It’s the new year, which must mean it’s time for all our PCs to go belly up.

Or so it seemed to me in the past couple of weeks. I thought the tale of these three systems is worth telling, as a lesson in recognizing and solving different types of PC problems. Perhaps you’ll see something of your own PC troubles in this, but even if you don’t, there are still lessons to be learned.

We’ll begin this with the story of my daughter’s ever-slowing Vista system.

The Tale of the Clogged PC

This past weekend, I’d decided it was time to nuke my daughter’s system from orbit. It was the only way to be sure.

 

emilysystem_small.jpg

Emily’s been running a fairly decent, though not bleeding edge system. Core components include an Intel QX6850, Asus P5Q3 Deluxe motherboard and an older 512MB Radeon HD 4870. Over the past couple of months, the system had begun running slower than molasses.

Emily is a fairly typical teenage girl when it comes to PC use. She uses the web heavily, and happily downloads anything she thinks she might like. She is, however, more tech savvy than most teenage girls, so she doesn’t do really stupid stuff, like open phishing emails. However, she’s a happy user of WildTangent games, likes to have the Weather Channel bug running (ugh, I say), and related sorts of gimmickry that can act as brakes on a fast system.

Recently, though, her system had been really dragging – so much so, that she’d given up on using it, and was using the communal living room laptop to do her homework and even run some light games. (I confess: I got her hooked on Torchlight.)

It all began several months back, when Emily began complaining that her system was glitchy. At the time, it was running Windows XP. I’d built the system about eighteen months ago, and it had been running reasonably well. I’d never been entirely happy with the QX6850, though. Even with a beefy Scythe Ninja cooler, the CPU typically idled at 58 degrees C. The QX6850 ran at 3GHz, but was built with the same 65nm process technology used in the original Conroe CPUs.

So I did something that, in retrospect, planted the seeds of bigger problems to come: I thought it would be a good idea to perform an in-place upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista.

Lessons Learned, The First Round
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  • nubie - Wednesday, January 13, 2010 - link

    I think he is saying to buy Intel motherboards, at least they seem to have solid reliability. Reply
  • RJohnson - Wednesday, January 13, 2010 - link

    IMO he's talking about ASUS and i'd pretty much agree with him, my recent experiences with them have been poor to say the least... Reply
  • michal1980 - Wednesday, January 13, 2010 - link

    sounds like an ASUS mobo.

    They almost always review well/good. But I've had issues with each one, from various generations and families.

    eastiest non-overclocking boards I've worked with were Gigabyte, and evga. most stable overclocking a dfi.

    asus is off my list
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, January 14, 2010 - link

    Yeap Asus, it is. Corsair is another off my list as well. Add DFI, and Asrock while we're at it. But hey, maybe I am just being finicky ? Because I know what I want . . .

    Anyways, best Over clocking board I had, and still own is/was the ABIT IP35-E, and it does this reliably. Not that I really need it, but who would not want to at least TRY getting more bang for the buck. At least once. right now, it happily chugs right along with the accompanying E6550 at 2.8Ghz. Stock voltages, stock heat sink. Has never crashed due to hardware issues once. Unless you count the time(s) I tried pushing said system passed 3.5 Ghz . . . Hopefully, Gigabyte, or MSI can give me something equally as pleasing in the future. For over clocking ? Not important, I just want something that will continue to run stable, until I decide to turn it off. Is this really asking too much ? I really do not think so.
    Reply
  • eviloz - Thursday, January 14, 2010 - link

    asus is the brand with best marketing ever, u find them everywhere, filled with goodies and at a afordable prices.
    indd all reviews say nothing but good for them, but.. for me too, they are always unreliable on the long-run.

    i was a big asus fanboy in the very past (p2b times) and slowly realized these motherboards cant stand a 2-year life cycle, simply they become unstable, bios issues, lockups and such.
    The entire AI thing was a epic fail. Qfan never worked with 3pin fans, the probe software is a piece of crap... and so on

    i want to install a mobo, configure it, and after 4 years, come back and see it working like a charm. I know most Anand's readers (including me) change system almost every year, but this it not the real world scenario, where the systems have to work way longer than that.

    so i moved to intel. some stuff is ugly, some features are missing, the mb tools are not the best (still far better than asus thu)... but these motherboards are rock solid. i never missed a boot.
    my videocard blew up one mobo, it was replaced in 2 (thats TWO) working days, shipping was not charged. beat this.

    ofc nothing is perfect, was pretty disappointed to see my dp35dp has no w7 support, but still this board brand is a winner.

    btw i have few gigabyte mbs around and they are good too.

    for my scenario (reliabilty always before performance, never overclock) the best choice is intel, followed by gigabyte.
    i will never buy asus no more.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, January 14, 2010 - link

    I had been using ABIT since the early 90's, and was extremely happy with every one I purchased for my own systems. Even one of the AMD Thunderbird boards I bought when the "rash" of bad capacitors where circulating lasted 5 years. And it *did have 12 of these bad caps on it. They finally popped, and I replaced them, but it was never the same since. I even modded the BIOS so the system would except a 2000XP+ CPU. Ran perfect. *This* is the worst experience I ever had with them as a brand.

    I too have had some good experiences with Intel boards, but now days for me, they're too unpredictable.

    Now, I am unsure who will deserve my money in the future for motherboards, but I think we all know who it wont be ; ) I suppose Gugabyte will be in order. I have always respected them as a motherboard OEM. Perhaps even MSI.
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, January 13, 2010 - link

    I hope your Daughter isn't runing as admin :) Reply
  • SlyNine - Wednesday, January 13, 2010 - link

    I think Anand should highlight Dell's throttling issues on these laptops,I'm talking Core I7 720QM's that run as slow as 300mhz while playing games. Dell saying it's not a gaming notebook so it doesn't matter. It sounds like Dell is plenty content to screw over people as long as its not made public.

    Please Anand take a look at the problems outlined here http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=4...">http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=4...

    I beg of you to make these problems obvious so unsuspecting people don't buy something this flawed, I'm getting one tomorrow, wish I hadn't but I'd be willing to offer it to Anand to get these problems in the open.
    Reply
  • nubie - Wednesday, January 13, 2010 - link

    They should do an article, including a nice ATi/AMD descrete video and then forcing the entire system to function on ~90w is just disgusting.

    They are seeing between 50 and 100% improvement in modern games when the throttling is off while using a 130w power supply (I am assuming this is with a fully-charged battery, you wouldn't want to charge at the same time and risk burning up the power input lines.)

    (of course one of my early PC's was a DELL, it literally burned up, 486 with a joke of a heatsink. Dell really lives on the edge of thermals in my opinion, I can't recommend them.)

    Read the thread here: http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=4...">http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=4...

    Pitiful. I can't believe they would release an i7 system with modern discrete graphics and this sort of power limit.
    Reply
  • SlyNine - Wednesday, January 13, 2010 - link

    All we can do is try to get this as much media attention as possible. Hopefully that will prevent Dell from screwing over people to much. Reply

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