The upgrade is complete — I’m writing this article on my upgraded computer. It took a while to get the process complete, and it’s done!
There were a few challenges, even though I’d reinstalled Windows 7 a couple times recently on other computers. None of the problems were finding drivers or finding software (other than searching for some Firefox extensions, only to realize that in migrating my old Profile to the new computer, the extensions came along, too).
The problems were dealing with hardware that was a little different than the old stuff.
The first thing I ran into was that I had intended to order a new thermal transfer paste for the CPU/heatsink interface. I didn’t. Fortunately, I still had some Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste, which is still one of the highly recommended types.
Then, I realized that the new motherboard didn’t have any PS/2 ports. Long term (as in, for normal use) that wasn’t going to be a problem, as I would use my wireless mouse and keyboard that I was currently using in my desktop. However, I was trying to do the upgrade in an old case so that I didn’t have to take down my existing desktop until the final items I needed. So, I ordered a USB keyboard.
I got lucky and found a spare SATA DVD burner on my shelf. The earlier computer had an IDE DVD burner, but the new motherboard doesn’t have any IDE ports.
The new heatsink for the CPU cooler mounted differently than on my current computer. The current one used push-pins just like the Intel CPU coolers do. Although the new heatsink is about the same size, it required a special backplate to be mounted to the back of the motherboard. The manual indicated that there were two different backplates, but only one style was included in the box. It turns out that, although it didn’t look like it was going to work, it did just fine. Eventually, after some sore fingers and fighting it for an hour. On the other hand, after seeing it work, it was absolutely worth it.
When I turned on the computer the first time, I didn’t have the CPU cooler’s fan plugged in correctly. Whatever the problem was (I pulled the fan plug before I really checked how it was misconnected), the heatsink alone kept the CPU at 40°C, which is fantastic — and saved me a bunch of bucks, instead of letting the CPU burn up!
One really neat thing about the new Ivy Bridge CPU’s is that they use less power than the previous CPU chips. I got the Core i7-3770, which is the top speed model (other than the 3770K, which is unlocked for overclocking), and it still only takes 77 watts versus the 95 watts of my previous processor.
What’s the impact of the lesser power requirement? The most prominent is the reduced heat from the processor. The most visible is that there are only two power cables connecting to the motherboard, the 20-pin (2×10) connector we’ve seen for years and the 8-pin (2×4) that was added a few years ago. The 4-pin (2×2) "CPU power" plug isn’t used with the Ivy Bridge CPU’s, and there’s no place on the motherboard to connect it.
Since I was using an SSD as my boot drive and main drive for program storage, I wanted to have a separate hard drive for all/most of my data files. I intentionally did not hook up the hard drive until after I had installed Windows.
Loading Windows 7 Professional was an easy process on the Solid State Drive. I followed that with the drivers and utilities that came with the motherboard. All this time, I have not connected the Ethernet cable to the computer, so there was no Internet access. Then, I installed my antivirus & firewall (VIPRE Internet Security 2012).
I followed that with Windows Update. I copied my data files from my old computer to the new one using my home network. Then, I got busy installing software.