My computer is a computer again. Only two months and I think it’s back to its former self. So, absolutely the power supply and motherboard were shot. Not sure what happened. Not sure if they were related. Was pretty dusty, the mobo mabye just shorted out somewhere. New power supply was a steal at Radio Shack, $35. I bought a new CPU, which may or may not have been needed, but $35 later I have the fastest single core Socket 939 chip available (Athlon 64 4000+) – only 3 years old by now! There are very few Socket 939 motherboards left for sale, mostly the higher end ones with SLI or Crossfire support, and mostly north of $150. But, I was able to find a Tyan model for only $45. Of course, there had to be a problem (I discovered after receiving it)… it needs an additional 8-pin ATX power connector. The new power supply did not have one. So, I dropped another $80 on a PSU that has one.
Get that all set up (replacing a motherboard is tantamount to building a new computer from scratch) and it won’t boot. Well, it does POST and I can configure the BIOS, so the parts are all working. And it does boot to the Windows boot menu, but will never get any further (not even safe mode). So, I pray that the hard drive didn’t get hosed. Start up the recovery console and I can see that things are still there where they should be, which was a relief. Of course, I’ve never actually used the recovery console before, so I have no idea what to do to recover from an error that I can’t really describe.
So, I let it sit for a few weeks. I figure I’ll find another hard drive to toss in, install windows on that and not lose data from the old drive. When I got time, I slapped an old 30 gigger in, and nothing. So, I grabbed the 80 GB drive from a computer that was marked for the dumpster (thanks Shawn!) and slightly more than nothing. BIOS can read the manufacturer information from the drive, but Windows Setup can’t use it to install Windows. So, I talked to a few people and arranged a couple loaners once they got cleaned off.
In the meantime, I was pleading with Google to tell me how to fix this and the great and powerful Google offered me a soupcon of hope. I don’t really install Windows that often, but I had remembered something to recover or repair an installation. I just assumed it was the recovery console, and forgot about it. I forgot that Windows Setup could actually repair an installation. I never had a drive or partition I even thought about sacraficing, so I never took that leap into “setup Windows XP now”. Per the repair guide above, I did a repair installation, and boom, it’s all good. Got XP Service Pack 3 set up and few other updates, and all seems to be well. Windows Setup repair, gasp, just worked. I don’t know what the problem was (I did try rebuilding the MBR before the repair), but it wasn’t beyond repair. Total pricetag, $221.92 with all the shipping and thermal paste and whatnot. My father-in-law just bought an eMachines system, dual core, 2gb, decent hard drive space, 19″ widescreen monitor, new printer… $500. Why do I build computers again?