If you’re been following my travails with my primary production system lately, you already know that I’ve been struggling to fix mysterious hangs and occasional bluescreens since the third week of July. On Wednesday, one of the two drives in my system drive mirror crashed. I not only replaced both of those drives, I also went ahead, bit the bullet, and did a clean reinstall of Vista Ultimate on that machine. The PC kept running properly through the night for the first time since my troubles began, so I got up the next morning to find a system that still responded to my attempts to log in (previously, leaving the machine alone for more than 2-3 hours would cause the GUI to freeze, and the Explorer interface to become inaccessible).
On Thursday, I finished the most important reinstall manuevers as I got my basic set of applications up and running, and imported my old PST files from the previous build into the current one. Thanks to the system mirror, in fact, I’ve got the remaining good drive from the old pair attached as a data drive in the new build, so I can zip over to that drive and grab anything I might need pretty easily. It’s actually hooked up through an eSATA port inside one of my Antec MX-1 drive enclosures, but it works just as if it were mounted inside the box. Interestingly, I paid the same amount ($80) for each of a pair of 500 GB Spinpoint F5 SATA drives for this build that I paid for the pair of 320 GB Seagate 7200.10 PMR drives in the previous build about a year ago.
I was pretty hopeful that the reinstall would fix my problems, but after installing the latest version of Corel PaintShop Pro X2 on the machine yesterday afternoon, I edited a photo of my son to send to a friend, and wham! Out pops a memory error bluescreen. Because I’ve now replaced the disk drives, the memory, the CPU, and the graphics card in the last month, I’m pretty sure that the only potential and remaining source of trouble left will have to be replaced as well: the motherboard. It’s a Gigabyte GA-P35T-DQ6 that I got from the vendor about a year ago, and used as the basis for a bunch of stories on Intel DHCAT for Tom’s Guide. Because it uses DDR3, I’m committed to getting another DDR3 board to replace it. I’ve contacted the vendor in hopes of making a swap or replacement, and will be interested to see what happens next. I see only three outlets that still sell this board, all with prices in the $270 range. An X48 board would cost me only $33 more, so I may end up going with one of those instead.
Right now, the system is reasonably stable, so I’m OK to work on it until I can take it apart one more time and replace the only remaining “old” part left inside the case. It should be interesting to see if I can finally do away with my problems after that! Stay tuned: here at ViztaView, there’s always another Vista adventure in the offing.