Rebuilding, Part Two

So, I went in to work for some approved overtime a couple weeks ago, and that extra time was reflected on my most recent paycheck. That plus price drops on Amazon meant it was PC building time. So, I ordered a new motherboard, processor and RAM yesterday, to rebuild the CyberPowerPC gaming computer that I bought a little over a year ago. The fact that major components started failing a little over a year after purchase has made me start nicknaming this computer “Buyer’s Remorse.”

I’m not entirely certain what’s going bad, either the motherboard, processor or RAM. I didn’t feel like trying to test them, so I just replaced them. This is what was in the computer when I bought it:

-MSI B250M Bazooka motherboard: LGA 1151 socket, DDR4 RAM slots, and other stuff (do a web search if you’re interested in the stats.)
-Intel i5-7400: 3.0 GHz quad core
-8GB DDR4
-1TB HDD
-MSI AMD Radeon RX580 graphics card (4GB VRAM)
-Windows 10 Home

From the start, the computer was a dream. It gamed so nicely. That RX580 could play Final Fantasy 15 on nice settings out of the box, and other notoriously “heavy” games like Arkham Knight and Ark: Survival Evolved ran nicely too. When I went to dual boot Windows and Linux, I ran into issues with the RX580. AMD doesn’t do proprietary Linux drivers anymore, and I had screen flickering with the “Pro” open source driver. So, I swapped the card for my EVGA Nvidia GTX950, which runs great in both Windows and Linux.

Well, more recently, the computer has started not booting correctly. It wouldn’t post the first time every time, leading me to come to the conclusion that one of the main components was going out, either the motherboard, processor or RAM. So, I decided to replace those components. Here’s what I got from UPS today:

-MSI B450-A Pro motherboard: AM4, DDR4, etc.
-AMD Ryzen 5 2600: 3.4 GHz base clock, 6 cores, 12 threads
-16GB (2x 8GB) DDR4 2133 MHz Corsair Vengeance RAM

The whole setup cost me less than $371, after tax and wth Prime shipping. Here’s a pic of my initial planned build:

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Ah, That New Monitor Feeling

I finally got myself a 1080p monitor.

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It’s an Acer SB220Q 21.5″ monitor, 1080p display. It has VGA and HDMI hookups and it came with a VGA cable, but I don’t know who in their right mind would hook up a 1080p monitor with VGA. My graphics card doesn’t even have VGA, I’d have to have used a DVI to VGA adapter. Fortunately, I have HDMI cables a plenty, so I used one of those to hook it up. But, that was how I planned it. Had I not had one, I’d have bought a HDMI cable with the monitor.

I really like it, the display is nice and crisp. I had to do some minor text scaling fixes in both Solus OS (Linux) and in Firefox. That would have been necessary in Windows too, as no OS on the planet handles HiDPI displays that well. Fortunately, it’s only 1080p and I have excellent eyesight, so setting both to 1.1x scaling worked great. I watched some of Steve Neill’s Enterprise videos that he’s been re-posting on his blog on the new monitor. 🙂

Anyway, it’s Amazon’s choice for “monitor.” It’s only $90, and is considered by many to be the best sub $100 monitor, with 4.3/5 stars on Amazon.

Here it is next to my old Samsung monitor:

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The Samsung I’ve had for ages, it’s a 20″ display with a max resolution of 1600×900. Not a bad monitor at all, but it has seen better days. (the screen has a pretty bad scratch in it, which is totally my fault) Even though it’s got a smaller display, the bezel is much larger, so the Acer and Samsung are practically the same size.

Rebuilding

Well, it’s been an interesting weekend. Ordinarily where I work, it’s 40 hours maximum for hourly associates. Well, with it being a holiday and them being extremely shorthanded Friday night, another guy and I were allowed to go in for approved overtime. So, I’ll be getting 8 hours at time and a half on my next paycheck. It also means my weekend was only one day, instead of two, but that’s OK. (extra money is good) So, what did I do with my weekend? What I didn’t expect: tore apart two computers and put one back together.

So, about a year and two months ago, I bought a computer on Amazon. It was on sale and it was a sweet deal, especially for the Radeon RX580 graphics card that was included. That thing was amazing. Keyword: was. One of the reasons I bought the computer was for the Windows license, as those are expensive and by the time you buy the hardware, the license is basically free. I wanted to use some Windows only software, and hook up some devices that use USB and interface with some Windows software. Well, the build of Windows 10 that I have doesn’t like older USB devices, so getting said devices to connect when I wanted them to was extremely frustrating. Then the RX580 didn’t work right with Linux, which made me salty. So, I wound up putting my old EVGA Nvidia GTX950 in it. Most recently, the mouse started acting stupid (no biggie, pack in peripherals are shit) but worse, the computer has started not booting correctly. Sometimes, when I turn it on, it won’t do anything, not even load the boot splash. Since that’s stored on the motherboard, I’m thinking it’s a motherboard issue. Not good. The final straw was when I went to beta test a build for a Linux distribution I use. I got that all set up, got my bootloader where it needed to be, and it will only boot that OS, it won’t even let me choose the other Linux distribution I have installed. (I had unhooked the Windows drive, but that wouldn’t have affected the Linux drive) So, I messed around in UEFI, updated the bootloader in Linux, but nothing worked. So, I jettisoned the whole thing.

Enter my old gaming rig. Total custom, I built this beast from parts about 6.5 years ago. At that time, it was pretty cutting edge, and it’s no slouch now. It has a Gigabyte AM3+ motherboard, AMD FX8120 processor and 2x 4GB Crucial RAM. I put that GTX 950 in it, and two of my 1TB WD Blue hard drives. I also put a DVD-RW drive in it, just because I could. 😉 I have two of those, but I hardly use optical media in computers anymore, so one is enough. I was going to use the case for the newer computer, but the front panel uses a newer connector for the USB 3.0 ports that the Gigabyte motherboard doesn’t have, so I used my old Antec 600 gaming case, and my Rosewill either 400W or 450W PSU (can’t remember which it is.) Anyway, pictures:

I got everything pretty well cleaned up. There’s still some dust, but nowhere near as bad as it was. I also did what I could for cable management by carefully routing things and using wire ties, but the Antec 600 wasn’t really made for cable management. I do have some Patriot RAM on the way, it will be here tomorrow. I’d looked into getting a couple more Crucial 4GB modules, but it was going to be over $100 to get ones like I have. So, I just looked into totally replacing the RAM. They’re 1600 MHz DDR3, the Patriot RAM I ordered is 1866 MHz DDR3, 2x 8GB memory, so I’ll just totally swap the Crucial for the Patriot and have double the Memory. Then, I can get two more on down the road and max out the RAM for that board. 😎 I also have some 120mm Rosewill fans on the way, they’re supposed to arrive Tuesday. I have one Linux OS installed right now (the one I’m beta testing) and I’ll probably add a second sometime this week.

So, that’s how I spent my weekend. Fun fun.

I also got a book in the mail yesterday:

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It’s really cool. The guy who took the pictures is the same guy who photographs systems for Wikipedia, which has some awesome pics. It says in the back that there were a number of systems that he couldn’t get, but there are way more than I knew about, from the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972 to the Nintendo Switch in 2017. Great stuff. 🙂

I’d tried getting this book from Amazon in December, but it was backordered. I didn’t want to wait, so I ordered it from Books-A-Million, who claimed to have it in stock. A few days, later, I got a notification that it wasn’t in stock and they canceled my order. I remembered about it again the other day and ordered it from Amazon, as it’s in stock now.