Getting on with the times



  •  Inspired by the recent hardware WTFs featured on the site I'd like to share my own story from back in the day. This was about a decade ago when I had just dumped my aging P75 for a brand new 1.4 AMD. Keep this in mind, it will come in handy later. Now I should point out that at the time I was a complete novice on hardware issues and as such I relied completely on tech staff to build and if necessary troubleshoot my PC. Which explains some of the ensuing WTFakery (if that's a word).

     My brand new machine started freezing as soon as I did anything intesive like playing a game and so I took it back to the shop. A couple of days passed and they called me to pick it up. On arrival they told me that the AGP card which was set at 4x was too fast for the system. They had switched it to 2x and the PC seemed fine. So I took the PC home, started a game and a minute later it was stuck once again.

    I took the PC back and this time the diagnosis was that the DDR memory was too fast for the system. Apparently we needed to switch back to SDRAM. So we downgraded the motherboard and switched the memory. I carried the PC back home and found it had the exact same problem. Again I took the PC back.

    This time I was told that windows (95) had problems running on FAT32. This didn't fly. I might have been a novice with hardware, but I'd been running Windows for a while, not mention having performed a few installations of my own. I'd also been trying to troubleshoot the matter myself because it was becoming painfully obvious that we were getting nowhere. The only thing I could find was that the PSU was getting awfully hot. I informed them of this but it must not have registered. 

    In true tech support fashion the next step was to blame windows. Regardless of the fact that this particular copy had run perfectly on other PCs. So I agreed to let them install a new copy while I stuck around and watched. They set up the PC with the side panel open and started the installation. I noticed that coincidentally the AC was blowing right into the PC (anyone see a pattern yet?). On a hunch I told them to close the side panel because that's the way I used it at home. The techs humoured me probably thinking what an idiot I am thinking a panel has something to do with how the PC runs.  10 minutes into the installation and to my extreme satisfaction the PC froze. At which point we all finally agreed that the problem had nothing to do with all the "solutions" or the software.

    At this point we finally found the problem. They had installed a 1.4 AMD CPU, a chip you can literally fry eggs on with the kind of small CPU fan they used until then on old Pentium models. So when you strained the CPU, the system hanged and the inside of the case got very hot, resulting in the hot PSU I had noticed. Aparrently when it came to CPU heat output the trained professionals knew as much as me. Not only that but apparently they were doing this on all the AMD models they were selling. Who knows how many people ended up with a defective setup because of them. 

    It doesn't end here though. When I asked for an appropriate fan I was told that they didn't have any(!). And we're talking about the largest computer store chain in this country. I actually had to go find my own CPU fan at a modding shop. After I had them install it, the system finally worked albeit on inferior SDRAM. In the decade that has since passed, I never bought a PC from that particular chain again. I guess I tend to hold grudges.

    Coincidentally that PC didn't survive long. A disaster (you would know it as airport luggage handling) resulted in me getting a new one with the same specs (but DDR this time). Two CPU fans and a watercooling system later that particular PC survives to this day.

     



  • The RWTF is that AMD had no heat protection.

    My AMD XP 1.6 CPU was once happily melting the stopped fans on it's heatsink, and although it reached 120 C, no problem occured in Windows - no "freeze" or anything.



  •  In my experience, heat has been the #1 cause of lockups since the pentium 2.



  • @merreborn said:

     In my experience, heat has been the #1 cause of lockups since the pentium 2.

    I'd have to agree with that,  but also would state that some people use inadequate power supply also. Especially when you have all those high-powered video cards and other stuff in your system. Back in the day, we had around 250 - 300 watt power supplies. Things would crank like crazy, and the power supply would actually put out more heat itself. Good cooling on the case, processor, and power supply are a must.



  • @merreborn said:

     In my experience, heat has been the #1 cause of lockups since the pentium 2.

    In my experience, it's been bad RAM. More specifically, RAM that operates acceptably for average users' tasks, but when the computer is given a heavy load and needs most/all of its physical RAM, crashes are frequent, and are almost always fixed by installing RAM obtained from one of the few reputable memory vendors.

    Have any studies been done where consumer grade PCs were purchased from leading vendors and memtest86 or the equivalent was run on them? I suspect the results would be dismaying.



  • @VGR said:

    In my experience, it's been bad RAM. More specifically, RAM that operates acceptably for average users' tasks, but when the computer is given a heavy load and needs most/all of its physical RAM, crashes are frequent, and are almost always fixed by installing RAM obtained from one of the few reputable memory vendors.

    Have any studies been done where consumer grade PCs were purchased from leading vendors and memtest86 or the equivalent was run on them? I suspect the results would be dismaying.

     Ran into many cases of disfunctioning RAM, I'm glad to say they weren't in my computer. We've had RAM chips replaced a lot in some desktop computers, good thing we buy the extra warranty. And there is an overabundance of generic RAM out there, but save your money and buy the good stuff, it will pay off later. If you have any extra money when buying a computer, some good extra ram should be where it goes.

     



  • All these stories of Hardware WTF are making me remember my days years ago at a certain rather large residential treatment center. One such incident as we'll call it involved me getting a call at home on my day off.  The issue was at one of the dorm buildings.  I was vaguely told over the phone that one building had sufffered water damage and some systems were among the deceased.  Apparently what had happened was that sometime in the early eavening the prior night some pipes (god knows how this happened) on the third floor had apparently broken.  doesn't sound too bad so far right.  Well the thing is they let it continue to pour until it got into the fire walls and set off the fire circuit.  now what gets me is the lack of calling maintenance when it happened.  whats even worse is that they had apparently in the night started putting out buckets on the first floor dining room to catch drips.  well a sensible person would have shut the water to the building off.  NOT these people though.  unfortunately the server room on the second floor was located right underneath the the spot where the pipes broke.   Maintenance only found out after the fire department showed up!  I'll let your imagination figure out how this one ended



  • @galgorah said:

    I'll let your imagination figure out how this one ended
     

    They decided to just make it into an indoor pool and charge admission?



  •  TRWTF is that you didn't build it yourself, that you didn't make them put your DDR back, and that you are using a watercooling system.



  • I need to start saving up for a Core 2 Duo to replace the Pentium D in mine. The D gets really hot. There is a total of 4 fans in my computer (PS, CPU, PCI next to GPU & Case) to vent out all of the heat. It's really loud.



  • @Arenzael said:

    and that you are using a watercooling system.

    I agree. Every time I hear someone say they are using water cooling I think "What a retard".

    It is that "Let's do anything that appears in a magazine" mentality.



  • @MasterPlanSoftware said:

    @Arenzael said:
    and that you are using a watercooling system.

    I agree. Every time I hear someone say they are using water cooling I think "What a retard".

    It is that "Let's do anything that appears in a magazine" mentality.

     

    Coincidentally that's exactly what I think of people commenting on hardware choices without having the faintest idea of what the system is for.  Needless to say the 1.4 is no longer my main PC. It has been reassigned to downloading (read torrents) duty. As such it runs 24/7. It is also situated about a meter from my bed, which makes the noise an issue.

    Regardless of what people think water cooling is not just a toy for rich kids to overclock their systems with. You can also use it to eliminate noise. Zalman has several fanless, quiet water-cooling systems. And when I say quiet I mean quiet. You have to put your ear to the tank to detect a vague humm.  On a low end PC like this you can put both the VGA card and the CPU on it and end up with a PC running on a single fan (PSU). Needless to say at this point the AC in the room makes more noise than the PC...



  • @DOA said:

    You can also use it to eliminate noise.
     

    A properly ducted and built PC with high quality fans can be very quiet as well.

    I have seen WAY too many water cooled systems fried due to lack of maintenance or poor building. You are introducing too many extra risks into a system which could be cooled safely otherwise.

    To each his own of course, but I have never seen a practical home use of PC water cooling.



  • @MasterPlanSoftware said:

    @galgorah said:

    I'll let your imagination figure out how this one ended
     

    They decided to just make it into an indoor pool and charge admission?

    Too many liabilities. (sp?) These kids are not even allowed to wear shoes!  The place is a dumping ground for kids that the department so social services and the department of youth services (these kids come in in handcuffs) can't handle/Screwed up with don't know what to do with.  For most of them it's a last chance.  Both victims and perps are there.  All in all though the place has a really good track record of turning lives around.

     



  • @galgorah said:

    These kids are not even allowed to wear shoes!  The place is a dumping ground for kids that the department so social services and the department of youth services (these kids come in in handcuffs) can't handle/Screwed up with don't know what to do with.  For most of them it's a last chance.  Both victims and perps are there.  All in all though the place has a really good track record of turning lives around.

     

    Wait... What?



  • sounds like a halfway house or something



  •  @MasterPlanSoftware said:

    @galgorah said:

    I'll let your imagination figure out how this one ended
     

    They decided to just make it into an indoor pool and charge admission?

     What are you? Nuts? That server room wasn't just there for giggles! I mean, these kids aren't even allowed to wear shoes!



  • @superjer said:

     What are you? Nuts? That server room wasn't just there for giggles! I mean, these kids aren't even allowed to wear shoes!
     

    Yeah I needed to sit down after reading that... Thought I might fall into the vast confusion wormhole that opened in front of me...



  • @DOA said:

    water cooling is not just a toy for rich kids to overclock their systems with.
     

    Water cooling's lame - shouldn't you be using argon or something? </sarcasm>

    My most recent experience of random freezes turned out to be the "bad capacitor" problem on my machine (and several others) at work.  We opened up about a dozen PCs (well known brand) and all the capacitors were oozing goo.  Got the boards replaced and we haven't had any problems since.



  • @pitchingchris said:

    Ran into many cases of disfunctioning RAM, I'm glad to say they weren't in my computer. We've had RAM chips replaced a lot in some desktop computers, good thing we buy the extra warranty. And there is an overabundance of generic RAM out there, but save your money and buy the good stuff, it will pay off later. If you have any extra money when buying a computer, some good extra ram should be where it goes.

     

    I've had two sticks of Crucial DDRAM (Micron brand) that went sour. First of them developped one bad bit. Unfortunately, that physical address was very likely to be used in kernel non-paged pool and corrupted critical kernel structure, which I found debugging a crash. Memory test confirmed that.

    Another had bad series of bits in certain address area. Memory test also found it, after I suffered a few bluscreens. I was able to use it for a while before I bought a replacement. Edited BOOT.INI to limit amount of memory used, to exclude bad area.

     



  • @upsidedowncreature said:

    What if the hokey cokey really IS what it's all about?
    Is that like the hokey pokey with cocaine?



  • @belgariontheking said:

    Is that like the hokey pokey with cocaine?

     

    Yeah, you have to dance it REALLY fast for hours at a time.



  • @MasterPlanSoftware said:

    @galgorah said:

    These kids are not even allowed to wear shoes!  The place is a dumping ground for kids that the department so social services and the department of youth services (these kids come in in handcuffs) can't handle/Screwed up with don't know what to do with.  For most of them it's a last chance.  Both victims and perps are there.  All in all though the place has a really good track record of turning lives around.

     

    Wait... What?

    ya could be used as a weapon


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