triangle and something like "Unknown Device"?

And, back in Super Basic Land... have you checked to see that the volume is turned up? Right-click on the little speaker icon in the task bar tray. Make sure all the volume settings are set at least midway, if not full. (You can tweak them later).

No speaker icon in the tray? You don't have a valid sound card, with drivers, installed. Windows won't know it has a sound card until it sees valid drivers.
No trianges, speaker turned up.

No speaker icon.
Old 11-03-2013, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Learjeff View Post
"Audio codecs" is definitely NOT what you're looking for. These are software modules that handle different audio formats like mp3, wma, etc., and are way upstream of the audio hardware.

If you have no entries under "Sound, Video, and Game Controllers", then you either have no audio hardware or it's not set up. The latter is *far* more likely, since most motherboards have minimal audio hardware built-in; additional "soundcards" or "audio interfaces" are added for better audio.

In Device Manager, try "Action -> Scan for hardware changes" and see if anything pops up for audio.

Also (though, if you have no audio devices registered, this is unlikely to be helpful), in Control Panel, look for "Sound" and click that. See if you find anything useful there. If not, tell us what tabs you see. I'm on Win7 and IIRC, XP is rather different.

Another thing to try is to open up your computer and see what's connected to the jack you're using. Usually, there's one panel attached to the big motherboard with all the connections for audio etc. If the mic & speaker jacks are on a separate slot, see if they're connected to a different board. Let us know what you see.

Finally, if there's a speaker icon in systray (usually, lower right corner of desktop), right click it and select "volume control" and fiddle with that.

Chances are very good that your computer has some kind of audio hardware, but for some reason it's not set up correctly. I can't remember the last time I saw a mobo without audio.
No speaker icon, Device manager, no results,.

Ain't no way I'm opening up a computer. I have neither tools, nor training to mess with that.
Old 11-03-2013, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
if there is a jack/socket to plug a speaker/headphones in then the sound card function in on the motherboard, this is onboard sound.
BTW--the headphone jack doesn't work. I tried, with headphones. Nothing.
Old 11-03-2013, 05:31 PM
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What are you using to test whether or not you have sound? A couple of years ago we went through something similar with Twickster. After a long thread getting into all sorts of obscure possible problems, none of which seemed to help, it eventually turned out that she was testing for whether or not she had sound exclusively by trying to play Youtube videos, and she had all videos on Youtube muted by default. There was nothing wrong with her computer's sound system at all.
Old 11-03-2013, 05:38 PM
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Well, something is definitely bogus and I don't see any way to diagnose it without someone competent on PC guts taking a look.

Many cases have headphone/mic jacks built into the front that do nothing unless connected to the proper point on a motherboard with onboard audio, or a sound card. That you say you have audio jacks on the rear is puzzling - the only thing I can thing is that the correct driver is not loaded, or you have an audio-jack plate that isn't connected to anything internally.

To recap:
  1. Look for a "sound device" in Device Manager.
  2. Look for a flagged "unknown device" in DM.
  3. Go to Control Panel/Sound and poke around to see if you can find the volume controls etc. for an audio output device.
  4. None of the above? You don't have a sound card, or motherboard sound, or it's faulty at the hardware level. Devices always show up somewhere if they are connected and active; if no drivers are loaded Windows sees them but doesn't know what they are - hence "unknown device."
Get someone with a little experience to peek into it. It's a really simple thing if you know what you're looking for/at.
Old 11-03-2013, 05:43 PM
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Are you using the headphone jack at the front of the computer or the one at the back? Take a look at the back and make sure your speakers are plugged into that one. It will have a green surround. I'm assuming you have stereo speakers here. This is just in case the socket on the front is broken.

Motherboard sound systems are usually made by Realtek, so can you go into Device Manager and look for Realtek there?

There is another possibility that occurs to me: do you use a HDMI cable to connect your monitor to the computer? Because HDMI also carries sound and your PC maybe sending the sound to the monitor. So check your monitor for speakers or an audio out.

For reference, in Device Manager I have a section labelled Sound, video and game controllers. Under that there are three entries: Nvidia High Definition Audio (see above), Plantronics Wireless Audio (my headphones), and Realtek High Definition Audio (the onboard chipset).

If you have both Nvidia High Definition Audio and Realtek, plug your speakers into the back of the PC, then go into Control Panel and click on Sound. Under the Playback tab, select the Realtek device and click Set Default. Then click on Configure and Properties in turn to set up your speakers properly.
Old 11-03-2013, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
[*]Go to Control Panel/Sound and poke around to see if you can find the volume controls etc. for an audio output device.


What you want to do there is direct the sound to the correct outputs.
Probably disable the incorrect outputs so they don't keep getting "chosen".

The reason there would be "invisible" outputs would be.
* HDMI carries sound.. HDMI video drivers these days acts as a sound card ... it might be sending the sound the monitor, which is sending it to a 3.5 mm socket ?

IF you have a video card with HDMI output, thats probably a sound card ... and its a hidden trap in that you may have sound all sorted out, and then when you plugin in an HDMI screen.. all of a sudden sound is gone, with no warning ? ...

* Digital outputs on the card or motherboard. Fibre optic or coax connectors



So there is a complete list

* device manager .. check for yellow, red devices and check under "sound" for disabled devices.
* "sound" widget in control panel .. Can also disable sound hardware and also steers the sound inputs and outputs to the correct hardware .. basically you want to disable the others and enable the one you want


* Windows volume control.
* Typically Each application then has its own volume control
* Hardware volume controls... Mother's black laptop had a black dial with black writing .. my point is that it was hard to find.

Last edited by Isilder; 11-03-2013 at 05:53 PM.
Old 11-03-2013, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
Ain't no way I'm opening up a computer. I have neither tools, nor training to mess with that.
You just need a screwdriver. Usually just a couple of screws, pop the side of the case off and have a look at the bit where the headphone/speaker jack is. If you could tell us what's there, or better post a pic, then that'd be useful.
Old 11-03-2013, 06:53 PM
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Some older systems had BIOS settings that could be used to disable on-board hardware. For instance, if your computer came with a built-in serial port but you wanted to install a card with a better serial port, you could turn off the on-board one, and Windows or other OSes wouldn't even see it.

It might be worth checking your BIOS settings (look for a message when booting saying what key to press). See if there's anything there about sound being disabled. Maybe your computer used to have a fancy sound card, but whoever rebuilt it didn't include that, and never reenabled the onboard sound.

If you can tell us the computer's manufacturer and model number (perhaps on a label on the back or bottom of the computer), you might get more specific help.
Old 11-03-2013, 07:05 PM
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Click on Start - Run and type in dxdiag . When it finishes loading, click on its "Save all info" button which writes out a file dxdiag.txt . Open that in Notepad, looks for the section that starts [sound devices]. Paste that section (only) in a post here.

Last edited by Askance; 11-03-2013 at 07:06 PM.
Old 11-03-2013, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
No speaker icon

There you go.

You have sound hardware (which you know because of the presence of audio jacks) but Windows doesn't recognize it. If you know the model of the motherboard (the largest circuit board inside the case, to which everything else is attached) finding the missing audio drivers will be easy. Open the case- you can't break anything by doing so. Look for a big number-letter combination printed somewhere obvious on the motherboard. It'll be something like AV8X-X. Bring that combo back here and we'll link to the driver download on the manufacturer's website.

This is assuming you have onboard sound. If the audio is an add-in card (which will be obvious once you open the case), the solution will be similar. Find a name/number, drop it off here.
Old 11-03-2013, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
Well, something is definitely bogus and I don't see any way to diagnose it without someone competent on PC guts taking a look.

Many cases have headphone/mic jacks built into the front that do nothing unless connected to the proper point on a motherboard with onboard audio, or a sound card. That you say you have audio jacks on the rear is puzzling - the only thing I can thing is that the correct driver is not loaded, or you have an audio-jack plate that isn't connected to anything internally.
Don't forget Bosda mentions in the OP it's a rebuilt computer. Who knows what components are missing.

Don't worry about opening the case, Bosda, I'm not computer (especially not hardware) savvy, either, but have certainly opened the cases on a few computers to add memory (after googling what the heck to even buy and what to do with it once it got here). It really would help to open the case and see if there's anything attached to the plugs in the inside. I think it would be obvious to you once you look. You can also Google for instructions, I've learned some very useful stuff, and you really won't break anything by just taking a look and/or a picture.
Old 11-04-2013, 12:42 AM
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Hi Bosda.

Do you plug the speakers in on audio jacks in the front of the machine, or the back of the machine?

If the audio jacks are on the back of the machine, can you tell me where they are in proximity to the other connectors (e.g. USB, Ethernet, etc)? Is there a chance you can snap a digital photo and post it somewhere for us to have a look?

Someone said that we think you have audio hardware because there are audio jacks. I'm not entirely convinced because it is possible to have a case that provides audio jacks (often on the front) that you have to connect to headers (pins) on a sound card or motherboard.

If we know the jacks are either on the motherboard, on a sound card that's plugged into the motherboard, or simply part of the case, we'll have an easier go of this.
Old 11-04-2013, 01:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Claverhouse View Post
I fired up an XP virtual machine in VirtualBox: under Control Panel look for Sounds & Audio Devices. Then click Hardware.
One last super-basic thing to look for. After clicking on the "Hardware" tab, try clicking on the "Volume" tab (if it's there). There should be a button labeled "Speaker Volume". If it's there, click on it and check all volume sliders. Move them all to maximum volume and try generating some sound.

Then you can check that the system is making sounds by clicking on the "Sounds" tab. Click on any event that has a speaker icon to its left. The file name of that sound will appear at the bottom of the panel. To its right is a button with a small triangle on it. Press that to play the sound. If there is a problem, you may get some kind of error message and a way to start XP's sound problem diagnosis (which may or may not be helpful).
Old 11-04-2013, 01:14 AM
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I didn't read the entire thread, but if you just take a picture of the back of the computer and post it to the internet we can tell you if you have a sound card a lot quicker then all this back and forth. It's pretty easy to tell just by the location of the jacks.
Old 11-04-2013, 05:32 AM
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I've already done most of what is in this Thread, that I do understand.

And I can't understand half of what you are telling me! And yes, I have taken University course in computers.

I've made a decision--I'm getting a paid geek to work on this.

Again, I thank you all.

Last edited by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor; 11-04-2013 at 05:33 AM.
Old 11-04-2013, 10:06 AM
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Here's another suggestion. If you have a nerd friend, this is a 6-pack-worthy investigation. The result might be "I can't tell" but it's worth the few bucks to try. Or a neighbor with a teenage kid, in which case beer isn't advised.

The only tool required to open a case is usually a Phillips-head screwdriver or a small nut-driver, but if you're hesitant, go with your gut instincts on that! Don't be alarmed if your nerd friend does. There are "user-serviceable" parts inside!
Old 11-04-2013, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
I've made a decision--I'm getting a paid geek to work on this.
Before you go paying someone to help you with this, go back to whoever sold you the computer. Ask them to address the issue.
Old 11-04-2013, 10:26 AM
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You may just want to get a USB sound card.
Old 11-04-2013, 03:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
I've already done most of what is in this Thread, that I do understand.

And I can't understand half of what you are telling me! And yes, I have taken University course in computers.

I've made a decision--I'm getting a paid geek to work on this.

Again, I thank you all.
Bolding mine..

And you have never opened a computer tower? Huh?
Old 11-04-2013, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by GusNSpot View Post
Bolding mine..

And you have never opened a computer tower? Huh?
At my college a class in "computers" was little more then "Here's how to double click", "Here's how to use the University's library system/Blackboard", "Here's how to use a word processor". These weren't people that had any interest in cracking open cases, they just wanted to be able to navigate Windows well enough to not have to call their kids just to help them find the AOL icon.
Old 11-04-2013, 04:32 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 5,294
Quote:
Originally Posted by GusNSpot View Post
Bolding mine..

And you have never opened a computer tower? Huh?
A couple of decades ago, a BSci CompSci degree was essentially mathematics, focused. Not much to do with hardware at all. Getting inside a computer was beneath most of the Department's professors. The most important hardware was a chalkboard, followed by a card punch. (Yeah. I'm that old.)

It always bugged me, because I love electronics, and theory is just theory until you can instantiate it in software/firmware/hardware. But for those guys, "theoretical" was the highest compliment you could pay.
Old 11-04-2013, 04:56 PM
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Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 19,913
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post

I've made a decision--I'm getting a paid geek to work on this.
Very smart decision. Or take it to the nearest computer shop. They'll fix you up in a jiffy, and it shouldn't cost you a bundle. Faster than trying to understand what we-all are telling you.
Old 11-04-2013, 05:50 PM
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Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Dogpatch/Middle TN.
Posts: 30,652
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
Before you go paying someone to help you with this, go back to whoever sold you the computer. Ask them to address the issue.
I will.
Old 11-04-2013, 05:52 PM
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Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Dogpatch/Middle TN.
Posts: 30,652
Quote:
Originally Posted by GusNSpot View Post
Bolding mine..

And you have never opened a computer tower? Huh?
No.

I never said the local training was much good.

Hence, my ongoing limitations with computers.
Old 11-04-2013, 05:53 PM
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Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Dogpatch/Middle TN.
Posts: 30,652
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
At my college a class in "computers" was little more then "Here's how to double click", "Here's how to use the University's library system/Blackboard", "Here's how to use a word processor". These weren't people that had any interest in cracking open cases, they just wanted to be able to navigate Windows well enough to not have to call their kids just to help them find the AOL icon.
OOOHH!

Did we go to MTSU together?
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