Oh Great, The Motherboard

written by Creston

This week I was going to do an article about tutorials.  I even wanted to give Diablo 3 a spin to incorporate how Blizzard does tutorials.  Unfortunately, my computer decided not to cooperate.  While I was downloading / installing Diablo 3, my computer decided to shutdown and not come back up.  

These spontaneous shutdowns started occurring very randomly about two months ago but the machine always came back up.  I have recent backups so I was not too concerned about losing data.  I just did not want to spend the time or the money to deal with a broken computer. 

Buy Versus Build

I guess you could call me a hardware geek.  I prefer to build my own desktop to use as my primary machine as opposed to a stock desktop or laptop.  I find I can build a machine with better parts for about the same price as a desktop from a big box store or online (even cheaper if I use cheap parts).  In addition, since I built it, if something goes wrong with a part, I can just swap in a new one.  For example, my primary computer was built over five years ago and has been running fine without issues until recently.  The only thing I have upgraded in it was the video card.  Everything else (CPU, motherboard, memory, power supply, fans, etc) has lasted over five years and still allows me to play all the current games.  Maybe not at super duper resolution levels but things look fine to me.

I know it seems everybody is buying a laptop for their primary machine nowadays.  I just never felt that productive away from my designated workspace with my comfortable chair, big monitor, full keyboard, and mouse in an ergonomic setup.  Plus, you always get more bang for your buck with a desktop when compared to a laptop.

The Motherboard

Given the manner in which the computer shutdown and how it turned on, I suspected a motherboard problem.  When it shutdown, power was still being applied to the system since the power LED was on, yet all the fans, hard drive, etc. were off.  When trying to start, everything powered on as normal, but the video card signal did not turn on the monitor, and I could hear no hard drive access which means it was not trying to boot up.  I hate it when a motherboard goes.  It usually means you also have to replace the memory and perhaps the CPU too.

So, I went off to a local CompUSA to see what motherboards they had.  My CPU was a Intel Core 2 Duo.  They only had one motherboard in stock that supported an Intel Core 2 Duo.  Unfortunately, it was a microATX board which would be a close fit for all my components.  I also had to get some new DDR3 memory.  Still the bill was less than $100.  On a side note, memory is seriously cheap now.  If you have any need for more, now is the time to pick some up.

 After getting back to my computer, I removed everything from the case, removed the CPU from the old motherboard and installed it in the new one.  After reinstalling all the components, I got a POST!  Everything worked!  Of course, I don't really have my computer back since I generally want to reinstall my operating system after a motherboard swap.  But, the hardware is good to go.  I had a spare hard drive so I am going to use that for the fresh install of my OS and keep my existing hard drive with all my data and virtual machines as a data drive.

Take Away

So what is the take away from this.  Well, if you have even a little bit of hardware knowledge, you can put together a machine yourself.  There are plenty of guides on the internet.  In addition, you can get components that are much better than most stock desktops.  Some have a 3, 5 or 7 year warranty.  Sure you pay a little more upfront but it should last much longer.  Lastly, if you have a computer component fail, pray it is not the motherboard.

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