1. Chosing new system components and building the new rig
My old PC, a P4 2800C running WinXP 32bit, was nearly dead. Even though I kept quite clean and did regular maintenance, it was getting really really slow, but the thing that bothered me the most was that it sounded like an aeroplane taking off. A system upgrade was due.
I have a dual monitor setup, but since I am on a tight budget, I decided not to upgrade the monitors. My main monitor is only 2 years old so it will still have to do for a couple more years. The 2nd screen is old, but I only use it to put additional windows there like msn, some dialogs from painter, etc
Not having to buy 2 new monitors allows me to buy decent components within a tight budget, namely 700€. When choosing my components to stay within this budget, I wanted to keep a few things in mind:
- I use my pc mainly to paint in Corel Painter, keep a photographic reference database, play music, surf the internet and read emails. Core i7 CPU’s are bloody fast but they are quite hungry in terms of energy consumption. To build a Core i7 system within my budget would be nearly impossible, and would certainly mean I would have to cut down on the quality of some other components. These reasons, along with my limited budget, made me opt for the AMD Phenom II X3 720 cpu. It has 3 cores, can be used on an AM3 board and supports DDR3 memory usage.
- I want my new rig to be as quiet as possible, so I opted for a passively cooled GPU. The Radeon 4650 is cheap and performs quite well. Since the ASUS board has a built in gpu, both gpu’s can be used in Hybrid CrossFire mode.
- Speed: It has to be faster than my P4. That being said, which ever cpu I chose to build my system around, it was always going to be faster than my P4. The PII 720 is fast enough for the tasks I want it to do, and allows me to choose some high quality components. I was able to provide 8GB of DDR3 ram that runs at 1333MHz for example, instead of having to buy slower memory at 800MHz.
- I’d like to be able to upgrade my PC without having to change the whole system this time. I therefore chose an AM3 board.
Here’s the list of devices I bought:
Antec Sonata Elite 86.06 €
Samsung Super-WriteMaster SH-S223Q 22.29 €
Samsung Spinpoint F1 DT HD642JJ, 640GB 60.13 €
Verzendingskosten 14.99 €
Cooler Master Real Power M620 77.25 €
Club3D HD 4650 512MB GDDR2 Passive Heatpipe 62.45 €
Verzendingskosten 12.95 €
AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE 119.95 €
Moederbord: Asus M3A78-T E 115.58 €
2 x Kingston ValueRAM – Geheugen – 4 GB ( 2 x 2 GB )DDR3 – 1333 MHz / PC3-10600 – CL9 – 1.5 V 114.62 €
Arctic Silver 5 koelpasta 4.03 €
verzendingskosten 14.99 €
Windows 7 RC 64bit free
Totaal 705.29 €
With only 5.29€ exceeding my budget, I am pretty satisfied with this setup.
Once the components were installed in my new PC case
2. Installing Win 7 RC 64bit
Windows 7 RC 64 bit is available for download here
This Release Candidate is the final test product for Microsoft before it’s final release on Oct 22nd 2009.
From the website, you get a serial number and you can download a copy of MS’s latest OS. You can then install and run this RC until June 2010 although as from March 2010, you’ll only be able to run it for 2hrs in a row. Personally, this Win7 will be the perfect opportunity for me to test Corel Painter in a 64bit environment, knowing that Painter is not a native 64bit application. Worst case scenario will be Painter stubbornly refusing to work properly on Win7, which would mean I’d have to install my WinXP 32bit again and settle with only 4GB of ram iso the 8GB ram I bought. More on this later.
After downloading, just burned an ISO on DVD and voila! Win7 ready to be installed.
I installed Win7 on my new 640GB HD, while I kept my old HD (which had WinXP 32bit installed, plus all my Painter .riff files, images and other documents). I plan to keep this as a backup disk, ensuring my paintings and reference database to be safe in case Win7, which is still a test application after all, crashes.
Installing Win RC7 only took like 10 or 15min on the new system. All I had to do was choose the language (English) and set the regional info on Dutch (Belgium) so it would install the right keyboard drivers. This went really smooth sofar.Having had issues with my WinXP installation on my P4 back in the days, this was pretty impressive!
3. Software installation
I noticed when rebooting the pc, if I didn’t move my mouse right after the win7 login screen appears, the cursor freezes. My mouse, which is a wireless Pilot Optical Mouseman, is pretty old, but it’s my favourite sofar (I have a few newer ones in my desk drawer, but I still prefer the Mouseman).
I installed my Logitech Setpoint software (64bit version now) without issues. Problem solved.
Downloaded the latest Wacom drivers and installed them, no issues.
Installed MSN Live Mail, Messenger, etc without issues.
Internet Explorer 8, though, keeps alerting me that it has stopped working when I close it or close a tab. This happens even after UAD was turned off so I quickly installed Firefox 3.5. Problem solved!
Allright, it’s time to get down to business and install Corel Painter IX.5.
I ran the installation program from my backup drive (D:\), which went smoothly.
However, when I wanted to run Panter, it started with the subscription request to be able to download the video tutorials from the Corel Painter website, and after that, it gave me an error:
“You don’t have permission to run this application.You must have administrator rights to run this program. Login as an administrator and restart the program.”
What a bummer! I am admin on my pc so that could not be the issue, could it?
So I started searching the web… PainterFactory, CGTalk, Google,…
Couldn’t really find the solution though and I was really getting desperate. Surely I did not go through the pain of a system upgrade only to learn that my Painter wasn’t running on it! ARGH!!
I uninstalled, reinstalled, and repeated a couple of times, with no luck.
Then I figured, maybe Painter needs to be installed from the C:\ drive instead of the backup drive. So I tried to copy it to my C drive. But I got “no permission”. I then rightclicked on my Painter executable file and went into the properties. It seemed I was not the owner of this file. In fact, I wasn’t the owner of any of the files on my D:\ drive. WTF? Ofcourse this is because this D:\ drive used to be the OS drive in my WinXP system. So I firstly added myself as the owner of all files and then I changed all my permissions to “Full Control”.
Rebooted, fired up Painter IX.5 … YES! Problem solved!
Spent some more time setting up my Painter, and my Wacom Tablet/Stylus buttons afterwards, but now it is running smoothly.
4. Win7 crash
Yes. A few days later it wouldn’t start anymore.
I had a few remaining things I wanted to do. I had run 3Dmark05 and PCMark05 on my old P4 and I wanted to see how much faster my new rig was. So I installed this software on my Win7 as well. It wouldn’t run properly. I also installed my scanner drivers and my Nikon Transfer software to upload the pictures I make. All this happened without rebooting in between.
When I finally did reboot, as soon as the Win7 Login screen was supposed to appear, it wouldn’t. All I got was a black screen with a white cursor. Nothing else. (I did get the Windows 7 startup screen with the animated logo)
Tried recovering, wouldn’t work, tried going back to a previous restore points one by one, wouldn’t work. Tried going back to a previous system image, wouldn’t work.
All the recovery tools that are available in Windows 7 didn’t work for one simple reason:
You have to make a Backup first. (Start -> Control Panel).
I now have such a system image, which is basically an exact copy of your current system files, backed up so if it crashes again, it shouldn’t take me too long to recover.
5. Final Thoughts·
- Painter IX.5 works well on Windows 7 RC 64bit! And it’s bloody fast on my Phenom II 720BE!YEAH BABY!
- When you install win7 on a new hard disk and you put your hard disk that had your data on it in your new system as a backup drive, make sure you set yourself as the owner of your files and change the permissions to “full control” as well, so you are able to copy, move, delete and modify your files.
- As soon as you have installed all the required drivers and software, make a backup, including a system image! It won’t even hurt to make one or two backups in between. (HD space is huge these days)
- When running benchmarks or installing drivers for pheripherals that have compatibility issues with Win7, reboot after each installed driver/program. This way you know which program or driver is causing you windows 7 to crash.