Tag Archives: video card

Need a Commodore motherboard? Believe it or not you’re in luck

Individual Computers is working on, of all things, a replacement Amiga motherboard that will fit in an Amiga 500 or Amiga 1200 case.

The board will use the AGA chipset that the Amiga 1200 used, but the board will be built using a modern process, modern materials, and as many other modern components as possible.

Continue reading Need a Commodore motherboard? Believe it or not you’re in luck

Happy 20th birthday to Windows 95

It was on August 24, 1995 that Windows 95 was released, amidst much anticipation. It was the most widely anticipated Windows release of all time, and the runner up really isn’t close. The idea of people lining up for blocks for a Microsoft product sounds like a bit of a joke today, but in 1995 it happened.

I received a free copy of it because I worked at Best Buy in the summer of 1995 and I aced Microsoft’s test that demonstrated sufficient aptitude to sell it. A few weeks later I landed my first desktop support gig, ending my career in a blue shirt, which means I probably never actually talked anyone into buying a copy of it.

I got plenty of Win95 experience over the next couple of years though.

Continue reading Happy 20th birthday to Windows 95

Building DOS gaming PCs

The ultimate DOS gaming PC is a topic that I’ve seen come up in forums frequently, and that I’ve been asked directly a number of times. I guess since I published advice on running DOS games on Windows PCs on two continents, people figured I knew something about that. I guess I fooled them!

The trouble is that no single PC can really be the “ultimate” DOS game machine. Well, not if your goal is to be able to optimally run everything from early 1980s titles designed for the original IBM PC up to the last DOS version of Quake. I learned that the hard way in 1995 or 1996, even before Quake existed. Continue reading Building DOS gaming PCs

Using the OSI model to troubleshoot video

I was at church on Sunday and the video projection wasn’t working. After a few minutes of watching everyone struggle, I volunteered to take a look, and working together, we were able to get the video working again using a simple, repeatable methodology: Using the OSI model to troubleshoot video.

I’m going to share that methodology now.

Continue reading Using the OSI model to troubleshoot video

If I were buying an SSD today

SSD pricing continues to be competitive, and if I were buying an SSD today, I would have a tough decision ahead of me. The Crucial BX100 would be the obvious choice, with its good speed, super-low power consumption, and attractive price, at $99 for the 250GB model and around $185 for the 500GB model.

But there’s an underdog: the PNY CS1111. Bear with me on that one: It’s a little slower than the Crucial, but costs 15% less.

Continue reading If I were buying an SSD today

4K displays get affordable for Cyber Monday

I’m not quite ready to upgrade to a 4K (4096×2160 resolution) monitor yet, but if you are, Samsung’s 28″ 4K display is on sale for $400 (down from $700) for Cyber Monday.

At that size and resolution, it works out to 165 pixels per inch, which is very close to what we used to call “near letter quality” in the days of dot matrix printers. To me, this seems more practical than using a 42″ 4K television, and the refresh rate is much better.

Keep in mind you do need Displayport to drive a 4K display. Most video cards costing $100 and up have those these days, but even some Geforce 210 cards have them, like this Jaton.

What to look for in a motherboard

I’ve been building PCs for more than 20 years and I tend to keep them a very long time, so it occurred to me that someone might be interested in what I look for in a motherboard to ensure both a long, reliable life and a long useful life.

Of course what to look for has changed to some degree over the years, but this is what I look for in the mid-2010s.

Continue reading What to look for in a motherboard

The wrong way to reboot a server

In my day, I did plenty of hardware maintenance in the field. In fact, the only time one of my bosses ever saw me working, I was swapping out failed memory in a server.

“How’d you know it needed to be done?” he asked.

“It told me.” That’s why I always loved HP Proliant servers. My boss looked confused at my answer but didn’t ask me to elaborate.

But not all of my field maintenance always went quite so smoothly. Continue reading The wrong way to reboot a server

The difference an SSD makes

Back in the spring I bought a used computer. My wife wanted one, and while I probably could have cobbled something together for her, I didn’t have any extra Windows 7 licenses. So I bought a home-built Pentium D-based machine with Windows 7 on it from an estate sale for $70. The Windows license is worth that, so it was like getting the hardware for free.

When I got the hardware home to really examine it, it turned out not to be quite as nice as I initially thought. It was a fairly early Socket 775 board, so it used DDR RAM and had an AGP slot, limiting its upgrade options. The system ran OK, but not great, and it was loud.

The hard drive was a 160 GB Western Digital IDE drive built in 2003. That’s an impressive run, but a drive that old isn’t a good choice for everyday use. It’s at the end of its life expectancy and it’s not going to be fast. This weekend I got around to replacing it with an SSD. Continue reading The difference an SSD makes