Computer Woes Continue

OK, things get worse and worse. I got the MSI motherboard, and installed it yesterday. The build went fine, except it still refuses to issue video output. Fans are running, no debug LEDs are lit, but I’m in the same situation I was with the ASUS board.

I tried swapping out video cards again, with no joy. I swapped memory with my own desktop, and not only did it not work, but when I put the stick back in the computer, it gave me a DRAM error, so somehow I managed to damage half of my 32G of RAM. Plus, now my computer won’t boot. It just dumps me into rescue mode, and I don’t see anything obvious in the journal.

I’d be pulling hair if I had any to spare.

[Friday-afternoon update]

So we had a power failure in the middle of the night, when a high-speed police chase through the neighborhood resulted in the perp crashing a stolen BMW into an Edison pole and breaking it (both the pole and the car, apparently). It lasted almost twelve hours, and just came back up (I wandered over around the block a couple times and watched SoCal Edison replacing the pole and reattaching lines).

No status update on the computer. At this point, I’m just going to load it all in the car and take it to Colorado with us, because I’m out of time to fix it before we leave tomorrow. I’ll be there until next weekend, but it was intended to go and be left there anyway. Worst case is I’ll take it to Best Buy (since I got the motherboard there) and see if they can figure it out.

[Thanksgiving Eve update]

So I took it to the Geek Squad yesterday (because I bought the replacement mobo at Best Buy), and with their test GPU, we determined that it was in fact the video card, so the original mobo was probably OK. I went to Micro Center to get another one, and the machine is finally running.

Now I’m trying to install Windows on it (I know, I know, but it’s not my machine…).

It booted into Linux with the SSD that I use to boot into my laptop, so I made a boot disk from a Windows 10 ISO on a USB stick. But it won’t boot from that stick. I just get a message to put in a proper boot device and hit return, but there is no way to do that. And when I hit return, I just keep getting the same message. I’ve booted back into Linux whence I am updating this post.

64 thoughts on “Computer Woes Continue”

      1. Get a PS that has the 4-pin connector, and try again. Lack of that supply tends to make motherboards get sulky. I’ve done enough builds that I’ve had that particular issue before.

        1. You almost never need both; the 8-pin should be sufficient, unless Rand got a 12- or 16-core CPU.

          You do have to make sure you use the right connector, though.

      2. I had a similar problem a year ago. I was a building a machine for a family member. In my defense, they provided a modular power supply yet neglected to bring the cable for the CPU, so it took me a week to figure out the problem. In the meantime, the frustration was as you described.

  1. $485.00
    https://discountelectronics.com/dell-precision-workstation

    Dell Precision T5810 4-Core Xeon Nvidia Workstation
    Intel Xeon Quad Core E5-1607 v3 3.1GHz Processor
    AMD RADEON 8490
    Gigabit Ethernet
    Support for up to four M.2 PCIe SSDs and up to three 3.5″ SATA or four 2.5″ SATA/SAS drives
    Integrated Intel AHCI 6Gb/s SATA controller with six ports, two reserved for optical drives, Intel RSTe supports host-based software RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
    4x USB 3.0
    6x USB 2.0
    Windows 10 Pro Preloaded

      1. I don’t do Dell, and I don’t do Intel.

        I’m sure there’s an interesting story behind this decision. Care to share it? We all have are principles but you seem to be suffering from yours more than most.

        1. I don’t do Dell because I like to know what’s in my computers and be able to upgrade them. Dell uses non-standard power supplies, motherboards, and other things. I don’t do Intel because I want to make sure they have competition from at least AMD.

      2. I hear you, but there’s another side to the story, at least for low cost, relatively reliable computers when you get 1-2 year old refurbished computers. I’ve used several older model Dells as work-a-day desktops that also perform routine server and backup duties. Sure the circuits are cheap. Sure everything is non-standard (e.g. power supplies). But they are amazingly easy to maintain if you get Dell compatible parts and they are surprisingly reliable. No surprises. But definitely not high performance.

        1. One other thing, Dell is generally recognized as being excellent at making documents easily available online, with generally English-first verbiage. A quick “Dell XP4321whatever” search will usually get you a single page with pdf’s of everything in a simple list; system, monitor, etc.

    1. Not sure what Rand wants to do with his PC but this is another low end option for dorking around on the internet and doing some office type stuff.

      https://www.newegg.com/acer-aspire-tc-390-ua91-student-home-office/p/N82E16883101831?Description=desktop&cm_re=desktop-_-83-101-831-_-Product

      If I was to build something, it would be a high end machine because those are hard to buy as a prebuilt but a low end machine that wouldn’t be used for anything too strenuous, I’d just get a prebuilt. I’m sure Rand has already spent more billable hours on this than it would have cost to buy off the shelf. Building stuff is a lot of fun though and if that is a motivation, then this is a great project.

      1. 429 dollars?

        I wanted a cheap box (a complete computer system with everything but the monitor). I bought a “refurbished” Acer for under $100 at New Egg.

        When I got it, the box appeared brand new. Refurbished? This thing was never even furbished. I think it was remaindered because the low-rent, market-segmented bargain-basement excuse for an Intel Celeron processor was too painful for even its target budget market.

        Yeah, the processor is dog slow, but it is a sort of contest as to how slow a computer one can tolerate. I got it because I was forced in the Great XP Migration off my Intel P3 Coppermine box using a mobo Jerry Pournelle had once recommended. The Acer is still multiples faster than the 1.2 GHz P3 and faster than a Cray Y-MP from back-in-the-day, but hey, everything these days Hoovers up processor cycles.

        Of course I couldn’t leave well enough alone and spent an extra $100 adding another stick of RAM to max the mobo out at 8 Gig and an SSD. In doing that, I burnt through an inordinate amount of time figuring out that the M.2 socket was no good for an SSD and only usable by a special-purpose Acer wireless add-on. Since the SSD took up one of two SATA ports, the other used by the CD-ROM (For $99 it had a CD-ROM. What a country!), my $100 add-on budget paid for a USB adapter for the hard drive, but I found out my budget edition of Windows 10 doesn’t allow backing up the SSD to a USB drive.

        What I am saying is that if you are cobbling a computer from parts in the early-middle 21st century, you are engaging in a hobby.

  2. Try reseating the DIMM on your old desktop. and see if it will come back. It’s easy to get these seated wrong in the socket.

    Check that your new PS is putting out the proper voltages on the cable. It’s the one common component here.

    Finally as Rick C mentioned check the QVL list for the new motherboard and make sure you have compatible DIMMS.

  3. That refurb should be $48.50 instead of $485.00
    7yr old processor – 4G RAM – 250G HDD (not SSD!)
    No doubt a fancy machine in it’s day (if it had more RAM, of course), but that day has long past.

  4. If you’re using HDMI, maybe try DisplayPort if you have a cable and it’s supported at both ends. Or it could even be something as silly as the monitor stuck on stupid, listening to the wrong input port—try cycling it among the ports with the buttons (or power cycling it). Or a loose cable as another commenter suggested; or a cable that’s marginal or too long (try the shortest feasible one).

      1. 2 months ago one of my 2 displays wouldn’t light up. I thought it was the video card but it turned out to be the display.

  5. Oh, and if the new motherboard has any native onboard video, try connecting to that, with or without the PCI video card installed.

      1. I build all of my systems. I never build a system without motherboard supported video.

        Never. Ever.

        I want that backup in case things go south.

        1. Unfortunately, it is only recently that AMD released the desktop CPU’s that support onboard video and they are still hard to source.

        2. All modern motherboards have video outputs for when you have a CPU with integrated graphics. None of them have display adapters, though. If you have an Intel F-series video, or an AMD CPU that’s not an APU, you have to have discrete graphics.

  6. “No status update on the computer. At this point, I’m just going to load it all in the car and take it to Colorado with us and throw it in a river…”

    Strange issue to run into on both of the builds. Interested to see what the problem ends up being.

  7. Good! I can slip that guy I hired to take out your power my payment and enjoy Thanksgiving in peace. It was worth every penny…..

  8. Rand, Microcenter is starting to stock the 5600G and 5700G APUs. Not as good as discrete graphics, of course, but the Ryzen APUs blow the Intel iGPUs out of the water. The Houston one, for example, claims to have 25+ of each in stock. Best Buy claims to carry it, too. It’s 8C16T and has a fairly high base/turbo speeds.

  9. “So we had a power failure in the middle of the night, when a high-speed police chase through the neighborhood resulted in the perp crashing a stolen BMW into an Edison pole and breaking it (both the pole and the car, apparently).”

    Some years ago while staying with a friend of my wife’s in Perth, Western Australia (nice beach holiday, the house is 500 meters from a very nice little beach complete with reef only 50 meters offshore), I got up one morning and found no power. Checked the net and saw the power was out, to be restored by 10 am. Try 4pm.
    Anyway, while talking to the owner of the little convenience store a couple of doors down across the road, he metioned the cause of the problem. Stolen Honda CRV had impacted the power pole just around the corner from the store. Did a really good job on the pole and itself (front suspension bits still at base of pole) and the cops had parked it a bit further down the road on the street verge, no sign of occupants. We went to have a look. Totaled, airbags deployed, looked like someone’s head had impacted windscreen (may have been from the street light that fell off the pole). Neatly layed out on the street verge next to it were a hoodie, a pair of women’s panties and the inner bladder of a wine cask (known in those parts as a “goon bag” after “flagon”->”flagoon”.
    Write your own story.

  10. Rand, I realize sending components back a second time and starting over is annoying, but here’s a thought: high-end laptop? At the beginning of the year I got an Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. It does look a little gamery, but it’s pretty solid. I don’t know what the current price is but I got it on sale for about $1100. 14″ 1080p display, 8-core 4900HS with integrated graphics and an nVidia RTX 2060 Max-Q, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. It’s really nice, nearly as fast as a desktop, and doesn’t have a lot of bloatware. The fans can get a bit loud but they’re a lot less obnoxious that some laptops I’ve seen. Keyboard’s nothing to write home about, but I mostly use an external mechanical one. I don’t think that particular model’s available any more, but there’s also variants with a GTX1650 if you don’t need so much GPU.

      1. Fair enough, although high-end laptops will sometimes support multiple external monitors these days.

        At any rate, do you have any way to verify the CPU isn’t damaged? If not, AMD has some pretty cheap APUs, like the 200GE or the 3000G, which you can get for around $100 on Amazon.

        1. No, but I have no reason to think it is. It’s brand new, and the debug LED on the motherboard isn’t telling me it is. But I plan to take it to Best Buy this week (where I bought the motherboard) and see if they can figure it out. They’ll have a lot more known-good parts to swap out than I do.

          1. I recently built a computer, and had to set something in the BIOS to get video output from the graphics cards. I forget the details – it was something stupid.

            The machine is a headless server for doing GPU calculations though, so after the initial setup I never had to bother with it.

          1. Fair enough, although some of those high-end ones are a pretty good value especially if you can get them on a good sale. $1100 for mine, or even $1200, I forget which I paid, would be a decent price for an equivalent desktop, especially with the current GPU shortages.

            I prefer desktops myself, but laptops are finally getting to the point where I feel like I could switch and not be giving up something major.

  11. I’d love to offer advice, but I haven’t built one in a couple years, never have these problems myself, and I’m afraid whatever computer curse Rand is carrying might be transmissible.

  12. OT, Lileks was on fire yesterday.

    Soon the streets will fill with angry men who want to break store windows and set cars on fire.
    No no not those guys, they’re good! We mean the bad ones.
    There will be mobs who attack Jews.
    No no not those guys, they’re angry about colonialism or acting out whiteness doctrines of otherizing, please keep up.

    1. Someone using Linux probably isn’t all that into the walled garden, although once Linux is available on an M1 Pro Macbook I’d be tempted to get one.

    2. With Apple’s attitude about proprietary this and that and this over there, plus their mania about making their machines as non-standard as physically possible and in addition their phobia about expandability and repairability, one does not really OWN a Mac. At best, one rents one. I would not be tempted and I doubt that anyone like Rand would even consider it. They also have lots of software issues.

      I’ve been following the nightly Pixy technical posts on Ace recently and it’s become painfully clear that MBs, memory, CPUs, and GPUs have all become exceedingly complex in recent years, especially at the high performance end of the scale. Incompatibilities galore. I’ve built many a plain white box over the years (one was for my daughter that consisted of a MB and assorted leftover junk). However, I don’t think I’d try to do one now because it has become so much more complicated. It’s either spend a year learning all the current pitfalls, or spend a bit extra and get a system that’s pre-built and tested. There are alternatives to Dell or HP.

  13. I don’t know what the primary use for the computer is going to be but I have been running a raspberry Pi 400 as a nice little desktop machine. Cost me all of $100 for the thing. Add a $25 used monitor with HDMI and you are good to go.

    But if you have to use it for a heavy workload, that won’t do the trick. ASUS motherboards are usually pretty good. You can pick up a decent case w/power supply at a Micro-Center (I don’t trust Best Buy). The fact that two motherboards suffered the same fate points to bad or miswired power supply or you have a monitor issue possibly?

  14. All MB’s & laptops I’ve bought the last 10 years have been ASUS. Not perfect but the gold standard for me. Business laptop computers provided by my employers have been Dell / Lenovo. The Dells have been buggy. Of course I’m locked into WinDoze due to compatibility / availability of software. I would hope ASUS fully supports Linux but no in-depth experience.

  15. You’re making progress. I suspect that your problem now is one of making a bootable USB Win10 disk from Linux, which can be a bit tricky. Things like Unetbootin often fail in my experience. Possible approaches would be to boot a BootRepair USB and see if it can fix the problem. Another would be to brute force things by making the USB boot disk using dd. Slow, but (usually) reliable. Can you get another Win10 machine to make the boot disk for you (most likely to be reliable)?

  16. If you’re going to try Windows, use Rufus (rufus dot ie). Follow the instructions on the site and it will give you step by step instructions on how to make a bootable usb drive. (Or you could just use Microsoft’s tool, but that’s up to you.)

    1. Agreed. Rufus is the way to go. I wish there was something as reliable for Linux. Ubuntu’s startup disk creator is fine for Linux based bootables (which thankfully covers most useful diagnostics), but I don’t know if it would work for Win10.

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