Wednesday evening, I went to a local computer store and bought a new 250G SATA drive for my dev machine. Yesterday morning, I tried to install it.
I was a little bit apprehensive – my dev machine already has 2 IDE hard disks in it, and although the motherboard has two SATA connectors on it, I was quite concerned about what was going to happen when I finally put a disk into the SATA connector. I’ve heard stories that many systems only let you use one or the other.
Fortunately I put the new disk in, cabled it up and powered the machine back up. And it worked! Yipee!!!
Now it was time to put things back together. Because I was concerned about being able to use the disk, I had tested it out with the disk just cabled up and not installed, so it was time for me to find a home for the drive inside the chassis.
And that’s where the problems started.
My machine only has 3 3 1/2 inch drive bays, and I was already using two of them. Fortunately there was a floppy drive bay available so I decided to put the new drive in the floppy drive bay (this machine has no floppy drive).
Unfortunately the drive was a smidge too large to fit into the bay – the drive would physically fit, but the CPU’s heat sink got in the way when I tried to line the drive up with the drive bay.
And now I made my big mistake. I thought “Hey, no problem – I’ll just take the CPU out, put the drive in and put the CPU back”.
At this point anyone who’s ever built a computer should see what’s about to happen.
The first two steps worked great – the CPU came out just fine (although the rather weird clips that held the heat sink took a couple of seconds to figure out) and the drive fit in the bay just fine.
Then I tried to put the CPU back, and I realized what a horrible mistake I’d made.
You see, the socket for the CPU was a ZIF socket (in other words it was one of the sockets with a little lever that you pick up before inserting the CPU – that way you can’t bend pins while inserting the chip into the socket). But the heat sink extended out beyond the edge of the CPU by easily 3/4ths of an inch in each direction. So there was no way I could insert the CPU back into the socket without first removing the CPU from the heat sink.
For those of you that don’t know, the connection between the CPU and the heat sink is critical to the performance of the machine – if there isn’t a good thermal connection between the two, your CPU will melt.
Unfortunately I didn’t have any thermal paste on hand (for some reason it’s not one of the bazillion things in my office and I didn’t pick any up at the computer shop because I didn’t know I’d need it).
So here I am, my development machine is literally in pieces on the floor of my office, the CPU is literally sitting on my desk (undoubtedly picking up a passive static charge that was going to nuke it the instant I touched it). And I’m not getting any work done. Oh, and it’s only 8:00AM – there’s almost nobody around that can help me.
Fortunately we have a wonderful support group here at Microsoft, I opened a ticket with them and “Beckey the wonder-tech” was in my office within 45 minutes with a syringe filled with thermal paste. 10 minutes later my machine was reassembled with brand spanking new thermal paste between the CPU and heat sink and everything was wonderful.
Vista recognized my new drive, I expanded the existing dynamic drive that holds my source enlistments and I now have 250G more disk space to fill up with stuff.
Hmm, I wonder how long it would take to do a timebuild on my dev machine?
 A timebuild is Windows-speak for a complete build of windows that results in a bootable OS installation (as opposed to taking individual files and copying them onto an existing installation).