Monday, April 30, 2012

Computer Problems

So I deleted the posts I wrote all about how HP and Compaq knowingly put subpar parts in the machine you see at the left (That's a Compaq SR5710F, a decent mid-level mid-priced machine that has served me well for the past couple years). When my computer started having BSOD's (blue screen of death) even in safe mode, I was peeved. Be thankful I didn't throw Nvidia under the bus as well because plenty of people have issues with Nvidia drivers in Windows 7.

So here's where we stand: yes, Compaq and their parent company HP did put a subpar power supply into my computer. Bestec is a name synonymous with spectacular failure (just do a search and you'll be bombarded with tales of charred motherboards, capacitors that take off like bottle rockets, and fireworks shooting out the back of people's computers) and it does seem suspect that HP would still be using them as a supplier given the history of failure. Also, placing a 250 Watt power supply in a computer that features a dual core processor is not the best of choices. Not only that, but powering a 24 pin ATX motherboard with a 20 pin power supply that has no native SATA connectors is not the way to go if you're building a machine to last. They're not off the hook, but I'm not as angry at HP and Compaq as I was before.

When my computer started having BSOD's (with different messages each time, no less) at random intervals, I thought two things immediately: 1) I need to check my hard drive and 2) I need to check my RAM. Chkdsk came back with nothing on the hard drive, which was a relief. By the time I downloaded and burned a copy of memtest86, it was time for bed. They tell you to run the test for at least 6 cycles to be sure. I think it ran closer to 12 by the time I got up in the morning, but it showed no errors. The only other possible culprits were the motherboard and the power supply. I bought a new power supply because I was going to need one anyway (yeah, I don't trust Bestec at all). When I popped in the new PSU, I got a BSOD within minutes. I was ticked because I didn't want to go buying a new motherboard. I decided to cut my losses and strip all the useable parts from the machine. I stripped it clean in no time at all and started using the case as a footrest. I was using a Power Mac G5 in the interim, and that should be another entry in itself. Developers really dropped support for non-Intel Macs of a cliff. I can run the latest itunes on a 10 year old PC, but I can't do the same on a 5 year old Mac? Please explain.

As I was reading in a computer repair forum later, someone suggested running memtest86 for each individual memory module separately. I had run them together and came up with bupkis. I figured it was worth a try because I wouldn't be able to buy a new computer for a while anyway. I set up the test for the first module and left the room because it takes a while. When I came back, memtest86 found over 3000 errors in that particular module. I ran the test for the other stick and it came up clean. So now I'm running way less memory than I'm used to, but the Compaq is back up and running. I'll be purchasing more memory when we take a trip to the city this weekend, so everything should be fine again. Even so, I'm still constantly afraid that I will get a BSOD in the middle of a

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