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Old December 7th, 2009, 08:46 PM   #1
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Help with Motherboard Upgrade

Hi all,

I'd like some suggestions regarding a motherboard upgrade. The one I'm using currently has finally gotten on my last nerve. It is a Biostar model TG31-A7. I've never had strange problems like this although I haven't done a whole lot of computer builds. When I first built this machine it would randomly shut down. It seemed that for whatever reason it's due to having 2 RAM sticks inserted simultaneously. I remember testing both RAM chips and each working individually. So instead of my preferred 4 GB I've been running it with 2. I figured fine, I'll just deal with it since I don't want to RMA.

However, I recently got a video card. It was running fine I thought, but then I tried to render a project with Vegas and I'd get a blue screen and immediate restart every time. I didn't know what the problem was, but I removed the new video card and rendered while using the mobos video output and my projects rendered fine. I don't know why these things are happening, but I'm pretty sure it's the motherboard, which as far as I can tell isn't made by a quality manufacturer although it was rated high on newegg when I bought it: Customer Reviews Of BIOSTAR TForce TG31-A7 LGA 775 Intel G31 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

Most of the time the board works, but weird problems like this just aren't going to cut it for me anymore. So I'm thinking about buying this Gigabyte: Newegg.com - GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Intel Motherboards I usually just go to newegg and look through the top sellers till I find the one that best suits my needs.

The other parts I have are:
Q6600
Newegg.com - OCZ 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2P8004GK - Desktop Memory
Newegg.com - Antec True Power Trio TP3-650 650W ATX12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply with Three 12V Rails - Power Supplies
Newegg.com - ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2 92mm Fluid Dynamic CPU Cooler - CPU Fans & Heatsinks (Actually this looks like an updated version. Mine has the plastic pins you push in instead. It should fit the new mobo correct?)

And the new video card: Newegg.com - ASUS EN9600GSO/DI/512MD3/V2 GeForce 9600 GSO 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card - Desktop Graphics / Video Cards

Unfortunately I don't have an ATI video card for Crossfire, but this mobo still looks like the best one. I looked through other Gigabyte mobos Newegg.com - Computer Hardware,Motherboards,Intel Motherboards,GIGABYTE,Core 2 Quad / Core 2 Extreme / Core 2 Duo and the above one seems like the only standard ATX which supports DDR2 800 RAM.

Anyway, this is a long winded post, but at this point I want to make sure I get the right parts. Assuming it is indeed the mobo which is at fault.

If you have some thoughts please let me know.

Thanks,

David
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Old December 7th, 2009, 09:17 PM   #2
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Why go for this outdated stuff? Q6600 and 775 mobo's are left in the dust by new processors like the i7 and X58/P55 mobo's. The same with the video card. Have a look here: Adobe Forums: How to get the best from a PC? Some... and while you are there, have a look at some other posts about hardware. Lots of interesting stuff there.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 09:25 PM   #3
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Hi Harm,

Thanks for the reply. I would much rather have an i7, but I don't have the money to buy all new parts. A motherboard like the Gigabyte I mentioned is only $115. For now I need to take this route over building a whole new system. How does the board look for my purposes though?
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Old December 7th, 2009, 09:30 PM   #4
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Before going out to buy a new mobo, I would first have your current PSU checked. Mobo's seldom fail, PSU's do fail pretty often and the symptoms you mention make the power supply suspect IMO, especially with the new video card, that draws a lot of power from the PSU, that may be rather old (in computer terms) and may suffer from capacitor aging.

Hopefully that is the cause, because it will save you a bundle and is relatively easy to replace.

Also check your temps while rendering. Heating is another common problem.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 10:08 PM   #5
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Thanks Harm, I'll give it a try before buying another mobo.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 10:11 PM   #6
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Harm is right. First thing to suspect is absolutely the power supply. The motherboard is probably fine. Antec is a very reputable manufacturer of power supplies, but that particular model is not one of their best, and any power supply (even the very best) can go bad. Power supplies are the most likely single component in a computer to fail (and when they are flaky, can imitate all sorts of problems). I'd suggest popping a new Corsair power supply in the machine. Currently, Corsairs seem to be the cream of the crop when it comes to power supplies. Every single model they make, without exception, gets downright excellent feedback from newegg customers. I don't think that is true of any other power supply maker right now. Corsairs are priced very competitively also.

If I were going to build an entirely new system, I would go with an i7, but I'm not in any big hurry. If you need a screaming fast mainstream computer (like if one absolutely must edit AVCHD natively), then i7 is certainly the way to go nowadays. For a lot of folks though (especially if only editing HDV or DV), Core 2 and Phenom based systems can offer very adequate performance. If you do keep your current computer, I do suggest upgrading the Q6600 to a Q9550 though. MicroCenter is blowing out Q9550s at $169 (below cost) to get people in the door. Q6600s can be sold on eBay for around $140 or so nowadays, so net out of pocket expense for the upgrade is dang small (well under a hundred bucks), and the performance boost is significant (just far and away more cost effective than any other single component upgrade you could possibly make).
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Old December 7th, 2009, 10:31 PM   #7
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Thanks Robert, that's really good to know about the processors.

I'm wondering though about the RAM issue, and this is back when the PSU was new in Sept/Oct 08. When I'd put 2 RAM chips in I'd get random shutdowns, but 1 works fine. Could this also be a PSU issue?
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Old December 8th, 2009, 05:03 AM   #8
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Could be a power supply issue (and I'd first see if popping in the new power supply resolves that issue as well as the video card issue), but more likely it's two sticks that don't match all that well, running in dual channel mode by default when two sticks are installed. (When you have only one stick in, it has to run single channel.) You could try tweaking the memory settings in the BIOS setup to see if you can get both sticks to play nice together. I'd just try plugging in a different set of sticks (and use a different brand). You might give these a try: Newegg.com - CORSAIR XMS2 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-6400C5C - Desktop Memory. If they don't work together either, just return them and pay the restocking fee. That's really a pretty cheap and simple way to trouble shoot the memory problem without pulling your hair out, fooling around with memory settings.
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Old December 8th, 2009, 11:48 PM   #9
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Have you downloaded and run MemTest Memtest86+ - Advanced Memory Diagnostic Tool

The memory test built into windows is junk. I just found 1 of 6 sticks bad after a few months of random problems. Only memtest86 found errors(its best to run overnight). Oh yeah, mine are OCZ also.
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Old March 25th, 2010, 05:42 PM   #10
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I'm going to reopen this thread since I've been having problems again. I've posted my recent issues at Cubase.net: Cubase.net .:::. View topic - Stability problems and best mobo for Q6600?

One problem ended up being a bad power supply, so thanks for the help on that, but as you can see by the thread at the Cubase forums I'm still having a hell of a time and I'm just tired of it. It's frustrating because I can't seem to pinpoint the problem.

I also got the mobo RMAed and I'm still having what seems to be all of the same problems, beginning with the fact that I can't use 2 RAM sticks at the same time. The mobo has memtest86 built in, so I suppose tonight I'll leave it running on the one RAM stick I have installed to see if it passes.

I'm hoping I can pinpoint the issue/s once and for all, thanks!

One more question, someone suggested I also run GoldMemory. Is that necessary or is Memtest86 good enough?

Here's an update. I ran Memtest off the motherboard and it froze twice. The first time at 9 something minutes and the second time at 11:01 I think. The cursor was still blinking but the wall time was stuck and I had to manually reset the machine since the keyboard wouldn't work either. Because of this would it almost for certain be the RAM? Or could the cpu, gpu, mobo etc still potentially be at fault? I'm going to see if I can take this machine to OCZ in the morning and have someone there take a look at it.

Last edited by David Horwitz; March 26th, 2010 at 12:21 AM.
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Old March 26th, 2010, 10:26 PM   #11
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Here's another update. I feel like I might be getting closer to narrowing the problem down.

I got some PNY RAM, removed the OCZ RAM and put the PNY in the same slot. Then I tried to export a project in Vegas. At a certain point the screen froze.

So I removed the PNY, but the OCZ back in on the same slot and removed the Asus video card. Then I ran Prime95 with the same test as earlier and at a certain point the screen blanked. I also noticed the red error light on the RME Multiface was blinking so I tried to reboot. I had to unplug the power and plug it back in to get the machine to boot.

It looks like I've narrowed it down to either the CPU or the mobo. I don't think it's a hard drive or software because I got those 2 lockups when running Memtest off the mobo (although it wasn't exactly a screen freeze because the cursor was still blinking). Shouldn't be the RAM because I tested 2 different brands and the freeze behavior seems the same.

I guess the question now is, is the CPU overheating or is the mobo trash? I posted the CPU temps at the Cubase forum: Cubase.net .:::. View topic - Stability problems and best mobo for Q6600? They don't seem too hot for a stress test right? Since I RMAed the mobo and have the same behavior with the new one that should rule out an individually defective mobo. I also had the PSU replaced because that one did fail. The guy I talked to at Biostar said 650 watts should be enough for what I've got installed. Other than what I've listed I only have 2 sata drives, a dvd-rom drive, and a dvd burner.


Again 2 RAM sticks don't work with this board, so I don't think it has to do with how much CPU is being used. Also, I had the problem with the top PCI slot not working with the wireless N card I just got.

It looks like I have 2 choices. RMA the processor, or buy a new mobo and see if that one works. If I buy a mobo I think I should get it locally and not through Newegg if I have the same problems and have to return it. What would you suggest? And if I get a new mobo I want the best I can get. By now mobos for Core 2 Quads should be pretty inexpensive right?

Thanks!
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Old March 27th, 2010, 07:07 PM   #12
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David,

You have to know that buying locally does not guarantee that you'll be able to return the motherboard at all. Most local shops (at least near where I live) not only charge way too much money for a given motherboard (for example, almost $200 for an older motherboard which sells online for less than $100), but they also have extremely restrictive return policies (for example, the local shops close to me accept returns only if defective - and then, only to exchange for the exact same model of motherboard).

And I would normally not spend a single penny (cent) on such an older platform: No new processors are being developed any more for LGA775, and the entire platform is on its last legs (meaning that it will be discontinued entirely later this year). In fact, I would rather be with no system at all (even if just temporarily) than a system which constantly gives me trouble. But if you want to replace the motherboard and/or CPU, go right ahead. Just don't expect much in the way of longetivity.

And LGA1156 is as of now the wrong way to upgrade to an i-series processor-based platform. This is because that socket will also be short-lived; the successor to this platform, codenamed Sandy Bridge, will be on a completely different socket. This means that LGA1366 is the only feasible choice for future processor upgrades (albeit expensive).
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Old March 29th, 2010, 01:14 PM   #13
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I have an Asus P5K 64 WS motherboard (just the board, no accessories) that has not been used. It's just been sitting in my office in the box. I forgot to return it in a timely manner to the retailer and lost out on the opportunity. It uses DDR3 memory, not DDR2. It will work with your current processor.

If you want to try it out, I'd be willing to let it go for $65 shipped UPS ground. It does me no good sitting around here. However, I fully agree with others that an upgrade to i7 is the most optimal solution.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 07:07 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Coston View Post
I have an Asus P5K 64 WS motherboard (just the board, no accessories) that has not been used. It's just been sitting in my office in the box. I forgot to return it in a timely manner to the retailer and lost out on the opportunity. It uses DDR3 memory, not DDR2. It will work with your current processor.

If you want to try it out, I'd be willing to let it go for $65 shipped UPS ground. It does me no good sitting around here. However, I fully agree with others that an upgrade to i7 is the most optimal solution.
David,

That is a good suggestion - if you want to also replace all of your DDR2 memory with DDR3 memory modules.

And I also agree with Craig that the i7 (in its LGA1366 version) is the best way to go if you have to replace three components at the same time. That way, you can upgrade to a hexa-core processor when you need it.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 09:43 PM   #15
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Randall and Craig thanks for the replies. I think I'm going to see if Biostar will upgrade the board, if not I will get something from Frys or Best Buy, both of which have 30 day return polices, RMA the Biostar and sell it on eBay. This should bring the cost to either 0 if they'll upgrade it, or probably around $50 or less if I have to buy something and sell the Biostar.

Craig I appreciate the offer, but because I don't want to have to buy new RAM I'll have to find a board that supports DDR 2. I would like an i7, but for right now the cost for a new machine vs a motherboard upgrade is too big of a difference. I'm also in the need for studio monitors for writing music and that will probably be over a grand.

Btw, do you know of any other chain stores besides Frys and Best Buy that have 30 day return policies?
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