Failed Experiment

January 28, 2013

My home-build video editing machine is a i7 2600K w a 250GB boot drive, a 2TB editing drive, and a 2TB external drive. I included 4x4GB Dimms and a 650w power supply. I had purchased three (3) 2TB Western Digital RED drives to place in an external device but the device turned out to be an utter disappointment so it was returned immediately. SO I found myself sitting with 6TB of storage just sitting there with no home and I decided to put it my editing machine in a RAID 5 config for 4TB of storage and 2TB of parity. And then the trouble started.

I’ve always enjoyed putting machines together as you power it on for the first time after getting everything connected and you hear the familiar beeping as the memory is checked and the Bios screen pops up. I’ve been building my own machines since 1995 and have had many successes and a few failures but the thrill of putting together my own parts has never left. Even now when there as so many diverse parts to contend with so that even as the chip makers left stand have dwindled down to 2 the range of chips and sockets and configurations have ballooned. Now there is a concern about memory timing, socket compatibility, and PCI-E slot types. (Then again I remember having to deal with IRQ conflicts so maybe the past wasn’t as easy as we’d like to believe.) But I digress…

I put the drives in the machine while having to move around the existing drives so that I could utilize the Raid controller. Well, the first thing to remember is that most operating systems determine the boot partition by the drive location by hard drive controller location as well as  partition location and Windows 7 x64 is no different. I have not only changed drive positions but also controller types which Win7 wouldn’t appreciate at all so I understood I may have to do a quick re-install on top of my current partition location so that Windows would know how to find itself. Honestly, I thought that would be my only issue but I was sadly mistaken.

2 paragraphs ago I mentioned the welcoming sounds of the beeps at start-up  sounds that I had come to expect prior to the installation of the 3 additional drives. But a strange thing happened. I heard those beeps twice and then three times then four times after a short lag; my system would get to the bios screen and then reboot. I stopped the machine and then started my troubleshooting techniques learned:

  1. Examined all cables – All things plugged in correctly
  2. Checked memory to ensure they were all seated properly
  3. Checked fans on Processor to verify this isn’t a temp problem
  4. Ran Memtest+86 to see if I was having a memory issue.

Tried to start up the machine… same sequence. So I thought the perhaps I’m grounding out the board because I had to push the power supply’s main connectors back into the MB. I put some insulator (folded paper) in between the motherboard and the back of the case and clicked the power button – voila! The system started fine. So by process of elimination I had found the problem… until the next time I restarted the system because of Microsoft updates. Same issue…

After much searching it appears to be a two fold problem with memory AND power supply. My Corsair 650w PS just didn’t seem up to the task of the 5 internal HDs. Once I removed the NAS drives the system booted fine so I have gone to an e-SATA drive for my rendering. The memory problems have shown themselves later with system lockups and other strange issues such as losing mouse and keyboard access and having to unplug and reconnect the USB cable. I am going to replace the memory and then test the 4x4GB Dimms in pairs to see if I can find the offending Dimm(s).

In regard to the 8TB (I bought another 2TB Red drive that was on sale last week) that I have waiting to install in something, my brother has put me on to a Synology NAS. Synology builds quite a few NAS devices in various sizes as well as the diskless DS412+ that I am interested in. He has purchased one and I am just waiting for a review from him to make up my mind. If I get one look for a review.


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