Monday, November 14, 2005


As many of you are aware, I have been experiencing problems with my PC over the past few months and decided that there was no use procrastinating any more, I was going to have to make some changes.

Shiny new thingsI made the decision to replace my CPU heat sink and fan to a larger more powerful model which should also be quieter, and in order to keep my case cool a few extra fans. Lastly I was going to replace my main hard disk drive as it was beginning to sound like a cross between a banshee and two duelling tomcats. This is the story of what happened...

I woke up very late on Saturday with a bag full of parts and very keen to get on with things; brunch be damned, I was straight into the cupboard for a screwdriver. Sat down with a cup of coffee and decided how best to proceed wasn't sure so I asked the cats for some advice.

After finishing my coffee (and consulting with the cats) I had a plan of action. I was going to remove some hardware which I never use any more, remove the two fans that I borrowed, replace the heat sink/fan combo, install the new fans, rearrange the two hard disks drives, install the new hard disk drive, do a sector copy of the failing disk, change over the IDE master and Slave settings for the devices and that'll be that.

More advice from the cats - after removing superfluous peripheral devicesRemoving the now redundant hardware was easy, sure I had to disconnect a few cables and remove the front facia from the case (which was more difficult that it should have been and required the gentle use of a small hammer), but it only took about twenty minutes. Happy with my progress I had a quick fag break and another cup of coffee.

Puny standard AMD heatsink/fan vs. Hunky new heatsink/fan comboNext came the heat sink/fan combo. No problem removing the old one, installing the new one required what felt like motherboard snapping force and the use of a screwdriver but that wasn't too bad, only took five minutes. Turned on the computer to make sure everything was okay, watched the CPU temp for about 5 minutes to make sure that it was okay, and then switched off again.

Pretty new case fans and new CPU heatsink/fanOnto the fans. Nothing in life could be easier than removing a pair of 80mm case fans, done in ten minutes. Adding the new fans took a bit longer because of those damnable self threading screws. You need to apply an obscene amount of torque to get them screwed in tight. As I was working in quite a tight space, I had to use my left hand quite often, it was a bit of a pian. Once they were installed I noticed an extra 3-pin fan header on the motherboard - excellent, not I could monitor the speed of the one of each of the fans at the front and back of the case. To top things off these new fans have funky LED lights that give the case a nice glow when they are in use. Things were going swimmingly. Time for another fag break and another cup of coffee.

Rearranging the hard disks was a bit of a pain, I moved the upper disk down to the bottom of the drive bays because I had worked out that I would be able to leave an empty bay above each disk once they were all installed which would allow good airflow from the newly installed fans at the front of the case. Moving a disk into the bottom bay with a full length SCSI controller in front of it just wasn't happening so out came the controller, in went the disk, back in went the controller and than I realised the IDE cables wouldn't reach - arghhh! After rearranging the IDE cables I switched the PC on and made sure everything was okay, which it was. Somehow nearly two hours had passed, strange I though to myself, didn't fel that long.

Shut down windows - time to install shiny new disk drive. A quick check of the jumper setting and it slid in like a dream. Plugged in all the cables and switched on the computer. BIOS automatically detected the drive and windows notified me of the new hardware when it started. That's what I call progress. Onto copying the data thought I. I quick scan of the instructions for Norton Ghost and I was away. I selected all of the relevant options, copy master boot record, check for bad sectors, verify data, expand partition to fill new disk space, etc, etc. And off it went. Should take a few hours so it was time for brunch.

After brunch (about an hour) returned to view the progress and something wasn't quite right the status bar hadn't even started and the progress report said 2% completed. Hmm preparation time thought I, and wen't to watch some telly. Returned to view the progress after and hour and a half solid TV watching. 10% completed. 10% completed in two and a half hours! That’s two and a half hours!!!

It was now around five in the afternoon, and at the current rate it would be six o'clock on Sunday before it was finished. There were bits of computer lying all around, the cats were getting very friendly with the cables, and I was beginning to simmer.

Glaring evil eyesThree hours later - a special kind of hell. Yes I was in a special kind of hell, the kind where you do nothing but stare at a monitor for hours hoping that the progress bar will move, feeling overjoyed when it does, and then realising that the tiny movement to the right took an hour. Thinking about all of the things you could be using your computer for, but can't because despite running for what feels like days, the hard disk copying is still at under 20% and its eight o'clock and the noise of the new fans that you were so happy with is beginning to drive you slightly potty. So potty that you think that there are two glowing eyes glaring at you from inside the PC case, tormenting you. Then you notice that everything in the house is pitch black and that you hadn't noticed because you have been staring at the progress bar, willing it onwards, knowing that it will take as ling as it takes, which is too long. All this time asking yourself "will the old disk last long enough for the process to complete?". Everything after that was a blur; I can't remember anything until...

The following morning. Wake up on the sofa at around eight to the sound of the neighbour hoovering with a killer sinus headache. Go to the kitchen to make a coffee, realise that that sound isn't the neighbours hoover. It is in fact my PC. Turn on the monitor and am greeted by Norton Ghost telling me that it is 100% complete, with no errors. Thank the Gods. All of them in turn.

Switched off the PC, rearranged the cables and jumper setting on all of the IDE devices, tidied up and tied up all of the cables, nice and neat. Turned on the PC, went of make my coffee. Came back and sat down to the wonderful message
Please insert bootable media...

Alomst doneTwo hours later, after replacing IDE cables, putting back the original IDE cables, rearrranging IDE master and slave devices, kicking the PC, and doing the dance of shame - twice. I finally get the bios to recognise all of the devices and the PC to boot. Finally we are getting somewhere. Windows boots, thank the gods, all of them in turn. Take a quick photo before putting the case back together.

Well, that was my weekend. The PC still sounds a little like a hoover, and despite my wishful thinking the new CPU heat sink/fan combo is actually a little less efficient at cooling the CPU (it is quieter though). But I now have a working computer again and it glows in the dark :)

I will probably disconnect some of those funky fans in an attempt to reduce the noise, there are six 80mm fans in there now, which is probably too much. But that is a project for another day.

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Blogger Sam said...

Bloody nora!

15/11/05 18:04  
Blogger Jon said...

nora!? who the 'ell is Nora?

15/11/05 18:11  
Blogger Jon said...

Bloody CPU is overheating again! System shut itself down.

Going to go mad soon :(

15/11/05 23:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just get a new computer, it's cheaper. LOL

7/8/07 21:23  
Blogger Jon said...

Well I'm not sure about cheaper but definately easier!

I'm still using the same PC and am sure that there will be long term hearing issues as I get older as a concequence.

I'm still having problems with overheating but am hoping to replace this pile of crap with a new home built PC later this year. Probably around Christmas time when I'll have enough time to put it all together.

I'm currently thinking of a mATX with an Intel Core2 Duo based solution in a cube case to take up less room. I've decided that I only need a couple of expansion ports so a full ATX board isn't required.

A case like the Apevia X-Qpack2 or Aerocool M40 would be my target, small enough to fit where I want it to go, but big enough to ft everything I need into it.

9/8/07 10:18  

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