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.
There was a big dustup a while ago about power failures killing SSDs. It turns out that when this happens, you can usually unbrick it. If your SSD died, here’s how to recover or fix your dead SSD in 61 minutes using the power cycle method.
Yes, it really does take 61 minutes to revive a dead SSD, but you only have direct involvement for a few minutes. The rest of the time, you can do something else while you wait for the drive to do its thing. This trick will even let you recover drives that won’t show up in Windows Device Manager or disk management if you transplant them into another machine.
I got an HP Elitebook 8440p because I wanted something a little newer and faster than my old Dell E1505. It was certainly newer and faster, but it had a problem. Every morning it greeted me with a BSOD. That E1505 was getting older and it had its own quirks, but I don’t remember it ever bluescreening on me. Here’s how I fixed the bluescreens I got with the HP Elitebook 8440p and Windows 10.
Not only did it bluescreen, but the behavior seemed pretty consistent. Two days in a row, I woke the laptop up from hibernation, and about nine minutes later, it bluescreened.
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.
If you want a better laptop than the typical Black Friday special, I found just the thing: this Dell Latitude E6420 laptop from Newegg, for $225 (the price is good through Sunday, Nov. 22). It has several things going for it: it comes with Windows 7 Professional, so you can upgrade to Windows 10 when you want and you’ll get the better, more-feature-filled, easier-to-secure Professional version; you can upgrade the memory to 8 GB of RAM, and it comes with a 128GB SATA SSD, so you can drop in a bigger, faster SSD at a later date.
Note: When Newegg sells out of these, which happens occasionally, they’re fairly easy to find on Ebay, though some come with conventional hard drives rather than SSDs.
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.