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Attempt to Repair, or Just Rebuild?


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#1
Mnem

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Hi guys! Any advice is super appreciated; I built this computer about 7 years ago, with a geek friend offering advice, and I just haven't retained much of what I learned when I built it. My computer has died, and after lots of Googling, it's likely either the motherboard or hard drive. If you're interested in what happened: While browsing (university web pages), it abruptly restarted; upon restart, the screen hangs after displaying “Searching for Boot Record from IDE-0..OK” and goes no further. I also tried starting from the XP install disk I have, which hangs after asking me to push any button to boot from CD. The system finds all of my hardware, as displayed prior to the system hanging. I do have an updated anti-virus program, and hadn’t experienced any previous issues. I don’t have another PC handy to test out the hard drive.

I’m currently at work (where I have access to the internet!), so I don’t have my specs handy. I was already in need of massive system upgrades – my 80 GB drive is bursting full, and aside from a new motherboard & power supply 5 years ago and a RAM update 4 years ago, everything in the system is 7 years old, and I am running a shady version of XP Pro. However, I was hoping not to spend too much money until next year, as this year I will be buying a house and paying for a wedding. My question - is it worth it to start by going out to Best Buy or Fry’s and picking up a hard drive to troubleshoot and possibly continue using some of these old components, or should I bite it and just order everything online from something like Newegg since it's all so old anyhow? I'm figuring I'll be needing motherboard/processor, power supply, RAM, video card, hard drive, OS, and possibly a new surge protector to be safe if I decide to rebuild.

Edited by Mnem, 08 May 2011 - 06:05 PM.

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#2
Digerati

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and I am running a shady version of XP Pro

Note this is a security oriented site, so we are not too keen on software thieves around here. Why? Well, besides the obvious that it is stealing, from a security standpoint, pirated software is often the source of malware because (1) badguys infected the pirated stuff and/or (2) often folks who use pirated software fail to keep their systems upgraded and patched out of fear Big Brother or Microsoft will detect the theft. This results in their systems being infected, compromised, taken over by badguys (typically unbeknownst to the user) then used as a zombie weapon in their bot-armies to attack or spam the rest of us. Note in the US, the fine is up to $250,000 and 5 years in jail per software license violation!

So, my advice is to get legal, and stay legal. You need to buy a proper license for Windows now, or install one of the many free Linux alternatives.

My question - is it worth it to start by going out to Best Buy or Fry’s and picking up a hard drive to troubleshoot

Probably not. Getting legal with Linux and purchasing a new hard drive will likely get you going, if that is all that is wrong, and you may be able to limp along for another year or two, but 7 years is getting up there. Even 5 years is old technologies.

SATA is the standard drive technology today with many of the newer motherboards no longer supporting IDE at all - it is likely your old system does not support SATA. This means if you buy a new IDE drive for your old system, you may not be able to use that IDE in your new computer, at least not without an adapter.

So if me, I would start shopping for a new computer - to include a legal OS license.
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#3
RESBAK

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If you can squeeze out some patience, time and money, this is a good opportunity to build again. For Windows, maybe you can check your company if they have some sort of discounts for Microsoft products. But if you can't then yeah, it would be better to shop around for really cheap computers and keep your old one just in case you want to play around with it in the future.
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#4
Digerati

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For Windows, maybe you can check your company if they have some sort of discounts for Microsoft products

If a student of faculty member of an accredited educational institution, check there too. Students discounts are often substantial.
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#5
Mnem

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Alright, after a lot of research and comparison, I think I've got a build in mind, but I'd love some feedback to be sure I haven't misjudged or overlooked anything! I don't need the very top-of-the-line, and am trying to keep expenses low, but I'd like for this build to last for a long while, with some future upgrades here and there when necessary. I mainly use my computer for web and WoW (sometimes at the same time), and would like it to be able to stand up to any new games out - I know there are a few that my fiance has been wanting to play, but his laptop just won't cut it. I've also just subbed to Netflix, so I may be watching that from my comp when it gets moved to a different room than the TV; I have a lovely 28" monitor that gets a decent res. Thanks for any input!

CPU:

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ955FBGMBOX

http://www.newegg.co...Item=19-103-808

Motherboard:

ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 AM3 AMD 880G HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard

http://www.newegg.co...Item=13-131-646

RAM:

PNY Optima 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model MD8192KD3-1333

http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820178333

Hard Drive:

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

http://www.newegg.co...Item=22-152-185

Video Card:

SAPPHIRE Vapor-X 100283VX-2L Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card w/ Eyefinity

http://www.newegg.co...Item=14-102-898

Power Supply:

RAIDMAX Blackstone series RX-700AC 700W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.3 / EPS12V V2.91 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

http://www.newegg.co...N82E16817152042

OS:

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium Full

http://www.newegg.co...N82E16832116716
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#6
Digerati

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RAIDMAX puts their brand name on PSUs made by several makers. Some are good, some not so much. While the specs on the one you selected are good, I generally like to buy from the "Good" column of the PC Mech's PSU Reference List.

Personally, I like Corsair, Mushkin, and Antec power supplies.

I note you selected the "Full" retail version of Windows 7 Home Premium. I would suggest instead you buy Windows 7 Professional 64-bit OEM. You save $40 going OEM and get the more featured packed version. Or if you don't need those features (compare here), get Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OEM and save $80.

Since you are buying hardware at the same time, you can legally buy and use the OEM license. The "Full" retail package includes both 32-bit and 64-bit installation disks. But the license only allows you to use one or the other - not both on two computers. Since you are buying 8Gb of RAM, you need the 64-bit version so why waste the money?

The two other stipulations to OEM vs Retail are (1) you (as the system builder) agree to provide Windows tech support for the final user (in this, you - again) for one year, and (2) this license and installation can only be used with this motherboard. If you upgrade computers or motherboards, you cannot transfer this license to it. I assume you expect this computer to last at least 3 years maybe 5 or 6. By then, Windows 9 or 10 will be here anyway.

For $40 - $80 in savings, I say, go with the OEM over Retail.

Also, you selected a motherboard with an on-board graphics solution - and a pretty good on-board solution too. You may want to hold off on a graphics card for now and see if the on-board meets your needs, or select a different motherboard that does not have on-board.
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#7
Mnem

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Thanks so much for the feedback! :)
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