Thursday, December 21, 2006

The moment of truth

The mystery of my computer going to sleep in the middle of night probably has something to do with the new APC UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) which I connected just the previous day. Windows Vista recognized it when I first plugged the USB connector from the UPS to my computer. I just noticed that the APC UPS device no longer appears in my device list.

I waited the better part of the day for my Corsair memory. I knew it was going to be delivered today because I checked the Fedex tracking and it had already arrived at the local Fedex distribution center this morning. I got a little worried when late afternoon arrived and there was no sign of Fedex. I decided to check Fedex tracking and I was surprised to see a note that the package had been left on my front porch. I immediately checked and sure enough, my package from Zip Zoom Fly was on the porch. I shake my ahead in wonder 0f today's technology and the reach of the Internet. I had to check a server somewhere on the Internet to tell me that a package is waiting for me on my front porch!

I opened the package containing my 4 GB of Corsair XMS2 PC8500C5 DDR2-1066 memory and left it on my desk for an hour to let the memory reach room temperature (it's cold and wet outside - raining.)

I installed the memory, a BFG 8800GTS video card, a Hauppauge PVR150 TV tuner card and connected all the data and power cables. I performed a last check of all connections and turned the power supply on. The blue LED light on the motherboard turned on! So far, so good. I went through another round of checking everything visually.

And then I could no longer postpone the moment of truth.

It doesn't matter how many PC's one has built in the past, one still holds his/her breath for that initial push of the power switch. The moment of truth.

Click! A quick visual check shows all case fans and, more importantly, the CPU fan turning.

No video! Where the heck is the video signal? My heart was in my throat and I'm already thinking ahead about my approach for troubleshooting the problem.

Wait! The KVM (Keyboard/Video/Monitor) switch was on for my other PC. I quickly switch the KVM to the new PC and there's the reassuring prompt to go into BIOS since a new processor was detected! Whew! The only other time I experienced a heart-stopping moment like this was when I forgot to turn the power supply switch on and nothing happened when I clicked on the case power switch. Other than these 2 incidents, I have been very fortunate that every PC I've built successfully came alive on that initial power on.

I set the date & time and noticed that BIOS version 0302 (07/10/06) was installed. I upgraded the BIOS to the latest version 0804 (10/20/06) from a USB thumb drive using the ASUSTek EZ Flash2 BIOS ROM Utility V3.00. Make sure the USB thumb Drive is inserted before starting the PC. Otherwise, the EZ Flash2 utility won't recognize it. In my humble opinion, this is the safest way to update the BIOS on this board instead of updating from an operating system.

I left most of the BIOS settings on default for now except for the following: disabled the onboard Wi-FI, the 2nd Gigabit Ethernet port (PCI), disabled Quick Boot, set the motherboard to power on with either the PS/2 keyboard (Ctrl-Esc) or PS/2 mouse click, set the ICH8R controller to RAID and the JMicron controller to AHCI.

A quick check of the temperature indicated the CPU running at 48C/118F, the motherboard at 32C/89.5F and the CPU fan running at 1844 RPM. I have all 5 case fans (four 120mm and one 200mm) running at the low setting for now.

What's the new computer doing now? I started Memtest86 V1.65 almost 2 hours ago to test the memory and to "burn-in" the computer. I will leave it running Memtest86 overnight and if there are no errors detected tomorrow, I will start installing Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005.

It will be a while before I start any attempt to overclock this new computer. I want to make sure that it is stable and running without problems at the default settings before I start making changes.

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