Yesterday, I received a call from my older brother to say that his main PC had died and wasn’t sure what to do as it wasn’t booting at all. He’d get as far as the initial POST screen and that’s about it. I tried to diagnose over the phone but it’s so much easier to have it in front of you. We tried the usual things like taking out some of the memory sticks, checking all of the motherboard cables connections, checking hard disks and generally seeing if we could spot the fault by process of elimination. After a few hours we weren’t getting anywhere so being sure it was either the motherboard or processor and deciding he’s long overdue a few upgrades, we drove to Maplins to have a look at what they had to offer.
I think he was glad I came along because the sales person jargon was confusing him somewhat. He was upgraded from a older motherboard therefore we needed to get the balance right between supporting older hardware and providing plenty options for future expansion. So, with this in mind we brought one of Maplins motherboard bundles. A nice Matx board with a mixture of IDE and SATA ports, plenty of PCI slots for the variety of cards he already has and a fairly decent Nvidia 8100 on board chipset (like me, he’s not interested in modern gaming). Adding to this, a chunky AMD Phenom Quad core processor and 2gb Ram should keep him zipping along.
Maplins also had a 750gb SATA drive on offer so he brought one of those too as his existing 120gb IDE drive was rapidly getting full.
On the drive home I explained the better practise of partitioning the hard disk, especially as a whopping 750gb might be easier to manage if split into smaller chunks. Maybe one for the OS/programs, one for his work data, and one for the rest of the families data etc.
Back home, we stripped his old PC whilst having a real good laugh about the old days with his Commodore 64 and the time I thought I’d blown it trying out the ‘paper clip reset button’ hack. He looked on nervously as I carried out the build 😛
The CPU attached perfectly, the fan and heatsink also went on without a hitch. There was even a sachet of thermal paste included with the motherboard kit which was nice to see. RAM was fitted and then the motherboard was screwed in to place. Next, he various USB, front panel, data and power cables were connected too.
At one point I thought we’d slipped up by not checking his older PSU to ensure it had a SATA power connector but thankfully it did – sweaty palms for a minute there though!
Next went his old 120gb IDE hard disk but I left out connecting his SATA and DVD drive so, if we did have any problems, it might be easier to spot them with less hardware connected. One final check to ensure everything looked o.k. and we switched it on……perfect, everything seemed to work o.k. and the familiar WinXP boot screen was displayed. I’m supprised his OS didn’t have a hissy fit about all the hardware changes but it seemed to be running just fine.
So, satisfied that everything was working, we shut it down, plugged in the new SATA disk and went about partioning and installing a fresh copy of Windows. He was happy to do this bit himself so I left him to it…formatting a 750gb drive…ouch !!
For my trouble he asked of I wanted any of the older bits we’d removed. So, my reward being 2x1gb sticks of DDR Ram (which should take my main PC up to 4gb), an AGP Geforce 7600gts (for the Mame Arcade Cabinet PC), and a duff motherboard/processor which although probably dead, if i can get working again it might be a nice upgrade for his son’s aging Athlon based PC.
Although I would never ask for anything in return, it just goes to show, one good turn…..