I seem to have frequent misadventures in technology. This week being no different. My friend Mike sent me an Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (3.2 GHz per core) processor as a hand-me-down. I cannot refuse this gift. I was and still am quite grateful. However, this processor was a few steps above my Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2.4 GHz) that I had before. The motherboard that the Q6600 is in is a EVGA nForce 680i SLI. This motherboard does not support the QX9770. So, I bought a new one, a EVGA nForce 790i SLI FTW. Spending $200 to use a $1400 processor made sense to me, and I was shipped some DDR3 RAM as well, so I just needed to do a motherboard swap. This, sadly, was the easy part.
The hard part(s) came when I booted XP 64bit after doing the swap. It was only 1 generation up for the northbridge, and the processor should just be detected as a quad core 3.2 GHz chip. Well Windows decided to not boot up. Weird, I thought, and put in my BartPE disc to image the install before I just installed fresh. Once in BartPE, I tried to make an Acronis image of the LUN to my network storage, but the partition table was corrupted. I tried fixing it, but decided my backup was recent enough, and I store all important data off to the storage server. Wrote zeroes to the beginning of the drive to wipe out the MBR and partition tables, and just installed XP Pro 64bit fresh. Speed. Raw speed that I have only seen on servers that I set up at work. But for some reason, my Asus Xonar D2 wasn’t installing properly, and the onboard firewire wasn’t accepting drivers. Ok, so I google like crazy, update the BIOS (note this point) and move the cards around. The card worked in the bottom most PCI slot, but it blocks the heatsink fan for my 2nd video card, which caused crashes before due to overheating. This was 11 PM on Wednesday evening. I needed to go to bed and work the next day.
After work, I came home, and called EVGA. They too found the problem weird, and moved me up to level 2 support. The level 2 support guy asked if the card I was installing was a Xonar. I laughed and said yes. He told me the latest BIOS had a specific fix for this, and that my updating it should have fixed it, so I flashed it again via a boot CD and wrote the CD at 8x. Booted into XP 64, and it saw the sound card in the middle PCI slot, and the firewire controller worked fine. Yay? Not quite. I finished up installing everything, and wanted to play some WoW. So, I’d launch it up, start killing things, and get a crash. What? I disabled all the addons, still crash. Hm. Reinstalled fresh, and still crash. Weird. I had installed Windows 7 on my spare 10k RPM drive so booted into that, finished installing drivers and such, and copied over the WoW directory. In the 15 minutes I was playing, no crash. Looks like I’m now forced to stay in Windows 7 64bit, Vista 64bit or Server 2008 64bit. *sigh*
TL;DR version: I got hardware for free, bought hardware to make it work, and it was a PITA making it work.