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  • The reason (the story)


    Recently I wanted to upgrade my secondary system from a QX9650 to a Core I7-875K. The reason I wanted to do this is that I had an extra Gigabyte board as well as some CAS 7 DDR3 that I wanted to put to use and pair it up with the Corsair H50 which had been sitting on my floor for quite some time. I also wanted to put everything in into a smaller Lian-Li case that I also had lying around.  I could not easily pull the existing motherboard out as it is water cooled, and the existing CPU block is the old style that used adhesives to bond a plate on the back side of the motherboard and is virtually impossible to pull off without damaging the board.  Rather than ruin things, and based on the fact that I had most of the components, I opted to just buy a new CPU and build most of it from scratch.  Sounds easy enough, after all, I built hundreds, what could possibly go wrong…


      P1010013   P1010018


     P1010025   P1010034




    The initial build went fairly smooth and the system was assembled without too many issues. The H50 is fairly straight forward to install (although there are more steps to do than most cooling setups) and the included instructions where pretty straight forward.  I was very careful to follow the hook up instructions as they were not what I expected to see.


    P1010054   P1010051


    The Saga begins (I mean learning)


    The fun started after I put the whole system together and was ready to fire it up. When I hit the power switch, I was greeted with the familiar boot up screen and went right into the BIOS to check everything out. I powered down the system and using a Hard Drive that already had an OS on it, I plugged it in so that I could make sure that everything was working. Immediately after hooking the drive, I attempted to boot and was greeted with numerous blue screens, one after another no matter what I did. Not wanting to give up that easy, I took a new drive and tried to install a fresh OS. Same story, blue screens and random shutdowns. Things where not looking good…


    At this point I figured something was definitely wrong and began to suspect all the new hardware I just installed. It is pretty safe to assume the CPU’s are OK, so my first thought was the motherboard as I had already tested the RAM in antoher system so I knew that was good. I checked the BIOS version and went the Gigabyte support site and found that my BIOS was 3 versions old and that one of the updates was support for the CPU I had just purchased (I7-875K).  I downloaded the BIOS to a USB stick (Gigabyte has one of the easiest ways to update your BIOS from a built in utility) and flashed it to the newest version.  Again I went back up into the BIOS to check everything out but this time my eye caught something that I had not seen before. The CPU temp was running about 90C and it had only been on for a couple of minutes. It was apparent that the H50 was not running but I could not see any obvious reason why. Per the instructions, I had hooked the Fan for the H50 on the four pin header for the CPU fan, and the pump to another available three pin header.  Ready to do bodily harm to the H50 and toss it out the window, I decided that first I would move the power connector of the pump off the three pin header on the motherboard and move it directly to the power supply to see what would happen. I turned the power back on and went into the BIOS and was surprised to see the temps rock solid at 35C.  Just to make sure it was not a fluke, I moved it back to the three pin header again, and again the temps started to climb rapidly. By this time I was pretty confident that this was the problem even if I did not know exactly why. I moved the connection back to the power supply, put the OS drive back, and like nothing had ever happened, it booted into Windows 7 and was stable as rock. Delusional, I figured that things were going to be smooth from here…. But fate had other plans…


    Now that everything appeared to be running, I was pretty confident that I could move the rest of the hardware from the old system over (video card, BD drive, and hard drives) to my new build. I installed everything, dressed all the wires, double checked my connections, and reached over pushed the power button… NADA, zip, nothing, not even a light.  In effort to solve the problem, I pulled the video card out, and put in a new 5770 thinking the old card went bad, plugged it in and still nothing…


    Prior to porting over the video card, I had been testing the system with a test video card which does not require PCI express connectors so I decided to put that test card back in and the system and of course everything came right up. Tried this a few other times with a few different cards and every time I plugged in a PCI express connector to the video card it would kill the whole system. At this point I was pretty convinced that the new OCZ power supply I had in that system was not functioning correctly and for some unkown reason, there was some sort of short or load issue internal the supply that prevented me from using the dedicated PCI express connectors.  Fortunately, I had a brand new 600 watt Cooler Master which is one my favorite supplies, so I took that out of box, installed it, and sure enough, everything came up properly worked like it was supposed to.




    The Moral of the story…


    In all the years I have been building custom systems, it never really surprises me how many things can go wrong and the number of variables there really are.  No matter how many systems you put together, and how much you think you know, there is always something new to send you down the path you have never gone before. I am sure that the exact hook up of the H50 would work perfectly on most systems and that most people plugging their cooler pump into a mother board header would never have this problem, however due to what appears to be some low voltage startups on this board on the 3/4 pin headers, there is not enough voltage on the pins to start the pump and the combo does not work. Attaching a fan to that exact same header works fine, but not the pump. It appears that the pump needs more power out of the gate in order to get it started. Go figure. This is certainly something I did not see coming. Secondly, what are the odds of a power supply that has been working well in this system (although not with the use of a PCI express connector) go bad, or more realistically, have been bad from the beginning. I was pretty obvious that plugging in cables to the PCI express connectors on the PS activated the short circuit circuitry.






    The moral of the story is that regardless of your experience level, things may go wrong during a build and you have to isolate one problem at a time. Of course it is helpful if you have extra parts that you can use to test with or as I did with the memory, take it to another system to make sure it performs, but ultimately you have to identify one problem at a time.




    Once I got it all running, the final results were pretty amazing. Here are some benchmark results compared to my Core I7-940 which is a higher end chip and uses the triple channel memory vs dual channel.  Overall I am please at the results and the system ultimately turned out great, but as most things in life it was sure a learning experience.  (Use CPU and memory readings as comparisons).


    Core I7-875K Windows Index   Core I7-940 Windows Index


    Core I7-940 Everst    Core I7-875K Everest


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