You can likely find a local PC repair place to get your laptop running for under $100. My personal solution was to buy a Bryston BDP-1 which is basically a stripped down computer configured to only play music files. You plug drives off it via USB inputs. It would output very well to your Bryston DAC and you would likely control it using an Iphone with the MPOD software or using an Android OS. It's quiet (noiseless actually), and works great. You would still rip and download music using your laptop and then just plug in your external drives and update every so often. I think you can find one on Audiogon for about $1200 used or you can buy one new for about $1800 from Audio Advisor or another store. The BDP-2 is more expensive but you could actually install your SS drive internally.
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The first thing I would try is pressing the F10 key repeatedly and rapidly when you turn on the computer, and seeing if you can then get anything to appear on the display. See "Accessing the BIOS Setup Menu" on this page.
The next thing I would try is a "hard reset." See the instructions here. Then try the F10 procedure again, if the computer still doesn't work.
If those things don't help, based on your description of the symptoms I suspect that chances are something has failed on the motherboard (the main circuit board within the laptop). If so, I doubt that the repair could be accomplished for anything close to $100, and availability of a replacement part or the entire motherboard may be a major problem as well.
One approach you could then consider, although I don't particularly recommend it, would be to find a working computer of the same make and model on eBay, and having your SSD (solid state drive) installed into it. The downsides of that approach:
1)You would still have the fan noise problem, which I suspect may not be fixable as a practical matter.
2)Although it would not be a major issue, you would most likely have to reactivate Windows, since the Windows installation on the SSD would recognize that it is no longer running on the same hardware. That might be doable by entering the 25 digit activation "key" (code) that would probably appear on a sticker on the bottom of the replacement laptop, or you might have to call Microsoft to get a new key.
3)Considering its age, the replacement laptop may also fail before too much longer.
A better approach, at relatively low cost, would be to buy a new laptop. Today's laptops provide much better performance at much lower cost (e.g., $300 to $500) than those from 8 or 10 years ago. Assuming you want to stay with Windows I would recommend considering Asus laptops, which are very quiet in my experience. Newegg.com is a good place to buy them (if you are in the USA), as well as the other items suggested below. Also, the user comments posted there are helpful in making choices, although those reporting negative experiences generally seem to be disproportionately represented.
Most likely a new laptop would come with Windows 8 or 8.1, which have been generally unpopular because the user interface differs considerably from all previous versions of Windows, and takes some getting used to. So I would suggest purchasing a separate copy of Windows 7 (a 64 bit version, not 32 bits!), and having someone proficient with computers install that.
To accomplish the following, you would also want to get an "adapter case" such as this one, which converts an internal laptop hard drive or SSD to an external drive connected via USB.
Before wiping out the Windows 8 installation, it would be preferable for the person doing the work for you to create an "image" of that installation, stored on another drive, which would allow you to readily restore the as delivered software configuration at a later time, if necessary for any reason.
The person would also install your SSD in the "adapter case," connect it to a computer, and copy from it any music or other data files it contains that had not been backed up on a different drive.
The laptop's internal drive and the SSD would then be swapped, so that the SSD would be in the laptop and the laptop's original drive (presumably a mechanical/non-SSD drive) would be in the external case. The SSD would then be reformatted, which destroys everything on it (the existing XP installation would undoubtedly not function properly in a new laptop, for many reasons), and Windows 7 would then be installed. The drive in the external case would also be reformatted, and connected to the new laptop via USB, and used to store image files, music files, and backup copies of data or music files that may be on the SSD. All of your music files should always exist on at least two drives, so that they would not be lost in the event of drive failure.
Good luck. Regards,
Thanks Al for your VERY helpful advice!! I am persuaded about the limitations of an old laptop and all the inherent problems.
I just bought a used CAPS 3 (I think the Carbon model?) here on Audiogon from a guy (Frank) , who was really patient and helpful. I also got the battery power supply.
Total "leap of faith" as I'm sure is clear from post, I'm a complete idiot when it comes to computers! Realistically it's 50/50 if I'll even be able to add to my system and operate. Seriously, reason I wanted laptop is the keyboard and monitor.
I have a MS Surface tablet and iPhone, but really no idea how I'm going to transfer my music files and operate the server to lay music. I also think I need a driver for Bryson DAC?, but clear about how to do that either.
I'm a 55 year old with a graduate degree and professional life that I'm sure would surprise those reading a post as ignorant as this. I love music and would gladly pay an expert to do this for me in hopes of getting the optimal sound but it seems like there is no such service. My local audio dealer knows Hi Fi but nada when it comes to computer audio. Maybe I'm missing something?
Any suggestions about resources to help me with set up would be much appreciated.
Thanks for making a newbie feel welcome!
I'm a computer systems engineer with 30 years experience and also a music lover and "audiophile".
I'd agree if you are computer adverse, I'd stay away from fidgeting with a computer as the streaming source and perhaps from using it as a server as well. An integrated device like the new Sony HAP units should do quite well. You'd still have the option of using an external DAC which is where most of the music making occurs.
Or take a look at SOnos or Bluesound streamers or anything else along those lines.
There are many things that go into good digital sound and it is very complex. Do you want to take your time and wade your way through it all and learn along the way or cut to the chase and just buy something designed already to make good music?
CAPS would seem to fall into the first category. From what you say I do understand why you would want to go down that path.