[SOLVED] PC Tower sparks and no longer boots. Likely need new components. Suggestions to revitalize an old, dead build

bennetvella

Commendable
Nov 28, 2017
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Yesterday PC went off, after 1 or 2 seconds I see several sparks go off inside the tower, quite a surreal experience. Sparks appeared to be around the motherboard area but don't recall correctly. Of course it doesn't boot up anymore.

My blind assumption is the PSU is toast and after several power surges due to poor power control in this neighbourhood I assume it's definitely faulty, and don't blame it. A few months ago a lightning strike also ran down the shaft adjacent to my room and toasted the network card and top PCI-e express slot. Oddly enough and thankfully the relatively new (fresh out of warranty of course) GTX 1660Ti still worked.

What I'm thinking of replacing:
  • Mobo (Had an i7 sandybridge in there but after a failed network port and dead PCI-e I reckon it's time to replace). No idea about the i7's health and no clue how to even test that without a working mobo with the same slot, which I don't have. New mobo would ideally be able to connect to the internet wirelessly. Single gfx slot, able to take 16GB of RAM ideally, although 8GB would work as well.
  • CPU, whatever marries well with the new mobo. Something fast and responsive. Don't plan on oclocking, those days are behind me. I just want it stable and long lasting, capable of Visual Studio App development for workstation (must support virtualization)
  • PSU, I really don't think I should keep using this anymore. Whatever is reliable and can hold out fast against the unclean power delivered.
  • Probably RAM to match channels of CPU. 16GB ideally, just need them to match CPU channels, nothing fancy needed.
What I still have:
  • Coolermaster HAF-X case.
  • SSD 500 GB
  • GTX 1660Ti
  • 2x 1080p displays (60Hz, nothing fancy)
  • Peripherals are solid
  • Optical drive (about as useful as a paperweight)
Budget:
I'm going to be neck deep in debt real soon but I need this workstation to work and possibly serve as an alternative source of income, so I want to get some decent components without wasting money.

What I need it for:
  • Most importantly: WORKSTATION. I am a software dev and while all my work happens on the work laptop I would like to diversify my income and get into freelance work. Mobile App development, specifically Xamarin framework with Visual Studio (Community for the time being). I don't go heavy on video or image rendering but I do need responsiveness and debugging capability with Android emulation (virtualization).
  • Motherboard would ideally be wireless capable. Yeah wired connections are master race but lightnings and surges are common in my area and I've already had a bad experience with a powered connection. My research into UPS made me determine it still wouldn't be worth the money and thus I'd like to minimize exposure.
  • I hope to utilize the gfx card for some light gaming. Mostly stick to Lotro couple hours a week (my crappy laptop can run it ok), some Moto sim games (very easy to run) and tabletop RPGs (all happens on a browser, a potato could run that)
I haven't kept up to date with the latest details and would appreciate some advice on what's the latest and greatest budget components that don't stink and can cope for my purposes. Also don't need unlocked CPUs and don't intend to overclock. Something that's solid and works is sufficient.
 
It would be hard to say whether you will see a performance hit based on what you are actually doing with the computer.
Your prior CPU was 4c/8t. Intel tends to have higher single thread performance but AMD has the core and thread count.
In this case, if your previous box did everything you need....you mention using a laptop for work, so if this machines use case is simply for work it would logically follow that anything built better spec than the laptop and at least in the same ballpark of the previous machine, you should be good.

As a side note, Intel did away with Hyperthreading as a common option to the Core series of CPU. With that said, a new i3 9100 is slightly faster than the 4790. The 4790 is ever so slightly faster then the 2200g. You probably would not be able to tell a difference in any of the three if no one told you.
 
Wow....two hits in a few months is a lot.

Certainly wouldn't count on any of the older equipment working. Have you been able to test those peripherals such that you know they also work?

If I were going to pursue a current budget build it would be around the Ryzen 5 1600 AF variant. Pick a decent B450 motherboard. I always like to suggest the Tomahawk but not sure what the onboard WiFi capability of that board is. Some G Skill non RGB memory to round it out.... sub $300. (around $270-ish @ 16GB right now)
Add in a decent PSU and I HIGHLY suggest a good UPS/Power Conditioner/Surge Protection.
More likely than not, coming off Intel you will need to purchase a new OS going this way. IDK if the "registered to my Microsoft account" thing would work here. Maybe.
 
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Something else I would point out. Even a Sandy Bridge i7 variant has value. It and the RAM off the old board may still be good. I wouldn't expect much from the DDR3, but if you can find some one local to test that i7 that is readily some cash in your pocket on the used market.
 
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bennetvella

Commendable
Nov 28, 2017
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Bit apprehensive of swapping over to AMD. I plan on working with MS tools and to be honest never had previous experiences with AMD and about their compatibility and support. At work we're exclusively sticking to Intel although I don't know it was a financial reason for that or otherwise.

I also reckon I could ask at work to see if there are any spare mobos I could snatch. Due to the epidemic this might take a while. Any PSU and affordable UPS? UPS I just need it always online even if it only provides me 1 min of uptime.
 

bennetvella

Commendable
Nov 28, 2017
16
0
1,510
0
Something else I would point out. Even a Sandy Bridge i7 variant has value. It and the RAM off the old board may still be good. I wouldn't expect much from the DDR3, but if you can find some one local to test that i7 that is readily some cash in your pocket on the used market.
Had some chance to look at the AMD chipset and wow, things have come a really long way. 3.2Ghz hexcore That's insane. I could probably get by with something even cheaper than that. It doesn't seem anything particularly negative came out of the AMD chipsets either regarding VS development or virtualization.

It all seems kosher or above board. As for the B450 Tomahawk it doesn't appear to support wifi but I suppose a standard wifi PCIe slot would cover that easily, and I'm also going to be looking for a cheap UPS, I'll give it another look around and see if I can find something affordable that will last me a while.
 

bennetvella

Commendable
Nov 28, 2017
16
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1,510
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So I checked local websites to see what they have in stock and this is what I spotted.

  • Another vendor has a Ryzen 3 3200G instead for €110 which might not be a bad swap out.
  • I'm guessing the memory I chose would fit the dual channel memory given, although I think it might be possible to go higher on clock
  • I'm unsure about the motherboards. I found something similar to the B450 Tomahawk you mentioned but this is more expensive with lower specs Tomahawk is not at any vendor. However it does appear to accept a single gfx card, has space for a WIFI PCIE adapter and some other fun stuff I probably won't care about. If the cheaper option would work just as well it would save me 20 bucks.
  • I used an online wattage calc to show me it will require under 400W of power so picked the cheaper PSU I could find. Not sure if these are notoriously crap PSUs or not.
  • To protect the lot I opted for a VI 850. The calc suggested 800 VA and not sure how that translates to VI but I'm thinking a little higher won't do harm. Also based on description the voltage control, cold start and LCD monitoring seems like serious stuff.
Appreciate any thoughts on this

 
The a3xx series mobo will not allow OC, which may not matter in your use case. It may also require a BIOS update before it would work correctly on that CPU...I am not 100% positive which "generation" the mobo will see the 2200G as.
If your GPU still works I would not spend money on the APU class of Ryzen. This is 4c/4t with built in graphics that you likely won't need. Go 1600/2600.

Intel isn't what I would consider a "bad" buy. Ryzen just offering more value for the money right now. (yes, your work is likely under contract to use Intel and/or what a specific vendor gives them). In the case that you simply don't need the thread count there are i3 variants that certainly fit your bill. i5 probably a little more expensive than you seem to be looking into.
 
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bennetvella

Commendable
Nov 28, 2017
16
0
1,510
0
The a3xx series mobo will not allow OC, which may not matter in your use case. It may also require a BIOS update before it would work correctly on that CPU...I am not 100% positive which "generation" the mobo will see the 2200G as.
If your GPU still works I would not spend money on the APU class of Ryzen. This is 4c/4t with built in graphics that you likely won't need. Go 1600/2600.

Intel isn't what I would consider a "bad" buy. Ryzen just offering more value for the money right now. (yes, your work is likely under contract to use Intel and/or what a specific vendor gives them). In the case that you simply don't need the thread count there are i3 variants that certainly fit your bill. i5 probably a little more expensive than you seem to be looking into.
Thanks for the writeup, very informative. Whether the gfx card will work or not is going to be a question mark at the moment. What I do know is that if it's not in working order I probably won't be willing to shell out additional cash for one. 2600 would also likely be overbudget and can't find any 1600 at local retailers. All things considered however I'm guessing the 4c/4t would still be quite solid performance wise? Will I be seeing any significant losses over the 4t as opposed to an 8t system?

Also the 3200G for some reason is only €10 more which I can easily reach for.
 
It would be hard to say whether you will see a performance hit based on what you are actually doing with the computer.
Your prior CPU was 4c/8t. Intel tends to have higher single thread performance but AMD has the core and thread count.
In this case, if your previous box did everything you need....you mention using a laptop for work, so if this machines use case is simply for work it would logically follow that anything built better spec than the laptop and at least in the same ballpark of the previous machine, you should be good.

As a side note, Intel did away with Hyperthreading as a common option to the Core series of CPU. With that said, a new i3 9100 is slightly faster than the 4790. The 4790 is ever so slightly faster then the 2200g. You probably would not be able to tell a difference in any of the three if no one told you.
 

bennetvella

Commendable
Nov 28, 2017
16
0
1,510
0
It would be hard to say whether you will see a performance hit based on what you are actually doing with the computer.
Your prior CPU was 4c/8t. Intel tends to have higher single thread performance but AMD has the core and thread count.
In this case, if your previous box did everything you need....you mention using a laptop for work, so if this machines use case is simply for work it would logically follow that anything built better spec than the laptop and at least in the same ballpark of the previous machine, you should be good.

As a side note, Intel did away with Hyperthreading as a common option to the Core series of CPU. With that said, a new i3 9100 is slightly faster than the 4790. The 4790 is ever so slightly faster then the 2200g. You probably would not be able to tell a difference in any of the three if no one told you.
Thanks a lot punkncat for your expert advise. All that's left is waiting on the supplier to reply regarding the motherboard's BIOS version and if requiring an update whether or not they'll facilitate it free of charge. If not I'll probably opt for the slightly more expensive MSI B450M PRO-M2 MAX. They don't stock a Tomahawk unfortunately which is a bummer but this later motherboard I'd hope would come factory with BIOS support for the targeted G3200 chip
 

bennetvella

Commendable
Nov 28, 2017
16
0
1,510
0

I've located the required version for the A320 mainboard which is almost the latest BIOS that has been released since 2019/8/16 . I'm finding it unlikely for this to be already included in their mainboard stock so it will likely require him to update it for me. I forwarded this information to him so will see how it goes.
 

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