System Crashes, again. New System Planned

I’ve had my machine now for 2 years.

It’s a fantastic machine, has a 3Ghz P4 630 Processor, running on a Gigabyte GA-8IPE775-G, has 3GB of DDR 400 RAM, 2 x SATA, 2 x IDE, 2 x Optical, and 2 x Graphics cards, a 6200 256MB AGP8x, and a fx 5200 PCI 128MB.

That’s been my beast for the last 2 years, and has done the job fantastically, been very stable, with the exception of the issue noted earlier this year, the Video Card In-Game BSOD – solution, don’t play games (I don’t often anyway), or the alternative, change video card.. Problem Solved!

Now, we have a new issue.

I have a 160GB SATA drive, this 160GB SATA drive was replaced under RA a few months back also, after it was disappearing and reappearing, randomly.

At the same time, I stacked in another 250GB to hold the 160GB data, and use for future use, and be the drive in the middle while the 160GB was replaced.

The 160GB replaced, I installed the new drive, and so far, everything was running smoothly.

Unfortunately, just in the last weeks, the problem of BSOD’s has come back again. I’d be in the middle of something, and my fiance would be doing something with any of the two drives, and wham, my desktop falls out from underneath me, I lost everything I was doing due to network file access.

The problem seems to be related not to the HDD, as we are using a different drive (not the 160GB), however, it is the 160GB that disappears on reboots, or disappears when the other SATA drive is in use (both are on their own ports).

I think it might be stemming from perhaps a motherboard / driver issue, or something else.

I’ve tested a port swap, that is, swap the drives to connect to the other ports, to eliminate some issue with maybe a pin issue or something, and it didn’t crash.

As I’ve said previously on my blog here, the essential rule of troubleshooting PC problems, is to find a pattern, find something consistent, something you can do to recreate it, and from that, you have a path to work with and fix the problem.

Because it didn’t crash, I tested it the other way, that is, put it back to where it was, and.. no crash.

One might say the cable was loose, but, a lot of force went into getting those cables off those ports, not excessive, but certainly not an easy IDE cable removal, it was fairly stuck, but did come free. Nothing seems obviously wrong.

Solution: Lose the network file access? Nah, she wouldn’t like that much at all, and I’d have to stack her up on more and more space.

So, my next solution is to instead of playing around, swapping hardware, and not being able to reproduce this issue, and taking into account technology change, I decided I would start at working out what I want to use in my next machine.

I considered AMD, for about 15ms, and decided to stick with speedy Intel. Besides, AMD’s speeds and pricing just don’t seem aligned with the rest, and I have read others believe Intel are better for various reasons.

Simply, when AMD went the road of having a 2100+ running at 1.5Ghz, I just couldn’t get my head around that, you can run faster at 3.0Ghz compared to 2.2 for example.

So, I’m sure Intel will be the right way to go for this next machine.

I’m yet to finally decide and buy, as a change of supplier came up at the last moment, and the price difference is a little more than just appealing.

The system specs I decided on after careful consideration of the Whirlpool (yes, it’s a fantastic resource isn’t it?) PC Hardware Forums, and Wiki, which have the Recommended Configs, and added a few twists to them that I saw in my at a glance view of the options I have, are listed below:

Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 (2.66Ghz, 4MB cache, 1333FSB, Socket 775) CPU
I chose this one as the E6600 was a 2MB, 1066FSB, and was more expensive.
The E6850 (3.0Ghz model) is 300Mhz more, for a rather higher price tag, not worth it.

Gigabyte GA-965P-S3 1333FSB Dual DDR2, SATA2, RAID (yay!), Gb Lan (got it) Motherboard
I chose this one, it has IDE ports, has SATA ports, has RAID, and seems like a good pick.

2 x 1GB 800Mhz (PC6400) DDR2 RAM
No point going half way, though it’s a little shy on the 3GB I already have, I can make do with 2GB for a short while and upgrade to 4 shortly after.

GeForce 8600GT 256MB DDR PCI-E 16x Video Card
My first PCI-E card. I think for the price point, this represents good value, it’s got grunt, though 512MB cards are available, the newer chipset is going to be of the most benefit.

The system makes sense, is an upgrade on the current hardware, and at this stage looks like what I’ll be moving onto.

This should solve the system crashes, and I’ll work at integrating my 4 drives (2x IDE, 2x SATA) into 2 seperate drives, can’t be good for the planet running 4 drives when 1 new drive can take the full load.

I’ll chase down more advice on the system specs closer to the date I plan to buy!


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