Not long after I completed my initial build of my new computer I hosted a house warming party. Part way through this party my computer BSODed. It had run fine for several days (sans-excrete video card) and I had setup quite a bit of software without issue. Needless to say, this was a concerning turn of events; particularly considering all the computer had been doing was playing music when the BSOD happened.
The BSOD issue began to happen repeatedly but inconsistently. Sometimes after the computer restarted, the RAID controller would report that one of the drives had failed. Following another reboot it would load windows fine, but the Intel RAID software would report an error which I had to clear. I tried all sorts of things to figure out what the issue was. Here's a short list of some of the things I tried:
- Reinstalled Windows multiple times.
- Tried alternate versions of Windows.
- RAID 1 (instead of RAID 0).
- No RAID - both disks.
- memtest86 for an entire night.
- Alternate versions of drivers.
- Not installing any software that was not absolutely necessary.
- Driver updates and downgrades.
- BIOS updates.
- Firmware updates.
- … and tons of other stuff.
In March (2012), just before moving to my new apartment, my computer died. It was a Core2Duo E6600 in an MSI 975x-Platinum Power Up Edition motherboard. I got it just after the Core2 line first came out and it lasted me a good 5 and a half years. In the end I had OCed (overclocked) it a fair bit and upgraded the RAM and videocard (my BFG GeForce 8800 died on me, and the wonderful people over there were very quick to replace it with a GTX 265 or something). This let me play current games at somewhat acceptable frame rates on medium or high settings in the last years of my computer's life. It suddenly started randomly trying to reboot and then failing to POST. This went from being an occasional random event to a frequent one, and from there it began to happen withing 5-10 minutes of boot. I think it was the PSU that finally went.
Instead of fixing it, I divided to hold off and get a new computer. 5+ years is a more than acceptably life span for a high end gaming PC, and the performance just wasn't there anymore. So I started reading a ton of Tom's Hardware and other gaming/enthusiast hardware sites and waiting on both nVidia's new GeForce cards and Intel's Ivy Bridge CPUs to hit the market.
I did a ton of research, carefully going through reviews, articles, benchmarks and marketing material to come up with just the right set of hardware to get the maximum performance for my budget. Finally, I came up with the hardware that would become my new computer.
- CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K Socket 1155, 3.50Ghz, 8MB L3 Cache, 22nm (Retail Boxed) Gen3 (BX80667I73770K)
- Case: Antec DF-85 Black Steel / Plastic ATX Full Tower Computer Case
- PSU: CORSAIR Professional Series HX850 (CMPSU-850HX) 850W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UD3H LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
- CPU Fan/Heatsink: ZALMAN CNPS9700 LED 110mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler
- RAM: G.SKILL Sniper Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) Desktop Memory Model F3-14900CL9D-8GBSR
- Main Drive: 2x Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe MX MKNSSDCR120GB-MX 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive
- Backup Drive: Samsung by Seagate Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ/ST500DM005 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
- DVD Drive: ASUS 24X DVD Burner
- Video Card: 2x GIGABYTE GV-N680OC-2GD GeForce GTX 680 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card (Which I have yet to get my hands on, unsurprisingly.)
- Approximate Total Price: $2600