Friday, September 18, 2009

Back on track soon, and a note about Lynnfield

I've been away from this blog for quite some time. That's mostly my fault, but soon I should be back to regular posts. In about a week or so, I should have a new (horribly long) post about everything I've done with the computer since the last post. I'm very excited to share it with you!

On a side note: I'm also very excited for Intel's release of the Lynnfield version of their Nehalem core architecture. It's supposed to be for "budget" builders, though the only chip with the Lynnfield core that could be considered budget to me is the Core i5 750-which at $200 is actually a midrange price. It's $100 cheaper than the Core i7 920, and is only slightly slower than it's i7 cousin. This might be due to the changes Intel made with the Lynnfield chip.

Those changes are why I call the two "cousins." For starters, Lynnfield i7s (which feature the LGA 1156 socket type) are incompatible with parts made for Bloomfield i7s (which are LGA 1366), which were the first Core i7s to be released. Other changes include taking PCIe control away from the Northbridge and switching back to dual channel DDR3 support from tri-channel (Intel says this is because most people don't need the bandwidth provided by three channels of RAM.)

If your curious to get the whole scoop, and see why the i5 is slower than the i7 920, as well as the problem with LGA 1156, go here to learn more. That is an excellent Maximum PC article that breaks it all down. That article is also where I got my info from (thanks MPC!).

But I digress. See you later!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sound and light.

About a week ago, a problem on my computer became apparent to me. It had no sound. For some reason or other Windows 7RC couldn't see my sound device (the sound chip on my mobo). I went to the manufacturer's website, downloaded the most up to date driver, and installed it. That did absolutely nothing. While thinking about what I could do, I remembered a sound card I got from a bricked computer I had bought earlier. It is a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS. It's by no means the best sound card out there, but it should at least fix my problem of no sound at all. Here's a pic of it.

I tried to keep the same functionality the board had with the case, so I tried to find the connectors for the ports to plug in to the card. It might or might not have worked; I have yet to try it. Anyways, the install- besides hunting down the right connectors on a commercial board with no actual labeling-went well. I had to remove the video card so I could get my hand in there and maneuver around, but it went back in just fine. Now I have sound again. It's on the 2006 Windows driver, and I'm downloading Creative's driver for it as I write. It's actually installing now. Anyways, on to the next mod.

I bought a case today. It's just a mid tower, but it's much more spacious than the commercial case everything is in now, so I'm happy. It's a Raidmax Sagitta. It has a clear side panel, 7 expansion card slots, 5 5.25" drive bays, 2 3.5" external drive bays, and 3 3.5" internal drive bays. It's also got a tooless construction, for easy part installation. The fans also light up, and I might install some lighting of my own on the inside. Unfortunately, that's kind of a teaser, because I will not be swapping everything until after I move, in about a week and a half. You'll know all about it when I do though. If you have any tips or suggestions, feel free to leave them as a comment. Now for some eye candy:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A peek inside.

In my first post, I mentioned that I had already made a change to my computer's makeup. About last week, when I had this idea, I already had a few spare parts on hand. Nothing phenominal, mind you, but it was a start. I had two one gig sticks of DDR2 RAM, and a video card. An nVidia 7800GTX 512MB, to be exact. See the picture below. Even better, I had two of them. So, here goes the upgrade.

To get started, I took my PC from it's normal position, detached all it's cables, and moved it to a table. After removing the side panel, I was disappointed. The mobo only had one PCIe 2.0 slot! Fine. I'll only go with one card. But then came the next surprise; there weren't any PCIe power connectors on the power supply, and there weren't enough 4 pin molex connectors to make one! So, I was apparently stuck there. I installed the RAM, and in the meantime, had an idea. I had a spare power supply in the other room that did have a connector. I'd just change them out, and I'd be good.

So, I disconnected all my connectors, unscrewed the power supply, and realized another thing about this rig; the CPU fan rests directly below the power supply. After removing the CPU fan, I was able to pull the PSU out easily. I put the new one in, reconnected everything, screwed the fan back on, and -the point of all this- installed the video card. The bios picked everything right up, and so did Windows 7. All I got from it was a nifty little popup box that said I needed to restart for these changes to take effect. OK.

Now it all runs smooth. I'm even running two 15" monitors now, thanks to dual DVI outputs. All these are temporary measures, though, until I can buy better upgrades. My next objective after this is to move everything into a bigger box, so it will all fit (after realizing that the case everything is in now is DEFINATELY not enough). Hopefully I'll post about that in the next month. There will be other posts in between though, so don't be disappointed. I'll also post pics of what it looks like inside my rig soon. By the way, if anyone has tips for my upcomming mod, please share them in a comment. Until next time.

EDIT: Here are the pics inside I promised;

Pretty cramped, eh?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The beginning.

It all started with Myspace.

Until then, I hadn't been very interested in computers. Then one day, I saw some "custom" accounts, and I researched how to do it by hand myself. Several markup and scripting languages later, I discovered the wonder that is building a computer by hand. I had always known it could be done, but until this point in my life, it hadn't interested me. But now I knew how to do it, so I had to do it. Just one problem.


I don't have enough in my meager piggy bank to buy all this stuff at once! That is extremely frustrating. More so since what I'm currently working with isn't that great. Here was my initial setup:

Gateway GT5408
-1GB DDR2 RAM@500MHz
-320GB HDD (don't know the spindle speed for sure, but I'm betting it's 5400)
-Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 1.8GHz proc
-Integrated video/sound
-15" LCD monitor
-PSU unknown wattage
-Generic DVD burner
-Generic mobo.
-Media card reader.
-Windows 7RC

This inspired me. I've read about upgrade creeps (upgrading your PC piece by piece) before in PC magazines, and I had a thought, "I can do that with my current PC!" This would allow me to have a fully functional PC between upgrades (I hope), and only get what I can afford. Perfect.

Then I had another shock of brilliance. I would post the entire process in a blog, along with other PC related posts. This might potentially help other people in the future, and it might attract some helpful people that want to give me some tips. So here it is.

I've already done one upgrade, which I'll post about soon, and hopefully there will be more to come. In the mean time between them, I'll hope to keep you entertained with my blathering about other computer related items. That's all I have for now, though. Keep watching, and I'll post again soon.