I finally broke down and bought myself a new computer. After a long, hard road trying to figure out if it was worth it to try to upgrade my old box any further, I finally grew tired of all of the problems I was having. I did a lot of research looking into building myself a new box out of a barebones set up, and finally came to a scary conclusion. I don’t know jack-crap about computers anymore.
As I surfed various sites like NewEgg and TigerDirect, looking at all of the barebones packages they offered, I realized that I really had no idea what I was looking at anymore. I have not kept up at all with processor technology. I know nothing about all of the various types of RAM, or what to look for as far as power supplies, or really anything.
So, I admitted I had a problem, and put my life into the hands of a greater power–the guy at Circuit City that knew infinitely more about computers than I do.
I sat down in front of my computer and started to make a list of all the things I had recently added, and why I had added them. I wrote a list of all of the peripherals I use on a regular basis. I wrote down the specs of my current box, so I would be able to show the guy what I was currently dealing with.
For those of you that don’t know–as I don’t think I’ve posted anything about it here–my old computer had got into the nasty habit of shutting itself down shortly after it booted up. I essentially figured out that something was throwing the thermal overload protector in my power supply. So, I started systematically removing each of my peripherals until I was left with nothing but a single hard drive and a single CD burner. At the beginning, with all of my peripherals plugged in, the computer would shut itself off literally less than 10 minutes after it had booted. I had just enough time to turn the computer on, open Firefox, check my Yahoo! mail and watch the computer shut down in front of my eyes. At one point, the computer actually turned itself off before Windows had even finished booting. Once I got down to the absolute bare minimum, the computer was able to sustain itself for around 2 to 3 hours before turning itself off.
Anyway, long story short, I needed a new box. So, I started off at Costco and found a fairly nice Gateway, but there was really no one around that knew a whole lot about computers, and there was really no way for me to pay at Costco, since I didn’t have the cash on me, I don’t carry our checkbook, and Costco doesn’t take any of the credit/check cards I carry. After looking at what they had to offer, I ran on over to Circuit City. A sales associate walked up to me and asked if I needed help. I said that I needed someone that knew a great deal about computers. He said he did, so we started to chat. He gave me some hints on sites I could check out if I really wanted to build my own box, and I pretty much told him that I had given up on that. I showed him the list I had made, and he whisked me on over to a nice little HP Pavilion box. He told me that I shouldn’t have any trouble at all running everything I needed to run on it, with the exception of possibly my Seagate external drive (he wasn’t sure if Seagate had upgraded their drivers to work with Vista). So, after looking at the specs for a while, and opening the side of the box to look inside, I decided I’d go ahead and get it.
While I was there, I also looked at some of their LCD monitors, but none of them really appealed to me as much as one I had spotted while browsing at Costco. So, I decided to pick up a 1 gig stick of memory (for $69.99 after a mail-in rebate) to go with my new computer, added a protection plan (with the luck I’ve had recently with hardware, that was a no-brainer–even with my innate nature to run away from all things “extended warranty” related), and asked for the total. I put a little on a leftover gift card, a little in cash, and the rest on the good ol’ credit card. I ran by Wal-Mart on my way home to see if they had anything comparable to the monitor I had spied at Costco (which they didn’t), and then headed home to start customizing my new computer.
I opened the box, took the side off the computer case, and started immediately complaining about the way they have the inside organized. The master hard drive is a SATA drive. The mobo only has one IDE header (which meant that–after I hooked up my slave ATA IDE hard drive–I had no room left to install my second CD/DVD drive, but I guess that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make–only time will tell for sure). The amount of cables and wires plugged into the mobo is absolute insane, and, of course, every wire in there was in the way of something I needed to slide into the case. I ended up installing my slave drive into the 3.5″ expansion bay, simply because the IDE cable didn’t have nearly enough space between the slave and master hook-ups. The short space on the IDE cable also meant I had to remove the included DVD writer from it’s original location, and install it in the 5.25″ expansion bay instead. I threw my extra stick of RAM in there, to give me a total of 2 gigs of memory, attempted to plug all of the wires that had come loose while I was fiddling around back into their respective slots, put the case back together, and plugged it in for the first time.
I got absolutely nothing. The instructions said that the initial set up might take up to 20 minutes, and that there may be a blank screen, so I let it sit for a while. Still nothing.
I turned it back on, caught the BIOS screen for a second, and then experienced nothing again.
I turned it on one more time, and pressed the key to get into the BIOS setup, and then figured out that the computer was trying to boot initially off of my slave drive. I switched that around, started it back up, and got everything rolling the way it should be.
About 20 minutes later, I had Windows Vista all set up and running, I had Firefox installed, and I was surfing the net.
I went back to Costco this evening and picked up the monitor I had my eye on. It is a beautiful 22″ LCD widescreen monitor. I got it all hooked up tonight, and cannot believe the difference between this thing and the old 17″ Dell CRT I had sitting on my desk previously.
Anyway, I will probably post my thoughts on Vista after another week or so of playing with it, getting all of my software up and running, and customizing various things. For now, though, I can say I am absolutely amazed at how fast a good computer can be. I had forgot that computers actually were capable of executing commands and opening programs in less than 5 minutes.
If anyone else is in the market for a new box, this is really a good way to go. I’ll post more thoughts as I start to play more and more with my new computer. Until then, I hope you all enjoy working with what you’ve got, and I hope you’ll share your thoughts on any new gadgets you pick up.