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Thread: not a beginner but don't always know what I'm doing either.




  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    21

    Unhappy not a beginner but don't always know what I'm doing either.

    I am so frustrated, confused, and feeling stupid. Smart enough to build my own computer, but dumb enough to not maintain it properly and then wreck it further when trying to fix it.

    My rig, as much as I can remember:

    motherboard: Epox 8K3A+
    CPU: AMD Athlon 2100+
    hard drives: old-- two 80GB Western Digital Caviar drives, new-- one 250 GB Western Digital Caviar SE drive
    graphics card: Nvidia GeForce 4 ti4200
    sound card: Soundblaster Audigy 2, I think
    power supply: 350W that came with the Antec case
    cooling: Thermaltake Volcano over the CPU, two Antex case fans in front and back.


    I came home from studying abroad for a year to find my computer in worse condition than I thought I had left it in. When I turned the surge protector on again, the computer came on automatically and greeted me with a blue screen of death. Windows would not boot, and I didn't know what else to do other than to wipe the hard drives and start over. Admittedly, I was working late at night and made stupid mistakes that I knew better than to do, such as using a Dell system disk to reinstall Windows because I had lost my own system disc and I was too desparate to have my computer back to be rational. That made everything worse, and I can't believe I did that. Then I borrowed an XP disc from a friend (I know, piracy, but I'm desparate and I originally paid for XP but lost my disc). I can't remember how long WinXP took to install when I first built my machine, but now it takes over an hour to format a hard drive and then something like four hours to install the operating system. The stop errors became more and more random and windows finally installed but would hang while booting. It booted really slowly and then froze completely on a black screen with a single white dash or underscore. If it didn't go to a stop error screen first, that is.

    I wondered if my hard drives had been fried, so I read several articles about hard drives. But none of the problems suggested seemed to match. The drives were detected correctly by the BIOS, and when I scanned them for bad sectors none were found. Still thinking surely there was something wrong with them, I purchased a new and larger hard drive. So far there are no stop errors and the drive has been formatted with NTFS, but it took an hour and a half to format and WinXP is still taking forever to install. I could understand an hour, but four hours can't be right. I'm afraid I'll keep trying to blindly and impulsively troubleshoot and just damage my system permanently, if I haven't already done so.

    I didn't used to do stupid **** like the above incidents, but I've never had a crash this bad before either. Is it the hard drive at all? Or is it the motherboard, cooling, or power supply? I've been trying to research and learn more, but I can't find the information I need to go from being a careless intermediate computer user to being a well-informed advanced user (and to stop making decisions before truly assessing the consequences).

    Please help, it's the only computer I have to finish school with.
    Last edited by euphoriafish; 06-28-2006 at 09:33 AM. Reason: posted before finishing last sentence

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Dearborn
    Posts
    312

    Default Re: not a beginner but don't always know what I'm doing either.

    Do you have all hard drives in your computer and what type of ram do you have
    __________________________________________________ ________________________________________
    Zach
    AMD Athlon64 3700+ san diego 2.2ghz (oc to 2.8ghz FX57+ speeds)(fsb is 266)
    ASUS A8V Socket 939 VIA K8T800 Pro
    1gb ddr400 Kingston HyperX (2-3-2-6) timings 215mhz (dual-channel)
    BFG 6800gs 256mb agp, with ARCTIC COOLING AVC-NV5R3 NV Silencer Rev.3
    ATX Thermaltake Tsunami Dream
    Seagate sata 80gb harddrive
    Maxtor pata 80gb harddrive
    500watt Rosewill powersupply
    Sound Blaster Live 24-bit
    Custom Water cooling dual 120mm raddiator with a PolarFLO cpu block
    __________________________________________________ _______________

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: not a beginner but don't always know what I'm doing either.

    Currently I've taken the two 80GB drives out and am just trying to get the new one to work. I checked the jumper and it is on cable select. What's the difference between master/slave vs. two drives on cable select anyway? Or of single drive on master vs. single drive on cable select?

    The ram is 512MB of Kingston DDR SDRAM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Texas, USA
    Posts
    4,825

    Default Re: not a beginner but don't always know what I'm doing either.

    Cable select means that the drives are reported to the OS in the order they appear on the IDE cable... beginning from the far end. If you have 2 drives, make sure they are either set to 1x master and 1x slave, or both are set to CS.

    As for your other issues, you might try getting a buddy with a similar setupand try the components individually and see if one of them is fried. Alternatively, you might throw on a new set of IDE cables. I can usually find several extras sitting in a closet and they're cheap to replace if you don't happen to have any spares.
    Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill
    My Toys

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: not a beginner but don't always know what I'm doing either.

    I now think it's the motherboard. The BIOS works fine but there are orange rusty spots on the capacitors. I read some articles that said this is particularly a problem with boards made in Taiwan, because of some scandal with a stolen formula. My board is an Epox, and they are based in Taiwan. I found another article that said it is possible to replace the capacitors yourself with a soldering iron, but I don't have one and don't think I am up to it. My system is about 4 or 5 years old now anyway.

    So I guess it's a new motherboard then? Should I just get another Epox 8K3A+ or are there better alternatives for less than $100?
    Last edited by euphoriafish; 06-29-2006 at 06:59 AM. Reason: more questions

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Texas, USA
    Posts
    4,825

    Default Re: not a beginner but don't always know what I'm doing either.

    That usually isn't a good sign. It means your capacitors are becoming corroded for some reason. Is your machine being used in a very humid environment?
    Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill
    My Toys

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: not a beginner but don't always know what I'm doing either.

    Well, the room it is in is the hottest room in the house and there are two small fishtanks on the opposite wall by a usually open window. It is rather dusty in the room too.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Fincastle, IN, USA
    Posts
    3,776

    Default Re: not a beginner but don't always know what I'm doing either.

    You can find a new motherboard for quite cheap as Socket A is outdated anymore.

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