I've gotten over $200 in cash back from them at places I would have shopped anyway! Ebay, Staples, more! I put it at the top because they ROCK. Basically, you get a kickback from Ebates when buy.com or whoever pays them. Win-win. If you like throwing money away, don't use them!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Vista Ultimate with SP1 vs Ubuntu 7.10 Install on Cheapo PC build

Update 4/28/07: The Ubuntu 8.04 install went fine. I installed it on a separate partition from Vista. I had to install the Nvidia drivers post-OS install, and now Ubuntu's telling me to restart so I'll continue this update later. Obviously the network works out of the box. Graphics are 800x600 until I restart. Why Linux? For additional tools to use mainly, and to keep my options open. I have Mac/PC and Linux/Vista/XP (Home and Pro)/OS X 10.4.x available.

I just built a work PC from a Celeron 430, Ultra Grid Case model ULT33137, ECS 7050VT-M motherboard, and two sticks of HP DDR2 667 memory. All told, I've got about $125 in this system. I recycled a 40 gig drive, floppy, and CDRW burner from a computer someone gave me. I have an external DVD burner I can move between this and my Macbook. This system will be for extra work, and my PC servicing that I do. One intended use is the Spinrite recovery program that can literally take DAYS to scan a faulty drive. So I needed a little cheap system for that and to play with Vista and Ubuntu Linux 7.10. Maybe a little World of Warcraft now and then.

Vista Ultimate:
Graphics driver not installed on ECS 7050VT-M motherboard. NVIDIA MCP73V chipset. Whaaaa....? Also missing the Ethernet driver, so I can't connect on it to the Internet to get the driver because the Ethernet doesn't work so I can't update the driver for it so it won't work...see the problem here?

I'm sort of surprised SP1 doesn't include these items. This isn't exactly the latest chipset out there.

I installed just the Ethernet driver off the CD that came with the motherboard by telling Windows specifically where to find it on the CD. I don't use those auto installers that come on such CDs because the drivers are old probably, and I don't always want all the crap that can some with said CDs. Gimme the reference drivers from NVIDIA in this case, thanks. I'll get it on the Internet then do a Windows update after getting AVG Antivirus installed. Usually my first step!

BSOD: Automatically installed a driver for a cheap Emprex USB Webcam, and it BSOD'd on the 'Follow Facial Features' or whatever they called it, when I checked that option.

Saw it as an SoC camera, wich probably isn't right, but hey Vista, you called it and installed it. Been forever since I saw a BSOD, like since Windows 2000 Pro, and of course it's Vista. XP for me for my 'real' machines for the moment.

This system scores an overall 3.0 (due to the onboard GPU score of 3.0) on the Vista experience, not bad. Subscores ranged from 3.0 to 4.8 stock, and CPU was a 4.4 after overclocking.

I'll take a system like this any day that uses standard parts over some cheapie that HP and the like throw together for 3x the cost with wimpy power supply and even cheaper parts.

Comments on components

  • The case is a pretty good one. I got it and a preinstalled 500W power supply for $29.95 shipped from Fry's. Very nice for the price. The CoolerMaster 690 is nicer and comes with more fans, but installing and removing the side panels are easier on the Ultra. The Ultra comes with two 120mm cooling fans, drive bay and case rear. VGA side panel vent, but no fan included.
  • Motherboard: Only supports one system fan, so I hooked up the one for the drive bays. Have to get an adapter to drive more than one system fan. DDR2 single channel only, :( But has some overclocking features in the BIOS; FSB and some voltage control. I upped the FSB and the processor appears stable at 2.4Ghz The Prime 95 torture test caused some weird Vista issues, but didn't lock or crash, so I'll keep it for now. It's running cool at stock voltage so I sort of suspect a Vista/software issue.
Ubuntu 7.10 Install

Locks running the initial scripts, and doesn't work with the Geforce 7 series driver. Ubuntu 7.10 doesn't even leave the starting gate, so I'm downloading the 8.04 install. Will try to update that if it works.

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