Upgrading Frankenstein's Monster


Right now, I’m trying to upgrade to Vista Ultimate (so when I can get Windows 7, I can keep everything) from XP Pro SP3. At the end of the installation, a blue screen pops up for a second and restarts the entire machine, ruining a five-hour install. I tried installing new RAM (the old DIMMs were faulty) but it failed to work. I can’t build a new rig as I don’t have the cash to make a proper one, and I don’t want to do a clean install as my PC has a nasty habit of being terribly unstable without certain patches (due to something CPU-related). My computer is an M3A78-EM motherboard with an AMD Phenom II X4 940 BE CPU (which amazingly, has survived a full motherboard short-out), a GeForce 8800 GTS graphics card, and two 2GB DDR2 RAM sticks. Both of the operating systems are 32-bit. Is this problem software- or hardware-related?

—Brandon Hurley

Brandon, it’s pretty hard to diagnose your case. Upgrading from Windows XP to Vista to Windows 7 on a system that has had a full “motherboard short-out” and not one, but two bad RAM modules and is unstable without “certain patches” tells me that you probably have some pretty serious problems with your hardware. You should consider putting off your plans for Windows 7 until you have the ducats to properly replace the hardware. The Doctor doubts it would be a good idea to burn an activation on a board that may very well give up the ghost at any minute. Remember, OEM copies (assuming you bought one) of Microsoft operating systems are tied to the motherboard. If the board dies, Microsoft can technically deny letting you activate it on a new motherboard.

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at doctor@maximumpc.com for advice on how to solve your technological woes.

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