First post, by Namrok
In the summer of 2004, I was very excited about Doom 3 coming out. Dare I say, it was my Cyberpunk 2077. Summer of 2004 was also my first college internship, which put some real money in my pocket for the first time in my entire life. So goodbye hand me down parts! Goodbye sketchy computer show RAM! Hello, brand spanking new (but still modest) Newegg shopping list! You know, back when Newegg was still good.
I don't remember the exact specs of the system. Newegg has long since deleted my order records, and that email account is lost to me. But it definitely had a Socket 754 Athlon 64 and a Geforce 6800 or a 6800 GT. Recalling my budget at the time, I suspect it may have been a vanilla model, but I may have sprung for the GT. It also had a Sound Blaster Live I scavenged from my old PC.
Shopping list in hand, I went about acquiring parts. Someone on another forum sent me a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS that was taking up space in his closet. Also sent along some OCZ DDR 500 memory. I ordered an ASUS K8V Deluxe with an included Athlon 64 3200+ off ebay. Also ordered an AGP Geforce 6800 GT, a BFG OC variant. And lastly, I found a $20 case with a SATA disc drive on Facebook, and I had an old Intel 120 GB SSD from 2012 in my junk drawer.
Parts in hand now, things went sideways pretty quick. The AGP slot was totally defunct. Wouldn't POST with anything in it. With a PCI card, a spare Riva 128 I had lying around, it would post about 25% of the time. The rest of the time I just quietly heard what sounded like a capacitor discharging over the PC Speaker. It always powered on as soon as power was applied, and the power and reset buttons didn't do anything. Wasn't booting off anything I put in the SATA disc drive. It was a mess.
I pulled the IDE disc drive from my 1999 machine, got it to boot off that, and flashed the bios. Then I had a new problem. It acted like the del key was held down permanently, and always entered the bios. I couldn't get it to boot off a device no matter what I did.
I cleared the CMOS, no improvement. At this point I start a return on ebay, because the whole thing seems fubared. After describing all my issues, dude just tells me to keep it and he'll refund me. Doesn't want to pay for shipping to take a potentially worthless mobo back.
I give up on it, add it to a "practice recapping" pile. One day I'll get around to it. I order an ECS Nforce3 motherboard off ebay. USPS eats it. Just totally vanishes. It's 2 weeks late at this point. Tracking says it was never received, despite the seller swearing he dropped it off. I've asked for a refund on this one too. Still waiting for that to work out. I order a Gigabyte board next. A socket 939 nForce3 board with an AGP slot. Even came with a CPU. It shows up with pretty much all the caps bulging, dead as a doornail. No lights, no fans, nothing. Once again, dude has me do some rudimentary troubleshooting steps which accomplish nothing, then just refunds me the money, doesn't want it back.
By this point, it's been about a month and a half. I'm ready to build a god damned computer already! I decide, you know what, that first motherboard wasn't totally dead, lets see what happens with it. I clear the CMOS again, start off with the PCI graphics card, and it's POSTing pretty reliably now. And it's not stuck always booting into the BIOS! This is promising. AGP slot still doesn't work. In fact the top PCI slot doesn't work either. Sometimes there is just no vga output, but a normal post code. Other time it beeps twice, which if I have the version of the BIOS correct is a memory parity error.
By this point I've grabbed a spare IDE drive and some extra DDR ram locally off Facebook. The IDE drive so I don't have to pull my only other IDE disc drive from my 1999 computer, and the spare ram to see if just maybe the ram is interfering with the AGP slot? Never seen that happen before, but why not?
Oh well, I have some bare minimum functionality going, I try installing WinXP. And it crashes out after it loads all the drivers. I suspect because of the SATA disc drive. I try the IDE drive again, and it works, but it doesn't see the SATA SSD. I use nLite to add all the SATA drivers from the ASUS website to the WinXP cd. Still doesn't work, for either problem. Ok, I dig deeper into the junk drawer, pull out an old 100 GB IDE HDD, might be 20 years old. Some old IBM model I used to swear by. Now we're getting somewhere. I get WinXP installed.
Now I circle back to the AGP slot. The 2 beeps for memory parity error I'm getting is tickling my brain. Like I said before, what if it's the RAM? I mean, I'm used to bad RAM just straight up preventing a system from POSTing. At various points I'd attempted to run memtest, but was always thwarted. The SATA disc drive won't boot off that CD. And when I had the IDE drive hooked up, the system was stuck always booting into the BIOS, and never off a device. Anyways, I swap out the 2x1 GB of the OCZ DDR500 ram for a random 512 MB DDR400 stick and low and behold, now the AGP slot works!
So now I get all the drivers installed in Windows, switch back to the SATA disc drive which is now working perfectly in Windows. I install Doom 3, and it's just like I remember! Finally, success! Perhaps a bit more stuttery, I suspect because of the limited amount of ram I have installed.
Next, I try using the Intel Data Migration Tool to move everything over to the SSD, which is showing up just fine in WinXP now with all the drivers installed. The process appears to complete successfully. Unfortunately, trying to boot off it causes WinXP to crash and restart the machine. Oh well.
So that's where things are at right now. I did order some 2x1GB sticks of Kingston ram off the motherboards supported list. Well, the 1GB version from a series of 256MB and 512MB sticks that are listed in the manual. ASUS's website doesn't display any supported ram modules anymore for that motherboard. But the motherboard manual doesn't list any 1GB sticks as supported, despite implying that some must be because it says it supports up to 3GB of ram on 3 slots. I also ordered a SATA to IDE adapter on the off chance that helps the SSD work, because I do not trust the IDE HDD I have in there one bit. But for now it plays the games I want it to play, so hurray!
Other weird quirks are that the motherboard has 2 SATA controllers. A VIA one, and a Promise one. The sata disc drive is only successfully detected by the VIA sata controller, and the Intel SSD is only successfully detected by the Promise SATA controller. Go figure.
Trying to run hwInfo caused WinXP to blue screen and restart. Running it with sensors only works though.
What is the etiquette on eBay when you try to return something, they tell you to keep it and refund you, and then you manage to breath some life back into it?