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Must Stop Spending Money
Wednesday 2nd April, 2008 10:01 Comments: 5
My motherboard died. At least I thought it had, but I planned on upgrading it anyway as I want to move to quad core, and my current cheap (sub-£50) motherboard isn't good enough. In fact it was never really designed to run Core 2 Duo, but Asrock did some vood magic to get Intel's 945 chip to support Core 2 Duo (and Crossfire). So I replaced it, and my system remained dead. I grabbed an identical PSU from another machine and it jumped into life. A new PSU is now on its way here, to go into the other machine, and at some point I'll take the dead PSU out and put its working (but otherwise identical) twin into the case, tidy up the wires, put the case back on.

At least that was the plan. Me being me, I decided to use the more expensive new motherboard to try and overclock the Core 2 Duo that is meant to run at 1.86GHz (Intel's E6300, with just 2MB L2 cache). I currently appear to have it running perfectly stable at 3.2GHz, and it's still pretty cool (65-ish degrees) under full load (using SETI@home) with the fan on the Zalman heatsink running at just 1000rpm. This might sound impressive, but I am more impressed that my low latency DDR2 675MHz stuff appears to be running perfectly fine (I've only done the Vista memory test so far) at a staggering 914MHz (although I've not checked what latencies that's running at, but I suspect the low latency stuff would probably slip to fairly standard timings at worst)!

So I did all that, mentioned it to Chris, and then he pointed out that the Q9450 (Intel's quad core processor that I've been waiting for weeks to appear) is now available (Intel said Q1, presumably March 31st still counts, with retailers putting them on their websites over the next couple days). So he's ordering one of them today for me (and one for himself). It has an impressive 12MB L2 cache, runs at a nice 2.66GHz to begin with, and I'm quite tempted to try and overclock it like I've done with my Core 2 Duo. At least I know the motherboard and RAM overlock pretty well. If/when it arrives tomorrow, that just about gives me time (I think) to install the new CPU before Vista bitches about wanting to reactivate*. I don't really need the power of a quad core system, and I definitely don't need the power of an overclocked quad core system, but it could help some of the games (e.g. Crysis), and I'm sure I'll find more demanding software/games that will benefit from the faster CPU.

And on a slightly more positive note, with a working motherboard and CPU (and spare soundcard and graphics card), I can think again about building a new system for my parents (or keep a spare one around for myself for testing purposes) - I've even bought a new heatsink for the quad core (and a new one for my graphics card, as it came supplied with a very nice one, but I'm thinking something chunkier might let me run it even cooler and quieter), but I still need a power supply and RAM. I might buy them once my credit card has been given a little rest. And once I get paid again.

* not surprising, as I used an identical motherboard in another system to boot up Vista to backup my data before I switched to the new motherboard. As the hard disk was in the other system, it had different network cards, different graphics card, different RAM, an additional hard disk, and had lost a soundcard and TV card, which it then gained when I moved it all back; no wonder it's so confused right now.
Avatar Fab - Wednesday 2nd April, 2008 11:47
So let me get this right. Your PC died at the lan party and you didn't even check through trial and error what was broke?? And you call yourself a computer scientist?! Cheryl should spank you for that! :p

I have just ordered myself a new 750gb hard disk and I am about to flog off a load of hard disks and Athlon parts. You are indeed spending too much money. You should recoup by selling off the old stuff like I am.
Avatar Robert - Wednesday 2nd April, 2008 12:43
It had all the signs of a dead motherboard (more specifically, the red LED at the back of the PSU still lit up), and I thought the PSU (that cost more than the motherboard) was less likely to fail. I'm also right 9 times out of 10 without having to do any form of "trial and error" diagnosis. So I gambled and I was wrong, but it wasn't an expensive mistake as I knew I needed a new motherboard anyway, which is why I "gambled" (it's not really gambling when it doesn't matter if you're wrong). So I pinched an identical PSU from another machine, which proved that it was the PSU that had played up, so it wasn't really an issue. Except right now one of my nameservers is currently a VM on a laptop, rather than a proper computer (and it's turned off overnight :S). But my new PSU has turned up now, at some point tonight I'll fit it in the machine and pop it back under the desk tomorrow morning.
Avatar Yamahito - Wednesday 2nd April, 2008 16:55
Hmm

I appear to have a dual xeon system doing not very much at home. I was going to put it into my fileserver, but a core 2 duo would do a much better job at virtualisation...

Perhaps we could work something out?
Avatar Fab - Wednesday 2nd April, 2008 18:48
I want a C2D too, but I am just going to look for a cheap deal online...

I bet you didn't even get a decent modular PSU Rob! :p
Avatar Robert - Thursday 3rd April, 2008 09:41
I went for a reasonably priced and fairly quiet high efficiency 500W PSU, and it's not modular; but due to the way I've plugged the power cables into things, there aren't any spare cables and a lot of the cables/connectors have been tidied up. Besides, modular ones tend to cost a little bit more.

I was thinking of keeping my C2D for a future fileserver, replacing my own dual Xeon system (and replacing the two big copper heatsinks with a single passive heatsink, not that you can hear the fans over the noise of all the hard disks and the PSU).
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