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Computer autopsy

CuddlyCuteKittenCuddlyCuteKitten Registered User regular
My computer lies dead. Or at least mortally wounded. But that is not the real question. The question is what killed it, because that determines what I can do with its corpse.

I think you will need to know the events of the former week to be able to help me so here goes:

About a week ago my computer was a:

3200+ AMD 64x, 6600GT, 1 gb computer. It has an K8N neo4 Platinum video card with onboard Realtech RC97 sound (this may or may not be important). It worked well, in fact it had worked well for about 4 years.

It's only problem had been the northbridge fan dying in agony to be replaced with a blue Zalman heatsink.

Then I decided I wanted to play mass effect and purchased a new 8800GT 512 mb video card and another gb of memory.

The card arrived, but didn't fit because of the heatsink so I turned the computer into a local store which exchanged the heatsink with Zalmans smaller gold version. They also had to remove a couple of pipes to make room for a transistor.

I took the computer home, and discoverd a strange sound problem. My stereo channels (left and right) didn't work but front, subwoofer and both rear ones did.
I could still play mass effect over the weekend. It crashed a bit but not to much, and had some problems when the game would freeze, loop sound and then continue. But everything seemed to be working well. On the mass effect forum I read that it could be due to a few different problems and that problems seemed to be common. One of them would be that my soundcard wasn't compatible and that I should set the hardware acceleration to low. I couldn't do this because of the sound issue as this removed 5.1 and any sound I had.

Then today I took it back to the store and they very quickly fixed the sound issue by jumpering some things. I got home, I switched the sound to low hardware acceleration and I keept playing.

The game crasched after a pretty good while. But unlike the other crasches where I could reboot and keep playing for another hour the computer let out a fierce warning sound after a few seconds of startup and then the screen went black. The computer keeps running, but I'm not sure what it's doing because the screen is black.

I waited for a while, started up again and tried to play. Same thing. But this time it didn't want to start up at all. I opened it up. The north bridge heat sink feels pretty hot, everything else is cool and quiet.

I started up again. It wanted to run a test of the hardrives. It managed to do this but then crasched rigth after when windows started booting. It hasn't started since then. Everything still seems cool, including the heatsink. I've let it cool for about half an hour, just tried to start it. Same thing.

I was under the impression that modern computer parts turn themselves off before they die due to heat. I'm also assuming it is heat. Any thoughts? Which component is likely to have died. The graphics card or the motherboard?

waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaow - Felicia, SPFT2:T
CuddlyCuteKitten on

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    NandajiNandaji Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Sounds like your repair shop screwed up your motherboard. If you get a new mobo and just swap in all ur other components everything should be fine.

    Nandaji on
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    ToyDToyD Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    They also had to remove a couple of pipes to make room for a transistor.

    Do huh? This makes zero sense to me. What the hell pipes and added a what? I'm going to go with Nandaji and say they screwed the mobo.

    Edit: I'll clarify my comment. I'm fully aware of what a transistor is and does. And the only pipe I can think of is a heat pipe? You didn't mention anything about a special heatsinking system, which I think you would if it was special like this.

    And how, or why the fuck would they "add a transistor?"

    ToyD on
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    CuddlyCuteKittenCuddlyCuteKitten Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    They had to remove a couple of the pins (pipes?) from the heatsink because otherwise one of the transistors on the graphics card would not fit. I personally question the wisdom of that since I had hoped that the smaller heatsink would be enough and I don't really know if a transistor will survive being surrounded by a heatsink on 3 sides but I'm not a professional so...

    The mobo did work perfectly for most of the day so they shouldn't have destroyed it in the shop. But I'm guessing the setup wasn't that stable. I'm just wondering if you guys think it was the heat from the heatsink killing the grahpics card or the motherboard that burned out first.

    CuddlyCuteKitten on
    waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaow - Felicia, SPFT2:T
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    TransparentTransparent Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Can you post pics of what they did to your heatsync to make the video card fit? This sounds unorthodox, dangerous, and I would consider it the likeliest reason for the lockups at this point. The heasync should still function without a few fins, but they could have removed it and reattached without reapplying the grease or something.

    Transparent on
    PAXtrain '10, let's do this!
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    nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    So basically they dissected your heatsink to fit the graphics card in? This sounds most unusual.

    nexuscrawler on
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    TransparentTransparent Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I'm just wondering if you guys think it was the heat from the heatsink killing the grahpics card or the motherboard that burned out first.

    Okay, I've wrapped my head around what's been done to your computer. I don't think we can give you a concrete answer for that based on the information you've given us. It's most likely (but not certain) that your northbridge overheated due to being too close to your video card for a partially gimped fanless cooler to be adequate (these coolers rely on airflow generated by the fan on your CPU, things have to be oriented to accommodate this). I don't think thermal protection is a common feature of northbridge chipsets.

    If the protruding component of your video card was in physical contact with the northbridge cooler, well it could be that too, but I consider that to be the less likely problem.

    Transparent on
    PAXtrain '10, let's do this!
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    Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    shouldnt the transistors hang down and therefore not get in the way of the north bridge?

    btw you definitly fried your mobo, buy a new one and replace it. you will have to reinstall windows and drivers so enjoy that crap process.

    Dunadan019 on
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    ToyDToyD Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    After revisiting the thread and reading your additional comments, I call bullshit on this place. Transistors are so damn tiny now. They don't use visible transistors anymore for computer components. Transistors are fit by the many millions onto a 2cm square CPU. They don't "hang off a video card." If anything, there was a capacitor in the way. I would have the damn store buy you a new mobo and make the shit fit in the case properly.

    ToyD on
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    CuddlyCuteKittenCuddlyCuteKitten Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Then it probably was a capacitor. I'm not that good on the technical stuff (thus the store).

    It's back in the shop anyway, I'll update in a few days when I know what killed it and what is needed to fix it. I apparently have 30 days of guarantee for the hardware, I wonder if they will replace things for free (probably not...).

    They seemed to hope it was a heat problem and that they could replace the heatsink with a fan and everything would work. I don't care as long as things work and I don't have to pay to much money for it.

    CuddlyCuteKitten on
    waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaow - Felicia, SPFT2:T
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    ToyDToyD Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Good luck with it. I would really take the stance of not paying a dime for this repair though. You paid for the initial service and did not get a finished, working product. You should not be out any additional money at all. Even if you have to scream at the manager.

    ToyD on
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    LaCabraLaCabra MelbourneRegistered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I can't believe they removed a part of your mainboard to fit your videocard. That is not how repair shops operate.

    LaCabra on
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    LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    LaCabra wrote: »
    I can't believe they removed a part of your mainboard to fit your videocard. That is not how repair shops operate.

    The correct answer was:
    "There is no room for this graphics card, sorry."

    Lewisham on
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    CuddlyCuteKittenCuddlyCuteKitten Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Well to be fair to them they said they would do it when I turned it in. I more or less asked "this thing won't fit should I send it back or can you install it for me". I just didn't think it would have this effect.

    CuddlyCuteKitten on
    waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaow - Felicia, SPFT2:T
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    LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Well to be fair to them they said they would do it when I turned it in. I more or less asked "this thing won't fit should I send it back or can you install it for me". I just didn't think it would have this effect.

    The correct reply to that was:
    "Dremelling the shit out of your motherboard is not a good idea either, sir."

    Lewisham on
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    bentbent Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Well to be fair to them they said they would do it when I turned it in. I more or less asked "this thing won't fit should I send it back or can you install it for me". I just didn't think it would have this effect.

    It sounds pretty irresponsible to chop up your heatsink like that. What size is your case/motherboard? If you switch everything into a larger case with a full atx motherboard (and uh, it sounds like you might need a new heatsink) then you should be just dandy.

    bent on
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    CuddlyCuteKittenCuddlyCuteKitten Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Computer is back. Apparently it was a flawed graphics card that they replaced. They also ran 3dmark for 6 hours during the night to make sure it didn't overheat while keeping some kind of temperature reader on the heatsink.

    New card is a lot louder so I'm inclined to believe them. It's a really reassuring hum. :)

    CuddlyCuteKitten on
    waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaow - Felicia, SPFT2:T
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    LaCabraLaCabra MelbourneRegistered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I'm inclined to think they're completely fucking nuts for ever cannibalising your motherboard.

    But hey, all's well that ends well

    LaCabra on
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