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Song Title: OEM Hell!

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June 26, 2002 7:59:56 PM

I'd like to dedicate the following song to my struggles to keep my old Celeron 500 machine alive and running, and to a nameless OEM who gives Packard Hell ... I mean Bell, a good name. If anyone has heard of my desperate battles to actually upgrade this machine and still keep it running, they'll understand how my latest battle went. In the end, I always win, but not without trials and tribulations. Which is why, I invision this song in the most annoying country twang one could imagine. (Oh how I <i>hate</i> country music...)

<font color=blue><b>OEM Hell!</b>
The other night, my home system died.
It started to reboot every five.
I cracked open the case, and diagnosed.
It turned out to be a weak power supply.

I wanted to replace with quality parts,
but the bay they used was proprietary.
So I dug up my OEM's information,
to order directly from their company.

-----Chorus-----
They don't have a clue, and blame my ignorance,
but I know my system well.
Yet still they try to explain, just how I'm wrong.
Oh I'm in OEM hell!
----------------

No matter how much I try to explain,
just what my poor old system needs,
Customer Service tries to rip me off,
and hide their configuration misdeeds.

They tell me 120 watts is a great deal.
Especially for dollars of thirty-five.
And if that isn't enough, I can even upgrade,
To wattage of a whole one fourty-five.

-----Chorus-----
They don't have a clue, and blame my ignorance,
but I know my system well.
Yet still they try to explain, just how I'm wrong.
Oh I'm in OEM hell!
----------------

I know with my last upgrade, that just isn't enough.
That sure won't keep my system alive.
Yet they make promises that it'll solve everything.
Though in watts its only an extra twenty-five.

So I ask them the price for this miracle supply.
Would you believe they want dollars fifty-five?
I told them they should grab a hold real tight,
and shove that PoS where the sun don't shine!

-----Chorus-----
They don't have a clue, and blame my ignorance,
but I know my system well.
Yet still they try to explain, just how I'm wrong.
Oh I'm in OEM hell!
----------------

So now I'm desperately searching the internet.
I'm hoping against hope for a replacement find.
But the search engine isn't giving me any hope.
Damn, I'm really in a bind.

Then out of the blue, a supply I found.
It claims that it will fit into my machine!
Even better than that, it has 200 watts.
Since then my system's been running clean!

-----Chorus-----
I know I have a clue, and know just what I need.
I sure know my system well.
And dammit, if I can, I'm avoiding them,
because they are OEM hell!
----------------</font color=blue>

So yes, once my Celeron 500 was running cool again after I drilled some holes in the front and added a fan, I figured I'd put the CDRW and PCI Savage4 video card back into the box. It should be stable now. (They had come out during the diagnosis of overheating and hadn't gone back in right away because I couldn't have been bothered.)

Well, that was when the machine started rebooting every five to ten minutes. No warnings, just instant reboot.

So I cracked that case open and what do you know? The power supply's only label for stats is hidden on the top of the supply. (Which just so happens to be virtually flush with the ceiling of the case.) I am in horror to find that it was only a 120 watt power supply.

After a few seconds with a ruler and a pdf file, I'm also realizing just how proprietary this power supply is. Not a damn replacement can be found that will fit. So I call up the company. (Knowing that my system is far beyond it's 1 year warantee.) They chirpily offer to send a replacement supply for thirty-five bucks (not including an astronomical amount for shipping and handling). Fifty bucks just to order a new power suppy from them! And it'd still only be 120 watts!

I ask them if they have anything bigger. I'm hoping to find something in the range of 250 watts, just to be on the safe side. They tell me that for that system, they have a special upgrade needed if I <i>ever</i> expand the system (funny how this special upgrade requirement wasn't even in the user's manual) for a fifty-five bucks (plus S & H).

Screw that! Like I'm paying seventy dollars after S & H just for a 145 watt power supply.

Well, luckily by random chance I found a 200 watt power supply on Newegg that claimed to be compatible with my machine. It didn't have any actual measurements for the size of the supply though, so I was skeptical. The picture looked strikingly similar to that hole in my case though, so I took the risk. After S & H, it cost a whole 30 bucks. Yipee.

And after bending things a little bit (as imagined with a veritable no-name power supply company, the holes were a <i>tiny</i> bit off... just close enough to <i>look</i> right, but not close enough to actually fit) I managed to finally get it screwed into place. I hooked it up, and the system has been running fully decked out again for about twelve hours straight so far.

So once again, I have managed to keep my Celeron 500 running and useful (to me) for what continues to be pretty darn cheap. One of these days I'll have saved up enough to replace it outright, but until them, I have to battle against OEM hell.


Tech support said take a screen shot.
Putting it down with my .22 was the humane thing to do.

More about : song title oem hell

June 26, 2002 8:19:10 PM

Quote:
and to a nameless OEM who gives Packard Hell ... I mean Bell, a good name.

Packard Bell does not belong in the same sentance with any word offering them positive praise. I feel for you man.

English is phun.
June 26, 2002 8:39:04 PM

Quote:
Packard Bell does not belong in the same sentance with any word offering them positive praise. I feel for you man.

Normally I would completely agree with you. However, after working so much on this system, I can honestly say I've found a company that can cut more corners than Packard Hell. ... I mean Bell.

Still, it isn't enough to make them look like saints. Just enough to make them look not all that bad, and maybe even good. Maybe.

Honestly at one point, I was thinking if I had to spend almost a hundred on a proprietary 145 watt power supply from them, I might as well just spend that on a new case and a 250 watt power supply, or even spend a full hundred and get a good solid 350 watt power supply. I figured, if I went that far, I might as well then look into a new motherboard filled by a cheap Duron hold-over and a single 128MB DDR DIMM in the next month. Then in the following months replace every other part a piece at a time.

There just simply are so many parts to this PC that I'd love to replace that if I ever put any serious money into it, it would start the snowball rolling that would eventually see a complete replacement in about six months to a year.

Luckily though, I got it fixed for cheap so I can spend that money on things like tires for the car, paint for the house, and dinner out with the wife and all that kind of stuff that keeps me from ever saving up that computer fund I've always wanted.

(The last time I actually managed to save up two grand, I bought a Pentium 133 and a 15 inch monitor, if that tells you anything about how my computer fund has gone over the years.)


Tech support said take a screen shot.
Putting it down with my .22 was the humane thing to do.
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June 27, 2002 3:19:25 AM

The only company I found that truly can cut serious corners is Dell. My friend (even after I pleaded for him not too) bought a "cutting edge technology" Dell Dimension 8100 for <i> only </i> $1999 with S&H. Well, today, it is running on 20 percent resources with it's "high quality and efficient" PC-600 RDRAM from god knows what company made it. It's "leading technology" Pentium 4 Willy 1.3Ghz has a hard time keeping up with my old Thunderbird 1 Ghz. I even told my friend, "For god sakes, get PC-800 RDRAM and at least 1.6Ghz...it was beyond my control *shudders in disgust* the only saving grace was the Dell Geforce2 GTS 64MB...not even that could save the poor fool

"When there's a will, there's a way."
June 27, 2002 3:50:21 AM

wellcome to OEM hell.
enjoy your stay.

<font color=green>Proud member of THG's</font color=green> <font color=blue>Den Of Thieves</font color=blue> :lol: 
a b à CPUs
June 27, 2002 4:27:36 AM

So is it an Emachines, iDot, or one of the rebadged Hewlett Packards? Tatung maybe?

<font color=blue>At least half of all problems are caused by an insufficient power supply!</font color=blue>
June 27, 2002 5:18:50 AM

Quote:
Pentium 4 Willy 1.3Ghz has a hard time keeping up with my old Thunderbird 1 Ghz.


1.3ghz wilty was slower than the 1ghz tbird so much for keeping up heh.

:wink: The Cash Left In My Pocket,The BEST Benchmark :wink:
June 27, 2002 6:31:25 PM

Quote:
So is it an Emachines, iDot, or one of the rebadged Hewlett Packards? Tatung maybe?

Heh heh. I'd prefer not to say which, but I will at least answer <i>yes</i>, it is one of those. ;) 

My only consolation was that at the time that I bought it (which was a good while ago by now) it only cost me $400 (and that was after S & H). Of course, I knew then that it was a Grade-A Prime PoS. I just needed something to replace my ancient Pentium 133. (I was at that point where a complete replacement cost less than repairs. It got darn expensive and difficult to find working old parts.)

You must work with a lot of true 'works of art' to peg the brand range so easily. That must suck.


Tech support said take a screen shot.
Putting it down with my .22 was the humane thing to do.
June 27, 2002 6:42:48 PM

Ouch. Two grand for such a PoS. I don't even want to think about how badly a 1.3GHz Willy on PC600 would run. It probably had the slowest imaginable hard drive too.

Unfortunately, I know the feeling of people that ask for a recommendation and then don't listen all too well. I even usually write it down so they can read it off to a salesperson. **sigh** As if they ever do.

Hell, that was how I ended up with a P3-750 with PC100 on a VIA mobo (instead of the P3-733 with PC133 on an i815 mobo that I suggested) at work. I told my supervisor that I needed a new computer and wrote down some pretty well researched system specs that wouldn't break the budget. When I got the system, I shuddered. Worse, he was proud of himself for finding a system 'faster' than a P3-733 and for only an extra fifty dollars.

Oh well. My theory is that the only people smart enough to listen to a good recommendation are the people who don't need them. Heh heh.


Tech support said take a screen shot.
Putting it down with my .22 was the humane thing to do.
June 27, 2002 6:53:05 PM

Personaly, my favorite OEM story involved an HP that wouldn't let us change the OS from 98 to NT. All the hardware was complient, but it wouldn't boot if it had to load the NT Kernal. Apparently, HP didn't want anyone to put NT on it. They refused to put drivers for NT out on the machine either. And it cost $25 to get ahold of their tech support to find out about all this in the first place. (To my knowledge, they never refunded the money like they said they would because the product was under warranty)

English is phun.

ED: BTW, I found that PSU, man is it ugly.<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Bront on 06/27/02 01:56 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
a b à CPUs
June 27, 2002 8:54:43 PM

I am familiar with that power supply. It's also used on some extreme low end Gateway PCs now. Yes, I sell these things! For $400! I sell them to idiot's who refuse to pay $350 for a high end PII 450 system because the $400 one is "much faster"!!!

<font color=blue>At least half of all problems are caused by an insufficient power supply!</font color=blue>
June 28, 2002 1:49:36 AM

It is a Dell "Value" 40GB 5400 rpm hard drive...sorry pieceo of junk at that. I asked my friend to at least, for god's sake get a frickin 7200 rpm hard drive for 20 more dollars...yeah right, not 20 dollars! Imagine two systems...one running a (thank god Intel never went THIS low) 1.0Ghz Willy Pentium4 with PC-100 CL3 SDRAM at "only" $1499 and a Pentium3 Tually at 1.0Ghz with PC-133 CL2 SDRAM for a "modest" $1200...makes me sick to buy the old Pentium4

"When there's a will, there's a way."
June 28, 2002 5:25:44 PM

Heh. That's kind of funny though, an HP that wouldn't install NT. :-O

It doesn't surprise me though that it came down to drivers. It seems like a lot of hardware manus don't actually write new drivers every time a new MS OS comes out. (Not to mention any non-MS OS.) I still have a web cam lying around somewhere that requires Win9x because it runs on 16-bit drivers.

And yeah, it's an ugly power supply. So far it has worked like a dream though. It even fixed instability problems in Diablo 2 - Scene 3 that I had always blamed on the on-board sound card drivers. Heh heh. Luckily, it's a very low power system.


Tech support said take a screen shot.
Putting it down with my .22 was the humane thing to do.
June 28, 2002 5:41:57 PM

Quote:
I am familiar with that power supply. It's also used on some extreme low end Gateway PCs now. Yes, I sell these things! For $400! I sell them to idiot's who refuse to pay $350 for a high end PII 450 system because the $400 one is "much faster"!!!

Does the power supply format actually have an identification standard so that if I ever have to replace it again I can perform a much more accurate search?

Personally, I wish more OEMs still sold systems like that. Most people that I know only use their PC for Office and internet anyway. Hell if they even need more than a PII-450 with 64MB of RAM. So why they should be forced to spend close to a grand on a 1GHz Celeron system just to get a 3 year warantee is beyond me.

And speaking of extreme low end Gateway PCs, I've got a friend who's Gateway P-200MMX went all wonky. My fear is that the hard drive is failing, because a number of frequently-used files just suddenly up and vanished. (Including Win.com ... which was why I was called, when Win98 no longer booted up. Joy.) Is there a quick and easy way for me to identify if the PC will have that 8 gig hard drive limitation? And if it doesn't suffer from that, then will a new ATA100 hard drive actually run in it? I think the onboard IDE is an ATA16...

I might just tell her to get a completely new PC anyway, since it is plenty old and running on average 12 hours a day. So it is probably going to start having serious hardware failures in the next couple of years anyway. Still, new PCs cost money, where as a new hard drive is cheap.


Tech support said take a screen shot.
Putting it down with my .22 was the humane thing to do.
June 28, 2002 5:49:36 PM

Quote:
It is a Dell "Value" 40GB 5400 rpm hard drive...sorry pieceo of junk at that. I asked my friend to at least, for god's sake get a frickin 7200 rpm hard drive for 20 more dollars...yeah right, not 20 dollars!

Ugh. Yeah, friends just don't listen. I learned that pretty quickly.

Quote:
Imagine two systems...one running a (thank god Intel never went THIS low) 1.0Ghz Willy Pentium4 with PC-100 CL3 SDRAM at "only" $1499 and a Pentium3 Tually at 1.0Ghz with PC-133 CL2 SDRAM for a "modest" $1200...makes me sick to buy the old Pentium4

I'm not really sure of your prices though. Even if Intel ever made a 1GHz Willy, such a system these days would be ultra-low priced, probably around $800 at most. It certainly would suck though.

But then, take an old 1.6GHz Northwood at 400MHz FSB paired with PC800 RDRAM and overclock the FSB to 533MHz, and violla, instant kick-butt system that should still be perfectly stable. Not all old P4s are bad.


Tech support said take a screen shot.
Putting it down with my .22 was the humane thing to do.
a b à CPUs
June 28, 2002 9:57:20 PM

Actually most of those Gatway P-200MMX systems were HIGH END! If it was a steel tower case, it was probably a high end system with an Intel motherboard and standard ATX design. I've actually upgraded those things with modern parts. As for the case, while it's not exactly convienient, you won't find much higher build quality from anyone! These things usually came with 200W Newton or Powermax power supplies that were much higher quality than most of the other units you could buy! Far better than Antec anyway. And I've never seen a board or power supply die in them. I sell those units today for $120.

Of coarse it could be a plastic case version with the oddball power supply, but even those usually had high quality boards made by Intel.

<A HREF="http://support.gateway.com/support/techdocs/references/..." target="_new">HERE'S YOUR LINK</A> to their support page, you can look up the board by it's BIOS ID there. Probably limitted to 8.4GB, BUT you can install larger drives by using a manual setting and Dynamic Drive Overlay software from the drive manufacturer (free), or use a PCI IDE adapter for the new drive (around $20).

If the motherboard was of the VX flavor, it takes very low density memory only, which usually limits it to 64MB on two 16-chip 32MB DIMMS. If it's the TX chipset, you can use standard medium density DIMMS up to 256MB per slot for 16-chip DIMMs (maybe even higher density, this is as far as I've tested them).

The hard drive controller should be ATA33, should work fine for newer drives.

<font color=blue>At least half of all problems are caused by an insufficient power supply!</font color=blue>
June 29, 2002 8:48:54 PM

Quote:
These things usually came with 200W Newton or Powermax power supplies that were much higher quality than most of the other units you could buy! Far better than Antec anyway.

Don't like Antec PSUs and cases? Hard to tell from your post. Anywho, in regards to OEM hell, I'd have to say that I've had good luck helping people order "correctly" from Dell and Gateway. Yes, I would have preferred to build them a system, but one was worried about tech support and warranty, and the other was getting a laptop, which I don't think I could build, even if I wanted to. The first was able to upgrade her Gateway (a 900Mhz Athlon) to 192MB RAM and am in the process of weaning her off of WinME and into XP Pro (needed for school network, Home doesn't have the protocol support, officially), or if she doesn't want that, Win98SE. Both are much better than ME, by far. Her parents got the system for her in fall 2000, and for some reason, figured that RAM wasn't important, and cut that in favor of some "productivity software." Needless to say, using Netscape PageBuilder, AIM, and Real Jukebox maxed out that 64MB real quick. The 128MB stick really helped out, and I was able to convince her that she didn't need to get it from Gateway (who was charging a 100% premium over Crucial). The other I helped pick out the options she needed for a Dell 8100. She cut back on the screen size and a few other things like that, but I convinced her to get the best video card (she's a gamer) which was a GF2Go, and a few other things. In the end, she was quite receptive to me help. I have had few problems getting people to listen when they don't want to have me build one. I think the key is to show an air of confidence.

-SammyBoy
July 2, 2002 4:53:09 PM

Ug.

I found another manufacturer who uses that same PSU. We have a 700Mhz Celly wiht a 145 W PSU (Which, btw, provides less power than a Compaq OEM 135W PSU on each rail by about half) that won't stay on for over 10 min without rebooting. I'll try my extra 300W PSU in the system tomorow and see if that solves the problem before I order a new one.

English is phun.
July 3, 2002 3:41:34 PM

It sounds like it was behaving exactly the same as my system, and that was most definately a severely under-powered power supply. So hopefully replacing that will fix everything.


Tech support said take a screen shot.
Putting it down with my .22 was the humane thing to do.
July 3, 2002 4:11:56 PM

ya .. lucky for me my one friend listend to me. Got a Dell Dimension 8200, 2.26ghz with 256 PC800 RDRAM and a bunch of extras for 2000. and a 80GB 7200 RPM drive, geforce 3 ti200. decent monitor (17inch, 16inch viewable). not to mention a slew of other stuff she got with it too.

<A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/mysystemrig.html?id=9933" target="_new"> My Rig </A>
July 3, 2002 4:16:35 PM

Thanks for the link. I haven't had the opportunity to check it out yet though. (A matter of having her internet actually work or me remembering to write the ID down.)

She might not upgrade her hard drive after all since we did nail the funny behavior to the KLEZ virus. (Which Norton conveniently <i>didn't</i> automatically detect for her, even though Live Update had supposedly been run just a week before the funny behavior started happening. So much for automatic email protection, eh?) I eventually got that cleaned up for her, though it took manual registry hacking with regedit because the Norton utility to do it never fixed the registry on its own, so each time the computer was rebooted, it was reinfected. (I'm really starting to doubt the programming prowess of Norton software engineers.)

The research I had done on her mobo though using the information on her system from her invoice (yes, she actually kept the invoice for over five years) while at Intel.com says that it is an VX chipset with ATA/16 IDE controller. But then, that was an extremely painful search in which any number of details could have gone wrong. It partly co-incides with your information though since her RAM upgrade still only gave her a total of 64MB.

But the thought of ATA16 worries me slightly. (Mostly because that just shows how ancient the system really is.) If it is actualy ATA33, that makes me feel a lot better. I'll have to use the link you sent to double check.

Either way, an extra PCI IDE controller might be a good idea if she has an open PCI slot. I'll have to check that too.

What are your thoughts on Dynamic Drive Overlay software though? As a computer programmer, I always inherantly doubt the perfection of workarounds. They're usually either slower, painful, not perfectly stable, or all of the above. Have you had much experience using it when upgrading old boxes this way and if so, has it gone well?


Tech support said take a screen shot.
Putting it down with my .22 was the humane thing to do.
a b à CPUs
July 3, 2002 8:50:58 PM

Don't worry too much about the drive interface being limitted to PIO Mode 4, the BIOS could handle higher standards. Still limitted to 8.4GB, dynamic drive overlay usually works fine but at the expense of some speed. Use a PCI IDE adapter if you need to make it fast and without overlay. As for the memory, you are usually limitted to two 32MB 16-chip double sided DIMMs, do to the VX having problems dealing with densities greater than 2MB/chip. A lot of this old memory is floating around in the used market, even at 8ns (PC100) speed. And a lot of "PC66" is actually low grade PC133 at much greater densities than the VX will accept, meaning you'll have to actually check the chip count before making a purchase.

<font color=blue>At least half of all problems are caused by an insufficient power supply!</font color=blue>
July 5, 2002 3:54:57 PM

Ok, this is a lot of fun.

That computer I was talking about, well, with my old 300W PSU (Cheep and generic, but is rated better than the OEM 145W) the computer still reboots constantly. SPecificly, it reboots in the W2K setup when it comes to formatting the HD or installing files. However, it does not reboot up untill that point, nor does it reboot if you format the drive from a 98 boot disk.

Is this still a power issue? Or is it a motherboard or HD issue?

English is phun.
!