Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

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Moderators: emkubed, Captain Ned

Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 6:42 pm

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As you might have seen on our front page, Nvidia has graced us with 20 licenses for Avalanche Studio's fine sandbox-style third-person shooter Just Cause 2 to coincide with the release of the new GeForce GTX 460. We're going to give away those licenses to our readers. We typically run such giveaways from the front page, but we thought we'd try something a little different this time. So here's the deal.

To enter for a chance to win one of the licenses, you must post in this thread to tell us about your very first computer build or upgrade. Since you need a gaming PC to play Just Cause 2, we assume you've had a chance to get your hands dirty at least once. What did you build? What did you try upgrading? How did it go? Did you set anything on fire, or was the upgrade everything you hoped it would be? If you've never posted in the forums before, now's your chance. Keep in mind registering a forum account allows you to post in the comments for our front-page articles, as well.

Now for some ground rules. Each participant may only post one story. We'll be enforcing quality standards in the thread as we do in the rest of the TR forums. That means qualifying posts must a) be on-topic, b) not contain so many spelling and syntax errors as to be unreadable, and c) be free of profanity. If you attempt to game the system by entering more than once, you will be disqualified, and your IP may be banned from the forums and the front-page comments. (We can tell; trust us.) Also, this thread is only for submissions. If you want to ask questions, discuss the contest, or comment on someone's submission, please head over to the contest discussion thread.

The winners will be the 18 people whose upgrade stories TR editors judge to be the most fun and/or interesting. Additionally, Back Porch moderators emkubed and Captain Ned will each get a license for helping us moderate the contest and keep things going smoothly.

We will be accepting submissions for the seven days following the creation of this thread. The winners will be announced a couple of days after the thread is closed.

Update: We've now announced the winners.
Cyril
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:08 pm

1st to post ... :lol:

I built a new Core i7 gaming rig
The build went very well with little or no issues.

1. CORE i7 920 CPU
2. ZALMAN CNPS9700 LED 110mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler.
3. ASUS P6T Deluxe/OC Palm LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard.
4. OCZ Platinum 12GB (6 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
(PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit.
5. ASUS EAH4870X2/HTDI/2G/A Radeon HD 4870 X2 2GB 512-bit GDDR5
PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card.
6. SeaSonic M12D SS-750 750W ATX12V V2.3/EPS12V V2.92
SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER Certified
Modular Active PFC Power Supply
7. SAMSUNG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe
Black SATA Model SH-S223Q
8. 500 Gig SATA hard drive
9. Vantec EZ-Swap2 hard drive enclosure w/ 1 TB Hot Swap SATA drive.
10. Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1
11. Antec Twelve Hundred Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case.
12. 3 x 120mm blue LED front fans.
13. 2 x 120mm blue LED rear fans.
14. 1 x 200mm top fan

1. Antec 1200 tower case front with Vantec EZ-Swap2 rack
2. top case looking into left side window
3. Samsung Diamond Pro 2070 & Antec tower
4. Looking into left side from above
5. Left side of case.


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nightrider
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:17 pm

What am I the first person to post? Perhaps not. Oh well. My story isn't all that interesting, perhaps I was lucky... or not.

Back in my senior year of high school I decided to build my own computer after my olden hp ze4500 went kaput. And by kaput I mean felt my heel. Dang thing had a cracked screen but still worked. Eventually it gave up the ghost. I thought I'd reuse the parts in it, AMD Athlon XP 2500+ with a nifty unlocked multiplier, the replacement 15" screen (still looking for an LVDS to DVI connector! ) the hard drive. But it turns out the boot got the hard drive, and the processor found a home in a friend's PC for a mediocre 30$. So I decided to make my own one.

As a matter of fact, when researching computer parts for this first build of my life an old friend of mine lead me to TR where I found all the benchmarks to make a decision final. I've been here ever since. 2005 I believe, yea. I decided, as I was a poor high school kid with an allowance barely more than I'm making now, an AMD Sempron 2800+ was on the menu from a local shop, and an MSI K8N Neo3 motherboard with support for both AGP and PCI-e. With it I bought 512mb of DDR1 and a Geforce 4 and off to the races I went. An el-cheapo case with a 500w power supply from godknowswhere was the enclosure of choice.

Halo for the PC was my game of choice. Without bump mapping, specular, and a resolution of 1024x768 was what I was limited to. Still didn't stop me from enjoying it. Eventually I went to the same brick'n mortar place where I got the processor and purchased a radeon x300se. Suddenly I was blown away by the shiny surfaces of blood gulch and ambient lighting of the banshee's bombs. After a while I decided halo was enough for me and moved on to broader horizons. Half life 2 and Lineage 2 followed suit, and once again desired a new upgrade. On newegg I found a nice deal for a radeon x700 for 100$, which after exhaustive studying on TR's own benchmarks, I found a good buy and snatched it up. Oh the glory days had come.

Untill the fan started whining. Choked with dust and barely able to move, I took matters into my own hands which is an entirely bad idea. "I'll vacuum it!" the little ignorant child in me said. So I did. Slapped it back in. Nothing. Switched ram out and still nothing. No fan, no beeps, no sweeps, no magic smoke, nothing. Well... I had a hunch, so I bought a brand new motherboard from ECS for less than 60$ and another sempron, this time a 3200+ on 90nm with SSE3 instructions. Exchanging some parts, I found that the graphics card, processor and motherboard were dead.

With a 7600gt, it lasted me a good two years untill an upgrade. In which the PSU belched magic smoke. But that's another story.

Yep, that's that. What did I learn?

Don't vacuum computer parts.
Don't blame MSI, it was your own ignorance, FOOL.
Sapphire radeons are solid (personal experience :p ). That x300se still works today as a backup, even with a missing chip I unfortunately cracked off the back side (cough).

Can't wait to read other's stories.
Mr.Lif
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:21 pm

My first build was back around 2002, consisting of an Athlon XP 2500, a ASUS A7NX8-E Deluxe (Soundstorm Whooho!), 512 MB DDR-400 and.... A glorious GeForce 2 MX 400. I guess my sentiments about that video card should be omitted :lol:. Building the whole system took me some time because I was mostly reading the manuals quite a few times and checking that I wasn't forgetting anything, after all this was kinda more fragile than LEGO :wink:. After everything was plugged and triple checked, I hit the power button and... it beeped once!. After a few months, I was looking for some reviews of video cards and got here to TR and the rest is history by now :P.
The Internet wrote:"[The] 360 starts at the factory, moves to retail shelves, into consumer's homes, back to Microsoft. So THAT'S why Microsoft called it the 360...It all comes full-circle ;)"
lethal
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:39 pm

My first system that I built was an original Pentium, not even MMX, when I was about 14 or 15. I moved up from an 8086 based IBM PS2. While I don't remember much about the PC I built, since it didn't take long to start upgrading different parts, I do remember the process of picking and ordering parts for it. I have to give the obligatory nod to Computer Shopper magazine from back in the day, the one that was nearly the size of a phone book and that my mailman refused to deliver. The other part of the process was using that PS2 with a 28.8 modem to use DosLynx, through a SLIP connection, through a local BBS that had internet to hit up web sites of different manufacturers for info. I specifically remember checking out the FIC website and looking at different motherboards pictures, which I thought at the time was amazing. To even look at images, you had to 'click' on one and the computer would go to a full screen mode and show you that one image.

Good times. Learned a lot.
cygnus1
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:47 pm

The very first rig I built 100% by myself was 9 or so years ago as a freshman in college. When I say "by myself," I guess I'm not being entirely honest. A gaming pc was all I wanted for Christmas, and I managed to talk my family and everyone I knew to contributing. I was coming off of a gaming hiatus. I hadn't been into consoles since the end of the Super Nintendo era, and my parents' Pentium 200 MMX was barely enough to run Half-Life and they didn't upgrade till I moved out. Newegg didn't exist at the time, and I'm not sure how I managed to coordinate it all. I have to guess at the specs but I think I managed to end up with an Athlon 1300 and 128 megs RAM (SDR). The board was the first gen N-Force with the onboard video. I was able to upgrade that a few years later to a Radeon 9500. Eventually, I also upped the ram to a quarter gig and an 1800+. This was the rig I ran Half-Life 2 as a slideshow at 800x600. I did keep most of it in various configurations until I eventually had to throw out the core when I got married and we moved out of the college town I lived in. It had been collecting dust waiting for a worthy project, but we didn't have the cash for things like extra power supplies and harddrives. The case is still in use. It's housing my dev server.

I did homework on it, stayed up till dawn playing UT99 and Civ3, a bit of ... :wink: of course. That little box got me through college. Even if I don't win, it's nice to think back on it.
MrBlarg
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:52 pm

My first upgrade was from a Dell (my first PC) early in 2006, when I was a freshman at Purdue. I wanted a graphics card to give me a boost over the Intel graphics in the Dell - and to run games the IGP refused to run. Having no past experience in building PCs I went ahead and got a 7800GT, along with a more powerful 550W PSU. I was in for a surprise when I tried to install the card into a PCI slot and it wouldn't fit. When I found out I needed a motherboard with a PCIe slot I quickly ordered an ATX Nforce 4-based board. Of course the Dell had a mBTX form factor, so that didn't go exactly as planned either. So I ordered an ATX case for it all and got everything together. I carried over the CPU, memory, and hard drive from the Dell, plus an Audigy 2 sound card I had gotten a little while earlier, put it together, and by grace the thing fired right up!

Since then I have learned quite a bit more about PC hardware and have made many incremental upgrades to my PC to be what it is today. I kinda miss the early days where I was flying by the seat of my pants trying to learn as much as I could about PCs, but at the same time I'm glad I have those experiences well behind me.
i5 750 | GA-P55-USB3 | 8GB DDR3 1600 | Radeon HD 6950 | 256GB m4 + 500GB Spinpoint F3 | Audigy 2 ZS | Corsair VX550W | Freezer 7 Pro | Lian Li PC-7FN | X-Silent fans | U2413 + 2209WA | Corsair K90 | Logitech G5 | ProMedia 2.1 | Win 7 Pro x64
MixedPower
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:53 pm

The i7 in the first post pales in comparison to my first build!

I wish I remembered all the details but it was 1996, I was 16 years old, and cobbled together a Pentium 75MHz that I overclocked to a whopping 100MHz. That was rounded-out with pitiful amounts of RAM and disk space, but I was moving up from a pre-built 386SX 25MHz so it was still a hell of an upgrade. :D In the months leading up to it, I was jealous of a friend's computer since he had a Pentium 66... but I was less jealous of the fact his CPUs kept burning themselves up. I knew the original Pentiums ran hot, but there was something seriously wrong with his setup and I was surprised the company he ordered from was willing to send him so many replacements. I think I christened the new computer with a game of Quake against said friend (which, surprisingly - given the rate he was going through them, wasn't enough to fry his P66-of-the-week).

When I look back on my upgrade purchases during those years, two sayings come to mind: 1. Don't throw good money after bad. 2. Buy cheap - buy twice. Oh well. The valuable life lesson I got out of it is that it's not all about price, it's about value. :)
CuttinHobo
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:56 pm

so a few years ago, i had saved up enough money to really build up my dream computer. custom, hand-built acrylic case, passive water cooling, and kickass hardware + massive overclocking, of course. specs were:
Intel Q9450
AMD HD 4850
8 GB DDR2
2x750GB main drives in RAID0 + 4x1TB secondary drives in RAID5
CPU, GPU, RAM, chipset were all watercooled.
32" HDTV as monitor
double duty as an HTPC. i had a rolly desk that i could use for gaming and move it out of the way when i wanted to slack off on a beanbag or whatever in the living room.

but that's not an upgrade story.

the upgrade story begins after i came home from a vacation and discovered that the case had been damaged. nuts. the RAID5 drives went to my "bedroom" computer, which got turned into a media server. So, without a case, i decided to take the whole thing apart and see what i could salvage and what i could re-use. not enough acrylic to do much. certainly couldn't build up a whole new case, and to be honest, the internals were packed pretty tightly and it was pretty hard to work on. so i decided to upgrade my desk.

currently the majority of the work is already done. i've decided to upgrade to a 5850 (i would have used a GTX460, but i'd need a new waterblock). The cooling rods would hang out the side, the entire computer would be hanging underneath. Much more room to work with and much easier to upgrade in the future. on top of that, it's not taking up space on the floor any more, so i'd consider that an upgrade as well. hopefully in time for starcraft 2.
willyolio
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:01 pm

I'll give it a shot.

My first build was:
  • Athlon XP 2500 - an earlier one that was fully unlocked. I could get it up to 3200 speeds. Eventually replaced with a XP-M 2500 that got up to 2500 MHz
  • Asus A7N8X Deluxe 2.0
  • ATI Radeon 9500 Pro - not the moddable one
  • 1 gig Geil DDR 400 - shiny heat spreaders and all but couldn't get 10 MHz out of it
  • A Kingwin black anodized 2.0 mm aluminum case with a removable mobo tray, side window... It was a beauty but showed too many finger prints. I eventually tired of the case window - now I much prefer cases without windows.
  • PSU was some off-brand 500 watt green LED with neon green mesh wrappings on the cables. It was a two fan job that was just way too loud.
  • 3 80 mm green LED case fans - they were all way too loud
  • Some no-name copper skived-fin heatsink that worked pretty decent
  • An NED DVD-RW drive
  • Black floppy drive
  • 120 gig Seagate SATA drive
  • And finally, 2 green cold cathode light tubes

It was a fine machine that was way too loud and way too flashy. I eventually dropped a 9800 pro in there when those things got way down in price. That mobo was one fine mobo. I loved that mobo. It was so stable and very tweakable. I did have Pentium 4 2.4 C envy though. I'd have loved to have gotten one of those sweet CPUs.

My brother ended up building a near twin computer, only he did right and got a 9800 pro from the start and he got an Abit NF7-S 2.0 (the chipset fan eventually died and burned up the mobo). My bro is still using that anodized black aluminum case to this day. That thing is probably 6 or 7 years old at this point. But it was cool for me that he liked my build so much that he copied it - and the parts he changed he did so at my suggestion.
flip-mode
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:17 pm

I got my hands dirty performing upgrades on my first PC: a Pentium 90 16mb win 95 box. It served me well for a year or two, but I tossed in a Diamond Monster Voodoo 1 4MB when they dropped in price. The surgery wasn't too difficult after a tech support call to Diamond due to an outdated bios version on my part. After hooking up the goofy vga bypass cable, the bundled Tomb Raider (part 1) when from a jumpy 20 fps @ 400x300 to 60fps solid @ 640x480.

Not many months latter my attention turned to the CPU. During a trip to Fry's in Dallas I picked up a new motherboard, CPU (P233 MMX) and a whopping five point something gigabyte hard drive on impulse. A few hours of lining up holes and screws and I had a booting machine of sorts. The mouse would jump across the screen and hard lock every few minutes. After taking it apart again I noticed that I left in an unnecessary mount on the case and it was touching the back of the board!

After a few other lessons, such as the dire need to reinstall windows after a motherboard swap ( I didn't know about the HKLM enum reg trick that was possible in win 95-98 at the time), I tossed in 16mb more ram for 32 total and I was rocking Unreal, TFC, Half-life and Starcraft for at least another year.

First pc 1996-1999 RIP
Wyglif
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:22 pm

My first build was a white box 286. I messed up somewhere along the line and fried it, though.

My first recent build was a dual Celeron BP6.

My most recent upgrade was from my Core 2 Quad and EP35-DS4 to an i7-920 and EX58-UD5.

None of these are particularly noteworthy or exciting though, so I am highly unlikely to win.

Perhaps my most interesting upgrade story dates from when I got married. The wife had tons of things to organize, and wanted to be unseen-by-me for superstitious and practical reasons. Knowing that wandering around the house by myself would be unhelpful, I decided to get some cheapish upgrades and do those. I spent the whole evening before my wedding day swapping in a new motherboard and upgrading from an AXP 2400+ to one of the super-Barton 2500+. It was a lot of fun, and the evening flew by.

I guess I should be glad that it went pretty smoothly. Being all droopy on your wedding day because your upgrades went poorly would not score points with the new bride!
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:27 pm

The very first PC build of my own was a Z-station 425 that got "lost" during shipment and was later returned to the shipper (my friend) completely gutted. I then proceeded to upgrade them with a 486 DX/2-66, 16MB of ram, AB 16 audio card, 4x Toshiba CD-Rom, WDC 80MB hdd, and an extra 256K of video ram bringing the total to 512K on a Cirrus Logic 5424. The machine was unique in the respect that it had Local Bus Video (the video chip was on the same bus as the cpu) before VLB was available. Machine was used for about 2 years before it was made obsolete by the Intel Pentium processor. I used to be a Zenith Data Systems component level tech until they closed in 1996. Been building home grown PCs ever since

I remember being so excited when I got the machine dispite it being stripped becuase it was my first IBM PC Compatable
Strong or weak in the end we are all dead.
YeuEmMaiMai
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:30 pm

The firt time I got my hands 'dirty' was to upgrade my desktop's RAM and Video Card. I had 2 Gb of DDR2 RAM and an Ati HD3650, and I wanted to add an extra 4 Gb of RAM and replace the card with a 4850. I thought it would be dead simple, but it wasnt. First, 4 Gb of DDR2 was expensive as hell in my country, and a 4850 was basically impossible to find. The other choice I had was to buy the ram and the card from amazon and then import them to my country; this was extremely cheap, for some reasons too complicated to explain here, but these things would have no warranty at all and it would be impossible to RMA them if they were DOA. At the end I went the import from the US route, after all, what were the chances of getting as dead card?
After waiting a flipping month for my package to arrive, I got my hands over it, and behold, everything arrived just fine! :)
Faster than lighthing I installed my new RAM, (6 Gb of RAM sounds nice doesn't it?) and the 4850. The computer booted up perfectly and I almost cried of joy, I just managed to upgrade my computer without destroying it!
Then the problems started to arise. The computer started to crash randomly, but since before buying the RAM I read that some motherboards can get unstable with 3 ram sticks, I never got my hopes too high about having 6 Gb. I got rid of one of the sticks, and...it worked! Although not for long...
Then I started to play games, and noticed that sometimes the screen would turn black for a few seconds and then come back (the driver had crashed) and sometimes there would be some serious graphics distortion. I concluded that something was terribly wrong with my video card. First I thought it was the drivers; I tried the most recent ones, older ones, heck, almost every different drive rI could get my hands on. Nothing worked, and I concluded the card itself was fauly...out of warranty, no RMA possible.
After many months of crying and troubleshooting I found who was to blame: it wans't my video card, it was the RAM. Apparently my motherboard was too stupid to work nice with the 2x2Gb kit I bought, it would work with one stick or the other, but not both. eventually, after some mad testing and sticks swapping I somehow managed to completely and utterly killed 2 of the 3 2Gb sticks I had...
And here I am, I fried 4 Gb of RAM during my first upgrade, and I don't even know why or when, but at least I got a shiny 4850 and it rocks! :D
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:32 pm

My first upgrade/build was when I took a case I had left over from my 486dx2/66 and swapped in a new motherboard and AMD 486dx4/120. Wow, was that a huge upgrade. Being DOS, I didn't really have to worry much about drivers. I put my SoundBlaster (just Soundblaster in those days) and 4 megs of ram and I was flying. I ended up droping in a Trident 1meg video card with my 80 meg hard drive, put Stacker on it, and was good to go. It would take me a little over 7 hours to compress Mp3s. And then I was amazed to discover that Stacker didn't help my hard drive hold more data (compression of compressed data doesn't work so well). So I added an outrageously expensive 750MB hard drive. It was larger than the I/O could handle in those days, so I had to use included software. That drive was so slow, but I could sure load up my music collection on my hard drive. It ran DOS 5 and Windows 3.1 (and later 3.11 and even 95) extremely well. Those were such good times.
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TheEmrys
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:34 pm

My first build was a comedy of errors that somehow ended up working anyway.

In May 2000, my then-previous computer died because the PSU was full of dust and I was leaving the computer on for weeks at a time. Since I was just about to go off to college, it was an OK-ish time to build a new one anyway. I went largely off Ars Technica's recs at the time, which included a Celeron-533A and Tyan Trinity 400 motherboard.

So the parts eventually showed up, and I had no real idea of where to start. I'd never seen a brass standoff before and had no idea what they were for, so I ended up using them on top of the motherboard to screw it directly into the case. Miraculously this didn't result in a short for the whole four years I had that computer.

I was also used to older 486-and-earlier CPUs that didn't run fast enough to need heatsinks, so I thought nothing of popping that Celeron in there and starting the computer up. It ran for a whole 20 minutes before it shut down the first time. Not to be outdone, I restarted it and it ran for three or four minutes. :o After that, I stuck an old K6-200 heatsink onto it and that worked fine until the HSF got there a few days later. No other CPU failures for that four years - Intel built that thing to last.
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bthylafh
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:36 pm

My first build was in 2004, so I haven't been doing this as long as many folks here. All of my childhood computers were store-bought.

But in summer of '04, I had just graduated from college, I had some money to blow, and I wanted a nice desktop. I first acquired a 2.8GHz P4 from a disassembled HP server. A Gigabyte GA-8IPE1000 Pro-G, with a gigabyte of Crucial DDR-400 RAM, an 80GB Maxtor hard drive, and a Geforce FX5200 video card rounded out the build.

It wasn't a spectacular system, but it was stable and faster than any computer I had used before, and the motherboard made a good base for future upgrades: another gig of RAM, hard drives up to 300GB, and better graphics cards- first a Geforce 6600GT, then a 6800GS. I also added a Thermalright CPU cooler, Zalman and Arctic-Cooling GPU coolers, and moved it all into a nice Antec case. I'm sure I am forgetting some upgrades.

The motherboard finally died in early 2009, victim of leaky capacitors, and I finally retired the system after 4.5 years. I'm still using many parts from it, including the case and optical drives, and all of its old hard drives live on in new homes. Its old graphics cards await the imminent return of AGP :P
FuturePastNow
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:40 pm

My first build was back around 98-99 ish. AMD K6-2 I believe. Still have the CPU framed on the wall in my office.

Went out and got myself all the parts, including a ATI Xpert@play video card and a Aopen full size tower. When I went to mount the motherboard I realized the plastic pop-in stand offs were missing. So off on the bus I went to a local store across town. Got the stand offs and came back to mount the board. Turns out this was during the time that all the stand offs were turning to metal...total waste of a day.

Then I spent a few hours trying to get my ATI drivers to install in Win98. Constant BSODs led me to have a minor meltdown. Kicked a speaker and came close to breaking a toe. Had to take a walk around the block to cool off. I swore off ATI until I picked up a 9600 Pro a few years back. I believe this same system caused me to swear off Creative cards which I still haven't caved on since they still haven't got their drivers act together.

In the end though I had the build done and had hosted the first LAN party with my friends...before they were cool.
This forum owns.
Chaseme
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:42 pm

My first computer was a horrible Athlon SLOT LOAD 700MHz PC. It was "fast" (for the time, in 2000) but it was still horrible.

My first BUILD was:

Athlon 1.2GHz Socket A chip
MSI KT266 (not the A version, which was apparently super awesome, because Via (REMEMBER THEM?) fixed their horrible 266 chipset problem)
2x256MB generic RAM
2x40GB IBM 60GXPs for RAID 0 SUPER SPEED (2 deathstars. IN RAID 0)
19" samsung 955DF 19" CRT
128MB Kyro II (... ST Micro ftw! They're still around!)
Antec large tower case with 4 80mm fans (loud ones)
An Akasa silver something or other heatsink
some crappy no-name keyboard with AWFUL keys
Microsoft mouse
Floppy drive!

I thought it was going to be the greatest computer ever. I was no longer the stupid noob who bought a Slot Load AMD processor, no, I was on SOCKET CPUs now, and I was going to overclock my 1.2GHz CPU to ... at least 1.4GHz.

First let's see what happened. I read on forums on my 700MHz slot load computer that the default MSI BIOS didn't support RAID. Solution? Flash a custom BIOS. OK, put in floppy, flash. Board won't boot. Board is dead. WIN!

Store exchanges me a KT266R with built in RAID support and I RAID 0 my drives and it's super awesome for a time.

About 6 months later my computer is having problems booting Windows 2000. I end up having to reinstall Windows every time I want to turn my computer on, and leave it on unless I want to be unable to boot things. Of course at the time I didn't know about the DEATHSTAR experience, but I was quickly becoming very familiar with it. One drive dies. Because I thought RAID 0 was a super awesome idea at the time and I thought "backup solution" meant taking a laxative, I lose all my data. I get the drive replaced, which takes a week. Super awesome, I reinstall Windows 2000. A week later the 2nd drive fails. I lose all my data.

At this stage I replace the 2 IBM 40gb 60GXPs with 60GB Quantum Drives (quantum? They're still around, right? RIGHT?). They're super loud and not as fast as the death stars but at least they last longer than 6 months and don't seem to be on a mission to destroy my data.

About 2 months later, the motherboard dies. I get a new motherboard (I forget what kind, but it works w/ the socket A). Unfortunately the board does not work with the Kyro 2 (WHY DID I BUY THIS CARD?) so I have to get a new video card, which is some sort of crappy ATI Radeon that can't run anything.

I never did end up overclocking my processor.

Contrast that to my current build:
i5-750 @ 3.5GHz
4GB RAM
2x2tb WD GP RAID 1, 1x500GB WD, 2x1TB WD GP (1 eSATA for backup)
ATI 5850
3x24" LCDs (2 Dell, 1 BenQ).

But, without all the early stumbles and amazing hardware failures (seriously, I have the worst luck), I wouldn't know how to overclock my CPU, build a computer, how to image a disk and have some sort of backup policy.

So I guess it was worth it? But I can see why people just buy consoles! All you have to deal with there is RROD.
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:44 pm

Back in 2004 after getting sick of my first computer, a Dell that I ordered in 2002 while stationed in Japan, I decided to become a man and read up on a few websites on the "how-tos" and build my first computer. After a whopping 2 hours of research, I ordered everything from Newegg in one fell swoop. Three days after ordering, the messenger of the gods (the UPS guy) bestowed onto me everything that I had ordered. $1773.54 ($2,048.42 in today's dollars) worth of computer parts were on my doorstep and my journey had begun.

My first build consisted of the following (thanks to Newegg for keeping my order history on file):
I crammed everything (besides the speakers obviously) into a case with LEDs so bright I could have directed air traffic from my living room.

After spending at least 4 hours trying to put it together, it was my first build after all, I finally got it up and running Windows XP Pro with no problems at all. Well, except for my new battle wounds courtesy of the case's many sharp edges. I was victorious and very proud of myself since I could play Doom 3 at the highest settings possible. I was the envy of all the guys that I played Planetside with....at least I like to think so. After my glorious victory in defeating the fear of one's first build, I was addicted. My addiction soon turned to stupidity.

After reading up on a certain website's forum, which I won't name (hint: it rhymes with Dom's Cardware), I soon learned of the wondrous world of overclocking. I even read some posts from someone with a build nearly identical to own, whom was successful with overclocking the bejeezus out of the very same Prescott that I had. So what did I do? Did I learn everything there is to know about overclocking? Did I take the appropriate baby steps needed by one that has never attempted such a feat before? Did I make sure that each increase in clockspeed would run stable? Did I research if my memory was capable of even coming close to achieving the same results as the other guy? Did I ever second-guess whether or not the crummy 420 Watt power supply that came with the case was up for the task? If you answered "No!", then you're a genius.

What did I do instead? If you answered "You used the exact same settings as the other guy without testing anything!", then we need to have a discussion about this week's Powerball numbers.

Yup. Without blinking an eye, I jacked up the FSB (remember those?), the voltage, the whole shabang, and proceeded to power up the computer. What did I get for my troubles? If you answered "Your power supply went POP!, released it's magic smoke while waking up the wife, two cats, and an upstairs neighbor (we lived in apartments at the time)", then we need to stop talking because you're really starting to creep me out now, as you know far too many details about my life.

After realizing what I had done, which I will now admit I was under the influence many adult beverages, I decided to call it a night. After all, it was now 3am. The next day, I discovered (much to my delight) that I was lucky that only the crappy PSU was fried. I hoofed it on over to the only CompUSA that I'd ever been to and unwittingly paid far too much money for an Ultra X-Connect 500W Modular PSU. When I got home, I was relieved to find out that the new PSU worked like a champ.

To this day, I am very hesitant about overclocking. I still do it from time-to-time, but not without researching everything beforehand.

Moral of the story: stay in school, don't do drugs, and never, ever go to Tom's, err...I mean Dom's Cardware and decided to overclock while heavily intoxicated.
Last edited by Dizik on Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
Heavy is good, heavy is reliable. If it doesn't work, you can always hit them with it.
Dizik
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:53 pm

My first PC build was in a computer class I took in high school back in '02. It was the first year the class was offered and we got whatever parts the school district had abandoned. I don't remember much but here is what I do remember:
-Intel 486 with maybe 128mb
-128 mb RAM

I don't remember the video card, but it was able to load Mame. On a side note: if the machine had the turbo option you could see old arcade games run way too fast. The frame rate wasn't limited, lol. It just sped up the game play.

Most of the parts the class had to use were very old. I had to find the drivers by searching the fcc's website for manufacturer names and scouring the web. This was back in the day when google was new and people still used yahoo, lycos, and ask for searches :P I have great memories of messing around with Pheonix and Award BIOS, Listening to the different POST codes, getting to be a computer nerd for the first time in my life, and telling the stupid kid that if he put the screw driver in the power supply something bad would happen to him.

Incidentally my first build resulted in my first bout with programming. I wrote a batch script menu for navigating my MAME ROMS. I spent most of the time making ASCII art that no one ever saw but me. Now I program for a living. Its no where near as fun as making ASCII art :wink:

Thanks Tech Report for causing me to have this mini trip down memory lane.
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:54 pm

When I lived in Malawi, Africa, I built up a PC to play whatever ( possibly bootlegged, as originals were in short supply...) games I could get my hands on! I managed to scrounge together some pretty crappy parts, even for the time. I scrounged together, mostly used:

-Athlon 2800
-512 mb ddr in 128mb dimms!!!
-GeForce4 MX 440 AGP 8X EXTREME
-15 inch CRT!! (partially Pink)
-an old PSU from an old iranian friend's dead computer
-one of those super ugly off white towers that everyone had, and everyone hates. To this day I seriously do not understand who started that horrible trend, and how it lasted as long as it did
-and a totally rad cdrw 8x!!!

The building of the system went reasonably well.
I procured the Athlon 2800 from a friend who made a trip to South Africa. I requested a pentium iv, as I had an old 775 mobo, but upon his return he assured me, that they don't sell intel chips in South Africa, and that was the only one anyone was selling. Of course, that wasnt the case, but I now had a faster chip, and just needed a mobo. Luckily a friend who worked at the USA Peace corps had just had his Athlon cpu bite the dust, and was going back to Ohio, and gave me his sweet Socket A mobo! That was super lucky for me, because as many of you who perhaps have seen some of my posts in regards to my wife's feelings on spending money on computers. She pretty much hates them, and was not wanting this system to cost a dime. She can be terrifying.

I bought the ram from a local guy, unaware of the difference between ddr and sd ram, as was he. At first, of course, I bought the cheaper SD ram, since neither one of us knew the difference, (i have since learned a fair bit about computers :lol: ) only to discover that of course, it didn't work. So back to this Gentleman I go. It was quite the shop, small, PACKED WITH STUFF, and HOT. I went back to discuss with this proprietor my predicament. He was less helpful than I had hoped. It seemed that a return was not on the table, and the price of the ddr was double our previous agreement. He mistakenly assumed that I was wealthy and willing to be bullied. We had a very loud argument, as I like to be treated fairly, and finally agreed on a price that was more reasonable. 50$ for 512mb of ram! At this point, I had most of the other parts, and really had no choice.

The rest of the build went mostly without issue. And It all went down over a matter of 2 months.

In Malawi, Electricity is not always available. They have rolling blackouts, and for a few hours a day, you have no electricity at all, and you never know when it's going to strike. They also have a fair number of power surges.

I finally got the whole system together, built it all up, placed it beautifully on the desk. made sure that you couldnt see the powerbar/surge protector and that all the wires were hidden away. It was extremely satisfying. My wife was convinced that I wouldnt be successful, imagine the joy on my face watching the system POST! oohhh how I "educated" her on my skills! I installed xp, and threw in San Andreas! Installed it, and booted it up! I probably played for 3 hours before getting up to make a snack! I have always liked the gameplay in GTA, though it has more sex in it than I would probably like. Anyway. I went to the kitchen to cook some rice, got everything together, put the pot on the stove, and shucks!, a blackout. "Dang", I thought, "I haven't saved in an hour!!" I went back into my livingroom, only to smell something very strange, and happened to notice some smoke...

OMG MY COMPUTER WAS ON FIRE. I quickly unplugged it, and swore about buying a surge protector for 300 kwacha ( 2$). I never knew, up until that point, what a burst capacitor smelled like. Now that i know, it is super recognizable. It turned out the fire was minor. mostly just burst capacitors, and a fair bit of smoke; but Alas! It was too late. My sweet sweet angel was dead. from the PSU to the mobo, it had all been hit. as I sat on my knees staring at what once was, and missing it's beautiful pixels with all my heart. Like romeo upon finding juliet is still alive:"Why art thou yet so fair?", I stared at that precious Thoroughbred cpu. Longing to witness it in it's glory again, but still spellbound by it; knowing that upon my wife's return from town, It would be yet more painful.

I never again attempted building a computer in Africa. It was too painful, brought up too many memories of my love. Up until about 2 weeks ago, I had but a pentium 2, I recently received a q6600, 680i, sapphire 4850 1gb, and 6 gbs ddr2, it is running beautifully, though it doesn't give me the same satisfaction that athlon gave. It was a massive project, which required months of effort, and a massive amount of learning on my part. That will probably be the most meaningful piece of tech to me in all my life. It truly was my juliet.
sweatshopking
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 9:14 pm

I can't even remember the exact components of my first build. I had built computers before but this one was going to be mine in every way and I was going to do it the way I wanted. I've mentioned it on this site before. I used an athlon xp 2500+ which I wanted to overclock to 3200+ levels. It has normal FSB of 133 and I needed to push it to 200. I also got an ATI 9800 pro which I was excited about because it could be bios modded up to a 9800 xt. To complement my awesome overclocking of course needed a totally rad case. I got some crazy color thing with a window and a big swoosh on the side with a fan in the middle. It had spots for 4 80 mm fans in front and 2 in the back. I just had to fill them all with the cheapest noisiest fans with LEDs that I could get. After setting the whole thing up it still wasn't overclocking the way I wanted it too. The video card was good but the cpu couldn't quite make it. So of course I bought an aftermarket cooler for the video card anyways. I believe it was called the thermaltake giant 3. It was huge and had a back panel insert to control the fan speed. It had an optional blower fan that was the most annoying whinny sounding fan I've ever heard. I started to question my nerd core ways at this point but was not to be stopped. I eventually got the cheapest single system water cooling kit that I could find for my cpu. With it I managed to get marginally lower temperatures and maintain the overclock I wanted. However being cheap it had all sorts of issues. In addition I couldn't fit the reservoir anywhere but the top drive bay where it had to sit sideways. That should have been fine but the seal wasn't so good which lead to more than one scary moment of water pooling in the bottom of the case or having the cpu run with essentially no heat sink. This is in addition to the constant clogging and other issues. It did last me through a year of high school and two years of college. By the end I had a rusted case (from leaking water) that glowed obnoxiously and sounded like a jet. The computer still lives however inside the amazing arcade my brother and I built (you can search the forum for it) three years ago where it still proudly (and noisily) chugs on minus the awful water cooler (thank god). :)
ApockofFork
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 9:51 pm

Wow....
Well, I built this machine with an Asrock motherboard that uses PCI-E and AGP slosts for expanding my gfx card. My old GPU was salvaged from a PC I bought at a brick-mortar store. The card is a Sapphire Radeon 9600 Pro. Used it for playing some old games like Soldiers, Freespace, Wing Commander and such. it can't play new games like Supreme Commander. The CPU is a Pentium E2160. it is pretty fast for my need. Hoping to upgrade it to a quad-core or something else on the Core Duo line when I get the money. :D

I have two hard drive indise it. Both are PATA IDE since one was salvaged from my previous machine (Seagate 160GB). The other I bought because my porn collection was growing too fast (WD Caviar 160GB). Recently bought a new WD Caviar drive with 750GB capacity. Place it on an external enclosure and plugged it via USB to my PC. RAM capacity is just paltry 2GB of DDR2 sticks. heck, my board can accept DDR1 or DDR2.

I'm still using my old TEAC 4x CDRW-56 drive that just keep working after 10 years. yeah, I bought it in 2000 for almost $300 dollars. and it still works...slowly. :D of course, I have a faster CDROM there but it is just a reader.
Ricardo Dawkins
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another story

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 9:56 pm

My first build was so far back, I had to call people to check my facts. I was barely getting by. It was 1995 or 1996, the glory days of CPU's when you could pop in a AMD or Intel or hell even Cryix had a chip on the market that would work with the motherboard I had. But I am getting ahead of myself. It was weird looking back but the manager of a photo lab I frequented started talking to me about the "new computer" he had to buy because the last one broke. He walked over to the "broken" machine and kicked it.

I asked to have it. And so it was, my first computer was a "broken piece of crap". But I didn't have a computer and thought it would be fun to fix. In fact, I never even had used a computer up to that point in my life. My first car was a Plymouth Duster, no breaks, no A/C or heat, and I didn't have a dime to spend on it or the will to care about it. But there I go picking up a stray to spend time and money on.

Anyway, it wasn't long before I gutted the breast and to figure out what made it tick-not click, no had drive issue there. I played around with what I put in before I turned it on. Before to long I figured out that one stick of RAW was bad, and that was it. The beast booted up just fine after that. Ah Windows 95, now there was a OS. After I saved up enough money to upgrade the ram, we're taking SDRAM, I still have one 128mb stick from that upgrade or the next (there is always a next, right).

With the RAM upgrade I could finally use the copy of Photoshop 3 that was on the hard drive. I taught myself how to troubleshoot and rebuild a computer only to find Photoshop and I have few drawing skills and that d@mn'e awful mouse I had didn't help either. Nevertheless, where there so I made my way onto the internet and taught myself Photoshop by download photos (yeah, those kind of photos) and playing around with my mouse til all hours of the night. I think I could have worded that better.

That was along time ago, I was 25. I ditched the Duster long before that last few parts of that first computer were pulled out and finally upgraded. What is cool is that I eventually received my BA in photography, Digital Photography. And I owe it all to an idiot, ingenuity, perseverance and porn.
-d@amn'd
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 10:17 pm

My first build was in 1998 - a 300 MHz Celeron overclocked a bit, if I remember correctly, but my older brother put most of it together. So that doesn't count. I'll talk about my first self-built machine, which was done when I finally had free-time in 2007 (finished college) and returned to computer gaming. I was simultaneously hyped up about Crysis and tired of the confines of our laptop, so I thought I'd build a computer that could "run Crysis."

Core 2 Duo E6600
Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R
EVGA NVidia 8800 GTS 320
WD Caviar Blue 320 GB
OCZ Gold 2x1GB DDR2-800
OCZ StealthXStream 600W
Pioneer DVD+/-R E-IDE
Antec 900 case

The trickiest part of the build was getting the case up to our home in Alaska, since shipping was going to cost more than the case I wanted. Had to shop around for a while to find a cheap way to get it up there. The worst part about this build? How quickly the expensive graphics card was replaced by the venerable 8800 GT. The best part? Sold it on Craigslist a year later and turned that cash into my current build, a definite step up. Of course, the day I sold it (and had to wipe the hard drive) my backup drive died and I was forced to pay retail at a brick-n-mortar for a new one. Never felt so cheated spending $100 for 320 GB. Through the build, I learned that I didn't want a case with bright LEDs and lots of noisy (and dusty) fans. I love my Antec p182.

The computer lived up to my dreams, though "it could play Crysis" is relative: it ran smoothly most of the time at 1680x1050 on medium settings.

It is always fun to look back at old builds. My 2 GB of RAM cost $98, my 320 GB hard drive cost $75. And it was through working on that build that I found TechReport - a definite plus!
C2D E7300 | ASUS P5Q Pro | 4GB OCZ Fatal1ty DDR2-800 | ASUS Radeon HD 4850 TOP | 500W OCZ ModXStream | WD10EADS | WD6400AAKS | Win7 64bit | Antec P182
swampfox
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 10:31 pm

Hi there,

I got my first computer in 2004. A family friend upgraded, so she offered it to me. I didn't know how old it was, or even how a computer worked other than what the power switch did. After picking it up, bringing it home, plugging it in, and turning it on, my life as a geek was started by a CRT monitor that couldn't display over 800x600. The custom build was by a company that now only makes speakers. It had:

Intel 486DX @ 33MHz
6mb RAM
425MB WD Hard Drive
Windows 95, DOS 6.22

I couldn't begin to count all the hours I spent writing QBASIC games, downloading classic DOS shareware games onto floppy disk at the local library, or learning as much as I could about computer hardware installing and upgrading, or the world of pc gaming. I still have the original mouse, which connected through the Serial I/O port and felt like a block of wood. I rarely used it though, because keyboard-driven DOS was my main mode of mayhem.

For reference, the first family computer was:
AMD Sempron XP 1.6GHz
128MB DDR ---> 384MB
Intel Integrated gfx ---> XFX GeForce MX 4000
DVD-R/W drive installed
Backup hard drive also installed
300w PSU

About a month after I junked the KLH, the family computer started acting sluggish. I learned very important lessons after frying my first test subject. Most of them were do-nots, such as do not start flipping switchboard switches on a motherboard which was possibly manufactured in the late 1980's, or do not forget which switch combinations were stable/default, or do not do the first two while it's on and running. My goal was to play Half-Life 2, but the onboard video controller wasn't performing well. So, I got a GeForce MX 4000. It was a huge boost at the time, but that and a bad stick of RAM killed the power supply. I was worried because I had never seen a power supply fail before, and as the defacto admin responsible for the system, I did the first thing anyone in that position would have done. I called my friends, the owners of a local computer shop. Panicking, I asked what I could do to save the computer. The guy said it would be cheaper to build a new one from the ground-up, and started reading off a list of parts:

AMD Athlon x2 3800+
GeForce 7300LE
2GB DDR2 Kingston RAM,
MSI K9N Diamond motherboard
500-gigabyte SATA hard drive
Windows XP Home

This was a better system than both of the other computers combined. We made a deal, and they cut the price under the condition that I build it myself, and build them a website - I thought it was more than fair. When the parts arrived, they guided me through the building process and explained how to properly assemble a computer. We plugged it in, turned it on, and spent two hours formatting the 500gb drive :roll: We brought it home and I started testing out games, recording benchmarks, pushing it to its limits, and just seeing what a dual core with an NVIDIA 7-series card could do with a 19" lcd monitor which they threw in for good measure. I was seeing improvements, but once I had a taste of upgrading, it became addicting.

Over time, I upgraded:
GeForce 7300LE ---> GeForce 8600 GT (256mb, SLI mode) ---> XFX GeForce 9800GTX
AMD Athlon64 x2 3800+ ---> AMD Athlon64 x2 6000+ ---> AMD Phenom II x4 940 Black Edition
MSI K9N Diamond (RMA'd twice) ---> AsRock K10N750SLI-110DB
Off-brand mid-tower ---> Cooler Master HAF 932
Power Supply ---> Antec 350w ---> Off-brand 450w ---> HEC 550w
Seagate Barracuda 500gb ---> RAID0, WD 320gb & WD 250gb backup drives
XP Home ---> XP Pro ---> Ubuntu Linux ---> ??? ---> Windows 7 Ult. 64 (SP1B)
And while upgrading through the years, I bought the computer from my parents and traded for a less-beefy build. I don't think you really need a Phenom II for writing word documents, right?

It's not the most powerful system on the planet, but I know the entire thing inside and out. I've got a lot of passion for computers. My friends ask me for building advice, and I've helped them pick hardware that's right for the games they want to play, balancing performance with price. I will admit though that it does irritate me when I go to LAN parties and see guys and O_O Female geeks @_@ with $15,000 brand-new computers and not being able to back-up their skills, let alone their hard drives. I feel like they don't see the struggle, the heart, the love and pain that goes into, dare I call it, growing, a personal gaming computer? :wink: It's like buying a puppy because it's cute, then realizing that you have to train it... and by puppy I mean gaming rig... and by cute I mean beastly... and by train it I mean learn how to configure teh bios properly (true story at a lan party - he asked me "This thing came with an instruction manual?")

I found my old hard drive a few days ago. It's a Western Digital Caviar 2420. I had to find an IDE cable :lol: . the rush of nostalgia when I heard it clicking again was only trumped by the amazement that the data was still intact. Source code that I thought I had lost was still ready to be compiled and played again. 95 wouldn't boot, but DOS was blinking and ready like it had never stopped. Maybe I can get that mouse working too...
Last edited by radiumv on Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:16 am, edited 4 times in total.
radiumv
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 10:32 pm

My first upgrade was to increase the RAM in my Pentium 200 MMX from 16 to 32mb. Unfortunately for me, the computer wouldn't boot after I added the memory. I ended up sending the system back to the manufacturer. When I got the computer back two weeks later, I found out that I had simply unplugged the IDE cable connected to the hard drive. With the cable plugged back in, the system booted fine. Windows 95 ran a lot better with 32mb of RAM too!

The moral of the story: always check the simple things (like connections) before you resort to more drastic measures.
desertfox
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 11:34 pm

man, i want just cause 2

my first upgrade experience was christmas when i was about 12 or 13. it was 1999 and unreal tournament just came out and i my main gifts were a tnt2 ultra and a soundblaster live. it went pretty smoothly, but i honestly don't remember it too well. i do know that it allowed me to play UT very well. i also received another one of my favorite games, sacrifice, and that game is still as beautiful to this day as it was then running on that creative tnt2 ultra
feek
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Re: Enter here for a chance to win a free Just Cause 2 license

Postposted on Tue Jul 13, 2010 11:44 pm

My first computer build was a 386DX/33, back in the day (ca 1991 as best I recall). But this story is of my first upgrade, to the 286 machine I bought new from Swan/Tussey Computers in 1988 for about US$2200. (Allowing for 4% inflation per year, that's about $5200 in current dollars.) I researched that machine for months. I sent specifications for quotes to several vendors, got a few bids back, and Swan won. It was a killer 286/12 - that's 12 megahertz, i.e., 0.012GHz. It had a whopping 640KB of RAM (again, in current terms 0.00064GB) and 40MB (0.04GB) hard drive with 40ms access speed. It came with MS DOS 3.3, and the hard drive had to be partitioned into 32MB and 8MB slices because the OS could only address 32MB on one drive. Who would ever need more space? And who would need more RAM?

Eventually, I did want to try using more memory. That bit of space above 640KB and below 1MB could be used by those in the know in some arcane ways to make the already speedy 12MHz machine even better. But little did I realize what was ahead of me...

The RAM was fortunately socketed on the motherboard, and not soldered. There were four rows of 8 chips in each row. Initially there were two rows of 64Kb (little b for bits) chips, and two rows of 256Kb chips, each with their incredibly spindly little legs poking into a tiny space in its socket.

My plan was to swap out the 64Kb chips for 256Kb chips to move the machine up to 1MB total RAM. Finally Frys had a sale on 256Kb chips - something like $4 each as best I recall. (Which would make about $128 for a megabyte, or around $130,000 for a gigabyte.) (Am I showing my age yet?)

I bought a chip puller, and very, very carefully pulled the 64Kb chips, and then, ever so carefully used my also newly purchased chip installer to push in the 256Kb chips. Then I fired up the computer, and... it bombed on POST and memory count. Over and over and over and over and... Crap. (Hope that doesn't violate the bad language requirements for the thread :))

Pull out the chips, reseat everything and try again - same crappy results.

Online help was almost nonexistent. Al Gore was still several years away from inventing the Internet as something available to the public, and online meant about $9/hour on CompuServe at 1200 bits per second. Finally I thought to try turning off turbo mode and ran the CPU at 6MHz. (Sometimes turbo mode "off" was good for old games that had been meant for the oh-so-last-year XT computers.) Bingo - it would POST again. But it was slow.

Eventually I thought to take off the CPU's heat sink, which really was only a thin piece of metal that clipped in to hold the BGA (ball grid array) CPU in place in its socket, and verify the CPU. D'oh! (And Homer Simpson hadn't been invented yet, either.) Swan had screwed me. The CPU was rated by Intel as a 10MHz chip. Swan overclocked it without telling me. It worked okay at 12MHz with 640KB of RAM, but going into the special mode needed to access the extended memory made it crap out at that speed. But I was past the warranty period, and I basically would be buying a new computer if I wanted Swan to give me a properly rated CPU. They never got any more business from me, for sure. And I lived with a 12MHz machine with only 640KB of RAM after I oh-so-carefully put back those tiny little 64Kb chips. I don't think Swan lasted, but I'm still here - so there!

So it really wasn't an upgrade. But soon after that I upgraded my 1200 bps modem to a screamin' 2400 bps model, and that was great! I could cruise the BBS scene at what seemed like light-speed, but that's another story :)

-Martin <><
Wrakkenruan
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Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2003 7:50 am
Location: Northern Alabama, USA

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