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Not Considering a Mac - Yet

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#26 rboe

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 04:04 PM

Why is it that every other machine you build you have to relearn everything because so much changes. And yet so little changes (case in point; your Seagate drive being a pisser).

Never considered RAID as a way to get more IDE channels. Cool!

Arctic Silver is dah bomb!

I will have a hard time replacing this old horse in 2004. I may (summon the gods) opt for a dual G5 come 2005 unless AMD comes out with some fantastic I/O chips.

#27 Rusty

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 09:53 PM

Alex, sometimes the RAID drivers can be a PITA, especially on a fresh OS install. For future reference, it's best to copy the RAID drivers to a floppy (the mobo driver disk probably has a routine to make the driver diskette). For reasons known only to Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, Windoze can't cope with RAID drivers on a CD....

As far as the Seagate drive's refusing to be a slave, try setting both the optical and Seagate to Cable Select, and use the cable connectors to make the choice. BTW, I generally set the HDD to Master when paired with an optical drive.

RDRAM can be a bear to seat properly - on Abit boards, I recommended they come with a small hydraulic press...I now seat the RAM while the mobo sits on the antistatic plasic on a solid surface.

DFI mobos aren't known for stellar documentation - Abit, Soyo and Giagbyte are probably the best, Asus and Epox aren't too bad. But Real Men don't read instructions anyway...

Everything will run faster, not just becuse of the CPU clock speed, but because the 1800+ has an FSB of 266 MHz(133x2) and the 3200+ is at 400 (200x2). The memory controller on a nForce2 board is also far quicker than the previous mobo, which probably had VIA core logic.

#28 summitlake

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 12:21 AM

Affirmative on all counts, Rusty. The RAID drivers that worked came on the undocumented, unexplained floppy.

I DID seat the RAM while the mobo was still sitting on the antistat plastic, and the keepers popped in by themselves too. I always have trouble with the AGP card, on least 1 or 2 prior mobos as well; that is my prime suspect. So I yanked this one and re-seated it again. Sometimes they look great and perhaps still don't seat right.

Optical drive slave or master? I've found I can always get a boot CD to boot on a master, but not always on a slave -- is that outmoded W98 days lore, or was it always just a superstition?

I was getting sporadic freezes but suspect a conflict between drivers for trackball and new XMas optical wirless mouse. The old XP is about a year old. I still think a year to year and a half is more than enough for a Win or Mac system and then it's time for a clean sweep -- comments?

Yeah Ron, 4 IDE channels (4 master 4 slave drives) with RAID. With today's big drives and the movers breaking 2 optical drives, I am down to 2 main HD's (60GB C drive + 120GB data drive) and one optical, but I keep a dummy DataPort channel wired for swaps and backups. SuSE Linux will probably go into an extra DataPort one of these days.

Oh, CSEL - I never got this setting working because I never understood how it was supposed to work. Set both drives to cable select and let the cable sort out who's primary and who's secondary?

#29 summitlake

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 01:32 PM

The CSEL idea worked. On the RAID channel, yet! Thanks!

Still getting freezes. Clean OS install time. My theory: when there's a complete mobo and chip changes, a clean install is warranted. All the old Soyo dll's are still floating around, no telling what else. I have a ton of apps, upgrades, uninstalls and reinstalls, and the registration should be getting pretty bloated about now anyway!

Comments on this theory (or anything else) always welcome -- at least, when complete, I won't be able to whine about an old OS installation!

#30 rboe

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 05:24 PM

Still getting freezes after a clean install. Hmmm, have you tried a longer wait time for memory access? There is a different term - latency I think.

When you look at how small the structures are inside the silcone, the critical timings, EM interference - it's a minor miracle things work at all. Good luck!

#31 summitlake

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 10:20 PM

Something's rotten in Denmark, that's for sure. When I made my last post before this one, I was saying "it will be time for a clean install now". But now I've done that, done all my updates, run CHKDSK etc and it still freezes randomly, mainly on file I/O but that doesn;t narrow it down much.

If I don't solve this one quickly I would rather just buy a new mobo (Rusty - how would you go with an AMD 3000+ if you ruled DFI out?) -- could take a month to chase this down and meanwhile my data is at serious risk. If I didn't have full fresh backups I'd be crying the Backup Blues, that's for sure!

#32 summitlake

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 10:22 PM

I will look into the latency thing. My memory is PC3200, 5 nanosecond. I've spent a lot of time in the BIOS but will look for this again. Thanks Ron!

#33 rboe

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 10:28 PM

Go into Admin Tools and check out the event viewer. Maybe the OS had time to record the offending event.

You didn't buy your memory at Fry's did you? That would be a red flag too.

#34 Rusty

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Posted 28 December 2003 - 11:33 PM

Alex, I suspect you have some dangling .dlls or orphan registry entries. Go to www.iolo.com and download the SYstem Mechanic trial, then go to System and run the Clean System Registry routine - I've never found better nor safer. The DFI's a good mobo - I'm away from AMD for the moment because they're messing with three different pin configurations.

Another possibility is heat - the 3000+ and 3200+ CPU's run hot, and even though the HSF removes it, that heat has to get out of the case. I tend to be a fan-fetishist, and rarely ship a box with less than 2 intake and 2 exhaust fans, in addition to the P/S fans. My cheapo case-of-the-month is an Enermax, and I fit those with a 120mm intake fan, 2 80mm exhaust fans in the rear, one 80mm on top, and a fifth (reversed for intake) on the side panel. My fave case-of-the-year is the Lian-Li PC-60USB (at about $110 sans P/S) - it comes with five fans, removable mobo tray, and it's been my upscale piece for well over a year

But were I to use AMD this week, I'd go with the Epox 8RDA3+ (no RAID), the ASUS A7N8X (no RAID), or for a few extra bux (worth it IMHO), the Gigabyte GA-7N400 Pro2 (SATA RAID, no IDE RAID, but 4 IDE ports for 8 drives), but from my forays through the geek catacombs, the DFI mobo is well above average. Certainly no stability problems have been reported at stock speed.

Heed rboe's mention of RAM - I use only Corsair for the hotter installations, and Crucial when budget constraints rears its ugly head. Make sure the RAM is in the correct slots (DFI's a little different than most). :smashpc:

#35 summitlake

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Posted 29 December 2003 - 11:30 PM

He's back -- he was back before, but no trace (crash). Thanks for all the input guys. I will be busy checking it all out (and a couple of items I noted today) -- let's post this now though in case problem is not gone!

#36 summitlake

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 12:19 AM

Problem is not gone but Ihave plenty to reseaqrch. GOSH i haqte typing on laptop kbds!

#37 Rusty

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 01:31 AM

Alex, eye no the feeling about patlop kyebroads.

Before a complete reinstall, try going to the Device Manager and deleting all under System Devices, then reboot. This won't get rid of errant .dlls and registry entries, but it will nullify them, as XP autodetects the new mobo. Bill Gates and I aren't on speaking terms, but this does work most of the time.

#38 rboe

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 10:03 AM

Rusty; That is one cool tip! Thanks for sharing.

The biggest issue I have with my laptop, with the scratch and sniff pad under my thumbs the curser will get placed somewhere else if I pause too long during typing. It ain't no Selectronic keyboard, but it ain't too bad either.

#39 summitlake

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 07:45 PM

Still working on it.BIOS current. RAM reset for dual channel. New video card on order - old Matrox G550 was made before they had agp 8x. Downloading drivers galore. Next stop dll site Rusty suggested -- thanks!

#40 summitlake

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 10:59 PM

System Mechanic is doing its thing. I like this utility. Had to boot into safe mode to run this app. Is it too late? We'll see!

#41 Rusty

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 11:58 PM

Nope, but it sounds like you have too many dangling .dlls, or perhaps, some archaic drivers. Neither is easy to rid yourself of without a clean reinstall - I wrote a little routine for W98, but never got around to it for XP.

If System Mechanic has to be run in safe mode, that's a sign that repair isn't a worthwhile option.

This issue, BTW, shouldn't require reformatting, but that may be the quickest way. Hopefully you have already partitioned the HDD into more than one logical drive, in which case you can copy the C: drive to another partition, then format, reinstall, then copy the vital stuff back onto C:.

Bottom line is that sometimes, reformatting the drive and doing a complete clean install just beats trying to manually exorcise the garbage.

But don't listen to me - I just installed a 200Gb drive (for movies) into my own PC#3, and XP sees it as 130 Gb...no idea why, as the BIOS detected it perfectly. More fun to come as I bugswat that issue... :smashpc:

#42 summitlake

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Posted 01 January 2004 - 12:54 AM

Install was a clean install with the DFI board installation. I kept having conflicts with the Matrox G550 video card, which was 32MB and made before the AGP 8X standard anyway. I replaced it with a new PNY-280 64MB which I like better. I still got one freeze (right here in Cloudy Nights) but overall I think this was a step in the right direction.

I have another theory, something to eliminate. The 3000+ chip may have been damaged -- it was tossed loose into the shipping carton with a few uninflated air cell packing bags, to rattle around with the bigger cartons. I did not order the retail box since I had the Vantec cooler. There was only a thin plastic clamshell around the CPU itself. One pin was bent. Heat is still low 30's. Mechanical stress? Hard to say.

System mechanic finished last night. I think everything is as clean as a whistle. Event log shows no new hard errors since PNY installed, even with the one freeze (bad, but an improvement). I'm on laptop now. May try one or both of following, since I'm desparate and willing to buy now and figure out what parts are defective to return later.

1) Another clean install - poor XP has never been so battered as this install, in a way you have to give it credit for working at all.

2) Substitution tests. Go to Fry's Saturday, and just buy a new mobo and chip. I can always use the mobo if the DFI is not bad. If the current chip is bad, I can fight to return it to the Outpost.com web outlet. They are pretty good. If the current chip is not bad and neither of these solves the problem (what in gosh else is left)-- real men don't flinch at ending up with twice as pany parts on hand as needed -- do they?

#43 Rusty

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Posted 01 January 2004 - 01:04 AM

OK, for all you Windoze fans, all both of you - the reason the 200Gb drive was seen by WinXP is that I tried the usual formatting by use of the WinXP CD. However, the original WinXP doeen't recognize drives over 137 Gb, so I downloaded the drive mfr's (Maxtor) utilities to bring it to life.

Of course, it wouldn't run under XP, so I had to download the boot CD proggy (53 Mb vs. 3.4 Mb).

Bill Gates, here's a new year kiss for you: :smash:

#44 summitlake

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Posted 01 January 2004 - 01:05 AM

More (but not much more, we've probably had about all we can take of this):

The trouble with XP is, once you register it to a machine, your old backups are de-registered. Maybe I should just mess with W2K until I'm sure we're stable.

Thanks to you and Ron for all your help, support and suggestions throughout this -- the install from heck -- and a very happy and prosperous New Year to us all, two chickens in every pot, two cars in every garage, and binoviewers for every CN member!

#45 Rusty

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Posted 01 January 2004 - 01:14 AM

Alex, it's doubtful either the mobo or the CPU were damaged - I've had a few bent pins to contend with, but none evolved into DOA. I still think the problem may be case heat - try things with the case cover removed. The thermocouple for the AMD chip resides under the CPU (as opposed to Intel, where it's embedded in the CPU itself). On most mobos, it has to be bent upwards slightly to make contact with the bottom of the CPU card (I always put some thermal grease on it)

Most of the components (with the exception of drives) can handle significant abuse in shipping.

#46 summitlake

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Posted 01 January 2004 - 01:29 AM

Hmmm - for the most part I have been operating with the case sides off. I wish you could see the case; I think a penguin would catch his death of cold in there. Under the CPU, harder to say, but we do have a thin coat of AS 5 on the top. CPU temp typically is 34C or so.

Right now I am trying to make this crash in CN, so you know it won't. If I had to make a generalization it would be that most often I am in IE6 when it happens, but that's voodoo unscientific.

#47 summitlake

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Posted 01 January 2004 - 01:32 AM

Right now it is 28.5 to 29.0 - the Winbond Hardware Doctor that DFI supplies is cool.

C'mon, CRASH, darn you!

#48 summitlake

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Posted 01 January 2004 - 01:55 AM

My wish came true, eliminating the wireless keyboard since I was using a standard serial KB and mouse at the time. We're back on the laptop. Think I will try a clean Win2000 install on a different drive, since that won't de-register the WXP install until I want to do that.

(Reading back to see what I wrote that stuck and what I wrote that was part of an evaporative crash) ...

would you suggest removing the cooler to put some AS5 grease on the underside of the CPU chip -- that little greenish metallic rectangle in the center of the underside is the thermocouple?

Happy new year :-)




#49 rboe

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Posted 01 January 2004 - 11:41 AM

We've had some mysterous sudden blue screens at work related to a NEC-1400 driver. Try to print while in IE6 and boom! Instant reboot. You may want to try a different browser for a change (linux has a few good ones - hint hint!).

In fact, you can get an inexpensive Linux distro to see if the machine will bomb then. That would point you to a hardware or software issue pretty fast.

And I would swap memory (corsair, crucial or kingston) out before a cpu.

#50 Rusty

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Posted 01 January 2004 - 11:10 PM

Alex, I usually make sure the thermocouple is bent up enough to make contact with the AMD CPU card. Based on your temps, you have good contact, so I wouldn't bother removing the CPU.

What kind of crashes are you getting? - crash to desktop is one thing, freezes are another, and the BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) is yet another.

I have a suspicion that the video drivers may be the culprit - what card are you running, and what drivers? Also, I presume you've run all the XP updates from the MS site...

BTW, the issue with the HDD was a "duh-oh" - XP SP1 recognizes drives over 137Gb - but I used the XP disk to format, and it's older, without SP1 - so I had to go to the Maxtor site and download its fixes, then (I'm SO-o-o-o embarrassed) I had to read the instructions..... :o


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