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Computer Fun

If you hadn’t guessed I’m one of those people that enjoys doing things myself. A tinkerer. In fact I’m often asked if I’m a Mac person. I scoff, explaining that I’m a control freak and I want complete control of my machine. My husband and I have been building our own machines since we got married. We only bought one Mac and were burned, bad. We promptly returned to building our own. I love it; I plan every detail of the build so that I can get the most out of my machines. If only I could build my own laptop… The last two machines I did build I planned for upgrades so that the machines would last for several years. But the thing I didn’t plan for was flashing my bios. I’ve never done it. In fact I’ve always avoided it because of the fear that my beloved computer would be turned into a paperweight. Even after reading that Asus, my motherboard of choice, had ways of making it a safe endeavor, I remained hesitant. I finally caved today. I wanted to upgrade my CPU before they stopped making them, thus making me buy a whole new machine.

My planning was brilliant, really. In 2006 I bought a custom build in the early years of the multi-core processors. We shall call this computer Yellow. Specs: Asus M2N-SLI Deluxe, AMD Athlon X2 3800, 8 GB DDR2 6400 (upgraded from 1 GB at purchase), 1 GB Nvidia video card of whatever generic variety but with HDMI (upgraded from 512 at purchase and still with room to upgrade to two cards). I planned for the board to be upgradable in every way. Then in 2009 I built a second machine with a processor that could be used in the older machine (with a bios flash). (We shall call this computer Black. Specs: Asus M4N72-E, AMD Phenom II X2 550, 8 GB DDR2 6400 (upgraded from 4 GB at build and still with some room to upgrade), 1 GB ASUS ATI video card (with room to upgrade to 2 cards)). I drug my feet on upgrading Black to a six-core until I realized that I would not be able to upgrade much longer. This weekend I bit the bullet and bought an AMD Phenom II X6 1045T. I flashed the bios in Black first. Amazingly it ran better before I even put in the new chip. Then I flashed the Yellow. Error. Great, I couldn’t even get it to let me into the bios to step back. I shut down to try again and it wouldn’t start up. The green light on the board was out and it was not getting power. Great! I killed Yellow and I wasn’t quite ready to part with it. Then I realized that the power supply had died. It was probably starting to fail and the bios update just put an end to it. But should I buy a new power supply just to find out that the machine is gone? Well I’ll need the machine and so I’ll need a new power supply. I can’t get a COOLER MASTER Silent Pro M700 unit locally. I so like the open airflow, the expandability of the cords, the energy efficiency, and the long warranty. Yet I needed it now so I went with a Thermaltake TR-700 TR2 700 Watt, it has all but the modular cords.

It worked. The bios error was from the dying power supply. Now I have a new CPU in Black and am going to install Yellow’s tomorrow. I forgot to buy CPU thermal paste compound. Yellow could only be upgraded if I could find a quad core that no one seems to carry anymore. But it is all good. My plan was not to use that computer forever, but to make it upgradable and therefore extend its life. At this point I have maxed out my ram and can only add dual video cards with better memory. When I do upgrade, this machine will become the perfect media center. For now I use an old hand me down that has been installed with Ubuntu (but this should be another post for another time).

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