Overhaulin’

Published on August 14, 2006

This weekend I had the great fortune of rebuilding my personal computer. It turned out to be quite an experience, and surprisingly frustrating at times. Before I detail the problems I ran into, here’s a list of the new components I put into it:

  • Asus A8N5X motherboard
  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ CPU (dual core)
  • 2GB Corsair XMS DDR400 SDRAM
  • Antec SmartPower 2.0 500W Power Supply
  • eVGA GeForce 7900 GT 256MB
  • 2 Seagate Barracuda 160GB SATA 3.0 GB/s hard drives

I have also put up a small photo series detailing my progress, for those interested (more on this in a moment). Fortunately, it doesn’t contain any photos of my frustrations.

After assembling everything in the system, I plugged it in and turned it on. For a fraction of a second, the system begins to boot; after that, nothing but silence. I try again, with even worse luck the second time: nothing happens at all. Panic instantly sets in. Frustrated, I surf the web looking for answers but come up empty handed. My dad suggests that it sounds like power supply issues so, one by one, I disconnect every device from the supply. After getting down to just the motherboard, CPU, and memory, things begin working. Slowly but surely I replace the items and, to my delight, everything eventually works.

I tried out Windows slipstreaming for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised with how well it worked. I was able to load Service Pack 2 instantly, bypassing the oh-so-annoying Windows update process. Interestingly enough, I still had a total of 55 critical updates to be applied, and even more for Microsoft Office. I’m slowly getting things back to normal, and I look forward to doing a little gaming in the near future.

I’ll have another Zalman VF-900 blog post here soon, detailing the install process (as well as my second no-power adventure with my new machine).

As I noted earlier, I have posted a photo series here at this blog covering my computer building experience. I am trying out the Plogger photo gallery software for my photos, so feel free to check out my main collection (I have replaced Plogger with Monkey Album, my own photo album software). Plogger has a few bugs, and a few features I dislike, but I’m going to try it out for a while (until I can write my own). If you see a problem anywhere in the gallery software, let me know. Hopefully things will work as they are intended to.

6 Comments

Just curious, any problems with your new rig? Your hardware is very comprable to what I’m looking to build myself. I’ve heard good things and bad thing about the 7900s mainly revolving around heating…but that’s probably why you bought the Zalman 🙂

I haven’t had any problems so far, with the exception of the power supply cabling issues that were no doubt at the heart of the issues I mentioned in this post. My GeForce 7900GT has so far been rock solid in the games I’ve tested (Max Payne 2, Quake 4, Rise of Nations, and Half-Life 2). The Zalman runs quiet as ever, and I have yet to see load temperatures on the card rise above 45 degrees! With temperatures that low, I sometimes wonder if the temperature monitor on board isn’t broken. But I’m not complaining! 🙂

Scion

Hey Jonah,

I just read your article and I am having an almost identical problem. I recently built a system with: A8N5X mobo, athlon x2 3800+, 2x1GB corsair xms ddr400, ati all in wonder x1900, 1 sata drive, 3 ide hd’s, x-fi platinum and an optical drive. I originally got a antec truecontrol 2.0 550W power supply and when i plug everything in and hit the power button, i see a milisecond of activity and then nothing. I unplugged all the harddrives and tried again… nothing. Any suggestions?

Is your power supply modular (i.e. does it use a modular cabling system)? If so, pull the cables from the power supply itself and reseat them. I believe that was the culprit in my particular case. You might try doing what I did and get it down to nothing but the motherboard, memory, and CPU; no graphics card, no networking, no sound, etc. If it doesn’t POST at that point, pull the modular power supply cables and reseat them, and do the same on the motherboard side. You should be able to at least get things running with only a CPU and memory (graphics and everything else isn’t needed).

Scion

mine isnt modular but unplugging everything and going with the bare minimum seemed to do the trick after a little phanagling… running stably so far… thanks for the advice!

The goal in debugging an issue like this is to try to isolate the cause. I like to think of stuff like this as a binary search: what can I throw away versus what still needs to be examined? I’m glad you’ve gotten things working! Hopefully it will stay that way. It’s a wonder that motherboards and power supplies don’t fry themselves more often. The safety checks that each component has must be rather robust.

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