Flakey Box getting worse :\

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Starting to flake out more regularly. Has done it intermittently since last
spring.  2 years old of 24/7 service.

Athlon XP 2500+ running  11x210 fsb until last spring.  Now it won't boot
unless 200 or lower fsb.  Haven't messed with multipliers.
Stock fan keeps cpu about 39 degrees, not over 42. Stock 1.65v.

Corsair XMS 3200 2 x 256 sticks.

Soltek  SL-75FRN2-RL motherboard

Sparkle 400w power supply

Took it apart to clean last weekend, found I've got 2 leaking, and 4 bulged
capacitors, in addition to the usual dust bunnies in the heat sink. :(

Soooo,  don't know for sure what to think about the culprit.

Have a SATA hd, vid card, sound card, memory card reader hooked up also.

Do have spare parts from a buddy that backed out of a system build, so have
the same board, some new memory, and a mobile XP 2500+.

I'm thinking first of all, will try the new board with same cpu and memory
and see if it's the caps, then add other parts if not better. :\

My question: if I just swap out boards, will Windows XP (home  SP2) balk,
and will it find the HD or will I need to reload the drivers for SATA?

I haven't built a box in 2 years, and my memory isn't that great, so I'm
trying to prepare for any gotcha's I might need to look out for.

Thank you.


Re: Flakey Box getting worse :\

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CPU for a start. You've been running it overclocked by over 30%. At 2
years, it's about the right time for problems due to overclocking to
start appearing.


"You're not married, you haven't got a girlfriend and you've never seen
Star Trek? Good Lord!" - Patrick Stewart, Extras.

Re: Flakey Box getting worse :\

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Uhh, maybe the caps are bad?

Sounds pretty obvious to me.  Buy a new mobo.

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YES.  Unless the chipsets are exactly the same, a mobo swap won't work.

However, it can be done.  I did it on my XP system.  I went from a VIA to an
nVidia chipset.  You have to remove all the "old" chipset drivers and just
use standard Microsoft drivers.  Then install the new chipset drivers once
Windows is up again.

Someone here gave me a link about a year ago, but I've since lost it.  It
was fairly simple, but each step had to be done, or Windows wouldn't boot.

Good luck.

Re: Flakey Box getting worse :\

Bill G wrote:

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Well, it probably won't boot/run without something being done, you mean.

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That is a method which I imagine derives from a similar procedure for Win9X
machines but, strictly speaking, it doesn't do the whole job as XP (and
Windows2000) supports much more complex configurations than Win9x ever did
and, while the odds are decent enough on a 'normal' PC that the underlying
structure is similar, simply removing drivers and installing the new ones
won't necessarily resolve structural discrepancies.

A repair install will and is, IMO, simpler as well.

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Re: Flakey Box getting worse :\

pheasant wrote:
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You were just staring at it: 2 leaking, and 4 bulged capacitors.

At least that's my opinion based on the theory that what's broke is usually
the problem.

They could be replaced, btw.

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If it's the exact same board it should work, unless there is some revision
to it that makes XP think the devices are new/different. If so, or if it
was substantially different, a repair install (booting the CD) would
re-detect the hardware and, well, repair it.

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Re: Flakey Box getting worse :\

On Fri, 30 Sep 2005 08:07:14 -0500, David Maynard

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Agreed, and it would be an upgrade most likey (don't recall
which caps Soltek used on those models), assuming good
replacement caps were selected.

Re: Flakey Box getting worse :\

On Fri, 30 Sep 2005 07:26:21 -0500, "pheasant"

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What do you mean "see if it's the caps"?
Yes, they are certainly a problem.  The only problem?  You
won't know till after that is dealt with.  Reusing same
installation of windows could mean file corruption if/since
the system is instable.

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If it is same board, and same bios version (or no
significant changes to bios that would effect XP- most
wouldn't), you can then plug in new board and should
theoretically need no files *newly*  available including
SATA.  This assumes you previously had SATA enabled and had
suppied the drivers last time, of course.

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The gotcha would be that Soltek used marginal capacitors in
the first place and your overclocking exacerbated an already
present problem-waiting-to-happen.

One can generally note the size vs uF capacity of the
capacitors (when typical electrolytic type) and make some
predictions about their fitness.   The decent caps are
larger per same uF (& voltage) value.  I suspect (based on
touch-testing for heatup and comparing that temp to another
cap swapped into same position) these caps are also a
significantly higher ESR spec, and aren't really suitable
for any use but a disposible system for a couple years at
stock speed with a low-end (slower so lower current) CPU.

In other words, there's no reason to believe replacement
with exact same board will have different life expectancy,
except that this "new" board has been aging since
manufacture date too, so it's life might tend to be a little
shorter.  I would expect it to work initially though, and
unless your CPU was overheating quite a bit I would tend to
disagree with Connor's assumption that overclocking it had
reduced it's lifespan to this level.  Even so, certainly the
prudent thing to do would be to start out with it
non-overclocked when board is swapped and test stability at
stock speed first.

I have to wonder though, when it was instable AND
overclocked, why did you not reduce clock speed some?  I
overclock quite a bit myself (as a hobby, NOT for
mission-critical system/uses) but see little point in a fast
instable system.  Seems if it were flaky for 2 years it
should've been less overclocked onto the point of regaining

Even good capacitors have optimal performance when new then
degrade slowly over time. Trying to hit absolute highest o'c
possible when board is new, then leaving it there, is
expected to eventually be instable as the caps age.
Therefore it is good to have some margin between running
speed and highest new-stable speed else you may end up
having to *recalibrate* the speed to keep stable as system
ages.  Perhaps this doesn't directly apply to your use... is
just a comment in general.

Re: Flakey Box getting worse :\

kony wrote:
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No; she was pretty much rock solid until last spring at 11 x 210.  I
could push it to 221 x 11 but hotter than blazes, or 213 x 13 and again
hotter than you know where, so opted for 210 x 11 for stability.

So it's only been the last 6 months or so flaky, and yes, I did lower
the FSB to 200 and she ran good again up until about a week ago.

Again always stuck with 1.65v and about 40 degrees, so no overheating
I'm aware of. (shut it down and reduced FSB and multipliers when I first
was searching for an optimal point for stability)

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Thank you.

  I appreciate your comments, didn't realize the aging of capacitors was
a normal function, and telling me Soltek used marginal ones to begin
with is also good to know.  They are going to send me replacements, so
after I swap out the board, will attempt a NEW project; motherboard
repair. Git R' Done!

If the new board gives me 2 years like the present, I'll be ready to
upgrade by then, so even if it has bad caps, 4 years total on this
system will be acceptable.

Last question; would lowering the FSB and compensating with multiplier
have any chance of having to rebuild?  (Think I already know, you
answered above; but like to hear from more seasoned veterans.)

The world's least questioned  excuse for missing work....
"the voices in my head told me to stay home and
clean guns today".  Oooookay...

Re: Flakey Box getting worse :\

On Sat, 01 Oct 2005 07:13:04 -0500, pheasant

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Ideally a board will have caps overengineered to the extent
that within the *normal* expected life, they don't become
problematic.  Overclocking though, obviously goes beyond
what they guarantee or at least target.  There are a few
things you can do that may help.  One is to check the temp
of the caps- a precise metered reading is not necessary,
merely touch-testing them should suffice.  If they feel more
than mildly warm you can expect their lifespan to be
drastically shorter.  Not only overclocking, but board
design and heatsink selection also play a role in cap temp.
In some cases I've come up with some altenative cooling
strategies to remove more heat from CPU VRM subcircuit, and
keep caps cooler.  For example,

On a properly engineered board AND at stock speed, voltage,
these kinds of mods would not be necessary, but that was set
up deliberately for overclocking and even has a POT for best
adjustement to the left of the fan.  Ironically for best
life a board needs not have a fan on NB 'sink, not to focus
as much on minimizing heat of NB,  but to keep the parts
most susceptible to heat-lifespan-degradation, cooler.

If you repair/replace a board, take care to choose very low
ESR capacitors, even better to ignore the uF value of the
original and shoot for larger cap that will fit on the space
allotted.  For example, if original that failed was 10mm
dia. x 20mm tall with 5mm lead spacing, and there is room
for a 12mm dia x 20-25mm tall x 5mm lead spaced cap, do so,
IF you can still choose a good type of cap.  There are some
exotic composition caps that are quite expensive and usually
not cost-effective, plus a board is not usually designed ot
accomodate them (example- Sanyo OS-Cons) except in cases of
server boards.  The most cost effective for typical PC
boards might be Panasonic FM caps from Digikey.  Certainly
there are other alternatives but usually more expensive in
low quantity and/or harder to find.

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Depends on where the instability is.  Replacement with same
board should not require rebuilding windows, but for
stability aspects the voltage reduciton subcircuits supply
both the CPU and several other chips.  If the CPU is the
issue with marginal power filtration (the bad caps) then
keeping it at similar MHz would not be expected to be any

If the power is effecting one of the other chips instead,
then yes having those run at lower speeds (as with FSB for
northbridge, or as FSB relates to memory bus perhaps) will
make them more likely stable at the lower speed just as the
CPU would be.  So the answer is really that it can matter
but depends on the specific problem and board, settings,
etc... I can't predict what will matter most in your
specific situation.

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