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Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Heat Issues

I've recently run into a spot of bad luck when it comes to computers. First the power cord for my laptop dies. Soon after, the battery ran out of juice, and with no way to recharge it, the laptop was done. It survived 7 years of abuse, so it wasn't a huge loss.

A week later my wife's computer began shutting itself off. Annoying, but still not completely unexpected. At 6 years old it had reached the end of its expected lifespan. I was hoping it would last one more month, so the timing was rather terrible.

Then my computer died.

My computer was only 3 years old. It had no excuses. Turns out there's a bug in the motherboard that locks it up tight when you send it to sleep. Unrecoverable.

3 computers in as many weeks, and we were suddenly living in the 80's.



We picked up a fancy new Dell for only $600. From a raw power per dollar standpoint, no one is even trying to compete with Dell. It was a thousand bucks cheaper than the closest comparison.

I ordered a $60 motherboard for my computer. I haven't installed a motherboard since 1999, so anxiety was a bit high as I played operation on one of modern life's necessary components. Luckily, everything went smoothly, and the office had a computer again. I set this machine up on my wife's desk, and placed her broken machine in the corner for later analysis.

I then ordered a new gaming machine for me: liquid cooling, 12 gigs of ram, and a processor 5 times faster than my last computer. That's a bit faster than Moore's law.

The new computer runs amazingly, everything pops. I ran 3Dmark to rank it in the journals of history, and a long beep came ominously from the box.

Shit.

I killed the benchmark fearing the worst, that I'd overheated my CPU and melted my new box to slag.

To my relief, it was fine. Nothing appeared to be broken, so I ran the benchmark. Again the beep, and again I canceled the benchmark.

I rummaged around in the CD's they'd sent me and came up with the motherboard disc. Modern motherboards are covered in sensors to tell you all about what is going on in hard, merciless numbers. My CPU was peaking at 60 degrees celsius during the most brutal benchmark test. That's a full 35 degrees BELOW the danger zone. Clearly the liquid cooling was the correct purchase.

That means the trouble is in the GPU. Unfortunatly, nVidia does not supply an easy way to monitor your GPU tempurature, so I had to pull down the third party app, Afterburner. It has some really neat histograms on temperature, fan speed, and memory usage. My GPU was climbing all the way up to 80 degrees celsius during the graphics benchmark. Lucky for me the GTX 470 is rated up to 105 degrees.

With my heat worries alleviated, I decided to let the benchmark complete. It wasn't going to melt to slag, so maybe something else would shake out. Half way through the test, the machine powered completely off.

Shit. Again.

I stared at my beautiful dead computer, and realized it was still beeping. Why was it beeping without power? I pulled the case off and stuck my head inside.

The beeping was not coming from my computer.

The beeping was coming from my battery back up. The new machine pulled too much juice at its peek performance for the backup to handle. I plugged the computer directly into the wall, and it wasted the 3Dmark11 Pro benchmark with a score of 4300.

All is right again at the homestead, or will be when the new lamp for our TV arrives.

3 Comments:

Blogger dvicci said...

Man, I feel your pain... it's been nothing but one thing after another lately on the computer front with me as well. I'm just hoping my laptop will last until I can afford my own Tiny God.

Ahh... those were the good ol' days of PA.

2/01/2011 8:36 PM  
Blogger mattjustmull said...

Yeah, I saw your mirrored drives went down. It makes me anxious for mine.

Can you believe we've been reading PA for 12 years? Their webcomic is hitting puberty.

2/01/2011 9:27 PM  
Anonymous ErinFaye said...

For a post written entirely about computer death, this was highly entertaining and well-written.

2/14/2011 4:28 PM  

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