I learned a very valuable lesson the last few days. When you’re trying to order new hardware for your lab, you should never do this while frustrated, or in a hurry. If you do, you may find out you ordered the wrong equipment, and delay what you were in a hurry for in the first place. The Full story is after the break.
As I posted on Sunday, I ordered a motherboard with onboard video and an i5 to act as a couple of smaller VMware hosts. However, in my haste to order, and try to get the parts in time for Christmas vacation, I failed to notice the ‘p’ indicator on the i5 cpu I purchased. For those that don’t know, the ‘p’ indicator means that the CPU does not have the graphics portion of the chip enabled. I was however lucky with the shipping of the parts, and received them the day after I ordered them.
So there I was on 12/23 putting together my new servers, and scratching my head wondering why there was no video being output by the motherboard. A few Google searches later, and I found one forum post where a user with a similar setup to mine was not getting video. When he put a discrete video card in it would work. I figured what the heck, can’t hurt to try it. Spare video card installed, boom I had video.
Of course this might seem like a solution, but it wasn’t. I need at least two Ethernet ports for a VMware host, and since the on-board Ethernet is not supported by VMware, I need the slot the video card is taking up for my quad-port nic. I decided it must be the motherboard, why else wouldn’t the video work on two motherboards. I figured, I would just run to Microcenter and pick up two boards, they had them in stock, and the price wasn’t bad, however before running out there, I decided to check Amazon.com. Low and behold they had a H77 board cheaper than Microcenter, and because I am an Amazon Prime member, over night shipping was only $7.99. Decision made, I ordered them from Amazon and put the whole thing on a shelf for the rest of the night.
In my hurry to make it for overnight shipping, I didn’t look very closely at the motherboards I purchased, I just thought I had ordered the correct board. Christmas Eve rolls around and the amazon package arrives, I open it up, grab one of the boards, and realize that in my hurry I had yet again ordered the incorrect board. I had previously ordered 32 GB of 240 pin DDR3 to be split between the two hosts. This time around I ordered 2 gigabyte boards that only supported 8GB of RAM each, and required it to be 204 pin dimms. Not only would the RAM I had not work, but this system only supported 8GB of RAM.
At this point I pretty much decided that I had royally screwed up, and there was no fixing it. It was Christmas Eve at around 8:00 PM, and I was discontently working on family computer upgrades (more on that later), having decided that there was no way I was going to get this lab where I wanted to before the new year.
Then inspiration struck. I went line by line through an invoice a friend of mine had sent me that was for an identical system. Discovering the ‘p’ designator on the cpu I purchased, made me realize that the motherboard I had ordered originally was fine, it was the chip that wasn’t enabling the video on the motherboard. Since Newegg won’t accept CPU returns, only exchanges, I had to figure out something to do.
Luckily I was in the process of upgrading all of the computers in the house, this allowed me to play musical chairs with cpus and replace the kid’s i5 cpus without the ‘p’ designator with ‘p’ i5 cpus. Long story short, I ended up with an i7 and i5 host both with 16 GB of RAM, and all the kids ended up with better machines than they started with.
The moral of the story, never rush when you’re buying hardware for your lab.
Categorised as: Geekery