This falls under the heading of “it seemed like a good idea at the time” with a few subsidiary such moments. One of my computing themes is that you can never be fast enough. In that light, I sprang for an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 CPU (3.0 GHz rated) and 8 GB of OCZ Platinum DDR2 SDRAM, which is the most memory that my motherboard would handle. I bought from Newegg.com as usual, and the service was excellent as usual. Having made these upgrades many times over the years, this should have been a cake walk. Alas, not this time.
After I installed the new CPU using the excellent Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound, plus the 8 GB of SDRAM, using all appropriate safeguards to prevent damage by static electricity. I also reset the CMOS back to default. I then buttoned the computer up and hit the power switch. The computer started up, but produced no display. Hmmm.
I then opened the computer and ensured that all cards were still firmly seated and that all cable leads were tight. Hmmm. I buttoned it back up and powered on the machine, but still no display or sign of booting. Sheesh.
It was time for a step-by-step, careful analysis and action, each step followed by closing up the box and trying to boot it. It was going to be a long night. I pulled and reset all the cables in the computer. I tried pairing the SDRAM DIMMs differently, although they came in the same package, just in case it was a memory timing issue. I replaced the new 8 GB of SDRAM with the old 2 GB DIMMs. Still nothing, but lots of time gone. I then put the new SDRAM back in.
Finally, I replaced the Q9650 CPU with the old E6600 CPU. I did this last because CPUs are very sensitive to static electricity, plus the ordeal of mating it to the huge Zalman 9700 cooler and securing them to the motherboard. Bingo. Computer started right up. Huh? Was the new CPU DOA?
With the computer running again, now with 8 GB of RAM (only 3.2 GB visible in a 32-bit operating system), I jumped on the web. A quick trip to the motherboard website brought a nasty surprise. While the board boldly advertised compatibility with Core 2 Quad CPUs, this apparently didn’t extend to the newer 45nm processors. So Core 2 Quad compatibility doesn’t necessarily mean Core 2 Quad compatibility. Didn’t see that coming. Now I had to get an RMA and return the chip the next day. Rats. I found the fastest Core 2 Quad that would work on the motherboard and prepared to order it.
But, later in the evening after pulling the old CPU to properly apply the thermal compound, the computer exhibited with the same failure symptoms. Big hmmm. Checked the cables and cards again. It was about 3 AM and time to disengage.
After a short night’s sleep and thinking about the situation, I wondered if all the chip changing resulted in the thermal grease, which isn’t conductive, getting in the wrong place. I had properly cleaned off the surfaces on each change, and eventually had the very persistent grease on my pants and some stray spots on my hands during the last change. I pulled the CPU again and sure enough, I had accidentally gotten a tiny smudge of thermal grease on a few of the CPU contact spots and around the edge of the motherboard socket. So, I carefully wiped the grease from the bottom of the CPU, then tried to wipe it from the socket edges. Not carefully enough, though, because the cloth dipped just a tad and caught a few pins in the CPU socket, bending them. Quick translation: dead motherboard.
Since the board was dead already, I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to try to fix the pin orientation. Didn’t hurt but didn’t help. The CPU socket pins for a 775 socket are incredibly tiny. Time for a new motherboard. But the good news is that I could get one that would support the new CPU.
Since I was up against the shipping wall on a Friday, plus didn’t have a working computer from which to shop online, it was time for a local purchase. So, I headed off to our local Micro Center. I decided on a Gigabyte EP45-UD3LR motherboard. It supports 45nm Core 2 Quads and pseudo-RAID, plus has 8 USB slots on the back and connections for my two in front.
I swapped out the motherboards, with a moment of silence for the untimely demise of the old one. I encountered another long troubleshooting session because I forgot to put the power cord back on the video card. Sheesh. Sleep can be a wonderful thing, especially if you manage to get some.