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  • Put Together a PC Toolkit - Part II

    If you’ve already read the “Put Together a PC Toolkit” thread:

    http://www.gskill.us/forum/showthread.php?t=11821

    then the following can be considered Part II, and looks more toward items to have around for troubleshooting, doing repairs and upgrading.

    Since you never really know what may be brought to you when a computer needs work (troubleshooting, repairs, upgrades) it’s always nice to have a variety of items handy and available. There’s software, hardware components, cables, gender changers and many other items that can be useful. Gathering the items can be expensive if you go out and buy everything, so I normally suggest gathering things as you can or they become available. Many you can often pick up for free or next to nothing.

    What I’ll start with is a few ideas towards starting a collection of parts. When I build someone a new system I’ll often ask if they have plans for the old one and offer a discount if they trade it in. Same is true if you hear about someone buying a new system, it can’t hurt to ask if they have plans for the old one. You can have friends keep their ears open for others that might have systems they want to discard. I have a couple of people I check with off and on that cruise around Apartment complexes and mobile home parks that look for discarded systems put out for refuse disposal pickup.

    It can be hit or miss as to getting any good components, but can be worthwhile as many systems that are replaced are simply considered slow and can contain numerous components that can be used to upgrade/repair other older systems. I’ll check them for cables, extensions, DRAM, Drives (both hard and optical), PSUs, CPUs, Coolers, other daughter (add in) cards, etc. I’ve come across a few systems that have high end components in them, and while some aren’t equal to the hardware being offered up these days, many are good upgrades for others.

    It’s easy to go overboard on this approach, so you might want to restrain yourself where tearing down and older system. Years ago, after tearing down a system I took in trade, I discovered I had accumulated about 10 plug in modems, this was when most everyone was moving to cable/DSL for the internet, that got me to looking at other parts and ending up donating a bunch of parts to an organization that refurbs systems for distribution. These days I try to check what I have every couple of months and weed things out – basically to just keep a small supply of older parts.

    Another good spot to pick up odds and ends is from components you buy, many cases, mobos, GPUs and even some PSUs come with spare screws, cables, gender changers, etc. It’s not a bad idea to hang on to those.

    To start with what I consider basics; it’s nice to have a spare monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers (or at least a mobo speaker for hearing post beep codes) as well as power cables for the monitor and computer. I take this approach as, for me, it’s easier to have someone just bring the actual computer, if the problems or upgrades don’t directly involve the monitor, keyboard or mouse.

    Click to enlarge image:

    To that end it’s also nice to have a selection of video cables or, at minimum gender changers to accommodate VGA, DVI, and HDMI connections for the monitor and the GPU, whether it is onboard or a discrete add-in card.

    Click to enlarge image:

    Take the same approach with the keyboard and mouse. If your ‘spare’ keyboard and/or mouse are of the USB variety, it’s a good idea to have gender changers to go to PS3 connections. I keep wireless around also but that will mean the possibility of needing to load drivers and if there are already problems with the system, that might not always be easy.

    Since we’ve now mentioned loading drivers, we might as well look at that next. You’ll need a way to get drivers and software onto the system. There are a variety of ways to do so, and they can also become ‘tools’ towards repairing or upgrading a system. First and most popular will probably be USB drives while you only need one of decent size, it’s nice to have a variety available. I normally keep a few 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32GB around.

    Click to enlarge image:

    If possible it’s nice to have one with a number of software tools (CPU-Z, CoreTemp, PassMark, Prime, MaxxMem, etc), see the info thread ‘Overclocking Tools” for additional possible additions here:

    http://www.gskill.us/forum/showthread.php?t=10511

    Other ways to load drivers would be via the internet, hard drive or optical drive. The optical drive option are in part based on having an available port and if the system doesn’t already have a working one. For this option you would need an optical drive and possible a cable for it and an open power connection from the PSU (or a splitter you can plug in to get power to the drive). On this option, it’s good to have both an IDE and a SATA based optical drive – many older systems don’t have SATA and few newer systems have IDE connections.

    Click to enlarge image:

    The hard drive option would seldom ever get used, but would have the same requirements as an optical drive and preferably already have software/virus and malware tools on it. It would be mounted as a secondary drive.

    The internet option can be as simple as you like or can be rather expansive. Ideally you’ll have cable/DSl modem for your internet connection (preferably both cabled and wireless) so all you would need to do is plug in an Ethernet cable to the system and modem or borrow the cable to your computer or plug in a USB wireless adapter. With the wireless option, this assumes the system will start and you can load a driver for it. With the cable approach, it assumes the system has an Ethernet port…..since one can’t assume anything or be sure things will be working, it’s not a bad idea to have a few other things available for connecting to a cable/DSL modem: a USB wireless adapter, an ethernet card, and cable.

    Click to enlarge image:

    The above approach works well for the odd system you might build/repair or troubleshoot, but if you enjoy working with systems or have multiple systems in your home you might look to expand your networking capabilities in house. An easy expansion is to go directly from the Cable/DSL modem to a wireless router with multiple cabled ports. I have my modem feeding into a Wireless N Router that has a single WAN port and 4 Gigabit LAN ports. One of the LAN ports connects to an eight port Gigabit switch (I’m old school, while I use a lot of things wireless, I like cabled hookups for speed and to eliminate the interference wireless often picks up resulting in dropped packets). This makes for easily hooking up multiple cabled or wireless systems, printers, etc. and remains expandable via additional switches or wireless Access points and/or repeaters. A suggestion if taking this approach would be to keep additional Ethernet cards, cables and/or USB wireless adapters around.

    While we could go into networking tools and testers here, we will save that for Part III as not all PC techies are into networking or muti-media work. We’ll also look at some more advanced tools.

    Now that we have the basics to get the system up and running, we’ll look at other components you might like to have around for testing/troubleshooting.

    Since this is Gskill’s forum and DRAM is always a possible problem, it’s nice to have at least a small selection of DRAM available. Depending on how extensively you get into repairs/troubleshooting and/or upgrading, it nice to have a variety of sticks available. Primarily you will be looking at DDR2 or DDR3 (240 Pin), though you might want to consider having older original DDR (184 Pin) or even 168 Pin SDRAM PC 100/133 DIMMS. Some laptop DRAM can also be handy (if you plan to do any laptop work)

    Click to enlarge image:

    (The above shows SIMMs (upper left), PC100/133 (upper right), DDR (mid-left), DDR2 (mid-right) and Laptop DRAM (bottom)

    Click to enlarge image:

    (Just some Gskill toys of mine: DRAM packages (left), F3-2133C9Q-32GXH (top-mid-left), Turbulence II memory fan (mid-mid-left), F3-17000CL9Q-16GBSR (bottom-mid-left), F3-2400C10Q-32GTX (bottom-mid-right), Older GSkill SSDs (top-mid-right), Phoenix SATA III 240 SSDs (far right))

    Another component to have around is a GPU (video card or two (or three or more). Might want to consider having a PCI-E card as well as a stock PCI, and maybe an AGP card for pre-PCI-E systems.

    A spare PSU is also nice to have preferably with a 20/24 pin power connector, a 4/8 ATX/EPS (CPU) connector and a fair number of SATA, PCI-E and peripheral connectors. As a primary one I keep a 600 around as well as some smaller ones for older systems.
    For the most part keeping CPUs around is probably not worth it, unless you can lay your hands on them very cheap or better yet free, I do however keep the stock CPU coolers that I don’t use and when I come across a good CPU, I’ll hang on to it. Same can be said for other plug in componets like sound cards, modems, TV tuners, or other add on cards like SATA or USB daughter cards.

    And last but not least, you will want to have a variety of cables of all sorts (yes, cables do go bad), you’ll probably want SATA and E-SATA cables, IDE, (possibly even a floppy cable or two), internal power cables (extensions and splitters), USB, and whatever else you may come across like multi-media SPDIF, sound, etc.

    In the next part, Part III we’ll look at networking tools, testers and other slightly more advanced tools that you might be interested in or may be wanted/needed for building a computer based Home Entertainment System.

    (EDIT: Part 3 has been delayed till (hopefully) about Dec 9th.

    Any additions, suggestions, comments, criticisms are welcome.
    Last edited by Tradesman; 12-05-2012, 08:15 PM.


    Pls offer comments on support I provide, HERE, in order to help me do a better job here:

    Tman

  • #2
    All great suggestions, I have been tempted to build a test-bed rig and keep it ready to troubleshoot. Never thought about keeping so much legacy equipment, but then again it is a very good point.
    AMD Phenom II x4 965 BE
    Noctua NH-U9B SE2
    Asus M4A89GTD Pro USB3
    G. Skill Ares 16GB F3-1866C10D-16GAB @1600 9-9-9-24
    Samsung 830 Series 256GB SSD
    XFX Radeon HD 5850 Black Edition
    Corsair HX850
    Antec 900
    Winidows 7 -64bit

    Comment


    • #3
      I do a fair amount of gratis work for Seniors, so having the older stuff around comes in handy for systems they are primarily using for e-mail, card games, etc....although some 'legacy' systems are still rather powerful and can outrun some of the non-K series CPUs and many of the AMD CPUs.


      Pls offer comments on support I provide, HERE, in order to help me do a better job here:

      Tman

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Tradesman View Post
        I do a fair amount of gratis work for Seniors, so having the older stuff around comes in handy for systems they are primarily using for e-mail, card games, etc....although some 'legacy' systems are still rather powerful and can outrun some of the non-K series CPUs and many of the AMD CPUs.
        That is great that you are giving back to the community. As for powerful legacy systems....I know what you mean....there have been some great stuff that has fallen to the wayside. I would say some of those later P4's would challenge the lower end i3/i5 as well as a lot of the AMD lineup
        AMD Phenom II x4 965 BE
        Noctua NH-U9B SE2
        Asus M4A89GTD Pro USB3
        G. Skill Ares 16GB F3-1866C10D-16GAB @1600 9-9-9-24
        Samsung 830 Series 256GB SSD
        XFX Radeon HD 5850 Black Edition
        Corsair HX850
        Antec 900
        Winidows 7 -64bit

        Comment


        • #5
          I'll try and dig some pics out, still have a number of them running out there.


          Pls offer comments on support I provide, HERE, in order to help me do a better job here:

          Tman

          Comment


          • #6
            Can't wait...interesting to see what sort of legacy builds are still in use
            AMD Phenom II x4 965 BE
            Noctua NH-U9B SE2
            Asus M4A89GTD Pro USB3
            G. Skill Ares 16GB F3-1866C10D-16GAB @1600 9-9-9-24
            Samsung 830 Series 256GB SSD
            XFX Radeon HD 5850 Black Edition
            Corsair HX850
            Antec 900
            Winidows 7 -64bit

            Comment


            • #7
              This one was from 2008, it was built with a Q6600, XFX 680i, a pair of 320 8800 GTS GPUs, and 8GB of GSkill 1066 PIs...it set the record for 6600/SLI 320 8800 GTS/680i on FutureMark 3dMark06 back then at 18,224 (or something like that), running at 4.2GHz, think I had the DRAM at 1200 and can't remember the GPU OC. Later updated it to a 9550 and it now is being used by a friends kids as a gaming system. Basically I guess it runs most all the latest games...I think Starwars was the last one I heard about

              Click to enlarge:


              Pls offer comments on support I provide, HERE, in order to help me do a better job here:

              Tman

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              • #8
                Is that a Zalman CNPS9900 doing the cooling duties? in 08 I was still running my Athlon X2 4200
                AMD Phenom II x4 965 BE
                Noctua NH-U9B SE2
                Asus M4A89GTD Pro USB3
                G. Skill Ares 16GB F3-1866C10D-16GAB @1600 9-9-9-24
                Samsung 830 Series 256GB SSD
                XFX Radeon HD 5850 Black Edition
                Corsair HX850
                Antec 900
                Winidows 7 -64bit

                Comment


                • #9
                  It's the 9500 with the blue LED, used a lot of those back then.


                  Pls offer comments on support I provide, HERE, in order to help me do a better job here:

                  Tman

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                  • #10
                    A P45, w/ a Q9650 (4.1 GHZ 24/7) with a 9800 and (can't remember if this had 8 or 16GB) DDR2 GSkill PQs. It's currently running as a primary workstation and a file server in a small real estate office for the sales folks laptops and two other computer in a mixed wireless cabled network.

                    Click to Enlarge:


                    Pls offer comments on support I provide, HERE, in order to help me do a better job here:

                    Tman

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Here's some more things for a tool box.
                      UBCD, Ultimate Boot CD has several testing and diagnostic tools and runs from a CD or flash drive, memtest is included. http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/

                      Ubuntu, a Linux distro is helpful to have a look at drives outside of Window, say one that has a password. http://www.ubuntu.com/download/help/...re-you-install

                      YUMI from Pendrivelinux will let you create your own bootable flash drive and add the apps you want. http://www.pendrivelinux.com/yumi-mu...t-usb-creator/

                      NOTE: Tman none of your images open, I get this:
                      Click image for larger version

Name:	GSkill.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	17.3 KB
ID:	128521
                      wow, the new forum really reduces images.
                      Last edited by Britton30; 01-13-2013, 10:33 AM.
                      I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Might also look at Hiren's BootCD (very similar to the above and also has a number of Anti-Virus/malware tools (and other stuff)...I generally carry both


                        Pls offer comments on support I provide, HERE, in order to help me do a better job here:

                        Tman

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Very good idea! I have that too, lol. Here's a link, hard to find at times. The download is way down the page in a tiny font.
                          http://www.hirensbootcd.org/download/
                          I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanx, had the link, forgot to stick it in there, been too hectic this last week or so.


                            Pls offer comments on support I provide, HERE, in order to help me do a better job here:

                            Tman

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                            • #15
                              Just saw an article at PCWorld that might come in handy for using a thumb drive, can see it here:

                              http://www.pcworld.com/article/20213...#tk.nl_pcwbest

                              There's a couple of good approaches in the article I'll be trying...another option that's some what similar that I use is what I think of as my little Doctor's bag, because I often get calls from folks that have picked up virus's, malware, etc and I don't always have my tool bag with me, I always carry a small 8GB USB drive (the Patriot Flex) (can be seen here:

                              http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820220587

                              it's about 1 3/8" x 1/2" x 1/8" thick, and comes with a little plastic holster which I keep on a key ring....on the dive I keep a copy of MalwareBytes, AVG Free, Win Patrol, System Info, FF, Chrome, Open Office, Core Temp, CPU-Z, and a number of othervirus/malware tools (r-Kill, tdsskiller, Combo-fix) and other handy programs.

                              Comes in very handy!


                              Pls offer comments on support I provide, HERE, in order to help me do a better job here:

                              Tman

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