Originally posted on 27 March 2009 on http://thestudio.draconiansaint.com
Everything was purchased and ready to be assembled. Putting the hardware together was pretty straight forward. What wasn’t straight forward was the minimalist motherboard manuals and loading and configuring Vista. So here is the outline of what happened and how I finally got everything to work.
The software to loaded ont the system included Windows Vista Ultimate 64, Cakewalk Sonar 8 Producer Edition 64 bit, Toontrack EZDrummer & DFH EZX, Celemony Melodyne UNO RTAS version, Nero 9, Line 6 Monkey, Line 6 PodFarm Platinum, Focusrite Saffire Mix Control 1.2 64 bit, Focusrite Plugin Suite. Arutria Analog and Novation Bass Station.
Gigabyte doesn’t do a very good job of writing manuals. Near as I can tell they take Chinese and drop it into a translation program. And even at that they assume you know what the hell you are doing.And so much has changed in the six years it has been since I built my last PC. SATA II didn’t exist back then. You had AGP slots back then not PCIe 16x. And PCIe is a standard I hadn’t seen since the last build.
But I figured I knew enough to be able to configure the BIOS. The assumption was close but no banana. I miscalculated not having a thurough understanding of Vista and what it looked for in the BIOS when it was loaded.
So I used default values and laoded the operating system. Seemed to work well enough. But where in the heck is my 1.5TB hard drive? No where to be found. “well this is odd,” I thought to myself. I start to explore RAID setups and other stuff. Then I made a critical error. Trying to load Windows Vista Ultimate x64. Failure. Blue Screen of Death. This went on for nearly 24 hours as I hacked the system trying to figure out what I did wrong.
Upon trying various different things, much web based research, I finally stumbled upon the one thing that seemed to make everything different. I changed the RAM from ganged to un-ganged and disconnected the 1.5TB hard drive and everything loaded without issue.
Adding Additional Hard Drives
Adding additional hard drives to a computer is not so easy these days. It seems Microsoft did not make available any instructions to get the operating system to recognize a new drive and tell you what to do next. Who in their right mind would build their own system, right? Well it seems there is a utility Microsoft provides for adding drives to a system. But unlike the rest of the idiot proofed OS they don’t make it obvious. I stumbled upon it through a web search on how to add drives to Vista..
Essentially, what you do is you right click on computer and then select manage from the pop up menu. Then tell the computer that it is ok to launch the system manager. Next you click on the arrow next to Storage. Then Click on Disk Management. It shows you all your drives and allows you to format a drive to prepare it for system use. Great! Did you know it takes nearly seven and half hours to format 1.5TB?
So having that solved I move on to the next task. I load and set up all the drivers for the various devices being careful not to add any software that I have no need or necessity to run. This took about an hour. Yet onward again.
Configuring and Optimizing Windows Vista
Ok I’ve had to do this for my laptop. So this should be easy right? Wrong. I had to make tweaks to the machine that I didn’t have to with my HP laptop. I should have known better. Don’t assume.
So here is the blow by blow:
1) I turned User Account Control off (Start > Control Panel > User Accounts and Family Safety >
User Accounts > Turn User Account Control on or off > uncheck check box for UAC)
2) In Device Manager I
disabled the onboard sound card
3) In Advanced System
Settings under the “Advanced Tab” Performance subsection under Visual
Effects settings I selected “Adjust for best performance.” I also set
the paging file under “Virtual memory on this tab to equal twice my RAM.
So in my case it turns out to be 8GB. This is done by deselecting the automatic
management, selecting the drive for paging files, and setting the size in KB.
Finally I disable remote assistance on the Remote tab (right click on Computer
and select properties. On left hand menu select Remote settings. Deselect the
check in the check box next to “Allow Remote Assistance connections to
4) I turned off windows system sounds (Right click on desktop > Personalize > Sounds > Sound Scheme > select No Sounds > Ok)
5) In the Windows Security Center I turned off Windows update, turned off
Windows firewall (I scan the machine remotely from another machine when I
connect it to my network otherwise it stays off the network and any new files
are scanned with a spate machine prior to introduction to the system). I turn
off windows defender as well.
6) I turn off the screen
saver (Right click on desktop > Personalize > Select None > Ok)
7) Next I got to MSCONFIG
(Start > Run > type in MSCONFIG and enter). On the Startup tab I
deselected everything except my video card management tool and my keyboard
management tool. You’ll also find you can go to the services tab here and
disable any unwanted services permanently if the box you are using is a
8) I adjusted my power
options (Start > Control Panel > System and Maintenance > Power
Options) to make sure they were set to high performance. Additionally I went to
the “Change plan settings” and set the Turn the display off and Put
the computer sleep settings to never. I also went to the “Change advanced
power settings and set the hard disk time out to “999.”
9) I disabled the Windows
indexing service by going to Start > Control Panel > System and
Maintenance > Indexing Options > selecting the Modify button. I clicked
on the “Show all locations” button, double-clicked Users and then
unchecked the Users directory in the upper pane. I then Double clicked
“Start Menu” in the Summary of selected locations, and the uncheck
Start Menu directory.
So everything is configured and next:
BSOD and Lock Ups
After all that I loaded Sonar 8 Producer Edition, all of my soft
synths, PodFarm, Melodyne and a couple of other programs. Everything seems to
be running without a hitch. Music plays back from Sonar we’re good to go right?
We go to track drums for a song and the thing freezes up consistently
and then I get the blue screen of death and it’s all over the machine won’t
boot. Windows says that it has a critical error and that Windows has to be
reloaded. It seems the kernel has been corrupted. Reload Windows, or at least
attempt to. And now I get memory errors.
So I open the covers. I’ve seen this before in a computer I built an
awfully long time ago. So I take out my multi-meter and start checking for
resistance between all the ground points. Low and behold I had a bad ground
contact on three of the motherboard mounts. So now I have to disassemble the
machine. The culprit was the paint that was used on the inside of the case was
in the threads where the stand offs are mounted. Cool. Clean these off and
reassemble. While I’m at it I swap the position of the RAM chips.
So I start up the machine and reload windows. No problem. I try to
record and playback and I’m plagued with dropouts and then windows just shuts
the machine down out of nowhere. Hmmm. What could be the problem now. I
carefully consider this and it turns out two things fixed this issue. First I
unganged the dual channel memory. This seems to stabilize the system and
Windows stops acting up.
Next I made adjustments In
Advanced System Settings under the “Advanced Tab” and set the
Processor scheduling to “Adjust for best performance of: Background
services” (a small note here. When I set up my HP laptop which I use for
mobile recording to this setting I get frequent dropouts and stuttering, on my
rack mount DAW I get the opposite effect).
Now everything records just fine. I get an occasional
drop out when recording. This occurs maybe once every 4 hours of recording
otherwise everything is stable. I’ll venture to guess that when I load SP2 beta
this problem will be completely gone.