Wednesday, January 31, 2007

CyberpowerPC...

During the Christmas break, as something of a 'surprise' for the family, I decided to upgrade my computer at home. I have been reading PC Gamer for a couple years, and thought I'd try some of the companies they feature in their ads. One in particular was CyberpowerPC. They have an incredible web site, as far as allowing you to customize EVERYTHING about your computer.

I put together a system (barebones, since I was going to use parts from my computer) and placed an order. Well, the address I wanted it shipped to was not 'valid' since I had not registered my home address with my credit card company. I cancelled the order and waited.

On January 4, I decided to try again, but use my credit card address as the shipping address. Now, one of the last options during checkout is how fast do you want the computer. I looked over the options, and the least expensive was 5-10 business days to build the machine, then 5-10 business days to get it in your hands. I'm an optimist, so I figure 5 days to build, 5 days to ship, I'd have it in about two weeks.

Wrong. Dead wrong.

My 'order status' showed the PC was to ship on 1/15, which I knew was a federal holiday, so I emailed the Saturday before that to make sure we were cool. No, we weren't cool. The expected ship date was pushed to the 18th because of assembly back-up and the holiday. I figured that was fair, since I had picked the cheapest shipping and all... They have an online status checker, so I checked... and checked... and checked. Finally, I emailed again and they said it should go out on the 19th. That is FIFTEEN days after I placed the order. Fine. I checked again... and again... On the 22nd, I emailed and called. The system was still in testing. TESTING? I waited for their email reason as to why the system was still in testing. I decided it was time to act. I sent them an email demanding next day, expedited shipping or else I would cancel my order and demand my money back.

Look, I am as easy-going as the next guy, but come on... I could have ordered the parts from eBay, built the thing myself and saved some money - all in less time to boot!

01/22/2007 - Received word that the network card on my motherboard was bad and that the folks in testing were going to replace the motherboard. Was told the system should ship 1/23 or 1/24. No answer on my demand for next day shipping. In my reply to CyberpowerPC, I told them that if I did not get upgraded shipping, I would be forced to cancel my order.

01/23/2007 - Initial response from Cyberpower was that they had bumped my computer to the front of the line and would be shipping the unit that night, but that they could not (or more accurately WOULD not) secure quick shipping. I let them know that I was not happy with that, given how long this was taking. Then came the response I had been hoping for: My computer would ship FedEx 2-day shipping (which given how late it went out, really, it is 3-day, but that's okay by me).

This post was originally going to be a word of warning to anyone thinking about buying a CyberpowerPC. We'll see how things go once I get the unit in hand...

01/26/2007 - Unit delivered! So, 22 days after I ordered my computer, it finally arrived! I couldn't decide between the yellow case or the blue one. I picked yellow, should have gone with blue. "Yellow" evidently means different things to different people. This is more like.... something I once saw in Tyler's diaper... Okay, not that bad, but not far from it.

I plugged it in and flipped the switch to the power supply, hit the main power button, and suddenly, it was a blue light show! The front has a clear plastic facing, and everywhere the facing attaches to the case, there is a blue LED. There are three fans in the case, and two of them (complete with alien-head covers) light up blue. VERY COOL stuff! :-)

My next step is to move my old components to the new case, and I'll work on that this weekend.

Overall, as of today (1/26/07), I would have to say that I recommend CyberpowerPC with a grain of salt... They did a very thorough job of testing (thus, discovering the bad net card), and also did a nice job of cable management, which they did not have to do. Communication could have been better, as I had to contact them instead of the other way around. The shipping delays are inexcusable. Period. Now, I admit, I picked the slowest method... If you are going to buy from them, pay the extra bucks to get faster build/delivery times. It will be worth it. They also included installation CDs for the motherboard, video cards, etc. I'll let you know how happy I am with everything in about a week as I put it through its paces and let Shan and the kids do the same...

Okay, I admit, seeing "Pentium D 2.8 MHz, 2 processors" pop up on the screen at boot up was very, very cool... :-)

01/31/07 - Update. I am going to tell on myself because I am the resident 'computer expert' around the house. I took apart the kids old Dell, stole various parts from it, and set it aside. I transferred various parts from my old computer into the new one. During the Windows XP install on the new computer (hereon referred to as "Ol Yeller"), I installed the parts into the kids' computer, booted it up, let Windows find all the "new" hardware, and made sure their stuff was in tact. Now, somewhere in one of my PC Gamer mags, I read an article about all the things you need to do to Windows before you swap motherboards and other major hardware. As I'm sure you guessed, I never looked at it once. I simply put the Dell's hard drive into my old case, and fired it up - let Windows do the walking, right?

Meanwhile, Ol Yeller, gets XP installed and I connect old drives, copy data, etc. When I'm pretty happy with things (meaning data is copied and I am ready to get off the floor and sit in a chair, thanks), I assemble Ol Yeller. The keyboard goes on the desk tray and the mouse goes on the desk. I boot 'er up, and the system is wigging out on me. I move the mouse, but it jerks and skips, like it can't get its bearings anymore. Hmm, must have something installed wrong.... So, I pull the computer out from inside the desk, check cables (yes, I had managed to unplug one of the slave hard drive cables at some point), put the computer back together, boot it up and...same thing... Well, dang. Okay, maybe a bad mouse. My brand new, Corvette-yellow mouse was already acting up?? I plugged in another mouse, and laid it on the keyboard drawer - everything worked fine. Hmm... Okay, so I unplugged that mouse and reconnected my yellow one (on the desk) - jerky. It hit me... The new mouse was more sensitive to the BLACK, TEXTURED desk than the other mouse was. When I moved the mouse to the keyboard drawer, it worked great! So, there ya go... Computer genius at work - so genius, I ran a gamut of tests and took apart my computer several times in order to discover the 'problem.....' OY...

All said and done, I really do like my new (upgraded) computer! Not only does it glow a cool blue color when it's running, but it also runs my games amazingly faster and better than my old computer!! The great thing is, the kids got the old, which runs all of their games just fine, so in a way, I got a two-fer! :-) Well, that's how I see it anyway....

Okay, you can stop laughing about the mouse now.....

Really..... You can stop.....

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