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Author Topic: OT: Hardware problem  (Read 16822 times)

EpF

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OT: Hardware problem
« on: January 22, 2006, 07:36:21 pm »

I was concerned to read that it's functionality may have changed.
I'm not really sure if anything has changed; it's just the way 'back' controls the new viewscheme header views. If I change from 'panes' in the viewscheme header to, say, 'Artists', then to 'Albums' - when I hit 'back', it'll take me back to 'Artists'; hit 'back' again, it takes me to 'panes'. Only then will it take me to a previous location.

As for the times when nothing seemed to happen; I'll just have to keep an eye on it to document it further - I haven't used MC for a day or so at the moment ( :o!)

Quote
On another completely separate topic... Sorry to hear about the slow machine.  What are you running?
Thanks for the sympathy! It's so messed up! At the moment I am running a Dell pentium 4 1.6Ghz processor box that I can hardly add any more music to because all the disks are approaching or past the 10%-or-less free mark. The killer is that I built my own about a year ago, but after around 6 months it crashed catastrophically, and I haven't figured out what the problem is (though one of the problems is that I haven't had enough money to take all the steps I would like to be able to, like systematically replacing parts).

That new (not any more!) machine is a 2.2Ghz 64bit AMD 3500 machine, with an nVidia nForce4 chipset on a great Gigabyte sigma-8 motherboard (which is the one thing I do know is not the problem), with PCI-E and a 200GB SATA hard drive (oh how I miss that!) with 1GB of RAM. It was sweet, but never quite settled before the disaster. I tested the RAM and replaced one dodgy stick, then I brought it to a computer store, who weren't much help, and now I am going to replace the hard-drive as I have the money. Fingers crossed that's the problem!

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If this thing fails it's either that, or I dig out my old P3-933Mhz 440BX board, which would be quite a switch from a nice A64-3200+
As you can see, that's basically what I had to do, so my commiserations if you end up on that road.

The reason I know that the motherboard isn't the problem is that the computer store's advice was that it probably was the problem, so I replaced it with an equivalent MSI board - no joy. I hope to go back to the Gigabyte when I sort this out.

Good luck with yours, and I'll keep you posted on mine!

Mr ChriZ

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Re: MC11.1 Using Back/Forward Navigation confusion
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2006, 07:58:09 pm »

What exactly did the catostrophic failure do?
What happens when you try to boot?
I'm sure I'm not the only one here thats had two many of these
in the past and learnt a thing or two that might help you  :)
(+ we're cheaper and sometimes more reliable than the parts store )

You should be able to get to the BIOS post screen without
even having a hard disk plugged in.
Most motherboards have a method of indicating to you
what is wrong if they can't get to post screen by a series of beeps,
some like mine even talk through the built in soundcard

hit_ny

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Re: MC11.1 Using Back/Forward Navigation confusion
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2006, 01:19:47 am »

Ram does seem to make the biggest difference as 512 was cutting it too close in certain situations.

I did have an amd athlon 750 mhz & 250 mb's of ram and MC was very choppy at times.
Interesting, i'm limping along with a P3 700 & 256MB's of RAM. MC does get choppy at times, i was wondering whether the upgrade to 512MB (system max) would be worth it. I don't bother with visualizations at all, its strictly just cover art.

The biggest problem was HD space, but the 250GB Seagates have done a good job with that. I plan to wait at least a yr or 2 before going for Vista.
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EpF

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Re: MC11.1 Using Back/Forward Navigation confusion
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2006, 07:58:29 am »

What exactly did the catostrophic failure do?
What happens when you try to boot?

You should be able to get to the BIOS post screen without
even having a hard disk plugged in.
The original failure was precipitated by me mistakenly turning off the computer with the power button while Diskeeper was running some boot-time maintenance (the monitor was off and I'd been away for a few days and forgot what the computer was doing). After that Windows didn't work properly. It's so long ago now that I forget the details, but I could log on to Windows for short periods only; so I decided to reformat and reinstall, thinking the problem was with Windows. I spent 3 days working with the short windows of opportunity to move my crucial stuff onto my external HD and then tried to reinstall.

Anyway, that's when the trouble started. I've never been able to get XP back on the machine because it keeps crashing during the install process. The furthest I've got is about 10 minutes before the end. The messages are varied, none are very helpful. So far I've tried using different discs, different ROM drives, different RAM, an IDE HD and a different motherboard, but no joy...

But I can get to a BIOS post screen - but that's all!

Quote
some like mine even talk through the built in soundcard
That's pretty cool!

Anyway, if anyone has any ideas about what to do next, I'd love to hear them. When all this hit the fan, I spent a lot of time on the net looking for info, and saw posts all over the place with very similar problems, and never a solution. If I could afford it, I'd by good quality, minimum spec replacements for everything and test by rebuilding, but that's not an option at the moment...

Mr ChriZ

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Re: MC11.1 Using Back/Forward Navigation confusion
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2006, 12:02:01 pm »

That's pretty cool!

Gave me the shock of my life first time i turned it on with no operating system installed plugged into
my stereo system!
"Computer has completed power on Self test, now booting into Operating System!"

bit of an oddity with your puter.  While I'd expect Diskkeeper to be able to mess things
up, I'd expect a format to cure it!  Did you do a low level format of the disk?

Did you install Windows onto the IDE disk?  If this is the case and you still got the same
errors that would eradicate the possability of it being a problem with the drive wouldn't it?

If so it sounds like you've erradicated everything bar the CPU or video card,
presuming you unplugged all extra cards?

EpF

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Re: MC11.1 Using Back/Forward Navigation confusion
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2006, 12:25:09 pm »

Did you do a low level format of the disk?
Yes, and it killed the disk! I will be sending off the dead drive to Maxtor for a replacement this week, so I might be lucky and find that it was the problem all along.

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Did you install Windows onto the IDE disk?
I actually removed the IDE drive from my Dell, complete with functioning XP installation, and put it into the AMD box, with no result.

Quote
If so it sounds like you've erradicated everything bar the CPU or video card,
presuming you unplugged all extra cards?
Yes, I unplugged everything I could, including extra USB sockets etc., so it would seem that it can only be the CPU or vid. card - or the power supply, except that the shop who checked it seemed to think it was ok. I'm just hoping it was the SATA drive...

Mr ChriZ

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OT Hardware problem
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2006, 12:49:01 pm »

I actually removed the IDE drive from my Dell, complete with functioning XP installation, and put it into the AMD box, with no result.

I don't think that would work.  XP is designed to detect change in processor I believe to stop people having copies of it.  wink2k wasn't.
I'd imagine even if it did boot (Presuming the hardware is similar enough (totally different boards/cpus it's a big change)) it would get to just before the login screen and stop, and do nothing. 
I've got three identical own built machines and i've tried moving a single copy of XP across before and know it got upset. 

So it could still be a disk problem...
When you say it died after the low level format... what exactly happened?
What did you use to perfom the format?  Did you try Maxtors own utilities?
here

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2006, 01:26:47 pm »

I'd try setting the BIOS to 'Failsafe' first.
I'd also look into the power supply second.

Lastly, get a copy of Hiren's BootCD 7.7
Boot with it and run some of the system checks.

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glynor

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Re: OT - Hardware problem
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2006, 07:20:04 pm »

I actually removed the IDE drive from my Dell, complete with functioning XP installation, and put it into the AMD box, with no result.

Yeah, this definitely won't work.  Even if your copy of Windows doesn't require Activation (which wouldn't stop it from booting anyway, it just wouldn't let it run if you didn't re-activate), you can't load an Intel install of XP on an AMD system.  Mostly, it's the chipset drivers, but in that case the processor differences would probably crash it too.  Actually, it won't even work if you move a nForce3 system to an nForce4 system (though usually nForce3 --> different nForce3 will work).

Yes, I unplugged everything I could, including extra USB sockets etc., so it would seem that it can only be the CPU or vid. card - or the power supply, except that the shop who checked it seemed to think it was ok. I'm just hoping it was the SATA drive...

I'm actually pretty well experienced with building AMD systems (I should be, I've built about 10 of them).  If it were the Video card you probably wouldn't be able to get the system to POST (you'd just get a weird series of beeps and no BIOS).  I've fried a video card or two in my time and they generally are just dead (or they won't work in games, but load windows fine).  Power supply is possible, but if they checked it it's probably cool (plus, flaky PSUs tend to cause really RANDOM crashes, which would mean you'd probably eventually get through the XP install after a couple of tries, only to have it BSOD on you randomly when running).  Could be a bad CPU I suppose, but I haven't seen or heard of too many of those floating around (AMD's QC is pretty good).  A couple of questions...

1. Where did you buy the stuff?  Particularly the CPU and Memory.  Are they reputable?  (There have been cases of bad merchants selling overclocked and/or fake Athlon 64's as the real thing).

2. What brand/model of RAM is it?  It's really almost definitely RAM if you're satisfied that it's not the board.  It could also just be a RAM <--> motherboard incompatibility.  Bad RAM is all too common, especially the cheap stuff.

3.  Are you REALLY sure the MSI board was broken too?  I just ask because I am right now having all my trouble with a Gigabyte nForce3 board.  I usually buy ASUS (the talking ones mentioned above) but they didn't make a s939 nForce3 board (only a VIA which I will not buy) and I have an AGP video card.  I've heard since that both MSI and Gigabyte are notoriously finicky about RAM -- though not as bad as DFI.

4. What kind of video card exactly?  There were some weird nForce4 install problems with some video cards, though those should have stopped you the first time you tried, not just this time.

I have had EXACTLY the problems you describe myself with bad RAM, random errors at all parts of the XP install (though sometimes they seem to always be around the same place).

The best thing to do would be (in my opinion) test the RAM, and if that passes, run Prime95 on the thing for a day or two.

Go here:

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/

And download the current version (3.3 -- basic is fine) and make one.  Then...
1. Disconnect everything you don't need from the Athlon system, including hard drives, external devices, sound cards, etc. You want just the computer, RAM, Optical Drive, PS2 keyboard, video card, and monitor.  Period (no, not even a mouse).

2. Boot to your BIOS and load optimized defaults and Save and Exit.  Go to the BIOS again (doing this separately is probably just paraniod) and go through the "Integrated Peripherals" section too and disable the LAN devices and Audio options.  Lastly, make the CD-Drive your boot device.

3. Then boot the Athlon system up with the disc in the drive.

4. Once the Boot CD loads, hit F1 to enter the "Mainboard Tools" section.  The way UBCD works is that you use the F# keys to choose an option, and then there's a way to page through different screens (I can't remember that command but it's like PageUp/Down or Enter or Space or something easy).  Anyway, run Memtest86 (the non + version is fine) from the first page under Mainboard Tools.

5. Let it run for a LONG time (at least 6-7 passes, each of which is comprised of many tests -- I'd go to bed).  If you have any RED errors show up in the bottom half of the window, you've got RAM problems (probably, though it could be the memory controller in the CPU or the motherboard is broken/incompatible).  It still strongly indicates that the problem is RAM. 

6. If it passes that, then I'd run Prime95 on it for a full 10-16 hours (that's the Mersenne Prime Test also on the first Mainboard Tools page).  This doesn't have much of a UI in the Linux version included on the UBCD, but it works.  Basically, you should see a list of different tests which say they passed and then start the next one.  You hit Control-C to stop them, and then it will report if there were any errors.  If there are, then this is a good indication that your computer isn't doing Math right (which really is it's primary function), which is often either the Motherboard (specifically the Northbridge) or the CPU.  Sometimes it's the RAM too, but that's why I test the RAM first with Memtest.  (BTW, this app is why I specified PS2 Keyboard and no mouse.  It seems to dislike USB stuff intensely in the UBCD version.  It works fine with PS2, but will crash if you have a USB keyboard or mouse).

Those two steps are always the first things I do when I build a new rig (but only after pulling my hair out with problems like yours on a bunch of builds).  Get the hardware confirmed stable before you even put Windows on it and it can save a LOT of grief.

If you do those things and then post back what happened, I can probably give you some pointers on what to do next.  If you do get Memtest errors, then you probably want to try having the stick tested on another, known-good machine (preferably using Memtest there too, maybe the nice PC shop will help).  If not, but Prime95 fails, then I'd look at the CPU and Motherboard harder.  If neither fails, then it could be just a bad drive.

Either way, Diskkeeper probably didn't cause it.  That might have caused the filesystem to corrupt itself a bit, but it couldn't really have cause physical damage to the disk (not likely anyway).
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glynor

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2006, 07:29:09 pm »

I'm actually reinstalling Windows on my "problem" Gigabyte system right now, after fighting with it trying to upgrade the bios version for the last 3 hours.

The only BIOS I can get to work at all is the original one.  I've tried a bunch of the newer ones, and they all crash Windows and the XP Install process (and one would barely even POST half the time).

Erg!!!!   >:(
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EpF

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2006, 08:16:01 am »

Wow, glynor, thank you so much for putting in the effort here! ;D That's a ton of info and suggestions and has given me renewed hope! I won't get a chance to test the machine til next week, but I'll do it then and let you know how I get on.

Thanks again - very generous of you; and good luck with your machine!

glynor

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2006, 04:26:05 pm »

No problem at all!  I was waiting for my 200GB drive to format anyway, so I had the time.

One other thing I thought of that's worth doing pretty much no matter what.  If you are using regular Parallel ATA drives (optical and hard), as opposed to the new SATA drives, replace all the PATA ribbon cables.  That shop should be able to hook you up with a couple of 80-wire IDE cables for really cheap (make sure you get the 80 wire ones with the black, blue, and grey connectors, not the older 40-wire ones).

I mention this because when I was driving in to work this morning I remembered a time when I was putting together an old P3 system and having all kinds of trouble re-installing windows (after having all kinds of seemingly drive-related problems).  This was back in the day when you could actually call Western Digital's tech support and talk to someone who knew their stuff.  They set up the RMA for me, but suggested that I try replacing the cables for the drive and cd-rom before I sent it in.  I did, and it worked!    :o

Worth a shot.
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glynor

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2006, 06:18:42 pm »

Well... I'm almost done with the Great Windows Reinstall of 2006, Part One.  About to put MC back on the system.

I say Part One because while this quest has fixed some of my problems, the video card is still not working right (because it isn't getting the power it should from the AGP slot even though it has external power).  The "ATI Rage Theater Video NSP" device is still unable to start about 1/2 the times I boot the computer and it completely locks occasionally when I'm playing video back or doing other video-card related things (avoid the Gigabyte nForce3 boards like the plauge).

Sooooooo....

It looks like I'll be buying a new motherboard and video card here pretty soon.  I'm dreaming about going whole hog and grabbing one of these, but I'll probably end up being more reasonable and grabbing one of these or one of these.

Anyone else doing any "upgrades" (forced or otherwise) to anything cool right now?
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Mr ChriZ

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2006, 08:08:07 pm »

I always know when it's getting time to upgrade my system
when other people are getting graphics cards with as much memory
as my entire system...  ::)

It's when the processor on the graphics card is also faster that I know
I've been seriously neglecting things...

glynor

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2006, 08:54:08 pm »

It's when the processor on the graphics card is also faster that I know
I've been seriously neglecting things...

ROTFL   ;D
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GHammer

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2006, 09:55:37 pm »

I like that.
US$519 each.
(limit 2 per customer)
"Hello NewEgg? I really need 6 of these cards. Please?"


I'm looking out my window at the construction workers who are trying to get home for Spring Festival. That US$1038 would be more than their yearly wage.
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glynor

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2006, 10:14:11 pm »

Yeah, I know.  Like I said, I'm dreaming.

The sad thing is that those cards aren't even as rediculous in price as these here (which, by the way, mostly tie or lose to the X1900XT from above in gaming benchmarks and are nigh impossible to find anyway).

Oh look, the BFG 7800GTX 512MB price changed "$-245.99 this week" at Newegg.  Of course, you still can't actually buy it but...

But, such is technology....  Complaining about it is like spitting in the wind.  The really sad thing is that many of the components for these cards are probably made in the country where you live and see these workers (at least if I remember where you are correctly).... And those workers at those plants certainly don't get even a fraction of the lion's share.
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EpF

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2006, 05:15:12 pm »

Well, as promised, I have run the two main tests that Glynor recommended. The memory passed 8.5 passes of memtest86 (not '+'). However, after leaving the Mersenne Prime test running for around 24 hours, I got an error, which starts out with the line:

KERNEL BUG AT page_alloc.c:221!

I don't know how long it was running before it hit that error though. I took down all the details of the error, but I'm not sure what to do with them now. I forgot to note the test it was running before the error, but I think I remember all of it except for the 'iterations' number. I won't post it all here unless someone asks! It doesn't make very interesting reading.

Does this mean that my CPU is fracked?

1. Where did you buy the stuff?  Particularly the CPU and Memory.  Are they reputable?  (There have been cases of bad merchants selling overclocked and/or fake Athlon 64's as the real thing).
I bought the CPU and memory over the internet, from apparently kosher companies. One of them, Komplett.ie, I have dealt with before and found them reliable. The other was Overclock.co.uk (not Overclockers). I found them after having problems with a previous UK firm, and their online reputation seemed fine in forums. That said, when the package arrived here, the cardboard box it was in looked pretty beat up, though the boxes inside were fine. I doubt the components were overclocked or fake.

Quote
2. What brand/model of RAM is it?  It's really almost definitely RAM if you're satisfied that it's not the board.  It could also just be a RAM <--> motherboard incompatibility.  Bad RAM is all too common, especially the cheap stuff.
The RAM is 2 Crucial PC3200 BallistiX DDR 512MB sticks. When I originally tried to solve this problem I used memtest86+ to test the RAM, and ended up getting one of them replaced by Crucial. I have also had the same problems with another, lesser-quality brand whose name I can't remember, so it looks like the problem is not the memory itself.

Quote
3.  Are you REALLY sure the MSI board was broken too?
I may have been unclear, but I do not think the board is the problem, as it just seems too coincidental that the exact same problem occurred with two different boards by two different manufacturers.

Quote
4. What kind of video card exactly? 
Its an XFX GeForce PCX6600 GT 128MB card.

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If ... Prime95 fails, then I'd look at the CPU and Motherboard harder.
Got any suggestions as to what the next step in examining the CPU should be? I'm still waiting on the replacement hard drive, so I have plenty of time at the moment to run more tests.

Quote
Either way, Diskkeeper probably didn't cause it.
Yeah, if anything it was me switching it off in mid operation; but even so, the problem was there to begin with.

Thanks for the attention!

EpF

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2006, 05:21:09 pm »

Update: I ran the Mersenne Prime test again, and got an almost identical error, with only minor variations in the 24 x 8-digit 'Stack' numbers...

Anyone know what this means?!!

glynor

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2006, 05:28:17 pm »

Sorry I didn't get back to you right away on this EpF... I had to go away for a funeral unfortunately (my wife's grandmother) and then I caught the flu while I was there.   >:(

I'm feeling much better now though.

There is no sure way to know without testing the CPU in a known-good motherboard, but that sounds very much like a bad CPU to me.  As I said before, AMD's QC is pretty good, but they can't (and don't) test every chip they send out and some bad ones are bound to slip through.  (It's also possible that you fried it of course with inadequate cooling or improper installation but let's try not to think about that.)

The fact that you passed the Memtest86 with flying colors, but still failed the Prime test really points to that.  Plus the added fact you mentioned you had tried a different motherboard and still failed tends to rule out chipset problems (which would be the other, though less-likely-anyway possibility). 

Hopefully when you bought the processor you sprung for the Retail version (rather than the OEM) which carry generous warranties!  I'd probably RMA the processor through AMD.  I've never had to do it with them, but I did once with a Pentium 4 and Intel and the process was reasonably painless.  If you did happen to get the OEM version you might be stuck.  You could try contacting the merchant, but they typically only offer 15-30 day return "warranties" on those products (a really good reason to always spring the extra $5 for the Retail version of CPUs even if you don't want the HeatSink-Fan unit).

A couple of hints for the RMA process:

1.  The warranty on Retail AMD Athlon64 and Opteron processors is 3 years.
2.  The warranty is void if you use an unapproved heatsink/fan unit or thermal paste.  Basically the only approved ones are the ones that came with the Retail CPU.  Even if you did use an aftermarket system, you didn't. (You know what I mean?)  This is absurd and they should approve other reasonable HSF units but they don't.
3.  You need your CPU's serial number off of your Warranty booklet (it's right on the front on the white sticker with the bar code).  You will need to send in the HSF and the CPU, but you don't need to send in the other stuff that came in the package (so if you had to worry about #2 you might want to make sure you did actually use that retail HSF at least once).
4.  You're supposed to contact the retailer first if "their" return/warranty period hasn't expired.  This is typically 30 days but I'm not sure what it is for yours.
5.  You need a copy of your receipt.  I imagine a printout from a web-order would be fine.  Contact the reseller if you lost yours (at newegg.com you can easily re-print these later).
5.  To obtain Warranty Service you call 408-749-3060 in the US or +44 (0) 1276-803187 (English language) for Europe (you can also go to http://www.amd.com/eurosupport in Europe).

They'll then give you a RMA number and instructions on where to send it.  One gotcha with the warranty is that the replacement CPU is then only warranted for one year.  That's pretty typical and honestly with CPUs, if they don't fail after the first few months of "burn-in" they probably aren't going to fail at all.

If you happened to get shafted and bought an OEM one, make sure to get a Retail version next time.  Also, don't waste your money on the higher-end CPUs.  Generally, with a quality motherboard, a Athlon64 3200+ or X2 3800+ will overclock to the very similar speeds as the much more expensive models (and they are a fraction of the price).  Those two (one being single core and the other being dual) are the only two Athlon64's I'd think about right now, though I would also consider one of the really nice 939-pin Opeteron's.  Since the Opterons are considered workstation/server-class they are subjected to higher levels of testing and more stringent quality requirements.  Often they overclock higher and run cooler which is nice.  Of course, they cost more too...

If you have to buy a new one and you have any other questions (such as the difference between a Venice core and a Clawhammer core) just ask!  Hope this helps.
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EpF

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2006, 09:35:09 pm »

Glynor, you're a superstar!  ;D  Thank you so much for all this help; looks like I'll be RMA-ing AMD, cause I'm 99% sure I got a retail chip. I'll be on the case tomorrow!
Sorry I didn't get back to you right away on this EpF... I had to go away for a funeral unfortunately (my wife's grandmother) and then I caught the flu while I was there.   >:(

I'm feeling much better now though.
Sorry to hear about your wife's grandmother. I hope your wife is coping alright. I'm glad you're feeling better, and so is my computer!

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2006, 09:52:42 pm »

That's what I'd do.  It's probably your problem, and if not, the worst you'll waste is some time and some postage (which probably won't be much -- CPUs are small and light even with the HSF).

No problem on making the effort for the response!  Its what I do.

I actually just felt bad because I did look through Interact over the weekend while I was sick but I just felt too bad to formulate a proper reply!  Today was really the first day I felt "back to life".  Erg.

I'm also being frustrated by my own Hardware problem.  I've decided that I'm going to RMA my board too, but I'm going to replace it first and take the PCI-E plunge (if I just RMA'd it I'd have to be completely without it for a while which is unacceptable).  I have a dilemma though on what new one to get....

nForce4 or wait for the new Asus AR832-MVP (based on the new ATI RD580 chipset) to come out, which should be by the end of this month-ish.  It'll probably be late this month though, and then at least a few weeks before you can really see real-end-user feedback in the forums to make a real evaluation.
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EpF

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2006, 10:10:32 am »

No problem on making the effort for the response!  Its what I do.
Do you build and fix PCs for a living, or work as a support technician or something?

Quote
nForce4 or wait for the new Asus AR832-MVP (based on the new ATI RD580 chipset) to come out, which should be by the end of this month-ish.  It'll probably be late this month though, and then at least a few weeks before you can really see real-end-user feedback in the forums to make a real evaluation.
You said being completely without a board for a while would be unacceptable; given the time-scale involved in getting the Asus board, surely nForce is the answer?

glynor

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2006, 02:44:24 pm »

Do you build and fix PCs for a living, or work as a support technician or something?

Sort of.  I do that "on the side".  My "day" job is in a Multimedia/Graphic Design department at a research laboratory.  Specifically I do video editing, graphics, AV Services and videoconferencing, and a little animation and web work.  I'm really the department "computer geek" though....

I do also have a number of clients that I do tech support and custom PC builds for "on the side" though.  I learned pretty much out of neccessity (and lack of money).  My first-ever Windows PC (a 66MHz 486 DX2 Compaq) came out of a dumpster.  It was broken and had no hard drive, but relatively new, but I slowly but surely learned how to fix it and replaced the parts a little at a time.  (My family also had a couple of computers before that, but not Windows machines and they were really Mom and Dad's not mine.)

You said being completely without a board for a while would be unacceptable; given the time-scale involved in getting the Asus board, surely nForce is the answer?

I am considering that... I'm also considering springing for the current iteration of the ASUS ATI Crossfire board, which is getting great reviews too (though it does have some shortcomings I'm hoping the new version will fix).

However, listen to me complain.  I've also got 3 other perfectly working computers in the house (1 Windows HTPC machine, 1 Mac, and 1 Linux Box).  And that's not even counting my 3 macs and 1 PC that I have at work... Now admittedly, the HTPC is difficult to accomplish any "real" work on, and my Mac (at home) is badly underpowered, but still... I feel like I SHOULD be able to wait.

But... I WANTS IT!   ;D
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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2006, 03:12:22 pm »

This may sound daft, but I had horrid trouble with my Abit NF4/3500+ board, I could play BF2 online until my eyes bled & it was solid as a rock, but I ran Azureus for 2-3 hours, blue screen, everytime. Plug in USB device, blue screen 50% of the time. Other 'random' task - blue screen 10%. Ran like that for 2 weeks testing all the hardware individually.

Problem was the Nvidia 'Network Access Manager', the control software for the on chip firewall, disabled (or so I thought) but installed, for curiosities sake. The nforce drivers prompt for its installation after the main drivers install.

As soon as I removed all nforce drivers using Driver Cleaner PE (From www.drivercleaner.net or www.guru3d.com).

I then reinstalled the nforce 4 drivers, (of which there are several versions on the nvidia site, if unsure, use the version on the mobo CD) without the NAM & everything worked perfectly.

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight 1 tailored google search reveal several NF4 mobos exhibiting this problem, with blame being laid at immature NAM software.

Thing is it looked sooo much like a hardware fault, so if you did install the NAM try again, with no NAM, before you send it back; you might be pleasantly surprised...
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glynor

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2006, 03:20:47 pm »

Yeah.  I'm well aware of the retarded Active Armor firewall problems with NF4 (and made the mistake myself once of installing the never-removable drivers on a build for someone else).  In my particular case I have a NF3 board, and it suffers the problems after a clean install with NO drivers of any kind installed (and with the regular compliment of drivers installed).

I've been through tech support with it, and it does appear to have a hardware problem as it freaks out when I install more recent BIOS versions too (and as I mentioned, the PC Health check in the BIOS does fail).

A good warning to people in general though. nForce FireWall driver is BAAAAAAD.  Don't go there.
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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2006, 03:23:52 pm »

hehe cool, must admit i skimmed the post, all I saw was NF4 & crashes, 'looks like hardware' and had a horrid flashback  ;D ah well...good luck anyway!

Incidentally the never-removable drivers come out with Driver Cleaner PE, very handy & saved me having to format after 2 weeks of hell. Tis essential when the detonator/catalyst drivers are updated too!
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glynor

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #27 on: February 09, 2006, 04:39:11 pm »

Yeah.  I've used it and it can be very handy for those stubborn drivers that won't seem to let me pry their cold ... dead ... hands ... off ....

I now just keep a Ghost Image of my system drive hanging around though, and all my user documents and data on a separate drive (actually it's a networked drive on a RAID5 array).  The nuke/pave process ALWAYS works and now it only takes me an hour or so to do (and only 15-20 minutes of that is actual work)!

Something gets "wiggy" from an install gone bad and I just nuke/pave and off I go like nothing happened.
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EpF

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #28 on: February 28, 2006, 03:41:04 pm »

My latest news...

AMD have given me an RMA number, though the processor yet has to pass their visual/mechanical test when I send it to them, which will be next week. In the meantime, I decided to buy a new processor, so I've rebuilt my system, and Windows is now installing on it.. Huzzah!

I ran the Mersenne Prime test on the new setup first, for about 2 hours with no problems. I'm using the Gigabyte K8NXP-9 motherboard, and all seems to be well at the moment. The install process is at the format hard-drive stage; something that was impossible before replacing the processor, so it's looking good.

Anyone got any suggestions as to what I should do once I have windows installed, to check or ensure the stability of the system? Obviously I shouldn't install the Active Armor firewall anyway!  ::)

glynor

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #29 on: February 28, 2006, 06:17:48 pm »

Definitely no Active Firewall.  I'd probably just run Memtest 86 on it overnight.  Then, the next day I'd use OCCT and make sure it'll pass the torture test (which should only take about 30 minutes).  Assuming it does, I'd start my installation process (drivers and whatnot), and I'd run Prime95 on it overnight that night.  If it passes all that, you should be absolutely golden.

Generally, once I've tested the hardware, I install XP first (obviously).  Then all my drivers.  Then I like to make an Image of my system drive (as I described earlier).  THEN I run the WindowsUpdates (I do this afterwards because sometimes it's them that messes stuff up).  Then I proceed to install all my usual apps (Office, Firefox, Thunderbird, Filezilla, MC, RealAlternative, etc, etc, etc).  Once I'm all done with the majority of the standard Apps (minus games) I take another system drive image.

Which Gigabyte motherboard did you get exactly?

I only ask because the one I've been complaining about before (above) is the GA-K8NS Ultra-939 (which is their high-end nForce3-based socket 939 board) and is the one that's notorious for the Voltage Regulator problems I'm having.  Apparently, the more midrange-level nForce3 socket 939 board suffers a similar fate (I believe it's called GA-K8NS-939, sans Ultra).

Oh wait... It looks like there is a nForce4 board called exactly what you said.  Nevermind!   ::)
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glynor

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Re: OT: Hardware problem
« Reply #30 on: February 28, 2006, 06:27:00 pm »

I thought I'd mention... I'm ordering my new board tonight.  I'm getting an ASUS A8R32-MVP (which is the brand-spanking-new ATI RD580 based PCI-e board).  I can't wait!!!
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