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  1. #1
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    Building Disaster(s)

    So I want to build a new PC. Ive never built one before but reading about how much more bang I could get for my buck makes me think itd be a good idea and its something Id like to learn to do. I disassembled my old PC a few times and fitted new ram and a graphics card to it but Im not sure Im ready for doing this by myself. Realising this Ill haul a friend who has built his own PC two or three times to help. I have a rough idea of what kind of spec and parts I want but Im still researching it and I have no set schedule so I have plenty of time for research.

    But thats not what this thread is about. Im here to ask you about your own building disasters. I figure learning what mistakes to avoid before I start would be a good idea. So shower me with tales of smoke, motherboard shrapnel, melted wires, bent pins , explosions, escaping lasers et al.

    Any general building tips you have would be appreciated too.
    Thanks guys

  2. #2
    Lesser Hivemind Node Nullkigan's Avatar
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    I touched my CPU the wrong way when unpackaging it. Had to wait a day to get some isopropyl alcohol to clean it; fingerprints will adversely affect the transfer of heat from casing/heatshield to cooler.

    I also had my motherboard brick itself when performing a required bios update. I was following instructions from a company rep to the word, thought he'd had something backwards and gone through with it anyway. Turns out he was wrong about the order, so I had to go without my shiny new pc for a couple of weeks. At least when I got the replacement board it was the updated version.

    I've currently got a cable from my PSU stretched extremely taughtly over my motherboard to the smaller power connector. The orientation is non-standard, but it's not really cause an issue beyond (maybe) airflow and a frowny face over how tight a fit it was.

    I had random freezes with my SSD for weeks until I tracked down that it was a firmware error. Since fixed, new models no longer have the problem.

    The PC before that had an expensive, heavy case that had reviewed well. Unfortunately I couldn't fit the cpu heatsink in there with the side door fan, so the fan was never hooked up and simply left hanging off the outside. Never really overheated.

    That particular case wouldn't fit my PSU either; I had to remove the top mounted USB hub and do some careful sanding to maneuver it in.

    I've never managed to get front panel audio to work. Ever. Yes, I hook everything up correctly, per the manuals of the mobo or soundcard.
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  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus thegooseking's Avatar
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    I've never had a disaster myself, but I got a free motherboard because my brother forgot to set the input voltage correctly on his PSU. He thought he'd fried the motherboard, so he replaced it, only to find that what he'd actually fried was the CPU, and the motherboard was absolutely fine.
    "Moronic cynicism is a kind of navet. It's navet turned inside-out. Navet wearing a sneer." -Momus

  4. #4
    Network Hub FuriKuri!'s Avatar
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    It's all a lot more sturdy than people give this stuff credit for. Worst I ever did was put a floppy drive power cable on upside down which blew it. This is, quite frankly, impossible to do these days (unless you still use floppies of course). I also had a friend who was too lazy to ever screw stuff in properly and when he moved his PC one time the DVD drive fell into the case and smooshed a bunch of jumper pins. A bit of patience realigning everything with a screwdriver and it was right as rain.

    I've performed some heroic kludges. Had a CPU with bent connector pins on it which I did the same screwdriver trick with. Attached case fans to graphics cards on many occasions (after those crappy little stock fans gave out) - nylon cable ties, duct tape and bending the heatsink fins on the card just enough to fit a screw between them. Had some ram that was a bit too high for my server so I lopped off the top of it with a hacksaw (stupid heatsink crap). Spilt liquids on your gear? Just don't turn it on and leave it to dry for a few days.

    Biggest issue these days is all software. BIOS updates or autodetection being a bit... 'optimistic'. You kids never had it so good. When I was a lad, AMD had their CPUs poking out the top of the die a bit so that any untoward pressure on the CPU would cause it to crack (generally inevitable when installing the fracking heatsinks at the time). And when I was an even MORE of lad we overclocked with soldering irons!

    P.S. 'Fingerprints on CPU reducing heat transfer' made me chuckle. Sorry but the idea that this will really affect it... Honestly, a kleenex would've sufficed.

  5. #5
    Lesser Hivemind Node Nullkigan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FuriKuri! View Post
    P.S. 'Fingerprints on CPU reducing heat transfer' made me chuckle. Sorry but the idea that this will really affect it... Honestly, a kleenex would've sufficed.
    Grease and skin cells have a different thermal conductivity and components aren't capable of being overclocked by a factor of ten whilst running on air cooling like they were fifteen years ago. It might only be a half degree or so, but if you're using aftermarket coolers and overclocking you might as well do things properly.

    I suppose you don't bother to clean out your heatsinks or remove old thermal paste if you need to do a reseat?

    A proper wipe or coffee filter would have sufficed, yes, but I had none so went all in and got some isopropyl alcohol per the manufacturer's recommendations.
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  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Today most things only fit one way. Back in the late 90s they'd either fit one way or the wrong way, and if it was the wrong way generally nothing happened except it wouldn't boot. Before that though there was a third way: the really wrong way, which would fry the component and possibly something else too. I can't say I've actually killed too many components but I've done some clever tricks to get things to work, like carefully bending CPU pins back hoping they'd work, or deftly reattaching slightly-broken GPU HSF combos.

    FuriKuri: I had an AMD Athlon with that exposed core, I think it was a 1.2ghz one which was insane at the time. The guy at the store where I bought it played that infamous Tom's Hardware video showing what happens after you pull the heat sink off of a P3, a P4 and an Athlon, right after I purchased it. Man I made sure that thing was attached properly after seeing that! Also remember the old Pentium II CPUs that went into a slot?

  7. #7
    Network Hub FuriKuri!'s Avatar
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    Sure do, think there's still an old P2 kicking about in my loft - fond memories of it because, by god, it was a reliable piece of kit. I bought a lot of AMD kit after that time (the value for money was second to none for a good long while) but that P2 outlived them all. Served as my 'Carmageddon' machine for ages but I suppose things like GOG have elimanated the need for a dedicated DOS box. This is why its probably just collecting spiders under a pile of old clothes nowadays (bet it'll still boot though!).

    Of fingerprints and pasting - of course I clean my filters and repaste. Those are sensible things to do - waiting a day for some cleaning fluid for a fingerprint is not. It certainly isn't good advice for your average user - not 'bad' but way too far off the overkill side of things. Like I said I think it gives the wrong message and these things are a lot more robust than such comments give credit for.

    OTOH I can see if you're the type that's spent 300 on a cooling solution such things are important to you...

  8. #8
    About 3 years ago the screen on my dell laptop died (rather, would die sporadically, depending on what angle the lid was held at). Thanks to the business warranty, the dell tech came to my house and replaced the motherboard and screen. However, after his visit, the touchpad didn't work. I hate touchpads with a passion and always use a mouse, so I never bothered to have them come back to fix it.

    Fast forward three years: the screen dies again (sadly, the warranty is now expired) so I pop open the case to install a new one and put some memory in while I'm there. I sit everything back together to check things before I screw it all back into place, and when I hit the power button there's a loud pop, a big spark, and a puff of smoke. Turns out that Mr. Dell Tech had apparently nicked/scratched/stretched a bit of the sheath off of the touchpad wiring (how, I have NO idea) which caused the now exposed metal to come into contact with some metal on the mobo. Result: some charred wiring, some melted plastic on the wires, and a touchpad that still doesn't work (so i'm not sure if that qualifies as a disaster or not).

    That aside, I've never had any problems when putting rigs together or upgrading. As has been mentioned, most of the parts are pretty idiot proof now.
    Last edited by zookeeper; 03-01-2012 at 06:48 PM.

  9. #9
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    I have had no disasters. My current and first build the CPU heatsink did get attached using a hammer, I also lifted it off the CPU at one point which may have messed with the paste. Thant being said it runs fine with no overheating problems, I really agree that these parts are more robust that people think. So long as your careful.

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus sabrage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DVD773 View Post
    I really agree that these parts are more robust that people think. So long as your careful.
    This is my experience as well. I did advise my friend to order the wrong motherboard for his build, but that's the extent of any "disaster" I've had.

  11. #11
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    Years ago I built a new PC, but was having a few issues, so I decided to update the bios. I used the manufacturers update program that was supposed to download and install the latest bios automatically, but instead it bricked the motherboard! I wasn't happy that I had to dismantle the whole PC and get the motherboard replaced.

    On a later build I kept getting random bluescreens. I eventually tracked it down to faulty RAM, so now if I install new RAM I always run a few hours of MEMTEST86+ and Prime95 to ensure the RAM is stable.

    I shorted a hard disk once by leaning it on the PC metal case when installing something.

    Another mishap was when installing a new heatsink onto an AMD processor, which used one of the old style spring-clips that you needed to lever with a screwdriver. I hadn't spotted that the clip had stuck half-way up the heat-sink, so I applied too much force to try to the the clip on. It suddenly snapped into position, the screwdriver slipped out and scratched the motherboard, knocking out a memory slot.

  12. #12
    This isn't really a "building" disaster so much as a kludge gone wrong. I had an Acer "gaming" laptop whose fan gave out after a particularly hot and muggy week. Eventually it started overheating and shutting itself down.

    My solution? Set the laptop on top of a cast iron frying pan. I was able to use it for another half year after the fan completely stopped, thanks to the frying pan's conductiveness.

    I am aware that this is a series of terrible decisions. I like to think I have learned from them.

  13. #13
    Network Hub buemba's Avatar
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    Connected my case's USB cable to a firewire connector on my motherboard. Lost the motherboard, a USB stick and the iPod I tried charging on that USB connector.

    Fun times.

  14. #14
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    Years ago, my friend helped me build my first PC -- the only Windows disc I had was badly scratched, however. My friend assured me "it'll be fine, don't worry about it, it will work" so we put the disc in and attempted to install Windows.

    The first sign something was wrong was when the installation didn't happen, but the disc was spinning. The second sign was that the sounds of the disc spinning faster and faster could be heard. The third sign was that the disc wouldn't stop spinning and eject.

    Before either of us could pull the plug, there was a loud explosion sound from the computer: the disc exploded in the drive.

    The rest of the PC was fine but the drive was destroyed (as was the disc, naturally.)

  15. #15
    Activated Node Chauvigny's Avatar
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    It may look like a disaster but it worked well for over a year. ;)

    I remember when I was at a friends place and we installed a new soundcard.
    We were installing the drivers as I noticed smoke coming from the soundcard quickly followed by a small flame.
    I yelled "Fire!", turned of the PC which had a real on/off switch at the front and not a soft-off button that are common today.
    After checking the soundcard and discovering some serious burn marks on it, curious we were back then, we put it back in, installed the drivers and that damn thing still worked!
    Last edited by Chauvigny; 11-01-2012 at 08:21 PM.

  16. #16
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    I've built 4 or 5 computers for personal use, and countless ones for various jobs, and I've never had a disaster. The only real hangup I ever encountered was in building my last home PC. I kept getting blue screens a few minutes after the computer booted. Took me a couple hours to figure out the automatic memory clocking had set my RAM to the incorrect timings. I set the timings manually to the recommended speeds, and it's worked like a dream ever since.

    Building a PC is a strange thing. It's so damn easy, but to someone who knows nothing about computers, it's like telling them you built a time machine. If you can match up shapes and colors, and read on an 8th grade level, you can build a computer. It's really just like Legos for grownups.

  17. #17
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    I remember the first time I try anything like this was mostly transferring components from an pre-built PC to a new case. Forgot to put the pins in the case, screwing the motherboard directly to it, shorting it every time I turned my PC on.
    Magic is, it still worked, just needed to buy a soundcard.

    There was also the time my on/off button broke and I spent several months jamming a screwdriver in their each time before it finally gave up the ghost.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by arienette View Post
    There was also the time my on/off button broke and I spent several months jamming a screwdriver in their each time before it finally gave up the ghost.
    I had a friend whose computer wouldn't power up at all. He was about to spend the money to buy a completely new machine. I offered to take a look at it for him before he gave up on it. Turned out his power button was broken, so I unplugged it, plugged his reset button into the slot for the power button, and he was able to use the reset button as a new power switch. His reaction was basically that of the "ARE YOU A WIZARD?" meme guy.

  19. #19
    Not a disaster story, more a tip, get a goddamned modular PSU, and save yourself half the trouble of cable tyding.

  20. #20
    Lesser Hivemind Node Keep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by db1331 View Post
    Building a PC is a strange thing. It's so damn easy, but to someone who knows nothing about computers, it's like telling them you built a time machine. If you can match up shapes and colors, and read on an 8th grade level, you can build a computer. It's really just like Legos for grownups.
    This has been my experience too. Assembling IKEA stuff is harder than building a pc.

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