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Question A Dry Windy Day, a Vaping Pen, a Static Charge -- A Disaster -- seeking opinions

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,030
1,098
126
The title says it all. It happened within the course of an hour's time.

My Skylake system was the best I'd ever built. I'm getting older, and am not too keen these days about keeping up with the latest processors and chipsets. This system was purrr-feck, like the SUV of my obsession in the "Garage" forum. The OS is on a Sammy 1TB NVME drive, but most (MOST!) of my data files are on a Crucial 1TB SSD and a 2.5" Seagate HDD.

I had been getting careless about how I used the front USB ports on the system. Right away, let me advise others: Don't use your best computer as a charging station for vaping pens, cell-phones -- tablets. All those things can be charged with the proper adapter from a wall-socket.

So I was managing my digital music library, and consolidating albums under a subdirectory structure so that I could recognize categories of albums on the tiny 2" screen in my SUV MP3 player and Android "dashboard" tablet. Everything was to be dumped onto a Sandisk Cruzer Fit 64GB USB. I had just purchased -- for about $0.99 each -- a good portion of the "Bach Guild" classical music remastered collections or "Big [composer-name] Box" 1TB downloads from Amazon. (Check it out -- you can get Vienna State Opera Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Warsaw and Moscow Radio Orchestras and other offerings, some recorded in the "Golden Age of Stereo" and others later. Mostly -- Ninety-nine cents for things like "The Big Beethoven Box" or "The Big Mozart Box". Sorry to digress.) I was balancing my giant rock-and-roll and jazz collections with the new acquisitions.

Just before the finishing touches on the Cruzer Fit and a backup of its contents and organization, I noticed that I'd left a cannabis vaping pen charging in a USB port, and its green light was signaling a full charge. I thoughtlessly reached over to grab it without grounding myself. I felt a small static discharge from my fingertip. I finished my final copying to the USB drive. All was well. Then, I pulled the Sandisk USB drive from the USB port -- very stiff fit with those little things -- rushed out the garage to evaluate my handiwork. Returned about 20 minutes later -- (I just had to check out the sound quality for "I'm a Man" by Chicago on my new Polk Audio speakers).

Before rushing out to the garage, however, I noticed Windows behaving sort of "redacted". I'd select the "Safely Remove" icon, find the USB drive and click on it, but no message of "You can now safely remove". Instead, clicking on it again, the USB drive would be missing from the list. It seemed strange.

So, resuming with my return from the garage, I put the Cruzer Fit back into the USB port. Nothing. No message about "device recognized". Then, tried to move my mouse. The system was frozen.

I finally shut it down for a reboot. But it would post the BIOS info and list of storage devices, followed by the message "USB Over-voltage detected -- shutting down in 15 seconds".

Followed all the online advice -- unplugged the USB wires between the front-panel USB2 and USB3 ports and the motherboard. Blew out all the cruft in every USB port, front and rear. But boot-up shows "USB Overvoltage . . . 15 seconds". The next step would be to reset the CMOS. After that, I must assume that something like the onboard USB controller has taken a dump. Needs -- at least -- a new motherboard.

Looking ahead, trying to avoid any Windows re-installations, I ran my web-searches to find my ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S motherboard. I'm a little wary: you'd figure a lot of people who'd had that board had also overclocked them. The most promising options would be bundles with a CPU and RAM -- people routinely rebuilding their systems with latest-gen chipset and hardware, selling their "whole enchilada" in a bundle. So, trusting the promises of "fully functional" from a USA seller, I bought a "pre-owned" Sabertooth Z170S -- but not in a bundle.

I also found another ASUS Z170 board which I might have coveted four years ago but thought unnecessary and high-priced: An ATX ASUS Z170-WS -- the "workstation motherboard with many more PCIE lanes. There were six of these, and they were all configured with I7-6700 (non-K) processors and 8GB of RAM. Unlikely that they were ever "stressed" by enthusiasts. So I picked up one of those -- the bundle -- as well.

As for "money" -- I'll get my stimulus money, and it's time to replace two Sandy-Bridge systems used by the fam-damn-ily. So the extra parts are not wasted, and it's about time for me to upgrade the Sandy boxes. More than "about time" -- ten-year-old technology, one running for ten years, the other for six years. So let's not talk about money.

Once I've made the motherboard and CPU swap, I can mail my original Sabertooth to ASUS under RMA. The warranty on the Sabertooth runs out in September, 2021. And -- it's never failed that a refurbished RMA board would come in handy later. Been through that experience twice in the last 15 years.

QUESTION: The Z170-WS board uses the same chipset as the Sabertooth and the same processor options. Would I have any trouble simply replacing the Sabertooth with the WS board? Or shouldn't it boot into Windows without fail, even if some onboard devices need driver updates?

AND -- ANYBODY ELSE GONE THROUGH THIS ORDEAL with their mobos and USB controllers?

Shame -- all because of a recharging vaping pen and static from the carpetl.

Also -- one more -- what are the odds that this could mean a failed PSU? My PSU is a 650W Seasonic Flagship Titanium 80+ Active PFC model -- something like a 10 or 12-year warranty. It just doesn't seem likely to me. The boot-time message refers to USB Overvoltage, the Windows behavior points to a USB malfunction -- and the rest of it with the vaping pen and static charge.

We have a zero tolerance policy for profanity in the tech sub-forums.
Don't do it again.

Iron Woode

Super Moderator
 
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MrPickins

Diamond Member
May 24, 2003
8,889
287
126
If you're running Windows 10, you'll likely have no problems moving from one mobo to another. You'll likely need to reactivate the OS, and manually remove any old entries in the device manager, but that should be it, based on my experience (multiple migrations to different motherboards, even with different chipsets).

I also seriously doubt your PSU was fried by a little static electricity. I mean, anything is possible, but it's doubtful.

As for the USB ports, the front panel ports on my Antec Three Hundred case used to have a similar problem with static (although it would only cause a restart, not total failure). My solution was to take the front panel off and wrap a bare 12 or 14 gauge wire around the outer shield of the two ports, then connect it to the case for grounding. Never had a problem after that.
 

Lopoetve

Junior Member
Jan 7, 2021
11
1
11
Could also unplug the front USB ports. Annoying, but it may still work. Apologies if you tried this and I missed it.
 

crashtech

Diamond Member
Jan 4, 2013
9,905
1,668
126
You'll need to remove the Windows license key from your current installation because the licenses are tied to the motherboard afaict. Depending on how you obtained the license will inform whether it's transferrable.

Find your product key, then type "slmgr.vbs /upk" into an admin command prompt on your old system. This will free up the key for use on your new motherboard.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,030
1,098
126
If you're running Windows 10, you'll likely have no problems moving from one mobo to another. You'll likely need to reactivate the OS, and manually remove any old entries in the device manager, but that should be it, based on my experience (multiple migrations to different motherboards, even with different chipsets).

I also seriously doubt your PSU was fried by a little static electricity. I mean, anything is possible, but it's doubtful.

As for the USB ports, the front panel ports on my Antec Three Hundred case used to have a similar problem with static (although it would only cause a restart, not total failure). My solution was to take the front panel off and wrap a bare 12 or 14 gauge wire around the outer shield of the two ports, then connect it to the case for grounding. Never had a problem after that.
Many thanks for your replies and those from others. Answering Lopoetve, yes, it appears he missed my progress so far. All those front panel ports have been unplugged. Your remarks and those of crashtech are also useful.

The best news offers more possibilities before I clear the CMOS on the existing board. It may have been providential -- my retired-Navy electronics-tech friend back east called me last night about our mutual condominium real-estate matters. He's usually the first person I reach out to when something like this happens, but I hadn't got around to it.

He was adamant =-- don't clear the CMOS and lose my wonderful OC configurations without unplugging all the wires of the PSU and plugging them back in. He noted that it could be a gold-plated mobo capacitor that was holding an errant charge from possibly the static charge transfer. Anything possible after that needs to be cleared. He seemed confident that it may just resolve this. But I'll be back here after I find out.

It really pays to move slowly and deliberately on this sort of difficulty, even if one chooses to buy parts prematurely. The disaster often points out flaws in your backup plan. In my situation, I was using Macrium Reflect 7.x. I would need to build a newer rescue disc, although the old one might do fine. We forget to update with new recue-disc creations. The other machines back up to our Windows 2012 server system automatically. This was the only system for which backup is local. I need to work around any difficulty with Win 10 and the server, and arrange for the backups to occur routinely. The Macrium backups are routine, occurring every morning, but restorations require the rescue disc just as the server backups require on-the-fly creation of a USB rescue disc at the server.

Well -- I'll "get back" to report about it, I suppose . . .
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,030
1,098
126
You'll need to remove the Windows license key from your current installation because the licenses are tied to the motherboard afaict. Depending on how you obtained the license will inform whether it's transferrable.

Find your product key, then type "slmgr.vbs /upk" into an admin command prompt on your old system. This will free up the key for use on your new motherboard.
I'm trying to cover all the possible outcomes -- a reason I already purchased a replacement mobo. If I get to a temporary dead-end, I don't like waiting to fulfill a different path of resolution.

The original Win 10 installation was from that one-time free upgrade they offered from Win 7, I think it ran through or beyond 2015. So I would like to be sure as to any snags i might have in reactivation should it come to a motherboard and possibly a processor change-out.

If I can't reactivate the current installation, I would think I could purchase a license and key to Win10 Pro and merely enter the new license key. Is that correct?

The overwhelming priority is to preserve the existing installation and configuration. If it costs another $100, I won't bat an eyelash or fume about it.

So what might be the verdict per following your command-line procedure with the type or license now on the system? Am I right about purchase of a new license and need to simply re-enter a new key?

I still have to pursue -- first -- disconnecting all the PSU cables and plugging them back in, and then -- second -- resetting CMOS (although it would be nice if I didn't have to try that way).

I just remember the OC voltages that I'd set. Working with the Offset voltage, it would push the VCORE to somewhere around 1.39V. The VCCIO was probably bumped up from 0.9+V to around 1.12V -- nothing that would be very stressful to the system over the long haul.

As I said, I still have to play with cables and was advised to blow out the ports on the rear I/O panel from within the case. For some reason, I feel a bit nauseous today, and the new parts -- if I need them -- won't arrive until Wednesday. So maybe I'll get to the remaining alternatives tomorrow.
 
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crashtech

Diamond Member
Jan 4, 2013
9,905
1,668
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@BonzaiDuck , I believe the license obtained from the free Win7 upgrade is supposedly not reusable. If you remove the key from your current install (once you make the decision to replace the motherboard) it won't hurt anything really, since having a new board will require re-activation no matter what. And no harm in trying your old key before buying a new one. You'll have to use something like Magical Jelly Bean to get the key from your current install since as a free upgrade you wouldn't have had one. Windows will function normally without a key, only customizations like desktop wallpaper and such are disabled until activation.
 

Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
4,274
818
126
Accidentally frying your mainboard with static really sucks. I sympathize, having been there done that.

I had been getting careless about how I used the front USB ports on the system. Right away, let me advise others: Don't use your best computer as a charging station for vaping pens, cell-phones -- tablets. All those things can be charged with the proper adapter from a wall-socket.
I'd add anything requiring "dumb" charging to the list. Computers are a lot more sensitive then chargers.

I also found another ASUS Z170 board which I might have coveted four years ago but thought unnecessary and high-priced: An ATX ASUS Z170-WS -- the "workstation motherboard with many more PCIE lanes. There were six of these, and they were all configured with I7-6700 (non-K) processors and 8GB of RAM. Unlikely that they were ever "stressed" by enthusiasts. So I picked up one of those -- the bundle -- as well.
That isn't a bad combo, even if the 6700 is non-K. Functionally the only difference between 6000 and 7000-series SKL is the 7000's have a newer revision IGP, with a few added features. Which doesn't matter if you're using discrete.

QUESTION: The Z170-WS board uses the same chipset as the Sabertooth and the same processor options. Would I have any trouble simply replacing the Sabertooth with the WS board? Or shouldn't it boot into Windows without fail, even if some onboard devices need driver updates?
I wouldn't think so. 10 is quite resistant to hardware changes, and the chipset is identical.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,030
1,098
126
@BonzaiDuck , I believe the license obtained from the free Win7 upgrade is supposedly not reusable. If you remove the key from your current install (once you make the decision to replace the motherboard) it won't hurt anything really, since having a new board will require re-activation no matter what. And no harm in trying your old key before buying a new one. You'll have to use something like Magical Jelly Bean to get the key from your current install since as a free upgrade you wouldn't have had one. Windows will function normally without a key, only customizations like desktop wallpaper and such are disabled until activation.
I think I'd visited this junction before -- when I got two licensed W7's mixed up and installed to a second computer -- a (now) 13-year-old Gateway C2D Centrino laptop. I somehow resolved it, and then installed the W10 license to the laptop.

But with all the hardware particulars which I may belabor a bit more below, I need to list a "procedure" so I don't go down an irreversible path -- perhaps a new Win 10 installation -- from which I cannot return.

If I remember, I should get a phone number to call to rectify the license activation problem, but maybe MS has changed how they do this. Now -- suppose I can no longer re-activate this W7-to-W10 upgrade? Could I simply purchase a new license key from -- say -- "My Choice Software" or similar, and have an opportunity to enter the new code? Or do I have to physically re-install via an "upgrade" option before I enter the new key? The current system on my NVME drive has all the latest updates, and I remember some hurdles I went through back in 2017 with one of those updates.


Accidentally frying your mainboard with static really sucks. I sympathize, having been there done that.
The last time any similar crisis like this occurred, I had somehow borked the BIOS chip on an ASUS STriker board (with a Kentsfield processor). I refused to wait for the RMA return, and purchased another board of identical model. I was later able to use the RMA return in a constructive way.

But I don't ever remember an episode with a static charge. Always -- while working on my boxes -- I use a ground strap, and treat my work like open-heart surgery. I just got complacent with those damn vape-chargers! I'd even become alarmed at one point a couple years ago after leaving a tablet attached to a system. Something "went wrong", but I don't remember what it was. At 73, my memory (gray-matter rather than RAM) is beginning to fail. That's why I'm a bit edgy about reconfiguring either the Sabertooth or the Z170-WS, because there are BIOS features for enabling boot from the PCIE-x4-socketed NVME drive, maybe a few other things for which I don't remember the particulars.

I'd add anything requiring "dumb" charging to the list. Computers are a lot more sensitive then chargers.
I should've exercised caution before ever sticking a vape-charger in the USB port. It only makes sense, especially having invested the time and trouble to build this lovely system in the first place. It was really just dumb and thoughtless.

That isn't a bad combo, even if the 6700 is non-K. Functionally the only difference between 6000 and 7000-series SKL is the 7000's have a newer revision IGP, with a few added features. Which doesn't matter if you're using discrete.
As I keep saying, I'm trying to anticipate the details of snags I could run into.

I have choices. The "K" processor of the original system should still be good. I had bought it from Silicon-Lottery, and it was "binned" at 4.8Ghz, de-lidded, prepped with a liquid metal compound, and then "re-lidded". They vouch that they return the re-lidded processor with the IHS installed as securely as the original.

But the old Sabertooth motherboard was fitted with a "Le Grande Macho" heatpipe cooler, using IC-Diamond paste, and it's been about 4 years, so I worry about separating the HS base from the IHS. I'm thinking I should remove the entire assembly from the case, put it on my desk or workbench, and find a very fine copper wire to "saw" between the IHS and HS base so that the paste will loosen and I can retrieve the CPU without affecting the work done by Silicon Lottery.

And here, again, we're looking at minor differences between the K and non-K. I think either version (K or non-K) of the processor would turbo to 4.4 by itself, and I'd clocked the K processor it to 4.7. And I think the speed of the system was more affected by my NVME drives and extra RAM enhanced with the Primo-Cache software. The extra 400 Mhz on all the cores was just "icing on the cake".

I wouldn't think so. 10 is quite resistant to hardware changes, and the chipset is identical.
So I have before me two different but similar possibilities of risk or troubleshooting. If I have to replace the existing board -- and I still need to see if unplugging some PSU cables will resolve it -- I'll need to "re-explore" the BIOS to assure booting from the existing NVME drive. If I have to reset the CMOS on the existing board and it works -- same thing. If I swap the existing board for the Z170-WS, there's approximately the same potential hassle. But I'd best review a downloadable ASUS manual for the WS board, because features and organization of the BIOS will seem unfamiliar.

Right now, I'm inclining toward the WS board, with those extra pCIE lanes, the additional x16 slots that will run at x8 with my Geforce 1070 is installed, and the on-board M.2 slots. It's a real temptation.

All this trouble comes at a time with additional difficulties, or it has to be resolved because of certain deadlines -- like filing my tax return before April 15. [This is a ritual which I have down to a nit-picker's routine sense of perfection, but I need a Win 10 system to do it.] There is, of course, my old Gateway laptop -- to which I can install the TurboTax software and connection via Ethernet for better speed than wireless, but that system hasn't been fired up since September 2019.

Add to that the troubles bestowed by Spectrum -- our ISP and cable-TV provider: A week before the inauguration, when you'd want to have reliable TV and internet access, they inform us they're sending a new cable-modem which integrates the separate phone-modem they rent to us in addition to our Cable-TV and internet provision. They say "It'll only take you ten minutes". Well, I've been working with PC and network tecnnology since 1983, and I KNOW about Murphy's Law or whatever it was -- whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. I've got seven days at this moment to get the new equipment installed before -- as they told us -- we'll have degraded service or no service.

Pandemic constraints, corporate thoughtlessness, taxes . . . . and a fucking static charge from a vaping pen! Ar-ggg-hhhh!! This is supposed to be the golden, sunset years of retirement?! I should've just kept on working two jobs like I did in the 90s. The stress level would've been lower!

LET ME EMPHASIS, FELLAS! I REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR INPUT HERE! YOU KNOW ME -- I'VE BEEN AROUND IN THESE FORUMS SINCE 2005, TOUTING SOME THREE OR FOUR PC BUILDING PROJECTS, COOLING INNOVATIONS AND OTHER THINGS. But like I said, my memory is getting "fuzzy", haven't built a system in four years, can't remember some specifics of the Z170 BIOS, and worry about re-activating Windows.

Your comments are like the Seagate flagship PSUs: TI-TANIUM!

Well, once I feed Moms her oatmeal, administer her pills, change her urine-soaked diapers and bed pads -- I'm going to pop open the case and fiddle with those PSU cables. X your fingers, folks! After that, reset the CMOS. After that, swap out the boards and worry about all the attendant . . . sheee-it!

I could go on to recite why my Sandy Bridge systems were never permanently upgrade to Win 10, even though the upgrade had been previously installed and I still have the media-creation USB sticks. Two words: Media Center and television. That's another story about MS and ISP cluster-fucks. Given the TLTR accumulation here, I'll save it for another time, or just let the reader make reasonable speculation.
 

crashtech

Diamond Member
Jan 4, 2013
9,905
1,668
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If the key is obtained beforehand and is available (I recommend pasting it into a text file stored on an external drive) removal of the key using "slmgr.vbs /upk" is not irreversible. If it turns out you need to return to the same configuration, simply re-activate with the key and go on as before.

If you do have to change the motherboard, your old installation is very likely to adapt to the hardware changes with little difficulty. Windows 10 has become damn good at this, I have to admit. Some drivers may need to be changed around, a clean install of GPU driver particularly, but usually not a huge problem.

If you do have to buy a new key, make sure it matches the version you have installed. Most of the time, that will be the Home version. Buy the full retail version, and the key should work.

Lastly, I would not be so afraid of a full ground-up reinstallation. Sure it's quite a bit of work, but these days it's not as bad as it used to be. It wouldn't be the end of the world. Take some notes and save everything important before you begin, no matter what. Download the latest Win10 iso, too, just in case. It's likely that any version you buy will have outdated installation media, if it even comes with it.
 

Jimminy

Member
May 19, 2020
161
53
61
Wow. Reminds me of my trip to mexico when I was in the army over 50 years ago. We all just _had_ to sample the damn mushrooms, and they didn't even have vape pens back then. No computers either. We were just stupid.

Oh well, it's too long of a story, but it took us months to get over that drunken boner. Everybody got article 15 charges. Damn.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,030
1,098
126
Wow. Reminds me of my trip to mexico when I was in the army over 50 years ago. We all just _had_ to sample the damn mushrooms, and they didn't even have vape pens back then. No computers either. We were just stupid.

Oh well, it's too long of a story, but it took us months to get over that drunken boner. Everybody got article 15 charges. Damn.
Oh . . . the vaping pens . . . I've got nicotine pens and cannabis pens. This is CA . . . we're all legal here.

I tried the psilocybin or mescaline -- peyote -- in college, 1969/70. You needed a milk-shake, or there was some nausea. But it was mellow for that grade of psychedelic.

We're all pot-heads here, but there is a definite medical benefit for sleeping and arthritis. I can wake up feeling shitty; banging on the keyboard may give me pain in the wrist and I've got arthritic pain in my legs and elbows. A couple puffs of a Doobie or the vaping pen and I'm feeling great.

I could go on about this, but it would be more appropriate for another forum -- whatever that might be.

FLASH! The workstation motherboard has arrived, delivered to my doorstep! I was expecting it with the Sabertooth on Wednesday. Whoever sold these combos did a neat job of packaging and cleaning up. They put the board into a box for a WS Z390 Pro -- nice static wrap with a yellow sticker to secure the wrap. No printed manual, but I can get that online. No SATA cables, but other useful parts with the I/O plate.

So-o-o-o-oo! If I can resurrect the existing board -- still need to play with power cables or last-ditch CLR-CMOS -- I'll put this board aside until after tax-time. I've got a spare midtower case . . . I can either swap the boards or just build an extra machine.

If I can't resurrect this board, then -- in goes the Z170-WS! For that, I'm almost psyched.

FOR CRASHTECH: I've got the Win10 Pro version. I should also worry about my Office Pro, and under complete ground-up scenarios, it would have to be reinstalled. I might just move on from the 2010 to the 2013. I kept all the software installation files in a "Win-10 Computer Resources" directory on the Crucial SATA drive -- which is a "drive: E:" to the NVME C: drive. I'm mostly worried that my Outlook.PST file and its backup are on the NVME, but if I can create a Macrium rescue disc from their "free" version download -- or even reinstall my licensed version from the E: Resources -- I can probably probe the NVME for the PST file. Of course, if I can simply boot into the NVME from a new board, I should have access to that file anyway. If the "disablement" description someone gave for failed activation, I should still be able to rescue all that stuff and then eventually get successful activation.

My software installations and desktop configuration gave me comfort and consistency. I want to resurrect it rather than replace it.

I'm not clear on the answer you gave to my question. If I buy -- for instance -- the retail Win10-Pro, should I be able to enter the printed key from it and reactivate just as easily? OR even better -- their telephone system. I should be able to reactivate the existing installation that way, shouldn't I? This was a Win7-to-Win10 installation from an OEM Win7 license. I don't think I ever needed to reactivate it before -- it's been the way it is since I built the system.

Also, I think they used a hash-code of hardware identifiers to bond with activation. Could it be that the motherboard swap may not affect the hash-code enough to cause the activation error message?

I'm of course thinking way ahead on this -- my friend's advice may rescue the existing hardware. I don't want to go back to my learning experiences of the '90s explaining how I'd rather take huge blocks of time thinking things through than being down on my knees and fiddling with hardware. I don't have a workbench anymore, and I even built this very same box on my living-room floor. I still get an old man's back pains . . . or I'm beginning to notice them more.

So . . . . I guess I'd better charge up the vaping pen on the wall socket before hand, heh-heh.

ALSO! a single web-search turned up this Tweak-Town review of the Z170-WS motherboard.

Tweak-Town on the ASUS Z170-WS motherboard

Scroll to a point just short of 50% of the web-page length -- "BIOS and Software". All the BIOS menus and sub-menus seem to be there. I shouldn't worry. As for performance, it seemed to benchmark as good as the Maximus boards. YES! If I need to swap it in this week and the current Sabertooth has gone south, I will DEFINITELY replace the i7-6700 with my Silicon Lottery K chip.

Def-i-nitely!
 
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Steltek

Platinum Member
Mar 29, 2001
2,887
635
136
I'm not clear on the answer you gave to my question. If I buy -- for instance -- the retail Win10-Pro, should I be able to enter the printed key from it and reactivate just as easily?
Yes, just swap the key under the activation menu:

1611451680533.png
 

crashtech

Diamond Member
Jan 4, 2013
9,905
1,668
126
...I'm not clear on the answer you gave to my question. If I buy -- for instance -- the retail Win10-Pro, should I be able to enter the printed key from it and reactivate just as easily? OR even better -- their telephone system. I should be able to reactivate the existing installation that way, shouldn't I? This was a Win7-to-Win10 installation from an OEM Win7 license. I don't think I ever needed to reactivate it before -- it's been the way it is since I built the system.

Also, I think they used a hash-code of hardware identifiers to bond with activation. Could it be that the motherboard swap may not affect the hash-code enough to cause the activation error message?...
Yes, a retail Win10 Pro key should be able to re-activate your installation.

No, you won't get away without needing to reactivate. You can take it to the bank that Windows will "notice" the change. Having done dozens of my own Win10 builds for Distributed Computing, this is something that just happens every time.

But, as I have said, there is no harm in attempting to remove your existing key from association with your old motherboard, and see if it will activate on the new one.

Without removing the key from your old hardware setup, your old key is forever tied to the old motherboard. Hence the need to remove it using the command line.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,030
1,098
126
Yes, a retail Win10 Pro key should be able to re-activate your installation.

No, you won't get away without needing to reactivate. You can take it to the bank that Windows will "notice" the change. Having done dozens of my own Win10 builds for Distributed Computing, this is something that just happens every time.

But, as I have said, there is no harm in attempting to remove your existing key from association with your old motherboard, and see if it will activate on the new one.

Without removing the key from your old hardware setup, your old key is forever tied to the old motherboard. Hence the need to remove it using the command line.
Oh! NOW-W_W I understand what you were trying to tell me! If I can boot into the old Win 10 installation with the new motherboard, I should be able to "de-activate" the old license. Then, install the new motherboard and use the original license key -- which had to be the OEM Win 7 license key I started with. So I can see how that might be a problem -- they used the Win7 key to register the "free" Win10 installations. I could do it then, but can I do it now? And if not, I'll shell out for a retail OS for the key, or maybe I can just find a key to buy for a retail OS.

OKAY -- so I now have a clearer vision of where to take this "resolution of crisis". I feel much better.

On the replacement boards I ordered, they both came in today as opposed to tracking system indications for next Wednesday. I got some "good stuff". I'm almost hoping I won't be able to resurrect the old board, because I'd like to try that Z170-WS with the bridge chip and extra PCIE lanes. If the old board revives, I'll save the motherboard swap project until after tax time, and take more time with it.

I took a quick excursion for "10th-gen Intel processors". Looked at the i9-10900K and a Z490 Maximus board -- I THINK those are the right model numbers. 10 cores and 20 threads -- Wow! But for my everyday needs and the kinds of games I'm running, the SKYLAKE has never been a slug. It was always plenty fast.

Put it another way. IF I were to suddenly incline toward building a new system, I'd do it the same way as before. I'd take at least six months to a year just to plan it and select the parts.

Let me think about that for a while. I'm not totally against the idea . . . . It's definitely not any reason to be in a hurry.
 
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Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
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I have choices. The "K" processor of the original system should still be good. I had bought it from Silicon-Lottery, and it was "binned" at 4.8Ghz, de-lidded, prepped with a liquid metal compound, and then "re-lidded". They vouch that they return the re-lidded processor with the IHS installed as securely as the original.

But the old Sabertooth motherboard was fitted with a "Le Grande Macho" heatpipe cooler, using IC-Diamond paste, and it's been about 4 years, so I worry about separating the HS base from the IHS. I'm thinking I should remove the entire assembly from the case, put it on my desk or workbench, and find a very fine copper wire to "saw" between the IHS and HS base so that the paste will loosen and I can retrieve the CPU without affecting the work done by Silicon Lottery.

And here, again, we're looking at minor differences between the K and non-K. I think either version (K or non-K) of the processor would turbo to 4.4 by itself, and I'd clocked the K processor it to 4.7. And I think the speed of the system was more affected by my NVME drives and extra RAM enhanced with the Primo-Cache software. The extra 400 Mhz on all the cores was just "icing on the cake".
The 6700 is 3.4/4GHz, while the 7700K is 4.2/4.5 @ stock. Is the 7700K faster? Undoubtedly. But the 6700 is a lot easier to keep cool. So it's a trade off.

With the performance on tap today, I think I'm done buying "entusiast"-class CPUs. Going forward I'm limiting myself to either 65 or 35W rated models. That way I don't have to deal with expensive and/or exotic cooling but can use a basic tower cooler, and bog-standard thermal paste. So much easier.

All this trouble comes at a time with additional difficulties, or it has to be resolved because of certain deadlines -- like filing my tax return before April 15. [This is a ritual which I have down to a nit-picker's routine sense of perfection, but I need a Win 10 system to do it.] There is, of course, my old Gateway laptop -- to which I can install the TurboTax software and connection via Ethernet for better speed than wireless, but that system hasn't been fired up since September 2019.
Yup, these accidents always happens when they're least convenient. Murphys law I guess.

Though I guess we're a bit spoiled here in Denmark, we have until May 1st to file our tax returns. But if you owe taxes, you'll be paying interest from January 1st...
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
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Yes, just swap the key under the activation menu:

View attachment 38490
Your post of the Settings screen for this is most helpful, so thank you.

The 6700 is 3.4/4GHz, while the 7700K is 4.2/4.5 @ stock. Is the 7700K faster? Undoubtedly. But the 6700 is a lot easier to keep cool. So it's a trade off.
. . . .
With the performance on tap today, I think I'm done buying "entusiast"-class CPUs. Going forward I'm limiting myself to either 65 or 35W rated models. That way I don't have to deal with expensive and/or exotic cooling but can use a basic tower cooler, and bog-standard thermal paste. So much easier.
. . . .
Yup, these accidents always happens when they're least convenient. Murphys law I guess.

Though I guess we're a bit spoiled here in Denmark, we have until May 1st to file our tax returns. But if you owe taxes, you'll be paying interest from January 1st...
I had considered upgrade to a Kaby Lake processor, but this system was so marvelously stellar for my needs that I just forgot about it.

I wouldn't know what sort of American on-line resellers you use in Denmark.

Here, there's been an outfit known as Silicon Lottery

and just to be sure because of expanding global commerce, I checked their contact info just now: they are in some place named Katy, Texas. Didn't even know that before.

But they offer the de-lidding service to replace the OEM Intel thermal paste between the bare processor and IHS or heat spreader -- a $50 service. I bought my i7-6700K from them -- binned at a test over-clock of 4.8 Ghz. I know and distinctly remember that it was done for Kaby Lake processors, and apparently it's still desired for newer cores. I clearly recall that it gave me an 18-degrees-Centigrade advantage in over-clocked temperatures at 4.7Ghz. I could probably buy a Kaby Lake and send it to Texas for the de-lidding/re-lidding.

But in this regard, you and i have parallel thoughts. I was building machines for myself and my family for the past 15 years. (At my age, 15 years ago sounds like "yesterday"). Actually, I was doing it almost since the millennium. The family would get simpler, less expensive boards and processors, and about every four years or so, I'd give myself an "enthusiast system on a budget". It evolved into a hand-me-down process, where the enthusiast systems would get passed on to immediate family.

I re-use or recycle cases I'd purchased for previous projects -- the Skylake is in a CoolerMaster Stacker 832 mid-tower with some minor, mostly reversible modifications.

So for the last four years, I've withdrawn from the sort of spending that was routine before the Skylake. Now, I'm less inclined to spring for 10th-generation Intel, and I'm unfamiliar with AMD chips and boards. I have too much on my plate, taking care of two disabled and elderly family members. So I have less time to research parts and advice for new systems. And I've been spending my money these past four years restoring my 26-year-old automobile. This year, I want to buy a set of all-terrain steel-belted Michelin tires. And -- I'll probably be paying out a couple grand for dental maintenance. At my age, there's no such thing as teeth that last forever.

Thus, I'm not all that keen anymore about "staying current". For this immediate problem of resolving my hardware failure, I still didn't hesitate to buy "pre-owned" or "refurbished-corporate-asset" boards to cover the possibility of a hardware swap, instead of waiting for an RMA turnaround under the warranty which expires next September. Something like this happens -- just as you imply -- there's an element of "brute force" in getting through it.

I could file for an "extension" of my tax-filing deadline, but I doubt that I'll need to do it. In the meantime, I'll probably have to shell out about $200 for a retail OS. Good enough -- I'd been cruising these last four years on an OEM Microsoft "free" version, anyway.

I've been on these forums for 15 years. I still have to ask myself what "mainstream" folks do about computers. I'd think a lot of them squeeze more than five years out of a ready-made Dell or ASUS box . . . . or they buy laptops . . . or they've culturally degraded and debased themselves as cell-phone Twitter addicts. . . . And if you've been watching the news from the "other side of the puddle" these last four years, you can imagine what that has led us to . . . . At least it seems as though that part of the misery is behind us. I'd get up every day, watch the morning news featuring the Criminal-in-Chief, and feel like killing someone before noon. Not good -- when one already has high blood pressure . . .

Well! Using desktop systems is a good way to stay home and avoid becoming infected! That's a good thing, I suppose!
 

crashtech

Diamond Member
Jan 4, 2013
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Oh! NOW-W_W I understand what you were trying to tell me! If I can boot into the old Win 10 installation with the new motherboard, I should be able to "de-activate" the old license. Then, install the new motherboard and use the original license key -- which had to be the OEM Win 7 license key I started with. So I can see how that might be a problem -- they used the Win7 key to register the "free" Win10 installations. I could do it then, but can I do it now? And if not, I'll shell out for a retail OS for the key, or maybe I can just find a key to buy for a retail OS...
So, one last point to clear up. Using the command line to remove your product key from the installation MUST be done using your old hardware. Otherwise, your old key is stuck with the old motherboard. So, it should be the last thing you do before telling your trusty old board good night for the last time.

"slmgr.vbs /upk" into an admin command prompt.
 

killster1

Diamond Member
Mar 15, 2007
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Maybe the longest posts i have seen!!. So did it get fixed? Everything repeated and cleared and it resets every 15 seconds ?? New cpus are almost for sale! Haa 5950 and don't upgrade for 5 years
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,030
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So, one last point to clear up. Using the command line to remove your product key from the installation MUST be done using your old hardware. Otherwise, your old key is stuck with the old motherboard. So, it should be the last thing you do before telling your trusty old board good night for the last time.

"slmgr.vbs /upk" into an admin command prompt.
Crashtech -- you're a good man, and I thank you for your input. Killster1 is right -- my fingers runneth away. TLTR is no good if we're here to solve problems. All of you guys have been marvelous.

I pretty much gathered that. The only good it will do for me is if I can get the current motherboard to boot. Two things on my plate for today: Pull all the power cables from the board and let it sit for a day, then try again; and get our ISP/cable-TV modem replacement installed -- must be done before 29 January.

I was going to pull the cables from the board yesterday, but went out for a grocery run and just didn't feel like it last night. The new (pre-owned) motherboards came in yesterday or day before. If I resurrect the existing board, I'm going to build another with the parts. If not, I probably can STILL build another with the parts. Of course, as someone already said, I could've jumped for a 9th or 10th gen processor and board, but I can save that thought for next year and have a "design" and parts list ready beforehand. This SKYLAKE build proved to me how 6 months of careful preparation gives great rewards.

NOW ABOUT THE OS difficulties. It dawned on me that I have a sealed/unopened white-box OEM Win10-Pro that I'd purchased a couple years back. It has, of course, an activation key. Before I go out and spend $200 for a retail Win-10-Pro (found it at MyChoiceSoftware), I should follow our colleague's recommendation for the "Settings" window to change the activation key with that from the unused OEM white-box. Your second opinion is welcome, but I think this will do it.

==== Remarks about G.SKILL, NewEgg, Amazon product specs ====

I've got two sets of F4-3200C14D-16GTZ Trident Z in this Z170 box. I had entertained the idea a couple years back of getting a 2x16GB kit of same or similar. I went window-shopping (in Windows!). What I find is that the resellers keep updating their item descriptions to show "specially engineered for Z270 Kaby Lake" or " . . .for Z390 chipset". You then go back to the G.SKILL "configurator" link, carefully reviewing the options for a Z170 board if the Sabertooth isn't listed, and you find some of these models as "compatible" despite the newer chipset designations of the reseller. That's a lot of trouble. There are several variants in both speed (like DDR4-3466 - CL16) and appearance -- like the GTZR "LED" bling versions.

Well -- I mean this literally and won't delay it anymore -- I'm going to pop open the box and pull all the cables -- then let it set for awhile. We'll see how this develops, but I'm pretty sure I'm now more than well-equipped to see this through successfully without building a latest-greatest new system and building my software installations from scratch. Brute force! I probably spent about $200 so for more than I needed, but I can build a new machine for someone in the fam-damn-ily in a couple months with no additional outlays. And of course, I might see what ASUS sends back if I RMA the old board under the yet-unexpired warranty.

Could you imagine ANYONE in the consumer community out there who would be interested in an absolutely stellar, perfectly working bundle of a Z68-pro-Gen3 board, Sandy chip and RAM? Ten years old! Amazing.
 

crashtech

Diamond Member
Jan 4, 2013
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...NOW ABOUT THE OS difficulties. It dawned on me that I have a sealed/unopened white-box OEM Win10-Pro that I'd purchased a couple years back. It has, of course, an activation key. Before I go out and spend $200 for a retail Win-10-Pro (found it at MyChoiceSoftware), I should follow our colleague's recommendation for the "Settings" window to change the activation key with that from the unused OEM white-box. Your second opinion is welcome, but I think this will do it...
That version may or may not activate your current installation. Based on my experience, OEM keys have had to be used with a fresh installation, but it won't hurt to try.
 

Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
4,274
818
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I've been on these forums for 15 years. I still have to ask myself what "mainstream" folks do about computers. I'd think a lot of them squeeze more than five years out of a ready-made Dell or ASUS box . . . . or they buy laptops . . . or they've culturally degraded and debased themselves as cell-phone Twitter addicts. . . . And if you've been watching the news from the "other side of the puddle" these last four years, you can imagine what that has led us to . . . . At least it seems as though that part of the misery is behind us. I'd get up every day, watch the morning news featuring the Criminal-in-Chief, and feel like killing someone before noon. Not good -- when one already has high blood pressure . . .
In my experience, when left to their own devices (if you'll pardon the pun), most get cheap, basic craptops with a smattering of very, very high-end hardware. Which can usually be traced to a (perhaps too) smart salesperson. Then they expect that cheap laptop to perform like 5-10x more expensive models, with the predictable result of disappointment with Windows.

Phones are not much better, except Apple has very high market penetration here (~50%), so you actually see a lot of iPhones about. With obligatory broken screens.

About the current situation in the US, I'm not going to poke at that particular orange-headed wasps nest. Just know you're not alone in having opinions over there. But don't think it's that much better over here. I'll not point fingers, but certain people here are reaching a whole new level of stupidity. I will say its nice there is an adult present in the White House again.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,030
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That version may or may not activate your current installation. Based on my experience, OEM keys have had to be used with a fresh installation, but it won't hurt to try.
That's right -- it won't hurt. But how does the OS -- or MS -- identify a "fresh installation"? It seems an uncertainty. I guess I'll find out. I could save $200, or maybe not. I mean -- if the hardware has changed, only the OS with its feature updates would be a variable. If you had begun with a Win-7-to-Win10-free-upgrade, you might have then gone back and re-installed the new OEM OS, so who or what would KNOW what? You have a point there, though, and I might as well try it. i'm trying to imagine a big MS database in some server-farm, and how it would know that a user with a new OEM license hadn't already installed feature updates. Would they really log that information? We'll find out . . .

So now, I've pulled the power cables from the board, and advice says wait 12 hours. This little, brief task has made me more aware of what I built and how I built it -- the cable-management, choice of right-angle SATA plugs to stay clear of a Coolermaster barrel fan at the mobo front edge. Tight fits for everything, but neat. And -- you never completely eliminate dust, even with custom filtering. The dust on the internal components is just much finer.

By this evening or tomorrow, I'll know whether or not to go forward with CLR-CMOS as a last-ditch effort. After that -- well -- I'll have to remove the damn barrel fan -- maybe. I remember I used some "small-parts" to shock-absorb that thing. . Putting it "in there" was tedious as I recall. . . . . . It worked, though-- it sucked air off the board which was covered by a Lexan duct-plate and blew it out the right side of the case .

And if CLR-CMOS doesn't work, I'll get to a decision-point about the replacement board: Sabertooth Z170 or Z170-WS?

I think I'm going to e-mail the outfit that sent me the Sabertooth replacement, and see if I can get a better idea of "where (or who) it came from, what needed to be done to refurbish it, was it an unused "Open-box" or a used board -- again "used by who for what?"

Building a 9th or 10th-gen system from scratch would at least be twice the work, so I stick by my decision to repair and renew. Looking at my crystal ball, I see possibly even two Z170 "build" projects in 2021 after I get through this immediate difficulty.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,030
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Here's a web=page dissertation on reactivation before and after hardware changes. Somewhere, you'd think there'd be a notice or information about a difference between the OEM-Win7-to-Free-Win-10 or any caveats, but I haven't found any. The way this article explains it, a Settings screen supposedly would get you through it. I can say that I set my system up as a business user to my own network, so it boots to a local password. But I have an MS Account, and I'm pretty sure the machine "knows it".

Re-activating Windows before/after HW changes

But by the looks of this article, might just be able to fix this without so much as changing the license key. I shouldn't have to, unless the article is inaccurate or not specific enough. I've got a "legitimate" Windows; Windows allows you to make hardware changes. I should be able to reactivate it without using up the white-box license or buy a retail key and disc.

Well, gotta shut down all our devices to swap out the ISP's "new-improved" cable-modem replacement. They say it will be "easy" -- let me tell you about the instructions they gave -- almost too simple and probably the reason -- regarding our bundled telephone service and "connecting the telephone to the modem. I already did unnecessary work, having to call my brother upstairs to see that we were "connected" again. They say one thing in the instructions, but there's no required intersection of the cable-modem and the phone. They somehow decided that "some people wanted the setup with phone connected to internet-modem.

We'll wait another 8 hours on the suspect board, then set things up so it will only have the motherboard and the graphics -- hopefully to get into BIOS. And same with a likely new board replacement.

As long as I"m back on the internet this afternoon, I'm in no panic of a big hurry.
 
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blckgrffn

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May 1, 2003
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www.teamjuchems.com
I mean, worst case, you can backstop with a $3 W10 Pro key off of eBay. It's not like you didn't start with a license at all.

I guess it's however you feel, ethically, but I've found W10 to be exceedingly resilient at changing hardware and haven't had to jump through reactivation hoops.
 
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