Misadventures

You didn’t think buying a premade PC would be easy did you?

Confirming that it boots up.

Well, it was pretty easy, actually. What has not been easy is the business of migrating my life.

The thought process was that the prebuilt came with a 1TB NVMe SSD and then I would just move my two existing SSDs from my current machine over into the new one. Since they are already labeled as “Data” and “Games,” with corresponding contents, it would make for what I imagined to be an easy move. The first thing that tripped me up was the fact that my C:\ drive (a third SSD) had games installed on it too. So, I spent most of the afternoon copying over ~90 GB worth of files to the Data drive with the intention of moving them back to the C:\ drive of the new computer.

Once I cracked open the case of the new PC though, I became very confused.

In short, there really didn’t seem to be any obvious bay drives or cages or whatever the fuck you call “place where you stick SSDs.” I mean, there were places where I could kinda sorta maybe see an SSD fitting, but not how it was supposed to fit. The internet was fairly useless in this regard, as was/is Cyberpower tech support who, as of the time of this writing, has still not responding to the ticket I submitted. All I wanted to know was A) where are SSDs supposed to go, B) what the shit these plastic things are supposed to be (presumably related to affixing SSDs), and C) is it true that there is only one SATA port on this motherboard?

That last apparent fact really threw my plans into disarray, as I wouldn’t be able to bring over two SSDs like I planned. The subsequent surprise that the Data drive was, in fact, an old-school HDD this whole time barely registered.

Feels like a “3 Seashells” situation.

So, Lesson 1: it’s actually very important to pay attention to what the motherboard of your PC looks like, even if that seems like the least exciting piece of the machine.

Lesson 2: Likewise, pay attention to your case. Every damn one seems to have a window on the side these days, which means everything else is getting stuffed out of sight or miniaturized out of existence.

Incidentally, both are lessons I should have already learned from a prior misadventure a few years ago with buying a washer & dryer. Our old top-loading washer stopped working, and the issue was fried electronics that would have cost $200 to replace just in parts. Considering the dryer took 2-3 cycles to dry towels anyway, we opted for a new washer & dryer combo. We did our research, we compared prices, we shopped around, we got a good deal. The thing that we didn’t account for? Which ways the goddamn doors open. They are both front-loading machines and the doors open towards each other. Huge pain in the ass moving clothes around. Can’t really swap positions because of the drain pipes and the dryer vent, and the washer door is not reversible so… yeah. The little stuff matters.

In any case, I reexamined my available options for the PC. The motherboard technically has three NVMe slots, but one of them is behind the huge, honking RTX 3080. So, maximum, I could have one SATA SSD and one additional NVMe SSD. Decision? Throwing my hands (and cash) in the air and purchasing a 2TB NVMe SSD for about $200. Getting a 1TB version would have saved some money and put me on par with my current setup, but… well, my current setup is one without a lot of AAA games installed. And what this experience has taught me thus far is that I don’t really have a deep desire to be spending my precious free time fiddling around with computer components.

Seriously, how could I have not known I still had a HDD installed after all these years? That was where Guild Wars 2 was installed! I never questioned the loading times, but now it all makes sense.

As for the digital migration, that is still ongoing. Several years ago, I bought an external hard drive “docking station” thing in an effort to try and save my wife’s data when her laptop died. Basically, you can chuck any hard drive in the plastic cage, SSD or HDD, and then connect it to another computer via a USB 3.0 cable. It worked. So, that’s the play: install the NVMe SSD into the new computer, unplug the old computer, plug in the new computer, and then (temporarily) remove all the hard drives from the old one and transfer their contents via the docking station.

And because I like doing things the hard way, I am first making a fresh backup of my Data drive to an external SSD that I have around the house for exactly this purpose. Well, that, and because I am vaguely concerned about this 11+ year old surprise HDD dying mid-migration.

So that’s where I’m at. Hopefully the next update will be about how everything went perfectly, and that I was finally able to see a game, any game, at max settings and that it was all worth it.

Posted on May 12, 2022, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Data I could see (although what kind of data? If its just pictures/videos, why not leave it on an external drive anyway?), but why migrate games? Wouldn’t it be faster to download them off Steam than do whatever it is you are doing with multiple harddrives?

    Also generally migrating stuff onto a drive brings the ‘bad’ stuff along. Fresh PC like that getting old data seems like a waste.

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    • That’s… actually an interesting point regarding Steam games. I hadn’t thought about whether it’d be faster to redownload games than transfer them via USB. It would also force the question of whether I’m really prepared to play X game again right now, versus the sort of “keep games installed just in case the mood strikes.” The original plan though was to reuse the SSD, so keeping everything on there would be infinitely faster.

      Data is pictures, movies, family stuff, etc. I do end up running things through Photoshop and doing light video editing to things, so keeping it 100% external would be a pain. But yeah, I should probably just buckle down and pay for cloud hosting for some of the more archival stuff, considering physical, in-house backups won’t save them from fires or other disasters.

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  2. Not enough info for a “real” reply, but:
    1- prebuilt are exactly that: prebuilt by someone who know what he’s doing and does stuff in the right order. It may be a lot harder than it seems to add more hardware inside, as this may require removing/reinstalling stuff.
    2- the plastic thingies are probably supports you screw on you SATA-SSD or SATA-HDD in order to be able to slide them into the bays, from the FRONT of the case. This means: removing the front panel, pulling sata/power cables out so as to be able to connect them, slide the sdd/hdd in making sure the cable don’t mess things up too much, replace front cover.
    3- if you just want to move data, connect both PCs to a hub and move them by network: it may take longer, but you have zero probability of breaking hardware. For your important/critical data you should have an offsite backup (cloud?) so just redownload that from the internet.

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    • Yeah, the plastic things are definitely (probably) related to mounting drives, but they don’t actually fit anywhere. My current/old PC has bay drives that fit 3.5″ HDDs, and I have purchased spacers for my two 2.5″ SSDs. However, neither the SSDs themselves nor the spacers fit into that left-side red circled area, with or without the plastic pieces “attached.” Which they don’t, incidentally – the holes do not line up with the SSD, the spacer, or even the case. No instructions either.

      The nearest Youtube video I could find that uses the same case shows the SSD attached vertically in the 2nd red circled area on the right. Which is cute, but the plastic things don’t align there either. I understand the potential need to purchase additional equipment to make things work – I did have to purchase spacers for my SSDs originally – but I don’t know what to even look for in this scenario.

      Fake edit: I did manage to find this video which shows a SSD mounted vertically. Using… uh… the plastic button things? I may have to do some additional investigation.

      Or maybe not, since I already bought and installed the NVMe.

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      • That is weird, zooming on your 2nd image, the plastic thingies are exactly identical to the ones I have in my more recent case, but guessing the size, they seem to be for bigger (5″1/4) drives.
        Well, of course all this is assuming that the spare pieces lying around are actually the ones matching your case and not random stuff which was sitting around while the people were building your case…..

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  3. In your picture with three red circles, the two of them to the right can be used with screws to mount two ssd’s vertically (I’d think, looking at it). They look the be the right offsets to mount a 2.5″ hard drive there. So, in theory you could put two drives there and “hide” them for aesthetics or cabling purposes. Most cases have little grommets to hold the screws which you screw thru from the mainboard side (sometimes requiring removal of mainboard).. I’m making zero comments on ability to actually hook said drives anywhere, mind you. Just wanted to give you a possible answer to some of your (very valid) questions.

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    • Yeah, I did eventually find a Youtube video which shows a SSD vertically mounted on the right-hand side like you describe. I’m still not quite sure how. The rubber… grommets (?) are probably involved, but there definitely aren’t screws long enough to fit through the motherboard, grommets, and then into the SSD. Definitely not worth the effort in any case… at least assuming one has the dollars for a NVMe solution.

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  4. Well prebuilt systems are only cheaper than self-built system by using as minimal gear as possible.
    As few components as possible to still comply with advertised ‘specs’ (hence the single sata port where it is normal to have a minimum of 2 even on cheap mini itx boards and usually 4 is the median for nomal size boards)
    Usually everything in a pre-built system is also very custom and very incompatible with normal off-the-shelf parts. Like powersupplies that only fit to the systems of the builder. No memory upgrade/swap possible due to not having support for them in the firmware of the mother board etc…

    I learned the hard way that it is best to stay as far away of pre-built systems as possible.

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    • There are definitely traps you can fall into with a few prebuilt companies. I believe Dell in particular is infamous for having proprietary motherboards, BIOS, and similar. It is less of an issue with other companies in which you specify the component from a menu of choices.

      In this particular situation, I take responsibility for not doing my homework, e.g. not paying attention. It says right in the description how many SATA ports it has, there’s a picture of the motherboard clear as day, etc. Looking at the website, it does appear that Cyberpower doesn’t really offer many motherboard options that have more than one SATA port. And… okay, looking at the PCGamer list of Best Gaming Motherboards 2022, I see all of them have 6 SATA ports, minimum. Hmm.

      Good call-out. I would have preferred having at least 2 SATA ports so as to not “force” a NVMe upgrade, but I’m certainly not swearing off prebuilts based on this experience (thus far).

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