Gather round and let me tell you a story. It's a story of hope and despair, sadness and enlightenment, desperation and joy, life and death. It's a story of my computer upgrade.
It all started towards the end of last year. Lots of people on TWHL were getting new graphics cards, and I was starting to think that it might be a good idea. Ant bought some Mac thing for twice the retail price so he could play all those mac games that exist, and Strider bought something ridiculously overpriced so he could play games from the 90's. Archie has had a crazy GPU for a while but he's just rubbing it in our faces with his fancy new screens. Other regulars in the upgrade club include notable pillars of our community such as DoctorAmazing, TawnosPrime, and Jessie.
So I thought: enough is enough! I will no longer be a spectator, I must take action! And action I took. I went to my local internet providing mechanism (my work computer) and ordered myself an upgrade with intense focus and concentration. The upgrade in question? It was none other than an Nvidia GTX 970 with 4GB RAM, 400mb of drivers, support for VR, Shadowplay, built-in toaster, plus I opted for the Roomba attachment and extra fries on the side.
My boss has a parking spot at work, so I knocked him out by giving him a light tap on the head with a ball-peen hammer and grabbed his keys and escaped before somebody could initiate a safety share about getting hammered in the workplace. As I swerved my way over to the computer store (I've been playing GTA recently so I couldn't remember which lane to drive in), I imagined all the incredible things I could do with my new graphics card. I could increase the draw distance in GTA V by 10%! Play Rainbow Six Siege in slightly higher detail than potato mode! Experience Half-Life in a graphical fidelity that's never before been possible! I was so excited that I almost ran over a particularly wide person on the footpath, but fortunately I managed to avoid them with only a small amount of collateral damage.
The gentleman that served me at the store had an incredibly impressive afro. I'm talking big, puffy, and really tall. His hair was larger than the rest of his head. This afro was hypnotising in its puffy majesty. I stood there staring for about 10 minutes while he was trying to serve me. Eventually I managed to exchange an impressive sum of Australian dollarey-doos for a chunk of plastic and steel that a Chinese dude made for ten bucks. I asked the guy for a lock of hair to remember his afro by, but he refused. I left empty handed, but that hair will forever be etched in my mind and I will compare all future hair to that noble image.
After dreaming about my new graphics card on the train home, I finally managed to walk through my front door and get ready for upgrading procedures. I took all the standard precautions, of course: take off pants, put computer on fuzzy carpet, don't bother unplugging the power because honestly who bothers with that nonsense. I was under my desk without much light so I put my phone into flashlight mode and balanced it awkwardly on the edge of the case.
After unplugging a few cords running over the old card, I was able to yank it out with only a little bit of brute force. A few things snapped but they probably weren't very important. The new card was jet black and reminded me of a super sleek racing car, if a racing car could be installed in a PCIe slot. I carefully jammed it into said slot and reconnected the power and whatever else was lying around that looked like it would fit into something. I stood the computer back up and pressed the magic button.
I grinned when I saw my motherboard's BIOS screen flash up. The GPU was working! The grin lasted about 5 seconds before it turned into a slight frown. The BIOS screen was still there. A minute later it changed into a blinking cursor on a black background. 5 minutes later, nothing had changed.
Have you ever felt that sinking feeling when you know something's gone horribly wrong? I have. Not only today, but in the past as well. My first GPU upgrade was at a LAN party, upgrading my GeForce MX440 to a FX5200. I eagerly installed the card and flicked the switch. All was going well until I smelled something. It was the metallic smell of ozone, the smell of fried electronics. The tab on the card was blocked by my computer case, and the AGP pins hadn't connected properly. The resulting short fried a capacitor in my motherboard. The rest of that LAN was not an enjoyable experience for me. It took 6 months for Intel's warranty department to issue a replacement.
Anyway the point is that I have felt this before. Fortunately I've learnt my lesson and I knew the pins were connected properly, and nothing smelled of ozone so I was trying to stay positive. I shut it down and checked that everything was seated properly, that the power was connected, and that my PSU had enough juice to support the card in the first place. Everything was okay. I tried again, and still nothing happened. The sinking feeling increased. Something's broken. I paid 500 dollarey-doos for this damn thing. The store is not known for its refund policy, and its support is Valve-quality. What the hell am I supposed to do?
I was desperate. And what do people do when they're desperate? They try everything. In my case, 'everything' included looking for motherboard BIOS updates. You know, that thing that absolutely never does anything to fix your actual problem? But it doesn't matter, I was desperate. I did it anyway. The last update on my motherboard was published in 2012. Not a good sign. But even still, I did it anyway. There was indeed a BIOS update, and at this point I didn't really care if it made things worse than before.
So I flashed the BIOS. I squeezed my hands together as the progress bar progressed. I popped a stress ball. The blood in my fingers experienced a pressure so great that it would still be in liquid form if I was sitting on the surface of the sun. The progress bar finished and my computer rebooted. I crossed all my fingers and toes and even digits that I didn't even know could be crossed. The BIOS booted...
... and worked! A BIOS update actually solved my problem! It's even less likely than the second coming of Jesus. But it worked. Windows started, and the driver installer struggled to start up and eventually gave me a green light after choking on installations for a while.
I celebrated by turning all the settings up in GTA. I can now make everything in the background incredibly blurry without it dropping frames! It looks absolutely awful so I turned it off, but isn't it nice that GTA with maximum settings also doubles as an "I'm not wearing my glasses" simulator. I'll now go back to playing games that I was able to max out on my old card anyway. New games are expensive, you know?
TLDR: Got a new graphics card, GTX 970. Didn't work initially, but for the first time ever a motherboard BIOS update actually solved the problem. Story may be slightly exaggerated in places. Not that guy's hair though - it was 100% real.
I should do a write-up on the adventures of my 6 months of BSOD's
I don't know why I'm picturing DiscoStu as having the afro from your story... probably because of his avatar.
Now I can't get my priorities straight! I don't know if I should continue to save money for a car or invest in a desktop and sell my laptop... although its Nvidia 650m still bears the weight of lots of modern games.
At this point I could invest in a system centered around Skylake i7 6700, with 16GB of DDR4. I'd have to wait probably 2-3 months before buying a graphics card - the intel 530 integrated graphics is powerful enough to run games with some decency in FullHD. Then I'd invest in this Asus GTX 970 Turbo OC. It's a piece of beauty, you don't see every day GPUs painted white. As a matter of fact, this card was on sale these days in some stores from my country. One could get it for about 300$. I wonder if I should wait until USB type-C becomes popular on motherboards though.
All these beefy hardware discussions makes my mouth really moist.
Also, you walked in the store to buy the GPU? I thought most of the people order them online. The only computer hardware I ever bought physically from a store was a hard disk...
Every hardware purchase I ever did was by walking into a store. Never once I bought hardware online.
@Jessie: You don't know that dollarey-doos is the official name for Australian currency? That's un-Australian. And yep, it was from Umart! They're cheap and they don't mess about! Unless you want to return something!
My semi-recent upgrade(nothing even close to as nice as yours), I got nothing on the first try because my power supply was shite, but after upgrading PSU all was fine.
This is why I buy things like this at best buy doe. If I fry it, I can just exchange for a new one within 30 days. So how do you go about flashing it, was it difficult?
@CapT: No booze, but I'm beginning to wonder if drinking a bit before upgrading PCs might not be a bad idea. My track record with upgrades hasn't ever been very good sober, so surely it can't hurt right? Flashing the BIOS was pretty easy, I just had to download the right file and put it on a USB stick, the BIOS software had a wizard thing that let me choose the file to use.
I also picked up an SSD and installed it yesterday and went with Windows 10 as well. My computer boots in 5 seconds instead of 5 minutes, it's pretty cool.
good read, but i'm not convinced to upgrade my crappy specs.