Hardware Hell and Me

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Hardware Hell and Me

#1

Post by I am nobody » Sat Nov 02, 2019 3:18 pm

Posted about this in the Discord a few times, but now that it's (finally) completely resolved (I think), I need to vent the whole 3 day story.

Spoiler because long.
Spoiler.
So I got a new GPU and two new RAM sticks on Wednesday. The GPU needs a 650W PSU vs the 550W my current one asked for, but I already had 650, so didn't worry about it. It also needed two 8pin connectors instead of one, which meant changing my VGA power cable and is potentially significant in retrospect. I know now, but not at the time, that buying 2 8x2 kits (let alone over a year apart) instead of one 4x8 isn't safe, but that mistake turned out to be fortunate.

Anyway, I get everything plugged in and run some benchmarks and stress tests that give me pretty numbers across the board. Then I go back to playing The Outer Worlds and enjoy an hour of much smoother frames before it freezes for a half second and my computer restarts.

So I immediately assume it's a PSU issue and spend some time reconnecting everything and then verifying that my current wattage should be enough and that everything else I've got plugged in won't change that. I unplug some USB HDDs I'm not using just to drop the power draw a little and pull up another benchmark. Restart. I open it up again, unplug a SATA drive I'm not using, and then run the benchmarks for 20 minutes with no issue. So great, it works! Boot up TOW again, realize I didn't have the settings maxed out and fix that, start the game, and restart within a second of the game loading. Spend a bunch of time checking RAM, drivers, temperatures, CPU, etc, with no issues. Curse the universe and go to bed.

Talk about it with a work friend the next day and we agree that it'd be weird for a PSU or temperature problem to not have an obvious relationship to load or usage and he suggests I reseat everything. I open it again, reconnect every single power cable and redo the GPU seating, then boot up a more demanding benchmark and immediately reset. Given that the GPU has been absurdly quiet other than a slight high pitched noise and I got it open box, I assume it's at fault and put the old one back. Everything seems fine. Yay! I fill out a return form, pack up the box to take to UPS the next day, and go to bed.

I don't have time to go to UPS after work, but did have an hour for TOW, so I start that up and get an hour out of it before, sadly, an abrupt restart. Then it turns out I'm not busy after all and I decide to use my newfound free time to trudge three miles round trip to Microcenter and buy both something to test my PSU and a new one so that I don't have to walk back if, as expected, the old one is bust.

Get back from a surprisingly cold walk and unplug the whole PSU again to test it. The tester says it'll stop beeping once the 24, 8, and 6 pin connections are in if everything is normal. All voltages are normal according to the display, but it doesn't stop beeping. I decide it's probably a weird bug and that it must be a RAM issue after all, so I take out the new stuff and go back to benchmarks. Restart. I do a fancy graphics driver uninstall after that and discover that, even though Windows couldn't see it, there actually were two different drivers installed, so surely that must have been the problem. Install the right ones again, benchmark, restart.

I bite the bullet and open the new PSU, voiding the return. Plug it into the tester and the beeping actually does stop this time. Unplug the old one, put the new one in, turn it on, benchmark, and it's fine! Yay!

This morning I run lots more tests to confirm it's fine and don't have any issues. I eventually put the new GPU back, more tests, still fine. Yay! But my Windows marked half my RAM as hardware reserved and it's running at half speed. No! The usual fixes don't help. I now learn mixing sets even of the same model isn't safe, so I unplug the new stuff and restart. Now I only have half of that RAM, and it's still at half speed. Benchmarks confirm that it's running like absolute trash, at one point achieving the 0th percentile for that model. Swapping the slots each remaining stick is in doesn't change anything.

I put everything back since half of 32 is at least better than half of 8 and notice that BIOS sees all 4 sticks and the intended speed, but halves both figures in the total display anyway. Changing settings manually doesn't help, so I update BIOS, which also doesn't help. I then remove three of the four sticks and restart, which works. I swap the old one that was left for the other old one and restart, to nothing. So one old stick is dead. One old stick + one new stick boots, but crashes when Windows tries to start. Two new sticks and no old ones boots and shows the correct total memory and speed. Problem solved!
tl;dr: PSU that was, in retrospect, showing signs of problems already crapped out when asked to run a more demanding graphics card. Somewhere in the cycle of restarts, it also killed one of my old RAM sticks and caused the other one to run at half speed. My motherboard resolved the conflict of one dead, one half speed, and two fine sticks by refusing to acknowledge anything other than the presence of the dead stick and one of the fine sticks and slowing the other fine stick down to match the half speed one. That configuration apparently looks okay to all the RAM diagnostics I tried.

Also, Windows shows hardware reserved RAM in terms of PB now, which is kinda weird, but I'm going to hope I can ignore that for now.

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Re: Hardware Hell and Me

#2

Post by Apollo the Just » Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:08 pm

Remind me again why I decided to change careers to IT

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Re: Hardware Hell and Me

#3

Post by I am nobody » Sun Nov 03, 2019 7:57 am

This particular problem probably wouldn't have been as bad in a tech desk scenario because there would've been already-purchased backup parts to test with and, worst case, I imagine most companies would recognize that an open-ended amount of employee time spent on a solution that may or may not work very quickly becomes more expensive than just buying a new machine or trying to claim warranty. Most of the reason my experience was so miserable was that I made not spending additional money the priority, which meant a lot of wasted time trying to test the broken old parts in-place.

Speaking of warranty, that PSU was only like 18 months old. I'll have to see if I can claim that.

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Re: Hardware Hell and Me

#4

Post by S1x » Sun Nov 03, 2019 9:43 am

I've been troubleshooting my own desktop for a while now and I really wish I had spare components around just for tests on which of the current parts are at fault.

I'm going to be getting a new GPU soon because I'm somewhat sure it's the source of weird occurrences I've been having in games, but if the problems continue afterwards I'm going to be really frustrated

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Re: Hardware Hell and Me

#5

Post by I am nobody » Sun Jan 05, 2020 8:30 am

Update: The refurbished GPU started throwing Error 43, refusing to install drivers (per the error), and putting green bars everywhere when running above 720p. I'm told this is probably bad VRAM, but fixing that is beyond me and the warranty is up, so I'm selling it. This happened around the 15th.

I got a new one and ran normally for two days before it started failing POST. It showed the expected error message if the VGA power wasn't connected, though, and it worked fine in a friend's computer, so I figured it was the mobo. I'd left everything unplugged for a day while the friend was testing the new card and decided to give it one more shot, with the computer now laying done since I'd had to open it a dozen times in two days, just to be absolutely sure before I go spend another $100+. Lo and behold, it started!

So I figure that I just didn't manage to reset CMOS before and it'll all be fine now, but I also don't want to tempt fate, so I leave everything as is and don't even turn it off until I leave for holiday travel a few days later. Yesterday I finally decide to check and see if the old card was also just a CMOS issue - it wasn't. I decide to try standing the computer back up when I put the new one back in - now backed with a brace in case it was too heavy, and I'm back to failing POST. A reset does nothing, but a reset and laying it back down works! So now it only works laying down, apparently.

This morning I woke up and failed POST again, which was fixed by yet another reset.

So in summary, I now have a computer that seems to only work laying down and that repeatedly needs BIOS resets. It may also be that I can't have external hard drives plugged in when I boot - that'd be weird, but haven't ruled it out. I'm sure this is fine and won't degrade into anything even crazier. Also, Windows is still showing 0.0 PB for hardware reserved RAM, which is really helpful since 100 TB of RAM is a great resolution.

The moral of this story is never buy refurbished GPUs, because they're inhabited by vengeful demons that'll break your PSU and fry everything else in nonsensical ways.

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Re: Hardware Hell and Me

#6

Post by Apollo the Just » Sun Jan 05, 2020 1:41 pm

this saga is viscerally reminding me of all the **** technology demons that appeared to be haunting my computer when i first tried to set it up for streaming. technology is magic and sometimes haunted. i am so sorry for your loss (of time, money, and sanity)

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Re: Hardware Hell and Me

#7

Post by Apollo the Just » Wed Jan 22, 2020 5:34 pm

This is nowhere near on the same tier of frustration or time/money spent, but yesterday I was trying to figure out why a machine I deployed wasn't working properly with the monitor attached to its dock. Wasn't the cable or monitor because I changed both for a known good combination to no avail. So figured it was either the dock or the machine communicating with the dock (we have had issues before, had to set thunderbolt port permissions in BIOS. those were already set here, though. And other peripherals - mouse, keyboard - were working as expected.) The dock had previously worked just fine with another user but had apparently decided to stop working now. So I swapped it out with a brand spanking out of the box new dock, because the nice thing about working in an organization is you have some money for replacements at least (even though we're a nonprofit so most of our **** is honestly old and off warranty still). Still having an issue.

Yesterday was hectic so I don't remember the exact sequence of troubleshooting that got me to the correct conclusion, but turns out one of the docks was failing, and the OTHER dock was working great but had a failing A/C adapter, so I had to swap A/C adapters and that combination of dock + charger worked perfectly.

I hate technology sometimes.

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Re: Hardware Hell and Me

#8

Post by steeze » Thu Jan 23, 2020 10:20 am

I am nobody wrote:
Sun Jan 05, 2020 8:30 am
Update: The refurbished GPU started throwing Error 43, refusing to install drivers (per the error), and putting green bars everywhere when running above 720p. I'm told this is probably bad VRAM, but fixing that is beyond me and the warranty is up, so I'm selling it. This happened around the 15th.

The moral of this story is never buy refurbished GPUs, because they're inhabited by vengeful demons that'll break your PSU and fry everything else in nonsensical ways.
This sounds like my worst nightmare. Reading all of this is difficult. In retrospect, it never hurts to just pop over to the micro center or best buy with some questions. They'll usually give some good advice. Forums on pcpartpicker are good as well. I fixed my mystery computer problem by disabling the sleep function in the computer opting for a manual shut down when I'm done with it. I haven't had a blue screen error since.

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Re: Hardware Hell and Me

#9

Post by I am nobody » Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:21 pm

I've had good experiences with WindowsTenForums for software issues, but with stuff like this there's not much anyone can do beyond checklists unless you're gonna lug the whole setup over to them, unfortunately.

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Re: Hardware Hell and Me

#10

Post by Apollo the Just » Sun Jan 26, 2020 3:31 am

Sad day, everyone. I have a decade-old laptop that I've just recently upgraded the memory on, and literally just bought an SSD to replace its ancient failing HDD. The plan was to boot it up one last time and back up everything important and then do the ole swapparoo.

As the fates would have it, this just happens to be the day this hard drive has officially decided it is Done. It's been a long time coming but it would have been nice if it could just last literally one more boot before crapping out. I'm pretty sure most of the data is still intact (there wasn't anything essential on it, just a lot of nostalgia - it's basically a time capsule); I think it just finally reached a point where essential Windows installation data had become corrupted so it can't boot anymore.

Anyway whoever designed this laptop thought it would be a swell idea to make it so you have to literally remove 15 screws and take off the keyboard and casing to get to the hard drive, so i've spent this evening performing surgery. Luckily my desktop computer had a free extra power + data connection for another SATA drive so i just popped it in there. It recognizes the drive and the folder hierarchy, but took about a thousand years to grant me access permissions. (When I started writing this post I wasn't sure it would go through; I was convinced it had hanged on that step until I stepped away and drank some water and vented here and then came back and tried to click on the folder again and it let me in. Patience is a necessary virtue in this field.)

Currently very tediously copying over everything I know that I want to a safely backed-up location on this computer. Which takes forever because the source hard drive is old and on the verge of kaput. Once that's done I kind of want to clone the hard drive over to the new SSD just to see what happens. I think it'll probably be a broken mess and I'll probably have to just image a new OS but once I have backed up the data it doesn't matter too much so I might as well go for it. My color coded windows 7 sticky notes are essential. :p

Anyway, glad the HDD wasn't too dead to get files from, and also glad that laptop wasn't my only computer or I'd be very sorry right now.

--

EDIT: was able to recover all files. only bothered copying over desktop/documents/downloads/pictures/videos/etc, not app data and such (EXCEPT, of course, sticky notes.) - all safely on my good PC. currently cloning the disk to the replacement SSD, should be done in an hour which means when i wake up bc im going to sleep as it is like 1am. best case scenario i have a perfect replica of my old laptop but at actual functioning speeds, worst case scenario i just reimage and will copy the files back over to it manually. well i guess absolute worst case scenario is the laptop itself is rip but i don't think that is likely because BIOS was behaving just fine, it just had issues booting, which isn't a surprise since the HDD has been throwing a fit for the past like 5 years.

i am so glad i went into the hard drive and backed up all this, because i have a lot of very important things on it, such as a poorly recorded video of me playing Tomodachi Life and giving my Brock mii a frying pan.

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Re: Hardware Hell and Me

#11

Post by I am nobody » Sun Jan 26, 2020 6:37 am

Apollo the Just wrote:
Sun Jan 26, 2020 3:31 am
and giving my Brock mii a frying pan.
Woah, I think you mean
Image

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Re: Hardware Hell and Me

#12

Post by smol Kat » Sun Jan 26, 2020 10:05 am

Turn that drying pan

INTO A SCRYING PAN


... I'll see myself out. AJ, I'm glad you were able to recover everything. Last time I had a hard drive crap out on me I lost everything.
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Re: Hardware Hell and Me

#13

Post by Apollo the Just » Sun Jan 26, 2020 12:59 pm

GOOD NEWS EVERYONE!!! I cloned the HDD onto the new SSD and decided to just yolo and plugged it into my laptop this morning and re-assembled it. That sucker BOOTED. Turns out what had actually happened is I think last time I shut down this laptop it crapped itself trying to update during shutdown so with the new drive it had to reboot a couple times and finish the update but then it was able to log in. I mean it is not the fastest computer ever but IT IS ACTUALLY USABLE and moreover i get to keep the vintage windows 7 aesthetic. And this music composition software I used in college that I got a student license for which if I ever lose I'll have to actually buy it. :p

[I had tried using backup/restore on the old hard drive but it literally couldn't get through the menus to try, I was really pushing the end of usability on that old boy lol]

anyway! hooray!!! this laptop is now an actually usable time capsule instead of one that takes 20 minutes to boot and another 10 to access anything. i'll keep the old hard drive out of sheer paranoia though because im just Like That.

(side note: when i came to log onto VGF, it remembered 2 different passwords for "CuccoLady" from 2011 and 2014. **** like this is why I wanted to just clone the drive rather than replacing. I have a computer for modern use; this is pretty much just for nostalgic purposes.)

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Re: Hardware Hell and Me

#14

Post by Deepfake » Thu Feb 20, 2020 9:06 am

RE: Ian's original post.

FWIW, power supplies are almost never going to fully output what they're rated at, especially as they age. Try to buy in excess of what you'll need by a few hundred watts.
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