Category Archives: Computer – Hardware

Computer Hardware: Mother Board, Case, Power Supply, Processor, Memory, Hard Drive, Video Card, Optical Drive (DVD/CD-ROM), Add-on Cards, etc

AMD RAIDXpert Utility for Windows 8 – Rebuild RAID1

Yesterday I discovered an issue on my Dad’s RAID1 array. In order to rebuild the array I had to download the AMD RAIDXpert Utility. The AMD RAIDXpert Utility was not easy to find at least not initially. Making matters worse the bios RAID controller GUI does not currently provide a rebuild option.

My fathers desktop is a custom built workstation and uses the motherboards onboard RAID controller. The factory disk which contains the motherboard drivers did contain the AMD RAIDXpert Utility however it didn’t contain the latest and greatest version which I needed¬†for Windows 8. Making matters worse the motherboard vendor also did not provide the latest AMD RAIDXpert Utility for Window’s 8.

Fortunately after some good old Google searches I found the following forum post How to fix missing RAID1 drive. Within the post was a link to the AMD website which provided the download for the latest and greatest AMD RAIDXpert Utility. To download the AMD RAIDXpert Utility click here.

After finally fixing the issue and reviewing the AMD Drivers Download page I see how I initially missed the AMD RAIDXpert Utility…

Step 1) Navigate to the AMD Download Drivers webpage

Step 2) Use the link for your OS on the right hand side of the “Manually Select Your Driver.”

Step 3) Now select the optional downloads tab and scroll to the bottom. Download the AMD RAIDXpert Utility

If you are unable to find the download I would highly recommend reaching out to AMD support.

NUC – Media Center PC for home use

Currently I have a Media Center PC for home use and I wouldn’t trade it for an Apple TV, Chromecast or anything similar to these devices. While both Apple TV and Chromecast are cool and very functional they just don’t compete with a full blown PC.

The price of an Apple TV or Chromecast are lower than any Media Center PC I would build or recommend. However most users would not need my superior Media Center. The entry level Media Center PC is actually very affordable and offers a whole lot more than Apple TV or Chromecast.

Intel has started manufacturing the NUC (Next Unit of Computing) and these devices are amazing. Intel and other vendors such as Gigabyte have a variety of base units which you can custom configure but only certain aspects can be configured: storage, wireless and memory (RAM).

With a Media Center you can play games, surf the web, email, work on documents and so on. You can pick out a wireless keyboard and mouse of your choice. It all depends on the system you select, a person could even get into virtualization. I have not personally tested virtual machines on a NUC and imagine that heat could be an issue.

If you aren’t in the market for a Media Center then the NUC has plenty of other applications. They would make a great PC for at home and it greatly reduces space. The NUC is amazing for business as well, small, affordable and great for accessing all of those cloud applications.

I really hope that these devices take off!

Laptop screen replacement / How to replace laptop screen Gateway NV75S06H

Over the weekend I replaced a Gateway NV75S06H LCD screen. I purchased my new LCD screen from www.laptopscreen.com. The whole process was very easy and I highly recommend purchasing your replacement LCD from www.laptopscreen.com.

View my “How to replace laptop screen Gateway NV75S06H:”

This is my first “How To YouTube Video” so there are a few things I’d change but overall I think it does a good job of explaining how to replace the LCD screen. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me or reply to this post.

SSD Tools – SSD Life & Firmware Update

A couple of weeks ago I looked into SSD Life or the expected life of an SSD. At the time of writing this I have 2 different types of SSDs (Solid State Drive) in my computers at home. I have both Intel and SanDisk. Some of the Intel drives are older whereas the SanDisk drives are almost brand new. Several GOOGLE search’s suggested third party apps but after digging through the manufacture’s websites I found that both had tools/utilities for SSDs.

Intel and SanDisk each provide a tToolbox or Toolkit. These apps allow one to view the status of their drive, check the life time (or life cycle), apply firmware updates and much more. Firmware updates are important but if you do not know what you are doing then I suggest you take your computer into an authorized dealer or repair shop.

Intel SSD Toolbox:

SanDisk Toolkit:


Once I found these SSD apps I was able to view my drives life time and perform firmware updates. It was fun trying to update the Intel SSDs as they needed to be plugged into an Intel SATA controller. It took a lot of research on the web to find out that the Intel SSD Toolbox would not update a drives firmware unless it was connected via an Intel controller. You also need to have the correct drivers from Intel.

The SanDisk firmware update was also a bit of a challenge as I had to boot from and ISO image on a USB thumb-drive. Unfortunately the bootable ISO did not include USB drivers for my keyboard so I had to use an older PS2 Keyboard. Luckily for me motherboard had the PS2 connection.

Hard Drive Diagnostics in Linux

So this morning I had to deal with a server which has been consistently crashing once every week. Each crash indicated that there is something wrong with the file system – no I am not a programmer and nor am I about to spend a ton of time looking into the crash, for reasons I don’t want to get into here.

Anyway the OS that is being used is Fedora Core 2, which is no longer supported.¬† Now even though I think the OS is the problem I am going to scan the hard drive to make sure its working properly, if the drive isn’t function properly then this could be the root cause of the problem. So there are two great options for testing the hard drive. The first is SMART, luckily the hard drive is SMART capable. The second is badblocks, a program that is called E/2/3/4/fsprogs (you can download the program from sourceforge if it is not installed).

If you do not know what type of hard drive you have in your system you can run the following command:

fdisk -l

Because the hard drive in this server is SMART compatible I can run the following command which will output drive information for a particular drive: (PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS EXAMPLE WAS PERFORMED ON A RED HAT BASED SYSTEM)

smartctl -a /dev/HDD_DEVICE

This command will run a LONG test of your hard drive:

smartctl -t long /dev/HDD_DEVICE

Now to view the status of your test run this command(please note that the time it takes to test your hard drive will very depending on the capacity):

smartctl -l selftest /dev/HDD_DEVICE

If you don’t have a SMART capable hard drive you can use the E/2/3/4/fsprogs to check your hard drive. By running the following command you will initiate a scan of the hard drive:

badblocks -n -v /dev/HDD_DEVICE

Here is what I would run if I were you:

badblocks -n /dev/HDD_DEVICE -o outputfile &

This will output any bad blocks to the outputfile (you name it whatever you want) and the “&” runs the program in the background. For more information on E/2/3/4/fsprogs click the link!

Alternatively you can also use GOOGLE to help solve your problems! I also used this wonderful site to help me with hardware diagnostics.