Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Joy of Computers

I am writing this an my ancient Dell desktop computer. My fancy dual monitor Linux box died again. I think I am going to have to replace the motherboard. I don't know what's wrong, and with the way it is behaving I don't know think it will be possible to figure out just what the problem is.

The problem surfaced a couple of months ago when the video output suddenly stopped and the screens went black. I sent the motherboard back to Gigabyte and they replaced a capacitor, but it wasn't a week or two later that crashed again. Now what do I do? Send it back to Gigabyte again and have them replace another cap? I could, but criminently, how many times am I going to have to do that?

And the problem is weird. Heat is the common culprit for intermittent failures. The machine gets hot, things expand, something looses contact and the whole house of cards falls apart. Let the machine sit, it cools down, the parts contract, the broken connection makes contact and when you turn it on the whole house of cards re-establishes itself.

Except that's not what happened here. Heat doesn't seem to have anything to do with it. Machine will run for days without any problem and then blooey! It falls over and dies. Turn it back on and sometimes it comes back to life and sometimes it doesn't.

This afternoon's failure was especially bizarre. Playing solitaire while I am waiting for a file copy operation to complete. We're copying a couple hundred megabytes from one disk to another and I notice that the progress indicator isn't progressing. Well, let's shut down the browser just in case the browser has gotten lost and is sucking up all the cpu cycles. That doesn't help. Let's minimize the File App displays, make sure there isn't anything hiding back there. And that's all she wrote. I was able to minimize all the application windows, but I couldn't restore them. The only thing that was working was the mouse pointer. I finally gave up and cycled the power and now it's really dead. Turn the power on and the fans and the disks spin up, but no video output. What could be causing this?

I suppose I will send the board back to Gigabyte. Maybe this time they will fix it good. Meanwhile I think I am going to buy another motherboard of some type. Needs to use the same RAM and processor, and have dual HDMI video outputs, but those are my only requirements.

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