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WIN: Asus Xtreme Global Summit Competition Week 2

Posted on 7th Aug 2009 at 10:28 by Alex Watson with 32 comments

Alex Watson
Motherboard manufacturers have long published QVL (“Qualified Vendor List”) lists for their motherboards, listing the memory modules the board will work with. It’s a necessary step given the huge number of memory modules, and memory companies who make RAM, but I’m willing to bet I’m not the only PC enthusiast who’s built a PC without taking the time to look at the QVL list.

If PC enthusiasts don’t pay particular attention to the QVL list, you can imagine how much attention it gets from less technical PC builders – about as much as a bog standard Storm Trooper at a Star Wars convention. Using memory that’s not on the QVL doesn’t automatically mean you’ll have problems, but it can result in numerous odd gremlins, or the system failing to boot.

So, what’s a motherboard manufacturer to do? Read on for Asus’ plan to save hasty PC builders from themselves.

If you read Rich’s recent review of the Asus Rampage II Gene, after getting over how small it is (yup, mATX Core i7 with twin full length PCI-E slots), you might have noticed a new feature called Mem OK!

WIN: Asus Xtreme Global Summit Competition Week 2

If you build a PC and encounter issues which might be related to memory, you can press a button the board’s PCB, and then magic happens and it all gets sorted out. OK, so it’s not quite that simple, but it’s still a pretty nifty system. Essentially, the board will start trying various different memory parameters in order to get the memory working. It means you don’t need to worry about memory compatibility issues anymore when building a system.

It’s something Asus hopes will come in handy when building a PC, but as Rich pointed out in the review, it could also be handy if you upgrade your system’s memory and the new DIMMs require a BIOS update to be supported – you could hit Mem OK! To get the system working and then update the BIOS and fiddle with the settings yourself.

WIN WIN WIN! Ah, the bit you’ve all been waiting for – the chance for five lucky readers to win a ticket to the Asus Xtreme Global Summit in London on the 28th of August, along, of course, with top hardware prizes. This week’s competition question is simple: what’s been the trickiest, most complex or most frustrating problem you’ve had when building a PC? Post you answers in the comments, and we’ll pick the five best!

32 Comments

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Xtrafresh 7th August 2009, 12:08 Quote
ah damn, i'm afraid being one of the lucky ones from last week disqualifies me from venting all my frustrations in here...
wuyanxu 7th August 2009, 12:12 Quote
memory compatibility issue was the most annoying. and sometimes unstable memory such as when keep getting blue screens in windows installations.

another frustrating problem is need another CPU to flash the BIOS to one that supports the 45nm quad core.

most complex problem i've had was a "checking memory" error code displayed on the LED, even when the memory have been downclocked and confirmed 100% stable. turned out to be the 8800GTX had connection problems. clear error message on LED is most important
comeradealexi 7th August 2009, 12:31 Quote
Ram Problems. Ram Problems. Ram Problems.

After spending hours and days testing my ram after recieving constant BSODS, and testing each stick one by one I STILL got BSODS - So I rang Crucial about this BallistiX Ram and they got me to send the FOUR sticks back and they sent me four brand new ones :D But guess what? A few months down the line BAM a BSOD! I died a little inside knowing that again it was definatley the ram as the BSOD read "MEMORY_MANAGEMENT" , So again i tested and tested and tested and tested. Sent 2 of them back because 2 of them seemed to work and they sent me 2 new ones. Then everything was fine until the other 2 ones stopped working :( so i sent them back and at this time i had 4 new sticks :) Ofcourse knowing my luck they all broke again, same process *repeat* until the finally said okay we are going to send you some BallistiX Tracer RAM much better and revised and we will even cover the postage cost for you!

Got the RAM and am still using it to date with know problem! Although they refused to cover the postage in the end......
von_stylon 7th August 2009, 12:54 Quote
In 2005 a friend of mine wanted to upgrade so he could have a powerful rig for his music production, at the time he was running an AMD duron with 512mb of ram. Now around that time I had built a fair few rigs and what he wanted was nothing out of the ordinary just a p4 3 GHz, 2 GB of ram and a cheapy graphics card in a nice case.

At the time I was working for EA in tech support and at times it would be quite dead so this gave me time out in the day to sling all his new kit into his shiny new box. The build went well and was simple, the OS installed as normal and all seemed well. I left his rig at work as I had some software he gave me to install for him (yes he could make great music but had no idea how to install software).

The next day upon returning to work I fired up his machine to begin the install, windows booted and BSOD. I thought ok fair enough might be a dodgy dim so I went safe and unplugged everything and went diagnostic.
Over the following week I had tested everything even to the point where I had replaced every component with identical kit and still all I got was BSOD. The crazy thing was that every BSOD had a different error, no two were the same.

Having exhausted myself and my manager’s patience I took the machine to some friends to see if they could find something I had missed. To keep this from getting to long a story the machine went through 5 tekky guys as well as a few local businesses I knew well who were very good and this was over the course of 12 months.

Eventually I was handed back the rig and I was going to launch the machine out the back door into the bin and thought I would give it one more try. I stripped the innards like I had done before so many times and built up the rig step by step each time adding another part and each time no BSOD until it was fully built in the box and job done. My friend still uses the machine today and not a single BSOD to date that I know of. He does ask me to pop round every now and then when he wants some new software or needs some help using the thing.

I have never ever been able to work out why his machine did what it did and there really is no logical explanation. For me it really is one of those X files moments in my computing life.
yakyb 7th August 2009, 12:55 Quote
when building a pc my reat fear is that when i place it together it does not run. and there is generally no method of informing why, or i need another device to provide checks on faulty equipment

for example i get a mobo and cpu but the mobo requires a bios update to run with that cpu however being a new build i do not have a compatible cpu that fits the socket!!

Likewise when i buy a new PC with say a PCIe GPU and the display fails to turn on, say this is my first pcie GPU. is that at fault or the mobo

same can be said with any new hardware that is not compatible with older versions

PSUs / GPU / CPU / SSD / PCIe1xdevices

what would be nice is for a method of
1.) upgrading bios without cpu required
2.) indicative Lights on mobo or any device for that matter saying reliably whether that part is working or not
Red not working
amber working not enabled
green Working as intended
yakyb 7th August 2009, 13:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by von_stylon
In 2005 ...



my guess would be a peice of dust / grime in an odd place that just happenend to get cleared the last time you built it

you cant get much more annoying than that
g3n3tiX 7th August 2009, 13:12 Quote
Very simple, yet still unexplained problem : (on a p6T deluxe... which I kept and still use)
I built my system, plugged my shiny 1TB Spinpoint F1. Everything went fine, installed Vista, no hitches.
Then I powered it off, and decided I was going to reroute some cables, including the SATA one from my HDD.

Thus I unplugged it, rerouted it, and replugged it in. Lest did I know it was in a different SATA plug.

When booting up, the system would tell my "insert disk and press X to boot." But wait, I have my HDD inside, with a fresh Vista ! So I reboot it, and check the Bios : the HDD is there, but doesn't appear in the bootable device list nor is selectable !!
So I wonder if it's the HDD, thinking of RMA'ing it (would take some time, online retailer, brand new PC would have to wait as it's the only sata HDD I have). So I fiddle, try stuff, and while unplugging it and replugging it in another connector, lo and behold, the OS booted just fine !

I still wonder why some connectors on the Mobo won't allow the device to be bootable yet detect them and display all the right info. Haven't tried the plugs with a different HDD since.


another small niggle (less frustrating) was that my IDE cable was not the good one (a 40 conductor vs. a 80 conductor) so the DVD drive didn't have enough bandwidth to read the disk and tranfer the data properly. Thus installation of an OS wasn't possible, I got some errors from the installer.
mclean007 7th August 2009, 13:14 Quote
I think the most frustrating were power related. First was a dicky power supply, because it was just so intermittent. One minute I'd be cruising along nicely, next minute full system hang - no BSOD, nothing, just a complete freeze. I tried every component, thinking it might be the motherboard, RAM, or CPU. I went for a full reinstall on a new HDD in case it was a software / disk issue. And all to no avail. It was only as a last resort that I considered the (no-name, el cheapo, bundled with case) PSU might not be delivering the right voltage. Ever since then I've used quality branded PSUs, and never for a second regret the cost. It is worth every penny for rock solid voltages, which (as I discovered to my detriment) are essential for system stability.

A similar thing happened with new a graphics card I had. Newly installed, it worked like a dream (Radeon 9600 Pro, IIRC). I wasn't overclocking, everything was at factory speeds and voltages, but it would bomb during intensive gaming. Tried a number of things, including reseating the card, all without success. Then I upped the AGP voltage in the BIOS, and lo and behold it worked fine, no problems ever again.

Other frustrations have been to do with the logistics of building a system, like downloading modem / network drivers (ahh, those were the days) without another PC to hand or a network connection; or how about getting into the BIOS to tell it to boot from CD, when all you have to hand is a USB keyboard and the BIOS (this is a few years back mind) only recognised PS/2?

Still, building PCs these days is a piece of cake compared to the mid-90s (showing my age) when you had to get MS-DOS up and running from floppy, guddle about with CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT to get various proprietary hardware initialised properly while still retaining enough base memory (the first 640kB) to actually do anything, then install Windows 95 from your 2x CD-ROM drive using the command prompt. Don't forget to plug the analogue audio cable from the CD drive into your sound card if you actually want to play a CD, and you better hope the driver for your 28.8kbps modem that came on floppy works and you don't get any IRQ conflicts, because otherwise you're never going to be able to get onto the bulletin board...
robyholmes 7th August 2009, 13:16 Quote
The fact that 1 cable has been left out and you can't get to it because the PCI-E or PSU is in the way, and it has to come back out again. I always forget one cable and some of the connections and so had to reach, the old 12v wire was always top right, so when the CPU cooler and PSU where in place in a small case it was very hard to plug it in. Otherwise just general RAM and BIOS problems.
Skiddywinks 7th August 2009, 14:09 Quote
Well, apart from the general ninja moves needed to get some fan headers on after the board is in, and to get a triple radiator in the top of a Cosmos S, the only real problem I have ever had is the RAM. Without a shadow of a doubt.

As most people, I would imagine, I didn't bother checking the QVL for my Rampage Extreme, and just went ahead and bought the best deal RAM I could find. I ended up with some OCZ XMP 1333MHz sticks, which were a great price, and not too shabby.

I had finished setting my build up, with everything where it should be, and fired up the system. Nothing. OH NOES! (Come on, it is everyone's worst fear, surely?)

I turned it off, and went over everything. Being the dozy bugger I am, I hadn't plugged in the 8 and 6 pin power cables for my X2. D'Oh!

Turned it on again, got the reassuring *beep* letting me know the card is fine (phew!), and then installed Windows. However, after getting in to Windows for the first time, got a BSOD. My heart sank.

So, I figured I would reseat the RAM (it works a surprising number of times I have found). Then when I booted up my PC, the LCD Poster (frickin' great addition!) seemed stuck on "DET DRAM". ARGH! Reboot, into BIOS, and checked the auto settings for my RAM timings. It had been trying to overclock them! So I set everything manually (speed, timings, voltage) and haven't had a problem since.

I still don't know to this day whether the sticks are on the QVL, but I might have a look out of curiosity.

When I read about this Mem OK! feature, I was surprised I hadn't thought of it myself. it sounds like a great idea, and is bound to save a lot of people from a lot of headaches.
bodkin 7th August 2009, 14:32 Quote
Just finding which component was causing all the problems! When i first water-cooled my hole system it refused to boot, and the error messages keeped changing! It took me days to find out my cpu was not seated properly, and as well as that two of my RAM sticks were duds. What I could have done with is a system of LEDs that lite up if there respective componant is faulty
Spiny 7th August 2009, 14:39 Quote
I gave my homebuilt pc a bit of a clean out inside before a LAN. When I got to the LAN it wouldn't boot. It took me a while to find but a ball of dust had found it's way into the jupers on the back of the CD drive. I cleared that & it was fine after. Very strange.

As for when building a PC, just dropping small screws & having them end up under the motherboard gets on my tits !
TGImages 7th August 2009, 14:48 Quote
Crappy case design!

For all the systems I've built, I have used a variety of different cases for different reasons. Some have turned out to be great to work with but a few have been downright painful. Sliced fingers, components that just simply won't fit as the case wasn't designed properly, poor tolerances so you're having to bend something in or out before you can attach the component and just plain sloppy construction are my top complaints.

Luckily I have always had enough spare parts so if I got a bad component for a build I could grab something else or put the componet in a different system to verify if it was good or not but the case isn't a "it turns or or it doesn't" scenario...
stoff3r 7th August 2009, 18:28 Quote
I can't afford going to the UK right now, but here's my frustrations..

My motherboard was stable with 2.1v Ram, but whenever the machine crashed or rebooted, It would boot with 1.8v to the Dimms, resulting in no signal to the monitor. The fix was to take out all dimms, powershuffle, install one dimm, set voltages back up to 2.1v and then install the other dimms. This was on several Asus motherboards. As a consequense I never buy premium RAM with huge heatsinks, only Ram with the motherboards standard volt.


My sisters PC had such a crappy mainboard, An ASRock $50 cheapo, and when i installed it we never got the audio to work at all, it was just broken. It was such a cheap motherboard it would cost more to RMA it than it's initial price, so I just gave her my old Soundcard and bought myself a X-fi.

TGImages: yes, those I/O backplates are like razors!! I was going to rma my motherboard once, and discovered my IO plate was covered in blood :S
streetmagix 7th August 2009, 20:48 Quote
My biggest problems so far have with PSU's.
I've been living away at uni for 2 years and each September so far the PSU in my machine has blown on the first day back. Both were Hiper branded models, the second a replacement for the first one.

The first replacement PSU I got also went bang at around 3 am one night. Scared me witless, once I worked out what it was I switched the power off at the mains. In doing so I switched off my alarm clock and managed to be late to my lectures the next day. Just my luck :(

The Coolermaster branded PSU seems to be more reliable, whilst the Hiper PSU sits in a corner, waiting to be sent back (It's been there since Oct 08, still haven't got around to it).
capnPedro 7th August 2009, 21:18 Quote
I wanted to install a 1TB harddrive into my HTPC (now long in the tooth, an Athlon XP 2GHz bad bay). Unfortunately, the VIA (bah!) chipset is only SATA-I. My brand spanking new shiny Samsung drive is SATA-II. No big deal, thinks I. So I plug it in and power up the rig. No dice. It isn't detected by the BIOS. Uh oh.

Now my HTPC's in bits. And my main rig is lacking an OS for some reason. So I borrow my sister's PC, download some bootable harddrive tool CDs from Samsung. And then spend the better part of 4 hours trawling through FAQs and whatnot, finding how to force SATA-I mode. Now this should be simple to do; plug the drive into a motherboard, run a software utility and change a setting. So I plug the drive into my main rig (nForce SATA-II goodness) and start bashing away through menu options. Shock! Horror! The option is greyed out. Damn! Off to read more FAQs.

Several more hours of cocking about ensue. The result of which is me messing up the drive, making it think it's only 12GB big (or some other stupid mistake). Still no SATA-I compatibility and now it's not even allocating all of the platters when it does show up in a BIOS.

So I RMA the drive to ebuyer the next day (stellar customer service, I must say!) and buy a Seagate 1TB drive. The drive arrives and to force SATA-I mode, I place a jumper on two pins. That's it. No messing around finding .isos, burning CDs, looking for non-existant options. I just plug it into my HTPC and it's detected straight away.

So the moral of the story?
1. Always stick to your favourite brand (Seagate for me!)
2. Use a reputable e-tailer with good customer service
3. If it can be solved with hardware. Bloody put a jumper for it! Moving that option into software ruined Samsung's reputation for me. Imagine if I didn't even have a SATA-II board I could use to connect it to.
4. Oh, and make sure the software solution actually works!
Jack_Pepsi 7th August 2009, 21:48 Quote
The most annoying thing - easy, I even did it today! Tell someone near by that I'm going to do something and that I must not forget and I'll forget. For example, (today) my colleague and I are luckly enough to be evaluating Windows 7 for work and we've noticed an issue with 64bit 7 and having AHCI enabled.

So, I say to my colleague "I must not forget to enable AHCI, in fact I won't forget!"

"Press any key to boot from CD/DVD..."

Me: "ARRRGH! 8#*%~@>$!"

Andy: o.O "What?"

Me: "Completely forgot to freakin' enable AHCI!"

Andy: AWWW! *Sniggers!*

That's the most annoying thing I face when building PCs.
kosch 7th August 2009, 22:23 Quote
Building my fathers new PC.

Four months ago it was time to replace his aging Pentium D setup with a brand new Nehalem & X58 Board. I did alot of research on the parts over the course of a few weeks and finally settled on the DFI X58 board as I've used about 5 or 6 different DFI boards over the years for myself and friends with problems or issues I couldnt solve myself.

So anyway once I ordered the parts for him he insisted on putting it together himself (being an engineer he enjoys it or so he thought!) a few days after the build he started to configured the RAID array to store his vast collection of photos he scanned in from a strip scanner & copy them over from the Pentium D setup (had a nasty RAID scare on the Pent-D a few months ago wont get into that). Everything was fine for a few days and then all of a sudden I kept getting phone calls from him to say the BIOS was clearing itself & occasionally the machine wouldnt POST. Not good when he has just transferered over 40,000 images he's scanned in from old slides etc!

So, you do the usual things, swap memory slots, swap memory modules, flash BIOS, swap PSU, contact mobo customer support, flash beta BIOS, strip down to minimal components, RMA the motherboard. The only common we saw factor was when it was disconnected from the mains it would clear the BIOS & sometimes not even POST. This went on for about a month and a half desperatley trying to figure out why this was happening.

It had gotten to the point where we were ready to buy a different brand of motherboard and start again to see if it was an issue. Then on the off chance thinking it might be something environmental in the case we took the motherboard out and had it all running on the table, bare and naked with no case and none of the case power controls.

We did several tests over the next few hours and discovered it was an issue with the soft power controls on the actual case (Coolermaster RC-1100 Cosmos S) causing the motherboard to clear its BIOS & not post occasionally when it was disconnected from the mains! We nearly choked laughing after spending so long trying to solve the problem it was as simple as that! He solved this issue by putting some hard wired power buttons in from maplins and cutting some nice holes in the case for giant Stop/Start buttons!

So my new rule of thumb is: At your wits end with weird hardware problems? Get that motherboard naked!
PMM 8th August 2009, 00:10 Quote
Right Angle Sata Sockets on most forward edge of motherboards - causing issue via sata cable plug protruding to far forward as to clash with drive cage resulting in trying to find hard to find Sata Cabled with smaller plugs or physically cutting the plug plastic so as to force a bend sooner.

Ram heatsinks - like OCZ Reaper being overly high with the heatpipe & fins as to clash with CPU heatsinks - I would like a set spec that manufacturers should design heatsinks to a certain maximum dimensions and zone'ing where they must not overlap.
flibblesan 8th August 2009, 00:40 Quote
CMOS jumpers. Nothing annoys me more than anything when I've spent a long time setting up a new build and making it all tidy, to find it won't boot up. After checking that things are plugged in correctly I eventually notice that the CMOS jumper has been set to clear. I've had this happen on a few boards now. You would think I'd check this first but you don't assume the problem to be so simple and obvious.
n1k_ 8th August 2009, 01:09 Quote
For me the number one issue with my builds has been RAM, right from day one. My first build, a super budget one back when just half a gig of the ultra cheap generic stuff cost almost £60, developed a pretty nasty fault where a heavy load on the memory caused a BSOD.

Of course, as is the case when you're 13 years old and try to inform the man with the credit card of your predicament...:
“Look dad, memtest says the RAM has faults! It keeps crashing! Look! Dad! Dad! Dad! DAD!!!”
...I was given no response other than an apathetic “Meh”.

However as the issue was only under really heavy load, I managed to persevere with said faulty stick for around a year. Until the computer destroyer that is Oblivion came out. Even under the bare minimum settings that my Athlon XP 2500+, 9600 Pro and 512MB RAM could provide (wow, this game sure is... foggy) within around 5 minutes each and every time I loaded up the game it would tragically BSOD.

At that point my endless wailing to my father made rather epic win, and I was given a princely sum of cash to spend on a brand spanking new rig.

And all was well in the land of my computer's memory. Until one fateful night, where a game of BF2 decided to commit harakiri and send my computer into a rebooting frenzy. Upon removing a single memory module and having the computer spring back to life, I realised the curse of the RAM was back upon me. Upon understanding the only way to get a replacement was to actually send both of the matched pair I had bought back, I was faced with a horrible realisation. The only other DDR module in the house that could get my computer back on it's feet was none other than the faulty generic stick.

Skip forward to last month, where I finally decided that my measly 2x1GB of RAM just wasn't cutting it any more. Solution? Buy two more sticks of the same 2x1GB stuff and put it into my motherboard. Why, my motherboard has four memory slots, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, apparently in some cheaper motherboards two of the slots are there just for decoration, as I found out the hard way. No amount of attacking the voltages in the BIOS with my arrow keys would let me boot up with anything more than 3 sticks in place, and even then I had massive instability problems on stock settings, let alone the 3.0GHz overclock I had my e2140 sitting at. I ended up giving up and returning the two sticks, and in their place bought 2x2GB sticks which seem to be happy running happily so far. It was less a RAM issue and more a motherboard and a me being an idiot issue, but nonetheless RAM was involved, so it still counts.
harveypooka 8th August 2009, 11:29 Quote
The trickiest problem I had was making an EFiX Mac. While the procedure was relatively simple in the end, there were no manuals or tutorials. It was a process of scanning the EFiX forums, trying to install, failing to install, fiddling around with the mobo settings, scanning the forums, resetting the device, trying to install, failing.

I learned a few things on my first build: don't buy the cheapest case you can find. I used to think a case was just a case, but nooooo, that's wrong. There's a threshold for case price. If you go below, you might as well try and install your PC in a box of noodles. The other thing I learned: building your own is a lot of fun (and stress, at times!), something that many Mac users won't experience.

Oh, and then there was the issue of the GPU taking a dislike the one of the PCI slots, which Bit-Tech forum-goers resolved for me! :)
Argonaut123 8th August 2009, 14:50 Quote
I had my previous PC for 4 years before building this one. For the first month it worked fine, although sometimes it seemed a little slow running everyday tasks in windows. After that it would crash after entering Windows and would continue to crash at an earlier point in the boot process until it got to the point where the monitor didn't even have the chance to show any information.
Me and my dad tried everything we could think of to repair it. Things like moving the RAM into different slots, trying each RAM stick separately, checking BIOS settings, reducing the load on the PSU (and other things) but nothing worked. Eventually we conceded that it needed to go to a computer shop (PC World). Unfortunately the news wasn't very positive 4 days on. Although they had performed exhaustive tests on all of the components they couldn't identify the underlying cause of the problem.
I was gutted as I am an avid gamer and when it would have only cost £200 more to buy a Core i7 system off the shelf I regretted ever starting this. However like the weeks gone by I decided to try 'just one more thing' (I felt like Columbo everytime I said it). I entered the BIOS and decided to see what my RAM timings were set at rather than leaving the motherboard to auto. To my surprise it had slightly overclocked it instead of 5-5-5-18 it was 5-5-5-15. I altered it but but there wasn't any immediate improvement. However over the next few days the PC became stable and I have rarely had a crash since.
I later read on the internet that sometimes the RAM will run quicker if it think it can (although I don't pretend to understand this). Looking back, this was an awful experience but I still feel that I made the right decision on building this myself and saving money compared to a pre-built one. As I type this on the very PC in question (oh crash, just kidding) I would recommend self building but only if you accept that you could run into problems.
doggeh 8th August 2009, 15:41 Quote
The most frustrating experience I've had was building a new system for my uncle. I've built MANY systems in my time and am experienced in troubleshooting. On this occasion I spent a particularly long time putting all the components together and making the cables as neat as possible as the system would almost never be turned off. Having got all the cables perfect I plugged it all in and hit the power button...

Nothing happened.

I rechecked all the connections but still no joy. After a few choice words I began taking the components out and subbing them one by one into another system to determine which component at fault. Long story short, after a long time I found that the motherboard wasn't working. It turned out the chump in the factory (I'll not disclose which brand here) had left the CMOS reset jumper in the reset position and not the normal operating position!

My suggestion is a simple one... better quality control so that this sort of thing doesn't happen! I was very close to RMA-ing the board when I spotted the problem and as a result I don't buy boards from that manufacturer any more purely because of the frustration it caused me that day.
I-E-D 8th August 2009, 18:27 Quote
Choosing the parts. Then finding out they're crap. Then Finding a good one. Then finding it's out of stock. Then finding its too expensive. Then finding its been discontinued. Then the delivery is late. Then you go on holiday. When you get back you realise you've missed the OS. Then you order 32bit. Then you put it together that you've never done before. Then get virus's.
Omnituens 8th August 2009, 18:42 Quote
I once dropped a screw behind the motherboard.

Couldn't get the little b*****d out.
hm1992 8th August 2009, 21:49 Quote
My most annoying pc maintenance moment was not a new build but an upgrade. Trying to find a new graphics card a few years a go for a crappy Dell with a PCI slot only. I hadn't done much PC stuff then and I accidentally bought a PCI-E card (they were just becoming common I think). Took it home really excited. I had to take it back and got the last PCI graphics card that was powerful enough to play games in the shop. (and as far as I could tell at the time, in the world).
chocolateraisins 9th August 2009, 00:43 Quote
Building it all outside the case, placing it in, then finding you have to bend your wrists in the most excruiating positions just so you can plug in a little fiddly wire, such as a HDD LED (if your motherboard doesn't come with a handy block thing). Why can't they just make all the sockets face upwards instead, of facing towards a drive bay where you only have 4cm of room to manauvre something similar to wet spaghetti to a socket you have to push it in to.

So, basically, motherboards that go into cases that can cause you do induce RSI.
scrimple3D 9th August 2009, 11:51 Quote
The most annoying problem I've had with a PC build came from one particular motherboard which appeared to have an aversion to being stable, even at stock settings.

I tried messing about with different memory, different settings, all sorts of timings and voltages, but something would always cause instability in Windows.

In the end I had to return the motherboard for a refund and get an entirely new product..... which worked first time.

I guess the biggest frustration was that it worked well enough to leave me believing I had made a mistake somewhere, but was perhaps broken or faulty in some way.

Perhaps some sort of diagnostic port (like you get with cars) could be implemented so that the user is given some clue about the root cause of the problems they're experiencing.
Top Nurse 10th August 2009, 11:21 Quote
An old carpenters adage is to measure twice and cut once.

When building a custom water cooled computer it is measure a 100 times and cut once because failure is simply not an option when your case runs $300-$400 a pop. Even more annoying is figuring out that the stuff you just had shipped in from Germany isn't the right stuff or you need more of it.

After months of measuring, cutting, and customizing the custom stuff you bought you finally get to turn it on. Getting it to work is a piece of cake in comparison. ;)

BTW, does this ticket include airfare from Los Angeles?
isaac12345 10th August 2009, 17:18 Quote
My biggest problem would be similar to what's described in the article. I ordered the parts for a new pc(after 5 years!) and it didnt boot. i got really scared thinking that i blew up something.Me and my friend triedour best but couldn't figure out the odd combination of the led lights or beeps on the motherboard. we finally got our hands on the msi p35 neo2-fr manual and found out that there was something wrong with the memory. so I rma'ed it only to find out that the new memory wasn't working as well. i swapped the memory for some kingston value and was suprised (and a little insulted cause my expensive ram wasnt working) to find it working. I snooped around the internet for the problem only to find out that my ram ran at 2.1v instead of the standard setting in the bios of 1.8v. While replacing the ram, i read the sticker on the side which mentioned 2.1v. Stupid me!!
malaroo978 12th August 2009, 09:52 Quote
Ive had a few frustrating upgrade/build times!

One of the most frustrating for me was when I was new to PC building and it was my first build! I was 12 at the time... and I was using the trusty old A7N8X, which was pretty amazing and pretty new at the time! To me anyway.

My first problem came when I was plugging in the case connectors to the motherboard (the ones that connect case LED's and on/off buttons etc.) I couldnt figure out due to unclear instructions (or me not h aving experiance) which wire to plug where! I ended up spending days trying to figure it out with my new pc bits lying on the floor with not so much as a peep every time I tried to turn it on! Very very frustrating when Id just bought a new pc.

I had also gone for a watercooling system... all the rage at the time! Which was incredibly complex for me to set up, I was running water through the system when.. it sprang a leak at one of the connectors! I was watching carefully so luckily I managed to pull the electrics out before water touched anything... another 3 days letting the internals dry out!

The next problem I had was that for some reason.... (I have no idea why) I was led to believe that I could place the thermal sensor under my brand new water cooling heatsink and on the processor die... guess what.. My processor died and the watercooling block was pitted! I had to buy a new AMD XP2800+ and have the watercooling block polished and lapped to get rid of the pitting.

To top it all off, once all these problems were sorted... the trust Geforce 4 Ti4800SE Id had form the previous pc decided to die! Well so I thought, the PC wouldnt so much as POST with it in. When I tried my old Geforce 4 mx 440 it worked, so I just left the Ti4800SE out while I got a replacement. After moving on a couple of pcs I tried the same setup again... and the Ti4800SE worked! Obviously a bad tempered graphics card.

Overall lack of experiance and bad luck on my first build! Ive definitely learnt since... no more water and no obstructions between the CPU and heatsink... hmmm!
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