How I experienced the worst PC gamer nightmare during the January holidays

How I experienced the worst PC gamer nightmare during the January holidays

No, my Steam account was not stolen. The hard drive with the OS did not last long. No water or coffee was added either. In my personal opinion, the worst nightmare of a PC gamer is when absolutely nothing happens. And last week I once again had to experience this terrible feeling, when my heart falls somewhere in the intestinal area, my hands freeze, but suddenly you start to sweat, as if you were in a sauna. I did not experience such stress even when I first spoke to a couple of hundred people at a lecture. And in general, this has not happened for a long time.

It all started when Western Digital sent me a new SSD for testing in December. The 1TB WD Black SN850 is one of the most advanced storage solutions available on the market. There is a comparable solution from Samsung, but I have not tried it yet, although general tests from colleagues show excellent results with WD. A detailed analysis with several SN850 tests will be coming soon, as this material is about a personal nightmare.

How I experienced the worst PC gamer nightmare during the January holidays

I was able to install and test the SSD only in early January and it turned out that my MSI X470 Gaming Plus motherboard does not support Gen 4 PCIe. Either the BIOS has some kind of bug, or the problem is something else, but it turned out that on this motherboard I can not even switch to PCIe Gen 3. I suspect that I am just dumb, but for testing SN850 this “mother” did not fit at all. A measly 1500 MB / s – my own 500 GB WD SSD was capable of this, so no adequate testing will work on it. The obvious solution was to upgrade the motherboard.

A day after the failed test, I ordered the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk. No, this is not an advertisement, like Western Digital SSDs, I know what MSI does and I just love their products. Fortunately, the board was already in the store, so the next day I started dismantling my current PC and, in combination, the test bench. Everything took about 15 minutes, since modern hardware is much more convenient and easier to install than a decade and a half ago, when I just started assembling computers. Carefully removing the “old” motherboard – it will still be useful for a home media server or other experiments, it took another 20-25 minutes to install the Tomahawk. I installed a processor (AMD Ryzen 3600), placed a cooler, two 8 GB RAM strips (yes, I should have bought a couple more of the same, I know) and NVIDIA RTX 3070. Further, power cables, so far, their connectors pose problems. And a handful of those small connectors that need to be pushed directly onto the legs – they are responsible for powering, rebooting, and the like. 

Everything, the machine is assembled, HDMI, power, network and keyboard are connected. 

The moment of truth has come. 

One push of a button …

and nothing…

Silence. It’s like a Western scene in my head, when tumbleweed rolls along an empty street. After seconds of confusion, the pulse jumps, you start remembering prayers to the iron gods, you curse Henry Cavill – he probably infected him with his curvature when he collected the PC last summer.

How I experienced the worst PC gamer nightmare during the January holidays
When you’re not Henry, but the look of confusion on your face is exactly the same.

This is probably the worst feeling I’ve had as a PC gamer. A herd of maddened thoughts rushes through my head. What if I ditched the processor? Or burned the motherboard? But what if the RTX 3070 ordered to live long? Or is the RAM cracked somewhere? This means you have to pay off a lot of money. And if you yourself cannot figure it out, then call the master, which in my village is not an option. That is, a service center and sit without a PC for at least a few days. In short, everything is bad. Even awful. End of the world. And this is all during the holidays. 

You press again. Rustling. Shine. 


But nothing ever happens. The screen is blank. The system doesn’t come to life. The patient is rather dead.
Ok, open the side panel. The coolers work, the lighting seems to be mocking. We look at the LED indicators. I understand that it is not the patient who is dead, but rather I am rather dumb. After all, I remembered during the last assembly that RAM should be installed not in the first and third slots, but in the second and fourth. I do not know why or why, but it was indicated that way. 

Okay, I think. I take out both strips, insert one into the second RAM slot. I turn it on.

How I experienced the worst PC gamer nightmare during the January holidays
Well, yes, your BIOS is beautiful, but the devil will break his leg anyway.

The monitor comes to life. Part of the fear slips off one shoulder. However, it never reaches the system. The Windows logo appears and that’s it. After two rotating dots, the computer restarts and so on three or four more times. 

Having opened the BIOS, we check the system boot order. Everything is ok, no problems are visible. Maybe a problem with the new SSD, there is a conflict between the new and the old? I take out the WD Black SN850 from the M.2 slot, but it’s no use, the same problem with rebooting. 

As a result, after an hour and a half of dancing with a tambourine, it turns out that the problem is not in RAM, not in SSD, not in the order of system startup, but in the banal compatibility mode, which changes in the BIOS in a couple of moments. Because despite all the progress in hardware, despite the beautiful BIOS interfaces, there is no sense in them, if you don’t even really know what question to ask Google. And for a request about Windwos 10, which reboots endlessly, several million results come out.

Now the system is working, and a brand new 1TB SSD produces the claimed 7000 MB / s read and 5300 MB / s write. Already checked. It remains to look at live tests in games and programs.

The point of this story is that even with experience in building a PC, you can make a mistake. Fortunately, in this case it did not lead to negative consequences, everything works as expected. And the moral – if you want to personally assemble a PC, then be sure to take into account compatibility, keep receipts, do not forget about thermal grease, and most importantly – call a friend / acquaintance / relative or someone else who will help you get out of the impasse into which you can wander. 

Building a computer yourself is really a little scary. And the situation is unlikely to improve dramatically in the coming years. But, at the same time, this is an exciting activity, similar to a hardcore puzzle, requiring knowledge, experience, tools, courage and fairly straight arms. And even with all this, there is no guarantee that by pressing the big button, everything will work the first time. 

Tell your scary stories about PC building.

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