File server upgrade and the click-clacking issue

bigboxes

Lifer
Apr 6, 2002
38,581
11,971
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I just finished upgrading my file server. Previously, I used an A64 3200+ 939 processor. I had issues with slow boot times and finally it had trouble booting into Windows (XP). At first I thought it was the hard drive (IDE) as I was hearing a constant click-clacking. Turns out that it wasn't the hard drive. I then swapped out the power supply. PC booted up with just the boot drive hooked up. I then hooked up the old PSU to my power supply tester. 12 volt rails consistently read 11 volts. So I said goodbye to my six year old Seasonic S12 and adopted a new Seasonic S12II.

Figured that would fix the problem. Nope. File server cannot fully boot into Windows. Found out that the UPS' battery was dying. It not unusual for the battery in a UPS to need replacement after three years. I had bought this APC 1250 RS unit on clearance at Fry's some years back. It was a replacement for a Belkin unit that could no longer meet my needs. I hated it. It had a teeny fan on it's backside that seemed to always be running at full blast, ruining what was an otherwise quiet computer experience. I couldn't afford the $500 APC 1500 Back-Ups unit so I just bought another Cyber Power 1500 that played nice with my PFC power supplies.

Even after plugging the file server directly into the outlet I was still having difficulty booting into Windows. Ok, I thought, it's time to upgrade the guts of my file server. Normally, the file server is on the lowest of the food chain when it comes to hand-me-downs. It doesn't need much horsepower to serve up files so it usually gets whatever parts are left after I upgrade the other PCs. I decide to just buy a cheap motherboard/cpu from the Egg. After some research I decide to go with the low end of AMD's Vision line, the A4 3300. It's a dual-core APU (Athlon II) running at 2.5Ghz and is paired with an integrated HD6450 video. It only draws 65W (in real life the whole computer rarely pulls more than 50W) so that sounds good to me as it's always on. At $39 it seems like a steal. I paired it with a Foxconn branded motherboard. I am leery of this mobo cuz I think it is cheap. And it is. But it's a full ATX with six 6G SATA ports and has three PCI slots. It's definitely not an enthusiast motherboard, but then again that is not what I am looking for. For memory, I found a 4GB stick of Crucial PC1600 ram for $25. It's low profile and has nice timings. None of that matters in a stock running file server, but it's amazing how cheap ram has become.

The motherboard has no PATA connectors. Ahhhhh, no legacy support! :biggrin: That's ok as I am using a SSD as the boot drive. I will be using the Samsung 840 (non-pro) 120GB model. I had to zip tie the drive into one of the drive rails (upper cage) in my aging Antec P180 case. The P180 is a difficult case to work with for the inexperienced. I had just replaced the power supply a week ago and didn't want to un-snake all the wiring (trust me, it's a pain in the @ss). Of course this makes motherboard installation all the more difficult, not to mention hooking up the case wiring. With a lot of patience I finally got the motherboard installed. Hooking up the case wiring (power/reset/hdd... etc) was an adventure. As my eyesight gets worse as the years roll by and the fact that the connectors are almost flush with the bottom of the case it's a wonder I ever got them hooked up. I saved the power LED wire for last. It has a three wide connector while the new mobo has the + and - side by side. I have tools to take the connectors off the wires, but luck would have it I cannot remove them this time. So, I decide to not have that power LED lit up. I know many choose to do that anyways.

The board still has five free SATA ports, but I need eight. Time to reinstall my SATA II controller cards. I don't need to use my Intel gigabit ethernet card as mobo has onboard Realtek gigabit built-in. As I am hooking up the storage hard drives (one-by-one) I am making a graph as to the location of each hard drive and exactly what port it is hooked up to. This will make troubleshooting easier in the future. As I am adding in the drives I change the drive letter to match the previous set up. I also change to sharing permissions to allow the drives to be accessed across my network. I don't require any password to access the drives (no kids/closed network). I do test to make sure that the files are "read only" for those on the network. Wouldn't want some noob (wife :p ) to delete my files! Finally, I map the drives on my main rig. It's amazing how much faster the network drives/folders open than my previous set up. I would assume much has to do with the SSD, but maybe Windows 7 has some performance advantage over WinXP. Maybe someone could enlighten us all as to that fact. That alone is worth the upgrade.

After enabling AHCI and setting up the overprovisioning, I am happy. However, the click-clacking is still there even with the hard drives disconnected (just boot with the SSD)! I thought it might be the fan on the cpu heatsink so I changed it out. Still there. The sound is definitely coming from the cpu area. I know there are chocks there that handle the power delivery to the cpu. Could they be switching on and off? I hate the noise, but wanted to know if it was a normal sound. My Asus P6T v2 Deluxe makes no noise. The noise is not constant. Just on boot up and then periodically. Wondering what causes it (dirty power?) or is it just the motherboard?
 
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bigboxes

Lifer
Apr 6, 2002
38,581
11,971
146
160 views and not one reply? Pffft. Anyways, I woke up early this morning and thought that I should troubleshoot the power supply. So, this afternoon I swapped out the Seaonic with my extra PSU (Antec Earthwatts 380) that I keep on hand for just such a task. The file server booted up without issue and was, *GASP*, quiet! Hmmmm. I was thinking that I was going to have to RMA the Seasonic unit. First, I tested the new PSU with my tester. All of the rails seemed to be within spec. I hooked up the Seasonic just to make sure that this is a power supply problem. PC booted up and it was still quiet! Yay! I rebooted many times to see if it was a fluke, but the silence continued. Well, I am now a happy owner of a zippy and reliable file server. :cool:
 

Fardringle

Diamond Member
Oct 23, 2000
9,188
753
126
Based on your description, as well as what 'fixed' the problem, I suspect that you might have had a wire (probably from the PSU) hanging somewhere that it was getting hit by the blades of a cooling fan.