I like it. It needs some work and some upgrades, but I can see using it fairly regularly.

Illustration for article titled Fired up the (new to me) z3771 yesterday

The touchscreen is a nice feature, but it’s no iPad, more like the iPad’s big brother that’s taken a few too many hits to the head. It’s hard to be precise, but I think some of that comes down to processing and graphics power, and those are about to be addressed.

Although I thought I had enough LGA1155 CPUs I went ahead and bought one more. The computer currently has a Pentium G630 installed. I found out that this particular machine doesn’t have a discrete GPU, like the higher-end versions, and I don’t know if it’s worth installing one. I’ve got a few I could toss in, but how good would they be? Towards this end I chose an i5 3475S; it has the same TDP as the G630 and includes the better Intel HD 4000 graphics. Many of the GPUs that would fit this machine have about the same performance as HD 4000, so it doesn’t seem necessary to add one. It’s not like this is going to be used for late-model games. Faster CPUs were available, but either with slower graphics or astronomical price tags (would I really put a $150 CPU in a $50 computer? Uh, no.) I will need to do a BIOS update to support the new CPU, but that’s not a big deal.


RAM is the next issue. It can take up to 8GB using two SODIMM slots. It currently has two 2GB modules installed, not the one 4GB module I was hoping for. No big deal - RAM is relatively cheap.

It currently has a fresh install of an old version of Windows 10 Pro, and was having trouble with updates, locking up before they were complete. Microsoft days to download the media creation tool and update that way, and that’s currently happening. But I noticed that the PO put on the 32-bit version, and thus my memory upgrade will be pointless unless I change that. I may have to downgrade to Home using the Windows 7 key on the machine, or maybe I can reinstall using the Win 10 Pro key that it’s currently using. MS does not make it easy or clear which key you need to do what upgrade; I know on a previous machine I couldn’t activate the reinstall of Win 10 with the Win 10 key, and had to use the Win 7 key to activate Win 10 - argh.


I plan on putting in an SSD because, well, spinning hard drives are so slow to me now. I just can’t imagine life without SSDs. Or I could go crazy and use a 15,000 RPM SAS drive I found in my stash the other day, but that’s just silly.

So, a $50 computer getting about $80 in upgrades and a lot of my time. I think it’ll be worth it, even if it is an older computer. There’s something to be said for the size, resolution and touchscreen, and should make a good secondary machine, kind of like a daily driver you roll, saving the weekend plaything for special occasions.

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