New computer – It’s alive!

I can’t tell you how many years it’s been since I last built myself a new computer, or I’ll have to turn in my geek card. Suffice it to say, it’s been way too long. However, thanks to a nice profit sharing check I found myself in the position to place an order with Newegg for a thoroughly researched list of components to build myself a new computer – hooray!

Here it is in all its shiny black glossy classy gloriousness (though the photo doesn’t really do it justice):

I really like this case. Not only does it look great, but it also has a long list of very nice features. One of them is clever cable management options that allow you route almost all the component cables underneath the motherboard tray.

As a result, you have a very nice and clean interior, it is very easy to work in, and it has optimal airflow for cooling.

Click here for full-size versions of the photos.

In case you care, here is the list of components:

  • Corsair Osidian 650D case
  • Corsair HX750W PSU
  • Corsair Vengeance 2x 4 GB RAM modules
  • Asus P8Z68-V Pro motherboard
  • Intel i5-2500K CPU
  • Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus CPU cooler
  • Creative XFi audio board
  • OCZ Vertex 3 120 GB SSD boot disk
  • 1 TB Western Digital data disk
  • Sony Blu-ray burner

It took me a while to get it built and stable, though. I’ve been building computers for over a decade now, and this one turned out to be the most problematic one yet. I ran into so many issues along the way:

  • After assembling all components and pushing the power button, nothing happened. Completely dead. Quite anticlimactic. Imagine my disappointment. An hour of troubleshooting finally revealed that the motherboard would not boot out of the box, even with all its default settings, unless you reset the BIOS and use the MemOK button to test and optimize memory settings. Seriously, Asus?
  • When restarting the machine, I noticed it would post twice for some strange reason, even with the freshly reset BIOS default settings and no overclocking or any other shenanigans. An hour of troubleshooting and research finally revealed that changing a BIOS setting (Internal PLL voltage to Disabled) resolved the issue. Seriously, Asus?
  • After installing Windows 7 64-bit and various software, the machine hung randomly for a few seconds, a minute or two, or forever. Hours of troubleshooting and research finally revealed that the Intel Rapid Storage Technology drivers include a link power management feature that is not compatible with SSDs and causes these random hangs. LPM is enabled by default and there is no UI to disable it. You have to hack the registry. Seriously, Intel?
  • When using the machine to watch some video or attempting to game, it would randomly reboot. Hours of troubleshooting and research finally revealed that the ThermalTake ToughPower 750W PSU I had used (granted, it was a few years old and I did not research the specs thoroughly enough) did not have enough amps on the 12V rail to support the GTX570. $150 later a Corsair HX750 PSU resolved the issue.
  • After using the machine for a little while, I let it run 24/7 with max power settings and only letting the monitor sleep after 30 minutes. Suddenly the machine exhibited random blue screens, usually while idle and the monitor dark. I’d get up in the morning, go into my office and find a blue screen. Hours of troubleshooting and research finally revealed that there is a problem with the OCZ SSD firmware that causes this issue. There is a firmware upgrade available from OCZ to resolve the issue. However, you cannot apply it if Windows is running on the affected SSD. It cost me several hours to come up with a working solution to do the firmware upgrade with what I had available to me.
  • When using FireFox 5 and watching YouTube and other online videos, the browser window suddenly showed weird turquoise artifacts and the NVIDIA display driver (latest version 275.33) randomly stopped working and recovered. Also, games had corrupt video and strange rendering issues, making them unplayable. After several hours of troubleshooting drivers and settings first by myself then working with EVGA support running several tests, we confirmed that the card apparently was a lemon and defective out of the box. While EVGA approved an RMA replacement, they would have made me pay for shipping and sent me a second-hand refurbished hand-me-down as replacement. Since this was a new card and defective out of the box, I found this unacceptable. Thankfully Newegg customer service came through, approved an RMA immediately, and sent me a brand new card as replacement, which is working flawlessly so far.

I would have never expected so many issues with this build. Usually my experience is buying quality components and being very thorough and patient when building ensures optimum results. Not so this time. Yikes! I expect better QA from the likes of Asus and Intel and OCZ.

Anyway – it’s done, it’s running, it’s rock solid, and I’m looking forward to many hours of gaming on this black brawny beast.

3 thoughts on “New computer – It’s alive!

  1. Oh, your problems sound familiar to me. My last build has also been a major pain in the ass. Pro tip of the day: don’t get rid of your old machine before the New one is working, an internet Connection could come in Handy 😀

  2. That is an excellent tip, yes. Sadly, it didn’t help in my case. When I found out that I had to flash the firmware on the SSD but it had to be a secondary drive, I figured I’d stick it in the old machine. However, when I did that, the old machine (which worked perfectly for many years until the day before) suddenly refused to turn on. Completely dead. After a lot of troubleshooting (again) I finally figured out that the power supply in the old machine decided to quietly give up the ghost after I turned it off the last time. Thankfully, I had a spare power supply which I used to get the old machine running again. But still no joy. I tried repeatedly to flash the firmware on the SSD, but either the update software locked up the computer or it pretended the update was successful when in fact it never happened. I ended up having to put a spare hard disk in the new machine, putting a quick Windows install on it, making the SSD the secondary drive, and with this configuration the SSD firmware upgrade finally worked. Again, hours down the drain troubleshooting, and the old machine turned out to be of no use at all. Unbelievable.

  3. HAH! I had to comment on this. My computer is the same, except I went the AMD route. Same case. Corsair everything. SSD. The other big difference is I have a ton of drives in RAID, the computer is probably about 40-50 pounds. And your cable management is prettier, I just threw everything together and made it look good from the outside 🙂

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