New Computer – and NCIX

October 23rd, 2008 by Potato

Well, as you’ve all read by now, my desktop computer mysteriously died while I was away, and I’ve decided to replace it by building my own from parts again. This not only saves me a bit compared to a new computer (e.g.: from Dell), but also lets me keep my old hard drive (which I hope is still working), so aside from a few driver headaches, I don’t have to spend hours installing and updating a new system, then finding all my old settings and files, etc. It makes the change fairly invisible to me.

I ended up going with an AMD Phenom 9750 quad-core processor — I was kind of excited to see that they had made it up to quad cores now. The AMD option seemed to offer more bang for the buck, though I’ve always gone with Intel in the past (and that’s also what Netbug recommended in the previous post). To run it, I went with a fairly basic motherboard from MSI, with the AMD770 chipset (the most basic chipset that supports the quad-core Phenom and the DDR2-1066 memory). I was fairly ambivalent about video cards, and RAM (4GB, no fancy memory fans or anything).

I did a fair bit of comparison shopping and review-hunting, as I’m wont to do, and ended up on NCIX’s site looking for this stuff. At first glance, their site was pretty amateurish and hard to search. I almost didn’t buy from them because of it, but then I discovered a few crucial details that put them over the top: they have some pretty kick-ass sales (including one on a video card in my range that not only knocked $30 off the price, but also got free shipping for the whole order), and they also don’t charge sales tax for Ontario orders (they’re BC-based), so that kind of cinched it for me.

However, the motherboard I wanted was out of stock there. I started to surf around, looking for other options, looking for reviews of the other options, etc., when I realized I was falling into a dark obsessive-compulsive hole that would swallow my whole afternoon. So instead, I found a $20-off coupon for which covered the shipping, and ordered the MSI motherboard from them. is a much more professional site: it’s cleaner, easier to search, and has more information, including customer reviews. However, their prices were not wowing me: they were competitive with local stores, but only before you considered shipping (which, at $16, was no bargain — good thing for that $20 off coupon!). I nearly lost my shit when I got the shipping confirmation by email: it was being shipped by UPS.

With a US starting location.

I was immediately thinking of cancelling the order, afraid that I would get stuck with some ridiculous brokerage charge, and was already composing the letter full of righteous anger that NewEgg Canada should pull this kind of thing on me. Fortunately, a quick web search turned up that NewEgg has cut a deal with the United Pirate Service, and will be paying the customs bounty for us; if they do show up and try to extort it from us, then we can pass the bill on to NewEgg. This is, apparently, spelled out in the fine print of the purchase details that I accepted, but who ever reads that stuff?

More to the point, why can’t anyone else cut a deal with UPS (or DHL) to have those bogus brokerage charges covered? Why isn’t that sort of thing illegal under NAFTA or something? Why don’t more US merchants offer the bestest and cheapest shipping option: USPS-Canada Post?

To conclude: NCIX: looks a little sketchy on their web design, but they rock. Newegg: smooth, but add in the shipping charges before you compare prices.

As for the computer itself? Well, I’ve got it all together now… but am still using my laptop. Unfortunately, my plan to use my old hard drive and avoid going through all the hassle of a fresh install doesn’t seem to have worked so well — Windows blue screens halfway through startup, apparently a common problem with motherboard upgrades. I tried the fix of uninstalling my hard drive controllers (and virtually all my other drivers), but that didn’t fix the issue, so I tried a “repair install” — but that requires getting my hard drive drivers onto a floppy… and not only do I not have the hard drive drivers (or I would have installed them while I could still boot to safe mode), but I don’t even have a floppy drive in the computer any more! So it’s looking like I’m going to have to do a fresh install of Windows after all, and I’ll probably have to use another computer (Wayfare’s?) to get the data off my drive…

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