Every time I boot up my cheapie Windows PC running Windows Vista, I get the same annoying error message. The Asus T3-M2NC51 barebones box has a slight conflict with the AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+ Brisbane processor at its heart. It’s something I knew when I paired them up last spring (See “Imperfectly building my imperfect PC“) and it’s no big deal. The boot process hangs right away and with the explanation “processor not recognized” and please hit F1 to continue. You hit F1 and everything is fine. Minor annoyance that would be fixed by a BIOS update soon, was the word on the street. Sure enough, Asus issued a BIOS fix but since I only use that PC to play Civilization IV, and I’m not exactly doing that every day, the BIOS update languished.
Finally, a few days back, I decided to go for it. A quick check on the Asus web site showed the BIOS had been updated a bunch of times over the past year. And Asus made the process of updating much easier than I expected — and much easier than it used to be in the bad old days when you had to use floppy disks or boot from an alien CD. At their website, you can download a handy program called Asus Update, available for all flavors of Windows. The program then goes out on the Internet, finds the updated BIOS file and installs it. It can also save your current BIOS to a re-installable file in case anything goes wrong with the update. Very handy.
Now the question is whether to speed up Civ IV, which slows to a crawl towards the end of a game, with a processor upgrade. The 3600+ was speedy and cheap a year ago but now Asus says chips as fast as the Athlon 64 X2 5600+ Windsor are compatible. How much is that CPU in the window? Only $140. Not bad. I’d better start saving my pennies.