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.
Technology has changed a lot but what I look for has remained surprisingly consistent over the years.
I picked up an off-lease Lenovo Thinkcentre M58 over the weekend. Based on the date code on the hard drive, this one dates to 2010. It’s a serviceable machine. You have a few options when it comes to Lenovo Thinkcentre M58 upgrades. I wouldn’t necessarily use one as a basis for a $100 gaming PC but you can make a great general purpose home PC out of one.
I had trouble installing Windows 7 from USB on an Asrock Q1900M motherboard. It was the most difficult time I’ve had in years. Creating a bootable USB stick from my Win7 DVD went flawlessly, and the Asrock booted off it just fine by hitting F11 to pull up the boot menu, but then Windows prompted me for a driver, and when I navigated to the drivers directory that Asrock provided, none of the drivers would load. The mouse didn’t work either, and the only reason the keyboard worked was because I still use PS/2 keyboards.
The solution was to go into the UEFI, dive into the USB configuration, and disable USB 3.0. After I did that, Windows could see the USB drive and other USB devices just fine. This issue is likely to get more common as time goes on.
I had an old Compaq Evo D510 full-size tower/desktop convertible PC, from the Pentium 4/Windows XP era, that I wanted to upgrade. The machine long ago outlived its usefulness–its Pentium 4 CPU is less powerful than the average smartphone CPU while consuming enough power to be a space heater–but the case is rugged, professional looking, and long since paid for. So I thought it was worth dropping something more modern into it.
I chose the Asrock Q1800, which sports a quad-core Celeron that uses less than 10 watts of power and runs so cool it doesn’t need a fan. It’s on par with an early Intel Core 2 Duo when it comes to speed, which won’t turn any heads but is plenty fast to be useful, and the board can take up to 16 GB of DDR3 RAM and it’s cheap. I put 16 GB in this one of course. I loves me some memory, and DDR3 is cheap right now.
My employer is experimenting with a few desktop PCs with SSDs. And they are amazing. These machines have an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8 GB of RAM, and a 120 GB SSD. They log on and off in seconds. Word and Excel 2010, which are absolute slugs on HDDs, load in one second. The time is right for SSDs in business.
For as long as I can remember, my home page has been about:blank. But for a good chunk of the 1990s, I would have done well to set it to altavista.digital.com. Here’s what happened to Altavista.
Most people remember Altavista as the thing people used before Google, if they remember it at all. But I remember it as the first great search engine, because I’ve done my best to forget what search was like before Altavista came along. So I was a little sad to see Yahoo shut down what was left of the first great search engine in the summer of 2013. Read more
So, AMD announced a new 8-core CPU running at 5 GHz this week. It’s a bit of a hollow victory, since it basically will match the highest-end Intel Core i7 in performance, in spite of its much higher clock rate and wattage. I’m not sure what the appeal of a 220-watt CPU is, and I’m also not sure why AMD is giving Intel a few months to respond to it, because I’m sure Intel could create a 5 GHz CPU with a comparable thermal rating to compete against it, given the desire.
Also note this is the design that shares a math unit with each pair of integer cores. For some people, this won’t matter at all, but for others, it can be a deal breaker. It’s part of the reason that AMD has to crank the clock rate so high in order to compete. The problem is that Intel can play this game too. AMD scored major points a decade ago by releasing chips that were much more power efficient than Intel’s power-hungry P4. The resulting war was good for us, since now we’re getting good, fast CPUs that use 20 watts. But Intel is winning that war right now. So that means if AMD wants to play that game, Intel has more headroom to climb. If AMD can deliver 5 GHz at 220 watts, all Intel really has to do is deliver 5.1 GHz at 220 watts.
So AMD is taking a chance here. But I suppose it means that, for a time, they’ll be able to sell some CPUs to people who insist on having the fastest-clocked CPU, whether it really means anything performance-wise or not. And they probably can use the money.
Best Buy has about a quarter-million unsold tablets in their warehouse and has only managed to sell 25,000 of them. And when Woot ran a special on them, selling them for $120 off, they sold a whopping 612 of them.