PC joy and pain

Men like to build and create. I’ve never been profoundly interested in or skilled at carpentry or stonework or automobile mechanics or, uh, spacklecraft. I do like to cook, but I’ve never constructed any kind of pastry.

I also do a little bit of gardening (mostly herbs), but I have kind of a brown thumb. Plants under my care have probably a 50-50 shot of surviving.

My creative tendency has been most manifest in my PC building efforts. The first time I built a computer, I made some unfortunate mistakes that wound up costing me. But when I got the thing working, man. Such a feeling of satisfaction – making something that not everyone can, and then putting it to good, honest use.

This second time I fared better on the front end, but over the past two or three weeks I’ve been getting a string of game crashes and blue screens of death. These kinds of setbacks can be profoundly disappointing and frustrating; computers are complex machines with all kinds of moving parts. You can look at dump files and event logs and errors messages, and sometimes you’ll be able to quickly or luckily diagnose the problem.

Often, however, the root cause of your troubles is elusive. Is it a driver? Bad RAM? Corrupted system files? Faulty PSU/not enough juice? Hard Disc error? Apps that just don’t want to cooperate with your operating system?

At least I’ve discovered a number of useful diagnostic utilities and system tools. System File Checker, Driver Verifier, Windows Memory Diagnostics, and Memtest86+ in particular strike me as good tools for any IT Guy or Gal to be aware of.

I also can’t overstate the importance of taking the time to check manufacturer websites for updated drivers, and becoming familiar with the Device Manager. I thought I had updated everything, but over the weekend I found that I had an old ethernet driver. Yesterday I checked out the support webpage for my motherboard and found that I was way behind on my BIOS version. That was a little more tricky to update, but relatively painless.

I haven’t been able to pinpoint any bad hardware so far, though I was suspicious of the RAM and the SSHD for a while. After I updated my BIOS yesterday I played the Witcher 2 for a few hours and didn’t get any BSOD or game crashes, so that’s a good sign. Fingers crossed I’ve stumbled upon the solution to my woes. Having a gaming machine that won’t run games is the absolute pits.

On Monday I couldn’t run Heroes of the Storm for more than a couple minutes without crashing to desktop, and I was branded with my very first “leaver” status. I’m apprehensive, but tonight I’ll give it a go and see if the BIOS update did it. Can an outdated BIOS cause other drivers to crash programs (my HOTS crash event log entry seemed to indicate a GPU driver-related incident)? I guess I’ll find out.




4 thoughts on “PC joy and pain

  1. I can do some plug-n-play, (the only original piece of my current PC is the motherboard), but I’ve always been scared to try to build one from the ground up…

    Related: a friend brought over half a dozen network cards for me to find one and stick in since lightning friend the direct motherboard port for my network connection – at least one of them fit; hooray!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh geez! I’m surprised the damage was limited to your ethernet port and I hope you don’t discover any other issues.

      If you do find yourself interested in building one, it’s not really that difficult; just more time-consuming if you haven’t done it many times. Unless you get fancy, maybe…I haven’t played around with liquid cooling or anything like that. Just have to read the instructions and have a general idea of the build order. These days with Youtube there’re a lot of learning resources available.

      That said, the fact that you don’t really have any support if you build it yourself is a major caveat. If you have problems with the system, you have to figure it out yourself or with the help of kind friends/people on the internet.

      I think it’s a great experience for anyone who likes tech and uses their computer a lot, but you’ve gotta be prepared for the possibility of sinking in a fair amount of time trying to get it to work, heh.


      1. Yeah, I’m keeping my fingers crossed. For some reason, the modem was the one thing not plugged into the surge protected portion of the battery backup.

        My fear: “I’ll just google what I did wrong on this computer I built that’s not working… wait…”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha yes, it’s good that we now live in the age of smartphones. Also handy to have your old computer on hand if you do decide to build a new one. As you suggest, it can get dicey if you don’t have access to any other systems.


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