Problems with my new system (ASUS P5K/Core 2 Quad)

(See the bottom of this post for my comments on this as of 28 August 2009)

Well, once again not Csound related (yet)  but I’m posting some of my experiences with a new Windows XP system I’m trying to move my music production to. This info probably belongs on some tech website but I’ve already got accounts on a couple dozen forums and only want to post it once.

This info may or may not be helpful to you, and of course I make not guarantees it’s helpful or even accurate.

I had a system built for me with the ASUS P5K Premium/WiFi mobo, 2.4GHz Core 2 Quad CPU, 2 GB RAM, 1 SATA 2 320 GB WD hard drive, and an M-Audio Audiophile 2496 audio card. I didn’t build it myself since the builder specializes in very quiet PCs and it is extremely quiet running. That’s good.

However I’ve been experiencing software problems and performance questions, and am considering reinstalling the OS. I may have broken something somewhere along the way, since I probably didn’t implement things in an orderly way. Once I received the PC and installed it, I started installing Windows updates, deinstalled Messenger, disabled Automatic Updates, changed Firewall settings, etc. Then when I tried to install Live 7 (and Adobe Reader 7) I got strange fatal and Windows errors. So maybe my Registry and/or System folders are corrupt.

 1. SATA disk issues: The vendor of my system sent a message that people with problems of the Western Digital WD3200K hard drive and P5K mobo should jumper 5 and 6 on the back of the hdd. But I checked the Western Digital website, and according to their information, jumpering 5/6 on the WD3200K just throttles the transfer speed down to a max of 150 MB/s. If that’s what I need to do to get this thing to work right, it doesn’t seem very good. So I’m going to keep researching.

A lot of people complained on the ASUS forums about SATA support. It’s worrying me a little big but I’m not going to panic just yet.

2. General Windows error and problem issues: I’m beginning to think something I did to Windows was very bad. I mentioned that I couldn’t get Live 7 to install without weird errors. I tried installing Adobe Reader 7 from the ASUS support DVD and was amazed that it failed when I tried to launch it (“Unable to load Core DLL”). I thought that there was an off chance that the installer on the DVD was bad, so I connected to Adobe and downloaded the 8.1.1 Reader installer. The installation worked (although it took a seemingly very long time, like 10 minutes) but when I tried to launch it I got the “Unable to load Core Dll” error again.

All I really did once I got networking up was to connect to Microsoft and load most of the required updates, add a couple user accounts, and tweak the UI a little bit using the Appearance control panel. OK, I did uninstall Messenger and turn off some Services I thought we unneeded, but apparently I did something quite wrong. The main clue I have is that System Informaton doesn’t run (reports a problem with the WMI system). This is the primary reason I think I’ll try to reload the system. I haven’t created any work problem on this system yet, so I won’t really lose anything (except time).

I saved off the event logs from the system, but I don’t see anything in there that gives a clue.

3. Something that disturbs me is that I can clearly hearing buzzing both the audio card and onboard audio that correlates with disk activity and window movement. The fact I get the buzzing from both sources  indicates that the 2496 is not the problem in itself. Another thing I noticed is that, besides being able to hear disk operations through the audio, I can also hear when I drag windows around the screen. Normally I don’t think moving a window causes a disk access. So I wonder if what I’m hearing is some other bus on the motherboard. But I can wait until I get Windows running properly before chasing that particular problem down.

As far as reinstalling Windows goes, the only question I have is aboutthe BIOS setting on the P5K mobo for SATA configuration. In particular, if I’m not using RAID should I use the IDE or AHCI mode?

Update 28 Aug 2009

Not long after many exchanges between me and my system integrator, they said that other customers had been having problems with this P5K motherboard as well. They kindly offered to replace it with a P5E that was supposed to be just as good but not have any problems. I will report that after the exchange (and whatever else they may ahve tweaked at the factory) the system has been working flawlessly to date. (Well, that is except for my Samsung LCD display which I write about elsewhere and is a totally different issue anyway.) After running the system for several weeks I felt confident enough to experiment with overclocking. I had some pretty good results, but overall I’ve just left it at an about 10% CPU overclock since my main limitation at this point appears to be hard drive transfer rates (since I use Ableton Live which handles a vast amount of audio data for large projects.)

Of course, two years later everything is humming along pretty well.

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