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Beta testing Windows 7 - Part3

Well, I went shopping and here is what I came up with. I like to utilize local vendors when ever possible, but this system had a processor requirement that I could not find cheaply from my favorite vendor. I wanted a Quad-core processor that has Virtual Technology (VT). I also want to be able to assign programs to cores (very cool!). I did a little research and found the Intel Q8400 processor a good match. It has Quad cores, Virtual Technology and was the cheapest I could find in-stock locally. My first stop was at Fry's Electronics where I picked up a ...

Intel Q8400
Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400

I then went over to my friends at Technology Partners Inc. where I picked up the rest of the components (less the case, that's coming). Here's the list of parts:

Intel DG41RQ Motherboard
Intel DG41RQ Motherboard
Buffalo DDR2 PC6400
Buffalo DDR2 PC6400 Memory (2gb x 2)
Microstar NX8400GS
Microstar NX8400GS Video Card
Western Digital 3200AAKS
Western Digital 320 gb Hard Drive
Liteon 24x DVD-RW
Liteon 24x DVD-RW
iMicro 500 watt Power Supply
iMicro 500 watt Power Supply

All these components have standard specifications, except for the motherboard. Taking in to consideration that I am going to use a 64-bit operating system, I need to have a larger amount of memory. By using a 64-bit operating system, I am also getting past the 4 gigabyte memory limit that plaques 32-bit. The Intel DG41RQ has a maximum memory capacity of 8 gb (2 x 4gb). Since 2gb modules are rather inexpensive, I decided to go with 4gb of memory (2 x 2gb) for right now.

Since Windows 7 is built on Windows Vista, finding drivers was simple. Both manufacturers, Intel and NVidia, both have Windows 7 32 and 64-bit drivers on their web sites.

I guess it's time to built this system. But I still need a case. I think I'll go see what Antec has been up to.

Till then,
Scott

Beta testing Windows 7 - Part 2

Since my last post, Windows 7 RC1 has been released. I am now assembling a production system to use for the installation of RC1. I have changed my mind on how I wanted to test this new OS from Microsoft. My original idea was to use a typical system with components that were widely available.

I then thought back on all of the new technology that has come out since Windows XP was released. I think everyone will agree that Windows Vista was somewhat of a stepping stone. Just like Windows Millennium was to Windows 98SE.

We now have hard drives over 1 terabyte, Quad-core processors and 64-bit computers. And quite a bit of these are now out in production systems, like yours. 64-bit enabled motherboards have been out for years now. If your computer’s motherboard was manufactured within the last few years, your computer is probably 64-bit compatible.

With that said, I started to look at some of the features of Windows 7 and what hardware I would need to run them. As I stated before, 64-bit enabled computers are pretty much main stream now, and with the memory limit of 128 gigabytes, opposed to 4 gigabyte memory limit on 32-bit, I think this is the way to go.

Note:
You cannot do an in-place upgrade of a 32-bit operating system to a 64-bit operating system. To do this, you have to backup your files and settings and then restore them to the new installation.

Microsoft has had two different versions (32-bit & 64-bit) of their Windows operating systems (XP & Vista) that support x86-64 architecture since 2005. So I will use the 64-bit for this installation. I also want to use the Windows XP mode for Windows 7. This requires a processor that has Virtualization Technology (VT). The Intel E6600 processor in my system has VT. So the VT processors are out there, you just have to check with the manufacturer to see if it is compatible.

So with all of that information, I am going to put together a production system in the next few days from standard parts from my favorite vendors. I already have a parts list and it’s time to see how cheaply I can put this together (I have a big surprise for what I use as a monitor).

Till then,
Scott

 

Surge Protectors

A gentleman called me the other day and asked me about surge protectors. A typical surge protector power strip is built using Metal Oxide Varistors (MOV's). A cheapest kind may use just one varistor, from hot (live, active) to neutral. A better protector would contain at least three varistors; one across each of the three pairs of conductors (hot-neutral, hot-ground, neutral-ground).

While a MOV is designed to conduct significant power for very short durations (~8/20 microseconds), such as caused by lightning strikes, it typically does not have the capacity to conduct sustained energy. Under normal utility voltage conditions, this is not a problem. However, certain types of faults on the utility power grid can result in sustained over-voltage conditions. Examples include a loss of a neutral conductor or shorted lines on the high voltage system. Application of sustained over-voltage to a MOV can cause high dissipation, potentially resulting in the MOV device catching fire. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has documented many cases of catastrophic fires that have been caused by MOV devices in surge suppressors, and has issued bulletins on the issue.

I have found a company that makes surge protectors that does not use MOV's. They are Brick Wall, a division of Price Wheeler Corporation. I have purchased several of their products over the years and have never had a failure.

Scott

Beta testing Windows 7 - Part 1

I finally got around to installing the Beta release of Windows 7. Did the first install into a VM (virtual machine), just to get the feel for the new OS. I installed a copy of Sun xVM VirtualBox, version 2.2.2, which has predefined settings for a Windows 7 environment. I then loaded the Windows 7 image file as a DVD drive and got the install going. The install went smooth and the interface looked quite a bit like Windows Vista.

I will work with the VM installation while I assemble a non-production test system. I'll keep you updated on my adventures.

Till then,

Scott

Custom cases: Back in Black

Here are the before and after pictures of the finished case for the upgrading your computer cheaply article.

Back in Black 1Back in Black 2

The face and body are RUST-OLEUM's 'Satin Black' Universal All-Surface Paint. I then applied a couple coats of RUST-OLEUM's Crystal Clear Enamel.

SideNote: I contacted RUST-OLEUM to let them know about my daughter's faux stone and chalkboard case. They thought it was cool and hoped they might be able to add it to their web site. Here's the image we sent them.

Faux stone and chalkboard with RUST-OLEUM on side

Till then,

Scott

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