Good news! It appears my PC upgrade aggravations are over. I’d like to share a bit just in case anyone Googles this, because I wish I had been able to find something like what I’m about to write.
It’s tax season in the US and that means federal refunds for many. I got mine and promptly got to ordering my planned PC upgrade. I’ve had my old Athlon 64 X2 4600-based machine since the start of 2007 and it’s served me well, but it was really showing its age. Especially in video editing and the occasional game. So I decided to upgrade to the new Phenom II 1090T hex-core CPU, a GIGABYTE GA-770T-USB3 motherboard (rev 1.3), Thermaltake TR-700P 700W PSU, Mushkin 996770 DDR3-1333 8GB RAM, with a GTX 560 Ti video card to follow soon.
I got everything, installed it, and then there was a loud *CRACK*-blik-blik-blik-blik sound. Balls.
The PSU had a slightly misshapen fan assembly which was smashing up against the grill. I adjusted it somewhat, but the noise continued. Not nearly as loud, but an slight intermittent “clipping” noise. Lovely. Never had any problems with Thermaltake before this! PSU itself was just fine, power was reaching components at proper voltags, just a screwed fan assembly. So I arranged an RMA replacement and decided to take a look at the other parts until then.
Got a fresh install of Windows 7 Ultimate x64 going and then… instant BSOD on first start. Wot. Hmm, maybe driver issues? Removed unneeded components, updated all drives, BSOD after about 25 minutes. This time with gusto, didn’t even wait around to see the memory dump screen. Hmm.
Checked everything I knew to check: cooling, adjusted some voltages (for some reason they were set HIGHER than stock in the BIOS, namely CPU Vcore was set at like 1.45V instead of ~1.325V!), RAM, PSU again, all seemed fine. Started back up and it was good. Tried installing programs, GTA IV first to test the new CPU. It ran wonderfully! Ridiculously better than my old setup, and I had only changed the CPU. Then, crash. System just shut off. Cooling issue, was my first instinct. Strange though, as it had plenty of ventilation and airflow.
Tried installing some other things and they seemed fine, but then I tried using the internet and installing my Adobe products. Um, nothing worked. Gave me corruption errors every time. Couldn’t install Adobe Anything, also couldn’t install newest nVidia drivers because the download was corrupt. WTF? Tried another LAN adapter, still corrupt. Tried another batch of RAM, still corrupt. Tried a freaking torrent download, but even after hash checking the file at 100% it would be corrupt when I opened it! Then the torrent would go corrupt after opening. Wow. Oh yeah, throw in a few more random BSODs, system crashes and lock-ups every so often and you’ve got a grand ol’ time.
I noticed the fans weren’t exactly spinning too quickly, mainly the CPU fan. I looked at all the settings again and all was just dandy. Even enabled manually-controlled fan speed and it still crashed (using the stock cooler for now, BTW). Temps seemed fine, but still crashing all over. Looking through the feedback for this board on Newegg, it’s plagued with all-too-similar horror stories. I decided it was time to RMA the motherboard. Man, I’d always heard great things about Gigabyte! I’ve used their mainboards in other builds, though not my own and nothing on the AM3 platform. Thankfully Newegg was awesome as usual, taking everything back and replacing/refunding as necessary in a timely manner without any lame questions asked.
I went with an MSI 870A-G54. And guess what? No problems whatsoever. Gave it all the same stress tests (GTA IV, Crysis, video encoding) and it was solid after many hours. And I like the board’s features better. The fans seem to be working properly now, too: varying in speed in regards to how hard it’s working, just how it should. The stock CPU fan is a bit noisy, but I planned on replacing that soon anyways with something awesome. I’m just glad my system works and I can get to making videos again! And even surfing the internet without freaking stupid corruption issues on files of any size whatsoever, frick. It’s also worth noting that I’m still waiting on a new PSU, so in the meantime I’m using my old 550W Thermaltake. I was concerned that its 4-pin CPU connector wouldn’t be adequate since these new motherboards have an 8-pin CPU power connector. But after doing some research I gave it a shot, and it’s fine. Seems that the extra pins are just for added stability, since it divides the load over more wires and stuff like that. So yeah, I’ll just chill until my new PSU arrives in a couple days. I’m still well within the load limits of my 550W for now.
Someone will no doubt say “you should have just bought a Mac and you wouldn’t have these issues!” Perhaps. In fact, I wouldn’t mind a good Mac Pro to do my editing and main computing on. But I also really love tinkering and playing high-end PC games. And I enjoy being able to eat. To attain similar specs/performance to my PC I’d have to pay several thousand dollars for a similar Mac, at least. This build was about $700. Worth the trouble to save the cash? For me at this time, yes.