Precious blog time has been consumed lately by issues with the home computers.
As the NFL season is ramping up along with new seasons of Survivor and The Amazing Race, I thought it would be a good idea to refresh the Media PC. The one that was there was put there in disgust when I couldn’t get the last refresh built out of some Frakenstein components and smallish case that was a little too loud and ran the drives a bit too hot. Makes sense to recombine a few parts that I had been hoarding from “great” deals to refresh it, right?
Well, this became a huge time waster. The new machine was totally silent, a little bit speedier and looked a lot nicer than the old one. Great, eh? Until it would randomly freeze. This was particularly distressing as that was what had forced me to abandon the earlier refresh in frustration. Just like I did about a year ago, I started down the path of replacing components to figure out the problem was. I accepted that the power supply was good as it had been in use for over a year and was a solid brand right in the same Antec case, so no worries about electrical shorts and extremely horrible power supply. By using integrated graphics, the power footprint for the new media center PC should have been very tiny.
I was convinced that components shared with the previous failed media center build out where the culprits – that was limited to the CPU, heat sink and memory.
- Changed out the heat sink. No change.
- Changed out the CPU. No change. Ran PRIME95 for hours.
- The old, failed setup was running better with a newer CPU. Picked up a used, newer CPU. No change. (the PC sat in the corner for a couple days here)
- Ran memtest4 overnight, no issues. (memory checked out)
- Plugged the PC right into a surge protector rather than the UPS. Now getting a “signal lost” freeze when watching TV.
- Changed the tuner out for a different Hauppauge tuner. No change.
- Replaced the power supply with a brand new one. No change.
- Added in a ATI all in wonder 3650. BAM. Blue screen. Reinstalled Windows 7, same issue.
I had to think about this for a while. So, the only repeat part that was still in use from the previous, failed build was the damn ram. Replaced that, no more blue screen. Theory? The integrated graphics were using the RAM that was bad, hiding it from memtest. Tonight I am going to put that ram into a box that isn’t using integrated graphics and test it out.
Lesson learned? Dammit, maybe memtest doesn’t work with new AMD chipsets (as the memtest forums indicated)? Bleh. Too much wasted time.