It was just another day when I decided to boot up my old gaming rig. When I first build this machine back in 07, it had some pretty decent specs. Q6600 with B3 (or G0 stepping, I never found out ), 2GB DDR2 ram, GA-P35-DS3L motherboard which was quite reliable, a Coolmaster 500 Watts psu (this thing is such a champ!) and of course, my pride and joy, HIS HD 3850 IceQ3. It was my first build at the time and I loved it! I remember putting everything together in 3 hours and had it up and running soon after. SupCom, Crysis, Lost Planet, Oblivion, FarCry 1/2, The Witcher, etc... The only limit was the settings lol.
I fiddled around with my hardware always trying to make them work to their full potential through overclocking, constant driver updates, cleaning and defragmentation among other things. Running things like 3DMark and benchmarks was a normal activity done with each update, overclock etc... It did help that I was on another forum where everyone was an enthusiast and sharing fps, overclock values and knowledge was done daily. Seeing as I was satisfied with my rig, I decided early on to only upgrade it based on my needs regardless of the likely that my Q6600 will bottleneck future hardware. I ended up upgrading to an EVGA 8800 GTS 512 about a year after and had some fun overclocking that with Rivatuner:
mmm voltages, temperatures, megahertz, I'm in heaven!
Another year after that, I decided to be one of the first adopters of the GTX570 (got an antec psu for it) after hearing about its performance. I was really excited when I got it lol. I don't usually get top of the line hardware right as they come out because I'm satisfied with what I have but I decided to make the GTX570 an exception to the rule to see if all the benchmarks and reviews I've read were right. The only better hardware at the time was the GTX580 but it was not worth it's price tag imo. Let's just say I wasn't disappointed. The card was a badass without any overclocking on my part. Crysis maxed out with AA/AF at 1920x1080? np, let it chew through it for you. All my games ran smoothly with no lag at maxed settings, it was like a dream come true and everything looked amazing at the same time. Getting less than 60 fps became a rarity when before it would've been considered no less than a miracle at those settings. My luck would run out though as my new power supply broke down after several months of usage. I was also slowly losing interest in gaming at that point and wasn't able to replace it either leading to me shelving the GTX570.
Since then, my rig hasn't seen much action so this was the perfect opportunity to have some fun. I decided to check temps first by running two instances of Orthos for two different cores each. For anyone not familiar with Orthos, it's a program that stresses your cores and memory to its max. By doing so, you can see what your maximum temps are. If you can run it for a long time with no errors, you can be sure of a stable overclock. My temps were a bit high for my liking, around 67C though they eclipsed 70C at times leading me to decide to clean my rig. I ended up taking apart all my fans, cpu included and worked on my cable management to help with air flow. Things seemed a bit better so I decided to finally get started on my original task. What does my rig need that would make it usable again? The answer was simple: a wireless adapter since it no longer had internet on it and that's the #1 thing that any machine needs nowadays imo.
(Somewhat) Cable Management
That was when I turned to the all powerful ebay, the provider of cheap hardware at low prices. If you're someone who's never used ebay before, you owe it to yourself to try it, even if it's just once. I've bought and sold various items in the past and have had interesting experiences using it. It just provides another perspective on how things operate and teaches you to be cautious when it comes to buying things. After some browsing, I saw many adapters that fit what I was looking for. With some further research into the sellers, their adapters, costs, delivery time etc... I eventually settled on one:
All I got was the adapter, no discs or anything of the sort. Figured that it would be a plug and play hardware since it's my first experience so I gave that a try, nope. It was not recognized or rather it was recognized as 802.11n NIC but with no drivers, it won't work at all. No worries! Detective Bigfan is on the case! There wasn't much information to go by to start so the first step was to try and figure out what are the best drivers for this adapter. This meant taking a look at other similar adapters being sold on ebay to try and figure out what's the origin of the adapter. A good idea in hindsight but after a bit of searching, I haven't made much progress seeing as there were many similar adapters but none provided the information I wanted. It was time to call in the big guys, google! lol.
As everyone knows, google is made of pure magic. By providing it with a small input, the output is thousands of results that can usually help you obtain the knowledge to solve a problem. I needed its help and I got it free of charge as usual. Ain't it nice? After searching for the term 802.11n NIC, the first link had to do with Realtek wireless LAN drivers. Though their adapter looked slightly different in the picture, it was a common adapter from my research and there was no harm in trying their drivers. Now if only they would actually install lol.
Seeing as the installation failed, this meant that I needed to look at other providers. Further searching led to a goldmine, a website known as alibaba. This website seemed to ship out bulk orders and it's here where I found another possible clue to the provider. Seems like Ralink was quite a common manufacturer having seen the name several times before. To Ralink's website! Close enough! After going through the usual motion to install drivers, my reward for working hard was to look at a darkened icon that didn't respond to any clicks and just sat there mocking my efforts.
Seeing no results after so much effort, I decided this isn't the time to give up. Would Fantasy give up if he was down 50 supply? Nope, he'll just go for his gg timing and I plan to do the same. With that in mind, my resolve was unshaken. I had to find out who the manufacturer is so that I can get it working. Trying other searches such as 802.11n adapter drivers did seem to indicate that the manufacturer Broadcom is another possibility. I managed to find a nice website that had things laid out. Things looked good and I had a feeling about this one. Could this be it? I got denied again after installation. Device manager still showed it as 802.11n NIC with no drivers and I have yet another software on my rig that's taking up valuable space.
By this point, I've spent hours trying to figure it out with various failures of differing magnitudes. My patience was in short supply and it seemed like there were quite a bit of manufacturers left to try according to alibaba. It was time to do 'it', time to go to the boss himself. The one who provided me with this amazing hardware and has given me the chance to further my knowledge on wireless adapters. It was time to lay it all down on the line, to pull out all the punches and go all the way. It was time to *dom dom dom* demand drivers! I was going to get drivers if I had to fight him for it. If he refuses, his ratings will suffer from my negative feedback and 0/5 ratings! How about that for blackmail? That's when I sent him this really mean spirited message:
Notice the lack of a smiley after thanks indicating I'm angry!
If I want my demands met, I must be very selective with my phrasing. One mistake and I can lose this opportunity. I establish some sense of friendless with that initial 'Hi'. My good grammar, good sentence structure and good flow were instrumental in slowly gaining his trust. I also provided him with just enough information that sounded plausible to get him to play into my demand. Right as he's starting to feel that something is not right *bam* I ask him the question that I've been waiting to ask, where are those drivers?????
As I thought, he couldn't resist responding promptly. No 'Hi' or 'Hey', huh? He must have other motives for this message otherwise why no greeting? What could it be? Does he not care about his ratings? Does he want a negative feedback due to this bad customer service? I demand he greets me! As they say, the customer is always right. That's fine though, I'll be the bigger man. Can I trust him though? His sentence structure, grammar mistakes and spacing with that shady website seem to speak volumes about his business and were a cause for concern. How can a pro make such silly mistakes? The guy does have thousands of feedbacks though, most being positive. Is it possible those are all fake accounts he created? Does he have that many ebay smurfs to boost his rating? nah, that can't be. I must be overthinking it, I think. It's probably just silly mistakes with English being a second language or something.
After establishing that things should be fine and chucking the mistakes down to language, I proceed to download the .zip file from that website. 20 megabytes later and I finally have my hands on the drivers, what I've been waiting to. I scanned them just incase, nothing found. Thank you great seller! As I unzip the file, I'm getting fired up with anticipation. You see, being a tech person, any new device no matter how miniscule it is makes me happy. The thought of playing with the settings and testing them among other things excites me. Guess it runs in my blood lol. All I have to do now is double click the setup file, sit back and follow instructions. I'm home or so I thought!
Why are you trolling me? T_T
Seriously, dude? Here I was praising your quick and concise response and you send me a file that doesn't seem to work. A bit confused, I decide to look at what I assumed was the readme file written in Chinese. Good thing I have a bachelor's degree in Chinese language so I was easily able to decipher the symbols to learn how to proceed. All I had to do was get the computer to detect the device and once it asks me to install the software, I'll just direct it to the file. This doesn't work though unless I decide to uninstall the device completely first. At this point, it was time to do what I do best. Fiddle around with the files to determine the best way to insert the drivers.
The folder structures seemed simple enough. Several folders for the different operating system so obviously the windows one is what I need. As I looked at the various file names, I realized there was a specific folder for drivers which also had other folders for the various versions of windows available. All I had to do was direct windows to that specific folder to let it install the driver. Seems simple enough and that it was. In under 10 seconds flat, windows installed the drivers and I was able to get onto the internet. With that my adventure was over but the scars from the journey remain to this very day.
So, what was the lesson learned? Either be a detective and fail at it with pride or demand answers from your seller to save yourself time. Which is your calling? Only you would know that. Also, Fiddle Away!!!!! Many thanks to the ebay seller who sold me this adapter, had quite the fun experience lol.