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Nightmare

By angelsix ·
My Athlon CPU died -- probably overheated due to a fan problem. Took it to Comp*** & pd. $120 flat fee; they said motherboard (Abit KD7) & CPU needed replacement. Bought a new Abit KV7 motherboard & Athlon. Comp*** eventually kept my money and returned my computer to me as "unrepairable".
Took it to another tech, who confirmed the old CPU was blown. Almost got it running with the old motherboard (& new CPU), except for intermittent unrequested re-boots. Tried a new 400w power supply -- no fix. So, he started again w/ the new MB. Found it wouldn't post, so I sent it back and got another one. (Will never know whether it was defunct from the start, or Comp*** fried it.) My new tech. said the data on both hard drives was corrupted. Reformatted, and was installing MS XP on Drive 1 -- found it would hang, which was solved by disconnecting Drive 2. Then, just when he thought he had the OS installed on Drive 1, it failed (Clunk, clunk sound.) At this point, the tech. thinks maybe I had a power surge that fried multiple components, except that (a) my old power supply still works and tests fine, and (b) I have my computer plugged into a UPS, so no power surge should have gone through. So now I've bought a new motherboard, CPU, power supply and 2 hard drives. At this point, my computer has been out of service for about 6 weeks.
Any expressions of sympathy are welcome. Theories to help me explain this nightmare to myself also welcome -- especially if there's something I can do to avoid this happening again.
Thanks.

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by TheChas In reply to Nightmare

Yes, you have my sympathies.

Now for a few theories.

A UPS does NOT necessarily stop power surges from getting to your computer.
For most UPS systems, you run off your AC line until a power event occurs that drops the line voltage below a specific limit. Then, the UPS switches from the AC line to the battery operated AC source from the UPS.

There are UPS systems that include surge protection and line conditioners.
Unless the manual for your UPS states that it has surge protection or line conditioning, a power surge can still get to your PC.

More likely though, if there was a surge, it came in through the modem or network line.
Since both cards connect directly to the PCI bus, and the motherboard power supplies, any surge on the lines can make it's way to critical components on the motherboard and cause the kind of failure you have had.

Another possible explanation is that your old power supply had an "event" where the 5 volt supply jumped high for an instant.

Chas

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by angelsix In reply to

Thanks for the sympathy & the theories. I do, supposedly, have surge protection for power & the phone (DSL) line through the UPS. I like your suggestion about a line conditioner. The power supply "event" theory also makes sense, perhaps as a cascade respose to whatever happened when the old cpu fried, since perhaps the power supply was running at near max.

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by dmiles In reply to Nightmare

My sympathies you have for this disaster

Learn from your mistakes by doing more research to find components that are compatible,before purchasing and assembling the parts togeather.

A very expensive pill to swallow,yet accept the expierence that ignoring the warning signals from the fan ,donot take for granted that **** just happens,a vital part you played was possibly being impatient and trusting the computer store to solve your problems,again the warning signs were their and you should have headed this when they could not diagnose the problem before,they have a certain amount of time to spend on a individual machine and less concern when it is determined that they cannot generate a profit.

Donot sit around moping,you will have to suck it up and get another system up and running

Patience is a virtue
Good Luck

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by angelsix In reply to

I do appreciate the sympathy. But, although there's no way to know, I just don't think the problem was caused by my system being a mongrel. In fact, I'd done lots of research before putting my system together. You're correct that the problem precipitated by my ignoring odd fan noise for a little while, but I already knew that. I'd also figured out the the big corp. store decided to **** me off when they'd spent as much time as they felt like. I don't like the Tech Republic's ratings as "acceptable" or "unacceptable" -- it seems sort of harsh. So, I'm focusing on the "Didn't help me" part. I did spend some time moping, but it didn't delay anything -- I moped in between waiting for the various status reports from the people working on my computer. I'm new to Tech Republic, and hope I'm not violating the culture by dividing the points among those whose feedback helped me personally.

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by Black Panther In reply to Nightmare

Yes understand your frustration.

Unless you know what you are doing ( even then you can still have heaps of trouble ) you are better off buying a "brand" name computer instead of trying to piece together a "clone". How on earth can all the different brands and makes of each of the components be tested to work with each other by anyone!

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by angelsix In reply to

I do appreciate the sympathy. But, although there's no way to know, I just don't think the problem was caused by my system being a mongrel. If problems like this were unknown among brand name computers, they'd all give lifetime guarantees.

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by RCOM In reply to Nightmare

First there's no such thing as a computer that's unrepairable. CompUSA should refund your money. You should have went to the manager and above to seek repayment or replacement. If you would have fought this they at least would have refunded part of your money. I hate to say it but IMO you've been too passive with this.

Next I would say that if your tech put a new CPU on the original MB it probably got fried just like the first one.

I also find it a bit hard to believe that both hard drives had corrupt data. What does that mean? That's when you should have found another tech.

You didn't mention the memory that may have been the problem with the system not being able to POST. Did he replace the RAM for the new board?

Anyway you mentioned this was a expensive lesson.

You just had a bit of bad luck and should ignore most of it and move on. Spend the extra bucks you should of on a good cooling fan and get an INTEL CPU. This is exactly the reason I don't fool around with AMD period. That's not to say one or the other is better its just that INTEL CPUs will not fry so fast and the fans that come with them have never stopped on me yet.

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by angelsix In reply to

Although there are probably some laptops that are unrepairable, because the specially designed parts are no longer available, I appreciate your comment that there are no non-repairable desktop computers. I think you're also right -- I should mention CompUSA by name, since they screwed this up. No point in being dainty about it. It was really maddening to have them make this absurd statement repeatedly, directly. One approach might have been to have a sufficient tantrum that they would have given me my money back right then, but that's not my style. In going after them, my next step will be a certified letter, beginning "I am typing this letter with the computer you said was unrepairable." It is premature to assume they're going to get off lightly.

My tech tried my old motherboard w/ an old 133mhz bus Duron he had, before applying the BIOS upgrade to speed up the bus to take a 333mhz XP. So, no, he didn't fry my new CPU. It's working fine.

The story of two drives is a little more complex. My old 2nd drive was weird -- 2nd tech. concluded some minor damage to the internal controller ("minor" in the sense that it wasn't just totally dead). As mentioned, it was interfering w/ the system during reinstall. Some files could be accessed, but could not write to it and files became increasingly unavailable. Fortunately, there was nothing I needed on the 2nd drive, since I used it solely for backups.

My old drive #1 was working fine. My 2nd tech made a full Ghost backup of it, just to be careful, for which I'm grateful. I think it was just more serial bad luck that it then physically broke (clunk, clunk) before he could get the system back to me. Or, maybe it was good luck. If he'd reinstalled the OS on my old drive #1 & given it back to me as a working system, he'd probably have erased his Ghost backup and then when my drive #1 crashed I'd have lost everything because my backups were on drive #2.

As to the RAM, yes, it was replaced and it's the RAM that is now working fine. (Extraneous details: while the computer was at CompUSA & I was told it needed a new CPU & MB, I got the KV7 & an XP 3200, to use the 'new' 400 mhz bus. So, I got 512 mb. of 400mhz DRAM. When tech #2 was trying to get the KD7 to work, I got an Athlon 2700 instead since the KD7 couldn't take the Athlon 3200. So, when tech #2 moved on to the KV7, it was too late to get a refund on the Athlon 2700 so I'm only using 333 mhz bus speed. I thought "OK, I'll end up w/ 1gb of RAM, using my old 512 mb 333mhz stick and new 512mb 400 mhz stick." Tech #2 found that either stick would work, but they wouldn't work together. So, I've sold my old 333mhz stick.)

You also mentioned the problem w/ AMD. It was the AMD fan that failed, despite the 3 year warranty. At best, I'd get a new, old processor from them. If I get time, I may submit the claim, and sell whatever processor they send me. I had a problem before with the AMD, which turned out to be incompatible w/ one family of video cards (a fact they'd failed to mention). I stayed w/ the AMD originally in the hope it'd be compatible enought that I'd not have to reinstall all my software & peripherals. That didn't work out, obviously, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Next time I'll take your suggestion and go with Intel.

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by jkaras In reply to Nightmare

I feel your pain. My current pc is an ABIT KD-7 with an AMD ATHLON XP 2600 processor. This was my first pc build. My pc wouldnt post at first and suspected a bad new 550w Antec power supply. The reason was I didnt correctly torque the motherboard down to the case. What had happened was it was grounding in certain places causing me grief due to over tightening. I got lucky after a couple of days, getting help from local guru friends and pc shops. I found the answer myself but only because my questioning from my betters that I was on the right track. I learned more from that experience than the two years in school studing for my degree. Abit is a good processor but suffers from heat problems. Do yourself a favor and invest in a really good processor fan with Artic silver, replace stock exhaust fans with higher rpm ones. You got a run of bad luck with some bunk parts, were they oem or retail? I would if I were you use a power supply over 430w especially if you are running multiple hdd. The specs claim that the KD-7 can run fine on 350w but I have tried previously with stability problems. Install motherboard monitor5 to gauge your heat issues while running, its free and works well. ONce you fry the processor the mobo usually isnt far behind. Did you when not posting reset the cmos jumper? If not no go baby!! Hopefully next time you will post here prior to pc shops.

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by angelsix In reply to

Thanks for the sympathy & the suggestions.

I have now boosted the processor fan & sink for my new CPU (a cool looking Zalman something-or-other, so feel pretty confident about that. The breakdown occurred when I heard an odd fan noise and thought "I'd better check into that sometime" instead of "I'm shutting it down immediately until I replace that fan!" It was late, I was tired ... oh well.

I like your suggestion re Motherboard Monitor5. Had a bit of trouble finding it -- apparently it is most often called "Motherboard Monitor 5" but it is shown both ways. Found a reliable download at:
http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file_description/0,fid,7309,00.asp

I have no idea whether the techs at Comp*** remembered to re-set the cmos. My 2nd tech theorized they'd failed to do that, because he was able to get the system up & running w/ the KD7 (except for those pesky occasional reboots).

Interesting point about the power supply My old one was 350W which, as you said, is supposed to be sufficient. My new one is 400W. Interestingly, my 2nd tech felt the re-boots w/ the KD7 were reduced. Maybe if I'd gone to an even bigger one, that would've solved it but I'll never know. I work with the 2nd tech, and am very comfortable that he did a good job. I also believe that computers are so complicated that something like artistry or talent is involved when the solution isn't obvious.

Posting here, this time, wouldn't have solved my problem, unless I was willing to try to fix it myself. It turned out that w/ multiple problems, and my not having resources (like extra CPUs to try), I'd probably never have gotten this one solved, even with everyone's help. My initial idea of taking it to CompUSA for a quick and reliable repair turned out to be an even bigger mistake than thinking "I'd better look into that funny fan noise ... later."

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