Monday, July 7, 2008

Dram is too tightly

I did something this past weekend that I swore I'd never do.

I've always built my personal computers from parts purchased individually. It was a point of pride, for one, and I also just liked the physical nature of laying one's computer on the operator table and rearranging its guts by hand. I enjoyed taking it apart, putting it back together again, and then finally powering it up.

Which transitions nicely to what i didn't like about assembling computers by hand: troubleshooting why it didn't power up successfully.

Let me relate to you a brief story.

Two years ago I was having problems starting up my computer. It would turn on but then hang before the BIOS options were even available. It would hang for several minutes until the following error message of tortured English appeared: "Dram timing is too tightly so reload timing"

I will never forget those words.

This problem was initially a minor inconvenience as the machine would power up after a false start or two, but eventually the situation got so bad that I once spent the better part of a Sunday evening trying to power up my computer.

As you can image, I was also relentlessly troubleshooting this issue. I did a bit of googling and decided to replace the RAM.

That didn't help.

I decided to replace the power supply.

That seemed to help a bit, but the problem still persisted enough to suggest the power supply to be little more than a red herring.

Running out of options, I decided to replace the motherboard.

This ended up being a multi-step process as it wasn't until I had completely disassembled my computer that I realized the motherboard wasn't compatible with my processor.

I was due for an upgrade anyway, so I replaced my processor.

That didn't help.

What did help, though, was the diagnostics light grid on my new motherboard. As I sat there, utterly dispirited as my computer whirred away while doing nothing, I noticed the lights blinking at me, and looking up the pattern in the manual I realized the motherboard was reporting graphics card problems.

The graphics card, incidentally, being the one part left that I hadn't replaced.

And so I replaced the graphics card.

Which did help.

And so it was--via new RAM, power supply, motherboard, processor, and finally graphics card--that my computer could finally be reliably powered up.

And on that topic: I did something this past weekend that I swore I'd never do.

I bought a Dell.

1 comment:

Erik Hansen said...

I feel that. Pretty much a year ago to the day is when I gave up building my own computers. I was reminded why when yesterday I had to "fix" my old computer that I had pawned off on my friend.