Building a new computer

I wanted to power up my computer as I usually do when I want to use it, there was a problem! It just powered up for a fraction of a second and then lost all power. I suspected the power supply and the next day I got another in hopes to get up and running again. Switching to the new PSU showed exactly the same behavior as with the old. I had no clue why.
A few more experiments made me consider that the motherboard was toast. I don’t like to order stuff and wait for it so I tried to see if any of my local shops had similar motherboards but couldn’t find any that supported DDR400 memory. I would most likely not be able to use the memory I already had. I started to look at what it would cost to get a new system if I kept my P4 CPU.
My favorite shop had quite OK prices on motherboard and the memory was on offer that week so I decided to go for it. I didn’t want to lose any data on my old drive so I got a new to be safe. I also got a new case and used the power supply I already had gotten when I thought my old was toasted. I decided to switch to 64bit version of Vista Ultimate and needed to get 4GB of memory for my new computer. In the end I also decided to get a new CPU and went for the Core 2 Quad, Q6600.
I had to build it myself and while I have built many computers before the newer socket 775 has always made me a bit uncomfortable. In early computers the CPU had pins that had to be fit down holes in the socket making it very difficult to do something wrong. Even tough I know I placed the CPU correctly I would try to move it around a bit and when I feel that I can do it I doubt I placed it good. The contact surfaces on the CPU are tiny and I imagined that if I can move it that other pins could make contacts where they shouldn’t and burn the whole system.
I placed the CPU and mounted the cooler, a massive copper piece from zalman that I took from my old computer. Cooling is important and if I can keep the CPU cool it will last longer and run more stable. This zalman fan had in my old computer made it run very well even when fully loaded as the boxed fan didn’t quite do it. I had to tighten screws to mount it and it is not my favourite thing to do on multi-layered motherboards as it can short circuit it. I did it all very carefully and tried to tighten the screws just enought to get the cooling needed without deforming the motherboard.
Now I had to place this in the casing. It used to be quite easy but now you have to use the right back plate and I have yet to fully master the art to place a motherboard with a back plate for it. I am starting to doubt that I should fit the back plate first and instead try to mount it as I place the motherboard. I did manage to place it and wired the motherboard to the PSU.
I did not install the memory for the first power up and was quite pleased to hear the speaker beep for the missing memory. I installed it and booted up. It worked!!!
I immediately installed everything that I needed and as I saw it all seemed to work I prepared to install my new computer.
Oh… wait! I installed 4GB of memory but it only reported 3GB. It took me a while and a a suggestion from a friend that 1GB of address space will be allocated for extensions cards to use, like PCI cards. I had to enable a remap memory setting in my motherboards bios   to get full access to all installed memory.
This was a week ago, I had a few adventures installing all the software…

Going 64bit

Switching to 64bit OS might be cool but it is not very easy. Quite a few hardware related software do not work in 64bit windows. I have had to give up my fingerprint reader (from Microsoft) and the wireless telephonehandset that I used with skype (from Linksys).
When running in 64bit mode all application require a lot more of memory and I am starting to feel that 4GB will not be enough. 6GB seem to do it.
An early problem I had was that my computer didn’t see all 4GB of installed memory but that was because I had to set my motherboard to remap memory in the BIOS settings.