Adventures in Technology

sick compIf having my USBs randomly stop working wasn’t enough, my motherboard blew out last week. I’ve been computer-less for the last seven days.

But, hopefully that will end today. I bought a new motherboard, processor, and some ram which will double my computers speed and make my games so much better to play.

Going down to Fry’s and picking out all the parts with my techy friend made me feel like a fish out of water. There I was, surrounded by pieces of computers. The insides, the guts of what makes the most important appliance in my house work, and I might be able to tell you what each of those pieces were, but there is no way that I could tell you which ones fit together, how how to fit them in the right order or slot.

Cue my tech friend who pointed out which ones were good brands, which ones were faster then what I currently had (all of them since my computer wasn’t working at all, of course, but you know what I mean) and which ones were the best fit for what I wanted. $400 later, I had all the parts we thought we needed. That was at least $200 cheaper then buying a comparable PC off the shelf. (It helps to have a techy friend who knows what all the numbers on the boxes mean.)

We also spent $5 to have Fry’s techs install the processor on the motherboard and make sure everything worked.

Hint: It didn’t.

They installed the processor, and the ram on the motherboard and hooked it up to a power supply and screen. A text box that says “no OS available” should have popped up on the screen. But there was nothing.

So I ran back and grabbed a different motherboard since it is usually a faulty motherboard that causes that problem. They hooked it all up again, and nothing happened.

The next step was to test the processor. At Fry’s they keep really expencive, small items like processors inside a cage to reduce shrinkage. So the tech had to take the processor to the cage, and test it out. It is very rare for a processor not to work, so I’m told. Lucky me, we were given the one processor in the lot that did not work.

But the tech couldn’t just take the new, working, processor out of the cage. Nope, we had to take the old one back up there, and do an exchange. Again, shrinkage. Then back to the tech area where they, again, tried to install the processor onto the motherboard.

By this point they have also checked this motherboard against another processor, and he motherboard does, indeed, work. When they install the processor I bought though… nothing.

Turned out the motherboard was a year old. A year, in computer terms, is a long time. During that year the bios (the simple programing that is pre-installed on a motherboard) had been updated five times. Same motherboard, different bios, which meant the older version couldn’t comunicate with the newer processor. And the only way to update the bios was to install an older processor and connect it to the internet, or a driver, something the techs at Fry’s were not allowed to do.

So, back to the motherboard section to pick out a newer model. I scanned the shelves and all of them said $130 or more. The one we picked out had only been $70. That meant I’d have to pay the difference. Le sigh.

Then my tech friend picks up a smaller box right above a sign that says “$40”.

“Isn’t that for a mini computer? That wouldn’t fit.”

“Actually, it will. It’s got the same screw configuration so it will pop right into the case you’ve got. This one has two less slots, but were you going to fill those slots anyway?”

We discuss it. $80 a piece for ram, and the one I picked out was already an 8 gig stick. No, I probably wouldn’t be able to get three more any time soon, but I could probably buy one more later, which meant this new, smaller motherboard would save me $20, and I’d still have room to upgrade. PLUS, when/if I feel like it I can get a smaller case (about $60) and make a mini PC that will fit on the corner of my desk. I like how this sounds.

We go back to the tech area and they test out the mini board and the processor before we bother with the exchange. Couple minutes later the light comes on the screen. “No OS detected.” IT WORKS!

Only thing left was the exchange, which actually meant refunding the original mother board and getting store credit, taking he store credit back to the cashier who used the store credit to buy the new mother board, and then putting the rest of the store credit back on my credit card. A bit of a circuitous route, but I still got $20 back, and all the parts I needed for a new, faster machine. YAY.

All in all, I’d say that $5 service charge to have Fry’s techs install the processor was well worth the money. Ya, we were there for two hours going back and forth and figuring out what was wrong, but it would have been so much more trouble if we had left with a broken processor that didn’t even speak the same language as the motherboard we got.

For the first time I can say I really like a big box stores tech support. Go Fry’s!


2 thoughts on “Adventures in Technology

    • Thanks be to the spaghetti monster that my friend is really good a hardware. Not always good at software but amazing at the hardware. He travels all over the world giving lectures about it and stuff, to sold out rooms.

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