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Picture6 007a02 Kingston Value RAM (2 x 512MB sticks)

SNORTYHOW-TO by J.

UPGRADE A COMPUTER TO RUN MICROSOFT WINDOWS VISTA HOME PREMIUM EDITION


 

PART 2:  SELECTING THE RIGHT HARDWARE

In this article we focus on getting the correct video card and memory for Vista, as well as putting the parts in the case and connecting everything inside the computer.

At a minimum, Vista will require 1 GB of memory to run. Ignore anything that says you can run it in 512MB, to get any kind of performance out of the computer, especially if you are running the 3D Aero interface, youíll need 1 GB or more. As in the past, probably the best upgrade you can get for your

Picture6 006a The best value:  a BFG 7600G video card.

computer these days is memory. For this build, I chose Kingston Value RAM (2 x 512MB sticks). The KN1 Extreme motherboard is a Socket 939 board which supports dual channel DDR RAM, so you need to put in memory sticks in pairs.

The next choice is the video card. Since this is more of a budget upgrade than anything else, I didnít want to break the bank. But, next to memory, a good video card is one of the best upgrades you can do for your computer. For the money, the best value I could find was a BFG 7600GT, a PCI-E video card which has 256MB DDR3 memory and is Shader Model 3 and Direct X9 compliant. When I do decide to put a faster chip in the machine, this card will scale well with it, and if I decide to do an SLI video card setup for my next computer, I could just buy another 7600GT. Note, however, that often it is better to buy one

Picture6 013b
The new backplate!

faster card than two slower, and there are many games that donít have support for either Nvidia SLI or ATI Crossfire dual video cards.

So I have all of the pieces I need, I recycled an  Antec case that had an old motherboard and power supply. I took out the motherboard and power supply. I went ahead and bought another power supply, an Antec 380W Earthwatts. I could n
 
ot use the old one because it only had a 20 pin connector for the motherboard, and this motherboard required a 24 pin connector. Plus, the video card needed > 20A out of the 12V feeds, so the old power supply just wasnít going to cut it

Picture6 023a
The CPU in the socket

.

I took out the old backplate out of the case and put the new one in, and then mounted the motherboard to the case. You have to make sure that 1) the spacers that came with the case are all in the right locations and 2) you securely fasten the motherboard to the spacers using the supplied screws. If you donít, you can be faced with a system that wonít boot because the motherboard is shorting against the case. This is an older case, so it doesnít have a removable motherboard tray. Remember, when youíre starting to work with the motherboard and especially the memory and processor, ground yourself by wearing an anti-static wristband or touching the case repeatedly. Donít work on carpet!

Picture6 027a The heatsink/fan plugged into the motherboard.

The next step is to insert the processor. There are numerous sites that go into detail as to how to do this, so I wonít explain it here. Suffice it to say the most important thing is to not be afraid to push down when you place the heatsink/fan on top of the CPU. The processors are pretty tough, and can actually withstand a lot of pressure in the socket. So while it may seem like the CPU is going to break from the pressure at any second, most of the time it simply requires a very tight fit for maximum thermal transfer from the top of the CPU to the heatsink. I used the standard heatsink/fan that came with the CPU, there are numerous companies that sell heatsink/fan combinations if you are looking for more esoteric cooling. The final thing to remember is to plug the heatsink/fan into the plug on the motherboard, otherwise you will probably end up destroying your processor if you run it without the fan. The plug is usually placed very close by the CPU socket.

Picture6 033c
The power supply plugged into the motherboard.



The next step is to put in the video card. That is probably the easiest of all, just make sure its securely in the PCI-E slot. The 7600 GT does not require extra power but many video cards today do. Donít forget to plug the appropriate power source into the card if you need to.

The final step is to plug the power into the motherboard. In this case, it needed both the 24 pin connector and an additional 4 pin 12V connector near the top of the motherboard.

How did it turn out???

Picture6 030a The memory in the WRONG slot.

After getting everything ready, I took it over, plugged in the monitor, keyboard and mouse (note that I donít have any drives hooked up to it yet. If youíre building a system, its best to test if the new board comes up with the memory and video card inserted and nothing else, mostly because its a pain to unplug everything if you have to take it out). and turned on the power. I got nothing but beeps. There was a simple reason for it: if you take a look at the picture of the motherboard with the memory inserted, youíll note that Iíve placed the memory in slots 1 and 2. Well, for this particular board (and probably others as well), the memory should be placed in slots 1 and 3 (or 2 and 4), or all four if you are putting memory in all four slots. Once I did that, the system came up to the boot screen just fine. I set the BIOS, and everything is ready for the big install in a couple of days

Picture6 039c
The placing of the case badges!

The only other thing to do was to place the appropriate case badges!

Iím really looking forward to putting Vista on the machine and letting everyone know step by step how it worked. Come back for Part 3, which covers the actual installation of Vista on the system!

J.

See also
Part 1:  Laying The Foundation For The Aero Interface
Part 3:  Installation And First Look
Part 4:  The Start Menu

Disclaimer:  SnortyHow is intended for entertainment purposes only and has NOT been reviewed by professionals for accuracy, reliability, legality, or safety. Whatever you read in SnortyHow, you must try at your own risk, preferably after seeking advice from licensed professionals.