Category: Hardware

Some BIOS Items
article #567, updated 1513 days ago

  • PCI Latency Timer

This is in cycles, not ms or anything else. It is a timer which sets a time-chunk for each PCI device to do something. If you want low-latency and have major horsepower, turn this one down. For more latency, and less multitaskability, but probably better big-block throughput, turn this one up. Default is usually 64.

  • Spread Spectrum

Spread Spectrum is a method of reducing the effects of electromagnetic interference (EMI) between components of a single machine. All of the systems on a modern motherboard give off high frequencies of EMI, and the EMI from one system (say, the CPU) can drive frequencies of another system (e.g., the PCI Express chipset) through the air, to higher speeds which are potentially very bad. Spread Spectrum prevents this by varying the frequencies; some motherboards have separate spread spectrum capabililty for CPU, PCI/PCI Express, and other areas. It is unclear how often the issue shows up. Reportedly, overclockers need to turn this entirely off, at least on the CPU side.

Categories:   Hardware   


Test performance
article #457, updated 1516 days ago

Here is some interesting info about SQL:

and a tool:

and another tool, non-free but very good:

Categories:   Diagnostics   Hardware


Seagate Drive Warranty Checks
article #481, updated 1817 days ago

If you have a Seagate hard drive and want to find out whether it is under warranty, try this:

And if you have more than one, use the Multiple Drive Form:

Categories:   Drive Issues   Hardware


S.M.A.R.T. Tools for Command Line, Windows and Linux
article #447, updated 1905 days ago

Here is a great set of tools for hard drive status retrieval and monitoring:

The install for Windows is here:

On Windows, if you can get a command prompt on a remote machine, just copy over ‘smartctl.exe’ from the default install, run it like this:

smartctl --scan

and it will give you a list of IDE/ATA/SCSI drives. /dev/sd* and /dev/hd* will be actual hard drives, CD/DVD drives, tape drives, or RAID volumes; it won’t give useful info for anything but hard drives. Usually a single hard drive will be “/dev/sda”. You can get the health info for /dev/sda with:

smartctl -H /dev/sda

If it doesn’t pass the test, or if it gives any caveats after saying that its test passed, you have a drive whose hours are likely numbered!!!

Categories:   Hardware   


Disable driver signing in 64-bit Windows
article #423, updated 1977 days ago

Try this:

bcdedit -set loadoptions DDISABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS
bcdedit -set TESTSIGNING ON

To reverse:

bcdedit /deletevalue loadoptions
bcdedit -set TESTSIGNING OFF

Categories:   Drivers   Hardware


Intel 5000-series motherboard fan control
article #330, updated 2231 days ago

Apparently, if you’re running an Intel 5000-series motherboard in a non-Intel case, the fans shall run at 100% RPM, unless something called an SDR file is custom-written. See:

and quoted:

Thermal Test Level:

Intel performs system level thermal testing of a given Intel Server Board in all listed 3rd party reference chassis. The server board is configured to use a generic fan control scheme which operates all attached system fans at 100% pulse width modulation (PWM). The generic fan control scheme is set by selecting the “OTHER CHASSIS” option using the FRUSDR Configuration Utility.

If info on creating an SDR file becomes available to me, it will be posted!

Also see this Intel forum for more information.

Categories:   Hardware   


Windows 7 bluescreens when installing Firewire card
article #313, updated 2285 days ago

A friend brought this to my attention recently. He had tried at least three different PCI firewire cards in a new HP desktop, and all of them caused bluescreens when trying to boot after installation. We eventually tracked it down to a BIOS setting: something called “PCI SERR# Generation” in the BIOS, had to be turned off. After that, all went well.

Categories:   Hardware   


"Cannot install hardware because system cannot find file specified"
article #312, updated 2289 days ago

If you see this when trying to install hardware in Windows:

“Cannot install this hardware”
There was a problem installing this hardware

An error occurred during the installation of the Device
The system cannot find the file specified

all is probably not lost. Backup and then delete the REG_BINARY value ‘CONFIG’ (not the “network” key) from HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Network. Restart the system. The problem will often be solved.

Categories:   Cleanup   Hardware


How to Turn a Power Supply On
article #291, updated 2328 days ago

If you have a current standard PC power supply which needs to be turned on, first turn the little rocker switch on if it has one, and then bend a paper clip to short the green wire and any black wire, on the large motherboard connector. The supply will turn on.

Categories:   Hardware   


Excellent Burn-In Test
article #289, updated 2329 days ago

PassMark Software:

makes a very good tool for burn-in testing of all standard components (motherboard, CPU, hard drive, DVD/CD-ROM, etc.) of a PC or laptop, called BurnInTest. Recommended.

Categories:   Hardware   Diagnostics