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Monday, September 10, 2007
Burn baby, burn!
Posted: 11:12:00 AM 0 comments
Saturday morning, I woke up early and made the trip over to Micro Center again, this time to replace the motherboard. I got the same model, as it is working in Kathy's computer and I really didn't think it was the cause of the short. I get home and take the time to install it.

One thing that interested me was the fact that it really didn't seem like it took a whole lot of effort for me to unplug everything, remove the old motherboard, put the new motherboard in, and plug everything back in. It's been a while since I've done it, but I breezed right through it like a pro. Maybe it's time to put the other two servers in the boxes that await them...

Anyway, I booted it up, and the short was clearly gone, as I got the post screen. Windows began to boot up, but right as it was about to get to the part when it would tell me to Ctrl+Alt+Del to boot up, it immediately shut down, just like the first time when the motherboard shorted out.

I was afraid I had just tanked another $150 by blowing another motherboard, but to my surprise the computer successfully turned on again. But again, right at the Ctrl+Alt+Del screen, it shut down.

Thinking that I had an incompatible setting in the BIOS, I set out to change the BIOS settings. I had a surprise waiting for me at the "PC Health" screen, though. The tempurature of the processor? One hundred and three degrees.

Celcius.

I immediately turned the machine off, not wanting to burn the processor to oblivion, which has already happened to me once. I did some quick inspection of the processor, and decided it was high time to get a new heatsink/fan combo. Back to Micro Center yet again...

What annoyed me about the new combo I got was the fact that I had to place something underneath the motherboard to screw it into, instead of snapping it into place like the old one. But perhaps that was for the better, as when I booted it up the next time, I got a nice and frosty 29 degrees Celcius on the processor.

The computer has worked perfectly since. I have my memory back in the dual channel slots and am getting no crashes, no blue screens, no nothing. Best of all, the graphics are extremely impressive. The framerates I had Friday evening were still extremely fast, and I have decided to keep my display at max resolution, 1920 by 1440.

What sucked about this is that the unplanned upgrade sucked about $700 from my credit card, which translates to about one paycheck's worth of debt at a time when I'm really just wanting to get everything paid off again. With vacation and Christmas (WTF! Already?!) coming soon, I'm just about ready to call it quits on the break-even point coming this year. Seems there's always something to push that back.

Although there's still some hope. For instance, I can win big again at blackjack at the casino in Niagara Falls.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007
Dead Ox
Posted: 1:44:00 AM 0 comments
Well, Ox tanked today.

I have been having a lot of problems with Ox, my main computer, with it crashing when the video card is working in a game. I decided yesterday that I had put up with it long enough, and ditched the X1950 for an ATI HD 2900 XT. I picked it up from Axion Technologies today. It's got a nice $400 price tag on it, but I figured since it was going into Ox, it would be money well-spent.

Turns out the 2900 requires a 550 watt power supply. Fortunately, that was the exact watt rating of the PSU in Ox, so I happily installed the new card. I immediately liked the new card, as it would perform really well at higher refresh rates on my monitor, better than the X1950, meaning that there was little distortion on the screen. After setting everything up, I loaded up World of Warcraft. Immediately I noticed a difference. Everything was smooth, my frames were up, and all was well. So, I cranked up the settings to my desktop resolution of 1920x1440 and put all the video settings on max. Simply beautiful. Best part is, it wasn't crashing.

I was playing for a good 20 minutes and had just joined a group for a dungeon when it hit. The screen went blank, sound went dead, and the computer actually shut itself off. Figuring that I had misjudged the crashing problem my computer was having, I simply tried to turn the computer back on.

Nothing. The fans would whir for about half a second before dying, indicating that it was a power issue. My first guess, and the only one I was able to act on so late in the evening, was that the power supply tanked. So, I hit Micro Center, picked up a ThermalTake 750 Watt power supply just to be sure (and ThermalTake is a brand I've been trusting for 10 years), and installed it.

Nothing. I did some quick research, and my initial reaction was correct, that it was a power issue. However, that doesn't limit it to just the PSU. A short could be the cause, either by the motherboard touching metal on the case somehow, loose parts in the machine, or a short or damage on the motherboard itself (which happened to me with my old computer, Gigamonster... I still have the burnt chip to show for it, too).

I did everything I could to eliminate a physical problem by disconnecting and reconnecting every and all connection, moving memory around, I even reseated the processor. Finally, I added washers to the motherboard screws, just in case.

Still nothing. By now, I had given up, I just wasn't ready to screw around with my computer anymore tonight, so I've reverted to Successor in the meantime, although I'm not installing anything on this computer, as it's turned into a reference computer for me when I'm full screen on Ox more than anything. Tomorrow I'll be headed back to Micro Center to get a motherboard replacement, and hope that resolves the problems. I hope I don't have to get into replacing the memory or the processor, as I'm not really keen on spending over a thousand dollars just to fix an infrequent crash.

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