I think I've had enough of custom PC's and what goes into them

Elvis Starburst

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Join me in a (rant) journey of my falling out of love for custom computer tech, and even just computer hardware in general.

I've had a custom rig since I was 18, and that was nearly 11 years ago. I've been knee deep into the custom computer market since then and have since built several other computers between then and now. I firmly held fast in the argument that if something goes wrong, you can just replace that part and be on your way, and that's the best way to enjoy having a computer if you're going to go PC. You get higher quality components for your money, the ability to repair and replace is ideal, and when it works together it's great.

Nowadays? I swear it's a bigger pain in the ass than most stuff I've had to do on any level, especially recently. Computer hardware hasn't always been my friend, despite my best efforts to get the best quality stuff I can find and afford. My old motherboard crapped out on me, and it was a 7th gen Intel product, so I had to get a new processor on top of the motherboard. I did a ton of research of what brand and model was the right choice for my budget, got it, put my entire system back together (for what feels like the 20th time between troubleshooting and part upgrading since I made it maybe 4 years ago)... and there's an audio problem. Is it software related? Didn't seem like it after loads of troubleshooting. Is it hardware related? Seemed likely. So I returned it and got a replacement (once again tearing the whole thing apart and rebuilding it again). Seemed to work fine for a few months... and then I started hearing an odd high pitched sound occasionally. Ignoring it, I kept using my computer for a few more months as the sound sometimes got worse, but then sometimes got better. I then purchased Forza Horizon 4 to play with a friend, and it was the first time I stressed this new processor and motherboard in a big way.

Oh my god, the coil whine was obnoxious. THAT'S what the noise was before... After I spent hours searching for what caused the issue, weeks going back and forth between Asus and Intel, it was determined to be, you guessed it, the motherboard. But, it's also entirely possible it was the power supply as well. How can I find that part out, seeing as I don't have a spare one lying around (like Asus customer service hoped I'd just conveniently have)? Well, I'd just have to go and buy a power supply, plug it all in, test it, box up the power supply and return it if it's not the issue or go through EVGA's RMA process if it is and OH MY GOD I don't wanna rebuild this damn thing again AAAAAAAA-

Once there was a time I was fine building and tweaking and troubleshooting, and now I find myself wishing this stuff would just work. And to its credit, it does most of the time. But despite my best research... digging through the web of PC hardware companies, the huge disparity in quality of components, the difficulties between hardware and software, all of the different warranties and RMA processes, and sheer difference in the level of customer support between them (FUCK Gigabyte in that regard by the way, absolutely useless the lot of them)... And I don't think I can reliably consider a pre-built either just cause I know what I know regarding them, or expect a laptop to pick up the slack for a desktop setup. I'm seriously getting fed up with the whole experience overall.

I feel like I've gotten old...
 

Chimpzy

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Yeah, it's very frustrating and disheartening to lose in the hardware lottery, or to have a problem and then spend so much time and effort trying to fix it, only to find out you can't, even tho it's not your fault.

Like, a little over a year ago I had first assembled my current build. Everything hooked up, I flip on the power supply, and press the power button on the case. I'm happy to hear all the fans spin up and see the rgb on the mobo and gpu light up (hate rgb, but at least it tells you something is working), but nothing appears on screen. To my dismay, I see an orange light and an error code I've never seen before on the mobo. I decide to shut things down, look eveything over, see if I missed something, and try again. I force a shutdown by holding the power button, turn off the psu, and check all the cables and such. Everything seemed in order. I tried again. Same problem.

I check the mobo manual for the error code. Nada. I check Asus' site and forums for it. Zilch. Finally, I find an explanation in a thread on an enthusiast forum. Apparently it means memory training has failed. So I tried putting in my old ram sticks. Still won't boot. But the memory is supposed to be the problem? These sticks work. They worked yesterday in the old system. So I continued digging. Turned out all the ram and other hardware is actually fine, but I was suffering from a rare and obscure bug in Asus' mobo bios that makes memory training always fail if the system cold boots after the mobo had completely powered down. The solution was to turn on the pc, force turn it off (cuz normal shutdown isn't an option since it never actually gets to bios or os), then turn on again, and it'll boot up normally, and every time after that. It's literally "have you tried turning it off and on again", which made me feel really stupid.

Unfortunately, because that bios bug is so rare and affect only a tiny number of system, it was never fixed, so updating my mobo bios didn't solve the problem (tho it did solve another problem where my cpu refused to boost). So I still have to do the "turn on, turn off, turn on" thing every time I have to turn off the psu and leave it without power long enough, like when I have to move it for the monthly visit from the window cleaners. It's not a huge deal, and the pc works perfectly fine otherwise, but blegh, I'm not fond of dumb extra steps.
 

Elvis Starburst

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Man, that was another thing I forgot to mention (though I omitted a lot of stuff so it wasn't 10 paragraphs long). On this new motherboard, for some reason the white VGA LED was on when I put it all together. No idea why, everything seemed to be working fine, but the LED was always on and I didn't want that in case it become a bigger problem later. I tried different cables, took it all apart AGAIN and re-assembled it to make sure it wasn't a rogue connection. Finally, Asus suggested trying a different input. Lo and behold, turns out my ultrawide being connected via displayport was causing a problem with my graphics card, and on HDMI it wasn't an issue.

To further add to that problem, I couldn't reach BIOS to diagnose ANOTHER issue I was having at the same time. No idea why, I hit F2 and Delete on startup like a madman. After re-connecting these monitors with the previous issue and making my smaller screen be the one to be plugged in first, the startup logo went there instead, and suddenly now it decided that the BIOS shortcuts worked. The Windows 10 repair shortcut to boot to BIOS? Didn't work. Toggling the option on the desktop? Nope. The boot up shortcut? Nothing. Not until I suddenly had the other monitor be the first one my boot-up logo screen saw instead of my main monitor.

Absolute fucking nonsense
 
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Dirty Hipsters

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Yeah, PC gaming is great until you run into an issue that you can't properly diagnose.

On my old system I decided that I basically wanted my PC to be as quiet as possible, so when I was building it I got a massive PC case with 4 200mm fans for airflow (large fans moving slowly pushes as much air as small fans moving fast, but the slower RPM means less fan noise). After a couple of months of use I decided that the PC still wasn't quiet enough so I also replaced the HDD with an SSD (at the time SSDs were quite a bit more expensive than they are now, and having an HDD in your system still made sense).

After I put it back together after a few days I there started coming a knocking sound and I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. It couldn't have anything to do with the SSD I had just installed, and I hadn't touched anything else. I figured out that it was a fan because when I manually increased the fan speed on my case (the case had a build in manual fan controller) the knocking would go away. I figured that one of the fans was off balance and hitting something while spinning at low RPMs, and then realigned when the speed increased. I checked to see that none of the fans was hitting a cable, and didn't think they were but ended up doing extra cable management around the fans to make sure. This did not fix the problem.

Started replacing fans one at a time to try and figure out what the problem is. Eventually found out the actual problem was that one of the fans I had screwed down had come slightly loose and was vibrating, which was slightly pulling on its cable, which had not been cable managed very well and was in turn knocking against the side panel that it was up against. Increasing the fan speed caused the fan to vibrate fast enough that the cable didn't move as much per rotation, so then it wasn't knocking against the side panel.

Not a critical issue by any stretch of the imagination, but took literal weeks of tinkering and diagnosing to figure out, and by the end I didn't want to open the PC again because I was sick of dealing with it. I can't imagine how I would feel if I literally had to take my whole system apart multiple times to diagnose a problem.

Also, coil whine sucks, and it's really unfortunate how there's really nothing you can do to stop or prevent it. It's just a component lottery and sometimes you get unlucky. My graphics card has some pretty bad coil whine, but only during the initial few seconds of booting a game when the power draw of the card spikes, but then it goes away. Not a huge deal so I've just left it alone, but I wouldn't be able to handle it if it was constant coil whine anytime I wanted to play a game.
 
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Elvis Starburst

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My graphics card has some pretty bad coil whine, but only during the initial few seconds of booting a game when the power draw of the card spikes, but then it goes away. Not a huge deal so I've just left it alone, but I wouldn't be able to handle it if it was constant coil whine anytime I wanted to play a game.
It sucks being on the motherboard because it's always happening constantly, and the more under load the PC is the more noticeable it is. Generally it's very quiet, but as soon as I put on a graphically intensive game it's loud enough I need to use headphones just to block it out (and even that doesn't block all of it out either without volume cranking). It's the worst, and I don't wanna take the whole thing apart just to send it off for RMA cause I'm sick of doing so.

I'm at the point I might just sell the thing and find an alternative that I don't have to micro-manage any more. I keep building with PC gaming in mind, but after 10 years and telling myself I'll really use this stuff for gaming, the only games I've ever played that pushed the hardware was Forza Horizons 4 and No Man's Sky, and maybe 1-2 other titles I forget... Otherwise it's being used as a really overpowered casual desktop machine
 

Elvis Starburst

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Sorry but after surviving the shitfuckery of mid-90s PC hardware not much is going to turn me off custom PCs. If it wasn't for the shitshow with GPUs caused by cryptominers I'd be happy as a pig in shit.
I hear ya, I was pretty firmly in that spot too up till maybe halfway through last year
 

Elvis Starburst

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This is pretty much the reason I only use MSI mobos and Thermaltake PSUs.
See, that's also part of what annoys me about this stuff. I've heard mixed things about both of those companies and their components (More so MSI than Thermaltake). Hell, my first build used a MSI GPU and it was DOA and I had to get it replaced. And yet, after a shit ton of research for my current motherboard, hearing almost nothing but praise, it's been a pain in my ass twice now.

I know that's just the luck of the draw with anything, but, it feels like I can never get a handle on what's good and what isn't, the hours I spend researching sometimes get rendered useless despite my efforts
 

RhombusHatesYou

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See, that's also part of what annoys me about this stuff. I've heard mixed things about both of those companies and their components (More so MSI than Thermaltake). Hell, my first build used a MSI GPU and it was DOA and I had to get it replaced. And yet, after a shit ton of research for my current motherboard, hearing almost nothing but praise, it's been a pain in my ass twice now.
DOAs don't really bother me if it's single case issue. Shit happens. It's annoying but easily sorted (as long as the supplier/retailer isn't a prick). What gets me red-hot raging is when whole production runs are dodgy... and the company can't be arsed fixing the issue, still sell the bloody things and their RMA process make the Labours of Hercules look reasonable... yes, I'm looking at you, Gigabyte.

And yeah, a lot of the time it's mostly about which manufacturers *you* personally have a good run of luck with.

Sorta follows the old rule of thumb techies had with HIS gpus in that they were great low price GPUs until you had your first encounter with a faulty one after which HIS cards would give you nothing but trouble.
 

The Rogue Wolf

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Sorry but after surviving the shitfuckery of mid-90s PC hardware not much is going to turn me off custom PCs. If it wasn't for the shitshow with GPUs caused by cryptominers I'd be happy as a pig in shit.
I still have "fond" memories of installing the wrong driver for a Voodoo card and needing three hours to unfuck the situation. Huzzah for unified drivers.

Still, while things have absolutely improved since those days, there are still loads of problems that can be encountered, and even the most competent and experienced builder can run into crazy issues they can't figure out alone. (Case in point: The Asus Z690 Hero motherboards which had a capacitor installed backwards, that was causing transistors to burn up.)
 
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RhombusHatesYou

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I still have "fond" memories of installing the wrong driver for a Voodoo card and needing three hours to unfuck the situation. Huzzah for unified drivers.
Huzzah for better hardware, OSes and drivers that turned hardware conflicts into a rare even and not several hours of gruntwork necessary every time you did a build or simply added a new peripheral to your set up.


Still, while things have absolutely improved since those days, there are still loads of problems that can be encountered, and even the most competent and experienced builder can run into crazy issues they can't figure out alone.
Yeah, shit still happens and even the best on-paper build can throw up some really odd and hair-tearing shit... and that's without adding in actual hardware faults.


(Case in point: The Asus Z690 Hero motherboards which had a capacitor installed backwards, that was causing transistors to burn up.)
That goes back to my bitching about entire product batches with known faults still being sold. Much anger making.
 

hanselthecaretaker

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Geez, I’m hoping reading this thread isn’t a harbinger for me and the new OC’d RAM (but only up to what my CPU supports) and SSD I just got. Might wait til the weekend in case there’s any hiccups.
 

RhombusHatesYou

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In my defence, they make great cases. And pretty well appointed power supplies. Although right now I am actually using a Thermaltake one.
Yeah, love their cases and case fans. Had nothing but trouble with their PSUs.

Of course, even with ThermalTake, I only use their ToughPower PSUs... Got one that's getting close to 20 years old and still kicking.
 

Gordon_4

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Yeah, love their cases and case fans. Had nothing but trouble with their PSUs.

Of course, even with ThermalTake, I only use their ToughPower PSUs... Got one that's getting close to 20 years old and still kicking.

This is a DFI LanParty motherboard. I had one from new, and it came out in 2005. I put an AMD Athlon64 3800+ on it with 2GB of RAM. Ended up giving it to a neighbour for his advocacy work after putting in some SSDs and automatic back up stuff for him.

I am reliably informed that the machine is still being used.
 

Elvis Starburst

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This is a DFI LanParty motherboard. I had one from new, and it came out in 2005. I put an AMD Athlon64 3800+ on it with 2GB of RAM. Ended up giving it to a neighbour for his advocacy work after putting in some SSDs and automatic back up stuff for him.

I am reliably informed that the machine is still being used.
I talked to my friend the other day about some stuff while we were playing a game, and I asked him about the first computer build I made, which I sold to him years ago, and how it's performing. It has an Asus AM3 motherboard and an 8350 in there, and he says that while he has to turn the fans on high to keep temps low when playing newer games, it's still running 10 years later after being built. I was honestly really surprised to hear that
 
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