Well. This last weekend was bad.

I’ve been contemplating a minor upgrade to Smudge’s machine, Moebius, for a bit. The case it uses is one we inherited from a friend, and while it’s nice and sturdy and insulated, it has some problems. Mostly, it has a front door that must be opened to get at anything, including the main power button. This is not uncommon, but not a style we go for. More importantly, the door reaches to the bottom of the case, making it difficult to open if it’s standing on carpet. With our current arrangement, it does just that. We ended up putting a wooden box under it as a platform, but it’s not quite as long as the case, so it was resting on the bottom of the case, instead of its feet. Since the side door wraps around the bottom frame a bit, that became hard to open.

Yeah, just get a new case that works the way we want it to.

She also has a video card that was really, really good at the time (two GPUs!), but has been aging. It handles some things better than my cheaper but newer one, and some things much worse. We’ve been wondering about upgrading it, and then AMD updated the drivers and software. The update included automatically trying to record all gameplay to send it to Plays.tv, AMD’s equivalent to Twitch. We were able to turn it off, but it ate her system thanks to the default setting. Later that day, her monitor went dark. A reboot went fine, and I figure that it was part of a driver update, that Smudge thought she’d said ‘not now’ to, and which went forward anyway.

So, I decided it was time to replace the video card as well, if only to get away from automatic video recording shenanigans.

We spent a while going around looking at possibilities with a target budget of ~$300 (ha!). Smudge really liked the Corsair Vengeance C70 case, which looks a lot like an ammo box (very her), and the more we looked around, the more it had good features we wanted. I’m not thrilled by the drive bay set up, but it has nice cable runs behind the base plane. And we got a GTX 960 video card (4GB of video RAM).

I took Friday off to have a full weekend if anything went wrong, but it was really just transferring to a new case and installing a new video card.

…and then, while plugging everything back in, I noticed the data plug on the main hard drive looked odd. I was looking at the four metal pins, without the main plastic key. Looking at the cable, I found the plastic stuck inside the housing there.

This drive is a decade-old SATA-150 drive that started with Micca. It’s been the source of a number of failures, where suddenly the system couldn’t see it anymore. I’d have to open up the system unplug the drives, and re-plug them in for the motherboard to see it again. I’m guessing the plastic had been cracking all this time, and shifting, causing this intermittent problem. It had been fine for a couple of years before happening again a couple months ago, so it too was on the ‘to be upgraded’ list.

So, go down to Computer Central, and spend another $100 on a new 1TB drive (Smudge decided for space over speed). Plug everything in, hit power. Everything spins up, the BIOS splash screen comes up, it POSTs….

And that’s it. No response from the keyboard. Okay, back to a wired keyboard. Nope. Okay, dig out the emergency PS/2 keyboard. Nope.

Pull memory. ‘No memory’ error. Good. Check the sticks one at a time. Nope. Reset CMOS (via jumper, later pulling the battery, etc.). Nope. The motherboard’s not dead, but it might as well be, and the fact that it takes a good quarter minute or so to POST is not a good sign.

And thinking back, the last time the drive failed, it took some effort to get into the BIOS so I could reset the boot drive order. So, this was coming too, though I hadn’t realized it.

That was Friday night. Most of Saturday was spent driving around finding out that noplace in Silicon Valley still had any Socket 1155 boards left. I ended up buying one on NewEgg at 4:30 on a Saturday. And Smudge had no computer.

The board arrived yesterday, and I put the machine together last night, and am taking the day off as we get all the essential software and peripherals working again. This has been a major rework (at about double the budget!), and therefore a new name: Myzal (her Tiefling lightning-mage in Neverwinter).

Intel Core i7-3770 (Ivy Bridge)
ASRock Z75 Pro3
8 GB DDR3 1600 RAM
Windows Experience 5.9 (due to the hard drive, everything else is in the 7s)

It was just supposed to be a minor update!! T_T