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View Full Version : System Debugging Guide 101



saaya
07-02-2008, 11:07 PM
When you put together a system or have a finished system that doesnt work at all or isnt stable (anymore), its time for som debugging :D

Ill try to extend this guide bit by bit to help new guys who arent that familiar putting a system together, and will try to take some time to add some overclocking tips and procedures as well. If you have any suggestions please let me know! any help and feedback is welcome :toast:


Dont squeeze your brain and risk blowing a couple of synapses, the easiest and fastest way to solve any problem your confronted with is to KNOW what exactly is happening and what exactly is wrong. Dont just randomly try this and that, you might overlook something and might have to go through everything step by step again which can be very annoying and time consuming.

First of, if you overclocked your system, set all the hardware back to its stock clockspeeds and check if the system is still unstable.
It might be that your system just wasnt 100% stable at the speed you had it running before after all, or something you did resulted in a lower stable overclock you can now achieve. Adding a soundcard can result in stability problems at high overclocks for example, that work fine without a soundcard and just using the onboard sound.

If this didnt help, then cut down the system to its very basics, and make sure those work fine together. If they do, then we can build on that and add more complexity to the system bit by bit. The basic system is:

PSU
CPU
Mainboard
Memory
Videocard
Keyboard

Thats it... there shouldnt be anything else added for now, no mouse, no hard drive or optical drive, no speakers, usb devices, pci cards etc.

If this core system worked before, then define what "before" means. What exactly happened between "before" and now, try to return the system to the state it was in "before" and see if it works again. Load the previous BIOS, install the previous driver, switch back to previous hardware etc. Generally thats the easiest and fastest way to debug and trace down the source of the problem, switch hardware around. IF thats possible and you do have additional hardware parts, if you dont, then try to borrow them or check if a local shop can help you out.

There are uncommon tricky compatibility problems where one functional CPU will not work in a functional motherboard, even though it works in other moherboards and other cpus work fine in the first motheroard. But those problems are rather uncommon. In general try to exclude as much hardware from the list of possible troublemakers as you can by simply replacing them with another identical or similar piece of hardware.

If you cant get the core system stable and dont have enough hardware to replace and try out, then check if there are people with the same hardware and if they have the same problems and if they maybe managed to find out what caused it and could fix it. If not, then contact a local shop and have them troubleshoot the core system for you or ask them if you can bring over your system and try one of their cpus, memory sets, psus etc to troubleshoot your system. Especially smaller shops tend to be support entusiasts if all you need is some of their basic old hardware for a few minutes. They might ask you for some money in return, which i would pay, since it will most likely save you from RMAing at least 2 pieces of hardware, which might cost you weeks of your time, shipping costs, and might not even solve your problem after all!

Once you figured out what the problem is and got the core system stable again, or the core system was stable to begin with, you can start adding more hardware to it. Add one piece after another and see what happens... Id recommend you to use Memtest and boot it from a USB stick, floppy drive or cdrom to check the memory and chipet. Then install windows and run orthos and 3dmark and keep doing that while you add more and more parts to the system, and check if adding something or installing some driver causes the problems you experienced before.

Here are some useful Links:
Blackops AWARD + Intel X38/X48 POST Codes (http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=190952)
BlackOps Memory Compatibility list (http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=193037)
BlackOps PSU Compatibility list (http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=192575)
BIOS flash guide (http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=191813)