New Computer Blues

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 11, 2014

One of the worst things that can happen to a computer geek is their motherboard dying and I've lived through it more times than I can remember. In the past I usually replaced the motherboard or did a nice little upgrade, but this time I did something I haven't done in 16 years. I bought a computer off the shelf at a retail outlet.

With the economy the way it's been, I haven't upgraded hardware in quite some time and thus when my motherboard gave out Sunday evening I decided my best bet this time was just get something brand spanking new off the shelf somewhere. I started to get a $500 HP from Wal-Mart Monday night, but I just really didn't want something that low end.  I'm glad I waited because on Tuesday I found an Asus M51AD at the local Best Buy. It's a pretty decent little machine for an "off-the-shelfer."

It has a small but full-sized tower with four disk bays (two DVD and two hard drive), only one empty PCI-E expansion slot, and a 430-watt power supply. Other than that it's a nice machine. It shipped with an Intel i7-4770s, 12 gigabytes of RAM, a two terabyte harddrive with Windows 8.1, and (its biggest selling point really) an NVIDIA GTX 760 video card. Shopping in my hometown has become a nightmare. Inventory is low and choice is very limited, so I was fortunate I think to find something even this nice. Also in the box was Asus labeled keyboard and mouse as well as getting-started pamphlet and warranty card.

I fired it up and Windows 8.1 booted on up. It was just like all the screenshots you've seen but much more annoying in person. I downloaded a few recently released live Linux images, burnt them, and tried to boot them. This was when the annoyances began.

Looking around the BIOS let me set the Secure Boot to boot other OSes. It wouldn't let me just disable it completely. I set the boot order to boot the DVD drive first and tried to run those Linux live disks. Mageia 4 wasn't going to let me change the video driver from VESA no matter what. Cinnamon crashed once loading NVIDIA drivers in Mint 17. openSUSE behaved the best in giving me nice video support. I figured I'd install openSUSE and use it until Mint 17 came out in the KDE version.

So, being behind on my work, I decided the easiest and quickest way to get up and running was to take out that new hard drive and install openSUSE on my not-terribly-outdated drives. I promptly voided my warranty by swapping out those hard drives and adding an extra DVD drive. I just had one little problem.

That one little problem was the performance of those live DVDs. Besides the main issues already mentioned, they also booted very slowly and performed very poorly. openSUSE was very slow to boot as well, but the desktop functioned well enough in testing last night. But today it seemed to hang during boot (either that or I didn't wait long enough). I'm not really sure what the problem is in any of these distros as I haven't had time to research anything. It may surprise you to read that I ended up just booting my old Linux Mint 15 install and it's acting like nothing even happened. And that's where I'm at right now, pulling in feeds and news alerts getting ready to catch up on some work. I suppose the plan now is to just use this Mint 15 install until Mint 17 KDE arrives.

I haven't tried to play any taxing games yet, but this guy on put up an unpacking video of this machine he got for his birthday in February.  He called it his "new gaming computer." I wanted the nicer video card for sure, but I didn't think of it as a "gaming computer." However, it didn't hurt my feelings to hear him say that.  I think I like it., back to work!