Aug 262011

It was already before my trip to the Czech Republic. In the evening, one or two days before my departure, the screen of my computer in Vienna suddenly began to flicker, and then it went black. A crash, I thought. Happens rarely with Windows 7, I thought.

Well, it turned out that rebooting didn’t help. After a few minutes the screen simply turned black, and from then on the computer wouldn’t boot at all.

What now? I could rule out the monitor. The most likely culprit was the graphics card, an ATI Radeon 4870.

When I had bought the computer, some HP Pavillion, I was sick of building my own computers. I just wanted to go into a shop, buy one and use it.

I quickly learned that I was wrong. I had expected to need a new graphics card, but of course I also needed a new power supply, and in the end the case was so crammed, that I couldn’t add RAM without removing the graphics card. Even worse, I couldn’t remove the graphics card without removing the power supply first. Theoretically there would have been enough space for my third hard drive, but in order to put it into its regular bay, I would have had to, well, probably tear apart the whole case itself. Thus I just jammed the drive into the case and fixed it with a cable binder.

You see, this computer was thermically encumbered and I always wondered how it could work at all without overheating. Fact is it did. Knowing about the danger, I had already bought a nice Coolermaster replacement case (same as in Carinthia), but of course I shied away from actually using it. Now I guess I have to.

That’s how my computer looks at the moment. Of course I could have just put everything into the case, but there are some tiny problems left. The motherboard is an OEM board custom made by Asus for HP. Thus Asus does not support it, after all it has been made to the specifications of HP, but HP doesn’t support it either, because they feel that as a customer you are not entitled to replace parts of your computer. Seemingly the correct way is to just buy a new one.

The experiment of last night was to put the parts together, connect the power switch, reset switch, power LED and HD LED and see if it works. It does, although without documentation I will not be able to connect the front audio connectors.

Apart from that I’ll also need a new card reader. The one that came with the HP case works perfectly fine, but of course it is a non-standard size that won’t fit into anything but that particular HP case.

Whatever. The message is, if you think you can save time or money by buying a computer at the next electronics dealer, forget it. They are under-powered, have useless graphics cards and are made to be non-extensible. Apart from that you have to buy another Windows license, even if you already have one.

The Song of the Day is once again “Everything Is Broken“. I already had it in “777 – Everything Is Broken“, but this time it is not Bob Dylan singing, this time it is Ben Sidran on his 2009 album “Dylan Different”. Hear it on YouTube.

  7 Responses to “1771 – Everything Is Broken II”

  1. I built my own PCs for years and eventually decided I wanted the convenience of an already configured machine. I have a new Dell XPS 8300 that has one(!) slot available, though it does have a couple of empty bays.

    I found your HP experience similar to mine with an HP printer – I just needed some replacement rollers, but alas, the model I had was no longer in production and there were no replacement parts available. HP’s solution? By a 9180. Well, I got a new printer all right – a Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mk II. Great prints, but tiny (11 ml) ink cartridges. It’s always something.

    Good luck getting everything back together!


    • Yeah, long gone are the days when HP was something special. I’m not sure, maybe getting rid of the PC business (and thus undoing the merger with Compaq) will be healthy. But then, maybe not. I guess if I ever again buy a printer (I have an HP but don’t use it), it will be an Epson. Printing is at their core and they seem to be the only company in the business with continuity. I may be wrong though.

  2. What about a Mac?

    • Affordable Macs are perfect as mirrors, not so much as computers. Macs without a built-in monitor are much more expensive than PCs, comparably under-powered, lack some of the software that I depend on (well, actually only my image database) and they have awful keyboards and mice. Add to that a kind of corporate arrogance that is only rivaled by Sony, and you have a lot of reasons why I avoid buying Macs.

      Btw, I would also never buy B&O audio or TV equipment. I need affordable, working pieces of electronics, not modern sculptures 🙂

  3. If you build a new computer with a new hard drive, can you use the Windows System Restore disks on it. It doesn’t seem fair that you should have to buy a new license.

    • I’ve bought Windows 7 for all those computers when it came out, so this is not the question for me, but you’re right, I suppose restoring to a new hardware would not work.

  4. It’s the same old story, build be obsolete and at the cheapest price.

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