So, you think that you are in the clear..

.. but wait.

A short case study

I have an aging Biostar T6100-939, manufactured in the heady days when XP held down 76% of all PC users. Windows support was good, and there were even XP 64 drivers available for it, although I only ever ran XP Pro 32-bit. The chipset is the nVidia nForce 410/6100, all budget stuff. The integrated  video part which was billed as 256mb had no real gaming performance, so I fitted an MSI N6600 256mb video card which has performed well enough, giving me good detail and reasonable frame rates when playing CFS 3 and Halo..

When Vista appeared, I initially installed the 32-bit platform, and all was well at a time when many systems got all jiggy and didn’t seem to like Vista one iota. I made the transition to Vista 64, and still all of the hardware performed well. Not bad for a system which had no official Vista support (except for the audio part, strangely) from the manufacturer.

Windows 7 64-bit installed with the same gusto as Vista did back in Nov 2006, and all hardware devices were picked up. Once again, I seemed to have been lucky, but what I did not notice immediately was the nVidia nForce 410/6100 chipset performance. I didn’t notice any change because the most obvious part, the integrated video, was not being used. The nVidia 6600 video card is still on the radar, and I was able to get any video resolution I needed for my two LCD displays and, in this way, all appeared to be well again.

But all was not well. The integrated NIC was still working, but not as it had in the past. Instead of seeing download speeds of almost 10mb in a speed test, it had dropped to just a quarter of that.

For a desktop machine, the above is not too critical because it is easy enough to install a Windows 7 compatible NIC, which I have done now. Laptop owners would not be so lucky because swapping out parts is NOT an option.

This is the first time that any part of my PC has fallen below radar coverage, and it is a reminder that all good things come to am end. While I can replace video cards and NIC’s, what I can’t do is replace the basic chipset. I have a feeling that Windows 7 is the last upgrade that this computer will ever see. Come Windows 8, I can see  ‘base system’ errors appearing as more of the nForce 410 chipset gets sidelined, and I don’t want or need that.

I have been seriously thinking about doing a total hardware upgrade recently, but I think that I will hold on to my luck for a couple of years longer and see what transpires, assuming that it does not suffer a serious hardware failure.

By the way, the above is why I don’t buy or use laptops. They go out of fashion way too fast for my liking.

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