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Author Topic: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread  (Read 198225 times)

Detachable Felix

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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #600 on: 10 Sep 2015, 01:33 »

And also, beware the bloatware.
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #601 on: 10 Sep 2015, 01:40 »

I think that even if I were going to buy a Windows computer, I'd throw in the money for an OEM copy.  Only way to be sure.
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #602 on: 10 Sep 2015, 03:11 »

Not even necessary. Your computer comes with a Windows license, although it takes a bit of digging to find the product key for it. Third-party programs can do it but I don't remember which one I used. Once you have it though, you just download an image of your Windows OS from Microsoft, create a bootable USB with it, and do a clean install of Windows without all the manufacturer's crap on it.
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #603 on: 01 Oct 2015, 15:19 »

It's ALIVE!  I have actually taking days replacing most of the internals of my desktop.  I kept having to take breaks every couple of hours because the anxiety left my hands shaking and heart racing.  But now it's working.  Passed POST beautifully when I started it up, and now I just need to download a new ISO for the OS install (going back to SUSE).
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #604 on: 09 Aug 2016, 11:55 »

Assuming that this job becomes at least a semi-regular thing, I'll need to replace my laptop (my phone is rather ancient and *still* more powerful).  I was wondering here if anyone here had experience with Hackintoshes, such as which (mid 2016) were the best bets for trying to make one.  Brand-wise, I lean towards Lenovo or Asus, but am open to anything in the $500-$900 price range, preferably somewhere in the middle.
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #605 on: 11 Aug 2016, 22:37 »

avoid Lenovo... their product quality has been SHIT recently.

I've had to send in 12 ThinkPads for replacement screens since January.

the torque from opening the lid can crack the screen.  I kid you not.
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #606 on: 11 Aug 2016, 22:40 »

That's sad to hear, since in the past I've had great results.  I suppose Asus it is then.
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #607 on: 12 Aug 2016, 04:45 »

avoid Lenovo... their product quality has been SHIT recently.

I've had to send in 12 ThinkPads for replacement screens since January.

the torque from opening the lid can crack the screen.  I kid you not.
Recently being the past few years? Because I bought an Ideapad in 2014 which I dropped something on, dropped on the ground, and fell on top of (not all at once) and all it has to show for it are a few dents. Maybe the beveled top acts as a crumple zone.
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Quote from: snalin
I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #608 on: 12 Aug 2016, 22:40 »

everything we have is 2014- present build.

for 'professional grade' laptops, they're rather fragile.
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #609 on: 13 Aug 2016, 17:39 »

I actually picked up a job refurbishing and repairing used notebooks three weeks ago. We actually extended our warranty from one to two years, because it didn't make much difference in repair numbers. We're currently only selling the 10 to 30 generations, so I can't say anything about the latest models.

But what really makes these devices great is how easy they're to repair. I had to take apart a Toshiba Satellite last week, down to removing the mainboard from the chassis, only to clean out the fan. On Lenovos it's just turning it around, removing the RAM cover and one single screw to remove the keyboard and have access to almost everything.

We also carried HP Elitebooks and a long time ago we had Dell Latitudes, and I could see myself happy with such an HP one too. I've had some satisfactory experience with some Fujitsu Siemens Lifebooks too.

Seriously, I'd recommend looking into a refurbished Lenovo from the earlier generations, like a W530. I also have a friend who turned an older Lenovo into a hackintosh, but I can't remember which generation.
« Last Edit: 13 Aug 2016, 17:44 by ankhtahr »
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #610 on: 24 Oct 2016, 02:35 »

I actually picked up a job refurbishing and repairing used notebooks three weeks ago. We actually extended our warranty from one to two years, because it didn't make much difference in repair numbers. We're currently only selling the 10 to 30 generations, so I can't say anything about the latest models.

But what really makes these devices great is how easy they're to repair. I had to take apart a Toshiba Satellite last week, down to removing the mainboard from the chassis, only to clean out the fan. On Lenovos it's just turning it around, removing the RAM cover and one single screw to remove the keyboard and have access to almost everything.

We also carried HP Elitebooks and a long time ago we had Dell Latitudes, and I could see myself happy with such an HP one too. I've had some satisfactory experience with some Fujitsu Siemens Lifebooks too.

Seriously, I'd recommend looking into a refurbished Lenovo from the earlier generations, like a W530. I also have a friend who turned an older Lenovo into a hackintosh, but I can't remember which generation.

That's actually quite interesting, had no idea it was that easy to gain access to the internal components. I would say on top of actual physical refurbishment, it would also be a good idea to focus on backing up the files on the computer, I've had some frustrating experiences where I lose my files when upgrading my hardware:/

I was doing some reading on the best way to back up information, and I came across this article (https://www.1and1.com/digitalguide/server/security/how-does-data-backup-work-for-databases/) Basically, among the different types of backup, I would say that incremental backup is the best for this situation, using something like MySQLDump.

Hope this helps:)
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #611 on: 03 Nov 2016, 02:20 »

So for the past few weeks my desktop has been crashing a lot, sometimes with BSOD, most of the time just shutting down or freezing completely. There is no pattern to the crashes that I can discern, they happened during high Load (Gaming) and almost idle (just surfing the net). Sometimes the computer runs fine for hours, even while gaming, and sometimes it crashes three times in ten minutes. I already ran MemTest86 and it found no problems with the RAM, it's probably not the SSD either cause that would most likely just fail completely. I'm guessing it's not the video card either.
My big fear is that the problem is either the CPU or Motherboard, cause they are old and it'd be hard to find replacements. Updating to newer hardware is not really an option cause money is tight. Does anybody know how I can at least narrow the problem further down?

For reference her is my (rather old) setup:
AMD Phenom II X4 955 (4x 3.4GHz)
8GB DDR3 RAM (4x2GB)
RADEON HD 6950
64GB SSD
1TB HDD

Any help/tips would be appreciated.
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #612 on: 03 Nov 2016, 03:25 »

Did you run diagnostics on the SSD?
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Quote from: snalin
I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #613 on: 03 Nov 2016, 04:11 »

SSDLife puts its health at 90% with an estimated lifetime of 8 more years.
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #614 on: 10 Nov 2016, 20:08 »

For reference her is my (rather old) setup:
AMD Phenom II X4 955 (4x 3.4GHz)
8GB DDR3 RAM (4x2GB)
RADEON HD 6950
64GB SSD
1TB HDD

Any help/tips would be appreciated.

What version of what OS?
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #615 on: 11 Nov 2016, 05:44 »

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #616 on: 14 Nov 2016, 09:01 »

I've seen overheating occur that randomly, but it's not too likely.

I've got one more thing to consider:the PSU. PSUs tend to supply less and less power as the capacitors age.

However unlikely it seems with the sudden poweroffs without BSOD I'd also consider a OS problem. I've also seen faulty RAM which memtest didn't discover.

Your setup seems like a beefed up version of mine with a smaller CPU. I'm running a X6 1090T, but with 4G RAM and a HD6850. I feel your money troubles.
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #617 on: 14 Nov 2016, 21:13 »

I've seen overheating occur that randomly, but it's not too likely.

I've got one more thing to consider:the PSU. PSUs tend to supply less and less power as the capacitors age.

hijacking this bit, since I'm pretty sure that my PSU is going.  It's the only original part of this machine and hit has hit the 6 year mark, and post takes 5 min.  Of course, I'm not 100% sure what the problem is, and it'd probably cost me about the same to just replace the PSU as it would to get someone with the tools to take a look at it.
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #618 on: 15 Nov 2016, 02:39 »

One thing I've noticed is that the crashes seem to occur only in the first ~20 minutes after booting up for the first time. It'll crash a few times and then run fine for the rest of the day. Not sure what to make of that.
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #619 on: 23 Nov 2018, 08:28 »

Who's fool enough to help an out-of-date half-Luddite knock the years of rust off to figure out component upgrades?

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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #620 on: 23 Nov 2018, 08:51 »

I'm slowly re-acquainting myself with things, but hardware was never my jam.

I'm working on a gaming machine the old owner had a cheap go-between put together years ago. I've fixed it up and scavenged it a little bit since I got it a while back, and it mostly works fine for what I do, but I am reaching the point where I'd like to see if I can get a bit more into it.

CPU seems to be an AMD FX 6100
GPU an Nvidia GeForce GTX 560

I figure there's room for improvement here, since release dates seem to be about 2011 for this stuff :x

right now (slooooowly) looking through the specs of a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, determining if it'll fit (probably) and if I have to change out anything to make it more or less work (maybe not). But that's only because of a recommendation someone else made to an acquaintance, not because I actually know that it's worth my time.

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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #621 on: 23 Nov 2018, 08:55 »

oh and understand i'm just trying to evaluate, i'm not buying right now. i'm trying to put together the hows and whys and some concrete whats to anchor my brain to, so i can see what i need to work towards and what I need to look at if i ever get the money together and have to re-evaluate again

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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #622 on: 16 Feb 2019, 14:35 »

Need help with narrowing down a bad POST bootloop error:

Mobo: MSI Z87-g45 (https://de.msi.com/pdf/presale/Z87-G45-GAMING)
CPU:  i7 4770k
Ram: 2 x Kingston HyperX DDR3 8Gb 1866 CL10 (NEW!)
          2 x SomeOldShit DDR3 4Gb 1066 CL9

I tested just (! ) the board + CPU + RAM outside the case on antistatic surface (Yes, also tested one DIMM in all four slots) - always the same error:
Board spools up (CPU Fan, LEDs etc), three beeps, restart after 10secs, three beeps, stays running. 
 When graphics card is connected, monitor gets no signal, so DON'T TELL ME TO FIDDLE IN THE BIOS, I DON'T EVEN GET TO THE DAMN BIOS!

According to http://www.bioscentral.com/beepcodes/amibeep.htm, three beeps is "memory failure has occurred in the first 64K of RAM.  The RAM IC is probably bad "

I already reset the CMOS three different ways (external button, shorting jumper, manually removing battery).


Since I tested with the old RAM as well as the brand-new ones, it's probably either the mainboard, or the CPU. How do I decide that? I'm a bit confused by the 'first 64K of ram' stuff - is that definitely meant to refer to the ram on the DIMMs (rather a problem with the mobo, or the slots), or could that also refer to the on board-cache of the CPU?


Help would be much appreciated, as with every successive new purchase of old tech, I also lock myself further into old tech - like the DDR3 DIMMs already set me back 100Ä, but the real kicker is that the Intel  Z87  chipset is pretty much the pinnacle for lga1150 boards (which in turn is the last step before switching to DDR4) , even the used ones are traded at close to 100Ä, and I can't find any newly manufactured ones. The only affordable mint lga 1150 boards are crappy H81 or B85 shit - I don't intend to pay 70Ä for crap that my old board outclassed in 2014...
« Last Edit: 17 Feb 2019, 04:53 by Case »
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #623 on: 17 Feb 2019, 01:28 »

I'll try to get back to you tomorrow - but I'm too tied up today to think about this...

Sorry

Quick thought - have you tried reseating the CPU?

Paul
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #624 on: 17 Feb 2019, 04:49 »

That's next on my list - to my chagrin, I discovered late yesterday that I've run out of isopropanol to clean the die (Heatpaste might also be a bit dodgy by now ....)  :oops:
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #625 on: 17 Feb 2019, 10:09 »

ughghgughggugh all this talk makes me not relish the next round of nonsense i have to do to this machine.

also sorry i can't be any help, but uh....hold on, let me just... *digs around*... I know those pom-poms were here somewhere....*disappears into junk pile*

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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #626 on: 17 Feb 2019, 11:16 »

The current build of my desktop is getting pretty long in the tooth (my laptop is fairly recent, and fairly powerfulÖ for a portable device), and I'm becoming more and more inclined to scare up the funding for about the most powerful non-pro imac out there.  I have friends who work at Apple who are willing to let me use their employee discount, so I could get about $700 off.
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #627 on: 17 Feb 2019, 11:51 »

My wife's machine became unreliable recently - it would run fine, but took more and more goes to complete a boot.  Eventually it crashed while running.  I was able to keep it going for long enough to copy the disk.

When I looked at the motherboard, I noticed that some of the capacitors were swelling (the tops were slightly domed, not flat).  This is a failure I have come across in audio equipment; I recently fixed a favourite interface by replacing over a dozen capacitors, but in the case of a motherboard it just gets thrown out.  I recall a particular range of Dell machines that had this problem in a serious way, such that they would replace the motherboards for years after the supposed warranty ran out.

Anyway, peer at your capacitors...
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #628 on: 17 Feb 2019, 13:31 »

Troubleshooting RAM/CPU/motherboard issues can be annoying without new parts on-hand to test things...

However, some retailers still have LGA1150 CPUs on hand - could be worth buying one from a place that's easy to return to, to try it out.

As far as capacitors, modern motherboards tend to use solid-state capacitors, and that looks like the case for this motherboard, so capacitor electrolyte failure is much less likely.
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #629 on: 17 Feb 2019, 14:22 »

That's next on my list - to my chagrin, I discovered late yesterday that I've run out of isopropanol to clean the die (Heatpaste might also be a bit dodgy by now ....)  :oops:

So I got bored, used ethylene alcohol 94% (fuckit) to clean the die & heatsink, used up my remaining heat compound aaaaaaaand

... SSDD  :cry:

I've recorded the POST-bootloop, so if anyone is willing to have a listen to what I mean by "three beeps", shoot me a pm and I'll give you a Googledrive link (is there smth like Imgur for vids? Don't you say youtube, I dare you.... ). Also have HDR-pics of the socket etc, if anyone feels competent to spot bent pins etc.
« Last Edit: 17 Feb 2019, 15:17 by Case »
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #630 on: 17 Feb 2019, 15:14 »

Troubleshooting RAM/CPU/motherboard issues can be annoying without new parts on-hand to test things...

However, some retailers still have LGA1150 CPUs on hand - could be worth buying one from a place that's easy to return to, to try it out.


Errrrrh - that's a  i7-4770K. It may be out of production, but new ones still go for 470Ä on Amazon. Used ones are offered for 200Ä.Not sure about buying one simply for testing purposes, evein if my budget would allow that.

("Old, not obsolete", to quote a certain Gubernator - http://www.redgamingtech.com/how-well-does-an-i7-4770k-stack-up-against-modern-cpus/)

Generally, shit seems to remain serviceable a lot longer these days than back in the oughties - which seems to be reflected in prices, which aren't going down - I haven't even overcloked the rig yet, despite deliberately choosing both CPU and Mobo with a view to OC back in the day (Never save on PSU, CPU and Mobo is my motto - rather buy a midclass GPU and upgrade that later).

As far as capacitors, modern motherboards tend to use solid-state capacitors, and that looks like the case for this motherboard, so capacitor electrolyte failure is much less likely.

Yup, all solid-state capacitors.
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #631 on: 17 Feb 2019, 15:25 »

Doesn't have to be an i7-4770K if you're buying it with intent of returning it, it can be a Celeron G1820 for all that matters here.

Obviously an i7-4770K or 4790K would be ideal because you could leave it in, though. (Was your BIOS reasonably up to date before this? If not, don't try a Devil's Canyon SKU or the similar non-unlocked Haswell Refresh processors.)

Another tactic that could work to tie up fewer funds... I wonder how much something like a refurbished Dell OptiPlex 3020/7020/9020, HP ProDesk 400/600 G1/EliteDesk 800 G1, or Lenovo ThinkCentre M73/M83/M93 would cost in Germany, as a donor of a test motherboard and test CPU. In the US, those machines tend to be awfully cheap as refurbs. (Note that you won't be able to actually use that motherboard in your system, but as a CPU tester...)

Also, imgur supports video upload, although they call it "GIF" even though it's WebM with WebP video and some sort of audio...
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #632 on: 17 Feb 2019, 15:45 »

The Celeron ships for 57Ä on Amazon, directly from Intel ... I'll first see if I can scrounge some cheap lga1150 from the folks @Uni tomorrow.

Thanks, that's worth a try.

Does anyone have a better understanding of the stupid audio POST-code (three beeps)?
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #633 on: 17 Feb 2019, 18:39 »

Okay, talking about the beep code with my old, spotty knowledge combined with some quick research, IC means integrated circuit, and essentially what that code is *supposed* to mean is that something fucked up when the motherboard tried to access the RAM, i.e. that it wasn't able to access the small amount of memory it needed to actually go. And usually that means a bad stick of RAM, essentially. I wouldn't *think* it would be anything on the motherboard or with the CPU.

If you've tested the sticks in another system, though, and they work there, well... well......... maybe the slot architecture or something has malfunctioned on the motherboard. Or maybe I don't know what i'm talking about.

honestly i'm not super confident about this. suucks :(

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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #634 on: 17 Feb 2019, 18:41 »

pm me the link if you want, cuz obviously wanna make sure it is 3 short beeps and not, say, 1 long + 2 short. though imagine your hearing is correct

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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #635 on: 17 Feb 2019, 18:46 »

also let me make sure, since i'm tired and don't speak German, but there's 4 RAM slots on the motherboard, right? And you have installed two sets of two different kinds of RAM?

It at least used to matter a little (or at least make things easier) if same RAM was put into paired ports. In my experience certain ports (such as 1 and 3, then 2 and 4) are linked together in some way that i don't know (i've usuallys een them marked or color-coded when that's the case), so making sure your RAM is done up in the paired parts (if this is even still applicable these days or with this equipment you're using i have no idea) might help. though i imagine you've been fitting them every which way trying to get a different result already

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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #636 on: 17 Feb 2019, 18:48 »

A summary of things to try if you haven't already, though i get the feeling it's more basic than where you're at

https://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000996.htm

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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #637 on: 20 Feb 2019, 18:16 »

@Nae:

This is a failure of the board' to complete its POST (Power-On Self-Test)
* The failure first occurred with the two sticks of old ram, which prompted me to buy the two sticks of new ram (the HyperXblabla), to no avail.
* I then 'breadboarded' the system, meaning I took the motherboard out of the chassis and disconnected everything except the Power Supply (PSU), the CPU, the diagnostic speaker and the on/off connector - > same pattern (three longish beeps, restart after 30 odd seconds, three longish beeps, keeps running). At this point I know it can't be anything to do with USB devices, or the graphics card or whatnot.
* Then I took one stick (or DIMM) of the new RAM, and tested it in each of the four slots - > same shit.
* Ditto with the other stick of new RAM.

As to the three beeps: They are definitely three beeps of equal length, spaced at equal intervals (I trust my ear here - I was a bassist in an earlier life). The only time the AMI beepcodes list (my first post in this thread) speaks of three beeps, it says 'three short beeps' - I can't be sure, but if memory serves, they are longer than the one short beep that used to signal successful completion of the POST. No, it's not one long, two short, I certain of that (and yes, it'd be bad if it was).

So it's not the RAM sticks. I'm pretty sure it's not the PSU, because ... symptoms of Power-supply problems tend to be  much less specific and consistent. Also, this is a 630 Watt BeQuiet Monster PSU (I always splurge on the PSU, after that one time that I didn't), if anything, it's bored to tears driving just the board, CPU and RAM.

Which leaves only the CPU or the board.

One uncertainty I have left is that I'm not sure what the 'memory failure has occurred in the first 64K of RAM.  The RAM IC is probably bad' -thingy is supposed to refer to: The CPU has its own superfast onboard memory (i.e located on the die itself ) - the L1-, L2- and L3-caches. Even the smallest of the three, the L1-cache, has a size of 64k (the L3-caches boasts a sporty 8mb).

So could it be that three beeps mean that the L1-cache is fr**ked? I don't think so, because that'd be useless information, as there is no way to exchange the L1-cache without replacing the entire CPU, and since the L1 is involved in basically anything the CPU does, it'd be bored beyond recover anyhow. But ... I don't know.

The IC part is funny, too - except for the odd capacitor, the entire board is a collection of Integrated Cirquits, as is the CPU, or the RAM for that matter. So that doesn't really help me in locating the mysterious 'RAM IC'. All non-trivial electronics have been ICs since the 1950s.
« Last Edit: 20 Feb 2019, 18:29 by Case »
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #638 on: 20 Feb 2019, 18:52 »

@Nae & bhtooefr: Thanks for your help so far!

So I've looked around for a functional LGA1150 board to test my CPU in, and:
*I could buy one from Amazon & return it after testing.
*A local repair service keeps some of those oldies around for testing purposes, but they want 30Ä just for that functionality check.
*The 'involuntary Master of the Cluster' of one of the groups on my floor was kind enough to offer me one of the two nodes they'll replace soon. Drawback is that I won't be allowed to keep the board, much less remove it from Uni premises, and that the replacements will arrive 'within the next two weeks, probably'.

I've also decided to give up on LGA1150 - The only halfway decent boards left are more expensive today than their state-of-the-art grandchildren. By the same token, a used i7-4770K goes for 150-200Ä on eBay.

Refurbishing my old system costs 210+Ä (New 16Gb DDR3 RAM + board).A brand-spanking new AMD Ryzen 5 2600+, plus new cooler, plus ASRock B450 pro motherboard, plus 16gb DDR4 Ram costs ~390Ä.

If I return the DDR3 Ram I bought on Amazon andif the CPU is still good andif I manage to sell it for 150Ä on ebay, I'm just 130Ä away from a system that's future-proof for the next few years, and has warranty for three years.

Drawback:
* TWO! WEEKS! without my machine.
* Selling shit on ebay brings out my inner Brun. No likey at all!
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #639 on: 21 Feb 2019, 04:29 »

urf

godspeed, brave hardware warrior

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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #640 on: Yesterday at 05:22 »

A lot of the BIOS POST code is very old code.

That first 64k RAM failure code likely dates back to the original 1986 AMIBIOS code, which was copying a feature that goes back to, I believe, 1982 (the latest BIOS update for the original IBM PC) or 1983 (the PC XT). The first 64k of RAM failing is legitimately a different failure from any other failure, because the system can't do anything, whereas a failure later in RAM would still allow the machine to boot, at least to ROM BASIC or PC DOS 1.x. And, back then, the first 64k were nine chips on the motherboard.

I *believe* that failure happens after cache tests - modern PCs boot in multiple stages, and I think the BIOS doesn't get control until after caches are initialized anyway. I believe that would indicate a failure somewhere in the memory path - could be the memory controller on the CPU, could be the RAM slots, could be anything in between.
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #641 on: Yesterday at 06:12 »

A lot of the BIOS POST code is very old code.

Yeah, I suspected as much - there are actually some ancient Intel helpsites that speak of 'three long beeps', which allegedly indicates some damage to the keyboard controller?

I don't think my heap of junk even has a dedicated keyboard controller? (I don't think it even has a Southbridge anymore, for that matter...)

That first 64k RAM failure code likely dates back to the original 1986 AMIBIOS code, which was copying a feature that goes back to, I believe, 1982 (the latest BIOS update for the original IBM PC) or 1983 (the PC XT). The first 64k of RAM failing is legitimately a different failure from any other failure, because the system can't do anything, whereas a failure later in RAM would still allow the machine to boot, at least to ROM BASIC or PC DOS 1.x. And, back then, the first 64k were nine chips on the motherboard.


There was a time when I had memorized the entire layout of the 64k of RAM of my first machine... (the original Commodore Breadbox, of course), what address that little Motorola 6502 would mirror its registers to, etc.

Part of me still marvels at CPUs having an onboard L1-cache of 64k....

I *believe* that failure happens after cache tests - modern PCs boot in multiple stages, and I think the BIOS doesn't get control until after caches are initialized anyway. I believe that would indicate a failure somewhere in the memory path - could be the memory controller on the CPU, could be the RAM slots, could be anything in between.

Are you sure about the memory controller being on the CPU rather than the board? I don't think it is the slots themselves - all for of them failing simultaneously would be plenty odd, so I figure the damage is a bit higher up the memory path ... of course, if the damage is to any part of the CPU, be it the cache or an onboard memory controller, I'm back to square one ... :-\

Ok, thanks bhtooefr. Now what wanted to hear, mind you, but I can't say I hadnít suspected something like this already. Always better to have a second opinion, even if it's not what you'd hoped for.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 06:36 by Case »
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #642 on: Yesterday at 06:17 »

I just hope it's either the CPU or the board, and not both. Either part would go for 100+Ä on ebay, which would make an upgrade to a modern system affordable for me, but if it's both of them...
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #643 on: Yesterday at 06:36 »

The memory controller moved to the CPU die with the Nehalem CPUs (although Westmere temporarily moved it back out to the GPU die, which was a separate die on the same CPU package, but Sandy Bridge moved it (along with the GPU) onto the CPU die for good).

Basically, the list of components between the memory controller and the RAM consists of:

* CPU socket
* The motherboard PCB itself (a cut trace can cause all sorts of problems)
* The RAM slots (I doubt this is the case considering that you said all slots are affected)

Any solder joints in between can also cause problems, as can power delivery hardware on the motherboard not supplying power correctly to either the CPU, the RAM, or both.

IIRC, keyboard controller is embedded in a Super I/O chip attached to the LPC bus. Some parts of it are IIRC emulated, though, for higher performance (specifically, A20 gate switching).

And, as far as a southbridge... you have one of those, it's the Z87 "chipset" itself.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 06:42 by bhtooefr »
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #644 on: Yesterday at 06:37 »

My bet is clearly on the motherboard; I've never experienced a CPU failure in my entire career, even when a fan failure caused overheating which stopped normal functioning (that was a Pentium Pro, a notable high spot in the progress of CPU design).  Although I've had memory board failures, they've always been clearly diagnosable using one of the Memtest utilities, and generally from new rather than appearing later in time (though sometimes subtle, and so not apparent till later).
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #645 on: Yesterday at 06:57 »

@bhtooefr: OK. But what's the PCH for, then? (The 'Intel Z86 chipset' - thingy) I figured it was the vestiges of what we used to call a Northbridge back in the day?

Edit: OK, just read your edit above - So the Northbridge moved to the CPU, and the 'chipset' is what we used to call a Southbridge in the days of yore? That about the size of it?

@Paul: I may or may not have alt-tabbed from a pretty demanding game and then put it into sleep mode. And then left it there bcs I dozed off myself ...  :-\ (I think I remember setting the CPU over-temp values in the BIOS rather conservatively, so if the BIOS was monitoring the CPU, it should have pulled the plug when the latter got to 80 Celsius. I'm not a 100% on that, though ... ).

Damage/cuts to the PCB: Don't think cuts, as the board was securely mounted on the brass spacers, and had been for a while. A short due to foreign objects of a fatty kind landing on the board, though ... (Yes, I'm an idiot)
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 08:44 by Case »
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Re: The PC-building/hardware knowledge thread
« Reply #646 on: Yesterday at 11:19 »

Correct.

The old era of system architecture, from the Pentium through the Core 2 era, looked something like this:

CPU
(Front Side Bus interconnect)
Northbridge (memory controller, PCI/AGP/PCIe bus controller, integrated graphics controller if present)
(PCI or PCIe interconnect depending on era)
Southbridge (storage controllers, USB controllers, audio controller if present, PCI/PCIe to ISA/LPC bridge, emulation of some IBM PC AT peripherals (others are done by a LPC Super I/O chip), sometimes a PCIe to PCIe bridge)

Also, worth noting that Ryzen has the southbridge's function integrated onto the CPU as well - there are chipsets, but they basically act as PCIe to PCIe bridges with additional SATA and USB, adding more than what's on the die.
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