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AndalayBay

My PC Woes

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I’m sure most of you have seen my posts about my computer troubles, but I thought I’d write up a post on what happened and where I’m at now. In short, I’m still working on getting it back up and running!

The trouble really started last year. At first I thought it was the cats. They often knock out cables, shut off power bars and lie on top of the radiator on the top of the machine. The radiator is part of the liquid cooling I’m using for the CPU, so I thought they were causing the machine to overheat and it was shutting down. I would come down in the morning to find the machine off.

Earlier this year I discovered that the machine wouldn’t boot. It reported a CPU fan failure. I vacuumed off the radiator and cleaned out the interior and I got it to boot, but one of the drives had failed. I have Windows installed on a SSD, but I moved the user part of the installation to the second drive because the SSD was only 250 GB. So I got the machine to boot, but it really wasn’t working very well with the second drive inaccessible. Windows was reporting the drive as RAW. After some research, I discovered that you can get software that will recover files from a RAW drive, so I bought a recovery program and started the process of recovering the files. That was in February!! Yes, February. The first pass took over 400 hours.

The recovery software listed several partitions that had files that might be recovered. The first pass recovered the files from the biggest partition that the software listed as the most likely to have files. I decided to do another pass to recover the files from the second partition that might have files. That took another 300 hours or something like that. I tried comparing the files from the first pass, but the files from the second pass were a mess. It had files at the root that should have been in directories, or had files that were a collection of separate files, so there was no way to compare the results.

I have two other smaller drives in the machine, so I decided to see if I could fix the Windows installation and copy the recovered files to the other drives so I could leave the damaged drive intact just in case I didn’t get all the files back. However one of the other drives also had errors and Windows couldn’t format it. This time the problem seemed be the Master Boot Record (MBR). I could use Windows bootrec to fix it, but once again, I couldn’t get the machine to boot. The CPU fan error popped up again.

Now I was starting to wonder if my CPU cooler pump had failed. I decided to take a look at the thermal paste and discovered that the paste wasn’t in good shape, so I cleaned off the old paste and reapplied the cooler. Still no dice, so I ordered a new cooler.

Over the last few days, I’ve been installing the new cooler. I booted the machine last night... and I still got the CPU fan failure error! Now I’m wondering if there’s something wrong with the motherboard. The fans on the radiator were running just fine. The cooler is a Corsair H100X. You plug the pump into the CPU fan header and you also use a SATA power connector. Then the fans are connected to another fan header. I knew the SATA power was ok because the same line also powers the DVD drive. So then I wondered if there was something wrong with the CPU fan header. I had plugged the fans into a header called CPU Optional, so I just switched the connectors. I plugged the cooler pump into the CPU Optional header and the radiator fans into the CPU fan header. Voila! It worked! The fans are running just fine.

I have no idea why after working for six years the bios decided that the CPU fan wasn’t working, but it’s fine now so I’m back to getting the machine running. I used bootrec to fix the MBR on the third drive. Then I tried to boot the machine normally, and Windows insisted on running chkdsk on the second drive! This is the drive that it previously reported as RAW. You can’t run a chkdsk on a RAW drive, so I have no idea what it’s doing. Chkdsk has been running since last night so I’ll let it finish. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s nothing on the drive by the time it’s done, so now I’m hoping that I recovered all my files, or at least most of them.

So that’s where I’m at now. What a drama... I did see Morrowind and the Unofficial Patch files in the recovery folder, so I got those. I also saw my Projects folder, so I should have Black Marsh and my other mods. I also got the files for my cattery site, so that’s most of the important stuff. I don’t know how many pictures I got back. Most of them were pictures of the cats that I’m using on the site, but I can take more. People will want more recent pictures anyway.

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Computer drama, AB, computer drama.  You should scrap your old computer and build a new one from scratch with modern hardware.  What specs do the computer you mentioned above have?  I'm curious.  Is it your main gaming rig?

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Ask and yea shall receive: 

Yes it’s my gaming and development rig. The drive that failed is the 10,000 rpm WD Velociraptor. I seriously can’t afford a new build right now. I shouldn’t even be keeping TAL running, but it’s easier to just ignore the problem and keep going. :P If anybody has a few coins to spare, please click the Donate link at the top of the forums. ;)

Windows chkdsk has completed the first round and is now processing the “bad file records”. It’s at 2100 of 9204 records, so hopefully it will be done that part tomorrow.

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A solid circa 2014 build, AB.  I'm sure it kicked some ass back in the day, and performs admirable to this day, I bet.  My rig is circa 2015, so I've been toying with the idea of a new build.  I am fortunate in that I don't have as much money going out, so have more petty cash.

 

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Yeah it’s still doing pretty good. I’ve had to replace a couple of peripherals like mouse and keyboard, but the main rig is still humming along. The chkdsk is still running, but once it got through the bad sectors, it’s moved on to recovering damaged files. Still not sure what I’m going to see, but if enough of the D: drive is intact, Windows might be happy and I can get back to work.

What’s the best CPU these days? I still see the i5 kicking around and that was a really good buy a few years ago.

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Definitely give AMD Ryzen a serious look. They've got some damn good chips out right now that beat the socks off of Intel for a lot less money than you'd normally spend on an Intel system. Most of the tech reviewers are going gaga over them now.

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I got my machine back! I have no idea how the drive went from RAW to NTFS, but once it showed up as NTFS again, Windows was able to run chkdsk and it has recovered. It’s much quieter than it was before, so maybe the old cooler was failing.

I could do an AMD build again. My video cards are Radeon. They’re old now, but still kick a good punch for the stuff I play. I won’t be able to build a new machine for a while yet, but I’ll definitely check out Ryzen.

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Like Arthmoor suggested, I'd look in to Ryzen as well.  I've read great things about those procs, and for what it's worth, it's probably going to be my choice for my new build whenever I get around to it.  Ryzen is all about bang for the buck; you'll get the most proc for the money.  So the bulk of reviewers say.

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Great news! :thumbup:

A plug for the recovery software name here is sure to be a giant help for those of us with drives set to fail in the coming weeks/months/years. :)

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#1 They’re not paying me. 

#2 I’ve actually had people demand to remove links in the past as they thought this was a spammy site. :questioning: 

If someone has a need, they can send me a PM and I’ll tell them what I used. There are a lot of similar programs.

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On 22/04/2020 at 1:35 PM, Malonn said:

Like Arthmoor suggested, I'd look in to Ryzen as well.  I've read great things about those procs, and for what it's worth, it's probably going to be my choice for my new build whenever I get around to it.  Ryzen is all about bang for the buck; you'll get the most proc for the money.  So the bulk of reviewers say.

Nah, AMD is a performance vendor now - they just don't charge you Intel Tax - which is mostly a tax for buying a CPU with multiple security flaws.

On the subject of the PC - sounds to me like the cats have caused an overheating issue, I'd suspect motherboard damage, not fatal but I bet the main CPU Fan header or the sensor is gaga. Have you pulled the whole thing apart and cleaned it?

Aside from that I'd just keep the cats out of the computer room.

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Yes, I cleaned it. I can’t keep the cats out; they have to live down here. I have to keep Darwin and Curie separate from Pascal and Ada because they’re breeding pairs and they will fight if not kept separate.

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I don't know about that, but most Ryzen procs are cheaper than their Intel counterpart.  But, like you said, they test and bench near the same.  Intel has a slight edge in FPS (gaming) depending on resolution and GPU, but Ryzen's a beast.  It's great to see AMD putting it to Intel, who dominated for so long.

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Need to put up barriers around the computer and stick very fine mesh across all openings to keep fur out.

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I use Lian Li chassis which have filters on all air intakes.The interior just had fine dust. What would be the best bang for the buck if I wanted to compare Intel processors?

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Honestly AB, I don't know off hand the best value in comparison.  Google will send you down the right path though (as you know).  I get the bulk of my knowledge from "Maximum PC", a print magazine, followed by "PC Gamer", which is just MPC's online arm.  The hardware section of the PC Gamer website is a great resource.  I hear a lot of Maximum PC writers end up going to Tom's Hardware, called a "sister site" to Maximum PC, but I don't frequent the site myself.

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For fan blades choked with dust there's an old thread on canned air- compressed air is fine as long as the fans are kept still.

Passmark benchmarks once ruled the roost- they still look fairly credible- the Threadripper (aka Dustripper at least as far as fans are concerned) sounds as if it is made to rip threads to shreds- is it also designed to run a process threadbare?

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Pretty much every tech channel on Youtube lately has been praising everything in the Gen 3 Ryzen line as both a good value and best performance. Especially true if you go hog wild with either a Ryzen 7 or a Ryzen 9. Gen 3 Ryzen CPUs have been posting as good or better than their Intel counterparts at easily 25-50% lower prices. So IMO there's really no good reason to pay the Intel Tax these days.

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I usually check out Tom’s Hardware. I’ve also checked out Maximum PC in the past. I usually start with simple searches and expand from there. I did some very preliminary searches when I was thinking of getting Jimi’s PC working again and AMD was very prominent in the results.

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