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PC components - John C. Kirk

Feb. 15th, 2009

01:36 am - PC components

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As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the fans in my computer has been playing up recently, so I went off to the computer fair at Tottenham Court Road to find a replacement. This had mixed results...

I wandered round the stalls, and I only found one fan that looked close to what I was after: the Spire JACS07. It was £3, so I figured that it was worth the risk. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the wrong one; in particular, the power cable won't fit into the relevant socket on my motherboard. I've found a couple of possibilities at Overclockers which look more encouraging:
Zalman ZM-NBF47 Fanless Northbridge Cooler (£8.04)
Akasa AK-210 Blue LED Chipset Cooler (£3.44)
I like the idea of the Zalman one (since it will be silent), but I'm not sure whether there's actually space for it to spread out between the other components on my motherboard; it might bump into the CPU or graphics card.

For now, I've just unplugged the fan, so that it will stop making such a racket. That's not ideal, but the heatsink is still in place, and random people on forums seem to think this will suffice if I'm not actually overclocking (which I'm not). I'll order a replacement soon, then I'll have to work out how to remove the current fan; I suspect that I may have to take the entire mobo out of the case, which is a pain in the arse, but so be it.

While I was at the fair, I also bought an "All-in-one card reader" (internal, fits into a 3.5" drive bay). This is something I've wanted for a while, and it only cost £5, so I figured it was worthwhile. There are several models, and since they work on USB they should be compatible with any modern OS, but I chose this particular model because it was the only one which explicitly mentioned Vista on the box. When I got it home, I found a slight hitch: I don't have any spare USB sockets on the motherboard, so I had to unplug the rear card (2 sockets) before I could plug in the card reader. That's inconvenient, but not disastrous, because I shuffled my cables around to use other sockets.

I want a reader for CompactFlash cards, which my digital camera uses. In the past, I plugged the camera into the computer; that was fine under XP, but it doesn't work with Vista. Also, the camera needs to be turned on while I transfer photos, which drains the battery, so it's much more convenient to just pop the card out. Once I turned the computer on, it showed four new drives (one per socket in the card reader), so I put in my memory card to test it. Unfortunately, it didn't recognise the card. Also, I realised that there was no way to get the card out! In the camera, I slide the card all the way in (so that it's flush with the surroundings), then there's a button thing to pop it out. In the reader, there isn't, so I had to take the computer apart again so that I could retrieve it. It turns out that you have to be careful when you slide it in; three of the slots are completely enclosed, but the CF one isn't. I had it tilted slightly upwards when I inserted it, so I missed the pins at the back and wound up with the back of the card resting on top of the reader. If I put it in properly, I can copy files off, and the card sticks out of the reader so that I can pull it out again. This isn't a perfect solution, but it's better than what I had before.

While I was poking around in the case, I decided to remove my video capture card. It worked fine under XP, but Winnov never released any Vista drivers; they no longer list it on their website, so it seems unlikely that they're planning to. This being the case, it's not doing me any good, so it might as well go to a good home. Would anyone else like it? It's a PCI card (Videum Conference Pro), with S-VHS/MXC/composite inputs, as well as microphone/speaker ports. It comes with a webcam (320x240 resolution). I no longer have the original packaging, but I should have the manual/CD floating around here somewhere.

Comments:

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From:shuripentu
Date:February 15th, 2009 12:11 pm (UTC)
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I recall a northbridge fan replacement being a fairly painless task. Just open the case, unscrew the dead fan, replace with a working fan, close the case. I think I did it all with the same screwdriver, too.

Unfortunately, I can't help much with sourcing replacement northbridge fans, since my strategy was to buy a very popular but fatally flawed motherboard, being careful to buy one that somehow escaped having the fatal flaw in question (perhaps Abit had a particularly good batch of capacitors in that day), and then wait for all my friends' identical motherboards to die so that I could scavenge them for spare parts.
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[User Picture]
From:karne_k
Date:February 15th, 2009 02:06 pm (UTC)
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Northbridge nearly all run off the same voltage (12V) so any replacement of the right size should do. They normally screw into the heatsink or fit under a shroud but you can just epoxy glue them on instead. I don't suggest you replace the heatsink itself since that's more of a hastle and not needed. If the motherboard attachment doesn't match it's probably because the replacement has a 3-pin header (as used for the cpu fan). You should have a spare or two of these being unused - check your MB manual. Alternatively (and a bit neater) take off the old heat sink, cut off the header plug with a bit of wire left and splice it on to the new fan. If you can solder this even better, otherwise just twist the wires well together and insulate with tape. The northbridge fan is non-critical so it won't kill your pc if it fails.
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[User Picture]
From:karne_k
Date:February 15th, 2009 02:19 pm (UTC)
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Sorry to self-reply, but to clarify - you don't need to take the motherboard out to replace the fan, just unscrew the shourd and it should lift off. You probably will need the MB out if you want to replace the heatsink itself.

Happy hacking :)
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[User Picture]
From:johnckirk
Date:February 19th, 2009 12:07 am (UTC)
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Thanks, and you're right: the fan I bought at the fair is 12V, which matches the mobo. The new one is already screwed to a heatsink, but it would make sense to just swap the fans and leave the existing heatsink in situ. The main problem is the cable: the one for the new fan just has 2 pins, whereas all the mobo fan sockets (CPU/system/NB) take 3 pins. I've never tried soldering, but I'll have a go at the insulating tape method.
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[User Picture]
From:shuripentu
Date:March 1st, 2009 01:17 am (UTC)
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gaspodog got me a replacement northbridge fan with a 3 pin connector at Maplin for £5 the other day, so if splicing and taping doesn't work, then they're worth a try.
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