RL: Computer woes, folks. Never fun.
SpoilerThis past Sunday, I was playing D3 with Pijus during the wee hours of the morning when I started to smell something funky. At first I thought it was a candle burning down, but a couple minutes later I realized that it was something electronic dying. A few moments later, my computer shut off on its own. I'm no computer genius, but by feeling around and finding the greatest heat source I diagnosed that the problem was the power supply. I tried to turn it back on a while later and... nothing. No power whatsoever.
Okay. So Monday I went to the store and bought a replacement. Staring at the rat's nest of wired inside my machine made it daunting, but by pulling one wire from a component and then replacing it immediately from the new PSU made it rather simple. I get it all set up, plug in all the peripherals, power up the system... and it looks good! Mother board lights up, the lights on the case turn on, the external fan is spinning as is the fan on my graphics card, the CD tray ejects... I feel good! I've accomplished something new with my computer!
Then I look at my monitor and there's nothing there. It's still in standby. ...I'm crushed.
Research ensues at work, as it's the only place I have the Internet. During smoke breaks I also spend a lot of time talking with the IT guy that's stationed here and has absolutely nothing to do 90% of the time. So I've got some support, and I start learning about computer hardware, getting machines to POST... lots of stuff.
Because I'm concerned that my computer's not displaying anything, I focused on the graphics card first. I noticed that there are three LED lights that are staying lit after I power up the machine. Research tells me these are bad lights, reporting that the external power sources have been disconnected & that there's a critical temperature fault. Not good.
I go in to work and tell the IT guy about it, and his first suggestion is to pull out the graphics card and RAM, clean it if I can, then put it back in and make sure they're well seated. Moving cords everywhere may have dislodged something.
This is where my noobishness came out: I went home, looked for some screws to detach my graphics card from the rear panel of the computer case, and... there was nothing. NOTHING. I saw no screws, no hinges, no paste... I had no idea what was holding my card in place. Turns out there's a swing arm that I'd missed, but without the knowledge of something like that I couldn't do much of anything on my own.
That's when I noticed that, on my mother board made by evga, there's a two-character LCD display. Not knowing what it was for, more research ensued. Turns out that it's there to tell you the POST code instead of doing the usual series of beeps. I look at the screen and it's telling me "F," so I go online to check that against the user's manual for my board. It turns out every POST code consists of two characters... F doesn't exist.
Through google searching, I find a post on the evga forums where someone else had the same single-F problem as me. The only response was from one of the evga tech guys, and it said to remove everything except the CPU and the heat sink fan. Then remove the battery for a few minutes to reset the C-MOS. If after that it's still giving the single-F code, call tech support.
Again, since I couldn't figure out how to remove the graphics card, I couldn't do all that. On Wednesday I told the IT guy about what I'd found, and he agreed to take a look at it. I went home during lunch and snuck my massive computer into his "office" so he could tinker with it. Not only did he do everything that evga guy suggested, but he also removed the mother board from the case to make sure there wasn't any electrical interference/shorts messing up the results. And in the end, nothing changed. Single-F all the way.
While he was doing all this, I was scouring the evga forums looking for more posts that dealt with this. Eventually I found one; this person said that he did all the same stuff without any change, and when he called tech support they RMA'ed his board. To me, if evga was willing to replace his board at that point, the board was effed. I told my IT guy, and he pretty much agreed... there's the chance that the PSU simply isn't working properly, maybe the CPU slipped out of place... but most signs pointed to the board being damaged.
So yesterday, he and I (mostly he, since he's got a lot more free time at work) were on newegg and such looking for a replacement board. As it turns out, my computer's somewhat behind the times. Apparently there isn't much demand for good mother boards that can host a Core2 Duo chipset and DDR2 RAM these days. There are some low-grade boards with poor specs, little space for RAM, but not much in the way of decent stuff to choose from. He found a few that would fit my needs that range from about $70 to $120, but they're all from a not-so-great manufacturer (Foxconn, may be best known for being used in the low-end computers made by Dell) and it's pretty iffy how long they might last.
I ended up giving my guy a budget to work with for general improvements, and after a couple hours he gave me what he suggested to be the best mix of quality and performance. Along with 8gig of new DDR3 RAM and a new CPU fan, he found this Asus board and a dual core i3 processor for about $350. He's even spent more time looking for equivalent or better boards, and in the end he says this board is simply the best I could do for anything remotely like it. I could potentially upgrade the CPU to a quad core for an extra $50, but is it worth it when all I really do is play random games and search the Internet? Probably not since the difference in performance is so minimal.
My choice on whether to spend $70 or $350 was still hinging on a piece of hardware that was not yet tested. So today I brought in my graphics card to have my IT guy check it out. Although he didn't have enough PCI-e power connections OR enough Molex plugs to use the jumper I provided, at least he was able to get something on screen that said something along the lines of "Improperly connected" or "Insufficient power" or whatever. So it looks like my old card's still functioning okay.
Knowing that, it's come down to a decision on what I want to spend. I'm leaning toward the upgrades instead of the chancey mobo. When the time comes that I'd want to improve my machine for games, it's probably better if I do what I can now so that all I'll have to spend in the future will be on a new graphics card. If I waited to do it all, that'd be a pretty big lump sum of cash to drop all at once. I'll check out the reviews on the stuff he recommended next Sunday and Monday, then I'll probably order whatever I want in the middle of the week.
All that's really left is to find a way to piece it all together. There's no way I'd do it myself, so I need someone else to step in for me. My IT guy would probably do it, but a) he can't do it here at work without getting too much attention, and b) he's going on vacation for a week, so the earliest possible time he could start would be somewhere around the 25th. Maybe I'll call up a computer shop that I took this machine to back when I first got it. IIRC, they charge a flat $40 for any work they do, so that might be a good way to go.
tl,dr: My computer's broken. Maybe it'll get an upgrade and be fixed in... a week or so?
Also, there was a pretty big spider outside work tonight. I couldn't keep my back to it out of fear, but I couldn't look at it for more than a couple seconds out of disgust. I was almost dancing on the spot... didn't want it to fall down when I wasn't looking and then crawl up my leg. *shudder*
D3: Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never any jam today.
OVG: Indeed. I pulled out my GameCube when my computer got fried, and for the last few days I've been playing through Paper Mario (colon/ampersand) The Thousand-Year Door. It's been a good five or so years since I last touched it, but I did beat it back then so the enjoyment factor is... well, uh... let's just say it's not nearly as enthralling as an ARPG we all know of. I'm in the middle of collecting star #5, so there isn't a whole lot left. What's next...? Dunno. Maybe I'll give P.N. 03 another go. I kinda forgot what that game became after the first few levels... very samey, I'm sure, but that's one of those places where it's good to have a poor memory.