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Upgrading and Networking: Help Required

I got my PC back from my IT-business mate today, and he was able to confirm that the problem is graphics-card related. He's tested it in other machines and the same problem happens. I need a replacement and I don't want to lose any grunt. My current graphics card, and the motherboard it goes into, are two or three generations behind, so to maintain performance I don't have much choice but to replace them - which means replacing the CPU also.

I discussed some plans, which also included 2GB RAM and a new hard drive, in my last posting. FamiliaGTX, who weighed in about my horrid luck with PCs, sent me a list of parts for around $250 cheaper than I was originally planning. Vickie also pointed out that I can get a 19" flat screen for around $350 from Big W nowadays, which is also tempting; I'd like to be able to get in closer to my rther cramped desk, and the huge 19" CRT screen I have right now keeps me at an arm-tiring distance.

My plans for Vickie and Brook have changed somewhat, though. As I can no longer hand my graphics card down to Vickie, there's not much point in a straight upgrade of her PC - so I'm thinking of getting her a laptop instead. A friend of ours in the states gave Vickie around $250 toward a laptop a few years ago and we've never had the chance to make up the rest of the cost until recently. From a browse of a few catalogues, decent-spec laptops are now at the $1,200 mark, very affordable.

If we go ahead with that option, Brook will inherit Vickie's PC, lock, stock and barrel. We know it's stable, and once I've transferred my data off my current hard drive I can put it in Vickie's PC for a total of 160GB. Plus, it glows blue. I'm pretty sure Karl's PC will be able to take the two 512MB sticks currently in my PC.

There's also something else that I'd like some advice on from the tech-heads in my reading public. I've already posted this over on the Atomic magazine forums, but the more help the merrier!

Our current networking situation is thus: At the front end of our house, in the computer room, are my wife's and my PCs, a Netgear WGR614 hub (5-port with wireless access point) and an ADSL modem (connected to the hub). At the other end of the house, in the living room, is an Xbox 360 and a Nintendo Wii.

There are three walls between the computer room and living room, plus some floor as the living room floor is lower than the rest of the house; this is enough to prevent the Wii (or a wireless bridge) from connecting to the wireless access point. At the moment, we have a single run of Cat5 cable going from the living room, under the house, to the hub so that the 360 can connect to Xbox Live.

The problems are that:
A) I'd like to get the Wii connected to the Internet.
B) If Vickie gets a laptop, we both would like her to have wireless access in the main room and backyard.

My first thought is to get another network hub, a non-wireless one, to replace the wired/wireless one in the computer room, then take the wireless hub downstairs and attach it to the other end of the CAT5 cable in the living room. I'd attach the Xbox 360 to it via Cat5, then configure it so that the Wii and any future laptop could connect wirelessly.

Then I start worrying about configuring IP addresses and such, not to mention the potential quirks of having two hubs on one network. Can any of you good-hearted, network-savvy folk point out any insurmountable issues and/or alternative solutions?

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Your network is currently a single switch with wireless capability, 3 PCs, and one console, plus your outbound connection to the internet through a modem? Is that correct?

Assuming it is, putting another switch in shouldn't be too difficult, but you have to remember your addressing scheme. Is the plan to have the xbox and wireless functionality available at one end of the house and the wired connections at the other end? If so, you should be fine. Remember to point everything on switch A towards switch B for internet connections. Then point switch B towards your router/modem for it's internet connections. You might have to tweak it some to get file sharing between the two switches to work properly, most retail switches have built in firewalls that are difficult to configure nowadays.

Here are some sample configs that I would (and do) use.

Switch A
IP: A.B.C.250
DG: A.B.C.251
PDNS: A.B.C.251
SDNS: Blank or
Pool A.B.C.10 - A.B.C.20

Switch B
IP: A.B.C.251
DG: (Router/Modem IP)
PDNS: (Modem/Router IP) or Internet Providers Primary
SDNS: Blank, InetProv Secondary, or

Non-DHCP Clients
IP: A.B.C.21-A.B.C.249
DG: A.B.C.250
PDNS: A.B.C.250
SDNS: A.B.C.251

That is a quick and dirty way to configure your network. Keep your network devices in the top end of the subnet, 200+ and your other devices low, 10+. Try and keep 1-10 open since it gets attacked alot. You will need to configure your pass through for gaming and port forwarding and such with this, but it shouldn't be too hard. Don't assign too many addresses to your DHCP server. You don't have 50 computers, you don't need 50 addresses in the pool.

Any questions you know where to find me. Good luck Rob.

I recomend keeping the current setup and getting a wireless repeater. It will strengthen the signal without the complication of adding an additional hub and cheaper too.

Here is an example.


Just an additional note. I am currently in the US and electronics can be cheaper here, especially laptops. You have to make sure that they can do 240 volt which most laptops can do. It is easy to switch a plug or by an adapter. The only thing that is a bummer is warrenty. Just I thought I thought I should mention.

I would agree with Dan excepting only the cost. Most places sell WAPs for 150-250 each and you can get a decent non-wireless 4 port switch/router combo for 100.

Also, WAPs need configuration that can be difficult to wrap your head around. I know I didn't enjoy it.

I do appologize on the cost. I was looking at a US sight and didn't think about the fact that it would be a lot more expensive. I saw it for $80 US and I was think $100 for conversion. Australia pricing for electronics gets a little screwy in my opinion.

I like your plan rob, as long as the new hub is not used as a router (ie, ignore the WAN port if it has one) then the new hub would just be an extension of the network you already have. Personally I just have DHCP set up for everything except my server. it might be a pain if you have rules set up for forwarding ports, so maybe set up DHCP to start at x.x.x.10 and use the first 8 IPs for whatever needs portforwarding, and leave DHCP on for easy config of new stuff.

Naturally I don'y follow my own advice and my network is a complicated mess! I claim it's "security through crazy configs" :P

Actually, there are a few places who sell the Belkin extender for $110-120. Although it mightn't be much cheaper than a full router with access point, I think it'll be much less finnicky to set up.

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