Thursday, March 10, 2011

Non-WoW Nerdout

So I may or may not have mentioned it's been rather hectic around here. Work, a side project, and family issues have conspired to try and corrupt me. Or something equally warlocky. (Side note: I wanted to mention that I was talking about Warlocks way before Mr. Sheen, though I guess it's good to see us finally getting some credo or something). In any case, I suppose I have been fortunate that there's a bit of a lull going on in the game right now. Surely you've noticed the general malaise around? Nothing we haven't weathered before, though it is probably extra evident this time with the Rift crowd picking up some steam.

A small byline of my busy-ness is that Fuu's computer died last week. Oh noes! Fortunately, we set up the laptop to perform as a stopgap until we could get our grubby little hands on the parts we needed. This is where the nerdout comes in.

I thought perhaps the computer tinkering crowd out there might like to hear of our upgrade adventures. As any good tinkerer knows, when something dies, that's just another way of saying: time for an upgrade. In this case, we had been running an Intel dual core CPU on a suitable Foxconn mobo for about the last four years. Dual cores were all the rage back then, and we've been quite happy with our set up. 4GB of DDR2 RAM. An nVidia 9k series card (a 9800 GT from Asus). Nothing mind blowing now, but respectable and still quite capable of rendering Azeroth on "ultra" settings, even today.

Well the mobo died. And the CPU. One probably caused the other, but we have no way of knowing how or why (at least easily). The power supply was more than adequate and I have fans out the wazoo (with a temp sensor on the proc, of course). Like I said earlier, failure is just another way of saying upgrade.

Originally, I was noodling going after a new(ish) nVidia card. Perhaps in the realm of the G4 series (I believe this years model is the G5, right? So I'm talking like a year old GPU, but they're pretty cost effective that way, I've found). Since the mobo took a dump on me, I figured I'd fix what was broken instead. We'd looked at getting a new mobo and trying to salvage our 775 socket Intel dual core, but a quick test showed that it was dead, plus we weren't real excited about the manufacturers on Newegg that we still making the mobo we'd need.

So, after looking around, we actually jumped ship to an AMD phenom II six-core processor and an ASRock mobo. Seemed to be a good deal for a good price after only a moderate amount of shopping around. Also, with WoW being a notoriously more CPU intensive game, we'll probably get good returns on a proc upgrade. The whole kit-n-kaboodle cost us about $250, and allowed us to keep using our current RAM sticks. (Important to note that I'm affiliated with none of the above linked anythings. This is simply me relating what I did. YMMV).

When our parts came in, we were rather concerned about replacing the mobo/proc and how it would behave with our previous Windows 7 install. After all, we weren't replacing anything else. Past experience with OS'es such as XP have proven a small bit tricky.

So we had a friend who is a veteran of such tricks help us out. Turned out to be unnecessary. He slapped the mobo and proc in and everything booted just fine. Took about five minutes for Windows to go out and nab some default drivers, and then we were off. Of course, we updated the drivers with the better ones on the disk, but the concern was that the thing wouldn't even boot, not recognizing the drastically different set of HW. All in all, we were all suitably impressed with Windows 7 and how it handled the repair process. We didn't lose anything and now we have a more powerful machine. I can still upgrade my Vid card whenever (maybe for Fuu's birthday, she doesn't like jewelry anyway). It was a relatively painless batch of troubleshooting, which is a nice change from the norm. No keyboards were destroyed by foreheads.

The real test will be when we raid tonight. She'd better be super tank! Or something.

1 comment:

  1. Nice. I'm still rocking the Core2Quad 8400. Fast enough for everything I throw at it but those i7s are sexy. Some of the fans are starting to male noises so those will probably need to be replaced soon. Unfortunate but necessary when you run the rig 24/7.

    Enjoy the 6 cores of fury!