Apr 6, 2011

R.I.P. Dear Desktop

Back at the start of 2009 I picked up an Alienware desktop (post and pictures here) and at the time it was perfect for my needs, and how I did love it so, but as theses stories go time passed and I found myself neglecting my desktop and spending more and more time with my other love – my laptop.  It’s what I use for my day to day work needs and as fate would have it where I ended up running almost everything that I once used my desktop for including my PC gaming since it has a decent enough graphics card and I get to take it with me when I travel.  The desktop has slowly been turning into nothing more than the place where I host my iTunes music collection.  Sad, I know.

Now recently this machine has been randomly shutting down. Initially I thought it was related to a video card driver update that had just came through shortly after Win 7 SP1, but it was a little too random and a driver rollback didn’t fix anything so I cracked open the case to check the internals, and what do I find? That the heat sink and cooling fan are loose in their mountings!  The plastic bracket used to hold the heat sink and CPU together had cracked and broken meaning that the CPU had only minimal contact with the heat sink.  This would explain the random shutdowns.

So now I have a decision.  Do I replace a few parts and get it running again or bid farewell to the desktop, and treat the laptop as the genuine desktop replacement it is?  I’ve decided it’s time to say R.I.P. dear desktop and time to spend all my time with just the laptop.  I’ll get an external HDD enclosure so I can still get my music and other files off the desktop drive, but that will be all.

So a question for you.  Would you do the same if it was you, have you long said goodbye to your desktop and think I’ve been a luddite for hanging on to mine for so long, or would keep the big box and use simply upgrade the motherboard and CPU, etc?  I’m curious.

P.S. If anyone wants to make an offer on a second hand Alienware desktop, needing a new CPU & motherboard with 4GB RAM and a decent graphics card, then let me know either via email or twitter.


  1. Did the CPU go bang? Have you considered a new HSF mounting bracket (& probably a new HSF), re-seating it properly and soak-testing? It could still be ok.

    I've still got my desktop but it gets less & less use these days. I run a couple of boots on it, 1 "expendable" so I can install stuff that may break things, as well as having a dev environment / Tweetdeck PC. It's main use is bulk-storage and long-ish-term grunt stuff like encoding. It also runs VMs for testing purposes.

    If you only have 1 laptop will that leave you in a hole if you break / lose it and you have a tight deadline? Never underestimate the value of redundant systems. Just ask Virgin airlines et al.

  2. My desktop doesn't have much left in it and I'm considering giving it the kick. I have a low powered laptop which I use to VPN into the desktop. That's become my default mode of working now, even at home -- mostly because the desktop is faster and the laptop is mobile.

    Since I'm not using the desktop at the desktop, I'm thinking of just substituting it with an Amazon EC2 instance when it does finally die. One I can start and stop when I want to -- it should be cheaper in the long run and easier to backup too. Usable from an iPad with an RDP client as well.