The Upgrade Chronicles, Part 2.

Got the stuff in today. Got the stuff into my system tonight. Posting this from my new system right now.

The Internet (mainly Google) is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it means that you are more informed as to what you could be looking at, in terms of things like upgrades and products. The downside is that ignorance is bliss. Though I read tons of good “this motherboard is great!” posts, I also read tons of “this motherboard sucks!” posts. It only takes one of those to make you nervous.

Many posts I had read stated that after upgrading to the A7S333, they were unable to get anything to run. Or boot. Or any OS’s to install, especially XP Pro. The common statement was the BSOD in the installation. Now, as I chronicled earlier, BSOD is a generic enough term that I didn’t know if it was a “real” BSOD or if it was a generic error message with a blue screen. As I left the computer shop, some guy walked in with the same problem I was dreading – new mobo, new RAM, new processor, no dice on XP. He was exchanging the RAM to see if that could be it. I started dreading this upgrade more and more, especially since it dawned on me I’ve never done anything this drastic alone.

Anywho, it took me 2 hours to get the new stuff in – partly because I was cautious, and partly because while Tiawan makes good motherboards, they don’t make a friendly upgrade experience. It took several tries to get the thing to turn on because as it turns out the part where the power switch hooks into the motherboard isn’t documented well either.

Then I booted it up and it went into BIOS mode. This was good. It detected the one hard drive I hooked up (I figured I’d hook one at a time up). Then I rebooted. It couldn’t detect the hard drive, despite doing so in the BIOS. It also couldn’t detect the floppy disk. I turned the floppy cable around and fixed that one but the hard drive was still a no go. So I hooked the other one up and that seems to have done it. It’s got something to do with the new hard drive cables/IDE paradigm but damned if I know exactly what or how, nor do I care at this hour.

Then XP started booting. And stopped. Or rather STOPped. It gave me a blue screen with an error message. At this point I’m not sure if its a “your shit is broke” or a “your shit is different” message. It says to reboot, so I do. It happens again. After some research and some random card/hair pulling, I get it down to this – the IDE controller has changed (obviously, the entire system has changed) and XP can’t handle it. I can either revert back to original motherboard, hack the registry, or reinstall XP. I pick the last option. Just to cheat, I reinstall XP over itself. An hour later, I’m back up and running.

So I fire up IE. Kinda faster. I fire up Excel. Kinda faster. I fire up Outlook. Kinda faster. At this point I start to wonder if this was worth it.

Then I fire up Neverwinter Nights. Whoa baby. For starters it comes up a lot faster. That’s good. It shows a cutscene. This is when it occurs to me that I couldn’t watch these before – too choppy. Now they’re like silk. That’s good. Then I get into the game. Damn. I never realized how choppy/slow it was before. Now it’s like a big stuck of buttah. Me likey the new processor. I could even bump up the resolution.

Then I fire up Civilization III, which I thought would be an even better test, seeing as how the game doesn’t rely on 3D hardware. Whoa. I never realized how many frames I was missing in this little sprite based game. And the load times are almost nil.

Then for fun I fire up Jedi Knight II, since the hectic battles were often a source of slowdown. I can run it in 1280×1024 mode. I’ve never been able to do that before.

So I’m happy. And relieved.

The one slightly sour note is the fan on my GeForce 3. A while back it was making noise, and I was going to have to replace it. Then it stopped, and I was happy. But when I took it out I noticed the fan was not turning easily, which made me think perhaps it hasn’t been spinning this whole time. When I put it back in I heard odd “chirping” noises – it was the fan trying (and failing) to spin. Not sure if it’s been making these noises all along (only heard them with the cover off the system) or if its just now stopped working since I fucked with it but in any event I need to replace it soon. Good thing it has a heatsink. Not sure why a CPU without a heatsink can make the chip fry and a video card chip will mostly just cause lockups and not fry, but oh well.

I may still do a full reinstall of XP, or I may not. Depends on how this installation reacts. Also I still don’t have all the little sound card connections going yet, nor do I have all the right stuff for the lights on the case and such, but good enough for now.