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Dimension 8300 - AGP - DVD/CD - Hardware Disaster (May be Vista Related)

I am a senior (69) and this is my first post. I apologize in advance if my issue is too long or in the wrong category. I am writing on my new Studio Laptop. The laptop is not the problem.

My problem involves a four-year old Dimension 8300 that I've upgraded to 4 G of RAM. My AGP is an NVidia Model P162 (from info printed on the card). The only info on my video card that is listed in the computer manual is  AGP 8X.  

Previously, I was running XP Professional with no problems. Recently, (after a complete backup of my old system and settings) I upgraded to Vista Ultimate (SP 1). The initial installation went fine. The trouble started when I decided to add a new monitor to the mix.

I purchased a new Acer Monitor and plugged it in. It autoconfigured itself and worked fine. Then I decided to install the proper driver, which I downloaded from the Acer site. That was my first mistake, because, after a reboot, I was faced with the dreaded black screen. After messing around with it for awhile, I plugged in my old monitor and realized that the problem was with the driver of the new monitor. So, I uninstalled the driver and rebooted. Everything worked okay.

However, in my searching I realized that my existing graphics card was not compatible with Vista, so I downloaded some "Vista compatible" drivers from the NVidia Site and installed them. That was the beginning of the end. When I reboted, I got a blue screen system crash with a whole bunch of writing on it. To make matters worse, I can't boot from the installation DVD because my master drive (DSmiley Happy is a CD R/W, and the Bios will not let me boot from Drive E: (The Bios is also a couple of generations out of date.) Whatever I ultimately decide to do, I have to get this machine working because years worth of data are on there. I do have a plan, though, and I'm hoping that you can give me some feedback on that plan and/or suggestions for another strategy that might work better.

Here is my plan:

1. Replace my existing master drrive (DSmiley Happy with a DVD/CD drive so that I can boot from it.

2. Replace my existing graphics card with a BFG GeForce 7300 GT 512MB PCI-Express Video Card. (This is the cheapest one available on the Future Shop Website.

3. Update the Bios (if Vista will let me do this).

What do you think? Thank you in advance for any help you can give me.


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