Question Maintaining a 13 yr old desktop

timelord989

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Currently running a Dell Precision T7400 I got used for $200 a few years ago; has been working well since then aside from a few memory sticks burning out intermittently (most have been replaced; currently at 12Gb 6x2 DDR2).

However, this rig hates losing power and tends to act up if booted after not being powered on in several weeks. Recently on boot there is a message about low battery voltage, and yesterday when I tried to boot up after two weeks of inactivity it crashed about 10 times within 5 min of startup (in both win 10 and ubuntu) before finally staying stable enough to use. So far today it's been stable for about 2 hours, so I think I'm in the clear now.

Some questions:
  1. Do I actually need to replace the motherboard battery to stop this from happening again, or is this a sign of a different problem? Not sure what it means that it's working well again.
  2. What can I do to test my components and make sure they aren't causing this? Thought at first it might be the hard drives (2 SSDs and one HDD) but crashes happened regardless of which OS I boot (on different SSDs)
  3. Somewhat unrelated, but if I decide to upgrade in the near future, can I just get a new GPU and use it in this rig or am I at the point where the lack of PCI-3 or 4 and older CPUs (currently dual Xeon x5472s) are holding gaming performance back? Also is the mobo old enough at this point that I should replace it ASAP regardless of whether it is working "okay" right now?
 

tennis2

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Definitely replace the mobo battery. Such a cheap repair to eliminate a potential suspect.

DO NOT replace the mobo. You're much better off spending your money to upgrade to a newer platform (CPU+mobo+DDR4 RAM). Your CPU age is drastically holding back gaming performance. In fact, you need to be careful in what you're buying for this dinosaur that cannot be transferred to a new system.
 

timelord989

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Got it; just checked and the battery is a simple CR2032 so I'll replace that tomorrow.

Agree I shouldn't buy anything to fix this rig and should aim to replace it!

Can I assume this computer will stay okay for another year (max) while I build a new rig? Only components I see myself reusing are the two SSDs (while I have 2x1TB HDDs they are both SAS instead of SATA, plus they are old enough I'm guessing I shouldn't use them in the new rig even if I got a SAS controller/adapter). Tempted to reuse the PSU since it is 1000W but again it's very old and probably shouldn't be expected last much longer.

Is there anything aside from guessing at the SMART data values to figure out whether my current drives have been damaged?

Finally where should I start for planning a new build? Last new part in this rig is a EVGA GTX 950 so I need a crash course in the current state of things.
 

tennis2

Dignified
Give us a budget and country you're shopping in.

Since you're talking about replacing various components, is it safe to assume you're ok with building your own system?

What is the brand/model/wattage of the PSU? Approximate age?

What monitor do you have?
 

timelord989

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Thanks for the reminder; I saw the stickied post on asking for build requests and thought I'd make another post but this works too.

This morning I got both NMI Hardware Failure and WHEA Hardware Failure BSODs on Windows, but Ubuntu is still working completely normally (previously it crashed on both). Will replace battery in a few min and report back.

I do want to build a new computer; while I've never fully built my own system I've completely disassembled/reassembled older computers and I was so cheap at one point that I shared one GPU between two desktops at two different houses so I was always removing/reinstalling it :p

Country: USA, Midwest/Chicago region
Budget: Not actually sure; in a lot of student debt now but just about to start my career so I could either build cheaply and upgrade sooner or more expensive and aim for at least 5 years (so $500 up to $1500 is the most I could stomach)
Goal: decent gaming performance (e.g. high but not ultra settings on next year's AAA games, mid settings on VR), stability for office work.
PSU: Dell H1000E-00; don't see a date on the PSU, found one AZ listing that suggested it could be from 2015, but the system has a timestamp of 2008 inside the lid
Monitors: currently have 3x1080p 60hz monitors (Acer, LG, Dell if it matters; I don't game multi-monitor), ideally would want to build to support 4K (for one monitor) or VR for the future but not mandatory.
Prefer hardware that is more "friendly" to Linux/Ubuntu, which in the past I thought was Intel/Nvidia but that might have changed (have strayed from the path a bit and this year have mostly been using windows); maybe I should try out AMD stuff just to see what I think
Don't need server-grade hardware, my current rig is just server-grade as I bought it used
CPU: at least quad-core, ideally hexa/octa core
RAM: at least 16 Gb
GPU: if Nvidia torn between 2xxx for budget vs 3xxx for "future-proofing"; don't know much about the AMD Radeon side of things; no need for SLI/Xfire AFAICT
Storage: hoping to re-use my current SSDs (2x256 Gb Samsung EVO) though not sure how to interpret the SMART data on them (one with windows has a high UDMA CRC Error rate, 191K, one with Ubuntu has zero errors*); for data I have a lot of FLAC music downloaded, will need at least 2TB HDD; is there any way to use an SAS drive in a typical SATA system or will I need to transfer that data over before the current system fails?)
Case: No need to go out of the way for RGB or any caselights; also not interested in water cooling at this point
Audio: Want at least 5.1 sound, open to getting a sound card but have had bad experiences with interference in the past so I use an external card instead. Amateur musician so open to low-latency hardware but not willing to spend extra for it/won't really use it for a while
Peripherals: happy with current keyboard (LG 710 blue keys) mouse & headphones; currently only running 2.1 speakers and will want to upgrade to 5.1 in a year

Sorry if that's a lot at once; there isn't really a rush on this as I have a backup desktop + laptop I can use if this one fails (i5 2400, 8 Gb DDR3, gtx 950)
* Backblaze suggests we shouldn't worry about a high count for SMART 199 (UDMA CRC Error count):
https://www.backblaze.com/blog-smart-stats-2014-8.html#S199R
 
Last edited:
Here is a build for just under 1k that might suit you:
PCPartPicker Part List

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 3.6 GHz 6-Core Processor ($199.99 @ Best Buy)
Motherboard: MSI B550-A PRO ATX AM4 Motherboard ($129.99 @ B&H)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws V 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3600 CL16 Memory ($78.98 @ Newegg)
Storage: ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 512 GB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive ($64.98 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda Compute 2 TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($54.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: MSI GeForce RTX 2060 6 GB VENTUS XS OC Video Card ($324.09 @ B&H)
Case: Phanteks Eclipse P300A Mesh ATX Mid Tower Case ($54.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Antec Earthwatts Gold Pro 550 W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply ($79.98 @ Amazon)
Total: $987.99
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-10-26 09:47 EDT-0400
 

tennis2

Dignified
I'm going to leave some room for a GPU since current-gen stuff is actively being released.

Threw a nice 27" 1440p variable refresh rate monitor in there.

PCPartPicker Part List

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT 3.8 GHz 6-Core Processor ($239.00 @ B&H)
Motherboard: MSI MAG B550M MORTAR WIFI Micro ATX AM4 Motherboard ($169.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws V 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3600 CL18 Memory ($61.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1 TB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive ($129.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Western Digital Blue 4 TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($88.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Cooler Master MasterBox MB311L ARGB MicroATX Mid Tower Case ($59.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Antec Earthwatts Gold Pro 650 W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply ($95.87 @ Amazon)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit ($108.78 @ Other World Computing)
Case Fan: ARCTIC F12 CO 74 CFM 120 mm Fan ($13.72 @ MemoryC)
Monitor: Gigabyte G27QC 27.0" 2560x1440 165 Hz Monitor ($299.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $1268.31
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-10-26 10:27 EDT-0400
 

timelord989

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Update on the dinosaur: replaced the battery, which got rid of that low voltage alert, but crashes are still happening.
There is also an "Uncorrectable error in DIMM 1 or 2 detected", and when I try to run a mem test it freezes in 10 seconds. I'll try removing the first two memory sticks; hopefully it's only one of those sticks (this is not how the system behaved back when all the old sticks died out; wouldn't even boot then so I think this is something upstream)
Reading about the NMI and WHEA errors I've seen some people say rolling back BIOS updates might help; is it possible Windows automatically applies a BIOS update recently? current version is A11 from 2012.

Thanks @Flayed and @tennis2 for the build suggestions; only concerns:
  • is 650W enough if I ended up getting or upgrading to one of the 3xxx cards (probably 3070 or lower tier if those get released)?
  • Sometimes I transport my desktops (rare, at most 1-2x/year); is the glass panel on the case Flayed recommended likely to break in transit or is there a way to protect it? Also almost never use CD/DVDs but I'm tempted to reuse the disc readers on this computer; would either case allow for a disc reader (looks like the front panel has no place for that; could just get an external reader)
 

tennis2

Dignified
The 3070 has a rumored 220W TDP (we'll know better in 3 days when it launches). CPU power draw is your only other main power draw at ~150W. So you're looking at around 400W system power draw.

Transporting glass has its risks. I suppose it depends on how you're transporting the machine. In the back seat of a vehicle, I wouldn't worry that much.

Get an external USB optical drive. Most modern cases don't have optical drive bays.

Check out Microcenter in Chicago. They've typically got the best prices on CPU+mobo combos. Most of the other stuff they're not going to be lowest price on though.
 

timelord989

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As I have the other backup desktop (also old, prob 2012) that is still in good shape I can afford to wait until Black Friday/Cyber Monday to buy parts; is that generally worth it or are the deals usually on full desktops instead?
 

timelord989

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Good advice; I recently had to replace the PSU on my backup rig and I got a 700W ThermalTake PSU, would that cut it? Probably should get the $750 anyway so I can still have a "backup":
https://www.bestbuy.com/site/thermaltake-smart-700w-atx-80-plus-power-supply-black/6339087.p?skuId=6339087

Meanwhile I found a literal moth stuck to the contacts of the first stick of DDR2 (wish I had taken a picture); seems to be working better after removing that. Still skeptical, will continue to monitor and should upgrade regardless.

If that was really it then it is a spooky callback to the first ever literal computer bug: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_bug#/media/File:First_Computer_Bug,_1945.jpg
 

madmatt30

Titan
Ambassador
Good advice; I recently had to replace the PSU on my backup rig and I got a 700W ThermalTake PSU, would that cut it? Probably should get the $750 anyway so I can still have a "backup":
https://www.bestbuy.com/site/thermaltake-smart-700w-atx-80-plus-power-supply-black/6339087.p?skuId=6339087

Meanwhile I found a literal moth stuck to the contacts of the first stick of DDR2 (wish I had taken a picture); seems to be working better after removing that. Still skeptical, will continue to monitor and should upgrade regardless.

If that was really it then it is a spooky callback to the first ever literal computer bug: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_bug#/media/File:First_Computer_Bug,_1945.jpg
Re - The Psu

No, the thermaltake is absolutely p**s poor quality, I wouldnt run anything decent on it.

Buy a GOOD quality psu for a new system.
The leadex 3 is a clear step above just good, that extra $20-30 gets you absolutely top quality.
 

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