Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

I’ll say this about Vista

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It’s turned me into a veritable expert on computer hardware.

After the saga of getting it up and running, the crashes have finally stopped. I can’t get the thing to crash anymore, and I finally have all 8 gb (4x2gb) of RAM installed.

The mobo’s an nVidia 570A SLI, which means it’s two generations ago – back when they were making Pentium Ds – the first of the dual-cores and slightly faster (if twice as greedy in the power market*) as the following models. The thing’s set to run default at 800 clock speed on a theoretical maximum of 16gb of RAM. ‘Course, when the damn thing was made, getting 8gb to run at anything took fiddling with more power than the mobo was set to give.

As it turns out, after a week or so of this newly configured Vista machine crashing two hours into any application – usually with an error logged to nVidia’s video card drivers crashing (and I’ve used every new licensed driver / beta driver / unreleased OEM driver I could get my hands on) – and no more than half an hour on any application that makes use of DirectX 10 and/or PhysX, my first instinct was to give up and reduce from 6gb to 4gb and check to see if that made the stability better**. (8gb, when I can get it to start by fiddling with the DIMM voltage and loosening up the timing, can’t run the desktop for more than half an hour, let alone a game)

Then I thought, if that’s what I’m thinking I should do – ie, that it’s a RAM problem – I might as well try out 8gb with a new tack in mind on the BIOS. I’d already loosened the timing and upped the voltage (anything less than 1.90v and the thing wouldn’t start at all; anything more than 2.05v and the thing would crash loading Windows) but there was only one thing left: Reduce the clock speed from 800 to 677.

Now I can’t get the fucker to crash at all. Go figure.

Not a single default setting on that mobo has survived. But damned if I wanna have the trouble of replacing it; which I know is an inevitability at this point…

*As I discovered when I first installed an 8800GTX – another power hog – over a mid-range model and four days later the power supply went BOOM. Apparently I didn’t do the math right…

** Actually, my first instinct was that it was the vid card, since that was where all the errors were coming from, and I’d already spent an inordinate amount of time testing the RAM integrity, and so after the latest beta drivers didn’t work, I tried fiddling with its timings. I’d unwittingly overclocked my very expensive vid card for a few hours to test a few “theories”…

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