Keep calm and troubleshoot

I believe I mentioned here that I was getting a new video card, or actually that was on my live stream from the other night now that I think about it.  Anyway, I noticed during my last stream with Marty that my Nvidia GT745 card was working quite hard to keep up according to the streaming application.  The card was probably at least four years old at this point if not older.  I figured it was time to get a modern card.

When I shopped for a new video card on Amazon I was shocked at just how expensive they had become. I had read about how prices have skyrocketed since the cryptocurrency mining craze has started.  Those systems use high end graphic processors to do most of the block chain validation work.  I was looking at current generation cards costing $900 or more which is way more than I was willing to plunk down.  I wound up getting a slightly older Nvidia 1060 for about a third of that.

Last night Cindy had to go into work in the evening so I determined that was the time to install the new card.  The first thing that shocked me was just how big the new card was and just how small the card was it was replacing.  The 1060 is a full length card with two monster cooling fans on it.  It even has an auxiliary power port which luckily my power supply had a connector for.

At first I was worried if I could get the massive card into the space allocated.  After some less than careful manipulation I got it in there.  I was confident in my install so I put the case back together (always a big mistake), reconnected everything and turned it on.  The power light came on but I saw no activity otherwise, great.  I then ripped everything back apart and reseated the card, making sure it was firmly in the slot.  This time I left the computer apart and only connected the power and video cable to see if I had any action. I didn’t.

Ok well it wasn’t time to panic so I wanted to establish a baseline of functionality.  I grabbed the old video card and put it in there. Surely this will work.  Nope, the same unresponsive behavior.  So I am not good at a lot of things but troubleshooting is something I have a lot of experience with.  The fact that the old card was no longer working pointed me towards something else not being right.  I pulled the old card out and started to examine the system board. Ah hah, there it was, one of the memory chips was unseated as a result of the jostling I had to do to get the massive card in place.

I put the dimm back in place, reinserted the new card and bang, I had video!  I only allowed it to go to the post screen before I turned it back off.  Finally I could reassemble and reconnect everything.  After completing that I fired up the system, excited to have a lot more video horsepower under the hood.  However that excitement was curtailed when I got the Windows was unable to boot message that brings up repair options.  Again, I didn’t panic.  My initial thought was the hardware change was just throwing Windows 10 for a loop.  I figured an automatic repair would sort it out, it didn’t.

I found myself in a never ending loop of failed repairs.  During one of those failed repairs I chose the option to open a command prompt.  I thought it was odd that I had a c:\windows directory but it was empty, WTF?  I also had been noticing one of the repair options was “Exit and boot to Windows 8.1” which was odd because I have been on Windows 10 for years.  At that moment the light bulb went on.  I bet the system is trying to boot off the old SATA hdd.

Years ago I added a 512 GB SSD hard drive and made my original 3TB drive a secondary unit for storage.  It seemed like the system was not seeing the SSD drive.  I confirmed this by booting into the BIOS setup screen and seeing the SSD drive missing from the list.  Son of a bitch, this meant I had to open up the case for a third time.  When I did I saw the SATA cable for the SSD drive disconnected, another casualty of the video card install.  Through some tedious finger jamming I was able to get the cable reinstalled without ripping the video card out again.  Once I did that the system booted right up like nothing was ever wrong. Whew.

It was quite the ordeal, keeping me busy for well over an hour and a half.  It reemphasized to me how not panicking is one of the key components of effective troubleshooting.  I did a little testing of the new card’s capabilities later last night.  It’s a nice upgrade that I will see the most benefit from in WoW and during my streaming sessions.

This weekend I have tasks to do but one of them won’t be mowing the grass.  The regular rain has subsided meaning yard growth will start to slow greatly.  Of course I have other things to concentrate on.  One of those things was unexpected, just as Halloween came to an end our awesome inflatable and animated spider in the yard died.  It appears the fan unit may have taken a shit as the rest of the decoration has power.  I love that thing so I am going to spend some time taking it apart to see how doable a fan swap would be.  Normally a situation like this would send the decoration into the trash can but  not this time.


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