Friday, October 07, 2005

I love computers

Actually that's not true. I really hate the state of computers, both hardware and software and I guess I can add a new catagory to that now : network (since the Internet is now just as much a part of our computer experience as ever.. tried to do something not connected to the net lately?). All 3 of these can be improved in so many ways.

But I'm writing to tell you that my current problem is hardware. Yesterday my computer stopped showing me video. It's killer hard to diagnose a problem with your computer when the display is out. Now, I just built this computer and the oldest part is 9 months old (motherboard) so nothing should break.

Loosing the video was a pain. After spending some serious time diagnosing that it wasn't external to the computer (I have a KVM switch and all my cables are nicely cable-tied and any diagnosis required undoing all that neatness and organization), I decided that it was most likely the video card.

Video cards today are just crazy. They have these insane processors that generate all this heat and in my belief, the fanless ones run the risk of burning out from heat. Since design goal of this pc was silence my videocard (a badass nVidia) had this crazy fanless heat sink deal that wrapped around the card (I think they call it a heat pipe or something). So, I was sure that it burned out due to poor design.

So, this is my main PC and I really depend on it for all kinds of things (paying bills, writing on this blog, my email, my calendar, contacts, etc.) so I needed to get this vid card issue addressed pronto. I took off at lunch in my car to head to my other house where I have tons of old pcs and parts stored in my basement. This is a big deal. I barely ever leave my house and I don't really enjoy it at all and when I do I don't usually use my car, but I was going to be lugging parts so I had to take the risk of coming home and spending 30 mins looking for a parking spot. Not to mention that I would need to actually put on clothes. Ugh.

So I get to the house and I'm just in such a hurry that I can't find a video card to use other than one that is really old (try an old matrox card with like maybe 8Mb of video ram). There are others in there somewhere but nothing is organized and there are just boxes of computer stuff everywhere. (Someday when I buy my final home I'll have a nice basement and I'll organize everything).

Finally I get home and climb under my desk with a flashlight to change the card. Normally I'd pull out the PC but it's all cable tied in and the wires are too short. Turns out that the card is so old that it isn't even AGP or PCI.. it's actually an ISA card.. into the trash it went.

I start to panic.. what do I do? I need my computer back! I research other cards and decide to buy a really cheap $30 card to hold me over till this one gets repaired (it is less than 4 months so it has to be under warrantee). I find a card and its going to take 7 days to ship it to me. Fuck that shit.

I then decide to just go to best buy and get a new card. I budget $150 and decide that tomarrow (today) I'll go and get it.. 2 trips in one day is just too much for me and at this point its late and finding parking when I get back will certainly be hellish.

So today I go all the way to best buy (got dressed, took the car, etc.) and got a damn card. This one was $170 with a $20 rebate. Finally I get home and lo and behold there's no rebate stuff. I call best buy and they tell me I have to come back (by the way, that took literally 35 minutes since nobody answers the damn phone there) to get the rebate materials. I ask if I can come back next week and she says it has to be today. Well, fuck that $20 I'm not getting in the car again.

Back under the desk again, I install the card and am finally feeling better since all I have to do is turn on the pc and all would be well. Well, nope... no video. It's at this point I decide it's the motherboard that is fried.

I don't know if any of you have changed a motherboard and expected windows to work again but let me tell you, the changes are slim. My best hope is to replace the motherboard with the same model. I can't find one and the ones I can find are $200 and will take a week to deliver. So, I decide to bite the bullet and send it back to Asus for repair. It has a 3 year warrantee afterall.

After an hour messing with their support website and on the phone I finally get them to issue me an RMA.

So now I sit here with a video card I have to return to best buy and a motherboard I have to pull out of my pc (not easy) and then buy a box and peanuts for and then ship it off to asus where they say they will turn it around in 10 days. Assuming I get it out to them tomarrow that puts me at GASP, 2 weeks w/o my computer. I am going to loose my mind.

So, I'm going to be out of touch for a while. But I will still write here since it's web based..


Yael said...

did the BIOS issue any error beeps? (you know, most MBs have those error codes)
If it totally wasn't communicating with the video card, the BIOS should have stopped and not even let the computer boot up.

I assume, btw, that there's no on-board graphics or you would have tried that...

I also assume that the AGP was compatible voltage-wise, right? (this probably isn't an issue anymore.. but when i put together my computer... what was it, two years ago already? holy shit! anyway there was a voltage compatibility thing that I had to make sure of)

trace said...

There wer no bios beeps and no errors.. also no on-board.. Actually the computer appears to boot up just fine.. but with no video.. This is a machine that was working fine up until that day where it just decided to shop showing me video.. Which is why, at first, I decided it was the card and not the mobo.

Yael said...

probably a stupid question, but you did check that the screen itself is okay, right?

Also, if it's an LCD screen, it may give a "no input signal" or "out of range" or some such other message... did it do that?

trace said...

I've got 4 computers on a KVM and all work well except the one that's dead.. the monitor is fine and yes it did say "no input signal". Thanks for caring so much on this but the MB is at ASUS as we speak so it's out of my hands for 2 weeks...

Yael said...

heheh... That's funny, I do come off as caring too much. It's like my brain is programmed to care about computer hardware issues! I just can't resist the curiosity...