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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Thursday (1/26/12) 3:08pm - ... wherein Peter has a dead computer.

So my PC died yesterday.  Like, D-E-D dead.  You turn it on, the drive spins up, the fans turn on, and... nothing else happens.  No video signal.  No flickering LED indicating hard-disk activity.  If you yank all the memory out and turn the computer on, you don't even get the PC-speaker "hey, I don't have any memory" error beeps.  Dead, dead, dead.

I've tried re-seating the CPU on the off-chance that it had gotten loose, but that had no effect.

At this point, consensus seems to be that it's either the power supply or a dead motherboard.

So I guess "plan A" is to try buying a new power supply at Best Buy -- or maybe borrow an extra one from somebody? (*ingratiating smile*) -- install that, and see if that solves the problem.  If it doesn't (which, let's face it, it won't), then I take the power supply back to Best Buy and proceed to step 2.

At this point, it pretty much has to be the motherboard, right?  I currently have an ASUS M3A78-EM motherboard with an Athlon 64 x2 6000 CPU and 2GB of RAM.  (I bought it in late '08.)

I *could* buy a replacement (used) ASUS M3A78-EM for $65.  But it looks like it wouldn't cost too much more to replace the Mobo/CPU/memory combo.

I was working from the Ars Technica Budget System Guide -- I don't need an OMGAWESOMEGAMINGRIG, so that seems like a reasonable place to go.  They recommend the ASUS M4A88TD-M/USB3 motherboard, which Newegg sells for $80.  The closest thing Newegg has to the recommended CPU is  the AMD Athlon II X3 455, again for $80.  And Crucial recommends 8GB of memory for that, for $46.

So that's $205[1] -- an extra $140 -- for a significant upgrade from my current core setup.[2]

I guess my main questions at this point are:
1.  Is there really any chance it could be the power supply, or should I just skip that step?

2.  Would the ASUS M4A88TD-M/USB3 motherboard be compatible with my current case, an Apevia X-QPACK2-AL/500.  If not, then am I willing to spend ~$90 on a new case?  (Also, do I need a bigger power supply than my current 500W one?)

3. Am I actually capable of installing a new motherboard in this case?  Looks like there are a lot of connections to plug in, which means finding all of them on the new motherboard, and no doubt taking lots of photos of the existing setup before I take it apart.  It'd be awful to do all this work and end up with a setup that still doesn't work.

[1] I'm thinking that taking my current machine to a repair shop would cost something similar to that, with no upgrade involved, so I'd like to go this route instead of the repair shop.

[2] It also occurs to me that it's a setup that goes well beyond the capabilities of Win XP -- I suppose it's finally time to upgrade to Windows 7.

Mood: [mood icon] grumpy · Music: none
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[User Picture]
Date:Thursday (1/26/12) 4:04pm
I've built all my computers, so I can help if you need it. It's really a breeze once you've done it, or seen it done once ;)

Also, this might sound like insanity, but I have built a computer that did exactly what you describe. I ended up fixing it by figuring out I hadn't screwed in one screw that holds the motherboard to the case. Apparently this caused it to not be grounded properly and when I turned it on it spun up some fans and sat blank and silent. So super longshot but maybe something shook loose during your move? :)

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[User Picture]
Date:Thursday (1/26/12) 4:13pm
Thanks, Shawn!  I checked over the motherboard, and it looks like all the screws are present & screwed-in, though.

BTW, there aren't any 'gotchas' to case/mobo/CPU compatibility, are there?  Looks like the mobo I've chosen is Micro ATX and takes an AM3 socket, and I've picked out a Micro ATX case and an AM3 CPU... that should work, right?
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[User Picture]
Date:Thursday (1/26/12) 6:19pm
Should work. The other thing to check is RAM compatibility, and I doubt it'll be an issue but sometimes it can be tough to squeeze a graphics card in certain cases. Usually only an issue if you buy the ridiculous gaming ones that are the size of small cruise ships.
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