Quote: Originally Posted by Britton30
As soon as I saw the post title I thought PSU! You covered that too and I agree they do cheap-out for the heart of the machine that makes it all work and wonder why they have a black screen with a cursor.
I recently fought with this very symptom, trying to upgrade a friend's 10-year old Dell 4500s, which came from Dell with a 180W PSU, onboard Intel Graphics, 256MB of memory, and a 20GB IDE hard drive.
I upgraded memory to 2x1GB, and found a 60GB version of that same WD IDE hard drive. I then reinstalled WinXP from scratch, but wasn't satisfied with the graphics (on the new 20" Samsung 16:9 monitor I'd also installed as the primary part of the project, since the old CRT monitor had died).
There was an open PCI slot so I tried to upgrade graphics using three different PCI video cards (a 1GB ATI HD5450, 512MB ATI3450, and a 256MB nVidia 8400GS... all of which actually do come in a PCI version), none of which worked. All three produced your "black screen with a blinking cursor".
I even tried upgrading the 180W PSU twice, first to 270W and then to 300W, thinking it was the original PSU which was the source of the problem, but still no luck. None of the video cards worked. The BIOS was at the latest level from Dell, but it appeared there was no way to use the spare PCI slot for an external video card. Obviously a BIOS limitation.
Finally ditched the whole project after a month of buying, RMA returning, and trying something else. Ended up buying a modern Lenovo K410 refurb (with G640 CPU, 2.8Ghz 3M cache) for $280 with Windows 7 pre-installed, 500GB 7200 rpm SATA hard drive, 4GB of PC3-10600 DDR3 memory, USB 3.0 ports, and 10/100/1000 NIC. And I was also able to put in a 1GB ATI PCIe HD5450 (in its open PCIe x16 expansion slot) to use instead of its own Intel onboard graphics.
Case closed. Friend "modernized" for $280 plus another $40 for the 1GB HD5450 video card.
The second thing is not getting a quality CPU cooler to help keep that 4.9GHz overclock cool and stable.
I recently had to build a new machine to replace my 4-year old Supermicro C2SBX board whose SATA disk controller died. While using many of the peripheral parts from the old machine (HD5770 video, TV tuner cards, BluRay drive, hard drives, etc.), I started from scratch with the motherboard, CPU, memory, fans/cooler, etc. I retained the 600W NestEQ ECS6001 PSU which was quite adequate even for my new hardware, and also very quiet which is critical for me.
After much shopping and comparing, I ended up going with an ASUS P8Z77-V Pro board. There are a number of related boards in this product family but this one had the right combination of features and expansion slots for my needs. I also went with a 3.3Ghz Intel i5-3550 (no onboard graphics) because I was going to be using my external HD5770 anyway. I'm not a gamer and do not overclock. Also went with 2x4GB Patriot DDR3 (PC3-12800) Gamer-2 memory, since Newegg included it for free with this motherboard.
I also replaced two old hard drives (out of my four on this machine), one of which was an old SCSI U320 and the other of which was a SATA-II 3.0Gb/s model, with two new SATA-III 6.0Gb/s 64MB cache versions (one a 10K rpm Velociraptor spinner for use as the OS drive, and the other a 7200 rpm Caviar Black). Not quite ready for SSD yet.
But to your point about CPU cooler, I am EXTREMELY CONCERNED about noise. So parts in my machines are all bought and built for low-noise or passive/silent.
In this case, I went with what I feel are the finest and quietest 120mm case fans: two Noctua NF-P12 fans with 4-pin PWM connectivity (supported by the P8Z77 board). Absolutely silent, and effective.
For the CPU cooler I again went with Noctua, and got their astonishingly silent but effective NH-U12P. This is a combination of huge CPU cooler, to which are attached a pair of the same essentially silent Noctua NF-P12 fans, clipped onto opposing sides of the cooler so that one is oriented in "push" and the other is orented in "pull", moving air through the radiator blades of the cooler itself and out the back of the case. The two bracket clips to attach the fans to the cooler (two clips for each fan, four clips total) were a bit mystical to figure out how to use them, but once that secret was cracked it was a piece of cake to do all four.
I have to say, when I got ready for the first power-on test (case still on the work table, all side panels removed) to be sure the CPU and memory and all other crucial pieces were installed properly and the PSU cables correctly connected to the board and all devices, I didn't know what to expect... as far as air flow volume and noise. But when I flipped the switch and the four fans started to spin (silently) and the airflow began to move impressively, I was amazed.
For me, super-silent is the #1 criteria. I have an "acousti-case" with foam padded interior panels, block foam pads in empty drive bays, etc., all in an attempt to minimize sound since these machines are right near me.
Also, I take great pride in building my own machines to ensure that all wires are routed around things and out-of-sight or behind chassis panels so as not to hang freely in the open cavity space, where they might impede airflow or just generally look ugly.
I tie-wrap everything (clipping the extra unused length of the ties down to the nub), make sure fans are mounted so that the fan cable wraps around the fan exterior so as to reach the fan header on the board with minimal cable loose, etc.
I position my hard drives in either the 5 1/4" or 3 1/2" bays such that there is minimal interference with any cables (data and power) and also to leave open bays such that the inward-suck of the front case fan can properly take in outside cool air and blow it effectively into the case cavity, over the video card and/or other expansion cards.
How often do you really do this? You might as well take pride in your work, get all of those cables tied down out of view and out of the way of interfering with internal airflow.
Silence... is a virtue. My machines are amazing. Case fans are attached to chassis holes on rubber legs, not using screws. The drive bays of my "acousti-case" have rubber grommets in the holes through which the drives will be screwed down, so again there is no vibration through the drive cage to the chassis to produce a "periodic frequency vibration noise" (especially when sitting on a wooden desktop). Just buy the right parts, designed to have no noise and zero vibration.