Death of a System


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This part is never easy... I write this post in a saddened tone, if a tone could be added to words typed in a word processor. My main system, housing most of my support utilities, files, information, music, games, pictures, and all sorts of fantastic things is on its death bed. Prognosis: Hard drive cleared; CPU fan dead

According to Murphy’s Law, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”, and this certainly applies to this system. Built with the highest quality parts and assembled with the greatest diligence, the Achilles heel of this system was its creator. A vow made never to buy new parts for 10 years is now broken.

An unlocked Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition with a $20 heatsink/fan. A dead fan. It had been dying for weeks. And finally, after I realized my Windows Side-by-Side manifest had been corrupted due to power failures associated with the failure of my UPS system several months ago, this was the nail in the coffin.

Ironically, in a video I had made, showcasing the diagnostic utilities one can use to identify the hardware and software of their system, and relay it to others, I noticed something while making this video. My CPU was idling at 70/80C. I was so busy doing other things, creating graphics, responding to messages, checking service packs, installing virtual machines, that it was placed on my to-do list.

The to-do list that came and went far too late.

As it so happened, I did check the internals of my system, and what I found was punishing. While my backup system is a i7-920 idling around 20C with a high quality cooling system and conventional hard drives, this system had a fan and heatsink teetering on the brink of self-destruction. How long was this happening? Weeks? Months? Was my processor clocking itself down to compensate? The silence of the solid state drives served a newfound and deadly purpose: I could no longer determine a change in any sound if my CPU fan inexplicably stopped working. And it certainly stopped working.

With Windows needing to be re-installed due to problems from power failures that occurred months ago, I checked the internals… in a haste, I tried to release the fan from the bondage of the dust or debris that must have been causing its malfunction. An incorrect assessment, as soon after, I placed the fan back into the chassis and noticed its 200 RPM speed. Its slow, songbird twilight wind was masking the harsh reality of this spinning fan. At the center of its axis, the most tremendous heat could be felt, as it was surely struggling to spin at the highest possible speed. No doubt, the motherboard was sending heavy voltage to the device to increase its speed due to the CPU temperature overload – but it could not compensate.

And now… with the CPU gone, the operating system obliterated, and much of my work destroyed, I await new equipment. It’s not like I had not planned for disaster to strike. I knew that all equipment does eventually fall into disrepair. All systems fail. I had no idea of how quickly it could sweep from underneath me, like a tyrant once again.

Now, stuck on backup equipment, with sub-standard software, and limited capabilities, I have ordered new equipment. But my primary system will never be the same. While I mitigated as much data loss as I could, my two-years of Windows 7 stability has come to an end. Days will be spent restoring my ability to manufacturer even the smallest graphic, or to change even one line of code. A history of files that survived additions and removals from various motherboards, RAID controllers, and so on… all is gone. And the need for a better heatsink and fan ever vexing me, as I am unable to do much but type…

Times like these can often remind us of how much we rely on our computer systems for work, play, news, information, media, and so forth. Without this computer, I feel as though my car died in the middle of the desert. And there is nothing in that car but ice cream.

Now, it is up to me to bring it back. Of course, I will. The installation of a new back plate, the careful recoating of the processor with Artic Silver 5, and the placement of a better heatsink and fan combo will ease the shock to my system, assuming no shock occurs to my other system. For so much as I tried to fortify my backup devices from harm, the main system itself had inadequate protection.

Or perhaps it just was Murphy’s Law. Either way, a system is down today, and it is hoped to be repaired soon. I only hope the CPU is not irrevocably damaged. :headache:But from all system failures comes a lesson. I will have to check the internal integrity of my system at least once a week, from top to bottom, to ensure its ultimate reliability.

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