I realize this isn't strictly a build question, but it kinda is. JAE, if you feel it needs to be moved, please do so.
I'm working on a machine I built for a friend about 4 years ago or so. It serves as a media center for him - at least it did until recently. The machine ran problem free for 3 years or so and then the friend got Uverse with DVR so it pretty much went unused for a year or so. You can maybe guess what happened, but I'll tell you anyways. During the course of that year, the hard drive appears to have been dying slowly such that when the cheap first year of Uverse expired and he decided to switch back to the DVR for OTA recording, it didn't work as expected, which is to say, at all.
I went to his house to check things out and the boot drive was going in and out of recognition in BIOS so I disconnected everything and brought it home. That was about 2 weeks ago.
In the meanwhile I've gotten a samsung F3 1tb to replace the failed 500gb maxtor and a copy of Windows 7 to replace Vista that was running on it. That's when the problems began. The windows 7 install wouldn't recognize the F3 at all - I thought it might be something with the weird Nvidia SATA drivers. So, I tried to install on a 320gb seagate I have and the installation would fail about halfway through. I finally ended up installing Vista 64 bit on the thing and that completed, but it managed to fail during one of its updates and borked everything over again. After restoring from a backup I'm back to having a clean install of vista and not much else. Updating windows 7 from within vista also failed. I made sure I was running the most up to date BIOS and I'm already on the newest. AHH!
This is probably a good time to go over the hardware that I'm fighting with. It's a MSI P6N-Platinum motherboard with the nvidia 650 SLI chipset with an intel pentium E2180 (newish conroe based S775) processor. I'm almost certain the board is the source of my frustration which is why I'm coming here. I'm trying to determine if and what I should replace on this build to get him back up and running with something that will last for a while - I mean, if he's already spending $200ish for the drive and software, I would hate to put something together that won't last at least a few more years.
Ideally the board would support the processor (duh) and DDR3 so I can upgrade him from the 2gb of DDR2 without spending money on memory that is obsolete. I was hoping to find a P45 board for cheap, but those seem to be mostly dried up for some reason. Newegg seems to have a whole bunch of micro ATX G41 based boards like this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813130556
The problem with those is 1) I'm not familiar with the G41 chipset and its limitations and 2) it doesn't have the slots i need. I need 2 pci slots, pcie 16x for graphics and pcie 1x for another tuner card.
I found this over on Amazon and it seems like it might be a good fit: http://www.amazon.com/Intel-DP45SG-Extr ... B001BN3548
It seems to have the slots I need and being intel I would hope driver support is good.
Now that I think about it - it could be better or more cost effective to just replace the motherboard and processor with something more modern that could handle HTPC duty with the appropriate slots for tuners and wifi adapter.
So, that's where I'm at - thinking about replacing the mobo and getting some memory to get this build up and running on Windows 7 with the new drive with the hopes of getting a stable reliable machine that will take him down the road a few more years on HTPC duty. Does anyone have better suggestions for replacement motherboards or a strategy here?
If anyone has experience installing Windows 7 on this motherboard or similar I would love to hear those suggestions as well. I'm all ears with no pride on this one - I'm thoroughly stumped.