When it comes to computers and technology, when it rains, it pours. I’ve already recounted the saga of how I came to discover that one of the memory modules in my workstation at home had gone bad… But when it comes to computer parts going on the fritz, that was just the beginning.
Early in December I noticed that wireless network access from my laptop within my apartment had become extremely unreliable: the network connection would frequently slow to a crawl or fail altogether. Up until that point wireless networking had worked pretty well, as I have a wireless access point sitting on top of a tall bookcase in my home office, more or less at the center of my apartment. With only a thin gypsum-board wall between said access point and my bedroom (I often use my notebook computer while sitting in bed) and an unblocked line-of-sight to the coffee table in my living room (where I park the laptop while watching television) I would normally get excellent signal strength. Now, all of a sudden, even mvoing the laptop to within a few feet of the access point would yield only the most feeble reception. Having two identical wireless network adapters for my laptop (I’d gotten two, one for my laptop and one for my “ePods” tablet computer) I tried switching adapters, and when that didn’t help it became obvious that the access point had gone bad.
Generally speaking I avoid getting warranty service like the plague. The prospect of aggravation and time wasted on the phone with tech support (have I ever told the story of when I first got AT&T cable modem service? another tech-support-hell nightmare that I shall recount another day) usually makes it not worth my time (and sanity)—easier simply to spend a few dollars and replace the broken equipment.
Anyway I’m happy to report that my dealings with Crucial‘s warranty service went very smoothly—I didn’t have to wait more than a minute to talk to tech support, and when I explained to them how I had discovered that one of the memory modules I’d bought from them had gone bad, they gave me an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) number—no questions asked—so I could get the memory replaced. Kudos to them.
I’ve not yet tried to get warranty service on the SMC wireless access point; I can only hope it goes as smoothly as it did with Micron/Crucial…
As I mentioned before, I’m assembling a new computer system to take the place of the problem-ridden dual-Athlon workstation. Last week I got the motherboard I’d been patiently waiting for—the Asus A7N8X Deluxe motherboard based on the NVIDIA nForce2 chipset—and this week the matching AMD AthlonXP 2600+ CPU arrived.
So last night I powered on the primary components of the system (mainboard, CPU and memory) to start “burn-in” testing (to ensure all the components are reliable), and encountered major problems trying to run the CPU at the expected speed: around 2100 MHz with a 333 MHz front-side bus (FSB) clock. Much fiddling with system BIOS settings yielded no better results. Luckily I know a number of folks at work who are engineers on the system BIOS team for the nForce2 chipset, and received much information and advice from them at lunch today.
The problem, it turns out, is much less subtle than I’d feared. Using the processor datasheet from AMD I was able to verify that the part number, AXDA2600DKV3C, I determined that the retail-boxed AthlonXP 2600+ CPU that I had bought, whose package bore a sticker claiming a 333 MHz FSB clock, was actually a 266 MHz FSB unit. Which means that tomorrow I’ll have to spend more time on the phone with either the vendor or with AMD to get the item replaced with a bona fide 333 MHz FSB processor.
The curious thing is that earlier last week I thought I had seen reports of “counterfeit” 333 MHz FSB AMD CPU retail packages, but since then I’ve been unable to find those reports anywhere. I certainly hope I haven’t fallen victim to something like that; as far as I can tell the package I received was sealed and in original packaging. Ironically I chose to shell out a few more dollars for the retail-packaged processor—rather than the bare “OEM” one—because I figured there would be less chance of me getting a counterfeit or “remarked” CPU. One other benefit of the retail package is the extended 3-year warranty; seems like I’ll be exercising that warranty especially early…