It all happened Thursday the week before last. I was sitting at the computer, and it froze. It had never done it before, but the standard solution is to turn the computer off and turn it back on. Which I did. And when I rebooted it, all I got was a beeping tone. A quick Google search on my tablet revealed that my motherboard had most likely gone to The Beer Volcano & Stripper Factory. I had previously noticed that my mom used to use a tower with a similar chipset as to mine. So I made her an offer for it. She agreed, and I took it home. I spent over two hours moving hardware over to the new computer (same chipset, same processor socket), and I then started to restore the OS. At first, things were going great. Then I had to readjust something in the tower. After which I got nothing. No video. Pulled my video card, and still got graphics off the onboard chipset. My mother’s computer would be a no-go and I would be sending it back to her (along with an upgrade from an Intel Celeron to an Intel Core 2 Quad Core and a wi-fi card upgrade).
Back to square one. I went to Worst Buy and asked for an increase of my credit card. And the idiots approved me. So I went and ordered a new computer. And it arrived last Thursday. I got an HP 500-214. Among the specs:
- AMD A8 6500 quad-core processor, up to 3.5 GHz.
- 8 GB of ram, upto 32 GB is supported. Previous tower only supported 4GB, and I ran a 1 GB video card, so I only used 3 GB.
- It had Radeon HD 8650 graphics already integrated with multimonitor support. I went ahead and put my Radeon HD 7750 card in, because it has a HDMI port, and I do see using my HDTV as a display in the future.
- Integrated Wi-Fi and LAN. While I do have expansion cards for both LAN and Wi-Fi, they are all PCI cards, and the computer doesn’t have any PCI slots.
- USB 3.0. My external hard drive is USB 3.0, and I like being able to transfer files in few minutes, as compared to upwards of an hour. And I should also add that I wasn’t really panicking when my original tower died because I had a recent external back-up.
- There’s also a multi-card reader,but it doesn’t support MicroSD, so I’ll use my USB reader.
And there are a few caveats with this new computer:
- Lack of expansion bays. There were only 2 drive bays in the tower, and they were both occupied. I still have a couple of SATA ports to work with, so I may visit this problem later. Or I may just rotate my 3 1TB hard drives though my existing USB external drive.
- Wimpy power supply. Only 300W. This may become an issue with the next video card upgrade.
- Secured BIOS. It took me an hour+ to figure out how to even access it. Here’s a hint: use the wired USB keyboard to try to access it, as your wireless keyboard won’t work until the OS loads…
- Windows 8.1. Windows Vista was WinME, Service Pack 1. Windows 8 was/is WinME, Service Pack 2. It’s crap. And it was preloaded. But HP does publish Windows 7 drivers for all the internals, so it is possible to downgrade to Windows 7, which is what I did. I did make a system restore set before I wiped the drive, though.
I don’t think I’m going to be tinkering much with Linux on this box, as I’m not really sure what the driver situation is going to be. But with a 2 TB hard drive, I may be dabbling with virtual machines instead. I spent most of the day today installing software and patches (I had nothing else to do today since I had to take a sick day today).
When it comes to the customer experience scores, I’m getting the exact same scores that I got with my previous tower. But this was also with over $400 worth of upgrades to the previous tower. And the only ‘extra’s’ I’ve put into this one are the TV tuner and the video card (which is an apparent downgrade…).
So, Hello World. This is my new computer.