(2021-09-27) The Story My Decade-Old Computer

A few months ago the computer I am currently using turned a decade old. It's had an interesting little journey. But first, I'd like to share its current specs:

So for a long time my family used a shared computer. Our first computer here in Canada was a beige box Windows 2000 computer with a CRT screen. It was fine, I browsed the internet on it, did homework with it, played flash games, and played RCT2 & AOE2 on it. We got a new PC in 2005 when we moved from Toronto to a different city. It was a HP computer with a Pentium 4 & 512MB of memory running Windows XP with a 17" 1280×1024 LCD screen. It was an OK computer, but it was really bad towards the end of our use of it. The graphics that were integrated into the motherboard couldn't handle 720p video, and it took sooo long for it to "warm up" after booting. Basically when I started it up, I would have to wait for 10 minutes for it to not be laggy as the hard drive was busy doing all the system bootup tasks. So in 2011 we ended up getting the computer I am currently using.

Because I was a lot more knowledgeable about computers thanks to me watching a lot of PC building and spec comparison videos on YouTube, I asked to get a much more powerful computer than we had before. It was a Dell XPS 8300 computer with a Core i7, 8GB ram, 1TB hard drive (woah!), and a... Nvidia GT 420 (lmao) that ran Windows 7. We also got a 24" 1080p screen as part of this upgrade. It even came with a cutting-edge USB 3.0 expansion card. This computer was pretty fast when we got it, probably because it had a quad-core 8-thread CPU and a lot of memory. But over time ended up having the same "takes forever to warm up" problem as our computer before.

The same year I got this PC, a popular FPS game called Battlefield 3 came out. Me and a high school friend of mine were really interested in playing BF3 after we saw gameplay footage of it that looked very realistic. But I saw that this computer didn't meet the minimum or recommended specs for playing the game. The recommended graphics card for BF3 was a GTX 560 with 1GB of video memory. So me and my friend made a deal, if I got a new graphics card for my computer, he would buy me Battlefield 3 to play. So in the summer of 2012 we finally completed our deal, I got a GTX 550 Ti from Future Shop, he got me BF3 when it was on sale, and we played the game together on my upgraded PC (only the campaign though). I'd later play BF3 online by myself, though I mostly played Metro and Noshahr Canals TDM, not much else. The Close Quarters expansion was fun when I got it as part of some free promotion. I stopped playing the game in the summer of 2013 and never played it again.

In 2014 I stopped using that PC and let my parents use it as their own. We could no longer really share the computer as the amount of time we needed to use it for ourselves kept increasing, and it was annoying for me to ask or be asked to leave the computer. I bought myself a Lenovo Thinkpad because of /g/ memes with the money I made at the gas station job I briefly had. It was great to finally have my own personal computer that I bought with my own money, but also the laptop wasn't that great. The screen was garbage, and it had a dual-core Core i3 that was kind of inadequate. I upgraded its memory from 2GB to 8GB and I also upgraded its hard drive to an SSD. Holy moly, the SSD upgrade was so worth it. It didn't seem that much faster at first, but when I really started using the computer I noticed it was actually amazing. I no longer had to wait for my computer to warm up, finally! One other thing that shocked me was when I decided to do a full system antivirus scan on my laptop, and thought it would take an hour like it used to on my old computers, so I went to make some tea. When I came back 5 minutes later I was amazed to find out that it was done. I knew that SSDs were a good upgrade, but I didn't know they were this good.

So after using this crappy laptop for a while I decided I needed a better computer than it. I wanted to spend as little money as possible, so I decided the best course of plan was getting the Dell computer back from my parents. The computer was way too powerful for the things they were doing with it (emails, Word docs, watching movies), but just right for myself, so in the summer of 2019 I got my parents a simple mini-PC, and got back the computer my family got in 2011. Though the CPU, memory, and motherboard were fine, the hard drive and the PSU were really bad in my view, and Windows 7 had to go because its EOL was coming up. So I upgraded to the SSD first, then I reinstalled Windows 7 on it with all of the drivers, and then I upgraded the computer to Windows 10. The PSU had the loudest fan in the system, and I was concerned that it would die after many years of being used, so I upgraded it to a Seasonic SFX PSU. Now, the computer only has mounting holes for standard ATX PSUs, but the Seasonic PSU comes with an SFX-to-ATX adapter, so I used it to put it into the computer. At this point I would have considered the upgrading done, but there was this one problem that really bothered me about it. The noise.

I am a little bit sensitive to noise, especially the kind of fan humming that came out of my computer. It was getting on my nerves, so I decided that I would upgrade the fans in the computer to be quiet. My goal was to make it quiet enough that I could sleep at night with my computer on. By stopping the fans with my fingers while the computer was running I found out that the loudest fan was in the GPU. So I bought a used GTX 1050 Ti, and put it into the computer. The noise was an improvement, but the remaining fans were still annoying. I upgraded the case fan and the CPU cooler fan next. And I also glued a piece of carpet to the inside of the side-panel. Again, a small improvement, but now the fan on the new GPU was the annoying one. So I bought an aftermarket GPU cooler from Arctic. And again, it wasn't quiet enough. The fan inside the PSU didn't spin when the computer was under low load, which is one of the reasons I specifically picked the PSU I did, but when it did spin up to keep the PSU cool, it was noisy. What was also annoying is that it would spin up even if the computer was just idling. So against the warnings of internet people I opened up the PSU to see if I could replace the fan. Good news, I could, but there was also bad news, the connector that the PSU used was a mini 2-pin connector, and replacement fans from fan brands that I knew were quiet only came with standard 3-pin or 4-pin connectors. So I bought a special mini 2-pin to standard 3-pin adapter from China. Finally I could replace the PSU fan. I put a new slim 120mm Noctua fan inside the PSU, and it was finally quiet, thankfully. Though at that point I was still a little bit bothered by the fan on the aftermarket GPU cooler, I considered it enough, and I didn't do anything else. I later needed to download a huge file that I saw would take a long time to download, and left it downloading overnight. Thankfully my computer was quiet enough that I could fall asleep without being bothered by the humming. Later, the noise from the aftermarket GPU cooler finally got to me, and I decided to do something about it. The fan on it could be removed, leaving just the heatsink, but the GPU got really got with the fan removed, so I got a new fan for it and zip-tied it to the heatsink. That was the last upgrade I made to my current decade-old computer.

Here is a picture of what the inside of the computer looked like after I put the new GPU cooler fan in. At this point I am absolutely done with this computer. I really want to upgrade to a new PC, so I no longer have to deal with a bunch of problems with this computer that cannot be fixed. First off, the ethernet sometimes randomly stops working. This was a problem back when my parents were still using the computer, and I put in a wifi card that I connected to the built in wifi antennae that the case had to have more reliable internet, but even now the wifi card seems to have its own problems sometimes. Next, for some reason when the computer is running some specific programs, the speakers make a weird hissing or buzzing sound that bothers me. I tried everything I could to fix this but it seems to be a problem with either the processor or the motherboard that cannot be fixed. Finally, I'm worried that after being in use for so long the computer will die randomly. There's no point for me to "fix" or "upgrade" anything in this computer anymore, it's too damn old. It seems that few people even use their computers as long as this computer has been running. So... time to get a new computer for me.

I was planning on building a new PC last year, but I put it off because GPU prices got out of control and the case I wanted to get wasn't available cheaply due to supply chain issues caused by the pandemic. Now I finally have a list of PC parts I will get to put a new computer together that are at a reasonable price. But there is one thing that's missing from that list... a new GPU. GPU prices are still crazy, and it seems like it'll be a while before they are normal again. So I'm going to take the GTX 1050 Ti out of my current PC and put it into the new one I'll get. Then I'll get a new GPU when prices return to normal. Of course I'll make sure that the new computer will be even quieter than my current one. I will make a blog post about my new PC when I get it, make sure to subscribe and ring the bell so you don't miss it.

Thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. Do you have any computer stories of your own?

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