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electrical/vibrational/other systemic problem?

By Batcrab
Nov 6, 2006
  1. Hello. This is my first post to the forum, so I apologize if this is in the wrong section, but it seemed to be the closest match.
    I built the computer I'm currently using now around six months ago. I didn't go the cadillac route with any of the components, but I didn't go bargain basement, either.
    All parts were purchased new and are less than six months old, like I said. Below are brief specs, included so that if any of the parts are known for causing this sort of problem, maybe someone here will have heard of it:

    Intel D915GEVL board
    Intel p4 2.8 ghz (stock hs + fan)
    1.5 ghz wintec ram
    Sparkle power q 300W psu
    Western digital caviar wd800j 80 gb
    Samsung sh-s162l dvd/cd burner
    generic floppy
    sapphire radeon x850 xt
    2 of whatever brand of fans came with my foxconn case

    So, here's my problem(s)...

    My vid card has been making a sort of squeaky-wheel sound whenever it's under load (not at all when at idle) ever since I purchased it. But I never isolated exactly what was making the sound and when until the other day. After doing some research, it turns out it's a hardware defect present on some ati cards. This is not the fan noise present on x850 cards, btw, but a separate problem altogether.

    So I got that figured out and decided I'm rma'ing the sucker. The sound's...Broken-and-aggravating sounding enough to make me want it replaced anyway, but from what I read cards with this problem have a way of spontaneously dying in some cases.

    The next day or so I noticed another new noise and traced it to my dvd burner. When you boot the computer with a cd inside, it will make a repetive chirping noise like it's reading it even when it's at idle. Sometimes the led blinks repetitively, sometimes not. And whenever you play a game or use another program that has to read from it consistently, it makes a loud electronic buzzing/whining noise. Was quiet and worked great up until then.

    Then just today, I noticed a NEW noise (whole story's like this ;-> ).

    My hard drive, which has been working beautifully, and ultra quiet (I mean best of luck to you if you tried to hear it quiet) started emitting a low but constant buzzing/humming noise. It's also making other much more intermittent noises.

    I wasn't sure of this at first however, thinking maybe it was one of the fans. So I unplugged it and took it out, and I thought I heard something when I moved it. So I gave it a gentle shake, and it emitted a noise like a #$%^@!* squeaky toy! Seriously. If you shake it very gently, it sounds just like the sound a squeaky toy makes when dog chomps on it.

    The video card always made that noise, I have not modded it in anyway, and it always stays under 70 C. My dvd/cd drive has had only light/medium use since I bought it, and I've used it to burn less than 50 times. Maybe 30 or so.

    I've monitored my cpu/enviroment temps regularly, and my system always stays nice and cool. It's a prescott, so it's basically a furnace, but it always stays between 40-50 C at idle and stays under 70 under load. I sometimes check the voltage (this is using pre-packaged intel utilities and I don't know about their pin-point accuracy), and they've always been well within healthy ranges.

    No component, nor has the computer itself ever been exposed to any significant shock, heat, dust (keep it clean), liquid, alien abduction, etc.

    My question to the forum is this. Have I simply been the recipient of several pieces of bunk hardware, or could all of these (excluding vid card) problems be being caused by something more systemic? Some kind of electrical problem with my psu or board, perhaps?

    Also, my computer does vibrate very slightly. It's the first more modern machine I've had in years, so it's the first one I've had with multiple fans. I don't know if mine vibrates more than what's the norm or not. It's not extreme in the least. You can just feel a slight vibe if you touch it. Could that have anything to do with it, perhaps?

    I know that newer hardware that generates more heat and spins at faster rpms (where applicable) is simply going to be more prone to failure than legacy items. But man, I have computers over 7 years old in which every piece of stock hardware still functions.

    So this is ridiculous that after less than half a year, I'm having a few pieces of new hardware go nutty on me all around the same time. I don't know what to think, but I'm pullin' my hair out at this point. I don't know if an electrical or other problem could even potentially cause problems like this, so I thought I'd refer to people who might know a lot more about this.

    So please, anyone's ideas/theories/suggestions will be appreciated. Including if you have anything to say about any of the particular problems (what causes the hard drive buzzing/squeaky toy noise, or the newfound noisyness with the cd/dvd drive).

    Besides the obvious, one of the reasons I want to know is that I'm thinking about getting the max processor for this board (3.8 ghz) and another gig of ram at some point, maybe christmas. Might need a new psu if I do anyway, have to figure out how much all that would draw, but I don't want to buy
    all that for this board if there's something weird going on with my system that's wrecking my hardware ;-).

    Anyway, thank you very much for reading through all of this. I apologize for the length, but I suck at being succinct. And thank you very much in advance for your help.

    PS-If you do think it might be something electrical and you have a suggestion for how to test it, please be very clear, like you're talking to a 3 year old. I own a multimeter but I'm very lame/ignorant with it. Gracias.
     
  2. NCSUFrenchie

    NCSUFrenchie TS Rookie

    Check your power requirements here

    http://www.extreme.outervision.com/PSUEngine

    I would -highly- recommend a stronger power supply. 500W isn't out of line for this system. If you can fit a couple 120mm fans in there, it will take care of the vibrational problems somewhat.

    Speaking of vibes, a trick i learned from working on cars is to take a very long screwdriver, put the tip on a component you think is making noise, and pushing your ear up to the handle. You'll definately hear it if the component you're listening to is the one making the noise (a word of caution: dont be jamming the screwdriver just anywhere, they short circuit things and tend to break fans if the fan is moving :blackeye: ). Touching the side of the HDD is a good way to see if it's the culprit.

    Also, give your capacitors a glance to make sure they're not blown/leaking.

    Let us know what you see/hear!
     
  3. Batcrab

    Batcrab TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the screwdriver tip. Will definitely be using that in the future :). I'm certain as to where these particular sounds are coming from, though.

    Yeah, I'd like to opt for 120mm fans, but they wouldn't work in my case without adapters. Never really looked into it. The small amount of vibration it has isn't a bother at all-unless it is screwing up my hardware. I do find that a bit hard to imagine, though. You can just barely, barely feel it if you touch the outside of the case with the pads of your fingers. To feel it much at all you have to take the cover off and pinch part of the chassis between your fingers, and even then, it's pretty slight.

    I think the vibe's primarily from the cpu fan, actually. It's the stock intel cooling solution that shipped with the processor. It's on properly and everything, but I detect more vibration when I feel it compared to the case fans. It's not major, once again, but it's present.

    I knew I wasn't leaving myself much head room with my power budget when I built it, and I never actually did the math and figured out precisely how much I was drawing.

    So I checked it out on that link, and everything combined comes to about 268W. I know that power calculators like that by nature can't be uber-accurate, and that 300W doesn't exactly mean 300W. But sparkle's are decent, so I think it's alright.

    I went over the board too, and all the capacitors look tip-top.
     
  4. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    The vibration and stuff you shouldn't be too worried about, after all, moving parts (especially fans left on high speed mode) inside devices all generate kinetic energy.. start worrying when your PC starts to cause a couple of seismic activities..

    If they are generally hardware fault then you either got unlucky and somethings got damaged in transit or just plain bad hardware..
    i've had hardware die on me in less than 6 months, others a year, the rest still going strong.. namely the 6 months brand new fried motherboard was simply a bad from my end, being a then-was noob. Sometimes its just the luck of the draw, but if you keep it in good condition it should last you a bit..

    Check that you're using all the correct stand offs and washer rings for the motherboards and other screws and everything is plugged in nice and snug. Electrical problems and/or capacitor damage can cause some problem, but mostly result in the components getting fried or unexplainable software glitches.

    40-50`C idle isn't too bad for a Prescott, but it could do better. How many fans are you pointing at it? do you have a side case fan right on top of it? your room still nice and not too hot ambiance?

    The hdd noise, see if it corresponds to when it seeks for data and such.. download the disk doctor or data lifeguard utility (don't remember what one) from WD's website and run it on your HDD to uncover any serious problems.

    the stock HSF stuff.. they are good enough to keep the CPU nice and cool.. but you can replace it if it starts to drive you insane..

    in terms of buying stuff.. if you got a socket 775 mobo, check if it can handle the Core 2 duos. They're a tonne more better than the P4 and probably worth the upgrade money. Investing in a good PSU is a no-brainer obvious thing but also investing in a good surge protector or UPS will definatly keep things intact from bad electricity. If your mobo supports dual channel Ram, better keep the ram sticks at an even number like 2x512mb, 2x1gb or 4x512 etc. and all matching too. It will make your system run faster.

    do you have any software/OS problems at all?
     
  5. Batcrab

    Batcrab TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I didn't think the amount of vibe in my computer was enough to cause concern, but I thought it wise to get other people's opinions on it. Sounds like it's not.

    I would prefer it if things stayed a little cooler, but I don't think it's very possible without going with water cooling or something similar. The reason being that when I first got my new mobo, I thought I could get away with slapping it in my old case. Turns out it wasn't really running hot anyway, but I thought it was, since at that time I didn't realize how much hotter prescotts were naturally. So I took off the side of the case, turned on a big ole' box fan and pointed it at it. Didn't make any difference. Or very very very little, anyway. I also tried playing around with applying various amounts of thermal grease with similar results. So I think it's about as cool as I'm going to get it without more extreme measures. I may go for a new hs and fan at some point anyway though, just because the noise is a little bothersome. It's not horrible, but it could be beter.

    I did download data lifeguard from WD. I didn't run the more extensive test, just the one where it reads the SMART. According to it, everything's fine. But I mean...Squeaky toy. And buuzzzzz...And occasional other disconcerting noises. It might run just fine for a while, I guess it isn't necessarily failing...But now I just can't trust it. I do backups very regularly...I tend to make a folder for programs I've downloaded, and one for documents and miscellaneous, and regularly burn any new additions to the dvd I use for back up, which I also have a back up of.

    But besides the annoyance of the noise, now I just don't know when it's gonna die outright and take something important with it. I could start doing backups every day, but that's way too much of a hassle. So I'm just gonna get it replaced and probably buy another and set up a raid.

    I'd absolutely love to throw a core 2 duo in it. But unfortunately (second reason I regret buying this board, the first being forget about overclocking), the 915 chipset doesn't support them. If anyone knows any way around that, I would love to hear about it, though. I doubt there is, but who knows?

    I am going to go through and make sure everything's nice and tight later today. Don't have time at the moment, but I'll include it in my next post.

    See, that's the thing. I haven't had any software or OS problems at all. No lock ups, crashes, nothing. And that's what I'd look for if there was something wrong with the board. But the only time its ever really locked up badly was very recently when I put a dvd into my drive since it's started acting funny. That, and when I tried to update the drivers for my sound card...It didn't like that at all ;-).

    That actually leads me to another question, though. I recently set up my front panel audio, which I hadn't done in the past since I played with it for a little while, got nothing, and said screw it, I'll deal with it later. The plugs from the ports and those on the board didn't match up, so I had to split two of the plugs apart to hook things up correctly.

    And it works...In linux. Not in Windows. I set up my computer to dual boot between ubuntu and xp, since I want to learn linux and get off windows. For the time being, I just want to use linux for the net and xp for games.

    I hooked things up, and I get sound through my headphones in linux no problem. I get nothing in xp. Not even an "I'm plugged in" hum through the speakers. It's an integrated realteck ac 97 (I think are the letters/numbers), if that helps.

    If my board or psu was jacked up in some way though, I would expect failure outright...Something getting fried, like you said. And that's not what's happening. I just don't know enough about it to know if some sort of electrical problem can cause behaviours like what I've been having.
     
  6. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,715   +397

    Your hard drive should never make noises like that. Run the full diagnostic test on it rather than just the short SMART test.
     
  7. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    getting sound is annoying.. especially if you plan to use the front panel access.. your mobo manual should have the most info about how to get it setup properly, and getting the correct driver to work is another must. Maybe you need to have nothing plugged in the back for it to work?

    I'd agree with SNGX, hdds shouldn't be making that much of a noise.. if it fails the full test, I'd brand it as unreliable and just replace it, leaving that in an external case or a short term transfer drive..

    water cooling is if you got the money and the time to set it up. You can get some decent aftermarket fans like zalmans, coolermaster and thermaltakes to replace it.. as my sig says, i'm running a P4 @3.2GHz, and having a copper zalman ontop of it, its running a good 40`C on silent speed (slowest speed) with norton ghost and winrar doing its magic in the background.. average 30-38`C most of the day, and i estimate i can reach the 20's if i put it to full blast.

    don't know if there's any workarounds for your mobo to get Core, but it won't hurt to check the web and manufacturer if they got an upgrade or update for it..
     
  8. Batcrab

    Batcrab TS Rookie Topic Starter

    As soon as I heard my drive sounding like that I knew something was off. I mean, I can't imagine a situation where a piece of hardware making a new sound is a good thing, barring an intentional modification. So I'm happy to say that sucker's in the mail and I'm awaiting a replacement.

    My mobo manual documents what-pin's-which very well, but that's as far as it goes. My board is an Intel, and my case is a Foxconn, and the plugs from the foxconn simply didn't match up. Lol, and never having done it before, I wasn't sure how they were supposed to since things weren't very cut and dried. I figured it out eventually though, once I realized I'd just have to split the plugs.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that if my headphones work fine under linux, then things must be fine at the hardware level. I did try updating the drivers for my sound card, but yeah...My computer didn't like that, so I stuck with the old. I tried leaving my speakers unplugged in the back, and that didn't help. I appreciate the suggestion, though. So it sucks, but I'm not sure what the problem is or how to go about fixing it. I live in a place where I can't really blast things through my speakers, and we all know how much of a pain it can be to have to plug headphones in through the back...So being able to use my front ports would be very nice. I welcome any input anyone may have on the issue. I'm running Win XP SP2 with realtek high definition audio ALC860 driver version 5.10.00.5125.

    I actually broke down the other day and got a new hs+f and a couple new case fans. Decided my computer could be quieter ;-). They're due in the mail today, and I look forward to seeing how they do. Can't be worse than my stock stuff. The gigabyte hs+f has a blue led...I could see getting into fans with flash if I had a window in my case, but since I don't...Ah, I guess it's still kinda cool in a way, I don't know. Not something I'm big on, but it'll be different.

    I wanted this MASSIVE Zalman I saw...But it was over twice as much, and no way would it fit in my case. If the fins wouldn't crash into my psu, they definitely would into the heatsink for the onboard graphics. The gigabyte was on sale for $27.99 and I read very good things from others who owned it, so I thought I'd give it a shot. We'll see how it is today.

    I don't believe there's a workaround to get core on my mobo...I checked intel's site, and it's list of compatible processors for my board excluded dual cores. But maybe some whiz kid will figure something out...Or not. But that'd be cool.
     
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