Replacing bad hardware

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bill Catherall, Oct 15, 2001.

  1. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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  2. brentl

    brentl Cinematographer

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    My ONLY advice right now would be to get a board with DDR ram support.
    There is NO reason to get a board with SD-ram it's obsolete.
    Brent L
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  3. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Definitely go for DDR and make sure the board can support the 266 front side bus. Be wary of DDR boards that use the KT-266 chipset as this is not a good performer and has now been replaced by the massively improved KT-266A.
     
  4. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    quote: it's obsolete[/quote]
    By "obsolete" do you mean that manufacturers will no longer be supporting that type of RAM, and therefore it will become difficult to find and be more expensive in the upcoming year? Or is it "obsolete" because it's slower than than newer types of RAM? Also, is the DDR RAM really all that much faster?
    If it's a significant improvement in performance and if it becomes impossible to find SDRAM in the near future then I'll take back this board and get one that supports both. Otherwise I'll just stick with what I've got.
    Sorry, had to edit that. I don't mean to come off as sounding unappreciative of your advice. I think the deciding factor is the performance. The problem I've got is price right now. Already this fix is costing me over $300 (also had to get a sound card because this board doesn't have built in sound) and my wife is not going to accept "performance" as an excuse to spend another $40. Will I really notice much of a difference with DDR RAM? If I'm convince of this then I can put up with the wife stomping out of the room knowing that I made the right choice.
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    Bill [​IMG]
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    [Edited last by Bill Catherall on October 15, 2001 at 03:56 PM]
     
  5. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    It's not so much speed as bandwidth. I can't give you any numbers but it does make an appreciable difference.
     
  6. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    I'll go back on my way home and see if their DDR boards have the KT-266A chipset and the prices of those boards. If the difference in price of the mobo and added price of the RAM are within my acceptable limits (IOW, how much heat do I want to take when I report the price tonight at home) then I'll make the switch.
    Just for the record, the board I currently have in my hands (as stated above) has the KT-133A chipset.
    Thanks again for the feedback. [​IMG]
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    Bill [​IMG]
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  7. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    I'm back! I went and traded in the mobo I bought earlier today and got one that supports DDR RAM (DFI AK76-SN DDR266/200 AMD 761 Chipset) and got a stick of 256MB DDR RAM. The difference came to $44. I consider that money well spent (assuming it fixes the problem) and I want to thank everybody for their input.
    So if you're reading this then everything is working so far. I've installed the hardware. Had to also reinstall Windows (didn't do a clean install, just ran the setup again and installed over the top of the old install) because I was getting some registry errors. I think the registry got corrupted somewhere along the lines. Reinstalling seemed to fix it. Further testing and playing will reveal if everything is truly fixed. I'm sure if I continue to have problems then I'll be back here to report it. [​IMG]
    So any way, this mobo doesn't have the KT-266A chipset. The manual says it has AMD 761 and VIA VT82C686B chipsets. How does that compare? My one complaint so far is that the CPU fan is much louder than the last one. I'm not using this for HTPC, but still. I'd like it to be a little more quiet. The guy I bought this from is either the owner or the manager of the store because he seemed to be the one that made the decisions of what hardware they carried. He said that they usually carry Abit and Asus motherboards, but he's carrying this one because he's using it on his computer and found it to be very reliable. He also installed the RAM, CPU, and heatsink (w/silicon), and tested the hardware before sending it off with me at no extra cost. I thought that was very cool.
    So now I'm off to see if Linux will install. Wish me luck!
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    Bill [​IMG]
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  8. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    I believe it's the AMD chipset that has held the crown up until the KT-266A was released. Very stable, apparently.
    Reinstalling was a good idea. You don't have to but the method is not guaranteed to work. You need to go into Device Manager and remove every device, reboot Windows and let it redetect the hardware.
    Athlons get very hot so you need a good cooler.
     
  9. brentl

    brentl Cinematographer

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    I guess you answered your own questions eH!!
    If you were really in a bind you could get a board with ac97 audio built in. Or you could get a CHEap 4 channel sound card for abotu $15.
    Brent L
    Good move going with DDR.
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    OK guys ..... The tour of the Paradigm
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  10. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    Thanks Brent. None of the boards this place carried had built in audio. So I just bought a $25 Creative Sound Blaster card.
    One of the problems I'm having since installation is that Windows can't find the drivers for the "Wave Device for Voice Modem." I know that it has nothing to do with the drivers for either my modem or my soundcard. I tried removing the modem from the device manager and upon reboot it found the drivers for both the modem and wave device. So I thought everything was fine. But then when I rebooted again later, it was searching again for the wave device drivers! What gives? So right now the wave device is just sitting in the device manager with a big yellow "!" waiting for me to give it drivers. It can't find the drivers on either the sound card CD, the modem CD, or the Windows CD.
    I'm thinking maybe I should just go and remove ALL devices and let Windows find everything again.
    Ugh! My wife called while I was typing this up and she can't get the computer to start up. All kinds of errors while trying to boot. Looks like I'll be spending more time with the thing tonight than I thought.
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  11. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Bill, is it the Soundblaster 16 PCI card you've got?
    If so, you should cancel when Windows first detects the hardware. Pop in the Soundblaster CD and install the devices using the menu that appears.
    [Edited last by Rob Gillespie on October 16, 2001 at 01:45 PM]
     
  12. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    Yes, it's the Soundblaster 16. I'll be reinstalling tonight, so I'll follow your advice.
    The errors my wife told me about are registry errors. I got this last night after first installing the new hardware. I thought everything got worked out because I could restart the computer and it would reboot with no problems. But then later I turned it off and left it powered off for a couple minutes and when I booted up the registry errors were back. After everything got "fixed" again I did the Windows reinstall just to make sure everything was working well and I didn't have any problems for the rest of the night (but I never completely powered down, just restart). Then this morning she got the registry errors again when booting up. Does anybody know what could be causing that? I'm not against completely wiping out the hard drive (deleting all partions, repartitioning, and reformating) and completely reinstalling everything new again if there's no other option. Could it be the power supply? I've got an AMD approved 300W power supply that came with the case.
    I went to the store that sold me the hardware and looked into getting a quieter fan. This guy (somebody different than the one that helped me yesterday) was of no help at all and went on to say that they wouldn't even be carrying AMD if they didn't have to. He says that the fan is loud because it has to spin so fast and that getting a slower fan would cause the CPU to overheat. I understand how important airflow is, but aren't there fans that can get the same airflow with less noise (better motor, bearings, etc.)?
    The worst part of all is that I hate having something like this hanging over my head while I'm at work. I'd rather be at home fixing it. I feel better if I'm in the process of fixing a problem, no matter how bad it's going, then just leaving the problem for later. Yeesh!
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    Bill [​IMG]
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  13. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Bill, the first thing I would do regarding the registry errors is to wipe you Windows partition and install from scratch. You don't know what debris was left behind from previous installation. I think that needs to be ruled out before anything else. And when you do it, I would advise removing all unnecessary hardware before you begin. Just have the HD, CD-ROM and graphics card. Once the basic system is running then install one piece at a time and make sure the system doesn't go wonky.
    If you're after a quieter fan, take a look here:
    www.quietpc.com
    They're a UK company and overseas shipping is expensive (and so are most of their products). But the stuff works very well and they're only really acting as a reseller for other companies.
     
  14. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    I'll follow your advice tonight and let you know how things go. I looked at QuietPC.com. That Flower CPU cooler looks great. If I can get this new hardware to work well for me then I'll have to look into getting that. But $60 shipped!! [​IMG] Well, if this fan also prevents noise like "Why is this computer so loud?" from a certain household member then it just might be worth it! [​IMG] How long would an airmail package from the UK take to get to California?
    "wonky"...Heehee! Nothing cheers me up more than funny British slang. [​IMG]
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  15. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    There's also www.quietpc.ca whose prices may be better. The shipping should certainly be a little tamer.
    I use two of their 300w power supplies and they make a hell of a difference. The Zalman fans they sell, when on their lowerst setting are silent for all intents and purposes. They sell great stuff, but it comes at a price.
     
  16. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    Grrrrrr! If I could change the title of this thread it would be "Replacing bad hardware with worse." I made several attempts last night to get the new motherboard working on my computer. It seems that whenever I turned off the machine and let it sit powerless for a minute or so, I would get many errors during boot up. All while attempting to start Windows. Linux ran flawlessly and would boot fine. But when trying to start Windows I would get corrupt registry errors, missing files errors, which would eventually lead to starting up Windows in Safe Mode. But the really weird part is that once I can get Windows to boot in Safe Mode I can reboot and everything works like there were no problems at all. Just don't power down the machine or you go through it all again!
    So I removed all the hardware except the video card and drives. I flashed the bios to the newest version. But still, I got all the same errors. So I was just going to delete all the partitions and repartition, reformat, and start from scratch. But DOS's fdisk wouldn't let me delete the partitions! Fortunately Linux was very usable and let me delete the partitions. Then I went back to DOS and repartitioned. Now get this, with no system on the hard drive at all I couldn't even get the Windows Setup disk to work. It would format the drive, but when it came time to scan the drive it would freeze. And when that finally worked, it would give me some major errors when trying to run the Setup program and install Windows. Missing and corrupt files. How could this be? It's a CD-ROM?
    So I took out the new motherboard and replaced my old one. Everything booted and installed just fine. I'm taking back the new hardware today for a full refund. Although I'll get all my money back I'm pissed about all the wasted time. I'm going to have to see if the errors I was experiencing before continue. I'm not really in the mood to go about troubleshooting this any more. 1) I don't want to spend more money on a more expensive, but possibly stable motherboard, 2) I'll be really pissed off if I do spend more money and it also turns out to be a flop (which I'm fairly certain will happen). It seems the entire computer hardware industry's quality is so crappy right now that I'm really just thinking of throughing in the towel and abandoning the whole thing. It pisses me off to no end.
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    Bill [​IMG]
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    [Edited last by Bill Catherall on October 17, 2001 at 10:24 AM]
     
  17. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    Update time!
    So I decided I couldn't live with a computer that freezes 10-15 times a day. I'd have to get over my hardware frustration and buy another motherboard. I really wasn't pleased with the selection that was available at the local retailer so I visited newegg.com. They had a good selection of some of the less expensive boards, so I decided to take my chances and buy one. I didn't really want to spend much money for fear of having to return it and pay the 15% restocking fee. So to cover a potential loss, I got an Abit KT7E mobo for $89 and a AMD T-Bird 950 for $54 with a $7 CPU Fan/Heatsink. I made sure the fan/heatsink could be used with the processor. I chose it because it had a larger sized fan so it could get the same air flow with lower RPMs (thus quiter operation). The CPU says it's AMD approved for up to 1.2GHz but not for the AMD XP chips.
    I got the parts on Tuesday and went to work installing them. Everything worked right off the bat. Not a single error and everything booted just fine. Made a few changes to the CMOS to make sure all the settings were correct. Installed all the hardware drivers. I've been using it for a couple days now and haven't had a single freeze or crash. I've been installing my other software a piece at a time to make sure there are no new errors and so far so good.
    I don't have a sound card now, so I'm going to need to buy one of those soon. I'll probably do it when I get my microphone when I buy Shrek (got to play with the voice-over game [​IMG] ).
    The only problem is that the CPU runs a little hot. It's been running all day and it's currently at 48C (50C is the overheat temp according to the VIA Hardware Monitor). I don't have any silicone under the heatsink. Would it be a good idea to get a better fan/heatsink, or should silicone do the trick? Or could it be the CPU thermocouple? I'll have to check the tempurature on a cold start to see what the difference is. But I remember checking the temp just after installing it and it was significantly higher than room temp. What happens if I hit the "overheat temp?" Will the computer get shut down or will it just flash a warning?
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    Bill [​IMG]
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  18. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    I checked the CPU temp this morning after letting it cool all night. When I turned on the computer I went into the CMOS setup to look at the temperature (that way I could get the temp reading right away). It started up at 26C. So it doesn't look like the thermocouple is reading high. Then over about 5 minutes time it steadily rose to 43C and held at that temperature. I noticed that when the CPU temp went up above 40C the fan speed increased from 4000 RPM to 4200 RPM (I think that's the max) and that seemed to slow down the rise in temp. But it didn't bring it down.
    The contact surface of the heatsink was not copper. It was a soft black surface. I'm not sure what it was made of. It felt cold to the touch so I figured it's a good conductor. There wasn't anything indicating it should be removed, so I don't know if it's protecting the copper base or if it's the conductor. It didn't look like something that could be peeled off, so I left it in place. It was being protected by a plastic cover that I, of course, removed before installing. I'm thinking that either I don't have good thermal contact, the heat sink is not suitable for dissipating enough heat, or the fan is incapable of enough air flow for that heat sink. Has anybody had good success of using silicone for a better thermal contact? That would be the cheapest route to go first to see if that fixes it.
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    Bill [​IMG]
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  19. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    You should normally use some kind of thermal compound inbetween the chip and the heatsink. Don't know about silicon. Most people use Arctic Silver or something similar.
    What's the airflow like through the case? You should have one incoming fan at the front and an exhaust at the back of the case.
     
  20. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the suggestion Rob. I looked over Arctic Silver's web page and read their instructions and it looks like I might be too late. I think the soft pad that was on the heat sink is a thermal wax pad that is probably now melted into all the crevices. According to Arctic Silver, once a thermal grease is applied or thermal pad is melted it's impossible to remove all the residue and it will reduce the effectiveness of any thermal compound applied on top of it.
    I don't have any other case cooling. Just the power supply fan. I have a place in the front of the case and in the back of the case to install cooling fans. The problem with the front fan (if I were to install one) is that it would be drawing air up from under the case and I've got it sitting on carpet. I don't want it pulling in carpet fibers. There are vents on the sides of the case, so I'd probably be ok with just a rear fan blowing out the back. I'll see what the temperatures get to if I leave the case open and see if better case cooling will make a difference.
    Have you ever installed a heatsink that used a wax thermal pad? Was it easy to remove? Now I'm worried that if I were to switch to a different heatsink then I'd have problems with that wax pad.
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    Bill [​IMG]
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