Showing posts with label repair. Show all posts
Showing posts with label repair. Show all posts


Computer Techie Toolbox Round-Up:

Computer Techie Toolbox Round-Up:

After about a couple of years with little work to do, I've built and refurbished a few computers in the past few months.
Again, better than MacGyver's

Dispensable spare parts
For instance, I used a Pentium 3 to boot a Phenom with a broken pin

  1. Scissors
  2. Wide plyer/wirestripper
  3. Pointed plyer
  4. Wide Philips/flat screwdrivers
  5. Magnifying glass
  6. Multitool pocketknife
  7. The screwdriver that comes with Noctua SE fans
  8. Multi-bit screwdriver

Mini screwdriver set for repairing and cleaning laptops.

Assortment of parts: (Label the boxes!)
  1. Screws, sorted!
  2. Pins
  3. USB sticks (I like to keep special purpose USB sticks separate and labeled)
  4. Flash RAM
  5. Small cables (CrossFire/SLI,molex adapters)
  6. Stickers
  7. Misc++

  1. Pens
  2. CPU cooling paste
  3. Glue
  4. Tape
  5. Antistatic wristband
  6. Q-tips
  7. Other tools!

A straight fan can improve RPM

Keep your rescue and OS disks sorted!
  1. Retail Diagnostic CD's
  2. Retail Driver CD's
  3. Your own accumulated custom driver compilations
  4. Windows/Linux OS CD's
  5. Live distros
  6. Rescue distros
  7. Forensic distros

Sunsway/ST Lab PCI ATA133 2P SATA-PATA cards

Updated:  May 10th 2012

This is a PCI card that basically has two IDE ports. You can upgrade the BIOS on the card and get a Medley RAID controller feature, which will give you RAID modes 0,1 and 10.

While I was experimenting with some faulty hardware, power to one of the 4 disks in the RAID must have failed, and while the disk was not missing from the Set, per se, something had happened to it.

And lo and behold, their driver software delivers (Silicon Image Software). It rebuilt two disks that had problems. While the rebuild took place, Windows complained about a faulty hard disk presemt.

Various stages during RAID rebuild

Various stages during RAID rebuild

Good drivers !


The Demise of a Harddisk

So, you don't need to be a computer expert to have realized that Maxtor harddisk are about the lowest quality disks you can buy. My stack here of about 7 broken Maxtor Disks, while almost every other disk (newer or older) works fine.

So here's how a Maxtor drive eels it way trough detection mechanisms before they go titsup without warning.

I had two 320GB Maxtor harddisks (salvaged from their horrible OneTouch external USB drives with notoriously faulty controllers)

So here is what's inside one of these:
Some custom IDE-2-USB interface
That disk is a regular 3.5" IDE drive.

When the controller fails (as both mine did about at the same time) you can take the disks out, they are still (Maxtorwize) ok.
It was two such disks that became one of the RAID0's in my file server.
I set up in RAID0 on a Medley RAID SiL controller. Suddenly my clients complain about the drive not beeing available.

Just some time before before this, I noticed that one of the drives had trouble syncing speed up to the other drive. I could hear it ticking, like 2-3 times per hour. That's how I got suspicious first. Since then, I proactively moved stuff from the drive to another drive (after a proper checksum check).

I then check out the fileserver with the RAID, and lo and behold, the controller software had issued warnings about a drive. Their SMART status was OK, but still the RAID controller was complaining.

So I am beginning to think that Maxtor drives fakes their SMART status and dies off without any warning.

Right now I am shuffling about as much as I can from the RAID :)

Anyway, after a 3rd reboot of the fileserver, and stopping other clients from accesing that RAID, I seem to be able to move files from it, uninterrupted, locally on the machine. I just hope this will hold until the disk dies. I'll reconfigure the two disks to RAID1 and wait for the first one to fail. At least then I've only lost 320GB of free space and not 640GB of stuff. (That particular RAID was purely a playground and download setup.)

I have a RAID10 setup of WD disks, let's just say I have a lot more confidence in that! Also I have a spare disk for that RAID should it ever become needed !

UPDATE: May 8th 2012:
The RAID10 actually failed! It went better than expected


My new gaming rig!

CoolerMaster HAF 922 bigtower with built in glass panel side

2x 120mm fans on top. I managed to break a blade on the original 200x200x3 fan! Have a spare fan you want to donate?! :D
  • Gigabyte FXA990 UD7
  • Intel 80GB SSD disk for system
  • Samsung 160Gb SATA disk for data (I also moved all User directories to this drive to save space on the SSD. I can teach you how if you want!)
  • 16 Gb 1600 Mhz RAM
  • Phenom II X6 1100T CPU
  • 2x Sapphire Radeon 6790 in Crossfire
  • NXZT 5-fan controller
  • Kingston dual fan RAM cooler
  • Noctua SE CPU fan
  • Gbit Ethernet with 9K Jumbo frames
  • 24" BenQ HDMI LCD
  • Manually BIOS-overclocked to 220 FSB. (So RAM goes as 1740 and CPU at 3.3Ghz I think.
  • 2x 250GB Hitachi SATA 3.0Gbit in RAID0 on the Marvell ports
  • 1x 320GB Hitachi SATA Deskstar 3.0Gbit
  • 2x USB3 ports
  • 7.1 Surround
  • 6x USB2 ports with 2x power
  • ESATA connector
  • Corsair 750W V1 PSU

Front View

At the most, this monster draws about 500 Watts and seems to run smoothly.
One thing, the 6790 cards can be safely overclocked to 880 core speed, but do NOT mess with the Memory Speed clocks. That will get you BSODS. Also, I dont think it's completely stable on core speed 900Mhz.

A little note about the 6790 and CrossFire, it seems that you need to restart CrossFire before starting any games about half the time. Otherwise I get a flickering screen 50% of the time.

I am running Sapphire Trixx and enabled card syncing and disabled UPLS. That is supposed to do the trick. But not always it seems.

Also, if you happen to buy this motherboard and you have a Phenom II X4 960T, it will actually fit in the AM3 slot and works perfectly if your mobo has BIOS v7 or newer. (the 960T is the last of it's kind to do this. It has *both* DDR2 and DDR3 memory controllers.

I broke my 960T and had to get a new one, thats why I have a 1100T. But I fixed the broken pin on the 960T and put it back into it't proper AM2+ motherboard!


How to save your AMD Phenom 960T CPU with a broken pin

So I bought this Phenon II X4 Black Edition and put it into my MSI K9A2+ mobo. Then I bought a Noctua SE fan and all was going well. Until I discovered that the Promise RAID controller on the card did not work and the advertised 1Gbit ethernet port is actually just 100Mbps, that is.

Since the retailers ( are complete jerks I  had to buy a new motherboard.

So then I bougth the excellent Gigabyte 990FXA UD7 board, in which that new 960T actually fits if you have BIOS v7 on the Gigabyte board installed.

When the new board arrived, the old MSI mobo wasn't even cold before I started to pull out the *heavy* Noctua fan long before the cooling paste had changed to 'cold state' and at the same time the Noctua fan kind of had a disagreement with Newton. And WHOOPS I ripped the 960T straight out of the socket. A lot of the pins were bent but I did not see any broken pins. So far. BTW, this pocket knife is perfect and widely available to use for CPU pin straigthening. First run it sharp edge up, then sharp edge down along 'bent lanes' of pins:
Better than MacGyvers pocket knife!

I put the 960T into the UD7 board. No post, just a mystical hex value 0x88 on the mobo POST indicator (pretty fancy!). After some Googling, I figured out that code means dead CPU. So a pin must have broken.

I had already put my old Athlon X2 back in the MSI board as as backup computer and it worked. I then disassembled it, shook the mobo over some pieces of newpaper and wouldn't you know, a pin from the 960T had been in there at the same time as the Athlon X2 was running fine!

So the next project was of course to get the 960T working again in the old mobo.

Here's the AM2+ socket, and I circled in red which hole it is that corresponds to the CPU.

Here's a blurry (sorry) picture of the location of the broken pin (it's the opposite of the triangle-mark side)

And here is the CPU pin, which still is not in the socket slot. How come ?!

 I lost that 960T pin about 6-7 times and I could not find it when I had finally figured out a way to securely insert the pin into the AM2+ socket. So I gave up an said to myself, well I do have a an old Pentium 3 1.4Ghz lying around, I'll just snap off a pin and use that instead!

Poor Pentium III got it's pin cut off :(

Then after a lot of Benny Hilling around that night, my old computer finally posted!
My 960T finally posted! YAY!

 And that's the story of how a Pentium III saved a Phenom II X4 960T. If anyone needs any tips for doing this, I can safely say I have the know-how now!