PC Maintenance and Modifications

How do you extend the life of an old PC? The obvious answer would be to swap out the parts with newer and better ones. This is the first time I’m tinkering with a PC. My experience with computer hardware prior to installing Linux Ubuntu on an old unit is just plugging it in and pressing the on switch. What I have done so far is clean the inside of the case. So much dust has accumulated over time. I just opened both sides of the case, pointed a big fan into it and flicked the dust with tissue paper. All while making sure I’m grounded. I know static electricity can kill a computer. It’s not super clean but it is cleaner now. This pc has the following components: AMD Sempron 2200+, Asrock K7VM3 Motherboard, PQI 512MB DDR400 RAM, GeForce FX5200 Video Card, 40GB Maxtor IDE Drive, and a generic 300W PSU to support it. The 40GB hard drive has Windows XP SP2. I bought an 80GB Hitachi IDE Drive for Ubuntu. I asked my brother how to connect the drive and then I was on my way. It was done with no hitches and the new hard drive was already set to slave. Good for me. Because I have no idea how to do the jumpers.

I’ve been having problems with my RAM for a while now. I was convinced that it was dying because both XP and Linux Ubuntu could only detect about 250MB of it. A few days ago, I was tinkering with it again and actually unplugged and replugged the card into the slot. Lo and behold, when I booted up the pc my RAM was back to 512MB. I tested it on both operating systems and they say the same thing. It’s running better now. I had contemplated getting a whole new ram card but that can wait.

My next concern is the heat and noise that it is generating. On Linux Ubuntu, I have Conky running which shows the ambient and cpu temperature. Ambient is about 40C while CPU can go up to 59C. I’m not sure what the threshold is for Sempron processors. I will have to research on that more. I also looked into checking how much power the pc consumes. Using this calculator, the estimate is about 257 watts. Although my PSU can still handle that, I can’t handle the noise my PSU’s fan is creating. I’m thinking about replacing the PSU’s fan or the whole thing. Replacing the fan sounds easier but for a person who’s just starting to learn about the hardware, it’s a daunting task. And so is replacing the PSU itself! I do not want to fry the components. It’s either learn to live with it or get someone who can do it for me.

Heat management. I’ve been reading up on PC cooling for the past few days and in summary, it’s about air flow. The current setup on my pc has only 1 fan – an exhaust on the side. I consider the PSU’s fan as part of the PSU itself since it is. My plan is to transfer the exhaust fan to the back on the my and add an intake fan in the front. I’ve also unplugged the IDE cable for the floppy and folded it neatly inside since I do not use it anymore and it bothers the air flow. I’ve also adjusted the location of my two hard drives to a few bays down. I’m thinking about getting rounded IDE cables so it looks neater. I don’t think spiral wraps will help my wire management but I’ll have to look in the case again for a more detailed plan of action.

Wish me luck!


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